2014 Summer Preview

So I had the poor sense of timing to start a blog too far into the spring season for me to dive straight into episodic posts. But I can still compose a summer preview post to get to start easing myself into blogging. I’m likely to have a good time re-reading this posts several months down the line, seeing how wildly inaccurate my predictions for these shows will actually be.

I wont be talking about every show, so these will just be the shows that I’m interested in watching, listed in alphabetical order. Every show scheduled to air for the season can be found here.

Akame ga Kill

There was a recent poll where Japanese viewers voted for their most anticipated shows for the summer. Naturally, SAO II topped the list, but Akame ga Kill didn’t make it onto the list. I don’t read manga, but many of the fans I’ve seen commenting both on that article and elsewhere seem very hyped for this show. Usually, that might be a warning sign for me, but in this case I am somewhat intrigued as to why the manga seems popular here, and not in Japan. If I had to guess, it would be because this show appeals more to western sensibilities, so I can imagine it will be very grimdark and violent. On the other hand, the recent Attack on Titan was all of those things, and from what I can gather both the anime and manga are as large in Japan as they are over here, so all bets are off for this show.

The show is being animated by studio White Fox, who I pretty much only remember for Steins;Gate. They’ve only been around since 2007, and their first show was in 2009- so it makes sense that they don’t have a particuarly strong resume, the previously mentioned Steins;Gate and Jormungand (which I haven’t seen) being the only shows with any popularity that I’ve heard of. In other words, how the show looks could be interesting to see.

I haven’t read too much into the plot, but it would appear that it’s about assassins in a modern setting, and that the titular Akame is not the main character. Rather, some guy called Tatsumi is taking the protagonist role, whom Akame has saved from another girl. Using my powers of clairvoyance, I can only guess that he’ll be the usual type of lead who confuses bland with relatable. Hopefully, we wont end up in a harem set up dipped in ‘protective’ violent black paint like this season’s disappointing Brynhildr has been doing.

Here’s the PV, but it doesn’t show much.

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Urobuchi! It’s always a wonderful thing to see your name attached to a series. Yes, ALDNOAH is likely my most hyped show for the season purely because he is the series creator, and his works usually always rank amongst my favourite anime of all time including Madoka Magica and Psycho Pass. This is his second show featuring mechs, and despite what I’ve literally just said I never got fully into Gargantia, though I plan to give it another shot when since it’s coming out on blu-ray where I live in a couple of months.

That said, I do have to calm my expectations slightly. Urobuchi’s involvement in the actual production seems tenuous. He’s listed as ‘original creator’ and the actual directors and writers don’t seem to have any resumes to really speak of, so the writing may not be as sharp as we’ve come to expect. Even so, I don’t believe that is any reason to write the show off, after all Fate/Zero was in a similar position, and Fate/Zero was pretty good overall.

The studio behind this is A-1 pictures, they’ve been around long enough but what is interesting to note is that they also animated Sword Art Online, the blockbuster mega hit of 2012 that fewer and fewer people seem to like with each passing day. Regardless, the money that show dragged in will hopefully mean that ALDNOAH will look beautiful, so lets cross our fingers that all the money isn’t spent on the second season of SAO, that will be airing at the same time as this.

Here’s the PV. People are talking but I can’t Japanese.

Ao Haru Ride

Well would you look at that, Production I.G are animating a slice of life romance. Production I.G are some of the oldest and most skilled veterans in the industry who almost always create amazing shows in terms of visuals, and who have likely dabbled in virtually every genre known to anime with quality ranging from masterpieces to trash, but they’re not the type that I would attribute to this genre. Action noir series like ghost in the shell appears to be their usual output, but on the other hand, they did recently animate the well received Usagi Drop, which managed to break from the standard trappings of the genre.

AHR may be poised to also break these trappings. The plot synopsis describes a girl named Yoshioka  who feels unable to confess her feelings for the guy she likes, and who is trying to not act traditionally feminine in order to fit in better with her friends. This set up gives me high hopes. For one, this places focus on the girl rather than the guy, actually brings gender politics into the discussion, and it also seems ready to discuss cuteness in relation to femininity. Cuteness is a big deal in Japanese culture and anime especially, and the synopsis is already bringing up the idea of cuteness as social power. Yoshioka’s friends ostracised her for being ‘cute’ when she was younger. Whether this will be because her friends were jealous is yet to be seen- but I have my fingers crossed for this one, despite the fact that slice of life is never really a genre I’ve been able to get into even when I know the show is good.

This PV is very pretty.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal

Now I never watched Sailor Moon as a kid, as a matter of fact I wasn’t even aware of its existence. Living in the UK, I don’t ever recall ever seeing this airing on kids TV, although other shows like Pokemon, Yugi-oh, and Naruto are still fresh in my mind as shows that I tuned into from time to time.

