Some trends for the upcoming summer season: the series aimed at girls seem to be getting big again after a long drought. The problem is that like the series aimed at boys, a lot of them are looking to be really bad. Beyond that, there are lots of series that have concepts that have been done to death by now. I’m nearly inclined to dub this season “The Summer of Dead Horses”.
On the good news though, there are quite a number of series that are looking to have some serious potential. And not in the way of the Autumn of 2013 in which everything seemed great, only to feature many, many disappointments, but actually in the way that there will be a lot worth watching here, series that take themselves seriously, or are trying out something different. Well, many. Many for the standards of the past few years.
As usual, lots of assumptions follow. I do not read manga so I have no idea about any original source material and stuff. My impressions are purely based on the stuff that I can say something about, like the staff, premise and promotional material. These ain’t full reviews, yo.
Series that I Don’t Look Forward To
Momo Kyun Sword
Why I don’t like it:`Yeah, this one is going to be terrible. It’s in the genre where cute girls with lots of boob fight with big powers, while at the same time raping the original story of Momotaro (the kid who was born from a peach). I mean, just look at the art here the creators weren’t trying to be subtle about the characters’ cleavage in any way were they?
Why I don’t like it: It’s yet another one of those shows there to promote idols. Seriously, that too has turned into a complete dead horse. I wouldn’t mind so much if we just got one of these shows once in a while or something, like what it used to be in the past, but nowadays they’re everywhere! Idols are not so special that they deserve this many series people! The only saving grace here is that it’s from the director of Milky Holmes, but this isn’t a genre he can parody so well because it would make the idols look bad. Blegh.
Why I don’t like it: This is a stupid cross-dressing show with a ridiculous premise. The worst thing is that it’s the same bloody premise that every single bad cross-dressing series uses for its shenanigans: for some contrived reason a dude needs to enter a female only high school and therefore he needs to dress up like a girl. Blah boring! Skip this one!
Why I don’t like it: Well first of all it’s a light novel adaptation with an overly cute girl on the front page. That’s one of the clearest early signs that this will be bad. And yeah, it’s a dull school series. The premise however does hold a tiny shred of potential: it’s about the writer of a life advice column of the school newspaper that follows a few of the life advice requests he needs to write about. If they can deal with those requests intelligently, then this might make a chance. But then I direct your attention back to the covers of the light novels, which all feature overly cute girls in suggestive poses and yeah… this one’s gonna suck.
Survival Game Club
Why I don’t like it: Blah blah, another club full of girls at school that does something. Again something we’ve seen waaaay too many times by now. This time it’s about survival games, and is that me or does that really sound eerily similar to that Gainax show about the gun club that came out last Autumn?
Persona 4 The Golden
Why I don’t like it: Ooh, I still remember what a disaster the original Persona 4 anime was, and now they’re planning to make more! It was completely incomprehensible for people who didn’t play the game. It spent huge amounts of time on things that didn’t matter, and flew through the important bits. It was littered with bad humour. It was the first point at which I realized that Seiji Kishi had completely lost it with his new style, and he’s back. However he really turned into a Shinbo-wannabe right now by assuming the task of chief director while another director is the real one. And I know that having a chief director and a director is more common and all, but none are trying to rip off Shinbo as blatantly as he is. I have a pity with the fans of the Atlus that they keep getting stuck with this guy. I mean in the span of a couple of years he managed to turn me off completely to their games.
Why I don’t like it: Normally I’m a bit more lenient on historical manga that look kindof serious. But for god’s sake come on! A high school boy who travels back in time and who must become Oda Nobunaga? Is that the best you can think of? Let’s try to rape his character even more by turning him into a high school boy for god’s sake. Japan has many more interesting time periods. You don’t have to stick with this guy. Here is the weird thing: when Sengoku Basara did it, the warring states era was hardly ever used as a setting. After that though, every single historical series suddenly was about that bloody period, to the point where there was hardly anything else. I mean come on Japan: move on!
Why I don’t like it: You just know that this one will be bad: it’s basically one big advertisement for Hokkaido (like, the island), personified in a cute girl. As a zombie. Or at least, something that’s supposed to be a zombie. WHATEVER IS ON THAT PROMO IMAGE IS NOT A ZOMBIE.
