Random Curiosity

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Winter 2014 Preview!

With winter already upon us and the third year of the Tyranny of Stilts set to begin, it’s time to introduce you to the upcoming anime season. Last season was strangely weak for fall, with many of the most highly anticipated series ending in disappointment while only a few dark horses stepped up to pick up their slack. Can winter, traditionally one of the weaker seasons, do any better? I think it may be able to, and that’s not just my eternal optimism talking. This season is pleasantly plump with original series, including the anime-saving space adventure SPACE☆DANDY, the ridiculous interplanetary mecha brawl Nobunaga the Fool, the world dominating loli fantasy Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~, and the magical courtroom procedural Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil. Notable adaptations include the magical fantasy mish-mash Witch Craft Works, the airborne epic Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta, the Shaft harem romcom Nisekoi, and another ridiculous Nobunaga-based sci-fi romp in Nobunagan. There are encouraging sequels as well, including a second season of the perverted slice-of-life comedy Seitokai Yakuindomo, another season of ridiculously awesome mahjong with Saki Zenkoku-hen, the second cour of the deep agriculture coming-of-age story Gin no Saji, and the second season of KyoAni’s delusional romcom Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! There’s a lot of enjoy this winter, so join me for Random Curiosity’s Winter 2014 Season Preview. Read on to find out what you should be watching.


As a quick reminder, most entries are divided into two paragraphs:

  • A brief introduction to the series and its premise, often with the starring cast of characters.
  • The writer’s impressions, expanding on the plot and highlighting specific points of interest.

That said, we’ve allowed individual writers to mix things up if they think another way will work better, so the format may differ slightly from preview to preview.

This season we’ll continue using the Expectation Levels we implemented a few seasons ago. As always, remember that these reflect our own subjective excitement level for each show, and as such do not necessarily reflect how shows will pan out. For more information check out the overall impressions section at the bottom, which includes an expanded explanation of each category and a list of all shows by expectation level.


Disclaimer: Way back in the ancient era of 2012 – wow, has it been that long? – previews were done by a single writer, Divine. Unfortunately none of the current writers are nearly as masochistic awesome as him, so we’ve divvied up the writing among our seven current writers (Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr, and yours truly, Stilts) in order to maintain the quality of this preview. As always we will try to point out what appeals to us in each series, in the hope that it will help you determine if it coincides with your tastes.

Disclaimer #2: Please note that this list does not reflect all the series airing this coming season. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible, but omissions have been made for shows that stray from the anime norm or seem to be oriented towards young children. Please check out MOON PHASE for complete listings, syoboi for specific air times, and Fansub DB for a list of potential subbers for each series.


Thank you once again to everyone who helped make this preview a reality. Special thanks go to our tech guy Xumbra for helping encode the PVs, and the big man Divine himself for stepping up to help with the back end work so the rest of us didn’t have to spend our entire holidays slaving over this post. Special props also go to Guardian Enzo, who helped out with this preview even as he did his own over at his site. Check it out in case you want a second opinion on any of these series.

TV Series


Technical Note: the list is ordered by the date and time that the shows premiere. The links in the schedule will take you to a series’ corresponding entry and the “Top” links on the right will bring you back. You can also use the back/forward buttons in your browser to jump between links you’ve clicked. All times are given in a 24-hour, relative-day format where times are extended to show which day they belong to. For instance, Friday morning at 1:30AM would become Thursday at 25:30 to show that the episode aired late Thursday night.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
22:00 MX (1/5)
20:30 AT-X (1/6)
Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road
19:00 MX (12/31)
Double Circle
00:00 YouTube (12/18)
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
21:30 AT-X (1/9)
25:00 MX (1/10)
Robot Girls Z
17:30 Toei (1/4)
Witch Craft Works
22:30 MX (1/5)
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
22:00 MX (1/6)
25:40 TX (1/7)
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 2
24:30 MX (1/8)
Gin no Saji Silver Spoon 2
24:45 CX (1/9)
Wake Up, Girls!
25:23 TX (1/10)
Seitokai Yakuindomo*
20:30 AT-X (1/4)
23:00 MX (1/5)
26:05 TX (1/6)
Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha.
25:00 MX (1/15)
25:00 TVS (1/9)
25:53 TX (12/20)
Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga.
22:30 MX (1/4)
23:30 MX (1/5)
Maken-ki! 2
25:30 MX (1/15)
GO! GO! 575
25:25 MX (1/9)
23:30 MX (1/11)
Buddy Complex
24:00 MX (1/5)
Onee-chan ga Kita
27:00 MX (1/8)
Mahou Sensou
25:28 TBS (1/9)
Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~
24:00 MX (1/11)
Wizard Barristers Benmashi Cecil
24:30 MX (1/12)
Hoozuki no Reitetsu
25:35 MBS (1/9)
Nobunaga the Fool
25:05 TX (1/5)
25:50 TX (1/9)
Saki Zenkoku-hen
25:35 TX (1/5)
Sakura Trick
25:58 TBS (1/9)
Tonari no Seki-kun
26:05 TX (1/5)
26:30 SUN (1/9)

* Jump to OVA/Movies.

Double Circle Top
Animation: Premiere: December 18, 2013
Genre: Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 00:00
Episodes: Station: YouTube
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @DoubleCircle_en

Preview by Stilts

The Japanese electronics corporation Toshiba and the city of Kawasaki are collaborating on a 6-episode short series for the winter season. The title “Double Circle” refers to the infinity symbol as well as the community that “evolves infinitely by the energy and ICT [information and communication technology] in the smart community project.” This is a story about community development dealing with both environmental considerations, convenience versus comfort, and activating the regional economy. Join a cast that include a salaryman, an engineer, a boathouse-dwelling foreigner, a gifted IT prodigy, and an alien from outer space.

I’m leery when a massive consumer product corporation and/or government agency gets involved in the arts, and not just because they tend to be bad at it. Does this sound like propoganda to anyone else? It feels like they’re trying to promote their particular view of the future, one which I assume will heavily factor in Toshiba and the city of Kawasaki. But I’ll be charitable – my first impression upon seeing the promotional arc was “This looks like Gatchaman Crowds x Servant x Service“, and lo and behold, Gatchaman Crowds’ character designer Kinako is the original character designer. The seiyuu cast is also quite good, with big names like Okamoto Nobuhiko, Saito Chiwa, and Horie Yui starring, continuing the trend of shorts with surprisingly high production values. It is set to be an ONA though, which aren’t usually broadcast in high quality even if they’re made that way. Can you tell I’m conflicted? There are good things here, but the underlying premise and the entities backing it fill me with nothing but dread. It is a short, so there’s a low barrier to entry, but I’m not sure whether I’ll bother to check this one out. Someone tell me if it turns out to be amazing, alright?

Watching This: Zanibas Expectation Level: Low
Show Double Circle Promotional Videos ▼

Pupipo! | プピポー! Top
Animation: AIC Plus+ Premiere: December 20, 2013
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:53
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_pupipo or #anime_pupipo

Preview by Cherrie

Pupipo! is a short story about a young girl who has the ability to see the dark spirits following her around. Growing up, Himeji Wakaba (Sasaki Shiho) is constantly isolated at school, and the other kids call her “The Witch” because bad things happen to people around her. To cope, Wakaba finds some happiness in rescuing stray animals and bringing them home. Unfortunately her parents never allow her to keep them due to their fear of dogs and cats. After repeatedly turning down Wakaba’s attempts to bring home a pet, her parents promise to let her keep the next animal she brings home. The next thing she brings home is Pupipo (Mori Chisato). Pupipo is neither a dog nor a cat. He’s some kind of pink blob that has a very small vocabulary, but shows a lot of affection towards Wakaba. He also eats or scares away the evil spirits that try to hurt Wakaba, and by doing so he helps her make friends and conquer bullying.

This anime will be a short, given that the source material is only 3 volumes long. There’s quite a bit of content packed into each chapter, which revolve around Wakaba’s life and the “evil spirits” that come with it. Most of these situations end up being quite comedic though, and I would say the story isn’t meant to be taken too seriously. It might take a while for the story to ramp up, but give it 3 weeks and it’s sure to take the audience interesting places. I don’t promise the material is completely original, but it’s not as predictable as you may imagine and Wakaba experiences growth in areas outside of school as well. Pupipo is simply the catalyst for the many funny situations to follow.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Pupipo Promotional Videos ▼

Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road | 熱風海陸ブシロード Top
Animation: Kinema Citrus Premiere: December 31, 2013
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 19:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @bushi_anime or #ブシロード

Preview by Stilts

Originally announced in 2003, the mecha mixed-media project Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road has been restarted with an anime special. This is a collaboration between Bushiroad, Bandai Visual, the software company Nitroplus, and anime studio Kinema Citrus, and it comes with a distinguished pedigree: the late novelist Yoshida Sunao (Trinity Blood) is the original creator, and it was his death that stalled the original 2003 project. The story takes place on an Earth in the pits of despair thanks to a poison called “shinobi”, which came to the planet from an asteroid. Humanity has run away to a place called Kairiku, which used to be at the bottom of the ocean, and where they now fight the effects of the poison. In a world with little hope, there is one bright spot – the Holy Weapon Giga Road and the legendary warrior Yagyuu, which have the power to counter the effects of the poison. In order to save the world, Ame (Han Megumi), princess of a fallen nation, will stand up and fight. Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road will also be incorporated into Bushiroad’s new hybrid trading card game, Five Qross.

