Summer 2015 Season Preview

As the spring season rushes towards its conclusion it’s time for our erstwhile supporting writers (*cough* Sane and Boundless *cough*) to rejoin us for the first time in several months as we look forward to the dog days of summer and the corresponding dog days of anime (although no Dog Days sequel this year). Summer’s generally a weaker season than average and I don’t think this year is any different. That said, there’s a few potential gems among the typical summer riff raff and there are several sequels to popular existing franchises. We’ll run down the lot of them and hopefully you can find something that piques your curiosity. So once again here we go in ascending order of our anticipation levels:

Venus Project – Climax –

By Kelloggs

Venus ProjectSource:  Game

StudioNomad

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Music, Sci-fi

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IDOLS FOR THE IDOL GOD! Apparently you can never have too many idol anime and so Venus Project is here to provide our obligatory idol fix for the season. The show is based on a game about live battles between idols. The synopsis describes all the typical idol stuff: music, passion, friendship etc.

I joke about how there are so many idol anime but I do have a soft spot for the genre. I am enjoying this season’s Show By Rock and if you squint really hard you can convince yourself that Venus Project will be summer’s version of that. Unfortunately, Venus Project is being produced by Nomad rather than the more respectable BONES and it’s only six episodes long which doesn’t indicate a serious production. The actual staff is even more troublesome as they’ve all either worked on nothing good or nothing at all before this. I wanted to endorse this as a shot in the dark if you really wanted an idol show to watch but I don’t think I can even give it that. If you want your idol fix you’re probably better off going back and watching any of the other idol shows out there than watching this.

Anticipation Level: 1/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Suzakinishi: The Animation

By ParticularlyPeeved

suzakinishiSourceRadio Show

StudioFeel

Notable Staff:

Genres: Comedy

MAL

Voice actresses Aya Suzaki and Asuka Nishi announced at an event in Tokyo on Sunday that their SuzakiNishi radio program will get a television anime adaptation starting in July.”

I don’t know what to say about this show, I had to resort to ANN for some information:

Both voice actresses will star as themselves in the anime, and they will perform the theme song as the “SuzakiNishi” unit. The “SuzakiNishi” radio program airs for one hour late on Wednesday nights on the Nippon Cultural Broadcasting, Inc.’s internet radio station “Chō! A&G+.” On the program the two propose and discuss new business ideas.”

So, yeah, an animated show about two voice actors discussing new business ideas. Uhhhh, exciting!? Well it can’t be worse than that sumo wrestling show I previewed some seasons ago. I’ll give it a 2.

Anticipation Level: 2/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi

Makura no Danshi

By Boundless

makura no danshiSource:  Original

Studio:  Feel

Notable Staff: Yuniko Ayana (Series comp for Kiniro Mosaic)

Genres: Shoujo

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Makura no Danshi is a unique angle on the shoujo genre with many similarities to Iyashikei and Slice of Life. It will be a series of 12 self-contained episodes told completely in the first person, each featuring a different attractive male companion. The show will have a calm, familiar, and possible intimate atmosphere where I assume the only activities will be domestic staples, walks under the stars, and pillow talk.

When I first heard about this show I was fascinated that such a thing could actually exist, as it’s one of the most niche anime endeavors I’ve ever seen. They don’t mince words about whom they are pandering to: In their description they explicitly state that the show will appeal to viewers who like particular “types” of guys. I’m choosing to interpret that as a distinct clarity of purpose instead of a cynical cash grab but only time will tell. It is certainly possible that the show will attempt to exploit its viewers’ insecurities, but it is being advertised as a “healing” anime so I’d like to believe this isn’t the case.

My main interest in this show is the technical and production aspects that would be required to make something like this work. A first person perspective demands immense personal investment and a strong connection to both the viewer avatar and the male character. Perfect control of mood, atmosphere, and pace would be required to hold the viewer’s attention and great care must be taken to make the world feel tactile and consistent to avoid breaking the illusion. This would be incredibly ambitious to maintain for a full episode week after week so I think they made a good decision to make this a short.

Anticipation Level: 2/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless

Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no Kyoukan

By ParticularlyPeeved

kuusen madoushiSourceLight Novel

StudioDiomedia

Notable StaffNone

Genres: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Magic, School

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“The story is set in a world where humanity, driven off the land by the threat of magical armored insects, now live in aerial floating cities. Thus wizards—aerial combat mages who fight the insects with magical powers—came into being. Kanata Age is a young man who lives on the floating wizard academy city of “Misutogan.” He was once celebrated as the “Black Master Swordsman,” the elite ace of the S128 special team; however, he is now despised as the “traitor of the special team.” One day, he is assigned as the instructor of E601, a team that has suffered ten consecutive defeats. E601 has three girls—Misora Whitale, Lecty Eisenach, and Rico Flamel—with one or two peculiar quirks.”

Here we have the required light novel adaptation that must be watched as a group so that you can make comments about how useless the main character is. I suppose there is some sort of plot since they have to be fighting these armored insects, but since the fighters are still in school, I’m pretty sure there will be multiple detours while the characters debate more important matters such as chest size and sword lengths. I’m talking about having their armor made, get your mind out of the gutter. This is a recommendation for a group watch, perhaps with drinking games involved. Probably will not be worth it to follow on your own.

Anticipation Level: 3/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Durarara!!x2 Ten

By SerendipitouslySane

DRRRSource: Light Novel

Studio: Studio Shuka (Durarara!!x2 Shou, Durarara!!)