Akame ga Kill
Why I don’t like it: This one doesn’t seem like anything special: it’s just another show in which a boy and a girl use magical powers to fight some evil empire. The weapons look stupid, the character designs bland. The sole salvation here is that there isn’t a school to be found, but that’s nowhere near enough to make up for the blandness of the rest.
Why I don’t like it: Here’s a case of talented people being wasted on the wrong project. I mean, these people aren’t bad at all. They worked on some really good stuff: Madhouse, Reiko Yoshida and Atsuko Ishizuka (the latter in particular: she’s one of the few female directors who actually made it into the big leagues and consistently gets assigned to projects). However, what’s the show about? High School Girls dancing. Now Yosakoi is something that we haven’t seen before and all, but there is no hint whatsoever that there will be any depth here. Tip for future promo artists: don’t feature an all-cute girl cast on your image who look way too much like each other and nothing else. That’s just bland and boring!
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Why I don’t like it: For god’s sake stop milking out the Fate franchise! It’s done, it’s over! Enough already and think of something new here. this is just getting ridiculous!
Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
Why I don’t like it: Yeah, this one will be really bad, all of the warning signs are there. A promo full of only cute girls, they all use magic, they are all of nobility, and there is exactly one guy who gets to be special and ends up inbetween them for contrived reasons. Next!
Why I don’t like it: Aaagh! More idols! Such creativity! This one does come from the director of Sukitte Ii na Yo, however can we for god’s sake tone it down on the sheer number of these things?
Invaders of the Rokujyouma!?
Why I don’t like it: Yup, many warning signs that this is going to be terrible. All the male characters are absent from the main promo art on the website, character designs who all look the same aside from hair, eyes and boob sizes, a bland premise for a show. Not to mention Shin Oonuma and Silver Link being at it again. This is one to skip.
Why I don’t like it: Aaah yes, finally! Xebec is going back to making mecha series, the thing that they did that they were actually good at, until they radically shifted their focus towards producing crappy fanservice shows. Tatsuo Sato will write it, and this is a guy who also wrote Mouretsu Pirates, Basquash, Madesico, Shingu, and adapted Azumanga Daioh, and the director will be… what?! Atsushi Ootsuka? The director of To Love-Ru, Kanokon and Ladies Versus Butlers? Some of the worst shows Xebec has ever made!?! Seriously, you really couldn’t get anyone better? And yeah, the trailer confirmed that this is just going to be a dumb action series with a generic plot.
Why I don’t like it: I do have to hand it to Rurumo: it’s got its own premise. It’s not completely original, but at the very least it has a premise that doesn’t attempt to rip off as many other generic series as possible. However, that does not mean that I look forward to a series with a tagline called “Pervert and Apprentice”. I find sex jokes bad really easily, so this show is going to have to try really really hard not to be annoying. So yeah, that’s not going to happen.
Why I don’t like it:Kenichi Kasai, the director who gave us the brilliant rendition that were the first season of Nodame Cantabile and Honey and Clover! After years of silence he’s finally back with another series: shounen ai! Fans of shounen ai: rejoice! Non-fans of shounen-ai: keep waiting. He may be brilliant, but he isn’t able to make people buy a genre they previously weren’t into.
Why I don’t like it:Oh my god, BL with an actual plot! The problem with boys’ love series is that they’re just too often entirely dedicated to fanservice, to the point where the fanservice gets completely in the way of any potential that might have been there. Show me a great series that has a gay couple in it and I won’t complain at all. The reason I’m not looking forward to this is the one who’s going to adapt this: Machida Touko. Her adaptations comprise Amnesia, Allison to Lillia, Ookami Kakushi… basically lots of series that completely botched any potential that their original source material had.
Why I don’t like it:Here’s an interesting one. The premise is creative, I like that, and I really want to like this series, but everything else is throwing up red flags: the guy who adapted Kanokon will adapt this, it’s based off of a bunch of light novels, the stereotypical character descriptions, and how the poses that the characters are all making are all trying a little too hard. Don’t get me wrong, these don’t immediately mean that we’re dealing with a bad series here. But there are an awful lot of hints that do point into that direction.