I have mixed feelings about this show. First of all, I love originals – even when they don’t end up working, I appreciate that studios are still willing to take the risk, and they’re usually at least interesting. Then there’s how the original creator is the late Yoshida Sunao of Trinity Blood fame, which is not a name I ever thought I would hear again, though I’m glad I did. Trinity Blood was one of my gateway anime (in the best possible way), so the idea of getting to peek in Sunao-sensei’s mind one more time is enticing. That said, there are a lot of hands in this particular pie. Four different companies, a lot of previous work, an original creator who is no longer around to guide things – I can easily see this veering into a corporate nightmare of writing-by-committee like Guilty Crown and Gen’ei wo Kakeru Taiyou. There’s also the fact that they’re already planning to incorporate it into some trading card game, which makes it seem like a shallow cash grab. This is only a one episode special, so there’s not much time commitment, but… Well, ask yourself this: How much do you like mecha and/or Trinity Blood? If the answer to either is “a lot”, check this out.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Neppuu Kairiku Bushi Road Promotional Videos ▼

Robot Girls Z | ロボットガールズZ Top
Animation: Toei Animation Premiere: January 4, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 17:30
Episodes: Station: Toei Channel
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @robot_girls_z, #ロボットガールズZ, or #rbgz

Preview by Zephyr

From the studio that brought you classics such as Digimon, Dragon Ball, and One Piece comes the sci-fi comedy Robot Girls Z. A series of 10-minute shorts, Robot Girls Z reimagines robots from the Mazinger series (Mazinger Z, Great Mazinger, and UFO Robo Grendizer) as beautiful girls. Related to the 2011 series Toei Robot Girls, this new iteration focuses on three girls named Z-chan (Honda Mariko), Gre-chan (Minase Iori), and Grenda-san (Aranami Kazusa). Collectively known as “Team Z,” they promote a revolutionary new energy source known as Photon Power. At the same time, they ensure its safety by fighting off the “Mechanical Beasts,” another team of girls trying to steal it.

Having watched the first four minutes of the series via advance stream, I found Robot Girls Z surprisingly fun to watch. There was something amusing about seeing girls transform into fancy costumes based on giant robots, and it looks like a fun series in general, even if you haven’t watched any of the series it references. Considering they’re only 10-minute shorts, Robot Girls Z is one of those series you don’t have much to lose by trying. It may turn out to be a good show for when you have a quick break, want a lighthearted comedy to watch, or just want to watch something without investing the full 20+ minutes a normal series would require.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Robot Girls Z Promotional Videos ▼

Seitokai Yakuindomo* | 生徒会役員共* Top
Animation: GoHands Premiere: January 4, 2014
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 20:30
Episodes: 13 Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @seitokai0428 or #seitokai2

Preview by Takaii

If you haven’t watched the first season of this Seitokai Yakuindomo (or the following OVAs), I highly advise you do so. For those of you who have though, aren’t you excited!? Returning to his post as Vice President/Male Representative of a formerly all female high school, Takatoshi Tsuda (Asanuma Shintaro) is back and ready to be everyone’s favorite punching bag and tsukkomi. Alongside him returns Student Council President Amakusa Shino (Hikasa Yoko), with her insatiable thirst for everything related to the male anatomy, Secretary Shichijo Aria (Satou Satomi) and her dirty yet lovable mind, and Treasurer Hagimura Suzu (Yahagi Sayuri), who probably hasn’t grown a single centimeter.

This show is basically your typical high school slice-of-life if someone decided to base it off of people who went through high school wanting to experience anything and everything possible. With sex jokes being the norm and enough wordplay to write a dirty novel with, this show is not for the innocent minded. Once you get passed the perverted jokes there are cleaner things to keep you coming back for more. Between the deadpan humor from the famous Arai Satomi to the superb short jokes (you’ll have to see it to understand what I mean), there’s a lot more to this show than just “chocolate covered bananas” and dirty gags. But if all you want is perverted jokes, which at times get really dirty, this show will fulfill your needs without making you feel that bad about watching it. Trust me, I’m a pro.

Watching This: Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Seitokai Yakuindomo* Promotional Videos ▼

Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga. Top
Animation: Premiere: January 4, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 22:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation

Preview by Stilts

High school girl Kanzaki Mitsuki (Hashimoto Chinami) just got a new older brother after her mother remarried a fellow divorcee. Shortly after the wedding her new stepfather gets transferred overseas and her mother decides to go with him, leaving Mitsuki all alone with her new stepbrother, Kanzaki Yuuya (Majima Junji). Mitsuki feels like her mother has been taken from her by men, so she keeps her distance from Yuuya…until one day when she meets the spirit of a young girl named Kotobuki Hiyori (Ogura Yui). Hiyori is a lost spirit who can’t reach the gates of heaven and the eternal peace beyond without help, and Mitsuki is that help, whether she wants to be or not. Hiyori puts a special belt on Mitsuki called the TST with a meter that fills up every time Mitsuki has sexual feelings for Yuuya. Every time the meter fills up Hiyori gets one step closer to heaven, so if Mitsuki wants to get rid of this annoying ghost, she’s going to have to get much, much closer to her new stepbrother.

I stumbled across the manga this series is based on a while back, and I enjoyed it. The setup is a bit lazy and convenient – what kind of parents move away and leave their kids behind right after they got married? – but once it gets moving the setup works. Mitsuki is a heavily justified tsundere thanks to her body frequently being taken over by Hiyori, and her conflicted feelings for Yuuya are very clear. (Mitsuki’s, not Hiyori’s…Hiyori isvery clear about her feelings for “Yuuya-oniichan”.) Yuuya’s confusion over how to deal with his new younger sister also works well, and since she effectively has two personalities in addition to her tsundere nature, I don’t blame him. He’s also just a nice guy, which quickly made me start rooting for their romance. And the romance is still the big draw; though there’s certainly suggestive material – and I expect the studio behind Ro-Kyu-Bu! to maintain that – it’s generally in service of romance rather than straight titillation. (Usually.) This may seem to be cashing in on the imouto craze, and perhaps it is, but mostly the setup is there to force two high schoolers into close proximity so we can watch their romance bloom. I know I’ll be watching.

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga Promotional Videos ▼

Nobunagun | ノブナガン Top
Animation: Bridge Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: 13 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nobunagun_tv or #nobunagan

Preview by Zephyr

Based on the 2011 action manga by Hisa Masato, Nobunagun comes in as the first of two Nobunaga series airing this winter. Animated by Bridge (Devil Survivor 2), the series revolves around a high school student named Ogura Shio (Mutou Shiori). During her school trip to Taiwan, monsters known as “Evolved Invaders” suddenly attack. Impervious to normal weapons, their arrival leads to the deployment of government agents known as “E-Gene Holders.” Wielding historical figures in the form of weapons, they fight back against these hostile invaders. Amidst the chaos, Shio awakens to her E-Gene powers in the form of an Oda Nobunaga-infused machine gun.

Just when you thought there couldn’t be anymore Nobunaga themed series, we get two in one season. Like Nobunaga the Fool, Nobunagun offers a similarly ridiculous take on historical figures, and it’s hard not to get excited about something as over the top as this. Having Nobunaga, Gandhi, Newton, Jack the Ripper, and Galileo as weapons is a great recipe for entertainment, and this show looks like it will supply a healthy amount of action-packed awesomeness. Director Kondo Nobuhiro doesn’t have much experience in his role though, and Bridge hasn’t done anything substantial either. For most of you it may be wise to temper your expectations of this series, which has potential but may fall short of fulfilling it. Action fans would do well to give this series a try, even if it looks like it’ll be less entertaining than the other Nobunaga series airing this season.

Watching This: Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Nobunagun Promotional Videos ▼

Witch Craft Works | ウィッチクラフトワークス Top
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @Witch_CW_anime or #witch_anime

Preview by Zanibas

In a reversal of the “damsel in distress” trope, Witch Craft Works features your plain male lead, Takamiya Honoka (Kobayashi Yuusuke), being guarded by his quiet yet beautiful female classmate, Kagari Ayaka (Seto Asami). Donning a witch hat, a trusty flying broom, and a face that’s as stoic as one can get, Ayaka protects Honoka from antagonists who wish to bring both of them harm. Prepare to immerse yourself in a story with giant scythes, giant scissors, giant chests, giant robot bunnies, and tons of kemonomimi characters in this weird fantasy world.

I recommend checking out this series if you enjoy a fairytale-themed setting mixed with the real world. There’s lots of action to be found in this story, and from what I’ve read of the original material, there are some touching moments between the characters as well. Though it’s nowhere close to uncommon to see the male protagonist in the “beta” position, Ayaka’s character is pretty hilarious to watch when she breaks from her calm demeanor. In terms of staff, the seiyuu aren’t too remarkable, though Seto Asami is on the radar, but director Mizushima Tsutomu is definitely a good sign, having directed works such as Another, Hare+Guu, and Girls und Panzer. All that’s left is to cross our fingers that J.C. Staff puts effort into the animation, as a critical point for this show will be proper animation of the many fight scenes that will occur. Since this show is similar to past J.C. Staff works such as Shakugan no Shana and Zero no Tsukaima (exchanging tsundere with dandere/kuudere), do give this show a shot. The dynamics between our main couple in particular may be worth checking out.

Watching This: Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Witch Craft Works Promotional Videos ▼

SPACE☆DANDY | スペース☆ダンディ Top
Animation: BONES Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:00
Episodes: 26 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @space_dandy or #s_dandy

Preview by Guardian Enzo

The future of anime as a medium depends on the success or failure of Space Dandy. Is that hyperbole enough for you? Yes, it’s a bit of an overstatement, but in a sense this series represents the best hope for BONES to prove that their strategy (as outlined by founder Minami Masahiko) of not going after the same 30-40,000 otaku Blu-ray buyers as everyone else has a chance to work. BONES is trying to make anime not just for a broader segment of the Japanese audience, but the international market as well – Space Dandy has the distinction of premiering in the United States (in English – it can’t really be called a dub if it’s the first release) before it does in Japan. They’ve lined up the legendary director of their most beloved series, Watanabe Shinichiro (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo, Sakamichi no Apollon), and writer of probably their second, Satou Dai (Eureka Seven, Samurai Champloo), along with a spectacular group of musicians and composers for the soundtrack. But will it work? If recent history is any judge, I wouldn’t be too sure.