Notable Staff: Same as x2 Shou

Genres: Action, Mystery, Supernatural, Bartenders with Anger Issues

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This season of anime demonstrates a remarkable inability to count to three, a disease it may have caught from Valve. The third season of Durarara!!, or rather, the second of three confirmed parts of the sequel to the original, comes from Studio Shuka, which seems to have been set up solely for the continuation of the franchise. The series is most noted for its colourful, diverse and incredibly oversized cast, with a complex storyline containing several converging and diverging subplots, like a modern day Tokyo gangster version of A Song of Ice and Fire, but with less favourite character killing, sex, and snow zombies. The whole series has a glint of madness in its eyes, with its penchant for chaos, hyper-violence and twisted interpretations of love; all the things this writer enjoys.

However, Shou, part I and prequel to this upcoming series, displayed a disastrous slip in animation and production quality, particularly towards the end of the season (I blame Tarou). Hopefully these are teething issues of a nascent studio instead of rooted ones, but I remain cautiously pessimistic.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Will Watch: SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: None

Joukamachi no Dandelion

By PumpkinMochi

DandelionSource: 4koma manga

Studio: Production IMS (Ore Twintails ni Narimasu, Shinmai Maou no Testament)

Notable Staff: Ayumu Kasuga (original creator, also created Ore Twintails ni Narimasu)

Genres: Action, Comedy, Slice of life

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The story follows the daily lives of the nine superpowered siblings of the royal family, who are being monitored by over 200 cameras and broadcast to the entire populace of the nation who have the ability to elect the next ruler. The main character, Akane Sakurada, is the third-oldest daughter of the royal family and possesses the power to manipulate gravity. Because of her shy personality, she wants to avoid being caught on camera. Basically, this show is what happens when you mix reality TV with moe girls.

Unfortunately, this manga has not been scanlated so I can’t make any definite judgments on the this series. It is being published in Manga Time Kirara Miracle, which also serializes Acchi Kocchi and Yuyushiki. If you’re a fan of those series or slice-of-life comedies, Joukamachi no Dandelion might be your cup of tea.

My biggest concern about this show is the studio behind it. Production IMS is infamous for their QUALITY, and there were some moments in the PV that looked wonky to me. One can only pray that it won’t reach the level of badness that Twintails did. It’s good that their more recent show, Shinmai Maou no Testament, looked okay, but the screen tended to be white or censored a good amount of the time. Even though I’m not really a fan of this genre, I’ll give this an episode to see if it has any potential.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Will Watch: Kelloggs, SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: ParticularlyPeeved, PumpkinMochi

Dragon Ball Chou

By ParticularlyPeeved

Dragon Ball SuperSourceManga

StudioToei Animation

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Martial Arts

MAL

 

 

“Reuniting the franchise’s iconic characters, Dragon Ball Super will follow the aftermath of Goku’s fierce battle with Majin Buu as he attempts to maintain earth’s fragile peace.”

Honestly, I’m not sure why I picked up this show to preview. For one thing, I’m guessing this is probably going to be another long running series, and you can’t possibly watch it without already knowing about Dragon Ball. It’s very easy to know whom to recommend this show to – if you enjoyed Dragon Ball and its ilk, you better be real excited about this.

Anticipation Level: IT’S OVER 9000!!

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: None

Overlord

By Kelloggs

OverlordSourceLight Novel

StudioMadhouse

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Action, Fantasy

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Overlord begins in the world of Yggdrasil, an online VR game that is being shut down. The main character, Momonga, is a member of one of the elite guilds in Yggdrasil. As they prepare for the game to be shut down they all say their goodbyes and move on to their lives outside the game. However, Momonga doesn’t log out. When the game is shut down, rather than being logged out of the game, Momonga finds himself transported to another game world where the NPCs live and talk and have emotions. Momonga decides rather than returning to his old world he will become the overlord of this new game world.

“Trapped in a game world” anime are kind of a fraught area in general. There’s almost always some element of power fantasy where a person who is rejected by the “real world” finds a fictional world where their skills are valued. Sometimes it can work pretty well, like in Log Horizon and other times you get No Game No Life or Sword Art Online. Overlord strikes me as more out of the No Game No Life mold as the first chapter had a fair supply of sexual harassment and breast size jokes and Madhouse is also working on it. That said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with power fantasies so if you want a high fantasy action anime with some video game elements and some low brow humor Overlord probably will do a pretty good job of that. Just don’t go in expecting more.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Will Watch: SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: None

Chaos Dragon: Sekiryuu Sen’eki

By Boundless

Chaos DragonSource:  Red Dragon fiction project (table-top RPG transcript) and Light Novel

Studio:  Silver Link

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Fantasy

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I’ll give Chaos Dragon one thing, the history of its conception is so unique that I have to be impressed by its audacity. It is based on the Red Dragon fiction project, a collaborative effort between five well-known anime and manga authors, Gen Urobochi (Fate/Zero), Kinoko Nasu (Kara no Kyoukai), Iduki Kougyoku (Mimizuku to Yoru no Ou), Ryohgo Narita (Durarara!!), and Simadoriru (Stripe Pattern doujin circle), who all sat down to play a table-top RPG for six nights together back in 2012. They each played a specific character and used the game system to help them craft a story together that would inspire a light novel series and now a TV anime.

I was really impressed by how professionally this material is presented on the Red Dragon website. They have full transcripts of their game sessions and as you scroll down the page it loads fantasy artwork from the scenes and changes to the music to set the tone. I can’t actually read any of it but I can say with certainty that this is the highest production-value fanfiction I’ve ever encountered.

How well all of this comes together on screen will be up to Shou Aikawa (script writer for Full Metal Alchemist) who will be adapting the session transcripts into a screenplay. Silver Link historically has stuck to highschool and slice of life dramas with a supernatural flavor, the closest thing they’ve done to pure fantasy like this is probably Prisma Illya so Chaos Dragon feels a bit out of their comfort zone.

