Sunday, June 22, 2014

2014 Summer Anime Season Preview

If 2014 Spring is a season of Sports (just right before World Cup too, talk about excellent timing), then 2014 Summer is a season of high-profile sequels. I don't normally preview sequels but the titles of this particular season are making so much noise that foregoing them would certainly undermine the comprehensiveness of the preview. We just don't normally get this level of concentration of hotly anticipated sequels. The rest of schedule doesn't look too shabby either, especially considering the not-too-impressive history of summer seasons; for one thing, we have Watanabe helming a new show at Mappa, you can't really go wrong with that. One last thing before I move on to the real stuff, I left out some shows that have no merits besides pandering. Trash is trash, I've already spent too much time in past seasons ragging on them, so the new plan is to not bother at all.

via AniChart
via Neregate

Akame ga Kill!

[Manga] ANN | PV

Director: Tomoki Kobayashi
Series Composition: Makoto Uezu
Genre: action, adventure, fantasy
"In a fantasy world, fighter Tatsumi sets out for the Capitol to earn money for his starving village, and finds a world of unimaginable corruption, all spreading from the depraved Prime Minister who controls the child Emperor's ear. After nearly becoming a victim of this corruption himself, Tatsumi is recruited by Night Raid, a group of assassins dedicated to eliminating the corruption plaguing the Capitol by mercilessly killing those responsible."

Expectation: Medium 
Hummm...pretty badass from the outset. It definitely seems like the kind of show I can sit through. Assassins always make for exciting action flicks. Being totally unfamiliar with the source material, the quality of the writing is up in the air for me, though I'm a tad worried about the main character – whatever it is, please don't let him be a spineless moron who only knows how to blush when face-boobed. The staff on the helm is a mixed bag, there aren't a lot on their resume that stand out (with the exception of Humanity has Decline). White Fox isn't really known for superior animation but they have picked up great projects in the past (Steins;Gate). All in all, no hype train here, but a pretty good albeit somewhat generic premise and a prove-capable studio make this show worthy being checked out in my book.


[Original] ANN | PV
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Ei Aoki
Series Composition: Katsuhiko Takayama
Genre: sci-fi, mecha
"In 1972, a hypergate was discovered on the surface of the moon, and humanity began migrating to Mars and settling there. However, eventually the seeds of war were sown.

Expectation: medium
With Ei Aoki (Fate/Zero), Katsuhiko Takayama (Mirai Nikki) on aboard, and Urobuchi as the original creator, I smell angst and a lot of craziness, which can only be amplified by stereotypical sci-fi trappings. Besides, you just can't have a mecha show without emotionally volatile teenagers. What is weird is the art style and the studio behind the wheels – I just can't place A-1 and mecha in the same picture and the characters look a bit too mellow comparing to the usually edgy design of mecha series. Anyways, classic sci-fi premise is almost always painfully generic on paper, make it or break it, it all comes down to the writing and execution. A-1 usually does good works and with Urobuchi being the original creator, I just don't think I should miss the boat. Shall we prepare for another sociology lesson? But good god, the amount of CG in recent sci-fi shows irritate me to no end.

Ao Haru Ride

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Production I.G
Director: Ai Yoshimura
Series Composition: Tomoko Konparu
Genre: shoujo, romance, school, drama
"Yoshioka Futaba has a few reasons why she wants to "reset" her image & life as a new high school student. Because she's cute, she was ostracized by her female friends in junior high, and because of a misunderstanding, she couldn't get her feeling across to the one boy she has ever liked, Tanaka-kun. Now in high school, she is determined to be as unladylike as possible so that her friends won't be jealous of her. While living her life this way contentedly, she meets Tanaka-kun again, but he now goes under the name of Mabuchi Kou. He tells her that he felt the same way as she did when they were younger, but now things can never be the same again. Will Futaba be able to continue her love that never even started from three years ago?"

Expectation: Medium
Kimi no Todoke take 2? Adapted from a wildly popular manga and produced by a wildly popular studio, commercial success is on the horizon. Having also scripted Kimi ni Todoke at the same studio, I suspect this is a walk in the park for Tomoko Konparu as it is completely in her comfort zone. In many ways, fans of the manga could not have asked for a more suitable studio than Production I.G. For one, the absolutely stellar art and animation precisely capture the subtle feels of the manga. It's not very often we are treated to good shoujo and I am only too happy to check this one out.

Bakumatsu Rock

[Manga] ANN | PV 
Studio: Studio DEEN
Director:  Itsuro Kawasaki
Series Composition: Mitsutaka Hirota
Genre: music, comedy 
"The story 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."