The downside of Space Dandy seems pretty obvious – that it will turn into another Kill la Kill, a hyped series from a legendary director-writer team that turns out to be pretty unambitious and mediocre (though Kill la Kill seems likely to sell reasonably well). Space Dandy seems to be touting itself in similar fashion – a lighthearted and sexy screwball comedy with plenty of action and fanservice. But I put Watanabe on another level than Imaishi (or just about anyone else) and Dai has declared how he longs to write anime that are story-driven and about something. This story seems pretty simple – a “dandy in space” who hunts for aliens (and presumably hot chicks) with his robot assistant and a talking cat alien. The look and feel of Space Dandy could hardly be more old-school, but with stunning animation and detailed art. In a generally soft season especially, a lot is riding on Space Dandy being a special show, and its commercial fate is going to say a lot about both BONES’ future and that of anime that don’t come from a cookie cutter.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show SPACE☆DANDY Promotional Videos ▼

Noragami | ノラガミ Top
Animation: BONES Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @noragami_PR or #ノラガミ

Preview by Cherrie

This is a story about two unlikely individuals who meet after a travesty in both their lives. Yato (Kamiya Hiroshi) is a “God”, but he’s known as a lesser God. His dream is to make enough money to build his own shrine one day, and in order to do so he grudgingly helps others with the most menial of tasks. To make matters worse, his weapon decides to get up and quit (yes, weapons are other dead human beings). Iki Hiyori (Uchida Maaya) also has her own problems, and she accidentally bumps into Yato one day after saving him from an oncoming bus. Instead she’s the one who was hit, and since then she experiences “out of body” phenomena which leave her in limbo for a short period of time before returning to her body. She asks Yato for help, and the two go on a search for a solution to Hiyori’s condition. At the same time, Yato manages to find himself a new weapon by the name of Yukine (Kaji Yuki).

In a nutshell, this is another show about Gods and Spirits, but with a nice twist. If you remember last year’s Hataraku Maou-sama!, the manga atmosphere and comedy reminded me a lot of that. Noragami is a little more serious, and the action revolves around evil spirits that reside around people’s negative energies. I’m a huge fan of BONES, so I know the animation is going to be top notch, and I don’t doubt they’ll probably adapt the manga as faithfully as possible. After reading some of the manga, I’m definitely excited to see where this anime takes us, especially with its great cast and strong source material. It’s got everything that I love in an anime – action, comedy, and romance, all nicely wrapped up in a supernatural setting.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Noragami Promotional Videos ▼

Buddy Complex | バディ・コンプレックス Top
Animation: Sunrise Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation http://www.buddy-complex.jp/

Preview by Zephyr

As the end of summer gives way to opening ceremonies, it’s just another day in the life of high school student Watase Aoba (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu)…until he ends up in the crosshairs of a giant robot. Rescued by fellow classmate Yumihara Hina (Hayami Saori), Aoba suddenly finds himself thrust into a conflict between the Free Treaty Alliance and the Great Zogiria Republic. Now a Free Treaty pilot, he meets fellow pilot Junyou Dio Weinberg (Uchiyama Kouki) in a fateful encounter that will change the world. A Sunrise original series, Buddy Complex tells the story of the duo’s friendship and their coming of age.

This is Sunrise doing what they do best, and it looks like mecha fans will have reason to rejoice early this year. It might not be a new Gundam series, but it may as well be. The premise reeks of Gundam, the mecha designs are similar (with a bit of Code Geass and Super Robot Wars), and we’re guaranteed an epic soundtrack with Kato Tatsuya (Kyoukaisen, Prisma Illya) on board. Topping things off are an array of great seiyuu in Sugita Tomokazu, Hanazawa Kana, Satou Rina, and Sakurai Takahiro (to name a few), making this look like a great treat for fans of the genre. The story might be a tad generic and the director (Tanabe Yasuhiro) may be making his debut in that role, but there are few things quite like a “traditional robot action” series, and Sunrise at the helm means it’s bound to have some level of quality, even if it probably won’t be a masterpiece.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Buddy Complex Promotional Videos ▼

Nobunaga the Fool | ノブナガ・ザ・フール Top
Animation: Satelight Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nobunaga_tv or #nobunaga_tv

Preview by Zephyr

From the mind of Kawamori Shoji (Macross, Aquarion) comes the Sci-Fi original series Nobunaga the Fool. Produced by Satelight (Log Horizon, Macross Frontier, Symphogear), Nobunaga the Fool is part of a project that includes live stage plays and an online novel. The series is set in a universe where two planets exist: the Western Planet and the Eastern Planet. Since the severance of the link between them known as the “Dragon Pulse,” the two planets have since lived separately for countless years. In the present day the Western Planet finds itself in a cultural renaissance, while the Eastern Planet finds itself embroiled in continuous war. Amid all of this Jeanne Kaguya D’Arc (Hikasa Yoko)—prophesied to be the world’s savior—visits the Eastern Planet with Leonard Da Vinci (Sugita Tomokazu). There she meets Nobunaga “the Fool” (Miyano Mamoru) in an encounter that will change both worlds.

Blatant bastardization of historic figures? Da Vinci and Nobunaga piloting mechs? Kawamori Shoji as series creator and in charge of mechanical design? An all-star cast? Sign me up. One of the more ridiculous premises in recent memory, this is one of those series that you have to watch just to see how it turns out. Kawamori Shoji is just one of those names that make you perk up, and for good reason, because even though his stories don’t always end up as masterpieces, the entertainment value they provide is usually off the charts. Over the top action and top notch animation are some of the constants in Kawamori projects, so it follows that Nobunaga the Fool will follow suit, even if he’s not the series’ director. Ultimately this is a series that will make action and Sci-Fi fans drool, and likely provide more than enough for the general audience to enjoy as well. Take a peek. You won’t regret it.

Watching This: Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Nobunaga the Fool Promotional Videos ▼

Saki Zenkoku-hen | 咲-Saki- 全国編 Top
Animation: Studio Gokumi Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Drama, Sports, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:35
Episodes: 13 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @SakiAnime or #saki

Preview by Stilts

Miyanaga Saki (Ueda Kana) was a high school freshman who didn’t like mahjong, until her childhood friend dragged her to Kiyosumi High School’s mahjong club and her love for the game was reborn. Now she and the rest of the Kiyosumi team – including big-breasted prodigy Haramura Nodoka (Koshimizu Ami), reckless club president Takei Hisa (Itou Shizuka), Hisa’s meganekko best friend Someya Mako (Shiraishi Ryoko), and the rambunctious and taco-loving Kataoka Yuuki (Kugimiya Rie) – have fought their way through regionals to earn their place in the National Inter High School Mahjong Championships. They need to make it all the way to the championships so Saki can try to reconcile with her estranged older sister (and the reigning champion) Miyanaga Teru (Nakahara Mai), but there will be plenty of tough competition along the way.

After a 2-cour original series + a spin-off in the recent Achiga-hen, you probably already know whether you’re on the Saki train or not. For those who are, expect a good time – most of the pacing and focus problems we saw in Achiga-hen will be instantly fixed by going back to the main cast, who were introduced long ago and tend to have less bullshit powers. This will be adapting the Inter High tournament from Kobayashi Ritz’s original manga, and nobody knows what makes the Saki world work like it creator. For those who aren’t watching this series yet, let me ask you a question: How do you feel about crazy awesome sports anime? Because that’s what this is, with emphasis on crazy awesome! These are 4-way duels on the mahjong table, with ridiculous superpowers, intricate back-and-forth strategies, and dramatic tile slams to drive the action home. You can even get into this if you don’t understand mahjong, because they always make sure to explain the moves well. I for one am totally pumped to watch the girls from Kiyosumi climb the brackets and shoot for the finals once again. Oh, and did I mention all the heavy yuri undertones? Because it has those too. Clearly, Saki has everything you could want!

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderate
Tonari no Seki-kun | となりの関くん Top
Animation: Shin-Ei Animation Premiere: January 5, 2014
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 26:05
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sekikun_anime or #となりの関くん

Preview by Takaii

You may have read the premise for this show somewhere else. Something along the lines of “Kid does random stuff during school which sometimes involves ruining his desk and pisses off girl next to him” or “Plays golf on his desk”, right? Well let me tell you something — this series is so much more than that. If anything, you could call it the pinnacle of what someone who’s bored in class should strive to become! Seriously though, something about watching an innocent girl in Yokoi Rumi (Hanazawa Kana) fall prey to her classmate Seki-kun’s (Shimono Hiro) antics – without him even saying a word – got me so riled up that I couldn’t stop “researching”. Add in the fact that the ever elusive Seki-kun is actually a master carpenter, gifted golfer, efficient post master, skilled magician, and who knows what else, I can’t imagine an anime adaption not being hilarious! However, I say that with a few disclaimers.

First, I don’t know how faithful or well thought out of an adaptation Shin-Ei Animation will do with their track record of shows for a younger audience. could see this show being really good or really bad depending on how they decide to execute the humor. But with things like Doraemon under their belt, I can’t imagine anything less than good at worst. Second, I’m not sure how many episodes an adaptation of the manga could really bring out, because while the premise is freaking hilarious the whole concept seems like it’d get tedious after too many repetitions. I have to admit that I loved every moment I spent “researching” this show though. Even with grand total of two characters, one of whom apparently doesn’t talk, it’s really surprising how engaging every skit becomes. Sure, some of the more obscure cultural references may go right over your head, but when the humor hits home – and it hits quite often – it may take you a while to stop giggling.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Tonari no Seki-kun Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: WHITE FOX Premiere: January 6, 2014
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 20:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sonico_a or #sonico_a

Preview by Zanibas

Super Sonico–pink haired and significantly endowed mascot of the visual novel company Nitroplus–is moving on to the next stage. From her own visual novel, manga, and character songs, Super Sonico now appears in her own animation. Voiced by Yamamoto Ayano, the animation centers around Sonico’s exciting daily life, centering around her blooming musical endeavors, modeling career, and friendships. Not much is known about the story so far, but her adventures will be accompanied with her two friends Fujimi Suzu (Gotou Mai) and Watanuki Fuuri (Ozaki Mami), both of whom also have a knack for music with the bass and drums respectively. Together they will form friendships while also promoting the Nitroplus (stylized nitro+) brand.

