Summer 2014 Season Preview

The days are growing long and school years are coming to an end (for you kids out there still in school) which means summer is quickly approaching. Therefore, it is once again time for us to release our tri-monthly preview of the anime that will begin airing next season. Summer, as usual, has a relatively lighter schedule than spring, but I do believe there are some worthwhile shows out there even if the total quantity is diminished. Without further ado, let’s get to the preview: compiled by PumpkinMochi, Boundless and myself and sorted in approximate ascending order of our anticipation levels.

Momo Kyun Sword

By Kelloggs

momo kyun sword

Source: Light Novel

Studio: Project No. 9 (Ro Kyu Bu, ImoCho)

Notable Staff: Yanagi Shinsuke (Director: Ro Kyu Bu SS)

Genres: Fantasy, Ecchi

MAL

Momo Kyun Sword is a story about a beautiful young sword fighter named Momoko. After a demon king invades her home and steals a precious treasure, Momoko must embark on an adventure to defeat him along with her three deity companions. The premise itself sounds innocuous enough but when you dig a little deeper the problems start to show. The “light novel” that this is adapted from is actually a web novel, which is like the light novel of light novels in terms of literary merit and general good taste. Then there’s this preview which highlight’s the show’s um… questionable wardrobe decisions. The outfits are reminiscent of Senran Kagura except with demons instead of ninjas.

Things get even dicier when you look at the staff behind this. The studio: Project No. 9 hasn’t been involved with much but what it has been involved with is pretty damning. The director’s only other credit is the second season of Ro Kyu Bu which was mildly entertaining but that was more due to the efforts of an intrepid group of trollsubbers than any work on the part of the director. There just isn’t anything about this that gives me even a glimmer of hope that it can be good. Normally I’d try to find something positive to say to balance things out but it just isn’t happening for this show. Avoid at all costs.

Anticipation Level: 0/10

Jinsei

By Kelloggs

jinsei

Source: Light Novel

Studio: Feel (Mayo Chiki, Outbreak Company)

Notable Staff: Kawaguchi Keiichirou (Director: Hayate no Gotoku!, Minami Ke Tadaima)

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Slice of Life

MAL

Jinsei is the story of Akamatsu Yuuki, a member of the Kyuumon Academy Second News Club. The club gives advice on issues sent in by students and Yuuki is asked to become the counselor of the club by Nikaidou Ayaka, the club leader. You can imagine all the fun and entertaining things that happen in a club with one boy and lots of cute girls answering questions about anything. And if you actually can imagine that, let me know because I can’t actually imagine this being any good at all. Let me be clear here, I don’t dismiss something out of hand just because it has the dreaded “light novel” label or because of  the “ecchi” tag. I am willing to give such things a chance in most cases on the off chance I encounter a hidden gem. However, I just don’t see Jinsei being that hidden gem.

Given the aforementioned “light novel” and “ecchi” labels, Jinsei had a big hole to dig itself out of from the start. The staff offer little solace as while they have worked on some respectable projects, the quality of their work seems to correlate directly with the quality of the source material with no demonstrated ability to elevate a mediocre or worse source into something worthwhile. “What if the source material is actually good?” I hear you ask. Despite the lack of any available translated manga or LN chapters, the premise tells us pretty much all we need to know. The “club that answers students’ questions” premise sounds a lot like Love Lab which was pretty nice but I don’t see anything like that from Jinsei first because of the “ecchi” tag and second because of the male character. It might not seem like much but adding a male character has a habit of crippling an otherwise good slice of life. Once you introduce one (and only one) male PoV character (or female PoV character in the case of an otherwise all-male show) every single thing almost by definition runs through that one character. Every other character is defined by how he/she interacts with the main character and relationships that don’t directly involve the main character are never shown leaving everybody pretty one-dimensional. This is the kind of issue that separates the GJ-bus and Acchi Kocchis of the world from the GochiUsas and the Yuyushikis. Given all of this, Jinsei gets a big fat “no” from me.

Anticipation Level: 1/10

Sabagebu

By PumpkinMochi

sabagebu

Source: Manga

Studio: Pierrot+

Notable Staff: Oota Masahiko (Director: Minami-ke, Yuru Yuri, Love Lab)

Genres: Action, Comedy, Shoujo, Military

MAL

After transferring into a new middle school, Momoka Sonokawa is roped into joining one of the strangest groups there, the Survival Game Club, or Sabagebu. Its members participate in various forms of paramilitary training under the eye of their “charming and alarming” president, Ootori Miou. Will Momoka be able to survive this club experience?

The obvious comparison to make with this show is to Stella Jogakuin Koutou-ka C³-bu, which had the same exact premise of a new student joining an all-female school club doing military survival games. Having watched C³-bu in its entirety, I didn’t think it was as bad as others made it out to be, but it was definitely wasn’t good either. It was made by Gainax, which didn’t have much experience in the “cute girls doing unorthodox activity” type of show.

Unfortunately, Sabagebu has the same problem. The director has worked on decent comedy shows, but I am worried over the animation studio working on the show. Pierrot+ is a branch of Studio Pierrot, which is more known for doing long-running shounen adaptations such as Naruto and Bleach. The quality seen in the PV looked pretty poor, so I think it is best to pass on Sabagebu..

Anticipation Level: 2/10

DRAMAtical Murder

By Boundless

dramatical murder

SourceVisual Novel

StudioNAZ (Hamatora: The Animation)

Notable Staff: Touko Machida (Series Composition for Hamatora )

Genres: Action, Sci-fi, Psychological

MAL

Set in a sci-fi universe many years in the future where most people possess personal AI computers called “AllMates”. A 3d virtual fighting game called “Rhyme” has become very popular for both general recreation and more serious gang conflicts. Aoba is a young man who is living an ordinary life with his grandma and does not play Rhyme or belong to a gang. However, when people begin to disappear, Aoba must unravel the mysteries surrounding the island to protect his everyday life.

