Preview: Summer 2012 Anime

While I most certainly have more important things to worry about then about the summer season of anime – which is still more than a month away – I still feel obliged to write up an extremely biased preview, based on the charts that get released way too early. In good Aquagaze fashion, I am using a completely different format once again, thereby continuing my eternal search for worthwhile blogging skills. I wonder how wrong I will be this time!

If nothing goes wrong, the summer season will kick off with Kingdom, a historic shounen anime set in the Chinese Warring States Period, by Studio Pierrot (Naruto, Bleach, …). If you, like me, stopped caring as soon as you read “Chinese Warring States Period”, you needn’t worry. It’s almost as if there have been more anime about Chinese history than there have been about Japanese history; and the Warring States period is such a convoluted mess it makes Kingdom Hearts look like Dora The Explorer. Don’t expect Studio Pierrot to knock any sense into it, or make it anything worthwhile, for that matter. I sure can’t wait for the next Dynasty Warriors game to come out! Equally underwhelming looks Oda Nobuna no Yabou, yet another fanservice-ridden history anime about the Sengoku period getting the genderbending treatment, this time by Studio Gokumi (A-Channel, Saki: Schiga-Hen, …) and Madhouse (Death Note, Monster, …). Yes, Madhouse. I thought they were smart enough to know that breasts cannot exactly jiggle when covered by plate armour. Then again, they did make High School of the Dead

Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi

Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi

If you’d like your history to be a bit more sparkly, you can always check out Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi, an allegedly “super liberal” interpretation of the Hyakuninisshu anthology, which is a collection of one hundred romantic poems from the Heian (794-1185) period. The “obnoxious shoujo” alarms are bleating loudly, but this is obnoxious shoujo with the director of Honey and Clover and Aoi Hana behind the steering wheel. While Chouyaku’s premise proves to be original, it may have an alienating effect on many. With different romantic poems as the source material, the result could be very shallow and repetitive, but if we look at this from an optimist’s point of view, this might just end up as the best anime of the season…  that no one safe for the Oxford University Faculty of Japanese Literature watched. Animation will be provided by TYO Animations (Tamayura, Ginga e Kickoff!, …).

Of course, no anime season is complete without a boatload of boring eroge adaptations and other shady shows that might get you arrested. By far the most interesting of the uninteresting, but by far not interesting enough to be interesting, is Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse; a science fiction anime based on a light novel based on figurines based on a spin-off of an eroge I have been hearing way too much about as of late. If you had trouble reading that last sentence, you had better get out now, but for some people, Muv-Luv might be right up their alley. Do you like supposedly attractive woman jabbering incomprehensible technobabble? Did you ‘play’ the original Muv-Luv visual novel and its equally hefty sequels and spin-offs? Are you prepared to have your favourite franchise ruined by the director ofRosario + Vampire and Baby Princess 3D? Yes? Have fun with it. As for me, my timeline can’t wait to be filtered.

Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!

Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!

AIC Build (Oreimo, Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai, …)  is responsible for the obligatory harem erogeadaptation of the season. The thing is named Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate and, well, it’s an erogeadaptation by AIC Build. I have a special, specific room in the “I don’t give a sod” section of my heart specifically for eroge adaptations by AIC Build. If you liked Boku Wa Tomodachi Ga Sukunai before it became a porn parody of its-… I mean, an anime, you know fully well how much you should care about this chocolaty anime: about as much as you should care about Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru! Like looking for an anime in this season that is actually worth a damn, this show’s brave protagonist must search his ever growing harem of female schoolmates in order to find his real little sister. I don’t think I have to add anything more. This fun for the whole family will be animated by Studio Gokumi and will serve no other purpose for the human race than to act as evidence of how depraved our kind has become. My allergies are playing up. If you have not yet had enough obnoxious ecchi yet, consider yourself lucky, for Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai shall be your saving grace. In this new, brave attempt at creating the Citizen Kane of anime, revolutionary anime studio Feel tells the story of a virile young spirit who has his sex drive stolen from him by a well-endowed Grim Reaper and has to undertake a heroic quest to gain it back. An epic tale of masculinity, corporeality and bodily fluids, from the visionary director that brought us Yosuga No Sora. Yeah. If you are really desperate for a Feel anime, just watch that kissXsis OVA that comes out the sixth of July. At least kissXsis is entertaining.

Good thing noitaminA is still there to provide undertake a true brave attempt at making something worthwhile. The renowned timeslot has been trying very hardly to make up for some of its recent disasters (Guilty Crown, No.6, Fractale, …) by going back to what it does best: Josei, slice-of-life and offbeat comedy. That last category will be all too well represented by Moyashimon Returns, and Natsuyuki Rendezvous falls well into that first category, though studio Dogakobo (YuruYuri, which is – by the way – getting a second season as well) and the director of Rosen Maiden and the much-maligned Yozakura Quartet anime may seem like odd choices. On the other hand, however, we do have the animation director of Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the noitaminA seal of quality, which all of a sudden is worth a damn again. Only time will tell if the timeslot can keep up its glorious resurrection.