Given how peculiar the origins of this show are it’s difficult to judge how well the final product will come together even with all this writing talent behind it. However, the PV shows something that might push it over the top: grown-up, sexy Chaika (~1:25). For however long I keep up with the show I plan to search in vain for clues that prove this is actually in the same universe as Hitsugi no Chaika.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless, PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Sore ga Seiyuu!

By ParticularlyPeeved

Sore ga SeiyuuSourceDoujinshi

StudioGonzo

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Comedy

MAL

 

 

“The series centers on Futaba Ichinose, Ichigo Moesaki, and Rin Kohana, three rookie voice actresses. The manga features small but humorous observations of the voice actor industry.”

There isn’t too much that I know about this show. The PVs were interesting to watch, but lacked any real material (there were two of them, with major overlaps). The first PV didn’t even have voice overs, which is a bit ironic. The source material is created by Asano Masumi, one of the voice actors for Hayate no Gotoku! and is set in the same universe as Hayate. It might be a fun watch, but with such little information to go on, I’m not sure. For what it’s worth, the main characters seem to be a group of girls… Maybe this could be a “cute girls doing cute voiceovers” anime? I’ll give this a chance, but I can’t immediately recommend it.

Anticipation Level: 4/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Kelloggs, ParticularlyPeeved, SerendipitouslySane

Gakkou Gurashi!

By SerendipitouslySane

gakkou gurashiSource: Manga

Studio: Lersche (Ansatsu Kyoushitsu, Carnival Phantasm)

Notable Staff: Ando Masaomi (White Album 2)

Genres: Zombies, Mystery, Horror, Slice-of-Life, Supernatural

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Gakkou Gurashi is an odd one. It’s serialised in Manga Kirara Time Forward, which hosts Hanayamata, part of the Manga Kirara Time family, a conglomeration of general yuri lesbian school girl debauchery, including K-On! and Yuyushiki. The premise, however, is a little more sinister than its compatriots. They have the same four archetypical girls in a useless school club dynamic, but instead of being happy-go-lucky, they’re holed up in the school in a zombie apocalypse. What’s more, the “happy pink one” is under post-traumatic delusions and sees everything as if nothing wrong has ever happened, and her friends are trying to preserve her illusion while surviving.

The production team is a mixed bag. I’m not sure which studio would be a good choice to adapt a show with such tonal whiplash (except perhaps SHAFT), or is there is a good choice at all. Lersche, given their experience with Assassination Classroom, is probably better than most, but their track record ranges from mediocre (Machine Doll) to downright horrid (Re:_Hamatora). The director’s only notable work is White Album 2, which granted, is top tier, but isn’t exactly in the same universe. With no PV out and very little other information available, I can only put Gakkou Gurashi in the “proceed with caution” box.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: PumpkinMochi

Might Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, ParticularlyPeeved, SerendipitouslySane

Aoharu x Kikanjuu

By PumpkinMochi

Aoharu x KikanjuuSource: Manga

Studio: Brain’s Base (Kyoukai no Rinne, Isshuukan Friends)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Action, Comedy, Shonen

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When Hotaru moves into a new apartment alone, she discovers that her next-door neighbor, Masamune, is rather eccentric and the type of person she would prefer to ignore. The next day at school, Hotaru finds out that her friend Kanae was tricked out of her money by one of the hosts in a nearby cafe. Because of her strong sense of justice, Hotaru decides to confront the host, who turns out to be Masamune. After losing an airsoft duel to him, Hotaru is conscripted into playing airsoft with Masamune and his friend Tooru Yukimura. Hotaru discovers that this is rather fun and wants to become better at the sport.

Though this is published in a shonen magazine, I got a very shoujo-y vibe from the manga. It was originally a one-shot manga about the relationship between Masamune and Tooru. They were childhood friends that recently met again and bond through playing airsoft survival games, and this carries over to the main series. In addition, I was also reminded of Ouran High School Host Club since Hotaru has an androgynous appearance and is forced into an activity that she has no interest in. Only a few chapters of the manga are scanlated, and I’m not sure what direction the series will end up taking, but I predict that it will find a balance between the character relationships material and the sports material.

The director, Hideaki Nakano, has worked as an episode director for a multitude of shows, and this will be his first time working as a series director. Given his experience, he should do fine with this adaptation, which unfortunately doesn’t seem to have a PV out. Though the manga didn’t really grab my interest, I’d check out an episode or two of the anime just to see how they depict the airsoft battles. The best case scenario is that this series could end up being the best anime centered around airsoft, especially since the bar for that is pretty low.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: PumpkinMochi

Might Watch: Boundless, SerendipitouslySane

Classroom☆Crisis

By Boundless

Classroom CrisisSource:  Original

Studio:  Lay-duce (new studio)

Notable Staff: Kenji Nagasaki (Director of Gundam Build Fighters), Fumiaki Maruto (Series Comp for White Album 2 and Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata)

Genres: Comedy, Romance

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In the not-too-distant future humanity has begun to expand to the stars by colonizing much of our solar system. Classroom Crisis will follow the trials and tribulations of a group of highschoolers living in Forth Tokyo (a Japanese Martian Settlement). Iris Shirasaki is an aspiring test pilot, Mizaku Sera is her friend and mechanic and Mizuki’s brother Kaito is their teacher and the director of the pilot training program.

What really struck me about this show is, despite the otherworldly premise, how little it looks like a Sci-Fi show. In the key visuals Mars has been terraformed to such an extent that it is almost indistinguishable from earth. The plot description describes a romantic comedy that happens to be centered on piloting but you could replace that with any other passion. The show isn’t even tagged Mecha or Sci-Fi! Kenji Nagasaki (ex-Sunrise guy who worked on Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam 00) is directing which seems odd because I feel this is on the edge of his comfort zone. This show reminds me more of the first half of Robitics;notes than any Gundam franchise. Fumiaki Murato will be the series composer, who has proven himself to be a talented (see White Album 2), yet sometimes misguided (see Saekano), writer.