DRAMAtical Murder is the anime adaptation based on the BL Visual Novel series by Nitro+CHiRAL of the same name. From what I can gather about the game, it actually gets quite explicit with the… ehmm… “rough, yet touching physical bonding.” Since the anime is not tagged ‘yaoi’ I can only assume they have toned it down significantly for TV. Most likely there will be yaoi undertones but nothing too extreme. It is being animated by studio NAZ, a basically unknown studio that debuted earlier this year with Hamatora The Animation. Even much of the production staff came over from Hamatora, such as Touko Machida for series composition. The animation in the PV actually looks less innovative than Hamatora did. The fight scenes seemed much more simplistic along with some glaring animation budget cuts. Overall, this looks like a discount Hamatora except with Sci-fi and Yaoi instead of detectives and cops.

Addendum: In my travels I came across this incredibly NSFW fan video about the original game. Over 200 fans of the game wrote in their secret impressions of the game, and they are all read out by Microsoft Sam and Sally. I found it pretty tasteless but hilarious at the same time, those of you with fragile dispositions have been warned. Also remember what I said earlier about the anime being toned down compared to the game.

Anticipation Level: 2/10

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49

By PumpkinMochi

shounen hollywood

Source: Mixed-media project

Studio: Zexcs (Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to, Diabolik Lovers, Sukitte ii na yo)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Bishounen, Idols, Slice-of-life

MAL

Shounen Hollywood is a mixed media project that started off with an idol project and a novel in 2012. The anime series is set 15 years after the novel’s story and it takes place at a fictional theater named the Hollywood Tokyo in Harajuku, where members of the idol group “Shounen Hollywood” develop their talents with diligent work and studying.

Even though this is part of an existing media franchise, it will be an original story, so it does have the potential to be interesting. I wouldn’t count on it though. Zexcs hasn’t really done anything that I would consider really good, and the director has only served in that capacity for one other show (Sukitte ii na yo). For those who want to watch a slice-of-life show starring a bunch of bishounen, I would say to watch the second season of Free instead. Speaking of which….

Anticipation Level: 2/10

Free! Eternal Summer

By Kelloggs

Free

Source: Original

Studio: Kyoto Animation (Free, Chuunibyou Ren, Kyoukai no Kanata)

Notable Staff: Everybody from the first sesason

Genres: Comedy, Sports, Slice of Life

MAL

If you haven’t heard of Free! at this point I’ll assume you’re living under a rock with no internet connection in which case I’d ask how the heck you’re reading this. To humor the hypothetical person who actually doesn’t know what Free! is about, it centers on the members of the Iwatobi High School swimming club. And by centers on them I mean “centers on their amazing physiques.” Free! exists in a realm where goofy hijinks are highly encouraged and shirts are all but absent.

It may sound like I’m complaining about or dissing Free! here but I really don’t mind the show all that much. There are so many shows that simply focus on the sexy parts of the female cast that one show doing the same to its male characters is nowhere close to tipping the balance. Free! is a fine show in much the same way Infinite Stratos was good. There’s nothing resembling ambition or quality character writing here but both were competently made, had some nice comedic moments, and sold a ton of discs. That’s about all it is though. So if you’re looking for the female-targeted version of Strike Witches or Infinite Stratos, this is the show to watch.

Now, that said, while I do not begrudge Free’s right to exist, I do think it is part of a worrying drop in quality on the part of Kyoto Animation. You may have noticed that the shows I list next to Kyoto Animation’s name at the top of this capsule aren’t exactly the studio’s most well-known or beloved works. I did that intentionally because I don’t feel like the studio Kyoto Animation is now is the studio it was when it was churning out those great shows everybody knows them for. After a rather incredible run of quality in which they gave us the Haruhi movie, K-ON, Nichijou, Hyouka and the first season of Chuunibyou, KyoAni has almost completely failed over the last year plus. Tamako Market was agreeable enough but “agreeable enough” was pretty much its absolute floor given the premise and staff. Free! was fine for what it was but for a studio that had never relied on its characters’ sexual appeal to sell their shows it felt like a step in the wrong direction. Kyoukai no Kanata was a confused mess and Chuunibyou Ren was a disaster that forgot everything that made the first season good. Free! Eternal Summer isn’t going to fix this trend and so I’m left scratching my head and wondering how this happened to a studio I used to hold in such high regard. Sorry to get all downer in this preview capsule but I needed to get that off my chest. My chest that is not nearly as beautifully sculpted as Makoto’s… sorry, got lost there for a second. Free! Watch it. Or don’t.

Anticipation Level: 2/10

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

By PumpkinMochi

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance

Source: Light Novel

Studio: TNK (Kenzen Robo Daimidaler, Highschool DxD)

Notable Staff: Yanagisawa Tetsuya (Director: Kenzen Robo Daimidaler, Highschool DxD)

Genres: Action, Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Haremshit, Romance, School

MAL

At Areishia Spirit Academy, pure maidens from noble families are trained to become spirit contractors. Kamito, a normal boy, ends up peeping at a girl, Clair, while she was bathing and ends up making a contract with the spirit that Clair wanted. Up until this point, it was believed that men couldn’t become spirit contractors. Forced by Clair to take responsibility for his actions, he must serve as her contracted spirit and must attend the academy now.

I think that the plot synopsis and the prior works done by the director and studio can speak for the level of quality that can be expected from Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, but I’ll just leave the first page of the manga adaptation [NSFW] here for good measure if you were on the fence.

Anticipation Level: 3/10

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

By Kelloggs

Nozaki-kun

Source: Manga

Studio: Doga Kobo (GJ-bu, Love Lab, Yuru Yuri)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Comedy, Romance

MAL

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is a 4koma manga about Sakura Chiyo, an Asuka Langley look-alike who share’s Askua’s passion for older (looking) men. Chiyo has a crush on her classmate Nozaki Umetarou. (who looks more like her teacher let’s be honest) Unfortunately, when she confesses to him, he mistakes her for a fan of his work as a shoujo mangaka. Now Chiyo is working as his assistant and one wonders if she will ever clear up this misunderstanding.

