Summer 2014 Season Preview

Barakamon Sailor Dandy Ghoul
Terror Aldnoah Glasslip Ano Natsu

Summer 2013 made history, and for the right reasons.  Can 2014 follow suit?

By the time Summer 2014 begins, anime’s year will be half-over.  And with a few weeks left in Spring, it’s looking like we’re on track for a pretty mediocre year.  I’d call 2013 roughly average (2012 was considerably better) and right now, I think 2014 is running behind last year’s pace.  Winter was downright awful and Spring has been decent, but much is expected of Spring – normally (though not in 2013) it’s the best season of the anime year.  If not for a glorious revival in sports series anime would be in the serious doldrums at the moment.

Flash back to last June.  Looking ahead to that Summer, it looked decent by summer standards, but certainly not as good as it turned out to be.  In fact last year Summer was the best season despite its usual smaller volume, which is the first time in my memory that’s ever happened.  And thank goodness, too, because it turned what would have been a brutal year with an average summer into a respectable one.  The pressure is on 2014 to buck history again, but we may be pressing our luck asking that from two summers in a row.  On balance things look pretty good by Summer’s usual standard.

As usual it’s a shorter list of total shows, and a shorter list of ones that made this preview – off about a third from Spring in both cases.  Quality trumps quantity every time, though of course less shows means less chances for breakouts (which is why 2013 was so unusual).  As I did last year I see several shows that look genuinely interesting, though there’s no Mushishi or Baby Steps that jumps out as clearly above the pack.  Trends?  At a glance there seems to be a stronger Seinen influence than normal, especially for summer.  There’s also a strengthening of the trend towards more shows specifically targeting female otaku – something you can expect to see more and more of, given the industry’s invariable focus on whatever they see as the latest commercial craze and how long it takes production cycles to fully reflect it.  And while several sports series do continue, there’s really nothing new in that genre – while production committee will continue to search for the next KuroBas or Free, the overall sports wave may have crested (if it was ever more than mere chance).

There are some big names on the docket – no less than two series from Watanabe Shinichirou, a new original from Urobuchi Gen, and an interesting and odd choice for Kasai Kenichi.  It should be a strong season in terms of disc sales, though largely due to shows (SAO II, Monogatari, Persona 4, Kantai Collection) that won’t be on my radar.  Kuroshitsuji returns with a series that should get the anime back on-track with canon, and one of the biggest names in manga and anime history marks its 20th anniversary with a reboot.  In terms of source material it’s pretty evenly balanced between manga and LNs, with games being well-represented as well, and if you include sequels we almost reach double-digits in original series, which while no guarantor or quality is probably a positive development.

As always, please vote for your most anticipated series in the sidebar poll!

With that, to the previews:

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal – Toei
Director: Sakai Munehisa
Writer: Kobayashi Yuji
Schedule: Saturday 19:00, Niconico Douga – Premières 7/05/14
Episodes: 26


First Look: It certainly isn’t every day that one of the most popular and influential properties in manga/anime history – one so pervasive it’s even modestly famous in the West – gets a reboot.  So while Biscuit Krueger’s Takeuchi Naoko’s manga and subsequent adaptations aren’t among my personal favorites, they’re certainly very important – it’s one of the most-imitated series ever.  This 26 episode ONA has been simmering for years, but all signs finally point to “yes”, and it promises to be more faithful to the manga than the earlier anime (supposedly).  I don’t much care about that as long as it’s entertaining.  It’s not among my most-anticipated series of the year, but I’ll certainly be following it with much interest.

Jinsei – Feel
Kawaguchi Keiichirou
Writer:Arakawa Naruhisa
Schedule: Friday, Time TBA, Tokyo MX – Premières 7/06/2014
Episodes: 13


First Look: Definitely a flyer for me,  but this generic-looking LN adaptation has enough potential to merit a look.  Kawaguchi (Minami-ke Tadaima) and Arakawa are a very solid writer-director team.  A bunch of students at the school paper answering requests from readers?  It could be as derivative as that sounds, but I have at least a minor hunch that Jinsei could be more clever and witty than it first appears.  Definitely not in the upper-tier expectations-wise, but who knows, maybe this show will surprise me.

Space Dandy 2 – BONES                    
Director: Watanabe Shinichirou/Natsume Shingo
Writer: Various
Schedule:  TBA, Tokyo MX – Premières 7/2014
Episodes: 13


First Look: The second season of Space Dandy approaches with much less fanfare and consternation than the first.  I think that 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.  It also began to pay off some of the seeds it planted early in the series, 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 visually, 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.

Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus – A-1 Pictures
Director: Abe Noriyuki
Writer: Yoshino Hiroyuki
Schedule: Thursday, 26:19, MBS – Premières 7/10/14
Episodes: 10


First Look: After an Okada Mari anime-original season which lost the essence of Kuroshitsuji in an ocean of forced feminization and fetishism, we’re back to the manga with “Book of Circus”.  Will this series simply pretend that one never happened?  Presumably – and I won’t complain if you won’t.