There are some good ingredients here, but the fact that Lay-duce is a brand new studio and the PV shows no actual animation makes this too much a of wildcard to confidently recommend.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: Kelloggs

Might Watch: Boundless, PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Rokka no Yuusha

By Kelloggs

Rokka no YuushaSourceLight Novel

StudioPassione

Notable Staff: Takahashi Takeo (Director: Spice and Wolf) Urahata Tasuhiko (Series Composition: Black Bullet, Monster)

Genres: Action, Fantasy

MAL

 

And lo, the deity of fate did say: “I shall bestow the power to save the world upon six heroes. Six shall be the number of the heroes and the number of the heroes shall be six. Seven shall not be the number of the heroes and neither shalt five be, except that it then proceedeth to six. Eight is right out.”

Okay, but seriously, Rokka no Yuusha is based on a light novel series about a world were six heroes were to be selected to save the world from the evil Majin. Each hero will receive a mark in the form of a flower that will signify their status as one of the six heroes. However, when the heroes are summoned they discover that there are seven with the flower mark. One of the group is a traitor, sent to sabotage the effort to defeat the Majin but it is unknown who it is. Suspicion first fall on Adlet, a young boy who proclaims himself to be the “strongest man in the world”

Rokka strikes me as a decent amount of potential as a fantasy adventure anime. The character designs look pretty “anime” but the bit of the novel I read seemed perfectly serviceable and I didn’t notice anything outside of the character designs to indicate the show won’t handle things with at least some dignity. The staff seems competent too with the director of Spice and Wolf alongside the series composer for Monster and Nana. The biggest sticking point is the studio. Passione doesn’t have much of a track record outside of the singularly awful Rail Wars anime and outside of the two primary staff members I mentioned the staff list is littered with random Rail Wars veterans. I feel like the biggest potential problem for Rokka will be maintaining at least some level of dignity for its characters which can be hard when your main female character is a big-breasted girl with bunny ears. If you really like fantasy adventure anime Rokka is probably worth a flier. I feel like there’s enough potential here to merit a second look and it should be clear within an episode or two if it’s going to be any good and if it isn’t you can just drop it.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: ParticularlyPeeved

Jitsu wa Watashi wa

By ParticularlyPeeved

Jitsu wa Watashi waSourceManga

StudioTMS Entertainment

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, School, Shounen

MAL

 

 

“Asahi Kuromine, a normal high school student who supposedly cannot keep a secret, finds his demeanor quickly challenged when he spots his classmate, Youko Shiragami, unfurling a large pair of wings from her back. He learns that Youko is a vampire, and that she is only able to attend a normal school on the condition that no one discover her true identity, lest her father drag her back home. This secret becomes difficult to maintain, as Youko herself is an airhead and Asahi’s friend Mikan keeps bullying the two of them. Later on, he discovers more girls in his school with secrets of their own: a tiny alien who rides a human-sized exoskeleton of herself, a werewolf capable of switching gender at any depiction of a moon, a thousand year old demon who secretly runs the school, and more who pose a challenge as Asahi tries to maintain Youko’s secret.”

The synopsis for this show pretty much tells the whole story here. Don’t come looking for serious discussions or well thought out plots. But if you are in the market for nose-bleeding main characters and quirky situations, you can’t possibly miss this one. I mean, come on, “a werewolf capable of switching gender at any depiction of a moon”, you know you want to see this show. I read the first few chapters of the manga, yup, all the characters are idiots. This should be a fun watch when you want to laugh and not think. At least as far as I got, it didn’t yet get lewd, so I’m assuming the jokes will tend to be more dumb rather than vulgar. The PV looked decently animated so hopefully we won’t be dealing with stills for the most part.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, ParticularlyPeeved, SerendipitouslySane

iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls 2nd Season

By SerendipitouslySane

cinderella girlsSource: Game

Studio: A-1 Pictures (iDOLM@STER, iDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls)

Notable Staff: Same as season 1

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Music, Idols, Rin

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Are you Lady for this?

Part two of the spinoff of genre-forming iDOLM@STER greets us this summer. While the original series of iM@S was a runaway success, the first season of Cinderella Girls notably lacked much of its charm. iM@S was sincere, and had characters with the level of depth and subtlety that is unexpected from a source with one blatantly self-insert male lead and a gaggle of girls who are solely focused upon the Producer and reliant on him to solve their many problems. Cinderella Girls, on the other hand, suffered from a mono-dimensional cast, perhaps a relic of its mobile game roots, which prevents any sort of serious character development. It was pandering kitsch, aimed at a well-established fanbase to cash in on a successful franchise which is slowly being overtaken by its imitators.

All that being said, it is still relatively well-produced, and not quite at the level of dross in terms of the technical aspects of anime production (although nowhere near the polished quality of the original). Additionally, it has several characters who I look forward to seeing again, namely Ranko, Rin and the Producer, who are (still) the best three girls in the show in ascending order. If you weren’t invested in season 1, there is probably no reason to watch this, but given that the same team is on the task, it is unlikely to drop too much in quality either.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: None

Himouto! Umaru-chan

By PumpkinMochi

HIMOUTOSource: Manga

Studio: Dogakobo (Mikagura School Suite, Plastic Memories, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun)

Notable Staff: Masahiko Ohta (Director: Sabagebu, Yuru Yuri, Minami-ke)

Genres: Comedy, School, Slice of life

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Umaru Doma appears to be perfect in every way, as she has beautiful looks, top grades at her high school, and is admired by her peers. However, when she is at home, she undergoes a dramatic change. She literally turns into a chibi version of herself and becomes a filthy otaku slob obsessed with playing video games, reading manga, and watching anime, much to the chagrin of her older brother, who has to look after her while also being a white-collar worker.