After reading only the synopsis I was wondering how Nozaki could manage to mistake a love confession for the praise of a fan but as it turns out, Chiyo’s confession amounted to saying “I’m a big fan of yours” which seems like, oh, I don’t know, something a fan would say? It’s a paper thin premise that is likely to wear thin as chapter after chapter of no romantic progress goes by. The first few chapters of manga basically use this “confession” as an excuse to get Chiyo into Nozaki’s office as an assistant and then it’s merely used as joke fodder the rest of the way. The first chapter of the manga was pretty awful but some of the others had a few gags that elicited a chuckle from me. However, this very much fits the “gag” label often applied to 4koma manga which indicates a rocky transition from page to screen. Doka Kobo has done some decent work in the past but this is the director’s first time directing an entire series and no scriptwriter or series composer is listed yet which gives me little reason to believe this staff is up to the task of making Nozaki-kun into a worthwhile anime. This does seem like the kind of thing I would like when done right but since I have no expectation this will actually be done right it’s probably a pass for me.

Anticipation Level: 3/10

Majimoji Rurumo

By Boundless

majimoji

SourceManga

StudioJ.C. Staff

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy

MAL

Kouta Shibaki is a high school student and all around pervert. He is infamous at his school for flipping skirts and saying “boobies” while sleeping in class. One day he finds an old book in the library about how to summon witches. As a joke he makes a magic circle and wishes a witch would come and bring him panties. It turns out that the book was real, and Rurumo the Witch appears to fulfill his wish for a steep price: his life. However, Rurumo decides to not kill him and is punished for breaking the contract. She returns to Shibaki and must get him to use up 666 wish granting tickets so that she can become a full-fledged witch again.

I will just start by saying this show looks really dumb. A trite and perverted MC is thrown into a ridiculous harem situation and is literally given wish fulfillment tickets which he must use to save a girl. Even without me saying any more, you already know everything you need to about this show. Coming from what I assume is J.C. Staffs’ B-team, Majimoji Rurumo will most likely be silly and forgettable.

That being said, I may end up watching it anyways just for the main girl. Personally, I absolutely love witches and emotionless girls, and Rurumo totally fits the bill. (Just look at her bitchin’ hat!) Despite their best efforts they managed to grab bag stupid harem tropes that actually appeal to me. Objectively speaking, this show will be dumb as hell, but it just might be my kind of dumb.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Sailor Moon Crystal

By Kelloggs

sailor moon

Source: Manga

Studio: Toei Animation (Sailor Moon, Precure)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Magic, Romance

MAL

So I suppose I have to level with you guys here. I haven’t watched the original Sailor Moon. In fact, nobody on our staff has watched the original Sailor Moon. As such, we aren’t exactly equipped to offer a knowledgeable take on the reboot series. Still, I’ll do my best with the information I have.

If you haven’t heard of Sailor Moon I’d like for you to come out from under the rock you’re presumably sharing with the guy who hasn’t heard of Free. I’ll humor you though and say it is one of the most famous and influential series in the magical girl genre. It captured the imaginations of a generation of young people and for many people it was their introduction to what magical girl anime were all about. Now, over 20 years after the original series aired, a reboot web anime has been announced that promises to be “more faithful to the manga.” This is obviously good news for the Sailor Moon fans and I suppose a decent opportunity for people who aren’t familiar to get in at the beginning. I’m not exactly running to go watch it but I’m happy that fans of the franchise got their reboot.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Bakumatsu Rock

By Boundless

bakumatsu rock

SourcePSP Rhythm Game

StudioStudio Deen

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Music

MAL

Bakumatsu Rock is set in the Bakumatsu era, at the end of the shoguns’ rule over Japan in the middle of the 19th century. The Tokugawa shogunate uses the brainwashing Heaven’s Songs by the top idols in Shinsengumi to subjugate the country and its people. In this Japan, writing or singing any songs besides the Heaven’s Songs is a capital offense. Sakamoto Ryouma and the other rockers rise up and change the world with rock ‘n’ roll for freedom and justice.

Bakumatsu Rock is an anime adaptation of a PSP Rhythm adventure game by Marvelous AQL of the same name. I am pretty excited for this show as a speculative, ‘dumb fun’ show. It has the potential to be similar Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure and completely not take itself seriously. I think the show will be a lot of fun if they make it a completely over the top celebration of ‘rocker spirit’ and ‘sticking it to the man.’ To pull this off, I think they will have to avoid getting bogged down in their own narrative and let the rock performances carry the show. Considering this is from Studio Deen, a second tier studio these days, and has no notable production staff I am still hesitant at best. There is potential for a fun show here, but also plenty of margin for a flop.

Here is the PV, as well as the head banging PV for the original game.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Himegoto

By PumpkinMochi

himegoto

Source: Manga

Studio: Asahi Production (Blue Drop)

Notable Staff: None of note

Genres: Comedy, School, Crossdressing, Ecchi

MAL

Hime Arikawa, a high-school student, is forced to assume a large debt owed by his missing parents. With nowhere left to turn, he is saved from the debt collectors by the three girls of the student council. In exchange for paying off his debt, Hime must serve as the student council’s plaything and cross-dress for the rest of his high school life.

This is one of the shorts airing during the summer, and I think that the episodes have been confirmed to be five minutes long each, which is for the best since it is adapted from a four-panel comic. The premise is reminiscent of Hayate no Gotoku but with more cross-dressing. The humor isn’t that great either, with most of the laughs supposed to come at the expense of the main character, Hime, being humiliated by the student council trio, who are curiously named 18+-chan, Unko, and Albertina II.

Hime also starts off the series in girls’ clothing and, much like Hayate [Vaguely NSFW] from Hayate no Gotoku, his sex is revealed in a certain way.

I RECOGNIZE THAT BULGE. [Also Vaguely NSFW]

It seems that anime shorts have been getting more shameless (Mangaka-san being a good example of that), so while I wouldn’t recommend Himegoto, I’ll watch a few episodes to see how depraved it can get.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Re: Hamatora

By Boundless

hamatora

SourceManga

StudioLerche (Fate/Prototype, Unbreakable Machine-Doll, Danganronpa: The Animation)

Notable Staff: Kishi Seiji  (Director: Angel Beats, Devil Survivor 2, Hamatora (first season))

Genres: Comedy, Mystery, Super Power

MAL

Re: Hamatora is the sequel to Hamatora The Animation which aired in the Winter Season of this year. It takes place in a world where gifted individuals are “minimum holders”, meaning they have super powers. The main story follows a group of young minimum holders who are running a private detective agency. I haven’t seen the whole series myself, so I can’t really comment on where the plot will go in season 2. However, I have been told that the last episode of the first season ended with a “To be continued” cliffhanger and this season will pick up right where the last left off. If you liked the first season, you are probably planning to watch this already. And again, if you are interested in this show, I would highly recommend you go back and watch the first season or you will be very lost.

