Spring 2011 turned out to be a pretty good season when it was all said and done – certainly better than I thought it would be about a week in. It was a late bloomer, and I don’t hold in the esteem that some do – comparing it to behemoths like Spring ’07 – but it’s good.
As for Summer, it’s traditionally a weak season for anime so I think it needs to be viewed in that context. Compared to past Summer seasons 2011 looks pretty good at first glance – a decent number of total series, and quite a few that interest me personally. The most striking thing for me is the number of sequels – more than any summer that I can remember. Sequels are always a part of any anime season but this summer is loaded with them – including my most anticipated show of the season.
Without further ado, here’s my preview list. Obviously this is not comprehensive – just the shows that are on my radar. As always, there will be shows I end up blogging that weren’t even on my initial lists – and I confess, I hope I end up covering less than the 14(!) I’m doing this Spring, not including Doctor Who and Game of Thrones.
Sacred Seven – Sunrise
Shrouded in secrecy is this new school mecha series from Sunrise, Not much to go on, but any Sunrise show is worth checking out on principle.
Kami-sama no Memou-chou – J.C. Staff
Shades of Gosick in the premise – boy acts as assistant to beautiful shut-in girl who solves crimes. It’s a modern setting this time and JC Staff instead of BONES. Nothing exceptional in the staff list, but the premise merits a look.
Mawaru Penguin Drum – Brains Base
Possibly the most mysterious series of the Summer. Even the previews don’t tell us much, but a couple of important facts – first, Brains Base has proved an outstanding studio of late. Most important, it’s directed by Kunihiki Ikuhara, director of Revolutionary Girl Utena and Sailor Moon. Neither are all-time favorites for me, but a director responsible for series that influential merits attention whenever he re-enters the scene. Ignore this one at your own risk.
Dantalian no Shoka – Gainax
Though “Panty-Stocking” did nothing for me whatsoever, Gainax always gets a free pass from me and probably always will. This one might just have hooked me anyway – young man inherits a mansion with a mysterious library in the basement with a demonic connection. Less exciting is that this is based on a LN series by the author of the mediocre Asura Cryin‘. Unknown Yutaka Uemura is at the helm.
Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu Ni! – Silver Link
A no-brainer. I loved the first season of “Baka-test” – I love the source novels, too. SHAFT vet Shin Oonuma (who I prefer to Shinbou) is back as director. Great character designs, bizarre and irreverent sense of humor, and memorable characters. And then there’s Hideyoshi. How can you not love Hideyoshi? And how can that not make you a little uncomfortable…
R-15 – AIC
How can you not love a series about a teenaged porn writer, seriously? Unless your name is Ishihara, anyway. Unfortunately director Munenori Nawa’s most notable work is the execrable Kiss x Sis.
Itsuka Tenma no Kuro-Usagi – ZEXCS
Yet another LN adaptation, yet another human boy/girl vampire story. I’m not all that excited about ZEXCS or director Takashi Yamamoto, but this looks just interesting enough to give a peek.
Nurarihyon no Mago Sennen Makyou – DEEN
I enjoyed the first season, though the pacing was off and the adaptation never hit full stride. Readers of the Jump manga tell me the best part of the story is yet to come, so hopefully this season will pick up the pace.
Ikoku Meiro no Croisee – Satelight
Based on Gosick illustrator Takeda Hinata’s manga. Lots to love here – setting (Paris in the 19th Century), Hinata’s art, and director Kenji Yasuda. He was involved with Oh! Edo Rocket and directed Shugo Chara and the masterpiece Noein. This looks like a keeper.
No. 6 – BONES
It’s NoitaminA, home of the best anime track record of the last few years. It’s BONES. Kenji Nagasaki gets his first time in the big chair. Based on a sci-fi novel set in a dystopian future, supposedly with strong shounen-ai elements. Looks like NoitaminA’s sci-fi/edgy counterpart to the sentimental Usagi Drop – keeping up the usual pattern of late. One of my most anticipated series of the season.
Blood-C – Production I.G.
I.G. finally gets back in the game with a big, lavish production – though with character designs and story from CLAMP it’s oodles of noodles. Industry heavyweight Tsutomu Mizushima brings a steady hand to the big chair, with Blood+ director Jun’ichi Fujisaku on board to provide franchise continuity. Way, way too important to ignore – though how this melange of talents, studios and styles will meld is anyone’s guess.
Usagi Drop – Production I.G.
I.G. – and NoitaminA’s – other summer show. Animation looks like it’s from the Kimi ni Todoke team. Yumi Unita’s manga is a real powerhouse – live-action and manga sequel also coming soon, it represents a rare entry for Josei in TV animation. It’s the story of a young bachelor raising his grandfather’s illegitimate little daughter. Again, far too important to overlook given the elements involved here. I don’t know the manga, but it appears to be much beloved – and maybe if it succeeds, we might see the sublime Flat adapted as well.
Kamisama Dolls – Brain’s Base
This is my pick for sleeper of the season. Quality-machine Brain’s Base producing, and the director is Seij Kishi, who has shown a dash of style and a real gift for humor. A familiar premise – young man moves back from Tokyo to the small town he’s from – with supernatural elements.
Natsume Yuujinchou San – Brain’s Base
Last and far from least, the very busy Brain’s Base returns with this third season of Natsume Yuujinchou. This is easily my top pick of the summer – I adore the first two seasons of this emotional, gripping and heartwarming manga adaptation. My Nyanko-Sensei plushie will be proudly atop my TV for this one. Fortunately there should be plenty of manga material to power a full cour, though the anime original material for this adaptation has been excellent. One of my very favorite directors – the wonderful and versatile Takahiro Omori – is back in charge, and the full cast returns. I’m absolutely stoked for this one.
On the movie and OVA front, it should be a pretty busy Summer (as usual). Kore wa Zombie, Fairy Tail, Ao no Exorcist and Higurashi all weigh in with OVAs – and those are just the ones from series I watch and plan to blog. We also get Negima, FMA and Sora no Otoshimono films on the big screen. Hopefully Shinbo and SHAFT’s Negima film is a precursor of a new full-length TV adaptation, which would be a much-deserved reward for the patience of the die-hard fans.