For this sequel we have a “new” director in Abe Noriyuki, though as the man behind such chestnuts as Bleach and the underrated Tantei Gauken Q he’s definitely not new to anime.  And of course, Okada is out – though the fact that Yoshino Hiroyuki is in hardly inspires confidence.  If he sticks to the source material (see Magi S2) Yoshino can be adequate, so hopefully he does so here – this is in my view the best part of the manga.  It’s dark, darkly funny and no holds barred.  This series definitely isn’t to everyone’s tastes (it isn’t even always to my tastes) but at its best Black Butler delivers a ton of style, sharp wit and genuinely disturbing horror.  This one should be quite good if Yoshino doesn’t screw it up.

Aldnoah.Zero  – A-1 Pictures/TROYCA
Director: Aoki Ei
Writer: Takayama Katsuhiko
Schedule: TBA, Tokyo MX – Premieres 7/2014
Episodes: 24


First Look: The name you don’t see on the masthead is Urobuchi Gen, but that’s the one everyone recognizes in this somewhat mysterious anime original series.  Gen created the concept for Aldnoah.Zero but he’s not handling scripts, which should be an interesting thing to watch play out.  In Aoki Ei we have an excellent and versatile director, and the character designs (which I love) are from Shimura Takako, the mangaka behind Hourou Musuko (the adaptation of which Aoki-sensei directed) so this show will likely be as good as the writing behind it. 

We don’t know a whole lot beyond the tagline, “Let justice be done.  Though the heavens fall.”  It seems to be an alternative history where mankind went to war with Martians, there’s definitely a mecha element and the setting seems to be a military school.  Given Urobutcher’s involvement a certain amount of despair seems inevitable, but he seems to show in Suisei no Gargantia that he was looking to move past that as a universal constant (which I think is a good thing), though whether that was a one-off or a trend Aldnoah.Zero will go a long way towards revealing.

Zankyou no Terror – MAPPA
Director: Watanabe Shinchirou
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Thursday, Time TBA, Fuji TV – Premieres 7/10/2014
Episodes: 11

Preview: Preview 2:

First Look: It seems odd to think that Watanabe Shinichirou basically did no TV in the decade before Sakamichi no Apollon, and now he has two series on one season.  Here he reunites with MAPPA and NoitaminA for another interesting-looking original anime.  We know he’s re-teaming with longtime collaborator Kanno Youko for music, but crucially (given that this is an original) not who’s handling series composition.  Might be Watanabe himself, but I’d bet against that.

As with Aldnoah.Zero we don’t have a lot of detail – a tagline (“Pull the trigger on the world”) and a blurb about a shocking terrorist attack in Tokyo perpetrated by two teenaged boys.  These are children that “shouldn’t exist”, and together they make up Sphinx, which seems destined to trigger something big with their terror campaign.  Based on that, who knows if this is going to be any good – but bloodlines, bloodlines, bloodlines.  MAPPA is a beacon of art for art’s sake and Watanabe is Watanabe, so it’s hard not to be excited about the potential of Terror in Tokyo.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun – Dogakobo
Director: Yamazaki Mitsue
Writer:Nakamura Yoshiko
Schedule: Sunday, 25:05, TV Tokyo – Premieres 7/06/2014
Episodes: 13


First Look: Yeah, okay, it’s yet another school romcom.  There’s barely enough here to scrape into the preview, but there is enough.  It’s a manga rather than a LN adaptation, pretty decent director (one of the few women getting regular directing work), and a terrific cast – Nakahara Mai, Mamoru Miyano and both Daisuke and Yuuki Ono (why do they always seem to travel in pairs?) mainly.  The hook here is that the object of the main character’s affections is a shoujo mangaka – and the fact that the POV character is a girl despite the fact that this isn’t published in a shoujo magazine (it’s released in Gangan Online).  In fact it seems refreshingly demographic-label free, which leads me to hope it may offer at least an unusual take on the high school romance angle.

Glasslip – P.A. Works
Director: Nishimura Junjii
Writer: Nishimura Junji/Sato Rika
Schedule: Thursday, 23:30, Tokyo MX – Premieres 7/03/2014
Episodes: 13


First Look: Another original from P.A. Works, Glasslip certainly has the classic look of the studio suffusing it.  The characters are very cute, the backgrounds lush, and wistful youth is everywhere.  We don’t know a whole lot about the story apart from that it focuses on six teens in Fukui (which lead to interesting dialects, at least) one of whom dreams of being a glass artisan.  I’m a fairly big fan of PAW and Nishimura-sensei directed arguably their best work, True Tears, but I haven’t been a huge fan of what he’s done since.  This one looks a bit too self-aware to me – as if the studio is trying too hard to be what the stereotypical public impression of it demands.  But with an original series there’s obviously not much to go on until we see Glasslip in action, and as a P.A. Works show alone it raises my interest level above the norm.

