Random Curiosity

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Summer 2014 Preview!

Summer has returned, bringing with it a fresh batch of anime to give you excuses to escape from the heat. It’s an interesting batch we have this time. If I had to call this season anything, it would be the Summer of Sequels, with continuations of the KyoAni boys love swimming anime Free!, the alien-hunting stylings of SPACE☆DANDY, the second season of everybody’s favorite magical girl spin-off Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Zwei!, another arc of Nisio Isin’s Monogatari series in Hanamonogatari, and the colossally popular (and equally polarizing) second season of Sword Art Online. But there are originals as well, including the P.A. Works’ summer romance Glasslip, XEBEC’s mecha series Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, and another mecha series in the Urobutcher/Aoki Ei collaboration ALDNOAH.ZERO. There’s even a bit of a resurgence in the horror/thriller category, buoyed by the highly anticipated adaptation of Tokyo Ghoul and the original series Zankyou no Terror. Last year’s summer season was surprisingly strong. Can this year keep the trend going? There’s only one way to find out. This is Random Curiosity’s Summer 2014 season preview.


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.

This season we’ll continue using our Expectation Levels. As always, remember that these reflect our own subjective excitement level for each show, and 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: Back in the ancient era of 2012, previews were done by a single writer, Divine. Unfortunately, none of the current writers are as crazy awesome crazy awesome as him, so we’ve divvied up the writing among six of our writers (Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr, and 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.


Once again, thank you to all of our writers (as well as our tech guy Xumbra and the big man himself, Divine) for helping out on this preview. If you want a second opinion on any of these shows, you might also want to check out the all-Enzo-all-the-time summer preview over at LiA. Finally, a special thanks to all of you for continuing to support Random Curiosity. You’re the best. Those fans of other anime blogs? Second best at least. Science fact!

TV Series

Technical Note: The chart below 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 (7/6)
Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
20:30 AT-X (7/14)
Momo Kyun Sword
24:30 MX (7/8)
Majimoji Rurumo
21:00 AT-X (7/9)
22:30 MX (7/3)
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?
25:05 MX (7/11)
10:00 TX (7/5)
22:30 MX (7/6)
23:54 BS11 (7/7)
Yama no Susume: Second Season
22:00 MX (7/9)
Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen
23:00 MX (7/3)
Tokyo ESP
25:35 MX (7/11)
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal
19:00 Niconico (7/5)
23:00 MX (7/6)
Ao Haru Ride
24:00 MX (7/7)
Bakumatsu Rock
23:30 MX (7/2)
Tokyo Ghoul
24:00 MX (7/3)
Nobunaga Concerto
25:50 CX (7/11)
Monogatari Series: Second Season -Hanamonogatari-
19:00 MX (8/16)
Akame ga Kill!
24:00 MX (7/6)
25:35 TX (7/7)
Free! -Eternal Summer-
24:00 MX (7/2)
Zankyou no Terror
24:50 CX (7/10)
Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 49-
20:30 AT-X (7/5)
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
25:05 TX (7/6)
26:05 TX (7/7)
25:05 MX (7/9)
25:20 CX (7/10)
Sword Art Online II
23:30 MX (7/5)
DRAMAtical Murder
25:35 TX (7/6)
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei!
25:35 MX (7/9)
25:46 TBS (7/3)
24:00 MX (7/5)
Persona 4 the Golden ANIMATION
25:49 MBS (7/10)
Sengoku BASARA: Judge End
25:50 ntv (7/5)
Ai Mai Mi ~Mousou Catastrophe~
26:05 TVS (7/10)
26:20 ntv (7/5)
Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita.
26:16 TBS (7/3)
Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
26:19 MBS (7/10)

* Jump to OVA/Movies.

Bakumatsu Rock | 幕末RockTop
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: July 2, 2014
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @bakumatsu069 or #幕末Rock

Preview by Zanibas

Imagine yourself at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate. Replace propaganda with hypnotic ‘Heaven Songs’, substitute the swordsmen of the Shingengumi with pop and rock idols, and instead of the pro-emperor Ishin-shishi, have a rock band that seeks to “change the world with rock ‘n’ roll for freedom and justice.” That’s Bakumatsu Rock. In this band are members Sakamoto Ryouma (Taniyama Kishou), Hijikata Toshizou (Morikawa Toshiyuki), Katsura Kogorou (Morikubo Showtaro), Takasugi Shinsaku (Suzuki Tatsuhisa), and Okita Souji (Ono Kensho). Together they compose and perform songs that are forbidden by the Tokugawa Shogunate in order to spread a new message to the Japanese people: down with the military and freedom for all!

Despite being as anachronistic as a game can get, literally rocking the Shogunate is interesting as a concept. Putting aside how cool the game looks as a rhythm story, it looks like there’s only one ending to the game itself, so there should be no worries about different arcs being adapted. People who are into the bishounen music category (such as Uta no Prince-sama) will find this show right up their alley, but with Studio DEEN at the helm, and considering their average track record with pre-Meiji anime, we should only expect an “okay” animation experience. But the main draw will definitely be the rock songs and stripping characters, as hinted by the promotional videos. Overall, with an experienced seiyuu cast and a good selection of rock songs, Bakumatsu Rock should serve its intended audience well.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Bakumatsu Rock Promotional Videos ▼

Free! -Eternal Summer-Top
Animation: Kyoto Animation Premiere: July 2, 2014
Genre: Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @iwatobi_sc or #TV_Free

Preview by Takaii

The wildly successful swimming anime makes it triumphant return for a second season this summer. Aptly named Free! Eternal Summer, the story will continue with Iwatobi Swim Club members Nanase Haruka (Shimazaki Nobunaga), Tachibana Makoto (Tatsuhisa Suzuki), Hazuki Nagisa (Yonaga Tsubasa), Ryuugazaki Rei (Hirakawa Daisuke), and club manager Matsuoka Gou (Watanabe Akeno) as they continue doing what they love doing – swimming! Along the way I’m sure their friend Matsuoka Rin (Miyano Mamoru) will make his presence known, and maybe, just maybe we’ll get to see Amakata Miho-sensei (Yukino Satsuki) rock some of that modeling talent she has deep down inside of her!

Seeing as how the first season focused more on the slice-of-life side of swimming versus the typical setup of a traditional sports anime, I expect Kyoani to continue doing more of the same. While I have no idea what that could end up being, I’m hoping they’ll continue to build off what we saw during the first season – important things such as Haru’s relationship with swimming and how it effects the rest of his life or Rin learning not be a complete assface and stop taking his friends for granted. That said, because of how popular this show ended up being, there’s always a chance we could end up with something that’s completely different from the original, for better or worse. Whichever direction things go, I know as long as I get to see Gou have one of her moments whenever she’s within two feet of a hot guy, I’ll be able to watch the show with no regrets. Seriously though, I’m sure Kyoani won’t disappoint us with whatever they decide to do, because you know, it’s Kyoani!

Watching This: Cherrie, Takaii, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Free! -Eternal Summer- Promotional Videos ▼

Glasslip | グラスリップTop
Animation: P.A. Works Premiere: July 3, 2014
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @glasslip_anime or #glasslip

Preview by Stilts

P.A. Works is releasing a new original series this season. Glasslip is the story of six high school students and the dazzling summer they’ll never forget. Touko Fukami (Fukagawa Seria) is a 17-year-old who dreams of becoming a glass artisan. Takayama Yanagi (Hayami Saori) is a girl currently taking lessons to become a model. Nagamiya Sachi (Taneda Risa) is a quiet bookworm. Imi Yukinari (Shimazaki Nobunaga) is a member of the track team who is currently in rehabilitation. Shirosaki Hiro (Yamashita Daiki) is a helper at the cafe Kazemichi they all frequent. During the summer break of their senior year, they meet a transfer student named Okikura Kakeru (Ohsaka Ryota), who claims that a voice from the future talks to him, and it led him to Touko. His arrival sets off a series of events that will turn their final summer into a romantic and fantastic tale full of hope and heartache.

As one of the few studios that still consistently produce original anime, I’m always on the lookout for the next P.A. Works series. And this one has all the hallmarks of their best work – equal parts slice-of-life, romance, drama, and a dash of fantasy. The animation is gorgeous as usual, with the promos really showing off the care P.A. Works puts into their characters and stories. As an original series, there’s always a risk – this story is untested, so it could backfire gloriously. But with P.A. Works we don’t usually have to worry much about a total bomb; about the worst you should expect is TARI TARI, with the best going past Nagi no Asukara up to the level of Angel Beats! and Uchouten Kazoku. Staff-wise we have a decent showing, with prodigious director Nishimura Junji leading the team. He’s done a lot of work, much of which is on the older side…though it does include directing P.A. Works’ very own True Tears, which I feel is a good sign for this series. If you’re a reasonably prodigious anime viewer and like any of the elements I described above, I suggest you check out Glasslip. It may turn out to be only okay, but the floor for a P.A. Works anime isn’t that low, and the ceiling is very high. That’s worth giving it a chance.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Glasslip Promotional Videos ▼

Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen | 白銀の意思 アルジェヴォルンTop
Animation: XEBEC Premiere: July 3, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 23:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @aregevollen or #argevollen

Preview by Zephyr

Made by the producers behind Break Blade, Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen comes in as XEBEC’s newest original series. An action-mecha series, Silver Will Argevollen follows the long standing war between the countries of Arandas and Ingelmia. In a conflict with no end in sight, the introduction of a new weapon begins to change the tide of the war. Piloted by Susumu Tokimune (Ohsaka Ryota) of Arandas, the Argevollen comes in as the “will that guides us forward.” This series will be directed by Ootsuki Atsushi (To LOVE-Ru Darkness) and the series’ scripts will be written by Satou Tatsuo (Basquash!, Mouretsu Pirates, Rinne no Lagrange), who is joined by mechanical designers Kikuchi Hirame (Toaru no Hikuushi e no Koiuta) and Teraoka Kenji (Code Geass). The main cast rounds out with Oonishi Saori, Tsuchida Hiroshi, and Oohara Sayaka.

