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!
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.
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.
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.
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…
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.