And we’re off! I just watched Illya 2wei ep 1 so I’ve seen 1-2 eps of all eight summer shows I intend to try.
1. Futsuu no Joshikousei ga Locodol Yattemita [▲0▼] – 2 eps, ?/10 – [POTENTIAL IMPORT] Talk about a huge surprise. This is rather changing how I thought this season would play out! I had very low expectations for this but it started with a surprisingly good first episode (which might have this at #4 behind Free) that transitioned into a spectacular second episode.
With episode two, Yukari and Nanako have transitioned into possibly my favorite character dynamic: Yukari as the composed and experienced senpai pairs up with Nanako the nervous newbie. Even in very minor scenes like this, it really comes through. Nanako thinks Yukari is invincible, but learns that Yukari is a girl with worries just like her, and that realization should both deepen their bond and put them on more eqaual footing. It gives Nanako confidence and a better understanding of Yukari, and humanizes Yukari quite a lot. Add in Yukari being a “kind, down to earth ojou-sama” (just about my favorite archetype, hello Mugi) and this show is more than I could have ever hoped for. As you might expect, this makes me think of my favorite premises for Miku and Luka stories, so that’s a positive mental connection if ever there were one.
There are ways the show could go off the rails, but as long as it stays focused on Yukari and Nanako’s developing partnership (aaand maybe some of this? Not that I should get my hopes up) it could easily hold on to top 3. Given how perfect episode two was, I’m really confident it’ll hold strong.
Also best eyecatches and screen transitions of the season.
2. Hanayamata [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – [POTENTIAL IMPORT] The episode was gorgeous to look at, with a lot of cute character movements and the always very important funny faces. The vibrant, eye-catching colors from Ishizuka’s recent No Game No Life are here, but they’re used better in my opinion. They accent rather than overpower scenes.
The content is obviously very yuri-ship friendly, hell Yaya describes Hana’s pursuit of Naru as “courting” and other similar things. Girls dancing together in the moonlight, blushing every 3 seconds, gazing in wonder at each other – it knows exactly what it’s doing.
So production is top notch and execution is as fantastic as expected from the staff, so my expectations for this are sky high. If Locodol hadn’t aired that second episode already this would be #1, and it’s still my best guess to take #1 of the season in the end.
3. Yama no Susume Season 2 [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – [PLANNED IMPORTD] I have such a hard time getting over how polished the character art is in this show. (Er it’s not just bathing shots, those just happened to be really good examples!) In that respect it’s one of my favorite series to look at, and I felt the same way when it was a much shorter short. If they’re keeping up and even enhancing that level of art over ~8x the runtime, this show’s potential is immeasurable. Two cour of this!
Given it’s 2 cour x 15 min eps now, I’m going to keep this in the full-series list, not shorts.
4. Free! Eternal Summer [▲0▼] – 2 eps, ?/10 – [PLANNED IMPORT] One of my favorite things about this season so far is Rin. I liked Rin in season one even if he wasn’t my favorite, but he is rapidly challenging Makoto as best male character in the cast. Rin’s toned down the angst and is a pretty well-adjusted dude at this point, and it’s really satisfying to watch because he still keeps enough of an edge to be damned entertaining. Having him take over the Samezuka club is the natural but also best turn of events, because it’s leafing And of course there’s Gou, but we all know how impossibly good she is. Why are the Matsuoka siblings so perfect?
The only handicap this has against Locodol, Hanayamata, and YamaSusu is that it’s tough for even the best executed shows to beat cute girls, so 4th might be as high as it rises. Nothing wrong with that though, it’s super friggin’ good, not just for what it is but by really any measure.
The production quality is still great too, but well, of course it is. I think my only complaint is that the CGI water started looking a little bit too CGI-y at times, but the kick-ass 2D swimming animation is the real star there.
Most important question tho – When are we getting our onigiri-tan spinoff, KyoAni?
5. Sabagebu! [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – Favorite part of the first episode was how self-aware and willing to break the fourth wall it was. Momoka being a vindictive demon was pretty much the best thing. When she started getting bullied I rolled my eyes a bit, hoping it’d get over with soon… and they dealt with it in really the most amusing way possible.
6. Barakamon [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – Massively charming right off the bat! Naru is the centerpiece of the show obviously, and there have been a lot of comparisons to Yotsubato! for a reason. That said I think Yotsubato! is more about watching Yotsuba discover the world around her, while Barakamon looks like the story of how Naru helps Seishuu discover the world he’s been ignoring. Oh and it’s nice to have the male protagonist be an adult with a job for once. Barakamon ought to make for some delightfully iyashikei Saturday nights.
I’ll be watching episode 2 in a little bit!
7. Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei! [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – I was really hesitant about this show after season one ended up being a spectacular core of a show held back by some obnoxious additions (namely some bad CGI, awkward handling of Miyu as a yandere near the end, and that stupid onii-chan bullshit). This episode pulls a quick revisit of the onii-chan bullshit as well as continuing to mar really good 2D animation with badly integrated CGI effects/props. But the rest of the episode was pretty fantastic! Illya and Miyu’s four friends nearly stole the episode until we got basically the best henshin sequence ever (just nabbing hitokiri’s album there so I don’t have to cap it all). The subs are off after the first two lins so it’s not immediately apparent, but in the background of the entire henshin sequence is Rin and Luvia screaming as they drown in a bog, and it’s stupidly hilarious.
I also wasn’t expecting this to be the deal with Kuro, so this will be interesting. Hopefully Miyu just sees this as an opportunity for double the love rather than a rivalry!
8. Momokyun Sword [▲0▼] – 1 eps, ?/10 – This is the one show on my list I figured might not survive episode one, but what do you know it was… actually pretty okay? Not especially good, but totally watchable, it turns out. I do have a feeling I won’t make it to the end, only because the presentation and story are pretty generic and the fanservice is incredibly uninspired and boring in this early-00’s sort of way. The whole show feels like a throwback, as if it were meant to be produced a decade and a half ago.
Other than the ongoing Mahou Shoujo Taisen from Spring, not actually watching any shorts this season.
3+ Cour Series
1. Fairy Tail – 14 eps
2. Hunter x Hunter – 136 eps
3. Jojo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders – 14 eps
Current 2014 Top 5
1. Sakura Trick
2. Akuma no Riddle
3. Saki Zenkoku-hen
4. Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
5. No Game No Life
It’ll be a good while before any Summer shows are far enough along to make the list. Maybe I’ll expand it to a 10 by the end of the season.