I didn’t think the comedy in the manga was particularly good, with most of the supposed jokes being “Umaru does something lazy and gets scolded by her brother.” As a positive, the sister doesn’t seem to be a horrible person and the brother doesn’t appear to harbor perverse lust for his sister, so this is already better than OreImo. I didn’t read that far into the series to see more of the side characters show up. Side characters can be funnier than the main characters in comedy manga, such as Hosaka in Minami-ke.

Speaking of that, the director of this show also directed Minami-ke and Yuru Yuri, so he does has experience with comedies. The same is true of the studio, Dogakobo, since they did the anime adaptations of Yuru Yuri and Nozaki-kun. The staff is enough to make me check out a few episodes to see if they can elevate the source material and make the jokes better, so this gets some anticipation level points.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: None

Gangsta

By SerendipitouslySane

GangstaSource: Manga

Studio: Manglobe (Ergo Proxy, Samurai Champloo)

Notable Staff: Murase Shokou (Director, Ergo Proxy, Witch Hunter Robin)

Genres: Action, Drama, Seinen

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Manglobe is a studio noted for two things: gritty, esoteric, popular-in-the-west shows that never make it to the BluRay top seller charts like Ergo Proxy, and the occasional harem cash grab that fails miserably, like the later seasons of Hayate no Gotoku. Fortunately, Gangsta is of the former category, as we know from experience it is impossible to make a good harem show based on the Italian Mafia.

While the title sounds distinctly American inner city, the story is based in a stylized Italian town where the Mafia families reign supreme. The story follows a group of scarred and muscular independent contractors to the ruling families, tasked with removing a newcomer crime gang with their superpowers known as “Twilights”, a fact which casts doubt upon the quality of a hinted romantic subplot.

The show has a distinct Hollywood feel, with all the sensibilities of the Western world which are exotic to its intended audience, and thereby having a significant chance of appealing to the American fans who scour a medium of entertainment entirely based in a foreign country in search of ones that would satisfy their own world views. While the quality of Gangsta is something to look forward to, I can’t say that I would be able to become enthusiastic about the series.

Anticipation Level: 5/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless, PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Kangoku Gakuen Prison School

By Boundless

Prison SchoolSource:  Manga

Studio:  J.C. Staff

Notable Staff: Tsutomu Mizushima (Director of Shirobako, Witchcraft Works), Yokote Michiko (Series comp for Genshiken, Witchcraft Works)

Genres: Ecchi, Comedy, Romance

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Prison School is based on an ecchi manga by Akira Hiramoto in which an upscale private all-girls high school becomes coed and admits male students for the first time. The story follows the five male students admitted this year to a school of over 1,000 girls as they attempt to steal glimpses of the girls’ changing room and avoid the wrath of the Underground Student Council.

The manga was one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read, but I enjoyed it much more than I expected I would. The art is gorgeous, the comedy is over the top and crass but still well constructed, and its silly reaction face game is on point. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Hanazawa Kana voice the half-delinquent, half-sweet-girl Hana Midorikawa.

The director, Tsutomu Mizushima, who directed the legendary Shirobako and Witchcraft Works is probably the biggest point in this shows favor. He’s proven himself capable and the absurdist comedy style of Witchcraft Works has a similar feel to Prison School so this might actually be more up his alley that it might appear.

Unfortunately the PV looks trashy as hell, even making the source material look clean in comparison (like holy shit Meiko’s bust size what the hell). We’ll have to wait and see if Mizushima can polish this into something entertaining but I’m merely hopeful for now.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Will Watch: Boundless, SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi, Kelloggs

Shimoneta to Iu Gainen ga Sonzai Shinai Taikutsu na Sekai

By PumpkinMochi

dirty jokesSource: Light novel

Studio: JC Staff (DanMachi, Shokugeki no Souma)

Notable Staff: None

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, School

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After the “Law for Public Order and Morals in Healthy Child-Raising” was passed, coarse language was banned throughout Japan. After more than a decade with this law on the books, Japan has become a peaceful, yet boring, society. Tanukichi Okuma, a student in the country’s leading public morals school, is blackmailed by Ayame Kajou into joining her organization, the Anti-Societal Organization (SOX). On the surface, Kajou appears to be a morally upstanding individual and even serves as the vice president of the student council. However, she has an alter ego known as “The Blue in the Snow Field.” This persona is a foul mouthed exhibitionist with a tendency to walk around in public with a pair of panties on her head. As a member of SOX, Tanukichi is forced into participating in lewd acts of terrorism with Kajou against the student council president Anna Nishikinomiya, whom Tanukichi has a crush on.

So yeah… this premise of this series is pretty bonkers and the PV (which opens with a warning and a penis-loading bar before getting more lewd) was definitely something too. What exactly though, I don’t know. In addition to the original light novel, there is also a manga adaptation and I thought it was an entertaining read, and I particularly liked the parts where they did their anti-morals terrorist acts. JC Staff is the studio for this anime, and they’re fairly reliable when it comes to production values. I would recommend watching this show just to see how dumb and over-the-top it can get.

Jameis Winston would be proud.

Jameis Winston would be proud.

