Good morning, and happy Independence Day for those of you in the United States. The Summer anime season has already crept out of its hole, and I'll be ready to take a closer look at all the new series starting next week (or whenever I happen to finish writing about Spring anime, which should be soon). For now, let's take a preliminary look at what we have in store for ourselves, and what Sentai Filmworks will likely be licensing the majority of over the next couple of weeks (don't believe me? They've already licensed Natsuyuki Rendezvous, which hasn't even begun airing).
Just as another reminder, I reserve the right to talk as little or as much about these series in the future as I think is warranted once I get a chance to watch them. My prelim assessment of their potential could be completely and utterly wrong; I reserve the right to be wrong without being ridiculed for it (but if you have a counterpoint to offer in a civil manner, I would love to hear it!).
Note: occasionally the accuracy of these anime charts is in question, so please don't take this list as one-hundred percent accurate.
Anyway, on to the previews!
Shorts, Sequels and Stuff
Spring 2012 had several sequels and a whole slew of short-form anime; thankfully, Summer seems to be a bit lighter in that respect. Probably most notable is the continuation of Rinne no Lagrange, a series that I did not watch due to several reasons but which a lot of people are most likely pretty excited about.
Chitose Get You! - Chitose is a young girl who falls in love with Hiroshi, who works at the town hall. She spends her days in pursuit of him. This is the type of premise that's very difficult to execute in a way that doesn't seem creepy. It's one thing for the younger character to have an innocent crush on an older, adult character (I'm sure this has happened to many of us in our lives), but it's quite another to base an entire series on the younger character's pursuit of this "love" that's not mutual (or shouldn't be. It isn't, right? Right?). Hanamaru Kindergarten had a similar premise, but the fact that the characters were obvious moeblobs rather than right on the cusp of puberty helped to tone it down somewhat. On the upside, perhaps the fact that the episodes are so short means that there won't be enough time to be nasty and gross.
Remember, this category is for sequels of series I didn't watch, and therefore won't have the background to give a full opinion.
Rinne no Lagrange 2 - I heard a lot of mixed reports about the first half of the series. It always sounded like the sort of thing I'd be inclined to watch if I had more free time to do so; its flaws were obvious, but the seed of a decent mecha series was buried down inside there somewhere. There was just a little bit too much ass-focus in the first episode (and the uniforms were a bit too tight) for me to feel enthusiastic about it.
Dog Days 2 - The original Dog Days series seemed kind of cute. Its focus on war games (rather than all-out war) was creative, and its color palette was appealing and fun. I wasn't a bit fan of its more pandering portions, though, and didn't continue past the second or third episode. It seemed to have some relatively good animation chops, judging by some compilation clips I saw online, so perhaps that might be one reason that the show appeals to viewers. I am just not all that interested.
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon 2 - The first episode of this series brought us incomprehensible plot elements, racism, and molestation. The male protagonist (at least, I assume that he's the main character) came across as an absolutely terrible and abusive ass hat. Thinking about this show makes me angry. You can imagine, then, how charmed I am by the fact that there's another season available to "enjoy."
Hakuouki: Reimei-roku - Can I just say how tired I am of Hakuouki sequels? I am so tired of this franchise. On one hand I'm glad that a series aimed at girls has done well enough to warrant several sequels, but every time I try to watch any of the series, I'm bored to the point of tears. This show was part of the reason that I decided to move to shorter opinions of sequel series, to be honest. I think the Shinsengumi could be interesting as the focus of an anime, but this attempt just makes me want to go to sleep.
Yuruyuri?? - What I watched of this series had little to do with actual lesbian characters, and more to do with girls sitting around doing random things like almost every other slice-of-life anime. I found it to be pretty boring, but it hit with the right audience so here we are.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! - Is it terrible that when I see the word "imouto" ("little sister") in an anime's title, I automatically assume the worst? In this case, we seem to have another variation on the "toying with incest" plotline that defines these series. Here, the protagonist and his sister were raised apart, but now attend the same school. The added catch is that he doesn't know which of the girls is his sister, and he's going to that school so that he can find a mate and inherit some sort of fortune. Gee, I wonder whether he'll accidentally fall in love with his sister, despite the fact that there are probably a hundred different girls also going to the same school who are not his sister.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - I'm basing this assessment primarily on the fact that the anime is based on an adult game, as well as on the supplementary fact that the costume designs emphasize the breasts of the female characters. It's not as egregious as it could be, but my annoyance has a hair trigger when certain factors are combined. Anyway, the protagonist of this series agrees to run for student president to prevent the abolition of the cooking club... which is full of hot girls who want to do him, I'm sure. If I thought that cooking would be a major factor in the plot, I might be inclined to look more closely, but I doubt that that's the case.
Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai - The male protagonist is sad because he lives with a goddess of death who's apparently stealing his sex drive. He no longer gets excited when he looks at girls because he gave up his erotic spirit as part of the contract with this goddess. So, the upside to this relationship is what...? This sounds like nothing but a twist on the "I'm sad because no girls want to touch me in the bathing suit area" sort of shounen pseudo-romance that's so frequent. Perhaps it's my age talking, but I'm not really that interested in watching another series about a guy who doesn't know what he's doing.
Oda Nobuna no Yabou - Wow, another gender-swapped interpretation of the Sengoku Period?