Expectation: Low
Lots of anachronism at display here. I'm not sure whether that's a good sign. The only show I've seen that successfully executes anachronism is Samurai Champloo, and that, my friend, is directed by the one and only Shinichirou Watanabe. Anachronism only works when bold vision is married with fine control, which only a few possess. Does this only exist to promote the game? Whatever the case, I'm not sure if it's my type of thing. Skipped. 


[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Director: Masaki Tachibana
Series Composition:
Genre: comedy, slice of life
"As a punishment for punching a famous Calligrapher, young handsome Calligrapher Handa Seishu is exiled on a small island. As someone who has never lived outside of a city, Handa has to adapt to his new wacky neighbors, like people traveling on a tractor, unwanted visitors who never use the front door, annoying kids using his home as a playground, etc. Can this city guy handle all the crazy hardships? Find out in this wacky island comedy full of innocence and laughter!!!"

Expectation: Medium ~ High
I'm reasonably hyped for this for two reasons, one the premise is reminiscent of Usagi Drop and two, Masaki Tachibana (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0) is steering the ship. Parent-child relationship (which I suspect will come into play here) and journey of self-discovery make an interesting combination that's very much under-explored in anime. Overall, I see lots of potential and no red flags. As long as Kinema Citrus give it a decent budget, I'm expecting this to be a fun and light-hearted ride.

DRAMAtical Murder

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: NAZ
Director: Kazuya Miura
Series Composition: Kabura FuchiiTouko Machida
Genre: action, sci-fi, psychological
"The story takes place many years in the future where the game "Rhyme," a virtual fighting game, is incredibly popular and people possess "AllMates," convenient AI computers. Aoba leads an ordinary life, working at a junk shop and living with his grandmother on the island of Midorijima. Unlike his friends, he doesn't participate in Rhyme, nor does he belong in a gang. However, when rumors of people disappearing spread, Aoba finds himself needing to unravel the mysteries behind the island in order to protect his everyday life."

Expectation: None
Apparently this has a yaoi tag attached and everything about it screams low quality. A silly name, a silly (overused) concept, and a weak staff, I can't see it being good. I like the music though, very funky.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Dogakobo
Director: Mitsue Yamazaki
Series Composition: Yoshiko Nakamura
Genre: comedy, romance, school
"Sakura Chiyo confesses to her crush, Nozaki-kun, but he mistakes her as a fan! Unable to convey her feelings, what happens when he invites her to his house? Find out in this hilarious series!"

Expectation: Low
Another weak premise and another weak staff at the helm. Romantic comedy just isn't my cup of the tea and I don't see anything that could change my mind so far. Will give it an episode. 


[Original] ANN | PV1 PV2
Studio: P.A. Works
Director: Junji Nishimura
Series Composition: Junji NishimuraRika Sato
Genre: slice of life, drama
"The story follows six high school students who meet during the summer. The protagonist is Touko Fukami, a 17-year-old born in Fukui Prefecture. Her dream is to become a glass artisan."

Expectation: Medium ~ High 
P.A.Works is quickly establishing themselves as one of the best in the business. Oh, don't even get me started on that scenery porn. I don't know what is it, P.A Works anime always have something explicably beautiful about them, regardless how well the plot holds up. The teen experience is once again at the heart of the story, much like another anime in recent memory Nagi no Asukara, also produced by the studio. I'm almost surprised Mari Okada is not on board because this looks to be her usual playground, though the dialogue and character behaviour definitely look more restrained than anything by Okada. A welcoming change I would say from the often over-the-top melodrama. Well, colour me intrigued.


[Novel] ANN | PV
Studio: SHAFT
Director: Akiyuki Simbo
Series Composition:
Genre: comedy, mystery, romance, supernatural
"The next part of the Monogatari Series, Hanamonogatari features Suruga Kanbaru and is set after Koyomi Araragi graduates from High School."

Expectation: None
This is of course Shaft through and through. The studio trademark style rides on bizarre and erratic visuals. This style over substance approach just doesn't work for me. I haven't seen any of the monogatari series, no reason for me to start now. Oh and...Shaft seriously needs to recruit another director and soak in some new blood before they are permanently branded as a studio with the one trick pony. 

