Summer Anime Offerings 2014

Well, I meant to do this for the Spring and utterly failed.  By the time I got around to getting around to it, the Spring offering had run its course and now we’re on to the Summer crop.

How did I decide what makes it in this list? I watched some a lot of anime.

I’ve further divided it into 3 sections: New, Second Season, and Continuing.

New Stuff.

First up, my pick for the new series to watch this summer:

Akame ga Kill
Akame ga Kill

Akame ga Kill

Naive Tatsumi wants to be a hero. Yeah, it starts off like a typical coming of age, journey of growth, yadda yadda yadda tale. It quickly takes a 180 and Tatsumi is plunged into the icy reality of corruption, deceit, treachery, and brutality hidden behind glitz of the Capital. After a bloody initiation into the real world, Tatsumi joins up with Night Raid (pictured above), a band of assassins determined to pare away the corrupted flesh of the Empire.

Why I like it: The world initially seems richer than most – it’s safe to assume everyone is evil, we just don’t know how yet. It sets up using familiar tropes and schemes and handily breaks them as a way of defining what it’s not. The characters are familiar, but there’s room for growth. I see great potential for interesting stories to develop from this show.  It’s not locked in to one storyline and could explore some new territories.

What could go wrong: Everything. To put it bluntly. There is a fine line between using the familiar as a handshake, a jumping off point with the knowledgeable viewer and recycling old stories in new packaging. It could easily become too formulaic and rehash many stale plots. To keep it engaging, they have to keep pushing it to the line as they did at the end of the first episode with the dramatic reveal.  (I’m playing nice not spoiling anything here) Of the new batch, I’m most interested to see where this one goes.

I’m also going to be watching two more of the new series out this summer.

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen
Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

Argevollen for short. You know this story. Two countries at war. It starts with a hopeless battle.  A shingata mech is being smuggled out of the engagement zone and events occur so a rookie pilot must use the new suit to save the day. That’s Argevollen (the white one about to punch the other mech’s face in) during its first battle.

Why I like it: It’s a mecha anime. There’s going to be giant robots fighting interspersed with comedic interludes, likable crew members, and a bit of political intrigue. Pretty sure I know what I’m getting with this one.

What could go wrong: It’s hard to go wrong with giant robots…but it could get too preachy. I really don’t expect this to be groundbreaking, but I expect it to live up to the standards set for its genre.

Aldnoah.Zero
Aldnoah.Zero

Aldnoah.Zero

Yep, this one has mechs, too. And it’s in Space…somewhat. Okay, so the description of this one bored me. A lot. It’s an alternate history. Humans discovered a hypergate on the Moon during the Apollo missions. Humans proceeded to use it to colonize Mars. War ensues. The hypergate is destroyed, taking a chunk of the Moon with it. An uneasy truce is established. War breaks out again round about alternate present day.

Why I like it: Frankly, because it reminds me of Martian Successor Nadesico. Also, I like the art. The story has potential, but it’s hard to judge where this one might end up by the first episode and the description. It has me engaged enough to watch my customary 3 episodes.

What could go wrong: It can get boring fast. I will watch the first three, but if it doesn’t hook me by then, it’s dropped.

Second Seasons.

Onward and upward, my friends. Two shows I’m fond of return this summer…these, I’m actually looking forward to more than the new stuff.

Sword Art Online II
Asuna and Kirito return in SAO II

Asuna and Kirito return in SAO II

First, let me state that Sword Art Online is one of my favorite anime series of recent years…it would remain my favorite had it not had such a weak second half and had Shingeki no Kyojin not arrived so quickly after.

Version 2 continues the series with Kirito diving into yet another immersive game which is killing players IRL. This time it’s a shooter world. And yes, he continues using a sword dual wielding with a gun…at least that’s what I was able to gather from the previews, opening, and ending. Don’t worry, no spoilers yet, just deduction. Not a whole lot happened in the first episode.

What I like about it: The characters. That’s really my main reason to watch at this point. I like Kirito and Asuna and the rest of the group.  I want to see them own little upstarts in the new game worlds spawned from the World Seed. Face it, Kirito and Asuna are the ultimate bad asses of a fictional gaming world. The elite.

What could go wrong: It’s a FPS. Swords really aren’t conducive to winning a gunfight. Also, the other elite gamer character seems to be a sniper. Wow, how original. There may not be much magic left to keep the series going, much as I would like to.

 Re:_Hamatora
Re:_Hamatora

Re:_Hamatora

Hamatora. Let’s just say the first series ended with me throwing stuff across the room after a somewhat Sopranos-esque finale. I was quite glad to see there was a second season.

Hamatora follows a ragtag detective agency – predominantly made up of one pair of Minimum Holders. To save time, I’m going to call it what it is… GetBackers meets DarkerThanBlack.

What I like about it: It’s gritty, intense drama; stylish animation and character design; certainly noir; and peopled by dimensioned characters who make you give a damn. Season one exposed Minimum Holders to the world. Season two promises to develop on the ramifications of this revelation while pitting two factions formed around former allies against one another.

What could go wrong: Not a lot. This arc seems to follow logically from the season one plot without relying on it. If you liked the first season, which I heartily recommend, you should be able to jump right in on this one.

Continuing.

Continuing on from last season, I’ll be watching the following:

HunterXHunter

The Chimera Ant saga is finally over! Huzzah!  I think I’ve been waiting about a decade to see what comes after it. (I’m old, I’ve been a fan of the series since the first time it was animated in the late 90s…) Great as it was, it was really drawn out and I want some new action and growth of character. Plus we finally meet Ging. That should be enough spoiler to get any former fan disillusioned by the Ant saga to tune back in.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei (The Irregular at Magical High School)

Tatsuya’s secret is closer and closer to being revealed…what will happen when his classmates find out he’s a whole lot more than what he seems?  How long can he remain the unassuming guy? With outside influences disrupting the lives of 1st Magical High School, how can anyone have a normal youth? Oh wait, none of them are normal…they just want to pretend.  Go forth and kick much oshiri in the new event you’ve been thrust in, Tatsuya.  Quit worrying about your national secrets.

Plus a few others whose status as ongoing has yet to be determined…though some left at awkward places.

Bonus:

So, while compiling this list, I tested the waters a fair bit. Here’s a list of new series I tried that failed to make the cut and approximately how long it took for me to turn it off.

  • Sailor Moon Crystal – 4 minutes
  • Glasslip – 12 minutes
  • Bakumatsu Rock – 3 minutes
  • Rail Wars – 7 minutes
  • Yamishibai 2 – 2 minutes
  • DRAMAtical Murder – 30 seconds
  • Momokyun Sword – 45 seconds

There were also many where I did not make it past the descriptions.

I will make note of Glasslip and RailWars here as they don’t seem to be bad, I just didn’t find them interesting…they seemed well done and may get better…who knows. Also, never been much of a fan of Sailor Moon, that trend continues. If you love it, great, continue loving it…I’ll be watching my giant robots instead.

In conclusion, I’m not very thrilled with this summer’s offering.  In fact, instead of forcing myself to watch EVERY new show available to provide a thorough assessment, I opted to do a rewatch marathon of one of my all time favorites: Martian Successor Nadesico.  (Since Aldnoah.Zero reminded me of it, and all.)

I’ll write that up in another article.

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