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Why I don’t like it: I don’t really have anything to whine about here. It seems like a standard romance, just not a special one. It will work decently if the creators take care in developing all of the characters, they don’t make the romance too stupid or convoluted, the usual stuff. It won’t stand out in any way though, which is why I’m not looking forward to it.
Free – Eternal Summer
Why I don’t like it: Well, this obviously had it coming, the actually well produced slice of life series with lots of gay undertones. What sets Free apart from the shows like Utapri is that it actually bothers to put some effort into its characterizations, and making the characters come alive rather than portraying them as a bunch of cardboard boxes. They’re stil stereotypes, but hey at least it’s something: it’s progress. I’m obviously not going to watch it, but I do have a question to the fans of the series: does it really warrant a second season, or is this just milking it?
Ao Haru Ride
Why I don’t like it: Don’t get me wrong: Ao Haru Ride looks like a very solid romance. I can just say with certainty that the premise just isn’t interesting enough that I’m going to continue watching it. I mean, it’s got the director of Yahari blahblah, a solid scriptwriter, a premise that’s neither good nor bad or overused. It’s just another high school romance that doesn’t try to pretend it’s anything else. And I just don’t want to watch those shows any more.
Why I don’t like it: Oooh, the cheese. Plus this show gets points for being historical and not featuring Oda Freaking Nobunaga. This sounds like a series that’s so bad that makes it worth watching at least an episode, featuring some bizarre love child between AKB0048 and Utapri. It will be glorious. Gloriously bad, but glorious. (For those uninitiated, this is a show about a bunch of bishies who try to save the Bakumatsu era with hard rock!)
Psycho Pass Recap
Why I don’t like it: This entry is just here to prevent confusion, which will very likely to be there considering how bad rumours can spread over the internet. Psycho Pass Season 2 will air for the upcoming fall season. I am psyched about that one. This summer season meanwhile will re-air the first season as an 11-episoded series with 50-minute episodes, and a few re-cuts here and there that probably will not amount to much. However, they’re really trying to make this one big, and they’re really profiling this series as targeted towards adults. This is good, Noitamina is slowly but steadily returning to what actually made it good. This is actually pretty important here, because this isn’t trivial. Out of all the possible series to focus on, the producers chose Psycho Pass. Not Guilty Crown, not Fractale. Psycho Pass. They really want to keep the original spirit of the timeslot going.
Series I Am Looking Forward To
Kuroshitsuji – Book of Circus
Impressions: OH GOD NO! The new season of Kuroshitsuji has a completely new staff behind it. Noriyuki Abe is actually a very skilled director: before directing Bleach he gave us Great Teacher Onizuka, and that was no fluke even with a very strong source material. Kuroshitsuji is exactly the kind of series that can get something great out of him again. The first two seasons were adapted by Mari Okada, and this actually fitted her very well as a series with the craziness that went on. For season three though… we have to deal with Uber-troll Hiroyuki Yoshino. If you don’t know him, be glad. This is the guy who wrote the original story for Seikon no Qwaser, Guilty Crown, Code Geass, Mai Otome. This guy writes grandiose stories which are often so grandiose and convoluted that they collapse in on themselves. His adaptations are hardly ever complete, even when well written. You’re almost guaranteed to get a completely botched up ending here, even though the endings are what I loved about the first two seasons of Kuroshitsuji. And to make things even worse, Ichiro Okouchi, the original creator of Code Geass and the writer of Valvrave is joining in for the scripts!
Impressions: Because no staff has been announced whatsoever, I’m going to go and give this one the benefit of the doubt. Why? The bits of creativity in the premise and the promo artwork. Because of that it might have potential, but the whole premise is one that really can go both ways: from great to terrible. It needs to be more than “girls fight each other with supernatural powers”. We’ve seen that so many times before. Give us some depth here.