Anticipation Level: 69/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Ushio to Tora

By Boundless

Ushio to ToraSource:  Manga

Studio:  MAPPA

Notable Staff: Satoshi Nishimura (Director of Trigun), Toshiki Inoue (Script for Death Note and Full Metal Alchemist)

Genres: Comedy, Demons, Supernatural

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Ushio to Tora is based on the classic, long-running shounen manga of the same name. The story is a simple one: Ushio uncovers a secret chamber under the temple where he lives and finds a demon pinned by an all-powerful demon slaying spear. When his home is attacked by lesser demons, he strikes a deal with the beast and frees him in exchange for his help defending his home. Initially the beast (named Tora) wants to eat Ushio and is waiting for him to drop his guard, but eventually they grow to become an effective youkai fighting team.

The manga is heavily action oriented, with six of the ten chapters in the first volume are primarily devoted to combat. It’s also heavy on slapstick-style comedy as Ushio and Tora make fun of each other and beat each other up in retaliation. Though it can fall into a repetitive “demon of the week” format it has a brisk enough pace and a strong mystery element to keep the reader’s attention. The PV implies the anime version will have a darker, more serious tone along with a stark, hard-lined visual style similar to the original.

MAPPA’s most recent production in this vein would be the awesome Shingeki no Bahamut, though Ushio to Tora is aiming at a younger audience. It’s key staff have a strong shounen background with Satoshi Nishimura directing and Toshiki Inoue as series composition. It seems likely Ushio to Tora will turn out to be a solid shounen staple.

Anticipation Level: 6/10

Will Watch: None

Might Watch: Boundless

To LOVE-Ru Darkness 2nd

By Kelloggs

to love ru darkness secondSourceManga

StudioXebec

Notable Staff: Same as season one

Genres: Ecchi, Comedy

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To Love Ru Darkness continues the tradition of madcap ecchi antics with minimal plot that made everybody love(?) the previous seasons of the TLR franchise. Compared to the previous seasons Darkness actually turned up the ecchi a bit. Darkness 2nd should continue this trend of high fanservice and low to non-existent plot.

Based on that synopsis you might think I’m about to dismiss To LOVE-Ru Darkness 2nd as a worthless piece of salacious garbage. It is tempting to ignore this show based on its content but I actually have a sort of grudging respect for the show. Some shows in this vein are content to merely throw generic breast jiggles and panty shots out and make a show that demonstrates little to no thought. The creators assume that simply by putting hot girls’ naughty bits on the screen they’ll get their viewers’ attention without any real effort. TLR – at least Darkness, I haven’t seen the other seasons – demonstrates actual creativity in the way it deploys its fanservice. It has a level of style in its shots and ingenuity in how it gets past the censors that makes it stand out from the otherwise indistinguishable mass of shows that try to get by just on lazy sex appeal. That said, if you want something resembling a meaningful plot or actual character development you should probably look elsewhere. If, on the other hand, a mindless fanservice romp sounds like your thing then To LOVE-Ru Darkness might be just the thing for you. Although if you do want to watch this I’d wait until the Blu-Rays come out because the TV version is going to be so censored that it’s unrecognizable.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Will Watch: Boundless, SerendipitouslySane, Kelloggs

Might Watch: None

Gatchaman Crowds Insight

By PumpkinMochi

gatchamanSource: Original (Sequel to Gatchman Crowds)

Studio: Tatsunoko Productions (Ping Pong, Yatterman Night, Gatchaman Crowds)

Notable Staff: Kenji Nakamura (directed Mononoke, Gatchaman Crowds)

Genres: Sci-Fi

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This is the sequel to Gatchaman Crowds, which aired in 2013 and was itself a reboot/reimagining of the old Gatchaman show from the 1970s. The lead character, Hajime Ichinose, becomes the newest member of the Gatchaman team and helps protect the world from Berg Katze, an alien entity that has destroyed other planets in the past and wants to do the same with Earth. Insight is set a year after the events of the first season, and a new threat emerges for the Gatchaman to deal with. In addition, a new member of the team, Tsubasa Misudachi, was recruited to be Hajime’s partner.

I enjoyed the first season of Gatchaman Crowds, with the best things about it being the art direction (not surprising as the director also worked on Mononoke) and the music, which was fantastic. One gripe that I did have was that the show was a bit muddled about its themes of the prevalence of technology and its effects of people in the modern world, and I hope that Insight can do a better job at that. I would recommend watch Insight, and to watch the first season if you haven’t already. It’s a fun sci-fi show that isn’t dark and brooding unlike other shows in the genre. If you don’t have the time, there is an OVA called Gatchaman Crowds Insight: Inbound that is set right before Insight and it reintroduces you to the characters and the world, as well as providing a brief summary of the events of the first season and providing a teaser for the new character in Insight.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Will Watch: PumpkinMochi

Might Watch: None

Fate/Kalied liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz!

By SerendipitouslySane

prisma illyaSource: Manga

Studio: Silver Link (Fate/Kalied liner Prisma☆Illya, Fate/Kalied liner Prisma☆Illya Zwei!)

Notable Staff: Same as season 2

Genres: Action, Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, EVEN. MOAR. RIN.

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As the dark horse spinoff of Fate/Stay Night returns for another season, the length of its title has grown to an uncomfortable length. This third season, intended as a more direct sequel to the second rather than a we-made-a-surprisingly-large-amount-of-money-from-a-cash-grab sequel, picks up directly where the second left off, and, according to the trailers, contains copious amounts of summer vacation fanservice and shenanigans. This, to a writer who is currently slacking off in a nine-to-five cubicle, invokes feelings of unfulfillable yearning and jealous rage.