With the coming of every season, there’s always a few shows without much information to go on, and Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen seems to be one of them. This show comes in looking like your typical mecha action series, and it’s something that fans of such series will likely enjoy watching. Boding well for Argevollen is the fact that XEBEC’s previous mecha series in Break Blade was well animated, but that may not make up for Sato Tatsuo’s hit/miss scripts, and the director’s resume isn’t particularly impressive either. That said, one can only extrapolate so much with the limited information that’s available. At the moment Argevollen isn’t looking particularly impressive, but there’s definitely room for it to develop depending on how they do things, and it should at least be something mecha fans will enjoy.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen Promotional Videos ▼

Tokyo Ghoul | 東京喰種 -トーキョーグール-Top
Animation: Studio Pierrot Premiere: July 3, 2014
Genre: Horror, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @tkg_anime or #tkg_anime

Preview by Guardian Enzo

This year represents something of a renaissance for horror as an anime genre, and Tokyo Ghoul stands near the head of the pack. I haven’t read Ishida Sui’s manga, but those who have are almost uniformly positive, and the previews have done nothing to dampen my enthusiasm. Director Morita Shuhei is an interesting choice – he’s not well-known among Western anime fans, but has done some very interesting OVAs and shorts such as KakuRenBo and last year’s Tsukumo, which was nominated for an Academy Award as Best Animated Short Feature. The character designs are eye-catching as well.

The story is centered around “ghouls”, beings who look human but must feast on human flesh to survive, and the young man whose fate is forever changed by his encounter with them. There’s a lot of interest in this series – Funimation has already licensed it in North America, and it may just be that rare show that succeeds both commercially and artistically. There are a few yellow flags – as great as the previews look, Pierrot’s recent track record on production values is spotty at best. And manga fans seem very concerned with the fact that the series length has not yet been announced, predicting disaster if this is a one-cour show (I suspect it will be two, with the possibility of more if it sells). With those caveats, Tokyo Ghoul is definitely in the top tier of summer anime in terms of expectations.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Tokyo Ghoul Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: Passione Premiere: July 3, 2014
Genre: Action Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:46
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @rw_anime or #rw_anime

Preview by Stilts

RAIL WARS! is set in a parallel world where Japan didn’t privatize its national railway system. Takayama Naoto (Fukuyama Jun) is an ordinary high school boy who dreams of a comfortable future working for the Japanese National Railways. He ends up being assigned to its security force, where he trains with strange colleagues such as Sakurai Aoi (Numakura Manami), a troublemaking woman who hates men. Naoto also has to contend with the extremist group called “RJ”, which plots to privatize the Japanese National Railways.

Based on the light novel series Rail Wars! Nihon Kokuyuu Tetsudou Kōantai, RAIL WARS! is a bit of a puzzle to me. I’ve never understood the allure of trains, despite my uncle’s best efforts to enlighten me. I know train otaku are a thing, so I assume this is a series for them, but the alternate history where the trains weren’t privatized is…well, I know how industry works. If they want to privatize something, extremist groups aren’t how they go about it. They use lobbyists. Which are kind of similar, but that’s another issue entirely. The whole setup smacks of a throwback to a time that train otaku find nostalgic, and that’s cool, I guess? Nostalgia is another thing I’ve never been prone to. The relatively new studio Passione is animating, with a team that’s similarly light on experience, though the animation I saw in the promos was very nice. If you like trains, I can safely say that you should watch this show. For everyone else, I have no idea. Weirder shows have turned out to be excellent, but we’ll just have to wait and see if this is one of them.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show RAIL WARS! Promotional Videos ▼

Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita.Top
Animation: feel. Premiere: July 3, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Music Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:16
Episodes: 12 + 1 SP Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @locodol_anime or #ろこどる

Preview by Stilts

Every girl wants to be an idol, but what about a local idol? Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita. stars Usami Nanako (Itou Miku) and Kohinata Yukari (Misawa Sachika), two ordinary high school girls who end up becoming their town’s local idols (locodol) upon the request of Nanako’s uncle. As the idol unit “Nagarekawa Girls” they are interviewed (by the town’s shopping center), go on television (low-budget cable), and hold concerts (on the roof of the department store). Their fictional Nagarekawa city based on the real Nagarekawa area in Hiroshima Prefecture, and it’s from the city’s coffers (and taxes) that the girls draw their meager salaries.

Based on the 4-koma of the same name, I can’t tell if Locodol is a shameless promotional vehicle for the Nagarekawa area, or whether the mangaka just really likes the place. I’m not a big fan of idol shows myself, and the idea of scrappy young kids playing at being idols (rather than the striving-for-amateur-greatness of, say, Love Live!) just doesn’t do it for me. It is based on a 4-koma though, so the point is likely comedy more than anything else, and on that I have no idea how it performs. Sorry, but I couldn’t get my hands on the source material in time. Director Nawa Munenori has a decent amount of experience, and most of it on decent-to-good shows, while studio feel is largely the same. Based on the premise alone I’m not personally too excited about this show, but that doesn’t mean it will be bad. If idols are your thing and you wouldn’t mind a little comedy too, you should absolutely give this a shot. Idols are a versatile lot, so adding more comedy into the mix might be a winning formula.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita. Promotional Videos ▼

Pripara | プリパラTop
Animation: Tatsunoko Production Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 10:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo TV (TXN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @pripara_PR or #pripara

Preview by Stilts

It’s time for an evolution in the Pretty Rhythm universe – its successor is here! Based on the brand new Takara Tomy arcade game of the same name, Pripara is set in a world filled with girls’ dreams of fashion, dance, and music. It seems like every day there are auditions that send top idols to worldwide fame on television and online. Laala (Akaneya Himika) and her friends all yearn to join this world, but their school prohibits Pripara for elementary schoolers. Fortunately, an unexpected chance leads to Laala entering the world of Pripara, where she just might be able to make her debut.

I did not expect to be previewing another Pretty Rhythm series so soon. Though truth be told, that’s not exactly what this is. Rather than another sequel, Pripara is a successor to Pretty Rhythm’s throne. It turns out that last season’s All Star Selection was a one-cour compilation series, a sort of victory lap for the Pretty Rhythm characters while they introduced Lalaa, who it turns out wasn’t the heroine of All Star Selection after all, but the main heroine of Pripara! I’ll give them points for crafty marketing there. So what’s new? It looks like the skating Prism Shows are gone, and in exchange we have the idol unit i☆Ris, which will sing and star in this new series. Other than that, this is the successor to Pretty Rhythm from the same company – if not the same staff…they probably got burned out after 3+ years on the same show – so expect the same things we got from its predecessor. If you’re not familiar with the Pretty Rhythm series, I’ll direct you to the last four times we’ve previewed it, because everything Divine and I said should still apply. If you’re not a preteen girl, this series probably isn’t for you. But if you are, rest assured that the Pretty Rhythm spirit will continue on into the future. Pretty Rhythm is dead; long live Pretty Rhythm!

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Niche
Show Puripara Promotional Videos ▼

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal | 美少女戦士セーラームーン CrystalTop
Animation: Toei Animation Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 19:00
Episodes: 26 Station: Niconico
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sailormoon_20th

Preview by Cherrie

Returning for its 20th anniversary is none other than everyone’s favorite (and probably first) shoujo anime, Sailor Moon Crystal. Originally debuting in 1992, the phenomenon is getting a new remake which is going to more closely adapt the original manga. Just in case you missed the bandwagon and the excitement, it’s about a naïve, klutzy girl named Tsukino Usagi (voiced by the original seiyuu, Mitsuishi Kotono) who stumbles on to a talking cat one day. This talking cat, named Luna (Hirohashi Ryou) enlists the help of Usagi by transforming her into a magical sailor solider. She defends the Earth from evil and Luna gives her an additional mission – to find the Moon Princess named Princess Serenity. The evil on the planet is known as the Dark Kingdom, headed by Queen Beryl, and they’ve come to Earth to sap the energy away from its inhabitants, but they’re being constantly foiled by Sailor Moon.

No words can fully demonstrate how much influence and goodwill the Sailor Moon name carries with it, and I think you have to be a part of that generation growing up to fully appreciate it. Sailor Moon was one of the first anime I ever watched (both in Japanese and English), and I’m not even ashamed to say that I’ve seen all 200 episodes + the movies. Indeed, it’s episodic and drags on for miles before it gets to the point, but there’s also tons of potential development, romance, and all that good stuff that keeps everyone coming back. People that have seen the original dubbed version may have a preconception that the show is juvenile, but I beg to differ because the story is actually darker and more rich in context. I don’t think this season will dive into all that good stuff, but the anime still serves as a great nostalgic piece for fans. Whether or not you’ve seen the original, I would still highly recommend you join the hype; it’s never to late to become a fan.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zanibas Expectation Level: High
Show Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal Promotional Videos ▼

Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 49- | 少年ハリウッド -HOLLY STAGE FOR 49-Top
Animation: Zexcs Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Music, Drama Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 20:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @shohari_anime or #shohari

Preview by Zanibas

Male music/idol shows are on the rise this season, with Ohsaka Ryota), Sakeki Kira (Yamashita Daiki), Tomii Daiki (Aoi Shouta), Amaki Ikuma (Kakihara Tetsuya), and Maiyama Shun (Ono Kensho) all work hard to become better idols and a better group overall.

Although I don’t know much about the original material, the anime takes place 15 years after the novel, so there shouldn’t be any worries about source adaption quality. However, judging from the promotional video, it doesn’t look like there’ll be a lot of animation going on. The drawing consistency should be good, but my guess is that the majority of the budget will go towards animating the show’s various songs and concerts. What seems to differentiate this male idol show from others is the focus on the idols in normal clothing, having normal lives outside of their careers. If that means this will reflect a more realistic view of a male idol group in the same way that Wake Up, Girls! did, then more power to this show!

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 49- Promotional Videos ▼

Sword Art Online II | ソードアート・オンラインⅡTop
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sao_anime or #sao_anime

Preview by Takaii

The wildly popular Sword Art Online is finally returning for its second season. Following our main protagonist Kirigaya Kazuto (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), who’s more commonly known as his in game name Kirito, we dive straight back into the virtual MMORPG world with a new crisis on our hands. In the competitive game Gun Gale Online, where professional players make their living by being the best, a mysterious figure wielding a black gun appears. For some reason, players shot by this gun are rumored to be dying both in-game and in the real world. With a potential crisis in the works, Kirito is tasked with trying to figure out just who is behind the slayings. But in a world where guns are the norm and melee fighting takes the backseat, how will he fare?