Love Stage
Love Stage!! – J.C. Staff
Director: Kasai Kenichi
Writer: Yokote Michiko
Schedule: Wednesday, 25:05, Tokyo MX – Premieres 7/05/2014
Episodes: 10


First Look: There’s one main reason I’m previewing this and one alone – Kenichi Kasai.  Clearly I’m not the intended audience for Love Stage!!, which looks like an old-school shounen ai show (if you’re too young to remember that term, think “shoujo romance except with a male-male pairing”), but Kasai-sensei is simply one of the very best directors in TV anime and that’s enough to get me on-board for an episode at least.  Yokote Michiko is also an excellent adapter, and the general consensus seems to be that the manga is at least a well-written example of what it is.

Majimoji Rurumo – J.C. Staff
Director: Sakurai Chikara
Writer: Kunisawa Mariko
Schedule: TBA – Premieres 7/2014
Episodes: TBA


First Look: I don’t think there’s any question that this somewhat obscure manga is getting an adaptation strictly due to the much-deserved success of mangaka Watanabe Wataru’s next series, Yowamushi Pedal.  That’s becomes a genuine cross-demographic (somewhat) hit, but Majimoji Rurumo ended several years ago and doesn’t seem likely to repeat that level of success, though it will certainly bridge the gap between seasons of Yowapeda nicely.

Thematically this certainly sounds quite a different beast from Yowapeda.  It’s the story of a student known as “the most hentai guy at school” who’s a bit of a social pariah.  Playing around with a book on summoning witches as a lark he ends up summoning a real one, and hilarity (hopefully) ensues (though with a bit of a dark side, too).  My take on the manga?  It’s not as polished and sincere as Yowamushi Pedal – which is hardly a surprise – but it does contain a good amount of Watanabe-sensei’s characteristic wit and quirky sensibility.

Au Haru
Ao Haru Ride – Production I.G.
Director: Yoshimura Ai
Writer: Konparu Tomoko
Schedule: Friday, 24:00, Tokyo MX – Premières 7/07/2014
Episodes: 12


First Look: Ao Haru Ride is this season’s token shoujo romance, and the manga it’s based on seems to be quite highly regarded.  The plot seems pretty grounded – a girl who was ostracized by the girls in middle school because she was too popular with the boys decides to “reset” herself when she gets to high school by acting as tomboyish as possible.  But then she meets the object of her unrequited love from middle school, except he’s now got a new name and tells her he feels now the way she did then.

Production I.G. has a new director on this one, though writer Konparu is highly experienced adapting shoujo (she did series composition on Kimi ni Todoke) and it’s very, very rare for I.G. to ever produce anything that’s not at least decent.  I could have lived without Kaji Yuuki as the male lead, but this might be the sort of role where he’s tolerable and at least he doesn’t seem to be in every other show this season.  Ao Haru Ride seems a pretty safe bet to be solidly watchable at worst, and there’s the possibility it could be better – though of course there’s the specter of another one-cour adaptation of a long (10 volumes and counting) shoujo manga to worry about.

Barakamon – Kinema Citrus
Director: Tachibana Masaka
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Wednesday, 26:20, Nippon TV – Premieres 7/05/14
Episodes: 12


First Look: 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 – let’s just pretend Black Bullet never happened) 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 FMA 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 off-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. 

GhoulTokyo Ghoul – Studio Pierrot
Director: Morita Shuhei
Writer: Miksasano Chuuji
Schedule: Monday, 24:00, Tokyo MX – Premieres 7/03/2014
Episodes: TBA


First Look: 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 that 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.

Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen – Xebec
Director: Ootsuki Atsushi
Writer: Sato Tatsuo      
Schedule: Monday, 23:00, Tokyo MX – Premières 7/03/14
Episodes: 24


First Look: We don’t have  whole lot to go on yet with this original series, apart from the fact that it’s definitely a mecha series that has an old-school look and feel to it.  Director Ootsuki-sensei is mostly connected with soft ecchi stuff like ToLoveRu and Kanokon, but the big name here is Sato Tatsuo, who’s a big name in science-fiction anime and has been for a long time – he’s written and directed prominent series both old (Uchuu no Stellvia) and new (Mouretsu Pirates).  I find Sato’s record a bit of a mixed bag, but he’s penned some good stuff when he’s on, and while Xebec is hardly a bastion of quality this sort of series is typically right in their strike zone.

Rail Wars
Rail Wars! – Passione!             
Director: Sueda Yoshifumi        
Writer: Suzuki Masashi
Schedule: TBA, TBS – Premieres 7/2014
Episodes: TBA


First Look: This LN adaptation is straight-up flyer material, but what the hell – I like trains.  It’s a small studio with an undistinguished director and writer, and the always worrying prospect of Fukuyama Jun as a teenager.  Plus, there’s been a rather ugly social media pissing contest between the LN writer and the anime staff – never a good sign about the people involved.  I sort of like the idea of a story, though, where the evildoers are evil because they want to privatize the national railways (this is an alternate universe story, as that actually happened in Japan decades ago).  Frankly I’m not expecting much, but surprises do happen.