Ebiten: Kouritsu Ebisugawa Koukou Tenmon-Bu - Dear god, this looks effing atrocious. It's actually and ONA, so I don't know how likely it is that I'll even be watching any of it, but the character designs alone just make me incredibly angry. It's also a series about female otaku, which doesn't bode well at all, since female otaku are apparently some mysterious species all their own (at least if you were to ask anime creators). *shudder*
Kingdom - This series, which follows the trials of a couple of war-orphans, seems like it's probably very shounen-ish and not particularly relevant to my interests, but it does appear to combine a little history with its story, so that is certainly a plus. This is maybe more "low priority" in the sense that I don't really care about it, but I suspect that it lacks the offensive factors that define many of the series on that list, so I'm willing to give it the benefit of the doubt.
Hagure Yuusha no Estetica - Alternate worlds, a "wayward hero," and the daughter of the demon king? It sounds like a lot to try and cram into one anime series. This appears to be a pretty standard fantasy series and there's nothing to suggest even an ounce of creativity, but it again doesn't seem like the type of series that stands to make me feel overwhelmingly angry (aside from some potential for "damsel in distress" storylines).
Sword Art Online - Someone else already compared this show's general plot ideas to that of the Hunter x Hunter: Greed Island OVA, and I would have to agree. The blending of an MMO world with real-life consequences has been done before. Does that mean that this version is doomed to be bad? No, of course not. But it does need to bring something new to the table in order to stand out.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita - Early reports are pegging this as a very strange series with some dramatic shifts in tone. I have to admit that it's been one of the few series this season that actually garnered my interest with its unique take on post-apocalyptic earth, but I worry that its combination of cute/funny with darker elements may be difficult to balance. I'm honestly hoping that, despite the look of the artwork (and the fact that the show is about interaction with a bunch of fairies), this will skew more towards the darker end of the tonal spectrum.
Aruvu Rezuru: Kikai Jikake no Yousei-tachi - Despite the fact that this show is also about a guy's younger sister (he must find her soul that's been lost to cyber-space), I have higher expectations of it. The general plot idea seems sort of reminiscent of Dennou Coil to me. While I don't expect similar levels of quality, I do like the blend of spiritualism and science-fiction that's suggested here. (Note: after some further research, I believe that this might actually be an OVA rather than a TV anime).
Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi - A self-proclaimed "liberal" adaptation of the stories that served as the basis for the hundred poems that, in turn, became immortalized as part of the Karuta card game. I suspect that this might be a fun series to watch alongside Chihayafuru, as the poems serve a special significance in that series and this may help to illustrate their background better for those of us who haven't grown up learning them. Any way, I'm intrigued.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse - Is it bad that I keep reading the title as "Muf-Luv?" This sci-fi series has its roots in an adult game, and I believe it; the bodysuits, if painted in flesh tones, could pass as nudity in the correct light. Other than that, I don't really know what to think. Series about girls piloting mecha have to be really interesting before I'm likely to take notice (note: to this point I don't think I've ever watched one). I have no specific hatred towards this title, but I'm very wary of it.
Binbo-gami ga! - A wealthy girl with an abundance of "happiness energy" is confronted by a god of poverty, who hopes to reset the balance. I can't quite tell how fanservicey this show is going to be. I take that back, what I mean is that I can't tell whether the level of fanservice will be tolerable in light of other factors (like Ben-To), or whether the rest of the show is bound to be so stupid that it'll only be more irritating when bouncy boobs are added to the mix.
Tari Tari - P.A. Works had so much success with Hanasaku Iroha that they decided to try and recreate that success with a show that looks very similar. At least, that's the version of this show's creation that makes sense in my mind. Whether or not the two series are actually similar is anyone's guess at this point, but I'm looking forward to getting an eyeful of the nice background artwork and character animation. I'm just hoping there's no "erotica author" episode to bring this show down.
Campione! - A high school boy kills a god and claims its powers, becoming a "campione" who goes around slaying other gods. I feel like gods should be unable to be slain, but that's just me. This looks like a pretty standard older-shounen fantasy to me.
Kokoro Connect - Apparently this series is about a group of five male and five female students who swap bodies. That premise is pretty stupid and I expect that the show will be borderline in terms of quality, but there are too many unknowns for me to just drop it into the "crap" pile at this point, so there you have it. I will say that the character designs look as though they were ripped-off from K-ON.
Joshiraku - A group of young female rakugo performers share their backstage conversations with one-another. While this is most certainly just another "girls doing stuff" series, it at least has the benefit of an interesting sort of setting to set it apart from the rest. That said, J.C. Staff hasn't done much to impress me as of late, so it's difficult to speculate on the final quality of the show.
La Storia della Arcana Famiglia - A girl and a bunch of guys are part of a mafia-like group that base their attacks on the cards of the Tarot. This looks to be a reverse-harem all the way, though I'm kind of hopeful that maybe the action aspects of the premise will take center stage, while any love dodecahedrons will step to the background. Realistically, I imagine that this will be very silly and not very interesting.
I've only got a couple of highly-anticipated series this time around and they're both noitaminA series, but that's all right with me.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous - I consider this series to be noitaminA going back to its roots as a purveyor of non-otaku (meaning, in my mind, for women) entertainment. This seems to be a relatively straightforward love triangle romance series which may not seem that interesting to everyone, but I get a sense from the preview that its storytelling style is more mature and its drama more refined than your average romance anime series.
Moyashimon Returns - I have literally been waiting five years for this sequel (the original Moyashimon was one of the first series to be reviewed by me at the previous incarnation of this website). This strange combination of food science, biology and cuteness has always been one of my favorites, and I'm really looking forward to continuing with the story (especially since, judging by the Japanese language manga I have, they study the science of wine-making at some point). It's merely a bonus that the little bacteria characters in the show are so gosh-darned cute that I can barely stand it.
So how about you? What are you looking forward to this season?