Okay, so I don’t know about you, but I am so hyped that this show is getting a second season. Being a huge fan of the original and one of the few writers on the staff who really likes it, I will take anything and everything SAO. If only you could have seen me salivating while watching that OVA… Anyways, something about all the shounen-style action combined with the lure of romance and friendship kept me happy week after week, and I expect no less from the sequel. With a top notch studio on production and a huge fan following worldwide, I can’t wait to see what all that fame and money will bring. That said, I have heard from friends who read ahead that Gun Gale was their least favorite arc. Their reasoning was that guns are boring versus swords – but that’s in book form, right? So I hope you’ll join me in fangirling / fanboying when Kirito graces our screens again during the Anime-Expo premiere!

Watching This: Cherrie, Takaii, Stilts, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Sword Art Online II Promotional Videos ▼

ALDNOAH.ZERO | アルドノア・ゼロTop
Animation: Troyca x A-1 Pictures Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-FI Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @aldnoahzero or #aldnoahzero

Preview by Zephyr

Produced by A-1 Pictures, Aldnoah.Zero brings together the Fate/Zero’s original creator in Urobuchi Gen and the director that led its adaptation in Aoki Ei. The latest in the line of Sci-Fi series created by “the urobutcher,” Aldnoah.Zero revolves around the discovery of a hypergate in 1972. Found on the moon’s surface, the hypergate led to the migration and settlement of Mars, and an inevitable conflict that led to the destruction of the moon after the hypergate went out of control. The year is now 2014, fifteen years after the war began, and the stage is set for a story whose tagline reads: “Let justice be done. Through the heavens fall.” Sawano Hiroyuki comes in as the series’ soundtrack composer, combining with the OP theme duo of Kajiura Yuki and Kalafina.

Arguably one of the more exciting original series of the summer season, there’s much to be said about the golden combination of an idea thought up by the urobutcher himself and the man who did a pretty good job adapting one of his more acclaimed works, Fate/Zero. That said, UroGen isn’t actually involved past his ideas being utilized, but there’s no doubting Takayama Katsuhiko’s past script writer/series composition experience (Full Metal Alchemist, KoiChoco, Mirai Nikki, many others), so there shouldn’t be much of an issue with the story’s overall development. A-1 Pictures should supply a decent budget for animation, and the awesome assortment of musicians behind the soundtrack and OP/ED themes adds another layer of hype to what could be an epic Sci-Fi tale. This is definitely a series to watch for if you’re a fan of UroGen’s previous works or of the genre in general.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
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Sengoku BASARA: Judge End | 戦国BASARA Judge EndTop
Animation: Telecom Animation Film Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Action Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:50
Episodes: 12 Station: Nippon TV (NTV)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @basara_je or #basara_je

Preview by Zephyr

HERE WE GO! Sengoku Basara is back with a third season. Based on CAPCOM’s 2010 game Sengoku Basara 3, it’s party time as the series’ newest iteration brings us back to the Battle of Sekigahara and provides us with an alternative version of the events that occurred. Unlike previous seasons, Sengoku Basara: Judge End has Telecom Animation Film (Lupin III, Z/X Ignition) at the helm rather than Production I.G., and it’s a full staff change highlighted by Sano Takeshi making his directorial debut after over a decade in various other roles. The seiyuu remain the same, with Nakai Kazuya, Hoshi Soichiro, Ookawa Tooru, and Seki Tomokazu reprising their respective roles. It’s all guns blazing as the battle to determine the country’s ultimate ruler commences.

As one of the more spectacular series based (loosely) on the Sengoku period, the return of Sengoku Basara comes as a welcome present for fans of the series (such as myself). There really isn’t much to say here considering its wide-spread popularity and the established nature of the series. There is the change in terms of the studio and staff, but the underpinnings of the show in its source and the memorable cast are still there, and the fact that its previous iterations had a successful formula makes it unlikely that Judge End will differ too much from that path. Generally, it’s a sit back and enjoy the ride kind of thing, even if part of the series seems to revisit a stage already introduced in The Last Party.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Established
Barakamon | ばらかもんTop
Animation: Kinema Citrus Premiere: July 5, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-life Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 26:20
Episodes: Station: Nippon TV (NTV)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @brkmn_anime or #brkmn_anime

Preview by Guardian Enzo

There’s an awful lot to like in this adaptation of Yoshino Satsuki’s manga, one of my top picks for the upcoming season. The manga, for starters – it’s superbly written and lovingly drawn, very warm and very acerbic at the same time. We’ve also got a very fine studio (usually – I prefer to pretend Black Bullet never happened) studio in Kinema Citrus, a director in Tachibana Masaki whose resume in various roles reads like a laundry list of the finest anime in the last 20 years – Evangelion, Seirei no Moribito, Eureka Seven, Ghost in the Shell, and Fullmetal Alchemist among others. Top that off with music by the sublime Kawai Kenji, another Moribito veteran, and you’re really cooking with gas here.

Barakamon is the tale of a calligrapher from Tokyo who’s “exiled” to a small island as punishment for punching a famous colleague. The island is predictably full of odd-key locals – including a plethora of kids who will be played by actual kids – and Barakamon is really the story of this man’s culture shock as he sees a world he never knew existed. Simply put, the only way this show isn’t a gem is if they screw up the adaptation, and there’s enough pedigree behind it that I don’t expect them to do that.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
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Jinsei | 人生相談テレビアニメーションTop
Animation: feel. Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Drama, School Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: 13 Station: Tokyo MX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @jinsei_anime or #jinsei_anime

Preview by Zanibas

Remember those “Dear XXX” columns in newspapers, where readers would ask the columnist for advice? Take that idea, put it into a high school setting, and split the work from one wise person to three very conflicting individuals. That’s the premise of Jinsei in a nutshell. Featuring the literary Kujou Fumi (Toyota Moe), the scientific Endou Rino (Nitta Hiyori), and the sports-oriented Suzuki Ikumi (Suwa Ayaka), all under counselor Akamatsu Yuuki (Takumi Yasuaki), these girls attempt to give advice to students who write in to the Kyuumon Gakuen Second News Club. Arguments of a cute and funny nature ensue.

Despite the air date looming next month, almost little to no information has been released regarding the show. The character designs that have been released aren’t anything special. However, without something beyond mere line sketches, it’s impossible to judge the rest of the art. Staff-wise, my only comment is the inclusion of director Kawaguchi Keiichirou, whose work on shows such as Mayo Chiki!, Nyan Koi!, and Minami-ke Tadaima proves his ability to direct a series. Since the adaption itself is coming from a light novel, I can’t speak much about the plot, but the basic premise looks like a bundle of fun, in the same vein that Seitokai no Ichizon was. Overall, keep a small eye on the developments of this show, but with studio feel in charge of animation, it should become a nice casual comedy to check out, especially for those who love the one-room comedy style of show.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately Low
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Sabagebu! | さばげぶっ!Top
Animation: Pierrot Plus Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Action, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sabagebu_anime or #sabagebu

Preview by Stilts

Sabagebu! is the story of first year high school girl Sonokawa Momoka (Ohashi Ayaka), who is coerced into joining one of the strangest clubs at her school, the Survival Game Club. The club’s members participate in various forms of paramilitary training under the watchful eye of the charming (and alarming) club president, Ootori Miou (Uchiyama Yumi). How on earth will the inexperienced Momoka survive her training in this club full of not-at-all-normal high school girls?

After C3-bu surprised me by being better than expected, I am primed for more survival game anime. But the first thing that struck me about Sabagebu! is that’s it’s shoujo. Action-shoujo. And it kind of works! The manga was funny and lighthearted while definitely having more of a shoujo than cute-girls-doing-cute-things air. The main character Momoka is relatable while not being too “normal”, while club president Miou is totally bonkers (but still cool and beautiful). The staff is also encouraging – director Oota Masahiko (Yuruyuri, Kotoura-san, Love Lab) and series composition Aoshima Takashi (Yuruyuri, Gaworare, Love Lab) have both worked together before, and on successful adaptation across the board. All in all, I’m optimistic about this series. Action and shoujo don’t usually go together, but there’s no reason they can’t, and after six volumes of manga, apparently it’s working. I for one would like to see why.

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderately Low
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SPACE☆DANDY 2 | スペース☆ダンディ シーズン2 Top
Animation: BONES Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:00
Episodes: 13 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 second season of Space Dandy approaches with much less fanfare and consternation than the first. I think the first season accomplished exactly what it set out to do – it was extremely popular on Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim block (where it premiered, in English), even as it was relatively under-appreciated in Japan. Both were highly predictable occurrences.

Artistically, I think the first season was also mostly successful. As with any series so resolutely episodic there were significant peaks and valleys, but the overall level rose significantly as the series progressed, with several outstanding episodes late in the run. Some of the seeds planted early on also began to pay off, bringing together the series mythology in such a way as to give seemingly random earlier events significance (the ED was always the biggest clue as to what was really going on). Visually one of the most impressive series of the year, full of interesting ideas and highly experimental, Space Dandy was occasionally a fascinating mess, but more often just fascinating. I very much look forward to seeing what it has on offer this summer.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
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Akame ga Kill! | アカメが斬る!Top
Animation: WHITE FOX Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 24:00
Episodes: 2-cour Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @akame_tv or #akame_anime

Preview by Stilts

An adaptation of the dark fantasy action manga Akame ga Kill! is airing this summer. A young fighter named Tatsumi (Saito Soma) has finally arrived in the Capitol. His goal is to earn enough money to save his starving village, but his dreams are quickly dashed by the harsh reality he finds. The Capitol is awash in unimaginable corruption, all of which is spreading from the depraved Prime Minister who controls the child Emperor’s ear. After being robbed by a “kind onee-san”, Tatsumi is taken in by a pretty girl who promises to help him. His luck seems to be changing…until the pretty girl’s family is visited by a family of assassins, including the girl who robbed Tatsumi. But things are even worse than Tatsumi realized, and compared to the corruption of the city, these merciless assassins might actually be the good guys…

The world of Akame ga Kill is not a pleasant one. If something can be broken, it breaks. If something can be corrupted, it will be. This is a world where the good guys are merciless murderers, cutting down the guilty without a shred of remorse. It’s dark, but it’s also well done. The action in the manga is great, with a visceral and brutal feeling that fits the story well. It’s hard to say much about the characters without spoiling anything, but I can say that Tatsumi at least isn’t the simple country bumpkin that he first appears; there’s steel in his spine to spare. WHITE FOX is animating, and there’s some pretty good staff attached to the project, so hopefully the production quality will be up to snuff. If you like action and can stand the darkness – or love the darkness as much as Akame ga Kill does – this may be the summer anime for you.

