Summer 2014 Season Preview

We’re three quarters of the way through the season now, meaning it’s once again time to first tremble at the reality of our encroaching deaths and then swiftly distract ourselves with the thought of new cartoons. I don’t think this summer will be able to match this spring’s selection, but this spring had possibly the best crop of shows since I started this whole blogging business (competing fiercely with last summer’s Uchouten Kazoku, Monogatari, and Gatchaman Crowds), so that’s not really a fair complaint. It’s certainly no last season, either – we have some real potential gems to look forward to, and if worst comes to worst, Jojo will carry us through the dark times on his broad yet secretly nurturing shoulders. So let’s start with the obvious, top-tier, serious-reasons-to-expect-greatness contenders.

Oh right, first I should explain how this list works. For my previews, I only really highlight shows I’m actually excited about – I don’t think anyone would get much out of me saying I’m gonna be skipping thirty-some shows, and if you want premises or staff, you can always check anichart.net. Anyway!

Aldnoah.Zero

Aldnoah.Zero

My easy top pick, largely because Urobuchi is my top anime writer. His stories are thematically complex and emotionally driven, set in vivid worlds and propelled by an expert understanding of dramatic structure. If you haven’t read it, I think my post on Urobuchi’s work is one of the better pieces I’ve put together.

Anyway. This time, it seems Urobuchi is aiming directly at Gundam-style war stories, and he’s collaborating with the director of Fate/Zero and a newly founded studio (along with A-1 Pictures, who are apparently more Aniplex’s personal studio-shell than a full working studio) to do it. That director honestly worries me – Fate/Zero looked expensive, but I never found its direction particularly compelling. Aldnoah also is being composed by someone other than Urobuchi, which does raise questions as to whether this project is actually his baby or just abusing his name. But all of these conjectures don’t really mean much in the long run – it’s a new Urobuchi show, so I’m going to watch it and let the show speak for itself.

Here’s the PV.

Hanamonogatari

Hanamonogatari

So it looks like we might actually be getting the twice-delayed Hanamonogatari this season, and, well, it’s more Monogatari. Kanbaru isn’t one of my favorite characters, but neither was Nadeko before Season 2 – Monogatari has improved substantially all across its airing time, and I’m always excited to see more of it. If you like Monogatari, here’s some more Monogatari. If you don’t like Monogatari, watch something else.

Here’s the PV wait holy shit is that Kaiki.

Zankyou no Terror

Zankyou no Terror

When the creator of Cowboy Bebop returned to directing, I doubt most people were expecting a low-key period drama followed by a slapstick genre pastiche. Well, it looks like we might finally be getting the kind of show people actually were hoping for, and though I loved Kids on the Slope and at least respect what Space Dandy is going for, I’m pretty excited to see Watanabe handling a high-tension thriller. With a premise that seems as ripped-from-the-headlines as possible, a gloomy, understated visual aesthetic, and Yoko Kanno handling the soundtrack, it’s looking like the stars may be aligning for a Watanabe show that matches its style with some serious narrative bite.

Here’s the PV.

Those are the three I’m already legitimately excited for. After that, things get a lot more speculative – the shows from here on out are basically ones I think have a chance to be good, not necessarily ones I’m expecting anything from. Running them down…

Glasslip

Glasslip

Extremely speculative pick here, pretty much solely based on the combined fact that I like low-key character dramas and P.A. Works make very beautiful shows. That said, I am not in the mood to be jerked around by manipulative stasis-drama, and Nagi no Asukara has me currently feeling very wary of this kind of show. Nagi no Asukara basically remained “just good enough not to drop” for a great deal of its run, and I don’t want to run into another situation where I basically feel obligated to wait for a show to pull itself together. If I get a similar feeling here, it’s gone.

But hey, beautiful character drama. Those can be pretty good!

Here’s the PV.

Sailor Moon: Crystal

Sailor Moon: Crystal

At this point, I feel like I’d be missing out on a bit of anime history if I wasn’t watching this. I don’t really have any expectations whatsoever, but Sailor Moon is a classic, and this seems like something worth experiencing.

Here’s the PV.