Will Definitely Blog: Space Dandy 2, Zankyou no Terror, Barakamon, Tokyo Ghoul.  Yeah, that’s a pretty short list of “definites”, but there are more shows than usual that just barely miss the cutoff so I’m confident several more are going to stick..

Sleeper Candidates: Gekkan Shoujo Nozoki-kun, Majimoji Ruromo, Jinsei

Busters Mushibugyou Noragami

OVA/Movie: It’s not a huge crop of OVAs this season, but the quality level seems pretty high.  Among the candidates:

Little Busters EX! (OVA) – 6/25/2014, 7/30/2014: Episodes 6 and 7 of the “Ecstasy” adaptation.  “Kud Wafter” announcement when?

Noragami (OAD) – 7/17/2014: Huzzah for another Noragami OAD as we await a possible sequel announcement.  This one will adapt the “popular flower-viewing arc”, according to the tagline.

Mushibugyou (OVA) – 7/18/2014: One of the real underrated shows of 2013, Mushibugyou was a rock-solid straight-up shounen adaptation with a fantastic cast and soundtrack.  This OVA is set in Edo, where Jinbei takes a boy named Torakichi under his wing and trains him in the way of the samurai.

Ano Natsu de Matteru (OVA) – TBA: This is definitely the headline of the OVA calendar for me.  Ano Natsu cracked my Top 10 list in a very strong 2012, giving us one of the best romantic comedies of recent vintage.  Nagai Tatsuyuki (the best romcom director in anime) and Kuroda Yousuke are back for this special, which will be released with the Blu-ray box set.  Nothing is known about the plot yet, but I’m happy to have whatever Ano Natsu I can get – the only disappointment is that the big news ended up being an OVA rather than a new season.

Uchuu Marnie ARISE

Theatrical: Summer is usually loaded with big-name theatrical anime, but it’s a quieter docket than usual this year.

Ghost in the Shell ARISE – border:3 Ghost Tears – 6/28/2014: The ARISE franchise continues its endless assault on theaters.

Omoide no Marnie – 7/19/2014: The first big-screen release of the post Miyazaki Hayao/Takahata Isao era at Studio Ghibli is an adaptation of English writer Joan G. Robinson’s novel, a ghost story (wistful rather than scary) set in an English country house.  Karigurashi no Arrietty director Yonebayashi Hiromasa returns here, and he arguably represents the best candidate of this generation to step up as a frontline director (we’ll know more about Miyazaki Goro’s prospects after Sanzoku no Musume Rounya airs this fall) based on the excellent Arrietty.

Uchuu Kyoudai: Number Zero – 8/9/2014: Mangaka Koyama Chuuya put his blockbuster manga on hiatus to write the screenplay for this prequel, which will focus on “the origin of the dream”.  There may be some time spent on the Nanba brothers’ childhood, but there’s seemingly also a focus on the Jay brothers, and on the tragedy that claimed the life of Brian.  The TV series certainly had some peaks and valleys, but at its best was one of the most emotionally complex and powerful anime of recent years, one that really looks at the meaning of life.  It’s a powerhouse in Japan, with high-grossing live-action films, strong TV ratings and huge manga sales figures, but a theatrical anime is surely the Holy Grail for fans of the series.  This film should be a good one, and it seems certain that the anime will return to television in a couple of years.



  1. t

    Sword Art Online is back? Ugh. I hope this season people stop holding it up as the best thing ever. Just… enjoying it is fine but it does have flaws that put some of us off and that should be OK.

  2. S

    The GGO arc is probably one of the better ones in the SAO series, also we get to have a nice trap so it should be alot better than that ghastly 2nd arc of last season.

    Of course it still has it's OP MC and his ever building harem … but it should be OK

  3. H

    For Nozaki-kun it's really not like a typical romcom, the original manga is a 4koma actually and I laughed myself silly one night reading through it since the more familiar you are with traditional shojo tropes the more you'll enjoy it. And as for being unusual with having a female lead, while I'm not that familiar with Gangan Online that seems to be one of Square Enix's magazines and some of their other magazines, like Monthly GFantasy, fall into that weird "shonen but for girls" category, Black Butler actually runs in GFantasy and you can't really argue that that series is straight up aimed at guys anyway.

  4. Yes, Kuroshitsuji is obviously aimed primarily at women but it's technically shounen. And that demographic nebulosity is one of the things that appeals to me about Nozaki-kun.

  5. w

    Looked into Gangan Online. It seems to be a pretty high quality unconventional magazine in general. Nozaki-san and Barakamon look good, it also did Nichibros and Watamote. It's also doing Majo no Shinzou, which is one of my favorite current manga. I wonder if it being free to read lends itself to greater creative freedom.

  6. B

    Enzo, there's one thing I'd like to correct you about- the thing about Irino Miyu being one of the leads turned out to be mistake. The male leads are actually being played by Ishikawa Kaito and Saitou Souma (though I daresay Saitou and Irino do sound somewhat alike.)

  7. Thanks, I heard that and I'd actually corrected that in an earlier version but ended up reverting to another edit for reasons I won't get into here.

