The Less than Definitive Illogical Summer 2012 Season Preview
June 9, 2012 14 Comments
The summer season has traditionally been one that many pass over, with numerous people dismissing it as full of terrible series, Interestingly enough it has also been the season that I tend to enjoy the most. While it may not have those big series that get a lot of attention and hype, it has always been a season where I find I can sit back and relax while watching numerous entertaining and enjoyable anime series. This summer season has numerous Light Novel, Visual Novel and PC game adaptations, all of which get mixed reactions ranging from massive overhype to those who dismiss them as fluff and pointless. Now, over the last few years I have grown to quite enjoy Light Novel and Visual Novel adaptations, finding them interesting to watch.
I am also interested in these adaptations from an academic point of view, seeing how different mediums can produce different results from the same material. What I particularly like about the summer season however, are the number of romance anime that look to be potentially quite enjoyable. I’m a sucker for a good romance anime, and regardless of where it takes place (although the majority do use the high school environment) I am most likely going to enjoy the series from start to finish. There are actually more series in the summer season that I fancy taking a look at than this spring season, so at least for me, it looks to be a full season. Of course, having said that, I am sure that there will be series that I drop or perhaps push down the list once I have had a chance to watch a few episodes, so this preview is certainly not going to be fully accurate once the season starts properly.
There is one problem of course and that is the terrible plot synopses that many of these series have. Some of them appear to have very little in the way of explanation about what is meant to happen; in some cases this may be deliberate because of the kind of series, along with possible plot spoilers. But there are other cases that just come across as plain lazy on the part of whoever decided to write the synopsis. This makes deciding which series to watch a little harder, especially when I have not played any of the games or read any of the light novel series that many series are based upon. Still, I shall do the best I can, bearing in mind that I am a little biased towards a good piece of romantic comedy, or just simple romance with drama and so on.
Bear in mind that this list is not in any real order, and is merely me going from the top to the bottom of the summer 2012 list. This also not a definitive post, im probably going to give more shows a look, but there wasnt anything I wanted to write about them, so they were left out.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse
I have very little experience with Muv-Luv other than reading the manga adaptations of Muv-Luv and not Muv-Luv alternative. The series is set in a world where humanity is in a constant fight with the ‘Beta’, a mysterious alien life form that appeared on earth and threatens to wipe humanity out. The first two games, and the manga that have been adapted from them follow the progress of a particular unit and have quite a dark tone to them. I quite enjoyed reading the first manga, and while it had a tragic ending, there was a sense of inevitability about the series, so it felt right. Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse seems to be a bit different however, and doesn’t appear to involve the ‘Beta’ directly. It is set in the same universe as Muv-Luv alternative, but is set in Alaska’s Yukon test base where first class staff and pilots gather to work on new ‘Senjutsuki’, the mecha that anyone who has played the games, or perhaps read the manga may be familiar with.
It appears to centre on a small cast of test pilots, looking at their little quirks and following their everyday lives of testing, arguing, and possibly going to the beach. As far as I can tell this series has a significantly lighter tone than the earlier Muv-Luv games and manga, with perhaps slightly less focus on the all-encompassing threat of the alien invasion. It does appear to be a series that features a lot of skin-tight pilot suits, and while they may not be the fabled plug-suits of Evangelion, they certainly come close. I’m not entirely sure what this series will be like, but I did like the manga and I do like the character and mecha designs. Either way, I shall give this one a shot and see what its like, always nice to have a lighter mecha series that isn’t always focussing on end of the world scenarios. Now I have said this of course, the series will turn out to be something deeply depressing with every character dyeing in the end.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
This is an adaptation of a PC dating sim and a manga actually, following the high school life of Yuuki Oojima and those that surround him. Dating sims and their anime adaptations can get quite a bit of flak, often unfairly, although in my case I do quite enjoy them. I have not played the game, however, I have read the few chapters of the manga adaptation, and I like the scenario and characters. This series itself looks to be quite a curious romance series following Yuuki Oojima who may or may not fall in love with the girl who is attempting to shut is club down. Yuuki goes to school with his childhood friend Chisato who, for reasons unknown to use, hates chocolate. They are both members of the food club, a club that appears to have little purpose in the school itself, with all the members merely coming to the club room and eating snacks, much like the Neighbours Club from Buke wa Tomodachi ga Sunukai.