Joshiraku

Joshiraku

While noitaminA has rekindled its fiery determination to be as against the anime mainstream as possible, J.C. Staff continues to put out one unremarkable show after another. Its two representatives for this season, Joshiraku and La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia, respectively a four-girl-ensemble comedy and an otomege adaptation, don’t seem to show any aspiration to change this tradition around, but it would not be the first time a seemingly generic J.C. Staff show turned out to be fantastic.Toradora!, anyone? La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia does not seem to have much going for it aside from its setting and odd pretty mafia boy vibes, but Joshiraku can count on the reputation of its spiritual predecessor. The Joshiraku manga was penned down by the author of Sayonara, Zetsubou-sensei, which suddenly reveals a lot more potential in Joshiraku’s entirely generic premise. You can take that premise very literally, though, as the manga consists of literally nothing else but girls sitting around a table and having random conversations. Without the Shaft magic that SZS did have, why does this have to be an anime?

As you probably figured out already, J.C. Staff does not seem to be putting much effort into this season. The most J.C. Staff of all anime this season, however, is not even being made by them, but by Diomedea of Squid Girl fame (and Komodo no Jikan infamy). Are you excited for an anime about a generic, mild-mannered male high school student protagonist who meets an offbeat girl with special powers and gets dragged into fighting hardly threatening enemies with her, while ending up in a lot of ‘hilarious’ and ‘erotic’ situations involving an entire cast of stereotypical teenage girls who are all in love with him for no reason whatsoever? Yeah, me neither. But if you are, make sure to check out Campione! Furthermore, if you’d like some more funbags in your generic battle anime, Hagure Yuusha No Estetica, the latest from the wizards at ARMS (Samurai Girls, Queen’s Blade, Ikki Tousen, …) is there for you. My hype level, on the other hand, is Inversely proportional to the average breast size of the average girl in this average anime.

Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online

Have no fear, though, for there is more than enough actually promising anime on the way. Anime like Sword Art Online, for instance. Based on the novels by the author of Accel World, this spiritual successor is bigger, badder and better that the currently airing show, at least according to fans. If anything, it looks more consistent and fantasy-themed. With the director of Occult Academy – which, despite its lacklustre plot, was pretty well directed – the nose-hating character designer of Working!!and folktronica fairy Yuki Kajiura backing the project, Sword Art Online has a lot going for it. So does Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita, which – according to the trailer – looks like an original, atmospheric, cute and fairy tale-like fantasy anime. The main issue this anime has will have to face is the presence of director Seiji Kishi, who is so bad at picking a mood that he and his team at AIC ASTA (Persona 4: The Animation) nearly ruined an anime based on the best game of all time. With atmosphere seemingly being such an important factor in Jintai, picking Kishi seems like a very strange choice.

Another director who seems to be trying very hardly to become the Uwe Boll of anime is Shin Onuma, the poor man’s Akiyuki Shinbo. Onuma and his studio Silver Link (Baka and Test, C3, …) have been putting out one sub-par Shaft imitation after another as of late, and Kokoro Connect is their last in line. An anime about five boys and five girls switching places seems pretty interesting to me, yet I am very suspicious of how exactly Onuma will adapt this. Will we get another desperate attempt at Shinboism, or will Silver Link tone this down in favour of a more casual, bubblier atmosphere befitting of the K-On!-esque character designs? Will the screenwriter of Clannad turn this into another one of these obnoxious angstfests we have seen way too much of as of late, or will he show his talent is a more restrained way? I am sceptical, yet I cannot say I am not intrigued.

Tari Tari

Tari Tari

The same can be said for Tari Tari. To me, P.A. Works (Angel Beats!, Another, …) has always delivered before, and while the promotional material and premise seems to live and breathe Hanasaku Iroha, the crew is entirely different. The queen of overwrought obnoxious screenwriting, Mari Okada, has been thankfully ditched for newcomer Masakazu Hashimoto, who will also pick up directing duties. Director and writer being the same person is never a bad thing – unless it’s M. Night Shyamalan – soTari Tari gets the benefit of my doubt.

This leaves us with two more anime before we can wrap this admittedly lengthy preview. About Arve Rezzle, not much is known, aside from the fact that involves a guy being trapped in cyberspace and having to find his missing sister in order to escape, and that it is animated by ZEXCS (Sister Princess, Chu-Bra!!, …). The latter is enough reason for you to not bother about the half-assed logic in the former. We end up this preview with an unfortunate comedy by Sunrise (Gundam, Daily Lives of High School Boys, …) and Fujita Yoshi, the director of the later episodes of GintamaBinbou-gami ga! This show tells the story of an extremely lucky girl getting a visit from the goddess of misfortune, who has been sent to restore the balance of luck. Hilarity will ensue… or will it? With the screenwriter of Bleachand that atrocious Rock Lee‘s Springtime of Youth spin-off penning, people hoping for another Gintamaor Dude Days might be better off not getting their hopes up too high for Binbou-gami ga!

Aside from all these shows, the summer season will also feature second seasons of lesbian-tastic comedy YuruYuriMoyashimon, historic otomege adaptation Hakuouki, the infamously convolutedHorizon in the Middle of NowhereRinne No Lagrange and Dog Days. In general, I think the same can be said about the summer season that can be said about a lot of summer seasons: There isn’t really a lot that looks promising, but there are some shows that could prove to be decent entertainment. What will you be watching?

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