So whilst we're half-way into the Summer 2012 Anime there have been some disappointments and some definite stand out's. For those of you who are still on the fence about picking up a new series, boy do we have some recommendations for you!
Joshiraku is a satirical comedy anime that follows the everyday life of a group of rakugoka girls. A group of girls discuss random things and usually reach an unusual or humorous conclusion that's far from the initial discussion topic.
I'm loving this series due to the fact that the dialog can get so off topic, that they've managed to make it hilarious. They intended for this to happen so you can enjoy how cute the girls look as they always put up this message on each episode so far. A slice of life kind of series with no actual plot needed. This series best reminds me of Lucky Star and Nichijou
Yuru Yuri ♪♪
The second season of Yuru Yuri, Yuru Yuri ♪♪ tells story of The Amusement Club foursome as they continue their unusual activities – though still not clearly defined, organised, or explained – in the illegally-occupied-by-the-club room of the former tea ceremony club while the student council continues to attempt to shut them down. Meanwhile Akari is no longer a dotted outline in the background. She is loved and adored by her classmates and teachers alike. This marks a new year for the ultra-popular Akari!
Almost halfway done with the second season and I'm already calling it to be even funnier than the first season. It practically had me in stitches from start to finish and it's one of the few anime that left me wanting more after an episode finished. The girls are extremely cute and while it does have a yuri genre, it's not as romantic or sexy as you think as it makes the series even more funny.
Wakana Sakai once took music lessons, but she withdrew from music after losing her mother. Konatsu Miyamoto is a positive-thinking girl who loves singing and spends time after school at the vocal music club. Sawa Okita is a spirited archery club member who dreams of becoming a horse rider. Taichi Tanaka is a chronically late badminton team member who lives with his college student sister. "Wien" just transfered into Wakana's class after 12 years abroad in Austria. Music brings Wakana, Konatsu, Sawa and the others together into an ensemble during their last summer in high school.
As expected from PA Works, the art style is fantastic. Anyone who has seen a previous anime made by these guys, may enjoy Tari Tari. The plot is interesting but what gives it life is the unique cast of characters. I admire their strong determination to keep their choir club running, all while still having their silly moments.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse
Since 1973, an invasion of aliens known as BETA upon Earth is driving human civilization into nearly collapse. Facing an enormous mass of enemy force, mankind has developed large humanoid arms called as Tactical Surface Fighters and deployed them to its defense lines through out the world. However, all those efforts could slow down defeats but could not stop BETA, and mankind is forced to abandon major area of the Eurasian Continent. For 30 years, mankind is bogged down in an endless war against BETA without any hopes of victory.
In 2001, the Imperial Japan faces difficulties in the development of a next-generation main Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF) as it defends the front lines of the Far East. The UN has proposed a joint development program between the Imperial Japan and the United States as a part of its international mutual development project of TSF, the Prominence Project.
Yui Takamura, a surface pilot of the Imperial Royal Guards of Japan, is given responsibility for the project and sets off to Alaska. Meanwhile, Yuya Bridges, also a surface pilot of the US Army, was heading to the same destination.
Yet they never knew that their encounter would change their destiny drastically.
This story with exciting human dramas and robot actions takes place in the development of a new Tactical Surface Fighters, the most important and effective weapons against BETA, at a crisis of human extinction.
What started off looking like an action packed, bloody and intense meccha series has been slowly degrading into some generic IS rubbish. Still Muv Luv displays some impressive visuals with smooth looking CG effects and excellent detail. Plus there are aliens, and there has lately been a lack of alien invasion anime. Be warned though, this is Japanese style alien invasion, which means that underpowered sword wielding robots can somehow become military trumpcards (I mean seriously, where are the nukes?), and super advanced extra terrestrials are all giant mutant creatures. To top it off, one of the main cast has the voice of my favourite Strike Witch, so yeah.
Note: This is the second season of Dog Days.