Majimoji Rurumo

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: J.C.Staff
Director: Sakurai, Chikara 
Series Composition: 
Genre: comedy, fantasy, shonen
"Shibaki is a high-school boy whose only interest is girls. Except he's been branded as the most hentai boy at school and the girls avoid him like the plague. One day he finds a book in the library about how to summon witches. He tries it as a joke, but it turns out to be the real thing. An apprentice witch named Rurumo appears to grant him a wish. Shibaki helps Rurumo and she in return refuses to take his soul. (This part of this story happened before the start of chapter1) When the story starts, Shibaki wishes he could see Rurumo again. His wishes is granted immediately as Rurumo falls from the sky and crash lands in front of him. He finds out that as punishment for not taking his soul she's been busted down to an apprentice demon. Now, she must complete the task of getting Shibaki to use up 666 magic tickets that grant wishes before she can become a witch again. However, what she doesn't know is that each time he uses a ticket it shortens his life. When the last ticket is used up, Shibaki will die. Shibaki knows this because Rurumo's familiar black cat Chiro tell him as part of the "contract" for giving him the tickets. Now, Shibaki has a choice, make a wish and help Rurumo become a witch again or resist the temptation and try to save his own life. "

Expectation: None
I should not have bothered to preview this and maybe I should just automatically filter out J.C Staff anime from now on since they never seem to be anything more than shameless pandering. Skipped.

Nobunaga Concerto

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: N/A
Director: Yūsuke Fujikawa
Series Composition: Natsuko Takahashi
Genre: historical, romance 
"The story centers around Saburou, a high school boy who time-travels to Japan's Sengoku Era. He must become Nobunaga Oda, the famed warlord who helps unite Japan."

Expectation: ??
Truthfully, I have no idea what to expect here. The sheer number of Nobunaga-inspired anime in recent years is getting out of hand. Man, Nobunaga must be one of the most disturbed famous dead person in Japan. Can we please just let the dude rest in peace instead of butchering his legacy with half-assed incarnations? Maybe I shouldn't jump to conclusion so fast given how absolutely little information we have. But the history of Nobunaga anime doesn't really allow optimism. 

Rail Wars!

[Light Novel] ANN | PV
Studio: Passione
Director: Yoshifumi Sueda
Series Composition: Masashi Suzuki
Genre: action, comedy
"The "dream railway paradise entertainment" story is set in a parallel world where Japan did not privatize its national railways. Naohito Takayama is an ordinary high school boy who dreams of a comfortable future working for the top-rated Japanese National Railways. He is assigned as a trainee in the Railways Security Force full of odd characters such as Sakurai, a troublemaker who hates men. On top of that, an extremist group called "RJ" plots to privatize the Japanese National Railways."

Expectation: Low
Eh....that is certainly a pretty original premise we don't see often. However bizarre, it doesn't really grab me the way it should perhaps, mostly because the designs are uninspiring and generic. Rom-com generally put me on the fence unless a reputable team is behind it, which doesn't seem to be the case here.


[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Pierrot Plus
Director: Masahiko Ohta
Series Composition: Takashi Aoshima
Genre: action, comedy, shoujo
"Middle school girl Momoka is dragged into joining one of the strangest associations at her school, the Survival Game Club. Its members participate in various forms of paramilitary training under the watchful eye of charming and alarming president, Miou. How on Earth will the inexperienced Momoka survive her training, let alone Miou's company?!"

Expectation: None
Too many red flags already raised in that PV for me to watch further. I suspect it's a show that largely relies on tropes and anime stereotypes to carry it through. 

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

[Original] ANN | PV
Studio: Xebec
Director: Atsushi Ootsuki
Series Composition: Tatsuo Sato
Genre: action, mecha
Synopsis: N/A

Expectation: Low
No synopsis yet...and Xebec being a not so trust-worthy studio, I can't help but think the worst. Again, not a particularly strong creative team. I'm on the fence and will give it an episode or two. Surprise me!

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49

[Original] ANN | PV 
Studio: ZEXCS
Series Composition: Ikuyo Hashiguchi
Genre: slice of life
"The anime will tell an original story set 15 years after the novel's story. It takes place at a fictional theater called Hollywood Tokyo in Harajuku, where members of the idol group "Shonen Hollywood" develop their talents with diligent work and studying."

Expectation: Low
Brought to you by the director of Suki-tte Ii na yo and a completely anonymous script writer (also the original creator). I knew something was off when I saw no idol show this season and here we go, problem addressed. Seriously though....this thing here looks better than most of the idol shows I've previewed in the past. The designs, modest and restrained, appeal to my taste to say the least. But I most likely won't pick this up. 