You might be confused as to why I’m deciding to tune into this one, then, I still haven’t watched the show and I never did. Well, for one, Sailor Moon is a cultural milestone in Japan and in the west, so I kind of feel like I owe it to myself to at least see what all the fuss is about. Secondly, this is going to be aired biweekly, and will only last about 26 episodes, where as the original has hundreds. Thirdly, much like the Brotherhood rendition of Fullmetal Alchemist, this will apparently stick closer to the original manga. While I’m not a purest nut, in this case hopefully this will mean that we’ll be getting a much more focused, less bloated, and mature remake.

Finally, this show is probably going to be very popular, the franchise already is popular, so hopefully that might get me some more blog views. What? Don’t look at me like that. In any case, it might be interesting to analyse this show from the perspective of a male who doesn’t have any history with the original.

I can’t find a PV.

Persona 4 The Golden Animation

The existence of this show… perplexes me. I’m a massive fan of the Shin Megami Tensei video game series, and I happen to believe that Personas 3 and 4 are some of the best games the series has to offer, and heck, they’re certainly two of the most popular. In any case, we already got a decent adaption of this PS2 JRPG in 2011. Ah, but that was of the PS2 version- the golden is a completely different game on the PSVita!

That aside, The Golden remake added a new character and some new story scenes, most of which were school trip fluff from what I can tell, if they weren’t involving this ‘Marie’ character. I never played The Golden, so seeing what will be added will be interesting. The original adaption also added new events to the story which were pretty decent in their own right, so hopefully this will be a compliment to the original series rather than a remake or a rehash. Then again, the director of this show is the faithful type who seems to specialise in making less interesting animated adaptions of currently popular game franchises, so this could be a chance to fix the issues with the original adaption and make something great, for fuck it up pointlessly. Overall, I’m expecting the adaption to focus mostly on animating all of the additions The Golden made to the franchise more than anything else.

But hey, a certain someone got a social link in the game, so at the very least I’ll look forward to seeing how that is handled… and hey look it’s A-1 pictures again. Please for the love of god, make sure ALDNOAH looks good.

The PV region locked me, so I’m going to spite you guys and not link it.

So now, for my final preview…

Sword Art Online II

How about no?

Yeah, I’m not particularly excited for this. But why should I pass up the opportunity to make fun of this show? I mean, I feel almost blessed to be starting my blogging career the same time this show is airing- think of the views, think of the hipster cred!

But plenty of other bloggers with a more honed, experienced and entertaining critical insight will also be pointing fingers at this show… how will I compete?

We’ll just have to see how it goes. So in all seriousness, I first watched the first season of SAO when I was fairly new to anime. I saw it on a streaming sight, the first episode only a few days old, with no idea what it was. I watched the first episode, and I was hooked. It had an intriguing premise and great aesthetics boosted by stunning visuals and music. I continued to watch it weekly without fail right until the show ended.

What. Was. I. Thinking.

Yeah, the first season wasted a lot of its potential with a poor, disjointed structure, poor writing and characterisation unaware of the full extent of its own themes and a second half that nose dived into all sorts of wrong. It was a joke of a show, where the best comedy came from the fact that seemingly no one in the world, neither the creators nor its fans, seemed to realise what a joke it actually was.

Alfheim Online was a story arc that not even the fans were particularly fond of, but apparently the second season is animating Gun Gale Online from the original light novels, which is much better… for some reason. I don’t really know what to expect, because I wouldn’t be caught dead reading the source material myself, but apparently there’s going to be a lot of guns. Guns… yep, always a good place to start. It’s really helpful when the title of your show explains what weapon your designated Gary Stu is going to be wielding, as opposed to anything interesting, like a personality. Although apparently Gary Stu is a Mary Sue now, because why not. Hey, maybe the next MMO they go to should have ‘pen’ in the name so that the characters can spend their time onscreen writing a better show!

So yeah… this is the humour you can apparently expect. I’ll be here all week folks.

Say maybe, A-1 pictures… this is going to be a mega hit anyway, and while I would love a better show, perhaps you could, you know, be a little lax when it comes to the animation for this one? The fans wont care, they’re protective and rabid. So perhaps it wouldn’t be too much to ask for you to spend a little more money on ALDNOAH and Persona 4? That would be grand.

Here’s the PV. Someone fires a gun, so the name fits I guess. I think her name is Sinnon, and I’m confused as to why another female character is being introduced when the show COULD be spending its time developing the bagillion other female characters introduced in the first season. Such as Asuna, perhaps? Maybe she could be elevated above the level of tsundere princess peach? Baaah, humbug.

 


 

So there are other shows that I want to try this season, and I’ll probably end up trying at least one episode of 90% of them this season. But I’m tired, and these seemed like some of the most interesting shows and/or ones that I could make a post on.

For me, some of the other shows I’m interested in include DRAMatical Murder, Psycho-Pass new edit (although I’m more interested in season 2), Tokyo ESP, Tokyo Ghouls (or Kushu, whatever), and Zankyou no Terror.

Finally, if you’re wondering why Hanamonogatari isn’t on the list, it’s because I’m a horrible person who hasn’t watched any of the previous seasons. Certainly someday, but not now. In the meantime I’ll happily allow the internet to bash my head in repeatedly with a mallet until I submit and watch the damn thing.

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