Though obviously promotional material that will enhance the company name, I wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss this title. At the very least, the animation will be of some quality, with studio WHITE FOX taking the reins. Having animated titles such as Hataraku Maou-sama!, Jormungand, and Steins;Gate, I trust the company to put forth decent effort here. Other notable staff working on the show include scriptwriter Kuroda Yosuke, whose work on Ano Natsu de Matteru and Honey and Clover may turn this series’ original material into something interesting. The promotional videos don’t hint at much of a realistic story though (she wears her headphones to bed), so I expect more of a cute girl comedy than anything too dramatic. Definitely check this out if you are a fan of Super Sonico already, and give this a try if you’ve been impressed with WHITE FOX’s work so far.

Watching This: Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show SoniAni -SUPER SONICO THE ANIMATION- Promotional Videos ▼

Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta | とある飛空士への恋歌 Top
Animation: TMS Entertainment Premiere: January 6, 2014
Genre: Adventure, Drama, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 22:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_koiuta or #koiuta

Preview by Zanibas

Prince Kalel Albus (Hanae Natsuki) is blinded by hatred and revenge. A revolution has stripped him of both his parents and his humanity, and sets him off on a journey to avenge his parents and himself. However, upon taking to the skies and the floating islands that grace it, he finds not revenge, but compassion, friendship, and love. It’s all thanks to a girl called Claire (Yuki Aoi), who happens to be the symbol of the very revolution he hates. In a story of aerial combat, the good and bad of romance, and transformation of the heart, Prince Kalel will find that what he was looking for wasn’t revenge, but forgiveness.

From the trailers, this show looks like it will definitely excel in displaying extended aerial combat, something that hasn’t appeared on the anime scene in a while. The action scenes look great, and though the 2D animation isn’t anything spectacular, it’s good enough to uphold TMS Entertainment’s standing as a veteran animation company. With Taketatsu Ayana joining Yuki Aoi as the main female leads, I’m excited to hear their acting skills shine in a more dramatic take. Hanae Natsuki should also prove a formidably emotional male lead–I was impressed with his performances as Shinichi in Outbreak Company and Kiri in Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge, so props to him for getting the main role in this show as well. If done right, Koiuta has a good chance of garnering a lot of emotional investment through Prince Kalel’s transformation into a compassionate being. If you’re looking for the action-romance offering of the season that provides some exciting aerial scenes, this might be a dark horse in waiting. Though it was originally set to air last year, it’ll be interesting to kick the new year and new season off with this hopefully epic-scaled series.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta Promotional Videos ▼

D-Frag! | ディーふらぐ! Top
Animation: Brains Base Premiere: January 6, 2014
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:05
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @Dfrag_anime or #dfrag

Preview by Zanibas

One guy. Four girls. One straight man. Four crazy personalities. That’s D-Frag! for you, where everything is crazy beyond belief, often to the detriment of poor Kazama Kenji (Konishi Katsuyuki). In fact, it looks like everyone just picks on poor Kenji, ranging from the girls of the game clubs–president Shibashi Roka (Hanazawa Kana), other president Takao (Itou Shizuka), Karasuyama Chitose (Saito Chiwa), and Mizukami Sakura (Takahashi Mikako)–to Kenji’s own fellow gangmates, Yokoshima and Nagayama Hiroshi (Matsuda Kenichirou). It’s a high-energy comedy that’s waiting to be unleashed, where everyone seems to be either crazy, jealous, disappointed, hyperactive, or all of the above.

In a classic formation of the straight man against a crazy world, D-Frag is the winter season’s unabashed straight-up gag comedy. Though sticking close to well-used comedy archetypes and typical gag setup, there is no immediate need to change the formula–as long as the jokes hit home and the characters are likable, let the archetypes continue! After reading a bit of the manga, it looks like the slapstick, gag, and retorts are in full swing, all of which are executed quite well. I’m excited to hear the likes of Sato Chiwa, Hanazawa Kana, Fukuyama Jun, and Konishi Katsuyuki inject their enthusiasm into the material. With Uezu Maokoto (Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?) on board as series composer, I look forward to cracking a smile as Kenji gets constantly punched, coerced, and verbally abused by his peers. With Brains Base having a good record for adapting comedies, I expect D-Frag! to bring a good number of smiles and laughs for those looking for a high-octane Manzai-type comedy act.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show D-Frag! Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: NAZ Premiere: January 7, 2014
Genre: Mystery Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 25:40
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @hamatora_PR or #ハマトラ

Preview by Cherrie

In the not-so-far future, select humans known as “Minimum Holders” are born with special abilities. Partners Nice (Oosaka Ryota) and Murasaki (Hatano Wataru) are both Minimum Holders working as detectives in Yokohama, forming the duo known as Hamatora. Our story kicks off when a cop walks in and asks for Nice and Murasaki’s help on a serial murder case. The murderer is targeting other Minimum Holders, and thus Nice and Murasaki are reluctantly thrown on the case, whether they like it or not…

I won’t lie, there’s not a lot of information on this series. It’s based on a very brief manga that’s still unfinished, and besides the short introduction available on the website, I can tell you only two other things: A) the story has a rich cast of characters, ranging from gluttonous little girls to scientists and doctors, and B) the characters are all connected to our main duo. I’m a sucker when it comes to a good mystery, so this is definitely a series I’m looking forward to, especially given that it will pretty much be an original story. The only things I’m wary about are whether the animation is lacking in budget and how mystery plots like these can be super cheesy and predictable. I would love to see some conspiracy theories thrown into the mystery elements, as well as an overarching story, but that might be asking for too much. Either way, I’ll give this series a chance to prove itself in the first arc; it may turn out to be a surprise hit.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Hamatora Promotional Videos ▼

Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 2 | 中二病でも恋がしたい!戀 Top
Animation: Kyoto Animation Premiere: January 8, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 24:30
Episodes: 1-cour Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_chu_2 or #chu2koi

Preview by Stilts

The KyoAni romcom of delusions and mayhem is back for a second season with Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren. It’s the next year, and the whole cast has advanced a grade, while Togashi Yuuta (Fukuyama Jun) and Takanashi Rikka (Uchida Maaya) have, due to various events, advanced to living together. These two lovebirds should be all doki doki from secretly cohabiting, but not all is well in their fairy tale romance. As Yuuta worries about how to advance his relationship with his delusional girlfriend, the source of Yuuta’s own embarrassing chuunibyou past arrives in the form of Shichimiya Satone (Nagatsuma Juri), AKA Sophia Ring SP Saturn VII. With a new character appearing and their old friends Nibutani Shinka (Akasaki Chinatsu), Tsuyuri Kumin (Asakura Azumi), Dekomori Sanae (Uesaka Sumire) never far from the action, this embarrassing romantic comedy is back to make you laugh and perhaps cry.

I’ve spent a lot of time beating up on KyoAni lately, mostly because they deserve it. Their last three series – Tamako Market, Free!, and Kyoukai no Kanata – have all been decent at best and mediocre at worst, and not deserving of the studio’s sterling reputation. KyoAni has been mailing it in, and hasn’t put out a show I seriously enjoyed since…well,Chu2koi Season 1. The good news: Chu2koi is funny, funny stuff. The comedic skill and organic character interactions that made K-ON! and Lucky Star so funny were on display in Season 1, so when it was going for the laughs, it got them in spades. Not so good was when it tried to go serious, which fell flat far more often than not, and nothing the studio has done since then makes me believe this will change. This new season is introducing a rival for Yuuta’s affections in Schimiya Satone…is what I originally thought, but rumor is she might not be a rival at all, which I would very much appreciate. Endless repetitions on the love triangle formula can get tiresome, and I’d like to see a couple left to their own devices without romantic competition for once. With a story that starts with Yuuta and Rikka (secretly) living together, it sounds like they’re going more for funny than touching…hopefully. I’ll be watching this because I blogged the first season and I do sincerely like the characters, but I will remain skeptical until KyoAni proves they can stop mailing it in and tell us a good story with the last good series they made.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! 2 Promotional Videos ▼

Onee-chan ga Kita | お姉ちゃんが来た Top
Animation: C2C Premiere: January 8, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 27:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation #お姉ちゃん

Preview by Stilts

Onee-chan ga Kita is adapted from a comedy 4-koma about scary sisterly love. Mizuhara Tomoya (Terakawa Aimi) is a 13-year-old boy who just gained a big sister thanks to his father’s new marriage. 17-year-old Mizuhara Ichika (Nagatsuma Juri) is a little strange, and her affection for Tomoya is rather overwhelming, if not downright scary. If that wasn’t enough, Ichika comes with her two friends: the ultimate sadist Hayasaka Ruri (Minami Omi) and the big-breasted quarter-Japanese Mochizuki Marina (Inoue Marina).

I like what I see, but I haven’t seen a whole lot. I was unable to get my hands on any of the source material, so please excuse me while I guess wildly. As one of two series being produced by C2C, a studio whose only other previous work (Yurumates 3D) I haven’t seen, I can draw few inferences there. Likewise, director Yuuzumi Yoshihide has only directed one other series (Yurumates 3D again), so that tells me nothing past him not having a lot of experience. Seiyuu-wise they seem to have gone the bargain route, though there are a few big names scattered about, and I like seeing Kanna’s seiyuu getting more work. Of the story I can only guess, but it strikes me as a comedy headlined by a beleaguered, frequently abused male character. If I’m right about that then whether or not you tune in will depend on whether you can deal with the unknowns, and whether the idea of three cute older girls indulging in comedic sociopathy (trope!) on the male lead strikes you as funny or cruel.