Watching This: Cherrie, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Akame ga Kill! Promotional Videos ▼

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun | 月刊少女野崎くんTop
Animation: Doga Kobo Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Romance, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: Tokyo TV (TXN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nozaki_anime or #nozakikun

Preview by Zanibas

Anime is full of meta series about the process of making manga/anime, and Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun joins their ranks this season. Sakura Chiyo (Ozawa Ari) has feelings for her fellow handsome classmate Nozaki Umetarou (Nakamura Yuuichi). However, no matter how Sakura tries to convey her feelings to Nozaki, some sort of misunderstanding comes up – this usually results not in acceptance or rejection, but an autograph or an invitation to his house. During one of these invitations, Sakura is surprised to discover that Nozaki is actually a famous shoujo mangaka! In order to grow closer to the man she loves, Sakura becomes Nozaki’s assistant so she can spend more time with him. Joining this cast is Nozaki’s current assistant, Mikoshiba Mikoto (Okamoto Nobuhiko) as well as Yuu Kashima (Nakahara Mai), the female prince of Sakura’s high school.

Judging from the PVs, the art style gets a big thumbs up from me. I appreciate Doga Kobo’s commitment to clean character designs (see: Natsuyuki Rendezvous and Mikakunin de Shinkoukei), and this show is no exception. Clean lines, bolder colors, smaller and narrower eyes (save for the main heroine), and practical body types all get my approval – it’s nice to not see all females bursting at the bust or males with ripped abs. Add to that a main hero who is an author of a shoujo manga (in a shounen manga no less) and we’ve got an interesting series that could be the surprise of the season. With Nakamura Yuuichi, Kimura Ryouhei, and Nakahara Mai onboard (among many others), newcomer Ozawa Ari will have a lot to prove in her debut main role. Although the premise is another ‘making manga’ type of show, it’s atypical for the manga in the anime to be shoujo-oriented. Seeing how this changes up the romantic comedy genre should be interesting to check out for at least a few episodes.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun Promotional Videos ▼

DRAMAtical MurderTop
Animation: Naz Premiere: July 6, 2014
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo TV (TXN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @dmmd_TV_PR or #アニメドラマダ

Preview by Zanibas

Coming from the minds behind Nitro+chiral, we present DRAMAtical Murder (DMMd), a yaoi adventure full of hot guys, philosophy, competitions, and companion animals that turn into (hot) humans. The story centers around Seragaki Aoba (Kisaichi Atsushi), resident of the island of Midorijima, an island that holds mega-resort Platinum Jail. The resort is so large that it takes up most of the space, forcing the former inhabitants into a small corner of the island. Though Aoba wants nothing to do with the conflict between the resort and the natives, he is eventually forced to join a virtual game, competing with other fighters and their animal-human companions known as All Mates. With characters like Aoba’s own All Mate, Ren (Takeuchi Ryouta); a mysterious masked man from the sky, Clear (Nakazawa Masatomo); and various other attractive guys, Aoba’s peaceful life comes to a close as he is dragged into the conflict to win back Midorijima.

As a favorite visual novel for its target audience, DMMd was an adaptation long awaited. The franchise is so popular that Good Smile has already setup pre-orders for Aoba’s nendroid. The visual novel has good character designs, a decent plot that contains some emotional and philosophical issues, and all the ships you could ever need, all wrapped in a yaoi-centered game. Depending on the arc and ending they choose, DMMd could either end on a heartwarming note all the way to one that makes you hate humanity. Production-wise, there’s some uncertainty. Studio NAZ did a decent job producing Hamatora earlier this year, but was limited by time and budget issues. However, with the financial backing of Nitroplus on their side, we’ll likely see improvement from the fairly new studio. Hopefully the PVs were being conservative in what they were showing off, because I’d love to see this work get executed well, proving that visual novels can be adapted properly in this day and age.

Watching This: Cherrie Expectation Level: Moderate
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Himegoto | ひめゴトTop
Animation: Asahi Production Premiere: July 7, 2014
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 23:54
Episodes: Station: BS11
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @himegoto_anime or #himegoto

Preview by Stilts

Himegoto follows the life of Arikawa Hime (Kuwahara Yuuki), a second-year student at Shimoshina High School. After his parents abandoned him with a huge debt, Hime is saved by three girls from his school’s student council when he’s being chased down by yakuza debt collectors. In exchange for paying off his debt, Hime agrees to their conditions – he’s to become the student council’s “dog” and spend his high school life dressed as a girl. Now he’ll spend his days at the mercy of 18-Kin-san (“Rated 18+-san”) (Saotome Yuka), Unko-kaichou (Ono Saki), and Bell-sempai (Toujou Hisako). Each episode will be 6 minutes long.

Next in line for the Hayate no Gotoku Memorial Award for Worst Parents Ever are the parents of Arikawa Hime! In all seriousness, Himegoto is equal parts funny, confusing, and horrifying. Based on the 4-koma manga by Tsukudani Norio, it does everything it can to make the main (male) character Hime as cute as possible. He’s a convincing trap, but not hiding it at all, as multiple panty flashes *shudders* quickly prove. Whether you will enjoy this show depends on how much sadism you can tolerate in your comedy. Hayate no Gotoku worked for me because, though Hayate is extremely unlucky, he’s also lucky in other ways (with girls, mainly…to a point). Hime starts enjoying being called cute pretty quickly, and his classmates all accept him as a cross-dressing trap, but between his asshole parents and the sadistic student council, his overriding attribute is “misfortune” (and “cute”). The seiyuu and staff are all relatively inexperienced as well, so I’m not sure how they’ll perform. If you like sadistic comedies, give this show a whirl – to certain comedic tastes, this could be a home run. If nothing else, we’ll have another contender for this year’s Best Trap awards. So that’s good?

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
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Ao Haru Ride | アオハライドTop
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: July 7, 2014
Genre: Romance, Drama Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 24:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @aoha_anime or #aoha_anime

Preview by Cherrie

It’s been a long time, and I mean a long time since I’ve read or cared to watch an anime that gives you butterflies in your stomach. You know the feeling that makes your heart beat fast and all the blood rushes to your head because for the love of God, your favorite couple finally has a moment. That’s the feeling that I get when I read Ao Haru Ride. It’s extremely cheesy at times, and cliché all at once, but sometimes that’s all I want. This show delivers everything that you’d expect out of a romance series between teenagers and their coming of age story. The animation and promo material give me vibes similar to Bokura ga Ita and Orange, and truly focus on the depths of the characters’ relationships rather than using external forces to advance the plot. There’s not a lot of comedic moments either that strip away the essence of the show, which I appreciate. It’s not a terribly realistic view of relationships, but it has the whole tough-guy-turned-soft-for-a-girl charm that makes me excited for the genre again.

So I won’t lie, I have a soft spot for bad boys and Mabuchi Kou right here, is a bad boy. (Too bad his seiyuu, Kaji Yuuki is not. I wish they cast a more manly, deep-voiced male…) Fortunately for Toshioka Futaba (Uchida Maaya), Kou was not always this way, and she developed a crush on him three years ago in middle school. They had a moment which didn’t last and Kou transferred to another school after the summer break. Now, Kou has reentered Futaba’s life, and he’s not the same person that she fell for back then. Circumstances bring the two closer together, but nothing is the same because people change over time. The story revolves around how they both learn to accept each other as they are and help each other out in unexpected ways. They might not be the same people anymore, but they start to fall in love all over again.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately High
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Hanayamata | ハナヤマタTop
Animation: Madhouse Premiere: July 7, 2014
Genre: Slice of Life Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo TV (TXN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @hanayamata_PR or #ハナヤマタ

Preview by Zanibas

Sekiya Naru (Ueda Reina) loves to read. Although every other part of her is textbook average, Sekiya is extraordinary in her ability to read fairy tales and familiarize herself with the many mythical beings within them. One day, while mistaking a girl dancing to be a fairy, she ends up being entranced by the girl’s elegant dance. The moment Sekiya asks to join Hannah N. Fontanstand (Tanaka Minami) is the moment she finds herself in the world of yosakoi, a dance that combines both old cultural dance with contemporary music. Sekiya is eventually joined by her best friend Sekiya Naru (Ueda Reina) and the student council president and vice-president Tokiwa Sari (Toyoguchi Megumi) and Tokiwa Machi (Numakura Manami) in learning to dance as elegantly as Hannah.

Although no animation PVs or images have been released, there are some good signs for Hanayamta. Fresh from No Game No Life, Madhouse and rising director Ishizuka Atsuko (Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo, Tsuki no Waltz, No Game No Life) will be producing and directing this show. Although some may disagree with Ishizuka’s take on Sakurasou and Madhouse can definitely produce really bad work (Photokano), it all hinges on what production companies end up funding the project. However, independent of production, the premise of yosakoi dancing provides an interesting looking glass into contemporary Japanese festivals. As a more modern offshoot of Awa Dancing (see: Golden Time), it blends modern music with traditional Japanese dance for a unique blend of old meeting the new. Just as it’s a treat to see K-ON! songs animated, I’m looking forward to Madhouse animating some nice dancing segments that are representative of the dance itself. With a cute cast and seiyuu mainly hailing from The iDOLM@STER and Wake Up, Girls!, I’m sure this will be a fun show to watch while also being a cultural window into Japanese dance.