All evidence points to a direct continuation (down to the art style) of the previous season, with all the things that we loved about it. I’ve written plenty (or rather, a proportionately high amount) of praise on this blog about this franchise; the series’ genre parodic, fourth wall-breaking humour works incredibly well, and it doesn’t hurt that is has copious servings of loli yuri, either. The series is not without its low points, being not as expertly produced as some of the higher budget shows, but every time I watch it I am amazed at how much I’ve forgotten that I liked the show. It holds a special place in my very long list of watched anime, despite its flaws, and I look forward to yet another season of it.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Will Watch: SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: None

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

By ParticularlyPeeved

akagamiSourceManga

StudioBones

Notable Staff: Hayami Saori (main character), Ando Masahiro (director)

Genres: Drama, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, Shoujo

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“Shirayuki is a normal citizen of the kingdom of Tanbarun with one unique feature: her red hair. When the prince of Tanbarun orders her to become his concubine because of this, she cuts her hair and escapes to the neighboring kingdom of Clarines. On her way there, she meets and befriends Prince Zen and his two aides. When Zen is poisoned by an apple meant for her, Shirayuki successfully obtains the antidote and decides to accompany the trio to Clarines. Shortly thereafter, Shirayuki passes an exam for a position to train in the palace as a pharmacist. The story follows Shirayuki and her friends as she finds her place in Clarines and carries out her duties as a court pharmacist.”

This is an adaptation of an ongoing manga by Akizuki Sorata, and I also believe is her first work. At first glance, this show strongly reminded me of Akatsuki no Yona – mostly because of the historical setting and the red hair. However, in this case, the girl is not a princess, though she does have a prince chasing her. I’ve only read the first chapter, and I would say this is going to appeal to the same demographic. Reviews of the manga are mostly positive, so I’m interested in this adaptation by Bones. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good plot driven shoujo – one in which romance will play a part, but I don’t expect to be the main driving force behind the show. These are normally rarer than the general high school shoujo romance, so it’s nice to see another one. Also, I don’t expect this show to be nearly as “quest” focussed as Akatsuki no Yona was, not that that’s a bad thing. I look forward to finding out more.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Will Watch: ParticularlyPeeved

Might Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Ranpo Kitan: Game of Laplace

By PumpkinMochi

ranpo kitanSource: Original

Studio: Lerche (Assassination Classroom, Unbreakable Machine-Doll)

Notable Staff: Kishi Seiji (director: Assassination Classroom, Angel Beats, Persona 4)

Genres: Horror, Mystery

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Based on the works of author Edogawa Ranpo (who pioneered the development of Japanese mystery fiction in the early 20th century), this is set at a middle school where several murders have occurred. This attracts the attention of the genius detective Akechi, who comes to the school to investigate. No, not that Akechi. A different one with the same namesake. One of the students, Kobayashi, takes an interest in Akechi and volunteers to be his assistant despite the concerns of his friend Hashida.

By virtue of airing in the noitaminA timeslot for the summer season, I’m already interested in this show and the fact that it’s based off material from an actual mystery writer is pretty cool too. Even though it has those pluses, there are other reasons to temper down my expectations for this show. The director is Seiji Kishi, who is known for doing mediocre adaptations such as both of the Persona 4 series and Danganronpa. The studio working on this, Lerche, is also working on two other shows this season (Monster Musume and Gakkou Gurashi), which are probably gonna be more profitable and thus better to focus resources on. I couldn’t discern anything from the PV either, so the best idea is just to be cautiously optimistic and see how the first couple of episodes turn out.

Anticipation Level: 7/10

Will Watch: Boundless, PumpkinMochi

Might Watch: Kelloggs, SerendipitouslySane

Working!!!

By Kelloggs

workingSourceManga

StudioA-1 Pictures

Notable Staff: Same as previous season EXCEPT for the director

Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life

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Working is one of those anime that has always surprised me with how popular it is. It’s a comedic slice of life anime that doesn’t have anything to make it stand out from other shows in the genre other than maybe the workplace setting. Servant x Service, another workplace comedy written by the same mangaka didn’t really generate much buzz. But Working has produced outstanding sales numbers for both its first season and its sequel and now we’re getting yet another season.

My surprise isn’t meant to indicate that Working isn’t a good show. I like it quite a bit and I’m glad we’re getting another season. The show handles its characters well and demonstrates an understanding of how to put them in situations that will generate good comedic results. The show hasn’t been without its problems though. The first season leaned too much on repeated gags related to Inami punching Takanashi while the second dragged its feet a lot on the developing romantic relationships. The good news is that the show seemed to move away from the comedic violence crutch in season two and the manga is complete so romantic progress might actually be possible in this third and presumably final season. Getting three seasons of a quality show like Working is a gift I’m glad to be receiving.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: Kelloggs

Might Watch: None

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri

By SerendipitouslySane

gateSource: Light Novel

Studio: A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online II)

Notable Staff: Kyogoku Takahiko (Director, Love Live! School Idol Project)

Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Military, Pina Colada

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One of the few things gained from Sword Art Online II other than Sinon’s magnificent arse, is proof that A-1 Pictures can do guns, possibly more so than the lackadaisical prop groups of modern Hollywood, as I have outlined in a previous post. Which is perfect for a show like Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri, a show about the Japanese Self Defence Force crossing through a portal into an alternate, medieval world with all the standard trappings of a fantasy world; dragons, elves, villages of poor people, goth lolis, and a Roman emperor with a beautiful daughter general named Pina Colada. Thus combining my two favourite things: guns and being disappointed by poorly crafted magical fantasy anime.

The story spends most of its time portraying the JSDF as lawful good scouts into a foreign land, against a corrupt and uncaring Empire, and divides the rest of its time between massacring old world armies with modern technology, and nationalistic Japanese realpolitik as the Diet comes to grips with the fact that there is a whole new world of resources and riches which only they have the Gate to. The series is therefore occasionally accused of glorifying right-wing nationalism and militarism on the level surpassing even Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei. Thankfully, rampant militarism and antagonising That Really Large Country that Must Not be Named Because They Buy A Lot of Our Stuff is not my biggest gripe with Mahouka, a show with many, many flaws, given that it is coming from a country whose Constitution relinquishes the sovereign right to war, and I am currently writing this in one with a military larger than the next twenty-six largest militaries combined.