Watching This: Stilts, Takaii Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Onee-chan ga Kita Promotional Videos ▼

Mikakunin de Shinkoukei | 未確認で進行形 Top
Animation: Dogakobo Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 21:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation #未確認で進行形

Preview by Cherrie

This romantic comedy revolves around four individuals living under one roof: Yonomi Kobeni (Terui Haruka), her sister Benio (Matsui Eriko), high school boy Mitsumine Hakuya (Hatano Wataru), and his sister Mashiro (Yoshida Yuri). The story starts off by revealing to Kobeni that she is engaged to Hakuya at the age of 16, and he’s going to start living with her and her family. Unfortunately, the unlikely pair have quite a few differences in terms of personality; Kobeni is seen as a motherly figure and is quite competent at both chores and cooking, while Hakuya can only be described as tall, introverted, and a bit absentminded. Given their circumstances, the two are forced to continue living together along with their sister-in-laws.

Judging from its 4-koma manga source, Mikakunin de Shinkoukei is more of a comedy and slice-of-life than anything else. It’s very lighthearted and comes with an interesting cast of characters that will really drive this show. Being the main protagonist, Kobeni isn’t ditsy or clumsy, but she’s actually described as busty and she sounds like the ideal girlfriend (*coughgoodchef*). Her sister Benio is the opposite, and she’s terrible with house chores (instead, she’s perverted!). With all these different personalities and the awkward situation that brings our couple together, I can imagine the hilariousness that will ensue. The premise is not the most original or unique, but its primary focus should be the character dynamics and how well (or terribly) they get along. To me it’s all about the situational comedy, and I’m sure the show will deliver on that.

Watching This: Stilts, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Mikakunin de Shinkoukei Promotional Videos ▼

Gin no Saji Silver Spoon 2 | 銀の匙 Silver Spoon 第2期Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Agriculture, Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:45
Episodes: Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @ezono_official or #ginsaji_anime

Preview by Guardian Enzo

Arakawa Hiromu’s autobiographical take on life at an agricultural high school in Hokkaido returns for the second of its split-cours on NoitaminA. This may be one of the least unpredictable series in a very long time – not only is it the second cour of an ongoing series, but even the first delivered exactly what anyone who knew the source manga well would have expected. It was pure class.

Fullmetal Alchemist this ain’t, but Arakawa is clearly very much at home with the material, and it represents some of the subtlest and most authentic found anywhere in anime. Gin no Saji’s first cour was in turns funny, warm, thought-provoking, and heartbreaking. It had strong slice-of-life elements, but it also subtly and intelligently (without offering easy answers) explored the ethics and morality of commercial agriculture and raising animals for meat. At heart it’s very much a coming-of-age tale about the hero, Hachiken Yugo (Kimura Ryouhei), trying to free himself from his past and discover what kind of man he wants to become. I expect that element will be more prevalent in this second cour, though with the manga ongoing I don’t expect to see a definitive conclusion.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Gin no Saji Silver Spoon 2 Promotional Videos ▼

Strange+ | ストレンジ・プラス Top
Animation: Seven Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Mystery Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:00
Episodes: 1-cour Station: TV Saitama (TVS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation #ストプラ

Preview by Zanibas

As one of the obligatory short anime of the season, Strange+ focuses on the detective work of the Mikuni Detective Agency, where Kou (Seki Tomokazu) has just found his long-lost older brother and trap Takumi (Fukuyama Jun). After being unwittingly enrolled into working for the agency, Kou must run errands for the firm while also assisting in the various comedy-mysteries that the detective agency faces. Cue the episodic mysteries, where it’s more about the laughs than the mysteries themselves.

After looking at the premise and seeing that studio Seven (Recorder to Randoseru, Ai Mai Mi) is working on it, this is clearly a show aimed at providing a quick laugh each week. It’s a no-strings package and Seven has been doing this kind of stuff for years. The mystery-comedy genre combination has been fairly successful, as seen with Cuticle Detective Inaba and Detective Conan, but compressing mysteries into 5 minute segments will undoubtedly result in a comedy with mysteries on the side. Though the production isn’t anything special, the main seiyuu are actors with very thick portfolios, comprising of the two seiyuu above along with Okiayu Ryotaro and Yukino Satsuki. Those who absolutely love mystery-comedies may want to give this a whirl, but otherwise nothing much stands out from this production.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Strange+ Promotional Videos ▼

GO! GO! 575 Top
Animation: Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Music, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:25
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation #project575

Preview by Stilts

GO! GO! 575 adapts Sega’s Project 575 games for PlayStation Vita and iOS, which allow anyone to create songs using the traditional Japanese 5-7-5-syllable meter found in haiku and tanka poems. It stars Masaoka Azuki (Ootsubo Yuka) and Kobayashi Maccha (Ohashi Ayaka), whose Vocaloid voices performed the player’s songs in the games. They are joined by their classmate Yosano Yuzu (Kotobuki Minako), who is original to the anime.

Anime-to-game and game-to-anime transitions are always fraught with peril, with more failures than successes being relegated to the scrap heap of history. Where will GO! GO! 575 end up? I’m not sure, but early signs aren’t screaming anime of the year, even if they’re not signaling certain doom either. If something looks familiar about this series, I’d bet it’s the art style, which comes to us from OreImo’s character designer Kanzaki Hiro. The seiyuu cast is good too, even if there are only three of them. That’s it though. As of writing this I couldn’t find a single other cast member, and the studio, near as I can tell, is Sega. There was even talk of Sega producing this totally out of pocket, without any sponsors or anything. Can Sega make a good anime? Stranger things have happened, and the bar for a serviceable slice-of-life series is fairly low even if excellence is harder to grasp. Personally I’m not super pessimistic or anything, but neither am I planning to watch this. Whether you tune in will depend on whether the idea of cute girls singing haiku- or tanaka-like songs sounds like a good time or not.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Show GO! GO! 575 Promotional Videos ▼

Mahou Sensou | 魔法戦争 Top
Animation: Madhouse Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays 25:28
Episodes: 1-cour Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_mahosen or #mahosen_tv

Preview by Zephyr

Mahou Sensou arrives on the scene as Madhouse’s latest light novel adaptation. Also known as Magical Warfare, this action-fantasy revolves around Nanase Takeshi (Miyano Mamoru), a high school boy with a dark past. Having led a relatively normal life despite being in a pretend relationship with his childhood friend, Nanase finds his world turned upside down after rescuing a girl named Aiba Mui (Touyama Nao). Apparently a magician, she reveals to Nanase that she’s turned him into one as well, and explains to him that there are two worlds: One where humans live and one where magicians live. Together with childhood friend Isoshima Kurumi (Seto Asami), Takeshi finds himself forcibly transferred into Subaru Magical Academy and thrown into a conflict against a group known as Ghost Trailer.

Essentially an action-fantasy series that revolves around magic, I find myself on the fence regarding Mahou Sensou. The premise itself isn’t particular unique, and the manga chapters I read don’t do much to dispel the generic vibe it generates. A few chapters only tell so much however, and even if the story doesn’t turn out to be a masterpiece, it looks like we’ll at least get enough action to make this series worth watching. With Madhouse at the helm, the action scenes in particular are likely to get some solid animation, and it only helps that Kouda Masato is behind the soundtrack; having done superbly with the action series Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova, it stands to reason that his style will carry over well. Mahou Sensou also boasts a great male cast in Miyano Mamoru, Suzumura Kenichi, and Fukuyama Jun. Mahou Sensou holds the potential to be a solid series, and may provide a treat for fans of its genre, even if its story may not be the most unique.

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Mahou Sensou Promotional Videos ▼

Hoozuki no Reitetsu | 鬼灯の冷徹 Top
Animation: WIT STUDIO Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Thursday at 25:35
Episodes: 1-cour Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @hozuki_anime or #鬼灯の冷徹

Preview by Zephyr

From the studio that brought you Shingeki no Kyojin comes their latest adaptation, Hoozuki no Reitetsu. Written by Eguchi Natsumi, the series has been running in Kodansha’s Morning magazine since 2011. Having amassed over ten volumes, it was nominated as a candidate for the 5th Manga Taisho Award and was a winner at last year’s Japan Media Arts Festival Awards. A supernatural comedy, the series’ name comes from its main character, Hoozuki (Yasumoto Hiroki). Armed with a calm demeanor and sadistic nature, Hoozuki tries to solve Hell’s many problems as the King of Hell’s aide.

As with any comedy, whether or not you like it will depend on your individual tastes. Having read the first few chapters, I can say that Hoozuki no Reitetsu seems to rely heavily on dark, tongue-in-cheek humor regarding Heaven and Hell as its main drawing point. Personally I didn’t feel the jokes were as funny as some of the other comedies we’ve gotten in past seasons, but if the aforementioned premise and type of jokes seem to be down your alley, you may find something you like here. At the very least the animation should be solid with Wit Studio at the helm, though the staff’s general lack of experience lowers the bar somewhat.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Hoozuki no Reitetsu Promotional Videos ▼

Z/X IGNITION | ゼクス イグニッション Top
Animation: Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:50
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @zxignition or #zx_anime

Preview by Zephyr

Continuing the trend of card game-inspired anime is Z/X: Ignition, also known as Zillions of Enemy X: Ignition. Marketed as a “free collectible card game” (free decks are available across Japan), the series takes place in a world where five portals suddenly appear in the near future. Known as “Black Points,” they are doors to parallel worlds of various timelines. To ensure their own world’s survival, each world deploys an array of strange creatures in order to destroy the others. Amid all of this, a card-shaped device ends up being the key to ending this conflict. Z/X: Ignition is being animated by Pony Canyon, directed by Yuji Yamaguchi (Fate/stay night), and its main characters are voiced by Nakamura Yuuichi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Uchida Maaya, Ogura Yui, and Shimono Hiro.