Persona 4 The Golden

Persona 4 The Golden

I never watched the original Persona 4, and I haven’t played the game either, but I greatly enjoyed the Persona 3 game, and have heard that 4 is pretty much an improvement in every way. Stylish murder mystery action slice of life drama whatever is a pretty cool genre! I’m also not the biggest Seiji Kishi fan (I think Jinrui‘s strength was much more its script than its direction, and both Danganronpa and Devil Survivor 2 had terrible direction), but this still seems worth a shot. Again, all these shows are just ones I think might not be bad, not ones I’m dedicated to finishing.

There’s probably a PV, but screw that, just watch the game’s classy-as-fuck opening movie.

Tokyo ESP

Tokyo ESP

I remember being kinda excited about this one when it was first announced over a year ago, but my reasoning has kinda shifted over time. Back then, the barest-bones version of the premise seemed interesting – a story centered on a legitimate father-daughter relationship? That sounds great! Now that I know it’s almost certainly going to be a kinda silly action show, I’m instead hoping Tokyo ESP will fall into the grand tradition of Yozakura Quartet, Witch Craft Works, and Hitsugi no Chaika – the comfortable adventure hour I can sit back and relax to every week. The series composer for this one actually handled composition on both TWGOK and friggin’ Samurai Flamenco, which are two of the very rare anime I’ve found actually funny over the years, so I do have reason to hope beyond “I’ve got a good feeling about this one.” But yeah, I’ve mainly just got a good feeling about this one.

Akame ga Kill!Tokyo Ghoul

Akame ga KillTokyo Ghoul

I’m grouping these two because they’re both action shows that seem distinctive enough to not necessarily fall into the light novel bin, but not so distinctive that I’ll actually end up keeping up with them. My interactions with them might actually be limited to gauging the tone of other people’s reactions to their first episodes, but they are on my radar, so I figured I might as well include them.

Here’s Tokyo Ghoul’s very fancy-looking PV.

Sword Art Online II

Sword Art Online II

With my writeup campaign now kicked into hyper-mega-overdrive, it’s looking like I really will finish up season one in time to join everybody on a brand new Kirito adventure this summer. I can hardly contain my excitement.

41 thoughts on “Summer 2014 Season Preview

  1. “Aldnoah also is being composed by someone other than Urobuchi, which does raise questions as to whether this project is actually his baby or just abusing his name.”
    The latter, it seems like he just created the premise and has even less involvement in this than he did with Gargantia.

  2. Tokyo ESP is the one with the flying birds in the sky or whatever in the preview, right?

    Akame ga Kill and Tokyo Ghoul might both suffer my attempt to try and not watch shounen as they air, and marathon them later. I like those shows, but mostly when you have something to actually bite. When you watch them weekly, each episode rarely does enough, and it’s too easy to see the flaws.

    Sailor Moon in particular I wonder about, due to its bi-weekly release, and the very rabid behaviour I’ve seen from fans lately. It’d take a year, but another show where it’s tempting to just wait till it’s all done. Then again, once every two weeks, and I could always avoid online discussion, and treat it as a sort of Mushishi, in that aspect, or how we’d wait months between Eve no Jikan episodes when it aired, and we only knew they were coming when they’ve already been released.

    • The every-two-weeks schedules helps with Sailor Moon for me. I know my feed’s gonna be going crazy about it, so it’s something I want to be able to share in.

  3. I will definitely watch Sword Art Online II. So bad it is good!!
    And maybe also the new Sailor Moon. The last time I watching Sailor Moon (5 years ago), I couldn’t watch further than the first 10 episodes. It’s too cheesy for my taste.

  4. Excited for AldNoah.Zero!, Zankyou no Terror, and SAO II! Other picks on my list include Kuroshitsuji II (I will pretend that the disastrous second season didn’t exist), and Free2. Akuma no Kill and Tokyo Ghouls look promising. Been trying to get into horror since Shiki blew me away.

    • If you want more anime horror, you might want to check out Shinsekai Yori. It’s not truly a horror show, but it dabbles in it, and it’s good either way.

