With the fall season starting in a couple of weeks, I figured it was about time for me to get this done.
Two things happened that delayed this post. The first was that I formed the opinion that there wasn’t much to look forward to in this season and, as a result, I didn’t feel excited enough to want to do this post. I still think this is probably the weakest looking season in at least a year but I also think there’s at least a few good shows. The other thing that delayed this post was that I became addicted to playing a video game – Europa Univeralis 3 – but after playing it for well over a week, I’ve started to burn the game interface onto my computer monitor (something I’ve been told is impossible to do) and I figured I need to get back to my neglected blog. By reading this, you can be assured that I finished writing this post but even right now, I really want to pick up where I left off with my game which was having the Polish empire kick the Mamluks out of the Mid-East.
My criteria for picking shows is the same as last time. I’m looking for which animation house is doing it, if the summary/source material sound very enticing and if one of my favorite seiyuus will be involved. This won’t turn up all the good shows of the season; Cross Game is an example from the spring season of a show that I missed until it’s great character driven story was pointed out to me – but, using this criteria, I normally get most of the shows that are worthwhile to watch.
One group of shows that I won’t cover are sequels to shows that I haven’t watched or shows that I have watched but don’t intend to waste my time watching the sequel. For completeness sake I’ll mention them here:
- Asura Cryin’ 2: I can’t believe I took the time to finish the first season but I won’t make that mistake again.
- Inuyasha – Final Act: I wasn’t taken by Inuyasha when I saw a couple episodes of it on Cartoon Network so I’ll pass on this one.
- White Album Final: Didn’t see the first season
- Tenshi Senshi Sunred Second Season: Didn’t see the first season but the odd artwork kinda makes me want to
- Shugo Chara Party!: Haven’t watched the first 100+ episodes so I’ll miss this season as well but I do hear good things about the series so I sometimes wonder if I should have tried watching it
- Darker then Black – Gemini of the Falling Star: I wonder how I missed this Bones show, yet somehow I have so I’ll have to skip this season as well
- Shin Koihime+Musou – A sequel to a show that I don’t even recognize as existing so it’s safe to say I won’t be picking this one up either
- Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu: Purezza – I almost watched the first season but at the time, I had enough shows and never got around to it. Now it’s time for the sequel and I’ll have to pass because I haven’t seen the first season.
- Kiddy Grade – And: Bizarre uses of English 4TW; couldn’t they just call it season 2. Anyways, missed the first season and will almost assuredly miss this season.
And with that, I knock 25% of the new season’s shows from my radar. There’s probably a few good shows in there but if you’ve seen the first season, then you probably don’t need me to do more then mention their existence.
So with that out of the way, let’s head to preview/watchlist proper.
This first group is made up of the shows I’m really excited to see as well as being very good bets at being great – I’ll start calling them Tier 1 shows. Last season I had 3 Tier 1 shows: Taishou Yakyuu Musume, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and Bakemonogatari. Two of the three where definite homeruns and the last one (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0) still turned out well. This time, there’s a total of one show in this first group and it’s a sequel, meaning that as long as it can hold up well it’s a guaranteed hit.
Natsu no Arashi 2
I was in the small minority of anime fans that actually watched the first season and I was treated to a surprising good show. I say surprisingly because even after watching the first episode – I was sure this show was a bomb. I couldn’t help but compare Natsu no Arashi to other shows from the SHAFT/Shinbou combo and the character designs looked so ugly and poor that I was sure it was reflection of the quality of the series. Then there was the first episode that I flat out hated. And it would have ended there if I was just a fan watching the show but since I want to be accurate with what I write for this blog I decided to watch a couple more episodes and it was a complete turnaround. True, I never got to the point of actually liking the character designs but the story reeled me in. I’ll spoil a bit of the first season in the hopes of getting more people interested in this show.