Three months after his adventure in Flonyard, Shinku gets summoned back once again, this time bringing Rebecca with him. His cousin and rival athlete Nanami, also is summoned to Flonyard as Galette's Hero. The First Princess of the Principality of Pastillage, Couver, leads her squirrel-like faction into the battlefield as well with the intention of scouting Rebecca to become their hero.
As a Japanese guy once said on SC, "screw you, we're Japanese, we like Dog Days." This is very true of both seasons of Dog Days. Many Japanese fans don't want a series too serious on its action and plot, but they don't want plain in-your-face fanservice either. Dog Days' is your weekly dose of light hearted cuteness that never really goes anywhere, but will leave you feeling all fuzzy on the inside after each episode. Damnit Milhi, you are too freaking adorable. This series is about a bunch of dog girls, cat girls and squirrel girls doing funny stuff. There's a plot somewhere in there too, but it's unimportant. Dog Days' is still my ichiban daisuki of this season.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!
Abiding by his father's will, Shougo was transferred into an academy where many young girls attend. It appears as though his younger sister (separated from him at birth) also attends this academy, and that she is trying to get closer to him without letting him know who she actually is. Problem is, Shougo seems to be popular with the other girls as well! Can Shougo "properly" reunite with his little sister and while making a girlfriend at the same time?!
Personally this is not a something I'm enjoying so far, and will likely drop it very soon, but there are others who don't mind particular themes. Imouto ga Iru is a harem, and like many recent harem series is unbalanced with femdom. The girls are also unpredictable in behaviour. I'm not sure if this is supposed to be part of their character, or just to keep their target audiences interested. In one moment one asks the MC not to peek while she showers, then comes out and rolls around nekkid. Another went nuts when her wardrobe malfunctioned, then shortly after cuddles the MC in bed topless. /JackieChanface
Oh yeah, the guy's supposed to be looking for his sister or something.
The story follows Arcana Famiglia, a self-appointed organization with mysterious powers that has protected a small Mediterranean island from pirates, foreign countries, and other threats. The only daughter of the family's Papa, Felicita, will be married to the next head of the family in two months — and the successor will be decided in a competition that Felicita herself will take part in.
At first glance from the summer charts, I thought that this would be an awesome show. It had the right elements -- supernatural powers, mafia setting, an Italian name -- and looked quite promising. I mean, if I enjoyed Reborn then naturally I would find this to be quite pleasing, right? Well, that's where I was wrong. The show is a reverse-harem meaning that there are a lot of bishie guys and one girl. I could live with that if it was interesting. Sadly, the episodes are quite dull and there was already filler in the second episode where they spent a whole episode chasing around a cat. If it was canon, that makes it worse. Hence I don't really like the show that much. However, if you haven't watched a reverse-harem before, this isn't as bad as I'm making it out to be and also features Noto Mamiko (Haruka @ Nogizaka Haruka, Kotomi @ Clannad, Hecate @ Shana), an awesome veteran seiyuu whose voice I find to be quite angelic.
I enjoyed season one of Dog Days because of its mixture of action (which is more like an athletic meet), light-hearted nature and cute characters. Some people find this series to be a bit boring because it lacks conflict, action, darkness, etc. but I'm quite alright with that since I'm just here to ogle the girls down. That's right, a dog/lion/fox is fine too. If you're looking for a fast-paced and riveting action series with a captivating story, you won't find it in Dog Days'. But if you found yourself liking the carefree attitude of season one or just Millhi, then you'll most definitely enjoy season two.
Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita
It has been several centuries since human population has declined. Food has become harder to find and what little sources the humans have are considered highly valuable. The most prosperous species on the Earth are "Fairies", 10 cm tall creatures with high intelligence and a great love for sweets. A nameless girl, the main character, became a UN arbitrator between the humans and the fairies and had returned to her hometown to help her grandfather. One day, the village is sent some strange products made by a company called FairyCo. Since the villagers are wary of using the products, the girl, her grandfather, and a nameless boy decide to go to the factory to find out about the mysterious products and who is behind making them.