Most of the production staff and voice talent are returning from the first season, including Kishi Seiji as director. However, it is now being animated by Lerche, the studio behind Fate/Prototype and Danganronpa.  While Lerche is not a power house by any account, they are certainly a step up from the basically unknown NAZ who animated the first season.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

By PumpkinMochi

Shirogane no Ishi

Source: Anime Original

Studio: Xebec (Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Riine no Lagrange)

Notable Staff: Ootsuki Atsuhi (Director: Kanokon, To LOVE-Ru, Ladies vs. Butlers), Satou Tatsuo (Series Composition: Kidou Senkan Nadeisco, Mouretsu Space Pirates [both as director])

Genres: Action, Mecha

MAL

One of two shows being done by Xebec this season, Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen is an anime original series. There is no plot synopsis available yet, but the staff has been announced. One notable name working on this series is Satou Tatsuo, who is doing the script for the series. He has been around a long time, having directed Nadesico way back in the 1990s. He has done a bunch of science fiction shows over the years, and some have been better than others. Based off his work, Argevollen might be interesting, but it might also turn out to be mediocre. I would give this a few episodes to see if it is able to hold my attention, but I am not particularly hyped for it out of caution.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Love Stage!!

By Boundless

love stage

SourceManga

StudioJ.C. Staff

Notable Staff: Kasai Kenichi  (Director: Honey and Clover, Kimikss)

Genres: Comedy, Yaoi, Gender Bender

MAL

Sena Izumi is a boy from a famous family of entertainers. He is a super-otaku college student who wants to become a manga creator. As he attempts to find his break out hit, he crosses paths again with a famous actor named Ryuuma. I say again because when they were children, they starred together as the bride and groom for a wedding commercial. Ryuuma still remembers the commercial and is looking to reconnect with the young “girl” from his past.

Let me just start by saying I probably am not qualified to preview this show. I have no background or basis in this genre with which to compare this show. Is it a trashy yaoi show? I honestly don’t know.  I read the start of the manga and the situation and the characters seem unique to me. But I have no way of knowing if that is just inexperience on my part, or actual innovation on the part of the source.

The art in the PV looks pretty good and the animation quality decent enough. They reproduced the shoujo style very well, which I am sure will please fans of the original manga. Also they have Kenichi Kasai as director (who also did serious romances like Honey and Clover and Kimikiss). Will Love Stage!! be a serious romance? It seemed much sillier from what I read, but who knows I already said I have no idea what I am talking about.

The general consensus from the fans of the manga seems to be that Love Stage!! is extremely “cute.” It is actually pretty adorable to imagine Ryuuma and Izumi trying to relive their fake wedding from when they were kids. So I think I can understand the appeal, even if the show is not aimed at me.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Space☆Dandy 2

By Kelloggs

space dandy

Source: Original

Studio: Bones (Fullmetal Alchemist, Star Driver, Zetsuen no Tempest)

Notable Staff: Watanabe Shinichiro (Director: Cowboy Bebop, Sakamichi no Apollon)

Genres: Comedy, Sci-fi

MAL

Everybody’s favorite planet-hopping dandy is back for another season of hunting aliens and patronizing the local Boobies. If you missed the first season there really isn’t much to recap as the series was extremely episodic to the point where the order in which episodes were watched doesn’t really matter at all. Knowing the premise you could probably pick the show up now and not miss a beat.

The real question is whether you actually should pick the show up. I hesitated to list Watanabe up there because while his name gets on the show his involvement is pretty limited. It seems like each episode is a new staff getting together and deciding what they think would be cool to do for an episode. Space Dandy feels more like a collaborative animation project rather than a cohesive whole. Still, despite the uneven quality of the show overall, there were some very nice episodes and I mostly enjoyed the show on the whole. As long as you know what you’re getting into with Space☆Dandy I see no reason to think the second season can’t match what the first offered.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Persona 4 The Golden Animation

By Boundless

p4 golden

SourceGame

StudioA-1 Pictures

Notable Staff: Kishi Seiji (Director of Angel Beats!, Danganronpa, Jinrui)

Genres: Adventure, Mystery, School, Sci-Fi, Super Power, Supernatural

MAL

Set in the rural town of Inaba, Narukami Yuu has returned to live with his uncle and attend Yasogami High School. However, a series of murders start happening around town. At the same time, a mysterious “Midnight Channel” appears on televisions late at night warning about the murders. Yuu and his friends must investigate these strange occurances and learn to use their ‘Personas’ to uncover (reach out to?) the truth.

I haven’t actually played any of the Persona games myself, but I have been told many times that Persona 4 is very good. They already made a Persona 4 anime which sold pretty well. It was also supposedly very faithful to the original game story. However, it suffered from some significant animation issues. In addition, it had some pacing problems which came from compressing a 60 hour game into just 25 episodes resulting in the whole thing feeling rushed. Hopefully they can clean up some of these problems this time around. Shiji Kishi is directing again though this time under A-1 Pictures. I liked some of his other directorial work in the past: Danganronpa and Jinrui, but I am not sure how much of that was a result of his direction or the inherent strength of the source material. This is a speculative pick to be sure, but if you have any interested in the Persona games and do not have the time to play them it will be a good option.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha

By PumpkinMochi

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha

Source: Light Novel

Studio: Silver Link (Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Watamote, No-Rin)

Notable Staff: Oonuma Shin (Director: the Silver Link shows mentioned above)

Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance

MAL

Because of his dire financial situation, Satomi Koutarou is forced to live in a small apartment with a monthly budget of 5000 yen. Though his apartment is rent-free, it is only because it is also inhabited by the ghost of a cute young girl with purple hair. To make matters worse, Koutarou must also contend with his nosy neighbors. This all seems oddly familiar…

nanana screenshot

To be fair, Koutarou also has to deal with a self-proclaimed magical girl that unnecessarily tries to rescue him. No such character exists in Nanana to my knowledge, so I guess that can be the x factor that distinguishes Rokujouma no Shinryakusha.