Arashi is a ghost of a high school girl that died in a WW2 air raid. Every summer something happens that allows her to take corporal form and thus she can enjoy the season in the small town that she lived in. And every summer she gets a job at The Ark (a small café) because it’s one of the few places that has not changed since the war. The show starts when a middle school aged boy, Yasaka, meets the older Arashi at The Ark and falls in love. Luckily for him, he “connects” with Arashi which allows the pair to time travel. What they do with this power ranges from visiting an arcade in 1980’s to saving people that Arashi knows will die in the air raids.
I liked how Natsu no Arashi was able to balance the comedy and seriousness that different aspects of the show had. I also liked how the time traveling allowed for a bit of reflection about how Japanese society has changed since the war years. The first season ended at a good point and it was obvious that it was going to get a sequel but I’m happy to see that it’s being done so soon. I just hope that the trouble SHAFT had during the summer with animating Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and Bakemonogatari at the same time won’t spill over to this series
The small number of shows that rank in the top tier when compared with last season is a bit of let down, especially since the summer season is traditionally thought of as an off-season.
The next group of shows rank a bit lower in my expectations but I still think these shows have a real possibility in being good shows and let’s call these Tier 2 shows. My picks for last season’s Tier 2 shows (Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei S.3, Spice and Wolf II, Umineko no Naku Koro ni, Aoi Hana) turned up some real gems with the least one of the bunch (Umineko no Naku Koro ni) still was an enjoyable watch.
My “sleeper hit” senses tingled when I read the write up and looked at who was working on this one. The story is about a boy, Junpei Kosaka, who dislikes cats but accidentally angers the local cat deity. He is punished by this cat deity with the ability to understand cats and the task of fulfilling 100 wishes from cats with the penalty for failure being that he will get turned into a cat. A very promising summary since I absolutely love talking cats and this set-up provides a fertile field for comedic situations.
However, it’s important to remember that a set-up is just a set-up and without a good group of people working on the show – the show will still stink. In this department I like what I see. The director did the first season of Hayate, Zettai Karen Children and Getsumen Miina. The writer did the first season of Hayate and Ristorante Paradiso. And the studio is AIC, who doesn’t get a lot of credit but shows like Bamboo Blade, Asu no Yoichi, and Ga:Rei – Zero – show that it’s very capable of turning out a good show.
To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
Aka: A Certain Scientific Railgun
Last fall saw J.C. Staff adapt To Aru Majutsu no Index with mixed results. Outside of the initial few episodes, the only story arc that I really liked was the one that centered on Misaka Mikoto, the clones of Misaka Mikoto and the use of the clones in a science experiment. So the idea of more anime being made from this universe didn’t really excite me, even though J.C. Staff was going to use the spin-off series, To Aru Kagaku no Railgun that featured Misaka Mikoto.
If no changes had been made with the personal working on this show, I would have put this in a lower tier because I’d almost be positive that the show wouldn’t turn out that good; however, there has been some personal changes. This time around the director is the guy that did the second season of Honey and Clover as well as Toradora and the series composition is done by the person who did the second season Birdy as well as Asatte no Houkou. These two changes give me a fair amount of hope that the second season will be much improved. And I do hope it’s good because when J.C. Staff does an action series and that series “clicks”, like the second half of Shana 2, then it’s a truly enjoyable experience.
Kimi ni Todoke
Director: Hiro Kaburaki
Studio: Production I.G. – Ghost in the Shell:SAC, Eden of the East, Kemono no Souja Erin
Seiyuu: Daisuke Namikawa, Mamiko Noto, Aya Hirano, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yuko Sanpei, Yuuichi Nakamura
The story for this one kinda reads like the premise of a female version of Toradora. Kuronuma Sawako is a typical high school girl that has a crush on a boy in her class and the desire to live a normal life but she has a problem. She, unfortunately, was born with a face that creeps people out, so much so that her nickname is Sadako – i.e. the super-creepy girl from The Ring. The series will, presumably, focus on how she works to overcome this obstacle and get her classmates to like her and win the heart of the guy she likes.
I don’t know if it’ll play out like Toradora but I do know that it’s a very rare day when Production I.G. misses with a show. Throw in a pretty strong vocal cast and I’m almost sure that this’ll turn out to be a hit.