All in all, Gate definitely has potential. The story is written by a fanatic with good understanding of feudal empires as well as modern military tactics, and the adapting studio is sound in the technical aspect of anime production, with an especially good track record with the guns and military equipment that are prominently featured in the show. If there is one, non-sequel show I really don’t want to fail this season, it’s Gate.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: Boundless

God Eater

By Boundless

god eaterSource:  Video Game

Studio:  ufotable

Notable Staff: Hirao Takayuki

Genres: Action, Demons, Fantasy, Supernatural, Military

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God Eater is based on an action-fantasy RPG produced by Namco of the same name. Set in 2071 Japan, the world has been mostly destroyed by a mysterious and violent organism called Aragami. An organization known as Fenrir specialized in eliminating Aragami using special weapons made from living Aragami cells known as God Arcs. The specialists who wield these weapons and fight the Aragami are known as God Eaters.

I’m both hopeful and hesitant about God Eater because it certainly looks cool but I’ve been burned by video game adaptations a few too many times in the past. At least it’s being animated by ufotable so we know it will look gorgeous. Surprisingly, there aren’t any big name people attached to the project. The director, Hirao Takayuki, has done a handful of one-shots under ufotable so far but this is his first director credit on a full-length series. The PV shows a hint of fluid animation as well as an odd almost glistening look to the characters that could take some getting used to.

I haven’t played the game so I can’t speak to whether the story will be good or not, but I’m pretty excited to see a high production value action spectacle.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: Boundless

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi, SerendipitouslySane

Non Non Biyori Repeat

By Kelloggs

Non Non BiyoriSourceManga

StudioSilver Link

Notable Staff: Same as season one

Genres: Slice of Life

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Non Non Biyori is the story of Ichijou Hotaru who moved from the city to the country. The first season follows her experience of adjust to country life with sisters Koshigaya Natsumi and Komari as well as the adorable Miyauchi Renge. The second season will continue the story of their everyday rural lives.

Non Non Biyori is one of those shows that I wasn’t completely in love with when it aired but I’ve grown progressively fonder of in retrospect. The first season had an amazing command of atmosphere and really evoked the feeling of rural life in Japan. The full staff and studio from season one are back and the sequel promises to have the same qualities that made the first so good. In particular the return of Yoshida Reiko as series composer is a very big deal. Her resume is full of quality slice of life anime like Non Non Biyori and K-ON. You probably already know if you’re watching this but if you like calm, slice of life anime and somehow haven’t watched Non Non Biyori already give it a shot. It’s an excellent example of the genre.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, ParticularlyPeeved

Might Watch: None

Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou

By PumpkinMochi

Monster MusumeSource: Manga

Studio: Lerche (Assassination Classroom, Unbreakable Machine-Doll)

Notable Staff: none

Genres: Comedy, Ecchi, Fantasy, Harem

MAL

 

 

For years, the Japanese government kept secret the existence of mythical creatures but revealed their existence with the Interspecies Cultural Exchange Act to regulate how these creatures could interact with humans and vice versa. People can use their homes to host these extraspecies individuals. After a misunderstanding, Kimihito Kurusu becomes the unwilling host for a snake girl/lamia named Miia. Over time, other monster girls show up at his house and because they’re all in love with him for one reason or other, harem hijinks ensue.

When I first heard about this series, I was immediately interested solely because of its weird premise with a harem consisting of different kinds of monster girls. While it is still very much a harem series at its core, I did like certain things that came up in the series. The monster girls have traits that reflect their respective natures and the series does kind of touch on the issue of societal discrimination, albeit in between all the boobs and other fanservice.

Even though I did like the manga and am looking forward to the anime, this is one of those shows where they will have to censor a lot of the ecchi content for the TV broadcast, so it would be better to just wait for the blu-rays for this series.

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: Boundless, PumpkinMochi

Might Watch: SerendipitouslySane

Charlotte

By Kelloggs

CharlotteSourceOriginal

StudioP.A. Works

Notable Staff: Maeda Jun (Original Creator: Angel Beats, Clannad, Little Busters)

Genres: Comedy, Supernatural

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From the studio an author that brought you Angel Beats comes Charlotte: an anime about a boy with supernatural powers named Otosaka Yuu. He uses this power without others knowing which allows him to lead a relatively ordinary high school life despite his abilities. One day he meets a girl named Tomori Nao whose presence threatens to expose Yuu’s powers.

Being an anime original, not a lot is known about the plot of Charlotte. Given it’s written by Maeda Jun it’s a fair bet that the first half will have quite a bit of slapstick comedy and the latter parts with attempt to tug at your heartstrings in a fairly shameless manner. Maeda is something of a divisive figure in the anime world. If you ask some people he’s an outstanding creator who has been behind some of the most emotionally moving anime and visual novels of all time. Other people see him as an overrated hack whose ham-handed attempts at melodrama and child-like female characters are offensive to anybody with good taste. I’m personally very solidly in the pro-Maeda camp but I understand why a lot of people aren’t. I got started on my journey into the anime world with KEY works and have always had a soft spot for them. There probably aren’t that many people out there who don’t have their mind made up on Maeda’s work but if you’re a fan of his previous offerings then I see no reason not to look forward to Charlotte

Anticipation Level: 8/10

Will Watch: Boundless, Kelloggs, ParticularlyPeeved, SerendipitouslySane

Might Watch: PumpkinMochi

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