Watching This: Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderate
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Re:_Hamatora | Re:␣ハマトラTop
Animation: Lerche Premiere: July 7, 2014
Genre: Action, Mystery Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:05
Episodes: 1-cour Station: Tokyo TV (TXN)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @hamatora_PR or #ハマトラ

Preview by Zephyr

Continuing the trend of split-cour adaptations is Re:_Hamatora (a.k.a. Reply Hamatora), the sequel to this winter’s Hamatora the Animation. Returning as director is Kishi Seiji, who comes back with the rest of the series’ original staff and main cast. Studio Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Fate/Prototype) takes over as the lead producer for the series, with studio NAZ moving to a more collaborative role. Once again, Re:_Hamatora will focus on a world where select humans known as “Minimum Holders” are born with special powers known as “Minimums.” With a tag line of “We don’t need the Minimum,” Re:_Hamatora is a direct continuation of the first season, which found our main cast in Nice (Ohsaka Ryota) and Murasaki (Hatano Wataru) and the rest of the Hamatora Detective Agency caught up in a serial murder case involving minimum holders.

As with the first iteration, Re:_Hamatora comes in without much in terms of actual information. What we do know is that we’ll get to see the results of one of the more seizure-inducing cliffhangers in recent memory, which is something I’ll gladly take. The first half was an interesting mixture of action, mystery, and the supernatural, and there’s much that could be said about its thematic exploration of prejudice, discrimination, and the responsibility of those with power. Sadly, the inclusion of what seemed like a fair amount of filler took away from the execution, but there’s clearly a good core story here, and the second season should be able to expand on that. It’s not a must watch since the lack of source material means there will likely be more filler, but there’s definitely a solid enough story here to make it worth seeing how it develops. Just make sure you’re not going into this without watching the first season.

Watching This: Cherrie, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
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Momo Kyun Sword | モモキュンソードTop
Animation: Tri-Slash x Project No. 9 Premiere: July 8, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @momokyun01 or #モモキュン

Preview by Stilts

Momo Kyun Sword is a modern reimagining of Momotarou, starring a bishoujo swordswoman known at Momoko (Taketatsu Ayana). Momoko, who was born inside a peach (“momo” in Japanese), lives a peaceful life with her constant companions, Inugami (lit. “Dog God”, Hatano Wataru), Sarugami (lit. “Monkey God”, Morikubo Showtaro), and Kijigami (lit. “Pheasant God”, Imai Asami)…until one day, when their peaceful lives were shattered. A demon army led by the demon king Jakiou (Ginga Banjou), which includes his willful daughter Onihime (lit. “Ogre Princess”, Tsuda Minami), invades their paradise and steals the precious treasure that protects Momoko’s land. Now Momoko must embark on a great adventure with her three companions to retrieve the treasure and save her people!

I was skeptical when I first started researching this, but a lot of what I found was encouraging. The premise seems a little cliché – another reimagining of an old story with a gender-swapped female lead – but they left her three companions as animals, and it doesn’t seem like the whole thing is being mined for fanservice. It seems to have a pleasant fantasy/fairy tale air to it, like it’s a deliberate throwback to the days before ultra-”realistic” grimdark murder-fests got in the way of lighthearted tales about heroes with shiny swords. It does lean on the Momotarou tale a lot, so I don’t expect anything exciting or fresh in the way of plot, and both the staff with director Yanagi Shinsuke (Ro-Kyu-Bu! SS) and the studios in Project No.9 (Ro-Kyu-Bu!, ImoCho) and Tri-Slash (who?) are relatively inexperienced, so this could go south fast. But I think the worst case scenario is probably “mediocre” rather than “trainwreck”, which is more than I can say for all of Project No.9′s work. My guess is that this will be a good lighthearted adventure that you can watch to relax without going all of the way to slice-of-life town. With so much unknown though, we could end up surprised, for better or worse.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
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Majimoji Rurumo | まじもじるるもTop
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: July 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 21:00
Episodes: 1-cour Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @animerurumo or #るるも

Preview by Stilts

Shibaki Kouta (Takahashi Makoto) is a high school boy whose only interest is girls. Unfortunately, he’s been branded the most perverted boy at school, so the girls avoid him like the plague. One day Shibaki finds a book in the library about summoning witches; he tries it out on a whim, but it turns out to be the real thing! That’s when an apprentice witch named Rurumo (Mimori Suzuko) appears, and turns Shibaki’s life upside down. Now he has a contract with the young witch, who must convince him to use up 666 magic wish-granting tickets before she can return to her old life. The only problem: each ticket Shibaki uses shortens his lifespan, and when the final one is used, he will die…and Rurumo has no idea. Now he has a choice to make, between helping Rurumo regain her status as a witch or saving his own life.

Part slapstick comedy, part…other types of comedy, I enjoyed the first few chapters of the Majimoji Rurumo manga, though I’m having trouble describing exactly why. Shibaki is your standard pervert protagonist, but the way he’s quickly trapped between a rock and a hard place (wanting to help Rurumo and wanting to not die) made him sympathetic. As for Rurumo, she’s an odd little witch – she’s quirky and not terribly talkative, and bound by arduous regulations that give her an undeniable air of misfortune. She’s the type of girl you want to protect, which gets Shibaki into trouble fast. This is one of those comedies where the world feel enormously unfair to the main protagonist, which means the question is whether it will be funny enough to cover for that. Noucome famously abused its main protagonist, but it was so funny it worked. The first few chapters of Majimoji Rurumo were a borderline case for me, so it really depends on whether the J.C.Staff team can amp up the laughs, and with newbie director Sakurai Chikara at the helm, I have no idea what to expect. If you like fantasy or comedy, this one is probably worth a peek. I’ll be giving it a try, to see if J.C.Staff can draw out that comedy magic once again.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Stilts, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Yama no Susume Second Season | ヤマノススメ セカンドシーズンTop
Animation: 8bit Premiere: July 9, 2014
Genre: Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays 22:00
Episodes: 24 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @yamanosusume or #ヤマノススメ

Preview by Stilts

The winner of our coveted (and brand new) Best Short category is returning for a second season. Encouragement of Climb stars Yukimura Aoi (Iguchi Yuka), a high school girl who’s afraid of heights thanks to a nasty fall she took when she was younger. Now Aoi prefers indoor activities, but when her childhood friend Kuraue Hinata (Asumi Kana) bursts back into her life and reminds her of their promise to climb mountains together, Aoi is drawn towards the allure of climbing once again. Along with their newfound friends Saitou Kaede (Hikasa Yoko) and Aoba Kokona (Ogura Yui), the four form a circle of friends around their mutual interest. Each episode will be 15 minutes long.

The first season of Yama no Susume surprised me by being more than the typical cute girls doing cute things short. It was that as well – this is pure slice-of-life, and the girls are certainly cute as they pursue their mutual passion. But there’s an admiral fidelity to the hobby of mountain climbing that, though I don’t share the interest myself, was enjoyable to watch. But more than that, it’s the fact that in the first series, where each episode was less than five minutes long, actually gave us a real character arc for Aoi, one that was uplifting and satisfying by the time the season ended. This season season is coming with double the episodes and three times the length per episode, so we’ll have a lot more Yama no Susume to enjoy. I’m excited, because this always seemed like a story that could support more than the short episodes the first season was allotted. It looks like they’ll be picking up where the first season left off, but with the first season being so short it shouldn’t be hard for newcomers to catch up. Of any of the shorts from 2013, this is the one that’s most worth watching, so if you haven’t already I suggest you do so before the second season starts!

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Yama no Susume: Second Season Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: July 9, 2014
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays 25:05
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @lovestage_tv or #ラブステ

Preview by Takaii

Born into a wildly successful family that’s all the rage in the Japanese entertainment world, Sena Izumi (Yonaga Tsubasa) wants nothing to do with all of that. Blessed (or maybe cursed?) with girlish proportions, he was scarred at a young age after being forced into a dress for a wedding commercial where he spectacularly failed, and in turn he turned his back on all the opportunities and open doors his family status laid in front of him. Fast forward to his high school days, where he hasn’t grown out of that girlish figure and has become a die-hard otaku, and you can understand why his family would be nervous about what he’s going to do with his life. But all of that changes when his otaku pride forces him into appearing in another wedding commercial, where he’s reunited with Ichijou Ryouma (Eguchi Takuya), his co-star from the very commercial that scarred him years earlier.

Whenever there’s a story about someone who’s deep into the otaku world and they’re not pictured as a stereotypical one, you’ll bet I’ll at least give it the three-episode/chapter treatment. While I stopped at the second chapter during my research because I didn’t want to spoil myself too much, I’ve got to say that I really enjoyed the setup and the buildup to the first big surprise. I mean, how can you not sympathize with Izumi and his dreams of breaking free from his family’s chains and becoming something crazy like a mangaka? And sure, I get that this type of show (shounen ai) might turn some people away, but there’s no other way for me to put it – it looks and feels like this will end up being a pretty darn good show.

Watching This: Takaii, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderate
Show LOVE STAGE!! Promotional Videos ▼

Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Zwei! | Fate/kaleid liner プリズマ☆イリヤ 2wei!Top
Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: July 9, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @prisma_illya or #prismaillya

Preview by Stilts

The fantasy-action magical girl spin-off of the Fate universe returns for its second season. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya stars Illyasviel von Einzbern (Kadowaki Mai), who was a normal girl until the talking wand Magical Ruby (Takano Naoko) flew into her life and turned her into a mahou shoujo! Illya teamed up with Ruby’s former master Tohsaka Rin (Ueda Kana) – as well as fellow magical girl Miyu (Nazuka Kaori), her wand (and Ruby’s imouto) Magical Sapphire (Matsuki Miyu), and Sapphire’s former master (and Rin’s eternal rival) Luciagelita “Luvia” Edelfelt (Itou Shizuka) – to gather the seven Class Cards that could have destroyed Fuyuki City. And they did it! But the adventure isn’t over. About a month after the events of the first season, Illya and Miyu are once again called upon. This time they need to help stabilize the Earth’s pulse, which went haywire when they started capturing the Class Cards. However, something goes wrong with the ceremony. Illya tries to protect everyone from the explosion, but when the smoke clears, Illya finds a clone of herself sitting beside her!

A successful spin-off should take what made the original successful and take it in a new direction, and that’s what Prisma Illya does. After an impressive first season – one which was faithful to the source while making smart tweaks, and which included one of the best fight sequences of the year, nabbing it honorable mentions in our yearly awards – the second season was green-lit immediately. I’m glad, because the source material for 2wei is better than the original. 2wei feels more “Fate-like” to me, while maintaining the essential qualities that make Prisma Illya different. Add to that our little Illya clone (Saito Chiwa), who is an excellent (and frequently hilarious!) addition. SILVER LINK is back, along with nearly all of the same staff, including composer Kato Tatsuya, who is sure to put out another superb soundtrack. I’ll say the same thing I said about the first season – if you like fantasy, intense magical action, quirky humor, or would like to see old friends in a different setting, this show is for you. For everyone else, don’t underestimate Prisma Illya just because it’s a spin-off, because it has a great story in its own right. The first season proved that, and it only gets better from here.