When it comes to Z/X: Ignition, what you see is likely what you’ll get. The fact that it’s based off of a card game means there’s going to be a set way they do things, and that makes it a series whose enjoyment will largely depend on your feelings about its genre. Those who like or don’t mind card game-based series will likely find something nice to watch with Z/X: Ignition, but those who are on the fence (or on the opposite side of the fence entirely) should probably steer clear of the series. Granted, it does have a solid cast, but this is one series where the cast doesn’t so much matter as does your feelings regarding the type of show, so it should be easy for you to decide whether you want to give it a try or not.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Niche
Show Z/X IGNITION Promotional Videos ▼

Sakura Trick | 桜Trick Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:58
Episodes: 1-cour Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sakuratrick_pr or #桜Trick

Preview by Takaii

Let me introduce you to the world of Sakura Trick, a yuri-esque show that piqued my interest after I was bestowed the responsibility to research it. You have two high school girls, Takayama Haruka (Tomatsu Haruka) and Sonoda Yuu (Iguchi Yuka), best friends who originally met because their last names placed them next to each other during seating arrangements. Luckily they’re in the same class, but because life sucks they’re placed on opposite ends of the room. Instead of doing the normal thing, like learning to deal with it or make new friends, they decide to spice up their personal relationship and make up for the hours they spend away from each other…and by spice up, I mean make out and do all sorts of other fancy things.

Sarcasm and jokes aside, I really enjoyed the source material for Sakura Trick. While I may not be well versed in the art of yuri, I really enjoyed how I never thought of any scene as “yuri” so much as “accented with hints of yuri”. Throw in a bunch of humor from a wild cast of other girls who all have their own unique personalities (Minami being my favorite) and basically thrust themselves into Haruka and Yuu’s life, and you have the workings of your typical slice-of-life comedy. And let’s not forget that Studio DEEN is handling the adaptation, because who wouldn’t want some more Studio DEEN in their life?
tl;dr — Even though the show is considered yuri, feels more like yuri undertones. Funny cast of characters who accentuate main pair. I view the duo kissing more as cutesy than lustful. Studio DEEN.

Watching This: Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Sakura Trick Promotional Videos ▼

pupa | ピューパ Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 9, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, Psychological Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:30
Episodes: Station: Sun TV (SUN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @pupa_anime

Preview by Kairi

From director Mochizuki Tomomi comes the adaptation of Mogi Sayaka’s pupa, a story about a pair of very close siblings whose already shattered lives take a turn for the horrific. Utsutsu (Shimazaki Nobunaga) and Yume (Kido Ibuki) Hasegawa are victims of domestic abuse, children who only have one another for support, but when the siblings meet a mysterious woman who warns them to go home before they “see the red butterflies and it’s too late”, Yume is transformed into a man-eating monster and it’s up to Utsutsu to try to protect his precious little sister.

Personally, I don’t do horror stories, but having read the manga I can say that as much as I wanted to look away and stop reading, Mogi-sensei does a good job weaving an interesting and bloody narrative. I’m more excited than I’d like to be to see director Mochizuki take on this graphic and rather fetishized tale of cannibalism; it’s not for the weak-hearted, and animation by Studio DEEN makes me a tad apprehensive about the adaptation quality, but it’s still a pretty good premise as far as horror and gore go. There’s definitely some of that popular brother-sister incestuous dynamic going on here, but it makes sense in a story this twisted, especially considering the things the Hasegawa siblings have to deal with on an everyday basis. If you like horror, violence, as well as interesting and disturbing symbolism, then this might be the series for you. If you can’t stomach images of guts being ripped out and people eating each other, you may want to give this one a wide berth.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Niche
Show pupa Promotional Videos ▼

Nourin | のうりん Top
Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: January 10, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @norin_anime or #のうりん

Preview by Zanibas

In a remarkable breakaway from the “RomCom light novels = long name” formula, Nourin is SILVER LINK’s next foray into the genre. In what looks like an interesting mix of the agricultural high school and school idol genres, Nourin seeks to reconcile the two under a romantic comedy setting. Hata Kousaku (Asanuma Shintaro) is your typical agricultural school student, except for the large amount of adoration he has for idol Kusakabe Yuka (Tamura Yukari). However, just as this national idol retires and leaves our protagonist heartbroken, she immediately pops up at Kousaku’s school as transfer student Kinoshita Ringo. This leads to an opportunity for Kousaku to finally meet his beloved idol in person, but also for Ringo to reveal the secrets that hide behind her idol facade.

This is a standard romantic comedy through and through, and with SILVER LINK on the job, we can expect that formula to be executed fairly well, with some slight remixing–with Baka to Test and Kokoro Connect under their belts, I won’t be surprised if this show shines under the radar. With an excellent cast including Hanazawa Kana, Kato Emiri, Saito Chiwa, and Inoue Marina, as well as director Oonuma Shin (Baka to Test, ef – a tale of memories, Watamote), they’ve got a great workforce to make this show happen. All that matters now is the source material. The contrast between the highly fashionable and performance-based idol world and the down-to-earth nature of agriculture could prove to either be extremely shallow or fairly deep. With a one-cour show to work with (there’s not enough source material to adapt for two seasons), the success of the show will hinge on the execution of the comedy, but more importantly on how well they can develop our former idol Yuka as a character. If done properly this show could easily end up as one of the better offerings of the season, but at worst we can safely assume a level of OniAi given SILVER LINK and Oonuma’s reliable track record. Check this out if you’re a romantic comedy fan, especially if you like SILVER LINK, and definitely if you’re looking for a show with some of the more popular female seiyuu in the industry.

Watching This: Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Nourin Promotional Videos ▼

Wake Up, Girls! Top
Animation: Ordet x Tatsunoko Pro Premiere: January 10, 2014
Genre: Music, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:23
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @wakeupgirls_PR or #WUG_JP

Preview by Zanibas

Wake Up, Girls! is an idol anime with an interesting twist–all of the idol group members directly correspond with their real-life counterpart, with only their surnames being changed, and each member is voiced by said counterpart. With too many names to list here, check out this convenient page for all the seiyuu participating. As for the plot, Tange Junko (Hidaka Noriko), president of production company Green Leaves Entertainment, has a plan to revitalize the almost-dead Sendai-based company. That plan: make an idol group. The responsibility of making said group falls to manager Matsuda Kouhei (Asanuma Shintaro). The story follows Matsuda’s efforts to find the girls that will make up this new idol group, as well as the production company’s run-in with other idol groups.

Though the characters don’t look much like their seiyuu, this show should be an interesting way for the real-life idol group to advertise themselves. Though I don’t expect much out of the plot (see director Yamamoto Yutaka and Fractale), this should prove an interesting experiment in having so many first-time “seiyuu” voice their respective anime caricatures. Though AKB0048 as an anime had AKB idols do voice work, this anime keeps itself much closer to a realistic setting, more in tune with the likes of The iDOLM@STER or especially Love Live! School Idol Project. Whether this combination will produce something distinct is yet to be seen. The animation companies in charge, Tatsunoko Productions and Ordet, have produced good series, but from the trailers I’ve seen the amount of resources gone into this show seems to be average at best. Fans of the idol genre should check this out, especially those who are fans of idol-type music. From what I listened to, the show’s insert songs sound pretty good, which may be the selling point this show will rest itself on.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Wake Up, Girls! Promotional Videos ▼

Nisekoi | ニセコイ Top
Animation: Shaft Premiere: January 11, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 23:30
Episodes: 2-cour Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nisekoi_k or #nisekoi

Preview by Kairi

Everyone knows the old story about star-crossed lovers who aren’t allowed to be together because their families are at war with one another. Ichijou Raku (Uchiyama Kouki) and Kirisaki Chitoge (Touyama Nao) are just such a couple – their families are rival yakuza gangs and hate one another’s guts. The only thing is, in reality Raku and Chitoge can’t stand one another! In fact, Raku is in love with his classmate Onodera Kosaki (Hanazawa Kana), and Chitoge insists she’s not interested in a boy like Raku. In addition Raku made a promise to marry his childhood friend by giving her a pendant for which he has the key, though he can no longer remember her name or face. But in order to keep the peace between their families, the two have no choice but to act out a happy couple life together, no matter how much this false love gets in the way of their lives.

From one of my favorite mangaka, Komi Naoshi, comes one of Weekly Shounen Jump’s currently running harem-romance series. It’s the first of Komi’s works to garner an anime adaptation, and it’s vastly different from the works he’s penned before; while Nisekoi doesn’t have much of the fantastical/adventurous charm he’s known for, the adaptation does have the added intrigue of being a Shaft production directed by (Shinbou) himself. This is just the right kind of bubbly, almost hyperactive kind of material to suit his style, what with plenty of crazy, larger-than-life characters and circumstances bouncing around, and plenty of girls for Raku to adorn his harem with. Hopefully the anime is short enough to keep that from overwhelming the senses though, something the manga is unfortunately a little too good at doing.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Nisekoi Promotional Videos ▼

Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ | 世界征服~謀略のズヴィズダー~ Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 11, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @project_ssf or #sekaiseifuku

Preview by Stilts

Sekai Seifuku’s story follows the titular Zvezda, a secret society bent on glorious world conquest–and led by a little girl. There’s Hoshimiya “Venera-sama” Kate (Kuno Misaki), Zvezda’s loli leader; Jimon “Dva” Asuta (Hanae Natsuki), a second-year middle school student and Venera’s newest (and lowliest) minion; Natasha “Professor Um” (Hanazawa Kana), Zvezda’s expert in all things technical who speaks in a Hiroshima accent; Roboko (Yamazaki Erii), a girl robot; Yasu “Odin” (Toriumi Kousuke), Zvezda’s main combatant and the next lowliest minion after Dva; Shikabane “Plamja-sama” Itsuka (Ise Mariya), who becomes Zvezda’s sadistic top brass upon transforming; and Shikabane “General Pepel” Gorou (Hirota Minoru), Zvezda’s large in stature (and fairly skeletal) leader. Join them as they try to conquer the world, because let’s face it, “The world wants to be conquered!”