  5. That Aldnoah PV looks so boring though. Tired colors, uninspired designs, eh… Still hope it will be great though I too enjoyed a lot of Urobuchi anime. Looks disappointing considering the great promotional art.

    Watanabe new anime is what I’m most excited about with Yuasa Space Dandy.
    Very curious about sailor moon. Herd the mangaka is directly involved in this version; its great when creators have a lot of control (most of the time).

    Tokyo Ghoul looks impressives in the previews but also very shonen. Rarely a fan of shows that focus on battles.

    Seems like there will be a lot less good shows this season.

    • Heh might actually also try to get into Sword art II online since I’m ”watching” the serie with your write ups. Definitely don’t have the will to watch the first season for realz. I have one friend who is a real fan.

  6. Aldnoah.Zero, Hanamonogatari, and Zankyou no Terror are definitely shows to pay attention to. Same concerns with Aldnoah, and Monogatari’s style of narrative’s always appealed to me. For Zankyou in particular, while I have no doubt Shinichiro Wantanabe is a talented director, his works have been mainly episodic vignettes. Fine and all for those episodic shows, but Zankyou seems to promise something more plot-driven.

    As for shows outside those big three, I’m only really looking at with interest is Persona 4: The Golden. Never been much a fan of Sailor Moon. But getting back to Persona, I’m really torn about Persona 4: The Golden. The game itself has a very solid narrative with wonderful themes about personal and social identity, tied together through fantastical and surreal frameworks of World mythology and Jungian psychology, and the PV looks great. A-1 Pictures can sport nice looking visuals. But at the same time, it’s a video game adaptation. Few even turn out to be decent, and I have very little respect for the director. His previous work on Persona 4 The Animation stripped a lot of the poignancy of the source material’s drama in favor of comedy, while bringing to the fore its dating sim aspects. Letting the protagonist date multiple girls at once… It’s honestly the most distracting, needless, and frustrating thing about the game and, unfortunately, about Persona 4’s previous show. Making the damn blank slate protagonist a gigolo… Romance is fine, but not when it’s a farce. The inclusion of Marie seems at least to suggest a more straight forward romantic relationship, if any.

    • But he didn’t date any of the girls in the previous anime. He at most had a moment with each of them which indicated he probably could have dated them if he pursued the relationship, but honestly romance was not the focus of the show at all. I felt the show had a great balance of comedy and drama, but I have not played the game so I don’t have a real point of comparison. A few of my friends have both played the game and watched the anime and they all thought it was a fantastic adaptation, so I’ll take their word for it. Obviously the anime could not cover everything, and yes the game had more depth to the relationships due to the support system, and the fact that you could date all of the girls. The anime stayed away from most of that, so yes it aired on the light comedic side of the game, but the drama it did have was well done.

      • I meant the game, but the dating sim elements, if not the act of dating itself, remained in the show. The game has its anime-stylized comedy, but it always made sure to separate it from.its serious material. The show never did that. It sullied the impact of its drama. It made it juvenile, it juvenilzed its themes and the pain of its characters. So no, I don’t think the drama was done well.

    • Wow, those sound like horrible adaptation choices. Hopefully he treats the material with more respect this time, though I guess we don’t really have any reason to expect him to.

  7. I need SAO II. I missed Guilty Crown and the first SAO while they were airing, so I never got to watch a show publicly trainwreck until now with Mahouka. Unfortunately, Mahouka is unpleasant to watch. SAO II should give me a similar experience, but easier to swallow than that.

    I’m slightly disappointed that Urobuchi isn’t as involved in Aldnoah.Zero as I thought, since he wasn’t completely involved with Gargantia and I was interested to see what a full Urobuchi mecha anime would be like. I’ll still give it a look.

  8. Did you watch/like Tari Tari? I’m getting a much more Tari Tari vibe than Nagi no Asukara vibe from Glasslip which is for the better in my opinion. A big part of that feeling is the lack of Mari Okada involvement but the premise and the cast composition also remind me a lot of Tari Tari.