I couldn’t really delve into the source material for this series, as it was originally a light novel and I couldn’t find scanlations for the subsequent manga version. The director, Shin Oonuma, is pretty good at making comedy anime. Watamote was great, and No-Rin and Baka Test also had their moments. The characters in Rokujouma no Shinryakusha seem wacky enough for Oonuma’s taste, and his being a protégé of Shinbo should mean that we can expect some visual creativity and flair in the animation.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Nobunaga Concerto

By PumpkinMochi

Nobunaga Concerto

Source: Manga

Studio: Unknown

Notable Staff: Miyano Mamoru (VA: Saburou/Oda Nobunaga), Kaji Yuuki (VA: Oda Nobunaga)

Genres: Historical, Romance, Shounen

MAL

Saburou is a high school student who never had an interest in history and believes that it is unnecessary to learn about things in the past. However, he ends up falling through a wormhole and is sent back in time to the Sengoku Era. He meets a young Oda Nobunaga, who looks exactly like himself. Saburou is ordered by Nobunaga, who is sick of the castle life and is in poor health, to take his place and ensure that history plays out the same way.

People might be tired of seeing Nobunaga in anime, but it should be pointed out that by the time Nobunaga Concerto airs, it will have been a whole 28 days since we last saw a version of the character being voiced by Miyano Mamoru.

Joking aside, the manga was interesting enough in terms of character and set-up. I like the emphasis on the actual history of Oda Nobunaga and feudal Japan, and the art has a retro/old school look to it. Nobunaga Concerto also won the 2011 Shogakukan Manga Award for the Shounen category. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to find any information on which studio is doing this anime. The director also doesn’t seem to have done anything noteworthy either. These two reasons do give me pause, but I would still recommend watching at least the first episode.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Kantai Collection

By Kelloggs

kancolle

Source: Browser Game

Studio: Diomedea (Akuma no Riddle, Shinryaku Ika Musume)

Notable Staff: Kusakawa Keizo (Director: Akuma no Riddle, Nanoha As/StrikerS), Hanada Jukki (Series Composition: Chuunibyou S1, Steins;Gate)

Genres: Ship Daughters

MAL

If you haven’t heard of Kantai Collection [note: come up with another living under a rock joke to put in here later], Kantai Collection (Or KanColle) is a browser-based card battle game that reimagines World War II ships as moe anime girls. Players take on the role of an “admiral” leading their fleet girls (or “ship daughters” as fans affectionately refer to them) into battle in order to level them up, progress through maps and collect additional ship daughters. The premise sounds silly but the game has garnered massive popularity in Japan with over 2 million registered users, multiple manga series, and control of approximately 2/3 of the doujins at the most recent Comiket. If you’re someone like me who hangs around pixiv a lot you have been constantly bombarded with Kantai Collection works for the past calendar year.

So we know the anime will be popular, but will it actually be good? That’s a much harder question to answer. There isn’t so much as a plot synopsis or PV available so we do not have much to base our opinion on. I did read that the story will be told from the point of view of Kuchikukan Fubuki, aka “Fubuki-Class Destroyer”. If this means that the “admiral” character will be completely removed, I consider that a very good sign since it gets rid of the questionable aspect of a single man being the one giving orders to a large number of women and instead could allow the show to be about the fleet girls going about their days doing whatever it is anthromorphic ships do. With this much freedom to do what they want with a military girls show comparisons to the astonishingly good Girls und Panzer can be made although unlike Garupan, KanColle has a huge fanbase to placate and director Kusakwa Keizo, while solid, does not have the directorial chops of Mizushima Tsutomu. Series composer Hanada Jukki has worked on some good Kyoto Animation shows like K-ON and season one of Chuunibyou but also some less stellar shows like Kyoukai no Kanata. I don’t see any indication that he’s worked on an anime original story before which is basically what the KanColle anime amounts to. All of this is a long way of saying, I think that KanColle could be better than people expect but the lack of information makes this a show with a high ceiling but a very low floor as well.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Rail Wars

By PumpkinMochi

rail wars

Source: Light Novel

Studio: Passione (Haitai Nanafa)

Notable Staff: None of note

Genres: Action, Comedy, Romance, Trains

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Set in a world where Japan’s railways were never privatized, Rail Wars follows Takayama Naoto, an ordinary high school student who wants to work for Japanese National Railways. Starting off as a trainee in the security force, he encounters many strange colleagues as well as RJ, a group of extremists that want to privatize the railways of Japan.

Given the train otaku subculture in Japan, it was only a matter of time before there would be a light novel that appeals to their interest. Passione, the animation studio doing Rail Wars doesn’t seem to have done any noteworthy TV anime, and the director is also making his debut in that position for this show.

Despite the above, I don’t think that you really need an experienced director for this project. The premise alone is strange enough to watch at least the first episode. The best-case scenario is that it turns out to be a solid workplace comedy like Servant x Service. I also wouldn’t mind if it focused more on the conflict with the RJ group so long as they turn out to be comically evil moustache-twirling villains.

Pictured: Typical RJ operative

Pictured: Typical RJ operative

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Sword Art Online II

By Boundless

SAO II

SourceLight Novel

StudioA-1 Pictures

Notable Staff: Tomohiko Itou (Director:  Sword Art Online)

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Game

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Sword Art Online II is the sequel to the popular first season released by A-1 Pictures in 2012. Even if you did not watch the show I am certain you have heard some buzz about it. This season will be adapting the next batch of light novels following where the first season left off. Kirito will join a MMO called Gun Gale Online (GGO) that focuses on firearm combat. A mysterious unknown avatar in GGO has been killing people in such a way that their bodies die for real outside the game. Kirito is approached by Kikuoka Seijiro from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and is asked to investigate the threat.