Information is sparse on this original adaptation, so we’re going to have to dive into the production details. A-1 Pictures is producing this series, which, combined with Kuroboshi Kohaku’s (Kino no Tabi) original character design, have me assuming this will be a well-animated and aesthetically pleasing series. Okamura Tensai (Darker Than Black, Ao no Exorcist) is in the director’s chair, and is doing the series composition along with Type-Moon’s Meteor Hoshizora, so that would seem to indicate good things. So the staff is promising, but it’s whether the story will be any good that is a big fat question mark. I can’t draw many inferences from the material released so far, but it looks like an action-fantasy story with a splash of comedy that may not take itself too seriously – I mean, look at those character designs! – unless, of course, it does. Adding in how the heroes are actually the antagonists in the “White Light” sentai members Komadori “White Robin” Renge (Ichimichi Mao) and Shirasagi “White Egret” Miki (Kotobuki Minako), there’s certainly potential in this setup. This is a fantasy original with a good pedigree, so I’ll be watching it for sure, but it could still snap both legs off at the knee inside of five minutes and fail utterly. But isn’t that half the fun of an original series?

Watching This: Cherrie, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Sekai Seifuku ~Bouryaku no Zvezda~ Promotional Videos ▼

Wizard Barristers Benmashi Cecil | ウィザード・バリスターズ 弁魔士セシル Top
Animation: ARMS Premiere: January 12, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 24:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @wb_cecil or #wizardbarristers

Preview by Stilts

The magical courtroom will now be in session with Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil, an original series from ARMS. It’s 2018 Tokyo, where normal humans are coexisting with those who can use magic. To maintain order, laws against the use of magic have been passed, and a “magical courtroom” has been created to preside over lawsuits regarding magic use. In these cases, “Benmashi”, or wizard barristers, defend those who use magic. The story follows Sudou Cecil (Tanabe Rui), the youngest Benmashi in history, and her associates as they defend their clients in these cases.

This series has an interesting premise. Live action law procedurals are plentiful and popular, and adding in a magical twist could give us interesting new cases to see, as crimes come from angles we wouldn’t have normally imagined. I do have some areas of concern. ARMS as a studio has done a lot of series, but they’re mostly known for more fanservice offerings (Hyakka Ryouran, Queen’s Blade), and the last time they made a foray into more serious fantasy we got burned with the botched adaptation of Maoyuu. This series is the brainchild of the multi-talented Umetsu Yasuomi, who has held many positions over his career, most recently as the director of Galilei Donna. My trepidation aside, there’s definitely potential here, and it doesn’t look like the entire series will be spent in the courtroom – whether showing the interactions between Cecil and her more experienced colleagues or even some action that can be seen in the preview videos, it looks like Yasuomi-san and ARMS are going to be coming at us from multiple angles. I always like to check out original series because these are the shows that have the biggest potential to surprise and delight, but there’s always a risk that they’ll fall flat instead. Which fate awaits Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil? I have no idea, but if you’re a fantasy fan or like the occasional law procedural – or just want to see if this is the show that will shock and awe you – I suggest you try an episode or three and find out.

Watching This: Cherrie, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Wizard Barristers Benmashi Cecil Promotional Videos ▼

Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. | いなり、こんこん、恋いろは。 Top
Animation: Production IMS Premiere: January 15, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Romance, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:00
Episodes: 10 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation http://inarikonkon.jp/

Preview by Kairi

Fushimi Inari (Ohzora Naomi) is a normal, if somewhat plain, middle school student who has a secret crush on her classmate Tanbabashi-kun (Okamoto Hiroshi). Unfortunately, as these things go, she accidentally makes a fool of herself one day in gym class, publicly shaming Tanbabashi and angering him to the point where he refuses to accept her apology. Even worse, when she tries to set things right she finds herself witness to a confession between Tanbabashi and the most popular girl in school, Sumizome (Minase Inori). Luckily the kindhearted Inari saved a puppy from drowning that same morning, and when it turns out the puppy is actually a spirit fox, an underling to the Goddess Uka-no-Mitami-no-kami (Kawashima Houko), the grateful god grants Inari her most heartfelt wish: to become Tanbabashi’s crush, Sumizome.

Based on Yoshida Morohe’s manga of the same name, Inari Konkon is a series I’m semi-surprised to see an adaptation for. It’s a fun manga to read, though not really anything that’s never been seen before. You have some comedy, fanservice, magical abilities (specifically, Inari’s power to shapeshift) and their related misunderstandings, romance (there are some yuri undertones as well), and quirky characters. Inari is a bit of a dense protagonist, though she’s not stupid so much as clumsy and a bit awkward, but as a middle school student that’s not too unexpected. Most of the charm in the series comes not from Inari’s powers so much as how they relate to Uka-no-Mitami-no-kami and how the two become close friends and support one another, so it’s more an everyday life story despite the fantastic elements. Still, I’m happy to see it being adapted to anime form, and if any of this sounds like your cup of tea, I welcome you to give it a try and see if you find it to your liking.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha. Promotional Videos ▼

Maken-ki! 2 | マケン姫っ!通 Top
Animation: XEBEC Premiere: January 15, 2014
Genre: Action, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:30
Episodes: 10 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @makenki2or #makenki

Preview by Stilts

The battle-fanservice anime Maken-ki! is returning for another season. Perverted high school student Ohyama Takeru (Maeno Tomoaki) decided to enroll in Tenbi Academy because A) it didn’t require an entrance exam and B) it had just changed from all girls to co-ed, so imagine his surprise when he arrives at a school dominated by magical battles! Using spiritual energy known as Element, students wield specially crafted items called Maken and engage in magical duels. After struggling to find a Maken he could use, Takeru is finally getting the hang of life at Tenbi as he struggles to get stronger, but that won’t help him with his other problem – women. Whether it’s the perky, cat-loving, girl-who-says-she’s-his-fiancée Kushiya Inaho (Nomizu Iori), the popular (and occasionally hostile) blonde pettanko Himegami Kodama (Yahagi Sayuri), or his busty, sword-wielding childhood friend Amaya Haruko (Shitaya Noriko), Takeru’s troubles in women, battle, or mysterious antagonistic organizations don’t look like they’ll be ending anytime soon.

So this is an ecchi series. A very ecchi series. If you don’t like bouncing boobs and a perverted protagonist, you should probably steer clear. That said, like its spiritual brother High School DxD there is more to this story than fanservice. I read the manga before I watched the first season and I was pleasantly surprised by the magical action it contained. Could it stand totally on its own? Maybe not, but when you add in fanservice and comedy-harem antics, this story can attack you from multiple angles. Anime-only viewers may already be disillusioned after AIC botched the first season with shoddy animation and by skipping a very important (and very good) arc in favor of a shifty anime original ending, but the good news is that they’ve been fired! Xebec and director (Kaneko Hiraku) are now on the job, and judging by the two OVAs they’ve already released they’re going to give us better animation and a much better understanding of what makes this story works. They even managed to pull off the rare feat of adding original material to flesh out a chapter (in the 2nd OVA) and it being as good or better than the source! Check this one out if you’d like to see some of Xebec’s famous big-breasted ladies. I don’t know how they’re going to clean up the mess in the plot left by AIC, but I wish them good luck in trying.

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Maken-ki! 2 Promotional Videos ▼

OVA / Movie


Technical Note: OVAs are sorted by the date they are released. For series that have multiple episodes coming out over the course of the season, please refer to the Notes column for additional dates. More information on each OVA can be found on their respective websites, including promotional videos in some cases. Movie premiere dates are not included since they don’t mean a whole lot to viewers outside of Japan. DVD/BD movie releases are, however. This list is likely incomplete and will be updated as more titles surface. If you notice anything missing or incorrect, please feel free to point it out in the comments or e-mail one of us directly (Stilts, Zephyr).