      • It was a nice little coming of age/friendship story. It wasn’t nearly as ambitious as Hanasaku Iroha or Nagi but it also didn’t have to deal with Okada’s excesses at times like those two did. It was occasionally trite but it hit all the right notes for me and the end result was a very solid product. If you want something ambitious or original it probably isn’t your thing but the show really gets growing up and family dynamics.

  9. So having seen the original Persona 4 the Animation I can say that they would have to try real hard to make this one not fantastic. Even if it was just the same show with everything edited to contain Kana Hanazawa’s character I would still be sold.

    Aside from that your list of shows your checking out looks pretty similar to my own, although I think mine’s even shorter because I tend to avoid works with ongoing source material, at least at first.

    I am going to be watching the new Senkogu Basara though because that show is just goofy action fun with historical warlords, and if everything else somehow fails I can count on that to simply be entertaining.

    Also I noticed you linked to anichart, and I just have to say that I find livechart.me to be a much more functional chart website. It’s more streamlined, got a detailed filtering system, and has a ton of other great features anichart lacks. Also the owner of the site is great about responding to bugs and suggestions, he has implemented a few of mine already.

      • Yeah, I really like the filtering system. I was actually the one who suggested making it 3 tier like that. I also had a few other suggestions that he is supposedly going to implement in his next big update, whenever that is going to be.

  10. I can’t wait for more Monotagari although I agree with Kanbaru being kinda weaker character presented so far. Hopefully this new season will explore more about her and give her more significance. By the way I was wondering if you are going to see Ghost in the Shell:Arise 3 that’s coming out soon (June 28 I think). I’m not sure if you’re a fan of the series but it’ll be great if you could see it and review it. Keep up the great work!

      • Oh you definitely should! SAC is a great work of anime and SAC 2nd GIG was pretty good too (although in my opinion more character driven than the philosophical 1st season). Also it has one of my favorite Ops up there with Spice and Wolf’s first season Op. But if you’re going to do both, that’s pretty much a weekend just watching anime and you’ll want to do repeat viewings to catch all the little details in both. Haha there’s never enough time for these Japanese cartoons.

  11. The original Persona 4 anime was goddamn golden, because they took the usual silent-except-for-choices protagonist and turned him into the best example of comedic seriousness I’ve seen in ages. If they keep Yu as the same sort of character, then it’s an automatic follow for me, and I’m in the middle of a P4G playthrough myself. He’s just that good.

    (This is also why DS2 was so disappointing. Stupid changes aside, I’d have watched it in a heartbeat if Hibiki was as great as Yu… Especially since that game has a lot more material to work with in that area, because Hibiki is the sort of character where the choices are “Shake his hand/What are you doing?/Sniff his hand.” He never says a word you don’t pick but still seems like a really weird dude.)

    Akame ga Kill will make your eyes roll right out of their sockets at some of the Look We Are Incredibly Evil moments, but it’s a good read if you don’t take it too seriously; the fights are pretty good. I’m not sure that translates into a good anime, though.

    GGO is notably better than the previous ones! Not that that’s hard, when the original SAO is Overambition And Word Count Limits: The Anime and ALO is worse, but… It fully embraces Kirito being overpowered and makes it openly ridiculous, and it has some actual character beats along the way. Plus it gets you closer to Alicization, which is actually good (and has cool tie-ins to Accel World, which is also Actually Good; shame that SAO’s the popular one).

    • The more I hear about Akame ga Kill, the less likely it seems I’ll make it past the first episode. Ah well…

      Glad to hear GGO is an improvement, though. I don’t know if I could make it through if I heard it was actually worse than ALO.

  12. Just watched the first episode of P4GA, and it’s made immediately obvious that this series is meant for people who already know the story. Character development looks to be incredibly rushed in order to make room for lots and lots of Marie, while the basic tutorial fight is turned into an armageddon storm just to show off how awesome Yu is.

    Current fan theory is that Yu is in New Game Plus. He’s overpowered, skipping the cutscenes, is unfazed by everything around him and responds to situations incredibly well. This certainly does not look like a series that someone uninitiated to the plot of Persona 4 can appreciate at all. I would highly recommend playing the game. The original adaption is pretty good, but some stories can only be fully told in one particular medium.

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