The tension in the series, along with one of the many potential love interests comes in the form of Satsuki, a candidate for being the next student council president. She appears o believe that all clubs without clear goals should be shut down, thus pushing Yuuki into running against her for the position. I am not entirely sure where this series will go, the outcome is quite obvious like all romance anime, but the path it takes could be potentially very interesting. I do like the character and uniform designs though, and it being a romance I feel that I will enjoy it. It is also being produced by AIC Build, the same studio behind Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai, and Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, so they have some experience with what appears to be a romantic comedy.
Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru!
I am not entirely sure about this series, although I have briefly read the manga adaptation. It is another series based on a light novel series, and seems to be a strange twist on the idea of a family separated at birth. The story follows Shugo, who at his fathers bidding transfers into a prestigious academy, one that has a significant number of rich and beautiful girls, although it is not an all-girls school. The curious element of the story comes in the form of his younger sister, who also appears to attending the academy, and for reasons unknown to Shugo, or us, is attempting to get close to him without Shugo being aware of who she is. It is effectively a harem anime, with Shugo attempting to both reunite with the sister that he never knew he had, while at the same time finding a girlfriend.
It’s very strange series, with the idea that girls, one of whom is his sister, surround Shugo, but he doesn’t know which. It therefore adds an element of the unknown to the story, especially when it comes to Shugo falling in love and finding a girlfriend. I am not entirely sure how to approach this series, one of the one hand it sounds like a fascinating comedy of errors, on the other hand, im not especially keen on what may, or may not be some sort of incest, regardless of whether we know it or not. Still, if pulled off correctly it should be an entertaining series to watch, and I shall certainly give it a shot.
This is one of the Noitama series showing in the summer season. Adapted from a manga of the same name, this series follows the life of Hazuki, a man with particularly poor eyesight who works part-time at a flower shop. He falls in love with the owner, but finds that the spirit the spirit of a manga who she can never forget resides in her apartment. I do like the sound o this romance, having what at first appears to be quite a normal romance anime, but with a supernatural twist. I remember reading a few chapters of the manga, and seeing that it was both serious, but also funny, with the ghost of the shop owners dead lover adding a nice amount of comedy. Hopefully Noitama can actually make this series work, because lately they have not been producing many good series.
Hagure Yuusha no Estetica
There aren’t that many anime that deal with the idea of computer games and created a realistic world within a virtual space. This season we have Accel World, and in the summer season we have Sword Arts Online, along with this series, Hagure Yuusha no Estetica. The series takes an interesting approach to what is quite a normal idea of an RPG where the hero defeats the end boss and then the game ends. Instead what we have is the story of the hero after their final confrontation with the end boss, looking at what happens once the epic battle is finally over. The story focuses on Ohtorizawa Akatsuki, who defeats Satan in the virtual world, but upon his return to the real world is taken in by the mysterious organisation BABEL.
It appears to follow the idea of a special school for those with special powers, only in the case the school is entirely made up of people who have returned form the virtual world with psychic powers. It looks to be a bit of a fantasy fighting anime, with the main focus on Akatsuki and his relationship with Satan’s daughter Miu. I am not entirely sure how to approach this anime, although it does have the right sort of setting that will interest me. I also do enjoy the idea of a fantasy series that is looking at what happens once the hero has defeated the villain, only to discover that there is something darker, and significantly more dangerous lurking in the shadows.
Rinne no Lagrange 2
This isn’t really a second season, more a continuation of the first series, only with a season gap in between. This sort of format does annoy me since all the tension that was created in the first half is lost by the time you get to the second half, although at the same time, with the gap in between we should see an incredibly high quality series. I really enjoyed the first part of Rinne no Lagrange, a series with excellent characters, wonderful mecha design, and a fascinating mystery that encompassed not only the earth, but also numerous other planets.