  8. w

    Lol, I forgot Biscuit was supposed to be based on Togashi's wife.

    I'm pretty excited about this season, it looks to me like it should be a step above Spring. Well, at least Spring as it is now.

    Barakamon is probably my most anticipated series, but there's a couple of shows not listed here I'd also keep an eye out for.

    The first is Hana Yamata. Maybe it won't be your thing, but I have a good feeling about it. The manga art is good, the staff have done good work on other shows (though the director worries me a little) and the cast is mostly devioid of the usual suspects. My gut is telling me good things, though I am often wrong.

    There's also Tokyo ESP and Akame ga Kill, both of which seem to have modest hype around them. I was surprised not to see either on the preview actually. I can't vouch for Tokyo ESP, but Akame should be pretty fun. Plenty of action, violence and humour with a damning lack of subtlety.

  9. As it happens, those would probably be the top three series that missed the cut for the post. I'll watch the premieres, possibly do first impressions and if I like one or more, conceivably blog them.

    It's an inexact science determining what makes it into a preview post. There is a sort of equation where I'll see how many factors a show has going for it – studio, director, other works by the source author, premise, cast – but gut feeling is definitely a factor, too. I think with those three shows each of them probably needed one more category in their favor and I would have included it, but that doesn't mean I'm dismissing them.

  10. w

    I'd imagine there's a slight "You heard it here, first" factor that determines what makes the preview cut as well. Especially when it comes to the less-hyped series. It's always nice when your sleeper picks turn out to be right.

  11. Z

    Of course there is.

  12. f

    I was actually looking forward to Rail Wars several months ago for the exact same reasons you were – it's about trains, and the villains are as everyday and mundane as you can get. I was hoping its tone would be similar to Hataraku Maou-sama, but from the preview it looks like it'll be more of an oppai anime instead… So I guess I'm not so excited about it anymore. It's too early to judge though, especially since I don't know the source material very well either.

  13. S

    Hmm, too bad. I thought the concept was so nonsensically insane it could make for a fun show. Also, with all the right-wing extremist nonsense spouted by Mahouka, a LN adaptation where PRIVATIZATION IS EVIL picked my interest by contrast XD.

    I'll probably still give it a try, at least if CR licenses it. What the hell, this season I'm enjoying No Game No Life, so who knows.

  14. f

    Yeah, I'll still be checking it out, but I've lowered my expectations a bit. 😛

  15. i

    I'm so excited for Tokyo Ghoul, I'm shaking. After Natsume Yuujinchou, I had been looking for a show to really fawn over, and Ishida Sui's series became it. I have a thing for lonely protagonists who seek to self-sacrifice and protect their friends and adopted family, it seems.

    Judging from the previews, Tokyo Ghoul's gonna be a hell of a ride. It'll be violent and horrifying, but by the end of the last arc adapted, you'll have witnessed one of the best character deconstructions / transformations in an action series in a while.

    Zankyou no Terror is also a must watch. Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is absolutely hilarious (it makes fun of literally every shoujo manga / otome game / manga industry trope) and Barakamon will be a slice-of-life treat. Might watch Aldnoah Zero purely for Shimura Takako.

    @whemleh Tokyo ESP can really go either way. I've read Tokyo ESP; it's novel and interesting at first, but becomes increasingly bland. As long as the anime doesn't adapt too much, it'll be fun.

    Thanks for putting this together, Guardian Enzo!

  16. t

    summer 2014 seems very good right now. last year was also a good one. I believe this summer will produce similar results.
    can't say what will happen, but I was looking for the summer a few weeks after spring season has begun. I think the spring is both good and bad. the good – in general, it has some good to very good shows, with sports being very prominent. but(aka the bad) I was expecting a stronger spring this time (despite the very brilliant mushishi). (the ugly if you want – the Sumo anime. that's a given guys).

    all in all, I think 2014 seems a good year. I liked very much some of the winter shows, which also rely on fall's leftovers that were good in general (despite its problems in NnA for example or the inconsistency in flamenco in times). but I was happy getting good winter with Noragami, silver spoon, toaru hikuushi.
    as for spring good and bad, I already said that.
    and now summer which is looking good. probably some will succeed more, others less.
    although baby steps and HQ continue, this summer doesn't seem to be with some new sports (well we have now a month of sports in RL – 2014 world cup, 2 grand slams in a row (Paris and Wimbledon), Tour de France and the current NBA finals..that's alot for one month).
    this summer seems to have more shoujo, SoL or even drama. I think it's a good thing for us right now. so what we do have:

    Ao Haru, barakamon, Tokyo ghoul, Zankyou no Terror, aldona zero, tokyo ESP, Akama ga kill. looking good and promising. it's looking diverse enough – action, drama, shoujo and even horror! that's wonderful (today's friday 13th after all :P)
    Glasslip too. I's PA. and PA are doing great at summer. after a break in spring..I believe it will go well.