The same production and voice acting staff are returning from the first SAO, which depending on whom you talk to is either a blessing or a curse. I very much enjoyed the first season though I share the popular opinion that the ALO arc was not very good. From what I gather from fans of the original light novels, the ALO arc was weak in the source material as well so I don’t think all of the blame lies on the anime adaptation. Everyone agrees that the GGO arc in the novels was much better. Using fan consensus as a barometer I feel like this season will be better than the first. This is not to say the problems with the first season will not be there. Mr. Perfect, aka Kirito, will probably still be larger than life for example. But if you enjoyed the first season, this one will probably be awesome. If you didn’t, it is more SAO, you know what to expect.

Here is the teasing PV that they showed at the end of the recap OVA.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Akame ga Kill

By PumpkinMochi

Akame ga kill

Source: Manga

Studio: White Fox (Hataraku-Maou-sama, Jormugand, Steins;Gate)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy

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Tatsumi, a young swordsman from an impoverished village, journeys to the capital city of his country in order to make a living to benefit his hometown. Upon discovering how evil the elites of the city are, he ends up joining Night Raid, a group of assassins that target corrupt individuals in their fight against the ruling empire. Both sides make use of super-weapons known as Teigu, which vary considerably in their appearance and abilities.

As far as the first few chapters go, Akame ga Kill (which is published in the shounen magazine Gangan Joker) wasn’t as dark as I expected it to be based off the synopsis. Although the fights tended to be pretty brutal, everything else about the series was pretty typical for its genre. The art style wasn’t particularly stylized, and the characters fit into established archetypes. The main character is motivated by his desire to get stronger so that he can protect his village, and the assassins in Night Raid include a katana-wielding tsundere, a twintailed loli, a beastgirl with animal ears, and a clumsy glasses-wearing girl (voiced by Noto Mamiko!) with a giant pair of scissors.

It is probably a good thing that the manga didn’t have a super-gritty feel, as it would have felt out-of-place tonally with the lighter moments and characters. I didn’t see anything too crazy with the use of the Teigu weapons in the few manga chapters I read, to my disappointment. Because White Fox is the studio working on this, I can expect Akame ga Kill to be well animated, and I will give it a few episodes to see if they do anything creative with the fight scenes.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Barakamon

By Kelloggs

barakamon

Source: Manga

Studio: Kinema Citrus (Yuyshiki, Code:Breaker, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0)

Notable Staff: Tachibana Masaki (Director: .hack//Quantum, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0)

Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life

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Barakamon follows a young calligrapher named Handa Seishuu who punched a famous calligrapher in the face after he insulted Handa’s calligraphy at an event. After this incident, Handa is exiled to a small, rural island. Having never lived outside the city, Handa struggles to adjust to his new surroundings, particularly Kotoshi Naru, a young girl who seems to determined to drive Handa up a wall. How will Handa deal with all the distractions and unusual characters around him?

Barakamon was mostly an afterthought for me when we were picking shows to preview this season. The synopsis just doesn’t jump out at you as something particularly interesting. (punching a calligrapher in the face? Really?) However, the first few chapter of the manga had a ton of charm to them. It does a really great job of setting up Handa’s jaded, almost robotic world-view against the wide-eyed Naru who simply takes things as they come and enjoys life to the fullest. I can see Barakamon becoming a poignant, character-driven story about learning to appreciate the little things in life. It’s hard to say from here whether it will actually follow through on that potential but the fact that that potential exists has me excited for this show, much more so than I was before looking into it.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Tokyo Ghoul

By Boundless

tokyo ghoul

SourceManga

StudioStudio Pierrot

Notable Staff: Morita Shuhei (Director: Kakurenbo, Tsukumo)

Genres: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Psychological

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In modern day Tokyo, there lives a species of supernatural horrors known as ghouls. They feed on human flesh and are stronger and more resilient than normal humans. They can disguise themselves as humans and live among us, so you never know when one is close. Kaneki Ken is a normal high school student, but ends up becoming a ghoul through an unfortunate accident. Now he must come to grips with the realities of losing his humanity and find a way to survive in the city.

I just want to say: I love horror movies. I have been waiting for a good horror anime to come along (Pupa a few season back was pretty disappointing) and this might be what I was waiting for. The director, Morita Shuhei, is an interesting pick. He also directed Kakurenbo and Tsukumo, two CG shorts with some horror trappings (particularly the first one), so I have a feeling he can handle this show nicely. I definitely plan to check this show out to see if they can maintain fear and tension in addition to the action present in the PV.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Hanayamata

By PumpkinMochi

Hanayamata

Source: Manga

Studio: Madhouse (Mahou Sensou, No Game No Life, Hinter x Hunter)

Notable Staff: Ishizuka Atsuko (Director: No Game No Life, Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo) Yoshida Reiko (Script: K-ON, Non Non Biyori, Tamayura More Aggressive)

Genres: Slice of life

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Naru Sekiya is a 14-year old student that is normal in many aspects, including intelligence, appearance, etc. She has an interest in fairy tales, but is concerned over how that is the only thing that interests her. One fateful night, she witnesses a “fairy”, a foreign girl practicing dance in the moonlight. Naru impulsively asks to join her, and is soon introduced into the world of yosakoi dancing.

Only one chapter of the manga for Hanayamata has been scanlated so far, but I did find it interesting. I like coming-of-age stories and it seems like it would go it that direction since the main character is trying to find something that she can be passionate about. It reminded me a bit of Chihayafuru (another Madhouse title) since both revolve around a uniquely Japanese cultural activity.

The yosakoi dance that Naru gets involved with is a modern incarnation of a traditional Japanese summer dance called the Awa Odori, which was seen in Golden Time. Yosakoi combines Japanese dance movements with modern music, and it is growing in popularity internationally. Yosakoi dance teams have even sprung up at some universities here in the United States.

Even though Madhouse has been pretty hit-or-miss with their shows in the last few years, I am hopeful that Hanayamata might prove to be the dark horse show of the summer season because of its interesting premise. The art from the manga is pretty good, and seeing the dancing animated would be great. I would definitely recommend giving it a watch.