Rinne no Lagrange is a series with brilliant characters, in particular Madoka, a main character who is both immensely cheerful, while at the same time showing a maturity that belies her young age. Furthermore, there is currently no apparent villain in the series, something that may stay until the very end. This is a nice touch, with each faction demonstrating that they are neither good nor bad, and all of them having their own motives for attempting to catch and use the ‘Vox’ mecha. It is this ambiguity, not only with the different factions, but also surrounding the Vox units themselves that makes for a fascinating series. I am certainly looking forward to seeing how XEBEC ends this series, and truly hope that they do it justice.
Sword Art Online
This is based on a light novel by the same author behind Accel World, although in this case the virtual world has an entirely different set of characteristics. In Sword Art Online, instead of logging in and logging out like other online games, once you are logged in, you have to complete the game in order to log out. However, if you were to see a ‘game over’, not only does your character die in the game, but your physical body dies as well. This gives a sense of danger and malice to what at first appears to be quite a normal series about the trials and tribulations of characters in a virtual world.
The story follows Kirito and Asuna, a female rapier expert who he teams up with in order to clear all 100 levels and free themselves from what is a fight of life and death. I particularly like the idea of a game that is a literal fight for survival, it gives a sense of urgency to the story, especially with the knowledge that any mistake can, and perhaps will, cost you our life. Sword Art Online also has an element of romance between Kirito and Asuna, with their trials and tribulations creating a strong bond between them. While I like the setting, I will have to see what the end product is like, and truly hope that A-1 Pictures are successful with this series.
Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II
The first series of Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon was effectively dismissed by a large number of people as terrible, with no plot and annoying characters. I did enjoy the series, although at the time I passed it off as northing more than a guilty pleasure, however, after I revisited the series I came to the conclusion that it is significantly better than many people suggested. It is a series with an incredibly detailed and complex world, bringing together elements from the Sengoku Era, the early Shogunate, along with ideas from world mythology to create a colourful and vibrant world. Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon has a fascinating political system and sub-plot with idea surrounding the importance of maintaining control at all costs, along with the danger of individuality.
However, it was and remains a flawed series, one that was too short, too convoluted and moved too fast. Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon tried to adapt the first Light Novel in its entirety, a Novel that is nearly two inches thick and really needed 24 episodes to do it justice. With this second series I hope that we see a more measured pace, with more time spent on individual characters and plot points, rather than attempting to rush through and hope for the best. There is currently no specific number of episodes available for this series, although I have been told that it may be a two season series. If this is true (which I hope it is), then Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon II has the potential to be a fascinating and spectacular series. I am looking forward to this series that is for certain, and while I am not hyped, I am at least quietly hoping that this series is not as convoluted as the first, although ill probably enjoy it either way.
Well, that’s an entirely unoriginal title, I wish people would put more effort into their titles, rather than adding simple numbers, or in this case punctuation to differentiate it from other series. That being said, I am very much looking forward to the second season of Dog Days, a series that I enjoyed tremendously. I had a curious relationship with the original series however, originally dropping it for being stupid, only to pick it back up again and loving every minute of it. As series go it is a curious one, being almost a parody of fantasy stories about someone who is mysteriously transported to another, magically world.
Firianno Biscotti Millhiore, the princess and ruler of the Republic of Biscotti, magically transports Cinque Izumi to her world in order for him to save her country. This scenario sounds big and epic, until you realise that dog and cat people populate the world, and that the battles that take place appear to have no fatalities whatsoever. The combat and fights in the series are incredibly entertaining, with Cinque (who is apparently some sort of extreme gymnast) doing numerous wild and wonderful tricks for no apparent reason. Add to this a case who all have names of Italian food, such as Ricotta, Biscotti, Martinozzi Éclair (Martini), and my personal favourite Galette de Rois Leonmitchelli (I am certain this is a play in Lemonchello, a rather nice Italian lacquer) and we have ourselves a winner. If this second season is anywhere near as enjoyable as the first then I shall be a very happy person indeed. On a side note, go and look at the names of all the different characters, see how many different names of Italian food you can spot, because there are quite a few.