    Hanayamata, Jinsei, RAIL WARS!, Sabagebu!, Gekkan Shoujo and Nobunaga Concerto. those are sleepers for me. I hope they will be worthy (some of them will be, others won't). we also have Majimoji Rurumo from the creator of YP. no doubt this won't be YP. it's shorter and was started before YP. not to mention it's mahou shoujo genre. I still think (and hope) we will see sparks from that creator in terms of general things like story and comedy elements (especially comedy). I doubt it will be extremely awesome or something, but definitely think/hope it will be decent and good. (maybe Onoda's VA will sing the opening song "hime hime" for this anime. LOL).

    some are familiar faces: SAO 2, space dandy 2, free 2, fate Illya 2, sailor moon remake, hamatora 2, presona 4 GA, Kuroshitsuji. well, not much to say. sailor moon is the one getting most attention because it's remake of well known franchise after so many years, while on the other side of the remake we have persona 4 GA, which is strange enough to have sort of remake with new additions (like one character but nothing more from my understanding) a year or two after the previous anime has ended…maybe it's a boost or persona 5 game that will be released in the end of the year…
    I also wonder about Kuroshitsuji. we will see.

    yeah, summer is looking good for now.

    for OVA/movies we also have Inari Konkon OVA in the end of June and persona 3 the 2nd movie. plus Cencoroll 2 announced for this summer sometime.

  17. e

    Just a few words about Ao Haru Ride (Sakisaka Io is one of my pet authors :,) ), I'll comment on the rest later: if you're worried about the AHR manga being ongoing then you don't necessarily have to be. Unlike the mangaka's previous long work (Strobe Edge, 10 volumes total that I'll strongly recommend reading. It improves along the way [volume #3 and #5 are the early highlights] and as shoujo highschool romance settings with average people goes – read: no traumas, no tragedies, 'normal' lives – it's by far best drama of its genre I've read in the last 5 years. And you gotta love the school cat <3 ) this one quickly descended into uninspired and OOC-for-the-sake-of-plot-dragging mediocrity around chapter #22. Some timid signals of return to form are in the latest chapter (we're at #35) . Basically if the anime covers only or mostly the earlier Ao Haru Ride volumes that would actually be the best part of the story :p.

  18. q

    Spring 2014 has been absolutely awful for me, as I've kept up with barely any of the series. This year, Summer looks very promising and I'm looking forward to Space Dandy season 2, Zankyou no Terror, and Tokyo Ghoul. With Watanabe at the helm, I believe Zankyou no Terror will be masterfully presented and the best of the season, if not the year.

    Always great to read your previews, Enzo 🙂

  19. s

    Enzo, I bet you double the amount of money I usually pledge to your site that you will end up blogging tokyo ESP….hmm maybe i shouldnt sound too confident considering that we still dont know much about the staff of this series (besides some of the voice cast) regardless of the fact that it is airing in less than a month, but im feeling in a gambling mood so what the hell; Ohhhhh wellllll. But yea, Tokyo ESP is an extremely fun manga. It's like an American superhero comic but just in manga from with a japanese touch. It takes all the good points of American superhero comics such as well done human drama and over-the-top action and uses it to its advantage to tell an entertaining tale. If you've ever watched a marvel superhero movie, that feeling of entertainment is pretty much the same feeling you get from reading this manga.

    The characters are instantly likeable, the humor is great (it references a lot of American movies which i wont give away because that's part of the fun of the series);it's that witty tongue-and-cheek type of humor, and it has a great balance between comedy and dark moments. Plus, arguably best of all, it's got a bad ass female protagonist who makes no excuses for herself (and is voiced by Kido Ibuki, which is her first true leading role i believe…she had second billing in Pupa) with other great cast members such as megumi ogata and kazuhiko Inoue. This series is fun, its exciting,….it makes julienne fries. It's my fourth anticipated series this season next to Zankyou no Terror, Space Dandy, and Tokyo Ghoul with sailor moon just a millimeter behind (wow, i just revealed what i picked in the polls). If Tokyo ESP gets the adaptation quality it deserves…you will have a good time with this series in the same way you did with Noragami (though in my opinion Noragami is better…considering what the manga has covered so far that is)

  20. I think we know most of the main staff, don't we? Director, writer, music, character design, A.D…. Is there someone you're waiting on? Kurata is the biggest name, for sure, and his track record is hit and miss.

  21. s

    No you're right we do know most of the staff. I had kept checking to see if i would get any info on the production staff halfway through the spring season and i had stopped checking since a week and a half ago so i didnt know all those things were updated. The cast information was all the stuff i remember being announced about couple weeks ago. The only thing i knew halfway through the spring semester was that the animation production was going to be by Xebec (although it wasnt even announced at the time, i could tell by the art poster that it was xebec, which admittingly made me a bit disappointed but i didnt give up hope). But yea you're right…….Im still willing to gamble tho..wats life without a little fun?