Fans of slice-of-life and stories revolving around cute girls (attn: Kelloggs) doing stuff should also check this series out. It is being serialized in a Manga Time Kirara magazine, and it does remind me a bit of other Kirara titles like Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka and Kiniro Mosaic. The art from the manga is also pretty, and seeing the dancing animated would be great.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Tokyo ESP

By Boundless

Tokyo ESP

SourceManga

StudioXebec

Notable Staff: Kurata Hideyuki (Series Composition: Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin, Samurai Flamenco)

Genres: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural

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Rinka is a very poor high school girl who lives with her father in Tokyo. One day when going home from school she sees a flying penguin and meets some fish swimming through the air. However, she blacks out when she touches the fish and wakes up the next day with the ability to phase through solid objects. She meets other ‘ESPers’ who recently had their powers awaken throughout the city.

This show looks like it is going to be a barrel of fun. The premise is basically X-Men, with mutants and unique super powers, but it has a light hearted and fun loving atmosphere to it. Similar to Yozakura Quartet and Witch Craft Works, I expect the show to be tons of fun and action.

The series composer, Kurata Hideyuki, who also did series composition for Nanana and Samurai Flamenco, is very good at comedic timing and execution. In the manga there are some pretty great scenes making fun of the absurdity of the situation so I know there is some quality source for him to work with. As an example: early on, when Rinka’s dad gets powers he becomes freakin’ Magneto! There is no PV, which is kinda concerning. But if the animation and production quality are even half decent I expect this to be one of the most fun shows of the season.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Ao Haru Ride

By Kelloggs

ao haru ride

Source: Manga

Studio: Production IG (Kimi no Todoke)

Notable Staff: Yoshimura Ai (Director: Oregairu) Konparu Tomoko (Series Composition: Kimi ni Todoke)

Genres: Romance, Drama

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Yoshioka Futaba never liked boys very much in middle school, with the exception of her classmate Tanaka. Unfortunately, she was never able to get her feelings across to Tanaka before he transferred to another school. Upon reaching high school, Futaba tried to “reset” her image due to being ostracized in middle school for being “too cute”. Futaba tries to act as unladylike as possible to garner the approval of her female friends. Complicating this is the fact that Tanaka has returned but he now goes by the name Mabuchi Kou and insists that while he did like Futaba back in middle school, the two cannot go back to the way things were.

If that sounds like a lot to process, that’s okay; there’s a lot going on in Ao Haru Ride. There’s the complicated romantic entanglement between Futaba and Tanaka, there’s the change in image being undertaken by both of them and on top of that we have another girl who is being exiled for “acting cute”. Rather than being content to tell a standard shoujo romance, Ao Haru Ride seems determined to tackle more fundamental issues of how our behavior changes in reaction to the actions of the people around us and whether it’s right to try to change who you are as a person to get along with others. I read the first couple chapters of the manga and found it to be very engaging and well-written. The adaptation is being handled by Production IG who have already given us a very solid shoujo romance adaptation in Kimi ni Todoke. The scriptwriter from Kimi ni Todoke is on board along with the director of Oregairu. It’s interesting to me that the staff for this appears to be primarily female. I look forward to seeing what a female staff will do with what appears to be a very solid shoujo romance. The combination of quality source material and competent staff lead me to believe that this could end up being one of the best romance anime in recent memory.

 Anticipation Level: 8/10

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!

By SerendipitouslySane

prisma illya s2

Source: Manga

Studio: Silver Link (BakaTest, Kokoro Connect, Prsima Illya S1)

Notable Staff: Everybody from the first season

Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic

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I’m hooooooooome…

…early.

…early.

SILVER LINK’s dark horse of last summer is back for another season, 2wei, with the same studio and same production crew. I do believe I’ve written more than my fair share of commentary on this magical girl spinoff of the Fate franchise, extolling the virtues of genre lampshading, main franchise references, beautiful fight scenes, Tousaka Rin, and most importantly, magical yuri lesbians. Based on what we’ve seen in the preview, we can most likely expect more of the same elements that made the first season so great.

These are the ingredients to make the perfect little show…(especially the bottom right)

These are the ingredients to make the perfect little show…(especially the bottom right)

I may be a little excited for this season.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Aldnoah.Zero

By Boundless

aldnoah zero

SourceAnime Original

StudioA-1 Pictures

Notable Staff: Urobuchi Gen (Creator: Fate/Zero, Psycho-pass), Aoki Ei (Director: Fate/Zero, Ga-Rei: Zero), Takayama Katsuhiko (Series Composition: Mirai Nikki, Ga-Rei:Zero)

Genres: Action, Mecha, Sci-Fi

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Aldnoah.Zero is an anime original series with a lot of hype surrounding it. The creators have been very hush-hush about what the actual plot will be about. There is a small blurb about finding a warp gate on the surface of the Moon, and humanity using it to colonize Mars. This eventually leads to war (though a war with aliens or a human civil war is not clear at this time). It is safe to assume it will be a sci-fi war story similar to classic Gundam series.

It is being animated by A-1 Pictures and from the PV the production values for this show look very high. Most of the hype is coming from the power house staff. Urobuchi Gen is one of my favorite anime writers (previously doing Madoka Magika, Fate/Zero, and Psycho-pass to name a few). He writes complex and thematic yet character focused stories that truly live in the worlds he creates. Gen is teaming up with the director and series composer for Fate/Zero, Aoki Ei and Takayama Katsuhiko. Some people have mixed feelings about this, because if someone other than Gen is credited with series composition it brings into question exactly how much creative control Gen actually had on the project. In any case, this show has the studio, staff, and money to make something truly compelling and I am very much looking forward to it.