The third group of shows are ones that I think have a decent chance of being good shows but there’s too many variables involved to get really excited about them. These are the Tier 3 shows and last time I had 3 shows in this level – GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class, Needless, Canaan. For me there was only one winner out of that group and it wasn’t Needless or Canaan.
Seiken no Blacksmith
Aka: The Sacred Blacksmith
The story to this one (ancient war on evil that supposedly sealed away the evil but it’s now on the loose so queue the band of plucky young would-be heroes) sounds fairly generic to me but even generic shows can sometimes be great. That fact alone wouldn’t be enough to get itself listed here but what does interest me is that Manglobe is doing this series. They don’t do many series but the ones they do always seem unique; so, while the shows sounds generic and the publicity pics make the animation style look ordinary, I think there’s a good chance that this show won’t be generic.
I’ll start off by saying that I think I fall far from the target demographic of this show. Even from the summary of the show – Kobato is a sweet, perky, and really naïve but she’s charged with a mission to collect people’s sufferings in a mysterious bottle and she can’t fall in love with a boy she works with and who’s heart she must heal – it’s clear that this belongs to a genre I don’t really watch.
Astute readers will probably ask why I’m listing Kobato then. Well, there’s three reasons. The first is that I’ve picked up some of the giddy enthusiasm that other bloggers have over this title and it makes me want to see. The second is that Madhouse is doing this and, if the publicity shots are any indication, then this’ll be well-animated. The third is that I’ve been a life-long fan of marshmallow peeps (it’s not Easter without them) and it appears that Kobato likes them too since she’s got a blue peep handbag.
Those three things are good enough to get this show listed and pushed up to being the second listed of the third tier shows. And if the show can create good characters and stick to a story without too much filler – I might really like this show.
Director: Yoon Suk-ho
Studio: G&G Entertainment and JM Animation
Apparently, this anime is based off of a Korean live action tv drama series that’s hugely popular in Japan and around the world. I’ve never heard of it, nor have I ever watched any Korean series so I have no real strong way to gauge if I should be looking forward to it. As a result, I have to use what other people say and from what I gather, Korean dramas are notorious for being tear-jerkers on the level of Clannad ~After Story~. I really liked Clannad so that makes me think I might enjoy this show. I probably would have ranked this higher if the anime was coming from an animation house I was familiar with or they where using voice actors I knew since that could help me gauge how well I could expect the adapting will be done. I probably shouldn’t worry since this type of project normally means that there’s been a lot of money put into the project to ensure that it’s a success.
The fourth and final group of shows are the real wildcards of the season and – unsurprisingly at this point – are called Tier 4 shows. There might be a winner in this group but these titles will probably just struggle to become watchable. Last time, of the 3 Tier 4 shows that aired, Umi Monogatari and Sora no Manimani turned out to be pretty good. Which is why I think it’s important to give all the shows a fair shot by watching a couple of episodes before deciding if I’ll keep watching them or not.
Tatakau Shisho – The Book of Bantorra
Aka: Armed Librarians – The Book of Bantorra
This is also where I put the wtf? shows of the season that interest me enough that I’ll watch them but I really have no idea what they’re about. This is one such series.
The Bantorra Library contains a repository of all humans that have died because when people die in this world, their essence is crystallized into the form of a “Book”. This library is maintained by an armed staff of librarians as various groups would like to get there hands on what’s inside. One such group turns a boy into a suicide bomber but instead of killing the top librarian, he falls in love and finds himself joining the world of the Armed Librarians.
I absolutely loved Ristorante Paradiso, the first series done by David Production and if they can do as good with this title as Ristorante Paradiso, then I’ll probably like this series a lot, especially since I like the idea of armed librarians (I want more Library War!). And the idea of a library full of people’s memories is a very interesting idea that I hope they do something cool with.
Romance of the Three Kingdoms
Studio: Beijing Glorious Animation and Future Planet
I realize that there’s been tons of adaptations of this already from many different angles (and videos games as well) but so far I haven’t been exposed to any yet which is a bit strange if I think about it because I love historical shows. So, I’m thinking I might just try to catch at least a few episodes to see what the hubbub is about in regards to this franchise.