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei! Promotional Videos ▼

Zankyou no Terror | 残響のテロルTop
Animation: Mappa Premiere: July 10, 2014
Genre: Thriller Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:50
Episodes: 1-cour Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @zankyouno_terror or #zantero

Preview by Takaii

Set in an alternate version of the present day, the Tokyo Area has been completely destroyed by a large-scale terrorist attack. With no clues other than a group known as “Sphinx” taking credit of the attack through a strange video uploaded on the internet, Japan is in distraught as they try to find the group that was responsible for such a terrible deed. However, unknown to Japan and the rest of the world is that Sphinx is made up of just two teenage boys known as Nine and Twelve. Two boys who say they shouldn’t technically exist in this world and are trying to wake it from its slumber. Waiting and ready to “pull the trigger on this world”, the two are ready to wake the world up.

After diving deep into various sources to get a handle about what Zankyou no Terror was about, I ended up feeling that slight shiver in your back you get when you realize you’re dealing with something really creepy. With director Watanabe Shinichiro of Cowboy Bebop fame leading the charge with Aniplex handling all the logistics, I can picture this show becoming one of the few anime that try and mess with your mind while simultaneously scaring the crap out of you. With a really interesting premise that draws you in but doesn’t reveal much at all, it looks like Zankyou has all the ingredients to become something amazing. That and because it’s going to be an original anime, just about anything could happen!

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Takaii, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Zankyou no Terror Promotional Videos ▼

PSYCHO-PASS (New Edit) | サイコパス 新編集版Top
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: July 10, 2014
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:20
Episodes: 11 Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @psychopass_tv or #pp_anime

Preview by Zephyr

In preparation for the series’ second season this fall, PSYCHO-PASS returns to the noitaminA block as a series of one-hour long episodes with added footage. As with the original release, Urobochi Gen (Fate/Zero, Madoka Magica) returns along with the rest of the previous cast, who set the foundation of a dystopian Sci-Fi set in the near future. In this world, one’s state of mind and personality can be measured and quantified instantly, resulting in a PSYCHO-PASS hue that displays a person’s criminal tendencies. To dispense justice upon those who would seek to harm society, enforcers at the Ministry of Welfare’s Public Safety Bureau wield special weapons known as Dominators. Among them is the veteran Shinya Kougami (Seki Tomokazu) and their newest member, Tsunemori Akane (Hanazawa Kana).

Essentially a refresher for those anticipating PSYCHO-PASS 2 next season, this is a series you likely already know whether you’ll be watching, either nostalgia’s sake or as a memory jog for the fall. For those who didn’t get the chance to catch PSYCHO-PASS’ original run, this could be a great chance for you to watch one of the more popular series of last year, and arguably one of the more notable sci-fi series in recent memory. Fans of sci-gi series such as Ghost in the Shell and western movies such as Blade Runner and Minority Report should find much to like here, with the many references and inspirations it takes from the aforementioned, and it goes without saying that Urobochi Gen’s previous work speaks for themselves. If you haven’t watched PSYCHO-PASS yet, this is your chance.

Watching This: Cherrie, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show PSYCHO-PASS: New Edit Promotional Videos ▼

Persona 4 The Golden ANIMATION | ペルソナ4 ザ・ゴールデンTop
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: July 10, 2014
Genre: Adventure, Mystery, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:49
Episodes: Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @P4_A or #P4G_A

Preview by Zephyr

Two years after the original adaptation, Persona 4 is back with a new studio at the helm and a new social link in Marie. Based on the critically acclaimed RPG of the same name, Persona 4 Golden The Animation’s (a.k.a. P4GA) story is generally the same as its previous iteration, which revolved around a protagonist named Narukami Yuu (Namikawa Daisuke). Shortly after his arrival in the rural town of Inaba, a series of murders take place, and a rumor begins to spread about “Mayonaka TV,” a midnight program that supposedly allows you to see your other self if you watch it on a rainy day. Looking into the rumor, Yuu and his new friends, Hanamura Yousuke (Morikubo Shoutarou), Satonaka Chie (Horie Yui), Amagi Yukiko (Koshimizu Ami) are pulled into an alternate TV world where monsters known as Shadows roam about. They’re forced to confront their Shadow Selves and awaken their “Personas,” summoned beings that they use to investigate the murders and their connection to this other world.

To state the obvious, Persona 4 Golden The Animation shares much with the original P4A. All of the original cast’s seiyuu are returning, as is the director in Kishi Seiji (Angel Beats, Jinrui). There is a new studio, a new co-director, and a new character in the cast, but the style and general content should be quite similar to P4A regardless. As someone who’s played the games, loved them, and knows how much Japan loves Persona 4, I’ll probably watch this anyway, but depending on your opinion of P4A and how you feel about watching what’s essentially a retelling, this may not necessarily be down your alley. Those of you that haven’t seen P4A yet, or played the game it’s based on, should find a lot to enjoy here. It’s definitely worth a watch considering the critical acclaim its source material has received, even if the animation may take some liberties on the game’s mechanics.

Watching This: Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Persona 4 the Golden ANIMATION Promotional Videos ▼

Ai Mai Mi ~Mousou Catastrophie~ | あいまいみー ~妄想カタストロフ~Top
Animation: Dream Creation Premiere: July 10, 2014
Genre: Comdy, School Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:05
Episodes: 12 Station: Teletama (TVS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_aimaimi or #aimaimi

Preview by Stilts

Following an apparently successful first season, the 4-koma manga Ai Mai Mi is getting a second season of anime shorts. It follows four girls in a manga club – the titular Ai (Ootsubo Yuka), Mai (Uchida Aya), and Mi (Uchida Maaya), along with Ponoka-sempai (Kayano Ai) – as they fight evil alien invaders, face off against their rivals at tournaments, and deal with other strange situations. Oh, and occasionally draw manga. (They’re not big on work ethic.) It’s a bonanza of absurd comedy as the story follows the antics of these four girls. Each episode will be 3 minutes long.

When I previewed the first season, I said it looked like a low-budget affair. Then I watched some of it, and I was right. It has the production qualities of a mid-90′s cartoon, which would be nostalgic if these three-minute shorts were funny. To me, that is–comedy is subjective, so if you enjoyed the first season, don’t let me stop you. With the staff, studio, and seiyuu all set to return for the second season, this is an easy show to recommend (or not). Did you watch and enjoy the first season? If so, watch this. But if you haven’t seen the first season and are curious, go give the first episode a try. At three minutes per episode, you won’t lose much time, and you’ll be able to make an informed decision. I for one won’t be bothering with this one though.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Show Ai Mai Mi ~Mousou Catastrophe~ Promotional Videos ▼

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus | 黒執事 Book of Circus Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: July 10, 2014
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:19
Episodes: 10 Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @kuroshitsuji2 or #kuroshitsuji

Preview by Zanibas

In order to adapt the manga properly, Book of Circus will pick up where episode 15 of the first season left off – in essence ignoring the second season in order to take a different path. Favorite characters Sebastian (Ono Daisuke) and Ciel (Sakamoto Maaya) return to the party in an arc that will be very different from what viewers have been exposed to so far. As the name implies, the story will take a more circus/carnival turn, thrusting Ciel and Sebastian into the Noah’s Ark Circus Arc, full of new characters such as Joker (Miyano Mamoru) and Beast (Kaida Yuko). Many of the original side-characters will also make a reappearance as the series returns to the manga material that needed time to catch up.

As a highly visible series that generates ships and a lot of fanfiction, Kuroshitsuji needs no introduction. With enticing character designs, sexual undertones, and Victorian-era intrigue, the series has captured the hearts of many fans. The main concern this time is whether fans can take a backtrack from the events of the second season in order to restart where the first left off. Many significant and permanent events occurred during the second season, and the third season is asking viewers to forget about all of that. For some, this may be a struggle, but considering the love the series gets from its fans, this shouldn’t be a big roadblock. As for production, although A-1 Pictures is once again producing the series and the seiyuu have stayed constant, the staff has once again changed. With Abe Noriyuki (Bleach) as director, production should go smoothly, but as with all staff shifts between seasons, we may yet see a change in the ‘feel’ of Kuroshitsuji, for better or worse.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus Promotional Videos ▼

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? | 六畳間の侵略者!?Top
Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: July 11, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_6joma or #6jomadaho

Preview by Stilts

An anime adaptation of the popular Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? light novel series is debuting this summer. Due to young Satomi Koutarou’s (Nakamura Yuuichi) financial constraints, he is forced to live in a small rokujouma (6-tatami apartment) on a budget of 5000 yen (~$50) a month. He gets to live in room 106 of Corona Apartment rent-free, but that’s only because it’s haunted. The ghost is a cute young girl named Higashihongan Sanae (Suzuki Eri), and hijinks ensue when she tries to drive Koutarou out. Between the ghost, a self-professed mahou shoujo, a space alien, and more, Koutarou’s impoverished life just got a lot more interesting.

Crazy comedy hijinks are the name of the game, with zany girls making our protagonist’s life hilariously troublesome. Or at least that’s the jist I get, because I was unable to get my hands on the source material in time. Thus, let the speculation begin! This is one of two SILVER LINK shows airing this summer, the other being the sequel to Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya, and veteran SILVER LINK director Oonuma Shin is helming both of them. While I always get a little worried when smaller studios work on multiple shows, as they could end up stretching their resources too thin, the promo videos for this have good animation and character designs. But with a comedy, it always comes down to “Does this make me laugh?”, and for that, I have no idea. I’m personally predisposed to like this kind of zany, hinjinks-filled comedy, and both director Oonuma Shin and SILVER LINK have a long track record of making shows I liked (BakaTest, C3, Nourin, WataMote), so I’ll be tuning in. Without being able to tell you more about the source, I suggest you watch (or not) based on the strength of the staff and the studio, and hope they can deliver an enjoyable ride.