La storia della Arcana Famiglia
Well, the token reverse harem of the season, one based on an otome game similar to this seasons Hiiro no Kakera. The synopsis itself is very vague, focussing on a group of vigilantes known as the ‘Arcana Famiglia’, who all have psychic powers. The central protagonist is Felicita, who upon visiting her father who is the head of Acrana Famiglia is told to become the leader of the ‘Serie of Sword’. It is essentially about one girl and numerous handsome, and strong guys, much like all other otome games. The synopsis is terrible and tells you absolutely nothing about what may happen, although considering it has a supernatural setting it is likely that this ‘Serie of Sword’ has some immense otherworldly significance. I do have a small soft spot for a good reverse harem, so I will give this series a look, regardless of how terrible the story sounds when you read the plot synopsis, you never know, it could be a work of genius.
Dakara Boku wa, H ga Dekinai
I have read two different descriptions of this particular series, one for the anime, and another for the manga adaptation of the original light novel. In this case I am more likely to go with the manga version, which describes the main protagonist as a hopelessly romantic high school boy (rather than the ecchi high school boy from the anime description, although he does appear to have quite the sex drive), who sees a girl standing in the rain one day and cant help but go over to see if she needs assistance. The girl in question is called Lisarah Restor and happens to be a high-ranking death god who is visiting the human world in order to find her ‘Singular Man’.
In essence this is a romantic comedy with Lisarah the incredibly beautiful, but also very forceful female character who contracts with Ryosuke, the hopelessly romantic male character with the greatest sex drive ever. I have read a few chapters of the manga adaptation and liked the direction that the story was going in, especially when there appears to be a lack of any real ‘bad guy’. Like many other similar series it appears that Lisarah and Ryosuke will most likely fall in love, with numerous other challenges in their way. But at the same time, I do like the look of the series, and the characters were engaging and interesting.
The plot synopsis of this series intruiges me, appearing to be influenced by Ghost in the Shell with its idea of out of body experiences, along with notions surrounding shared consciousness and cyberspace. The series itself is set in the future, not too far in the future of course, but just enough, in a time where humans can upload their consciousness to cyberspace, leaving their bodies in ‘body pools’, where they can survive.
The central protagonist Remu has a sister-in-law who is so smart that she jumped ahead a few grades, however, during a skype conversation one day she confesses to be talking over cyberspace and that her body is in one of these body pools. All this seems fine until calamity strikes, as is the norm in such scenarios; an accident known as ‘Early Rupture’ overloading the network server and effectively losing the minds of those who use the system in cyberspace. After this event, Remu (who naturally did not upload his mind) sets out on a quest to retrieve his sister-in-laws mind and uncover what happened during this calamitous event.
To me the major element of the story (from what little I can find) that particularly interests me is the reappearance of Remu’s sister Shiki, only in this case she is apparently not Shiki, along with what appears to be some other organisation behind this whole thing. It looks as if there is something quite dark going on in this series, with certain elements that appear reminiscent of Ghost in the Shell, although without its polish. I am a sucker for these sorts of stories, and love a good science fiction that explores ideas about what it means to be human, so this one definitely interests me.
Now this is an interesting series, and one of the ones that I am most looking forward to from the summer season. The story follows Sakura Ichigo, a 16-year-old girl who leads a charmed life, blessed with beauty, brains and health. In this world there is something called ‘Happiness Energy’ and Ichigo has an abundance of it, in fact she has too much, this putting the world out of balance, and in effect causing sadness in others. Ichigo becomes the target of a poverty god (Binbou-gami) called Momiji who has been tasked with removing Ichigo’s ability to absorb other peoples Happiness Energy and returning it to its rightful place.
I have read the manga that this is adapted from and love it tremendously; it is incredibly funny with a self-referential sense of humour. It is a series that does what Medaka Box utterly fails to do and more, parodying numerous other series from shounen, to shoujo, making fun of classic fight manga, along with ideas of levelling up and getting the perfect love life. It is parody as it should be, funny, witty, full of slapstick, and always willing to poke fun at itself, as much as it makes fun of other series, but at the same time there is another element to Binbou-gami Ga! It is a series that also focuses on the idea of happiness and the importance of friends, with Ichigo gathering up Happiness Energy, but being incredibly lonely in her life. It is a story that manages to bring together brilliant elements of comedy, parody, while at the same time maintaining a focus on the importance of friends and helping others. It is a series that I am really looking forward to, and if Sunrise manage to pull it off will be excellent.