Tokyo ESP

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Xebec
Director: Shigehito Takayanagi
Series Composition: Hideyuki Kurata
Genre: action, adventure, supernatural, comedy, drama
"The science fantasy story Tokyo ESP begins with Rinka, an extremely poor high school girl who lives with just her father in modern Tokyo. One day, she is going home from school when she chases a "flying penguin" to the top of New Tokyo Tower—only to have "fish swimming in the air" suddenly appear before her. One of the fish goes through Rinka and gives her extraordinary powers beyond those of normal humans, particularly the ability to slip through solid objects."

Expectation: medium

C' gotta give this one a try, I mean flying penguins and magic fishes will haunt you forever if you don't. This show is generating quite a bit hype and I think for good reasons. The premise is absolutely ridiculous but also stand out for being so, now that's a feat these days considering how many times this basic your-average-joe-getting-mysterious-power concept has been rehashed. 

Tokyo Ghoul

[Manga] ANN | PV
Studio: Pierrot
Director: Shuhei Morita
Series Composition: Chūji Mikasano
Genre: action, mystery, drama, supernatural, psychological
"The suspense horror/dark fantasy story is set in Tokyo, which is haunted by mysterious "ghouls" who are devouring humans. People are gripped by the fear of these ghouls whose identities are masked in mystery. An ordinary college student named Kaneki encounters Rize, a girl who is an avid reader like him, at the café he frequents. Little does he realize that his fate will change overnight."

Expectation: Medium
Well, that is certainly something isn't it. I'm alway up for a little psychological darkness, so bring it on, feed my guilty pleasure. The issue with supernatural horror is that it tends to prioritize gore and excessive violence overall a coherent plot. Often times you are so overwhelmed by the graphic details to really consider if the rest actually makes sense. The somewhat anonymous creative staff here also keep us in the dark. I would say give it a try if you are into thrillers. On an almost irrelevant point, Kazuhiro Miwa is on character design duty, I didn't even notice until I saw the trailer. Anyone who usually follows sakuga art will no doubt recognize his name. I wonder if he will animate this time around too, I sure hope so.

Zankyou no Terror

[Original] ANN | PV
Studio: Mappa
Series Composition: N/A
Genre: psychological thriller 
"In an alternate version of the present, Tokyo has been decimated by a shocking terrorist attack, and the only hint to the identity of the culprit is a bizarre video uploaded to the internet. The police, baffled by this cryptic clue, are powerless to stop the paranoia spreading across the population.

While the world searches for a criminal mastermind to blame for this tragedy, two mysterious children—children who shouldn't even exist—masterfully carry out their heinous plan. Cursed to walk through this world with the names Nine and Twelve, the two combine to form "Sphinx," a clandestine entity determine to wake the people from their slumber--and pull the trigger on this world."

Expectation: High 
One word – Watanabe. Do I need to say more? I've immensely enjoyed every work he has directed to date. This is a guy with so much talent and flair that you just don't see him putting a foot wrong anywhere. Mappa has previously worked with Watanabe on Sakamichi no Apollon, a gorgeously produced anime with wonderful writing. The premise is nothing short of ambitious, with any other director, I would be worried, but Watanabe has vision powerful enough to raise giants. I'm intrigued and excited through and through. The PV is just another incentive for me to root for the show – clean design, excellent production value and the great Yoko Kanno on music. A little background info, the current president of MAPPA (Masao Maruyama) is one of the four founders of Madhouse studio and was personally in charge of artistic decisions such as which project to green-lit. After Madhouse became a subsidiary of Nippon Television in 2011, he left the company to establish MAPPA in order to remain creatively independent. I respect the man immensely and with the way MAPPA has been operating, it almost feels like the old Madhouse is back. I also need to mention that for the first time ever, we get two Watanabe shows in one lineup, the other one being the second season of Space Dandy. That alone makes Summer worth anticipating.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal

[Manga/Remake] ANN | PV
Studio: Toei Animation
Director: Munehisa Sakai
Series Composition: Yūji Kobayashi
Genre: magic, shoujo, romance
 "New Sailor Moon anime commemorating the 20th anniversary of Sailor Moon. Usagi Tsukino is a second-year middle school girl who is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she is full of energy. One day, she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon on her forehead, and she transforms into Sailor Moon, a sailor-uniformed pretty guardian of love and justice! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi seems to have a mission to find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other guardians and to protect the princess. Meanwhile, the queen of the Dark Kingdom, Queen Beryl, also sends minions to the town where Usagi lives to obtain the Illusionary Silver Crystal, which has immense power. This causes strange events to unfold...Can Sailor Moon really find the Illusionary Silver Crystal with the other Sailor guardians, and protect the princess...?!"