  22. Z

    * Tokyo Ghoul – best looking thing there.
    * Zankyou no Terror – sounds like a better use of time than Space Dandy
    * Bishoujo Senshi Seera Muun – Will check out for old times sake.
    * Aldnoah.Zero – I approach with some trepidation. Same mix of Urobuchi + random chefs that Gargantia did, and look how that turned out.

    Rail Wars!? I like trains too but this sounds hilarious.

  23. R

    At least, Gargantia had him writing the pilot and the finale. For Aldnoah Zero, he seems totally hands off the script. Look like he has his hands full with Gaim (which won't be ending until September).

  24. B

    My picks for the summer (what summer? I live in Singapore! XD) would be Aldnoah Zero, Glasslip, Barakamon and Zankyou no Terror. I'm quite keen on Tokyo Ghoul and the new Black Butler series, but I think should keep myself in check- maybe I'll marathon-watch those shows when I don't have a load of assignments to worry about.

    I don't think I have to worry about the other two, but I really hope Aldnoah Zero and Zankyou no Terror make sure that the buzz being generated around them is justified. If they don't, the backlash is going to be massive. Ugh, this kind of hype always makes me nervous…

  25. Maybe it's me, but it doesn't seem like Aldnoah.Zero is that supremely hyped.

  26. s

    No its not just you, but hey that might end up being a good thing for this series in the long run. You know how it is with audiences when it comes to hype

  27. K

    Enzo, Majimoji Rurumo is actually ongoing. It's split into different 'series' with the first series being seven volumes, the second being four and one currently running in Shounen Sirius. I personally love the second series (Makai Hen) much more than the first, as it has a lot more heart to it. Unfortunately considering the buzz (or lack therof) for the anime I doubt that we'll get that far. I'm pretty sure the anime will probably only cover the first series (if that much) unless it becomes a hit.

  28. Thanks for the update. Maybe Yowapeda's boom will generate some extra interest.

  29. M

    I'm pretty excited. There are quite a few adaptations of manga I've been following:
    Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is hella funny. I've read my share of shoujo series (both good and horrendous) and Gekkan Shoujo does very well in poking fun of the genre cliches.
    And Barakamon! I'm very excited for this one. Such a lovely series. It always has me smiling when I read it. So adorable and wry and quirky and just very good.
    Tokyo Ghoul, I've also been reading, but I'm not all caught up yet. The first four volumes that I've read were very good though. Good pacing, cool characters, interesting premise. And it's probably going to horrify me even more when it's animated. Yay.
    And then there's Aoharaido. I really liked it in the beginning (upbeat heroine, female friendship, cute romance) but it's gotten kind of draggy and predictable as of late. But I'm still invested in it, so I'll probably watch the anime too.

    Other than that, I'm also definitely watching Zankyou no Terror and Space Dandy. And I'll probably check out Glasslip, Majimoji and Jinsei too. And the Psycho-Pass re-run if I run out of things to watch. There's a lot, haha. Looks like it'll be a busy summer break.

  30. H

    Tokyo Ghoul is a definite for me I've been looking forward to that and Parasyte since Pupa.. .oh dear. Aldnoah.Zero and Terror in Tokyo also grab my attention. And Space Dandy is literally Kinder Surprise in anime form.

    Will check around here for the impressions on the other shows I'm not sure about.

  31. m

    Haha I can't tell if the top votes on your polls are pretty so similar to your picks because the people who read your blog all like the exact same shows as you, or if it's bc they think they should vote at least 1-2 of your picks. I don't know why I bring that up, it's irrelevant, but I do wonder about it.

  32. Maybe I'm previewing shows that are generating a lot of buzz and not just a bunch of obscure titles? I mean, I do generally preview 20 shows +/- 4 or so in every one of these things, so I wouldn't necessarily be surprised that with that many they overlap with the poll results.

  33. Z

    Zankyou is higher because of the Watanabe factor.

  34. m

    I expect the majority to overlap, but I would think that it'd be likely that at least one show wasn't. Or at least one you previewed but weren't particularly excited about. Or I'm reading too much into it. Like I said it's irrelevant anyway.

  35. m

    It's not like there's anything bad or wrong if that was the case anyway. Just though it was interesting.

  36. t

    Director for Ao Haru Ride is the director of Yahari Blablabla aka he probably made that series much better than it should have been. Expect Ao Haru Ride to touch a LOT of feels it's definitely not as pure pure as Kimi ni Todoke (really think this going to be right up in your alley if adapted well).

  37. K

    lol @ the Biscuit line. Anyway, thanks for this. The anime I'll be checking out next season are . . .

    I. Sailor Moon
    II. Space Dandy
    III. Zankyou no Terror
    IV. Tokyo Ghoul
    V. Rail Wars!

    That's definitely not in order from most anticipated, I'm looking forward to the Watanabe works far more than anything else. First time hearing about Tokyo Ghoul & Rail Wars!, I'm especially looking forward to Tokyo Ghoul.