Release Date Title Notes
12/29 Zetsumetsu Kigu Shoujo Amazing Twins | 絶滅危愚少女 Amazing Twins
Ep. 1 broadcast on AT-X at 22:30.
12/31 Sword Art Online Extra Edition | ソードアート・オンライン Extra Edition
Worldwide simulcast on Nico Nico, Crunchyroll, etc.
01/04 Mushishi Special Chapter “Hihamu Kage” | 蟲師 特別篇 「日蝕む翳」
One-hour ep airs on Tokyo MX at 23:30.
01/16 Short Peace Movie | 武器よさらば
Four part movie compilation. BD/DVD release.
01/17 Kimi no Iru Machi OVA | 君のいる町 OVA
Bundled with Limited Edition manga vol. 26.
01/22 Kamisama no Inai Nichiyoubi Special | 神さまのいない日曜日 未放送第13話
Bundled with final BD/DVD release. Episode 13.
01/24 BAYONETTA: Bloody Fate Movie | ベヨネッタ ブラッディフェイト
BD/DVD Release.
01/24 Wild Adapter OVA | ワイルドアダプター
Episode 1 of 2.
01/29 Little Busters! EX | リトルバスターズ!EX
Bundled with Little Busters! Refrain BD/DVD. Episode 1 of 8.
01/29 Kikou Shoujo wa Kizutsukanai OVA | 機巧少女は傷つかない OVA
Bundled with BD/DVD vol. 2. Episode 2 of 6.
02/05 Natsume Yuujinchou: Itsuka Yuki no Hi ni OVA | 夏目友人帳 新作OVA いつかゆきのひに
Bundled with Limited Edition BD/DVD release.
02/19 Kara no Kyoukai: Mirai Fukuin | 空の境界 未来福音
BD/DVD release.
02/19 Takanashi Rikka Kai: Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Movie
小鳥遊六花・改 ~劇場版 中二病でも恋がしたい!~
BD/DVD release.
02/21 Taka no Tsume GO: Utsukushiki Ariel Shoushuu Plus
鷹の爪GO 美しきエリエール消臭プラス
BD/DVD Release.
02/21 Space Pirate Captain Harlock Movie | キャプテンハーロック
CGI remake of original series. BD/DVD Release.
02/26 Kikou Shoujo wa Kizutsukanai Specials | 機巧少女は傷つかない
Bundled with BD/DVD vol. 3. Episode 3 of 6.
02/26 Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan Movie 1: Kyoto Ranbu | 劇場版 薄桜鬼 第一章 京都乱舞
BD/DVD release. Part 1 of 2.
02/28 Wake Up, Girls! Shichinin no Idol Movie | Wake Up, Girls! 七人のアイドル
BD/DVD release.
03/05 Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai Movie
劇場版 あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。
BD/DVD release.
03/25 Sengoku Musou SP: Sanada no Shou | 戦国無双SP 真田の章
Included in Sengoku Musou 4 PS3 game.

Overall Impressions



Like I mentioned in the intro, this looks like a particularly good season for original series, and whether or not they turn our well or fail horribly will likely determine how this season comes out looking. There’s a good amount of magical fantasy series this time as well, which warms the heart of a fantasy fan like me, especially when so many of them look to be filled with action as well. Sci-Fi, romance, and slice-of-life fans will have at least a few shows to choose from as well, and there are once again a few shorts that don’t look too shabby to boot. There’s potential here, and plenty of it, so all that remains to be seen is whether it pans out or not.

Onto the rundown. Our rubric remains the same as the last few seasons, with the five main expectation levels ranging from High to Low, plus Niche and Established hanging around for special cases. Hopefully this guide will help viewers with limited time know what shows to try first, based on our preliminary examination of the show’s staff, seiyuu, and source material.

We arrived at these levels by convening our seasonal (and reliably shady) “anticipation council,” consisting of Zanibas, Zephyr, and myself (Stilts). While we’ve gone to great lengths to try to be as objective as possible, we’re all fallible mortals here, and as last season proved even the most well thought out of predictions can prove themselves wrong in a hurry. Thus, take these designations with a grain of salt. Note: The lists are sorted in alphabetical order.


The Rundown:

High expectation shows give us reason to believe they have the makings of a very good series that should appeal to the widest audience in their given genres. If you consider yourself a “casual” fan who only gets your toes wet every season by watching the “best” shows (i.e. popular ones that generate the most buzz), then these are the ones we feel you should keep an eye out for. We’re also expecting good things from these shows, so if they fall short, disappointment is understandable.

Moderately High expectation shows are ones that came close to joining the High expectation crowd, but missed out due to one or two elements that gave us concern. The series underpinnings are generally strong, but there is just something that keeps us from putting all our hopes and dreams on these shows. They still have most of the makings of very strong series, so if you watch only the “best” shows but want more than what the High category provides, keep an eye out for these as well.

Moderate expectation shows, also known as “True Moderate”, don’t provide any immediate indication that they’ll be amazing in retrospect. This is often the case with shows that fall into one of anime’s overused plot devices, which most people, particularly self-proclaimed critics, will perceive as mediocre at best. However, in many of our experiences these shows still provide a great deal of entertainment and may turn out a lot better than they appear. They’re good for “regular” fans who are aware of all these tropes and don’t mind seeing them used in different settings. Personal tastes come heavily into play, so your mileage will vary.

Moderately Low expectation shows don’t seem to be aspiring to much, but it’s hard to call them bad exactly. They might focus on senseless humor or fanservice, but there’s often at least one element that elevates them above other members of their genre. Once again, personal taste comes heavily into play with these shows, because if they’re part of one of your favored genres then chances are you’ll enjoy them no matter what. Just don’t expect them to break the bank with originality.

Low expectation shows don’t seem to be striving for much and choose to focus on more frivolous aspects such as senseless humor and fanservice. That doesn’t mean they’re the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t get any consideration, but simply that you need to keep in mind what kind of show it is. Generally only “avid” fans will be interested in seeing what these have to offer, because they’re already watching all the better shows.

Niche shows break away from the norm by being slower-paced, extremely dark/grotesque, or even controversial. In most cases these shows are oriented towards older audiences or those who feel that anime has become far too repetitive and want something different. Shows of this category tend to be highly under-appreciated, but can turn out to be hidden gems for that very reason. Includes works oriented toward female audiences.

Established shows are generally long-running manga/anime series, geared towards younger viewers who are already fans of them. A commonality is that they all air early morning on weekends or well before midnight on weekdays so that “normal” people can watch them. They aren’t very dependent on expectations, but a love for never-ending shows and a willingness to get into all the material that’s out if they’re completely new to you. Shounen series fall into this category, hence why we treat them differently.

  • Established: N/A
December 26, 2013 at 7:18 pm
  • December 29, 2013 at 4:21 pmarcanes

    Good job on the post as always!
    Only one thing to say – even if all the new series turns out to be crap, we will still have Hunter X Hunter to watch. Enough said.

  • December 29, 2013 at 5:29 pmdiaz

    That Harima Kenji in D-frag… It gives me the School Rumble feelings :P

  • December 29, 2013 at 5:50 pmBeedle

    Ichijou Raku is voiced by the same guy as Orimura Ichika…

  • December 30, 2013 at 8:32 ambriex

    1. Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
    2. Saki Zenkoku-hen
    3. Noragami
    4. Chuu2koi 2
    5. Inari Konkon

  • December 31, 2013 at 12:59 amBanana

    Definitely very baffled by the article on Sakura Trick. Seems to be some deep backwards thinking on Takaii’s part that s/he might not realize.

  • December 31, 2013 at 4:41 amRincewind

    2014… It’s yuri time!!!

    Im SOOOO hyped with Sakura Trick. After so many heavy subtext show to having a “full-text-canon” yuri anime is… beautiful. *wipes a tear*

    And and waiting eagerly for Saki too. More super powered yuri-mahjong is always nice!!

    I would probably watch Space Dandy too.

  • December 31, 2013 at 7:27 amCroos

    I’m so ready for Winter 2014
    -Mikakunin DE Shinkoukei
    -GO! GO! 575

  • December 31, 2013 at 11:10 amAbsaroka

    Now we have Sword Art Online: Gun Gale Arc to look forward to later in the year. Will it be Spring or Summer season I wonder…

  • December 31, 2013 at 8:32 pmLicolis

    - Sakura Trick <- Yuri Fan must watch this show
    - Super Sonico, and
    haven't decide the others

  • January 1, 2014 at 8:34 amIline Jeuel

    WoHooo! Can’t Wait. *_*

  • January 1, 2014 at 1:01 pmAnonymous

    >The future of anime as a medium depends on the success or failure of Space Dandy
    Don’t make me laugh

  • January 4, 2014 at 4:31 amGermanguy

    I just Saw Buddy Complex Ep 01

    Well, the Start of this New Anime, was good. They dont spoiled to much in the Start, as they always do. This Anime has a very good start on the Story drive. Looks like Episode 2 is on the Action Part. Let’s see

    Btw.. i could guessing how is the “pilot” of the Blue one… But this Anime is just Born

    • January 4, 2014 at 4:33 amGermanguy

      Well, you know. Animes and their Colors…..

  • January 8, 2014 at 11:36 am~fineyristensen

    This is quite an interesting winter season we got.

    I am seeing in plenty of shows the potential to exceed our expectations, but as well as enough potential to possibly leave us some ever lasting impressions.

    Im excited to get to know, if one of the animes of the current season will succeed to impress our keen randomc-bloggers to get rated as the AOTY??

    And now that the first episodes are being released, I cant help myself, but to watch them with lots of random curiosity!!!

  • January 10, 2014 at 9:47 amRockmanshii

    Thanks for the preview guys.

  • January 12, 2014 at 9:25 amKaleRylan

    What the HELL?

    Okay, I assume no one will see this but I have to try.

    I just watched the first “episode” of Bushi Road and… what the hell was that?

    It was an hour and a half-long and, as far as I can tell, finished the whole plot. It seemed like a movie. But everywhere, including here, lists it as a series. But either way it was still weird. THe first half-hour played like a normal, well-paced first episode. When the credits didn’t roll I got confused and realized it was an hour and a half. But the last hour was one long WTF. It’s like they vomited the rest of the series’ plot onto the screen. It was SO rushed and overwhelming in both speed and scale that I literally feel like my mind can’t cope. I called my buddy and he said I sounded drunk. What the hell was that?

  • January 12, 2014 at 8:58 pmAnonymous

    they should do with the shows their not blogging the same way they did with horizon in the middle of nowhere where they blog about it after it’s finished airing or something like that.

  • January 17, 2014 at 1:52 amDucK

    Hoozuki no Reitetsu

    Only 3 watchable anime without getting more retarded with so many crappy anime thrown at us.

  • March 20, 2014 at 9:28 pmAnonymous

    anyone know when the spring previews’ are going to be up ?

    • March 21, 2014 at 6:09 pmZephyr

      The current pacing has it sometime next week.

  • March 21, 2014 at 7:30 amlebleu

    Is there any ETA on the Spring 2014 preview?


  • March 26, 2014 at 6:34 amgrayne

    New seasin preview PLEASSEEEE…

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