Watching This: Cherrie, Takaii, Stilts, Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? Promotional Videos ▼

Tokyo ESP | 東京ESPTop
Animation: XEBEC Premiere: July 11, 2014
Genre: Sci-Fi, Action Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @tokyoesp_anime or #東京ESP

Preview by Cherrie

Urushiba Rinka (Kido Ibuki) is a young high school girl who discovers one day that she has the abilities to transport through solid objects. In other words, Rinka can phase in and out of basically anything, even carrying other people or things. On this same day, she coincidentally meets a man named Azuma Kyoutarou (Koumoto Keisuke) who also has teleportation powers. Together, the two of them encounter other individuals with ESP powers, which includes Rinka’s father, an infamous thief, and even a special little penguin named Peggi (Mizuhara Kaoru). Unsure of where these powers came from, Rinka and Kyoutarou learn to live and deal with what’s been given to them. But the two are driven by a sense of justice and righteousness, so they end up becoming vigilantes in Tokyo, stopping crimes and gangs from hurting innocent people.

I won’t lie, doing previews can be a chore after digging up the source material and properly writing out a summary. However, Tokyo ESP is truly the exception, which I couldn’t stop reading chapter after chapter. I instantly fell in love with Rinka; she’s the exact opposite of a damsel-in-distress, and makes a huge impact on her own (quite literally). From what I’ve read, the story is less episodic than it first appears because there’s actually a lot of continuity between the enemies, as well as a sweet background story between our protagonists. Rinka is actually meant to be a mixed child (hence, the albino look), and although gimmicky, it adds value to the story. On the downside, I’m leery about the character design and animation. The promo art looks amazing, but the cast are not as experienced as I’d like and the staff have an uneven track record. Nothing to be excited about on that end, but I hope I’m proven wrong because the source material is interesting enough to follow on its own.

Watching This: Cherrie, Stilts, Zanibas, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Nobunaga Concerto | 信長協奏曲Top
Animation: Premiere: July 11, 2014
Genre: History, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:50
Episodes: Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation

Preview by Zanibas

Nobunaga Concerto is another series focusing on anime’s favorite Sengoku figure, Oda Nobunaga. Saburou (Miyano Mamoru) is a high school student who excels in athletics, but wavers in academics, especially in history – in the first chapter, he calls history a relic of the past that doesn’t affect his present or future. However, after Saburou falls through time to the Sengoku Era, he probably wishes he would’ve studied more. After being discovered by Oda Nobunaga (Kaji Yuuki) and realizing he looks exactly like him, he is forced to become the young Oda’s substitute. This causes a whole range of problems, sometimes leading to a blade to Saburou’s face. With the pressure of all of Japan on his shoulders, Saburou must quickly learn what it means to be the legendary figure and how to unite Japan. Unfortunately, having not paid attention in class, events such as the Honnou-ji Incident may take him by surprise.

The first series that I relate this to is Oda Nobuna no Yabou, which followed a similar line of plot, minus the substitution and gender bending. Both follow the events of Oda Nobunaga fairly closely and both have main characters that hail from the future. However, Saburou lacks any sort of historical basis to make his moves, instead relying on physical skill and personal ambition to protect the present he wishes to return to. Although not much information has been released, there is a decorated cast of seiyuu lined up, such as Mizuki Nana, Fukuyama Jun, Yuuki Aoi, and Sugita Tomokazu, all voicing major roles. The animation production team is still unannounced so far, which worries me that it’ll be adapted by a novice studio. Though the project is still shrouded in mystery, considering how the original material won the Shogakukan Manga Award for shounen manga, we could be in for a real treat.

Watching This: Zanibas Expectation Level: Moderate
Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance | 精霊使いの剣舞Top
Animation: tnk Premiere: July 14, 2014
Genre: Action, Fantasy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 20:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @blade_anime or #blade_anime

Preview by Stilts

Based on the light novel series of the same name with 11 published volumes, the fantasy-harem story Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance is getting an anime adaptation this season. In a world of magic, only pure maidens are able to form contracts with powerful spirits. Areishia Spirit Academy exists to train the maidens of noble families in how to contract and control spirits, with the strongest maidens competing in the Spiritual Blade Dance Festival to bestow divine protection upon their country. Into this world comes a boy, Kazehaya Kamito (Furukawa Makoto), who, after peeping by accident on the bathing Spiritualist Claire Rouge (Kido Ibuki), ended up making a contract with the spirit she was after. Yes, Kamito is one of the vanishingly rare male spirit contractors – the only one, other than the legendary Demon Lord. Aghast that her spirit was stolen by a boy, Claire makes her demand – “You’re going to become my contracted spirit!”

You know the story – a boy is found to be the only male [insert powerful magical/sci-fi special person here], enrolls in an all-girls high school, gets himself a harem, becomes beloved by all, etc. It’s the Infinite Stratos treatment, with some caveats. Kamito acts fairly competent and driven, more Raishin (Unbreakable Machine Doll) than Ichika, so hopefully he won’t spend the entire series going “Huh?”. The magical combat also has a lot of potential, though bad combat was never IS’s problem, at least not until it started mailing it in. I don’t know how much fanservice to expect, because while TNK (High School DxD) is animating and veteran TNK director Yanagisawa Tetsuya (High School DxD) is at the helm, the manga I perused wasn’t nearly at Issei-levels of ecchi, nor does Kamito come across as a pervert, no matter what some of the girls insist. There’s definitely some fanservice though, and the art is downright luscious, so I wouldn’t mind seeing more of these girls, regardless of how much clothing they’re wearing. In the end, this is a magical fantasy harem anime based on a light novel, so if that’s your sort of thing, you should already know enough to decide whether to watch it or not. All I can add is that I’m cautiously optimistic that this might turn out to be one of the better examples of the form, but I’ve been wrong before. Enough is still unknown that we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out.

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance Promotional Videos ▼

Monogatari Series: Second Season -Hanamonogatari- Top
<物語>シリーズ セカンドシーズン -花物語-
Animation: SHAFT Premiere: August 16, 2014
Genre: Supernatural, Romance, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturday at 19:00
Episodes: 5 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nisioisin_anime

Preview by Takaii

Hanamonogatari is the continuation of the Monogatari series that we’ve been covering here at Random Curiosity for quite some time. For a quick recap, the story follows a young man named Araragi Koyomi (Kamiya Hiroshi), who, after a precarious turn of events, has turned into something along the lines of a half vampire. With his body and soul eternally linked with the infamous vampire Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade – who’s easier to say nickname is Oshino Shinobu (Sakamoto Maaya) – he spends most of his time running about and messing with lolis. When his attention isn’t stolen by them, he’s usually helping solve other people’s problems that tend to err on the supernatural side. Continuing off where last season left off, Hanamongatari focuses on Kanbaru Suruga (Sawashiro Miyuki) and takes place after Araragi has graduated high school. For those of you who remember, this should be right after we saw Kaiki Deishuu (Miki Shinichiro) solve Senjougahara Hitagi’s (Saito Chiwa) “issue”.

If I were to make any guesses about what’s going to happen this season, I would say that anything and everything involving Kanbaru will probably play a role. Hopefully this means we’ll get to know a little more about the mysterious Gaen Izuko (Yukino Satsuki) as well as see more of Araragi since he was painfully absent for most of Monogatari Series: Second Season. Whatever the case may be, with SHAFT still behind the wheel I’m sure we’ll get everything we’ve become accustomed to, with hopefully some surprises sprinkled here and there.

Watching This: Takaii, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Monogatari Series: Second Season -Hanamonogatari- Promotional Videos ▼

Francesca | フランチェスカTop
Animation: Premiere: July, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9):
Episodes: Station:
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @francesca_hb

Preview by Stilts

The local undead idol of Hokkaido is getting an animated series of shorts this season. Francesca (Makino Yui) is an “undead idol” who’s a little spacey but has a lot of energy, and all of her favorite foods are from Hokkaido. Big trouble arises when Hijikata Toshizou (Takahashi Hiroki) and the rest of the Shinsengumi awake from their eternal slumber and attack Hokkaido! The little girl Exorcist (Tano Asami) stands up to defend the area, but in the midst of the chaos, Francesca awakens to protect Hokkaido as well.

Local moe characters for cities, provinces, and consumer products are…well, they are a thing. I can sort of understand why these appeal to locals, but I have no idea why they would bother making an anime about one. I checked out the promo videos, and they’re pretty bad. The animation is unimpressive, the plot holds no interest, and it’s all clearly a shallow promotional vehicle for Francesca and, through her, Hokkaido. I don’t know who this anime is for, unless it’s being bankrolled by the Hokkaido Department of Commerce in some misguided attempt to kick up commerce and/or tourism. Each episode is only 15 minutes long, so at least there’s less of it? I don’t know. If something about this show interests you, check it out, but I for one will be steering clear. I prefer my shameless advertisements to stay as advertisements rather than invading my fiction, thank you very much.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Show Francesca Promotional Videos ▼

Strange+ Season 2 | ストレンジ・プラス 第2期 Top
Animation: Premiere: July, 2014
Genre: Comedy, Mystery Airtime (GMT+9):
Episodes: Station:
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_stpl

Preview by Zephyr

Joining a sequel-filled summer is Strange+ 2nd Season, which brings back Mikawa Verno’s slapstick gag manga for another go around. There’s not much information available on this one, but it looks like the seiyuu cast will be reprising their roles at least. As with its previous iteration, this second season will be a series of five minute shorts, with the focus once again on the daily activities of the Mikuni Detective Agency. The story revolves around the main character named Kou (Seki Tomokazu), who found his lost long-lost older brother Takumi (Fukuyama Jun) in the first season, and was roped into working for the agency shortly thereafter. There, Kou finds himself investigating various mysteries with the agency, though it’s a story that’s more about the laughs than the mysteries themselves.