Expectation: High
Huge huge HUGE nostalgia kicks. Ahh...Sailor Moon..the childhood-defining show that created so many fond memories. In a way, this is my true gateway drug to anime, so it's both amazing and somewhat surreal to see it returning to the screen after so many years. Also understandably, I'm both excited and very...very anxious. I'm sure I'm not the only one, I can only imagine the pressure of the team behind this reboot. Flop and prepare to face the wrath of an entire generation. To be completely honest, I don't like the revamped design – too stiff and sexualized – but I'm willing to put up with anything right now as long as I get my Sailor Moon fix.

Free!: Eternal Summer

[Original/Sequel] ANN | PV
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Director: Hiroko Utsumi
Series Composition: Masahiro Yokotani
Genre: comedy, school, slice of life, sports
"Second Season of Free"

Expectation: low ~ medium
Well, I watched the first season so I feel obligated to watch the second. Free! was never meant to be a groundbreaking anime, in fact, it's borderline shameless fanservice pandering half-naked bishonen. But still....despite my usual cynicism, I found Free! to be a pretty enjoyable show and I guess a second season wouldn't hurt. KyoAni, you are truly a strange beast. 

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus

[Manga/Sequel] ANN | PV
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Noriyuki Abe
Series Composition: Hiroyuki Yoshino
Genre: demons, fantasy, shonen, supernatural 
"A new Kuroshitsuji animated project.
The TV series is subtitled Book of Circus and will air July 2014 in the Animeism block. It will adapt the Noah's Ark Circus Arc, picking the manga story back up from the point at which they diverged. 
This arc immediately follows the Curry Contest Arc in the manga, which ended at episode 15 in the first season of the anime."

Expectation: Medium
A remake of the latter part of the manga. Never thought I would see this. But ahh, it's kind of nice to have Kuro back. I sure hope A-1 Pictures doesn't flop in the animation department with four shows on the block. They have before and it doesn't look pretty.

Space☆Dandy 2nd Season

[Original/Sequel] ANN | PV
Studio: BONES
Series Composition: Dai Sato / Keiko Nobumoto / Kimiko Ueno
Genre: sci-fi, comedy, adventure
Synopsis: "Second season of Space Dandy"

Expectation: High
It's no secret that I absolutely love the first season of Space Dandy. It's without a doubt one of the most inventive shows I've seen in recent years. The pedigree shines through episode after episode and it's what happens when you gather a bunch of talents and give them every freedom to exercise their imagination. I applaud Watanabe's audacity and willingness to take risks. Space Dany is utterly ridiculous but spectacularly witty. It doesn't even matter if the quality doesn't translate into commercial success, we won't be seeing the likes Space Dandy it in a long time, so better enjoy the good things while we can. 

Sword Art Online II

[Novel/Sequel] ANN | PV
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Tomohiko Ito
Series Composition: 
Genre: sci-fi, adventure, action, fantasy, romance
"1 year after the SAO incident, Kirito is approached by Seijiro Kikuoka from Japan’s Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications Department “VR Division” with a rather peculiar request. That was an investigation on the “Death Gun” incident that occurred in the gun and steel filled VRMMO called Gun Gale Online (GGO). “Players who are shot by a mysterious avatar with a jet black gun lose their lives even in the real world…” Failing to turn down Kikuoka’s bizarre request, Kirito logs in to GGO even though he is not completely convinced that the virtual world could physically affect the real world. Kirito wanders in an unfamiliar world in order to gain any clues about the “Death Gun.” Then, a female sniper named Sinon who owns a gigantic “Hecate II” rifle extends Kirito a helping hand. With Sinon’s help, Kirito decides to enter the “Bullet of Bullets,” a large tournament to choose the most powerful gunner within the realm of GGO, in hopes to become the target of the “Death Gun” and make direct contact with the mysterious avatar."

Expectation: Medium
I have no idea what to expect...honestly...especially thinking back on how weird the second half of SAO played out. I dropped it around episode 16 and never picked it up again. The extreme hype and cult following of the show is something that always baffled me, but any discussion on that is likely to open a can of worms. I suppose I should probably watch this. 

Persona 4 The Golden Animation

[Manga/Game/Sequel] ANN | PV
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Seiji Kishi
Series Composition: Tomohisa Taguchi
Genre: sci-fi, action, drama, fantasy
"Adaptation of Persona 4's remake video game, Persona 4 The Golden. The story retells the events of the original while featuring a new character, Marie."

Expectation: None
I really have nothing constructive to say here, not because I'm lazy, but I never saw the first three seasons. t

No comments:

Post a Comment