Anticipation Level: 9/10

Yama no Susume 2

By Kelloggs

yama no susume

Source: Manga

Studio: 8bit (Yama no Susume, Infinite Stratos)

Notable Staff: Yamamoto Yuusuke (Director: Yama no Susume 1)

Genres: Slice of Life, Mountains

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Moe mountain climbing is back with a second season of Yama no Susume. The story follows Yukimura Aoi, a girl who promised her friend Hinata that they would climb mountains together. However, Aoi had an accident on a jungle gym and developed a fear of heights. Eventually Hinata got Aoi to give in and they shared a pleasant hike on Mt. Takao (Takao?) together. In the process the two were joined by Saitou Kaede, a mountaineering expert they met at the gear shop, and Aoba Kokona, an energetic girl they met while climbing Mt Takao.

I have long considered Yama no Susume’s first season a hidden gem that combined two of my favorite things: cute anime girls and mountain climbing. I was disappointed that the first season was only a series of 3-minute shorts rather than full length episodes. With the second season, we have upgraded to 15-minute episodes and the season will be 24 episodes compared to the first season’s 12 episodes. For a short to expand like this in a second season is almost unprecedented and I think it speaks to the quality of the first season. The show did a very good job of capturing the conflict between Aoi’s fears and her desire to fulfill a promise to a close friend. At the same time, it felt like it could have done a lot with more time to work with. Each week I was saddened when the episode ended far earlier than it felt like it should have. Typically the anime shorts out there feel like the three to five minutes a week you get are plenty but Yama no Susume kept me wanting more. If you like cute stories about friendship and discussions of mountaineering gear I highly recommend checking out the first season. It takes less than an hour to watch the whole thing. Hopefully after you finish you will share my excitement for the sequel.

 Anticipation Level: 9/10

Zankyou no Terror

By PumpkinMochi

Zankyou no Terror

Source: Anime Original

Studio: MAPPA (Kids on the Slope, Teekyuu)

Notable Staff: Watanabe Shinichiro (Director: Cowboy Bebop, Kids on the Slope, Space Dandy), Kanno Yoko (Composer: Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell – Stand Alone Complex, Macross Frontier, Kids on the Slope)

Genres: Action, Psychological, Thriller

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Set in an alternate modern world, Tokyo has been devastated by a terrorist attack carried out by unknown culprits. The only clue in this mystery is a strange video uploaded to the Internet, which causes paranoia to spread throughout Japan. Unknown to the authorities, the attack was plotted by two teenage boys called Nine and Twelve and who collectively refer to themselves as “Sphinx”. They should apparently not even exist, and have decided to “wake up” the world through their campaign of death and destruction.

Airing as part of the noitaminA timeslot, Zankyou no Terror is probably my most anticipated show of the season. The premise sounds very intriguing, and that Watanabe Shinichiro and Kanno Yoko are working on the same series again is a definite plus. While their last project together, Kids on the Slope, kind of slipped in the second half, that can be chalked up as a problem of the source material. This show, being an original series, shouldn’t have that problem.

The animation studio, MAPPA, has produced that previous Watanabe-Kanno collaboration and also redefined the boundaries of animation with the best sports anime in ever made in Teekyuu. It is likely that they will put their best staff on this show, so I expect the animation to be at least on the level of Kids on the Slope.

Watanabe has been able to appeal to Western fans with his shows, and this one should continue that trend. It is not surprising that the first episode will be shown at Anime Expo this year. Anyway, this is my must-watch show of the season and I have good faith that it can live up to those expectations.

Anticipation Level: 9/10

Hanamonogatari

By Boundless

hanamonogatari

SourceLight Novel

StudioShaft

Notable Staff: Shinbou Akiyuki (Director: Bakemonogatari, Madoka), Watanabe Akio (Animation Director: Bakemonogatari)

Genres: Action, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Vampire, Supernatural

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Hanamonogatari is the next installment in the Bakemonogatari series. Just like the previous seasons, it is being produced by Studio Shaft, with Shinbou and Watanabe on staff, and has the entire returning voice cast. This series will focus on Kanbaru and her story after Araragi graduated from high school. For all intents and purposes this season is just going to be more Monogatari, which sounds good to me. If you have already seen the Bakemonogatari series up through the excellent Monogatari Series: Second Season, most likely you are already planning to watch this show regardless of anything I say. And if you have not, but are still interested in Hanamonogatari, I would recommend you go watch the whole series in the coming weeks in preparation for this.

PV

Anticipation Level: 9/10

Glasslip

By Kelloggs

glasslip

Source: Original

Studio: PA Works (Nagi no Asukara, Tari Tari)

Notable Staff: Nishimura Junji (Director: True Tears)

Genres: Slice of Life, Romance

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After a one season hiatus, PA Works is back with an anime original offering about a group of friends and their last summer of high school. Like most anime original projects, we don’t have a ton to go on as far as a plot synopsis. This preview (also available subbed on various “illegal file sharing sites”) indicates that there will be some romantic entanglements and possibly something about the ability to see the future. The animation looks like PA Works’ typically gorgeous stuff.

Despite the relative lack of information given this is an original project, I am still extremely excited for Glasslip. The words “PA Works anime original” are usually enough to sell me on a show as I’ve found all their anime previous originals to be good. Until they make a misstep, I will continue to eagerly await each new original work they put out. Aside from that, the slice of life/romance genre is my bread and butter so I’m automatically interested in anything falling under that label regardless of source and studio. The premise kind of feels like a combination of Tari Tari and Ano Natsu de Matteru which are two of my absolute favorite anime. When you put together an anime that looks this good, sounds this good (OP/ED by ChouChou/nano.RIPE and of course a Hayami Saori character), is in a genre I love and is being produced by a studio I have almost complete faith in you have a real winning combination. Thus, Glasslip is my most anticipated anime of the Summer 2014 season.

 Anticipation Level: 10/10

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One Response to Summer 2014 Season Preview

  1. Demonstrable says:

    My most anticipated are:
    Aldnoah.Zero – it seems like it has all the right pieces to be amazing
    Hanamonogatari
    Re: Hamatora
    Glasslip – I don’t think P.A. Works will disappoint
    Zankyou no Terror – I’m very interested now that I see who is working on it
    Sword Art Online II – I’ve read several things that say this arc is the best of the series so I’m willing to give it another chance.
    Tokyo ESP – Like you said this show seems like it has the potential to be fun to watch

    Also I had never heard of Yama no Susume until now but it sounds strangely entertaining.

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