True to its strange nature, Strange+ is a show whose sequel was announced right before its first season premiered. But like the information available for the second season, there’s little known as to why this ended up happening. The fact remains that we have one of our obligatory comedic shorts of the season, and it comes as a show whose formula has worked in the past (Cuticle Detective Inaba was another recent comedic mystery). I didn’t end up watching the first season in its entirety, but from what I saw it was a run-of-the-mill series for the most part. It doesn’t exactly scream special in any sense of the word, and didn’t get me laughing as much as I’d liked, but it’s something whose mileage varies from person to person. Given its short runtime, it’s worth a peek if you’re interested, but don’t be surprised if it doesn’t end up being your kind of jam.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Minarai Diva | みならいディーバTop
Animation: Premiere: July, 2014
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9):
Episodes: Station: NOTTV
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @minarai_diva

Preview by Stilts

The world’s first ever live anime program is coming to screens this Summer. What do I mean by “live anime”? Animated with MikuMikuDance software, Minarai Diva is slated as the first ever anime to be voiced and acted live, with the characters’ movements captured via motion-capture technology. It will star Aoi Ruri (lit. “blue lapis lazuli”, Murakawa Rie) and Harune Ui (Yamamoto Nozomi), along with NTV emcee Yoshida Hisanori who will play a fictionalized version of himself. During the program, the two seiyuu will try to think up lyrics for a new song, and will even accept suggestions from social media and email. It will be similar in style to a radio program, and each episode will be 60 minutes long.

I guess we can’t say the anime industry isn’t trying to do new things? Though I would have preferred new original series or innovative storytelling techniques to what amounts to a radio show with a visual gimmick. But progress can come from funny directions. It’s hard to know whether to suggest this one, because it’s billing itself as a radio program (or podcast) you can also watch. But that’s part of the draw of radio/podcasts! I doubt this will have much in the way of plot, and it won’t have the polished feel of a scripted show. This feels like a special feature for the sake of having a special feature, which is the very definition of a gimmick. It could be good – I’ve listened to some seiyuu radio shows, and in the right hands they can be excellent – but then why isn’t it just a radio show? Though if it were a radio show not as many people would be talking about it. I mean, we’re previewing it here, so mission accomplished, I suppose.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low

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
06/18 Hayate no Gotoku! OVA | ハヤテのごとく! OVA
Bundled with manga Vol. 41 (Limited Edition). Episode 1 of 3.
06/22 Kuroko no Basuke: Mou Ikkai Yarimasen Ka OVA
黒子のバスケ 「もう一回やりませんか」 OVA
Bundled with BD/DVD Vol. 6.
06/25 Little Busters! EX | リトルバスターズ!EX
Bundled with BD/DVD Vol. 6. Episode 6 of 8.
06/26 Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha OVA | いなり、こんこん、恋いろは。 OVA
Episode 11.
06/28 Majokko Shimai no Yoyo Movie | 魔女っこ姉妹のヨヨとネネ
BD/DVD Release.
06/30 Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga. OVA
最近、妹のようすがちょっとおかしいんだが。 OVA
Bundled with manga Vol. 7 (Limited Edition).
07/02 Kyoukai no Kanata: Episode 0 OVA | 境界の彼方 新作エピソードは#0「東雲」
Bundled with BD/DVD Vol. 7.
07/04 TIGER & BUNNY Movie 2: The Rising | 劇場版 TIGER & BUNNY -The Rising-
BD/DVD Release.
07/17 Noragami OVA | ノラガミ OVA
Episode 2 of 2.
07/18 Mushibugyou OVA | ムシブギョー 虫奉行 OVA
Bundled with manga Vol. 15 (Limited Edition).
07/18 Pretty Rhythm All Stars Selection Prism Show☆Best Ten Movie
劇場版 プリティーリズム・オールスターセレクション プリズムショー☆ベストテン
BD/DVD Release.
07/23 Hunter x Hunter: The Last Mission
BD/DVD Release.
07/23 Non Non Biyori OVA | のんのんびより OVA
Bundled with manga Vol. 7 (Limited Edition).
07/25 Girls und Panzer: Kore ga Hontou no Anzio-sen Desu! OVA
ガールズ&パンツァー これが本当のアンツィオ戦です! OVA
BD/DVD Release.
07/30 Little Busters! EX | リトルバスターズ!EX
Bundled with BD/DVD Vol. 7. Episode 7 of 8.
Late July Hayate no Gotoku! OVA | ハヤテのごとく! OVA
Bundled with manga Vol. 42 (Limited Edition). Episode 2 of 3.
08/06 Giovanni’s Island | ジョバンニの島
BD/DVD Release.
08/06 Hakuoki Shinsengumi Kitan Movie 2: Shikon Soukyuu
劇場版 薄桜鬼 第二章 士魂蒼穹
BD/DVD Release.
08/06 Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro | ルパン三世 カリオストロの城
DVD Remaster.
08/29 Mujaki no Rakuen | 無邪気の楽園
Bundled with manga Vol. 6 (Limited Edition).
08/29 Sekaiichi Hatsukoi Movie: Yokozawa Takafumi no Baai
劇場版 世界一初恋 横澤隆史の場合
BD/DVD Release.
08/29 Sora no Otoshimono Final: Ein no Watashi no Torikago
BD/DVD Release.

Overall Impressions


It’s always said that the summer and winter seasons are traditionally weaker than spring and fall, but last year bucked that trend by giving us a stellar summer lineup. This year? I am eternally hopeful, but with the information we have the outlook is still uncertain. Not even the writers appear to be in agreement – only two shows, Glasslip and Zankyou no Terror, are on all of our watch lists, with Barakamon, Ao Haru Ride, and the second season of Free! coming close. I don’t know what that says about us, but probably nothing good. There are more Moderately High series than normal though, which means we’re still optimistic, qualified though it may be. Plus there are always good shows airing every season, and as always we will do our best to point them out to you as they air. Hopefully a few dark horses will buoy this season and defy the conventional wisdom once again.

Onto the rundown. Our rubric remains the same, 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 which 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 regular (and reliably shady) “anticipation council,” which as always consists of Zanibas, Zephyr, and myself (Stilts). While we’ve gone to great lengths to be as objective as possible, we’re all fallible human beings around here, and even the most well-considered predictions can prove themselves wrong in a hurry. 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 some works oriented toward younger 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.

June 18, 2014 at 9:31 pm
  • June 25, 2014 at 8:32 amEastN

    I’m a bit confused. Being probably the only hardcore anime fan who has not yet seen PSYCHO-PASS, should I watch New Edit, or get the original series? Basically what I’m asking is, will New Edit be the same as the original series, but enhanced, or an extended recap for people waiting on the second season?

    • June 25, 2014 at 10:01 amZephyr

      Either one works. New Edit’s supposed to be a recap with extra scenes though, so that might be the way to go.

    • June 25, 2014 at 10:19 amSolace

      New Edit’s an enhanced version of the original edited into longer episodes with some extra scenes. Not a recap, more of a rebroadcast.

      • June 25, 2014 at 7:50 pmEastN

        Thanks for the help guys! Guess I’ll just wait a bit and watch New Edit while it’s airing.

  • June 25, 2014 at 12:12 pmPTYW

    Oh man That P4G: The animation.

    It looks like Yuu is going through New Game Plus.

  • June 26, 2014 at 2:41 amNeoAnkara

    Unless you mean at the time it is announced, Blade Dance currently have 13 volume while the 14 volume will be out at 25th July. Anyway as someone who have read all the volume I’m really excited for this. Finally seeing Est animated in all it’s glory.

  • June 26, 2014 at 12:26 pmRita

    Hamatora was a relatively OK show until THAT END in which I was siezed with the urge to take my laptop and throw it out the window screaming WHAT?!??!!!! at the top of my lungs. Not exactly a positive reaction but it was the first time in a loooong time any series had been audacious enough to pull something like that off so it really stuck with me.

    Every other show I was watching (sans HxH) had been so firmaly rooted in the “safe formula” zone that it stood out even more. Cheap tactic? Maybe but its one I haven’t seen in forever so it was almost nostalgic XD

    The rent aren’t lot of series I feel like watching this season but the ones I do look pretty promising, so on the whole I’m pretty excited about it

  • June 27, 2014 at 11:35 amJason Isenberg

    When I was a kid I loved steam trains, something about them just had an influence on history that I appreciate (Wild West days). Rail Wars, I’m not going to lie looks sick and I’m stoked just as much as I am for SAO and P4GA (played the crap out of it on my Vita and it never looked so good).

    Lots of good series this year but man after spring, it’s going to be hard to beat the lineup they had especially with NGNL at the helm lol

  • June 30, 2014 at 10:34 ammarina2

    Hanayamata PV is out and it looks very good.


  • July 1, 2014 at 10:17 pmhaseo0408

    Well this are the shows I must see no matter what:

    1)Sword Art Online: I´ve read all SAO novels and I´m crazy for the story! Also Phantom Bullet deals with a lot questions left by the death game so this is going to be so exiting!.

    2)ALDNOAH.ZERO: original story and Urobuchi Gen, ok I´m in for this ride!.

    3)Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen: a good mecha anime is always exiting because you see all this elements you´re familiar with but from a diferent perspective.

    4)Akame ga Kill!: if there is a word to describe the manga that would adictive, another word woul be dark. This got really exited and worried at the same time because of the potential censorship.

    5)Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?: I love a good romantic comedy specially when is based on a popular light novel and this one looks very good.

    6)Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya Zwei!: I would have never guessed that a spin off about Illya would give me so much fun and indeed it does.

    7)Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance: a friend told that the light novel is very so I will give this a chance and start reading the light novel as well.

    8)Tokyo ESP: there something about Rinka that draws me in to this story.

    9)Zankyou no Terror: there is so much potential in this one that I can´t hardly wait to watch it.

    10)Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun: This story should provide a good laugh to my sundays.

    11)Glasslip: Original and romance, my two favorite words.

    12)Re:_Hamatora: There is no way in hell I´m going to miss this after that cliffhanger!.

  • July 4, 2014 at 5:34 amMichael Vito

    Just a minor correction- Locodol’s Nagarekawa is actually based on Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture. Helps with context to know the setting is truly the middle of nowhere!

  • July 17, 2014 at 10:06 pmduck

    In the end all there is to watch are: SPACE☆DANDY 2 and Zankyou no Terror.
    And now we wait for Monogatari Series: Second Season -Hanamonogatari-

  • July 29, 2014 at 9:33 pmShirleen

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  • September 7, 2014 at 9:22 pmAnonymous

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  • October 5, 2014 at 4:23 amoutfits winter 2014

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  • November 7, 2014 at 11:58 amRaegria

    Waiting for tokyo ghoul 2 next season.

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