I actually picked up this series yesterday and surely enough I was sceptical at first. The art style looked nice and colourful but so did Tsuritama and I didn't really like that. The plot sounded both interesting and weird so I gave it the benefit of the doubt and gave it a shot. The first and second episodes were admittedly quite boring. However, I was soon hooked onto the weirdness of the show, the out-of-character monologue by such an innocent looking pretty girl in what I assumed was a show geared at children, and the presence of the fairies and their dance they do in the opening song. The main character is quite hilarious and is voiced by another veteran Nakahara Mai (Nagisa @ Clannad, Rena @ Higurashi, Juvia @ FT) whose voice I haven't heard in a new series in a long time. If you like manzai comedy (except the protagonist does the tsukkomis in her head) mixed in with genuine weirdness then give this rather unnoticed show a try.
In the Warring States Period of ancient China (475-221 BCE), Shin and Hyou are war-orphans in the kingdom of Qin. They dream of one day proving themselves on the battlefield. One day, however, Hyou is taken to the palace by a minister. Winding up on the losing side of a power-struggle, Hyou manages to return to the village, barely alive. Shin then meets a boy who closely resembles Hyou, Ei Sei. For now he is the king of Qin; later he will become the emperor Shi Huangdi.
If you can't handle CG animation, give this one up. My first impression of this show was that the CG was very awkward and I didn't like it. However, you do get used to it after the extra long 45-50 minute premiere episode and eventually you forget about it. Story-wise, this was quite predictable and generic. I'm not really into shounen unless they have a good story and this didn't really have one. It's essentially the whole "I'm going to become the strongest on the battlefield" except in ancient China. If you like these kinds of shows, or are just sick of feudal Japan and would like to try something different, Kingdom may be what you're looking for if you can get over the occasional CG animation.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate follows the protagonist Yuuki Oojima, who attends Private Takafuji Academy, a large school with over 6,000 students. Yuuki is a member of the food research club, along with seven others, including his childhood friend Chisato Sumiyoshi. The members leisurely spend their time in the club not doing much activities. When the election of the next student council president comes up, the front runner Satsuki Shinonome proposes that clubs that have no merit should be sorted out and abolished. The food research club seeks advice from the current student council president Yakumo Mori, who suggests Yuuki run in the election as an opposing candidate. Yuuki learns about the issues facing the school and decides to run in the election.
I'm not one who is keen for generic harems, but I did like the fact that the scenario this time included a massive school with over 6000 students. They have all the character archetypes here: a protagonist who lives alone in an apartment, the tsundere childhood friend who lives next door, the silent girl who only repeats her catchphrase, the well-endowed mature wife material and the sleek black hair girl who vies for the position of best heroine. There isn't much behind this series besides great opening themes but I hear the romance at the end of the main heroine is quite touching -- though that might not say much for you since this was adapted off an eroge. It's a pretty decent watch if you have like harems, have time to kill or need to procrastinate.
The five members of the Cultural Study group that meets in class 401 have spent a lot of time wondering what it would be like to be in someone else's shoes. But they're about to learn that there's a huge difference between thinking about something and literally BEING in someone else's shoes! Because that's exactly what happens when, suddenly and inexplicably, they each find themselves inside the body of the girl (or boy) next door!
With a very interesting plot, appealing characters and an underlying atmosphere of foreboding mystery, it's not hard to see why this is one of the top picks of the season. Kokoro Connect is an intriguing show that follows a club whose members all have some sort of trauma or personality problem (maybe even Aoki too) which is made even more interesting when they randomly undergo personality swaps one day. Enter Heartseed/Balloon Vine, a mysterious enigma who is able to freely control the body-swapping phenomenon of the members for his or her own personal entertainment/research purposes. It may start off a little slow for some people but from what I can see through the intense previews and of course the much talked about episode 5, Kokoro Connect definitely has the potential to become one of the best shows this season. I would recommend people to watch this one.
Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru!
This is another rather generic harem series but for like KoiChoco, it's a relatively decent show to watch if you're bored or just need something to watch while you're waiting for SAO or something to come out. With a plot that once again makes us question Japan's true tsundere feelings on incest, NakaImo is a series where the protagonist also lives alone in an apartment and has several girls waiting to assault him in bed. There's the tsundere childhood friend, another childhood friend, another tsundere school council member, another school council member, and a flat chest with glasses. I see there's variation in this one. I'd recommend this just for the fan service, really.
Hazuki may be near-sighted, but he knows true beauty when he sees it and the delicate form of flower shop owner Rokka draws him in like a bee to honey. So, hoping to cultivate a relationship between them, Hazuki takes a part time job at her shop, only to discover two huge thorns preventing the nurturing of any romance. The first, the fact that Rokka is still grieving for her late husband Shimao, would be enough to snip most men's ardor short, but it's the second that really threatens to make Hazuki's forlorn hopes wilt. Because while Shimao is most definitely deceased, he hasn't yet departed and his spirit is still living in Rokka's apartment! Except only Hazuki can see him, which leads to a very strange romantic triangle indeed. Are Hazuki's chances with Rokka as dead as the man who still lives in her house? Or can he somehow make love blossom even though there's an interloper pushing up the daisies between them?
This is probably the hidden gem of the season for me. As a josei and romance lover, Natsuyuki Rendezvous is an awesome show that is overshadowed by fans of SAO and Kokoro Connect. As Hazuki tries to advance and convey his unrequited love to his manager, he is consistently foiled by the ghost of her ex-husband. The plot combines elements of supernatural with romance -- something rarely done in the realistic genre of josei -- and pulls it off very well in my opinion. The slow-paced nature of the show is something I enjoy as the simple things that Hazuki does to try and win over Rokka is about as realistic as love gets in life. The clashing personalities of Hazuki and Shimao generate some pretty funny moments and to see Rokka on her emotional journey to get over her ex-husband and dare to love again will be an interesting (and hopefully romantic) one. I wouldn't recommend this to most people unless you like this genre.
Sword Art Online
In the year 2022, the Virtual reality Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game (VRMMORPG) Sword Art Online (SAO) is released. With the Nerve Gear, a VR Helmet that stimulates the user's five senses via their brain, players can experience and control their in-game characters with their minds. But an unexpected event occurs on November 6, 2022 when Akihiko Kayaba, the creator of SAO, prevents the players from logging out. Akihiko issues them a challenge; if they wish to be free and log out of the game, they must reached the 100th floor of the game's tower and defeat the final boss. However, should their in-game characters die in the game, so will their bodies in the real world. As the game's 10,000 players try to accept their new deadly predicament, Kirito, a skilled player who tested the beta version of the game, is determined to reach the 100th floor and be free. Along with Asuna, his partner and love interest, and their friends, Kirito and his allies will face many obstacles and discovers the true purpose of SAO. As their adventure continues, they will also participate in other VRMMO games as well.
Like with Madoka and Guilty Crown, this show is the most anticipated one of the season but not without reason, of course. SAO is a show that is fictional, yet shows off some realistic aspects of MMORPGs -- like the fact that most guys play with female avatars (guilty as charged). It's awesome to see an anime about online so this already captures the heart of half the internet, but there's also the fact that the protagonist isn't spineless and that there is an elegant and beautiful heroine that is as deadly as she is good looking. As a light novel reader of this series, SAO resounded with me not only because of the online game aspect, but also because I loved the Kirito x Asuna pairing and the chemistry of their relationship. There's no playing hard to get and it's genuine love here that is forged through battles, trust and companionship. I'll try not to spoil anymore so I'll just say that I'd definitely recommend SAO to people, especially since it has an awesome opening theme by LiSA.