Sailor Moon Crystal
Impressions: First of all I should exclaim that I’m not a Sailor Moon fan. My relationship with it was a weird one, because it was one of the series that I watched on Dutch television before I actually discovered the internet. However, it had just the bad luck to air at a really inconvenient time in the morning, right before Card Captor Sakura. I LOVED Card Captor Sakura, and in comparison Sailor Moon seemed just a cheap knock-off (I only learned later that it in fact was quite a bit older) with some annoying characters and a romance purposefully dragged itself out for ages. Not to mention that the network ended up cancelling giving Card Captor Sakura an even more impossible timeslot in favour of Sailor Moon. So that’s not the reason I’m looking forward to this. The reason I’m looking forward to this is that it’s the first ambitious shoujo series we’ve had in many years now. We seriously needed something to revitalize the genre, and Toei really seems to have allocated a big budget to make it happen. For that, I want this series to succeed. Not for Sailor Moon, but for the shoujo genre as a whole. It used to be one of my favorite genres, but it got completely pushed aside by the shounen genres to the point that the only shoujo shows we nowadays get are school series.
Impressions: Yup, we’ve got a solid one here. The winner of the most creative website, and overall it’s got a really solid casting behind it with an original story by Gen Urobuchi, directed by Ei Aoki who is very consistent as a director (you may remember him from one of the Kara no Kyoukai movies and Fate Zero), the music from the guy who wrote the score for Shingeki no Kyojin and Kill la Kill (and Kalafina for the opening yay!). Yes, this is ambitious. The key deciding factor for this one will be the series composition: Gen isn’t gonna write it this time, someone else is. So who will it be? Katsuhiko Takayama, the guy who in the past adapted ef, Kimi ga Nozomu Eien, Ga-Rei Zero, Hantsuki, only to afterwards completely lose it with Boku no Pico, Asobi ni Iku Yo, Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu, Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate, Majikoi, Sasami@Ganbaranai and Dusk Maiden of Amnesia. So, the matter for this series will entirely depend on one thing: does this guy still have it? Can he still write serious stories, or has his mind been diluted too much by writing senseless crap? I mean, if that’s well, then the rest of the creators can make something out of it. He is the one who will make or break this show.
Impressions: There was a time at which I worshipped Junji Nishimura, the guy behind Simoun, one of my favourite series in like, ever. Then came Kyou Kara Maou… and Nurarihyon no Mago… and Dog Days… and I really started to doubt this guy… however this time, I’ll bite. This guy is brilliant at original stories, which is exactly what this series is: he’s both writing and directing it so he should have an amount of control that should allow his talents to surface again after so many years (dear god, I feel old now that I realize that True Tears was already six years ago!)
Impressions: After many years of absence, Kenji Kawai is doing the soundtrack for another series! Awesome! And it’s quite an interesting slice of life series which really seems to be aiming to bring something new to the table. We know that it’s in able hands, with the director of Tokyo Magnitude,
Impressions: Now this is an example of how you grab my attention. Promo art that stands out and immediately tells you that something is going to happen here. The premise may not say much, but we know that we’ve got ourselves a horror story, plus it’s made by people who are outside of the conventional anime business. The Shuhei Morita directed Freedom, which was actually a pretty good science fiction series, and he has done many other short indie films, rather than big titles. They also got an actual playwright in in order to adapt this series, rather than picking from the usual scriptwriters, and I’m really curious what difference he can bring to the table.
Zankyou no Tokyo
Impressions: Now this series screams Noitamina, this series understood it. It’s not even that the characters are teenagers that can distract from that. Here we have a series with a skilled and famous director, lots of production behind it, looking ambitious from all sides and dealing with actual current issues that are grounded in the real world, rather than just the fantasy that most anime series are stuck at. The trailer looks and sounds excellent, and with Shinichiro Watanabe being really busy this season, this series is something to look out for!
Space Dandy 2
Impressions: Two Shinichiro Watanabe series in one season. Holy balls this is going to be awesome. And with Space Dandy, we already know what kind of a series it is: every single episode is different. Shinichiro Watanabe can handle two series at the time because of how much freedom he can give out with this series: every episode is basically in the hands of a group of talented people, and they’re instructed to be as creative as possible. The first season already showed that that was a great combination, as long as you don’t expect the next Cowboy Bebop. However, I do wonder what the creators have in store for closure. The second season needs that, something to really leave behind a fantastic taste.