This is going to run 52 episodes which almost made me decide against even giving this show a chance but then I remembered that I complained about Kemono no Souja Erin running for 50+ episodes back in my winter preview. If I come to like Romance of the Three Kingdoms like I did Kemono no Souja Erin then I’ll like that it’s going to run for awhile. Now I just got to hope someone actually subs this.
A yuri school romance show is probably all I need to say for most people to decide one way or the other if they’re going to catch this. I’m normally in the camp of not bothering if that’s the sole draw for a show (probably because asking me to suspense disbelief over having so many girls that like girls in one place is a bit too much) but I liked Aoi Hana and I’m currently giving AIC the benefit of the doubt on their shows based on recent successes that’ll continue until I get to one that I don’t like. So, I’ll be sure to watch at least a couple episodes and see how it turns out.
Sora no Otoshimono
Aka: Heaven’s Lost Property
I normally steer clear of shows when I get the impression that the show is just about how much fan-service can be crammed into it with no regard to trying to tell a coherent story – which is the feeling I get when I look at publicity pics of this show.
And I was about to pass it over except I noticed that the director of Bamboo Blade is directing this show. Now, I’d really much prefer a second season of Bamboo Blade but since I can’t have that (at least not yet), I’ll give this show a small chance to wow me because, while, I’m sure this’ll be full of fan-service, there’s a chance that it’ll have something that makes it worth watching.
It’s not too often that I’ve read a manga before it’s made into an anime. The last time was Kannagi and I think knowledge of the manga hurt my liking of the anime since I didn’t like the additions the director (the guy that KyoAni fired over the lackluster start to Lucky Star) made. On second thought, saying that I read the manga to Kampfer is probably an overstatement; I looked at the first 10 chapters and I wasn’t impressed. If it’s adapting a manga that I’ve read, why not do FrankenFran, The World Only God Knows, or Rabbit Doubt?
The story is about a normal high school boy that one day wakes up and finds that he’s been changed to an attractive high school girl and is now a “Kampfer” and must now fight other Kampfers – though I can’t remember if they gave a reason why they had fight or why all Kamfers have to female.
My interest in catching this stems wholly from the fact that the seiyuu cast as a rather strong one (I just love Marina Inoue’s voice) and the slight interest to see if the anime adaptors can improve upon the manga. I’ve seen it done, Asu no Yoichi the manga was very forgettable but Asu no Yoichi the anime turned out pretty good.
Miracle Train: Ooedo-sen e Youkoso
A comedy show about Tokyo subway stations personified as beautiful guys? Why not? This is anime and even the bizarre can be used for inspiration. Umi Monogatari was based off of a line of pachinko machines and Hetalia Axis Powers used countries as people.
What does interest me is the director, Kenichi Kasai, who was last seen being the director for Aoi Hana and has also done Honey & Clover S1, KimiKiss, Nodame Cantabile. This seems to lend a level of quality to this show that makes it worth checking out.
There’s a couple of series (Aoi Bungaku and Kuuchuu Buranko) that I can’t seem to find enough information about to see if they’re worth adding here but I might catch them later if someone subs them.
Also, I normally don’t mention OVAs but I did want to call attention to the 4 episode OVA that J.C. Staff is doing with the Shana franchise before they do a supposed final season of Shana. I’ve actually gotten to point that I miss this series so I’m glad to see that J.C. Staff is getting back to it.
So, there you go. Even with what I consider a weak slate of shows, I still manage to write a 3,800+ word preview and watchlist. I tried to highlight all the shows that I believe are worth highlighting but I’m sure I missed a few so check out my first impression posts when the new season starts to air (which is in about 10 days).
And if this list of shows don’t inspire a lot of interest and you’re looking for something to watch this season – you might want to try one of the great shows that will continue into this season:
- Full Metal Alchemist
- Kemono no Souja Erin
- Cross Game
Finally, here’s a chart of all the series and OVAs that are running this season.
Awesome chart comes from here.