  38. p

    In no particular order, I'm anticipating:

    Zankyou no Terror
    Aldonah Zero
    Space Dandy S2
    Ao Haru Ride

  39. e

    I'm morally obligated to check out SM Crystal (I owe a lot to the fandom rather than the work itself, ironically enough). But manga!Mamoru was one of my big fictional crushes. Seriously as far as tall dark and with Tragic Past (TM) bishie love interests go he's one sweet gentleman :p .
    Ao Haru Ride is a given unless and until they adapt anything beyond #22 or really really manage to botch the good parts. But I'm trying to keep my expectation low on both this and Crystal.
    On a more promising note/higher hopes:
    Barakamon might be just up my alley hence I'll check it out :,)
    The circus arc of Kuro could turn out pretty well onscreen.
    Maybe list:
    The two mecha series, Tokyo Ghoul and the second Watanabe-directed one.
    Ova and movies: SpaceBros, Ghibli, Arise.

    Everything else: up to reviews I guess.

  40. e

    P.S.: ahah I forgot Free! Guilty pleasure (go Makoto you gentle nurturing droopy-green-eyed beefcake bro you :,) ) if I manage to squeeze some extra watching time.

  41. J

    An Ano Natsu OVA? Aww yeah, that's gonna be sweet.

  42. I

    You know what was so funny. I hadn't bothered to look up Aldnoah Zero's tagline and just thought it sounded cool. And then I was watching this British period piece court drama and heard them say that very same tagline as a sort of latin legal motto. "Fiat justitia ruat caelum" or "Let justice be done though the heavens may fall". And knowing that, made me even more excited about that series that I ever was before.

  43. M

    It may not be the greatest year for anime, but I feel like the bar has been raised again somewhat in terms of quality and care. Studios seem more willing again to flex creative boundaries and those that don't are being left in the dust (I hope).

    Looking forward to Omoide no Marnie. Arrietty was the best Ghibli I've seen since Howls. The first half of Kokuriko-zaka Kara came close. I haven't seen last year's Kaguya-hime no Monogatari anywhere though, much to my disappointment.

  44. R

    Summer of last year completely took us by surprise, especially after experiencing an abysmal Winter and a disappointing Spring. I don't expect another stellar Summer, so, like you said, this list looks decent by Summer's standard. I have completed avoided shows that hint a cute girl vibe even in the tiniest bit this season, and I will do the same for Summer. Looking at your list, both Barakamon and Tokyo Ghoul jump out. I wasn't as engrossed as you with Space Daddy but will for sure check it out.

    I'm most curious about Omoide no Marnie — this is the first after the two founders have passed the torch. My only caution is that I don't know how long we have to wait for the sub to come out — I'm still waiting for the sub of both Kaze Tachinu and Kaguya-hime no Monogatari. The other two OVA/Movie that I look forward to will be Uchuu Kyoudai and Norigami.

  45. s

    I dont know..right now this summer actually looks like it might be a powerful one. The quality is there and i am very optimistic about those sleeper hits. Summer wont blow us away, but it's definitely going to be a superb season filled with a good mix of solid shows and really good ones. I dont know why but i really feel confident about it and usually my confidence in a season has never steered me wrong

  46. I'm somewhere in-between. I don't expect "powerful" but my general sense is that it's going to be quite good. It seems a given that there will be 4-5 really good series, since a lot of the top tier seem pretty safe bets to me. I think the telling question is whether a show like Barakamon, Tokyo Ghoul or Zankyou (or even better, more than one of them) can break out and be a true elite series, a year-end Top-5 type of show.

  47. s

    A year-end top five type of show is exactly what im looking for right now since i would argue that Mushi-shi is the only one we've got this anime year. I mean regardless of how this anime year turns out, we will still be able to make a top ten list but I would really love to have a few anime release this year that truly capture the wonder of the medium and stand vigilant amongst the other anime released this year. I think we might get one or two this summer.

  48. R

    I'm like Enzo and do agree that the list is good by Summer standard. If it will turn out like last year, I will be a happy camper. I don't plan on watching as many shows as before, but I'm pretty sure the ones that I like will be covered here, and that makes me happy.

    I actually find the quality output in 2014 has been quite balanced, and I'm already betting on which shows will come up on Enzo's year end top 10 list. There are a couple in Winter and a few in Spring that I have hopes for, and we may have a couple from Summer — which still leaves us room for Fall. I don't find that 2014 is as spectacular as 2012, but it's been pretty good so far — there has been a show or two each season that I yearn for every week.

  49. I don't expect a repeat of last Summer, which gave us fully half of the Top 10 list for the year. But it would be nice to get a couple. If you don't count H x H I only see one show this season that's a lock, though there are a few more that have a chance (hint – they all involve sports). As for Winter, again there's only one show there that I see as a lock – whether anything else gets in depends on how good the rest of the year is.

  50. R

    Yes for the sports show…! We also have Uchuu Kyoudai entering the race. I know we still have months to find out about your top 10, but I'm getting a bit anticipatory already…lol.

  51. That's going to be a very, very difficult show to rank.

  52. s

    You know, the more i see of terror of Resonance, the more I start to believe that it is going to be the elite series of the summer season; and this has nothing to do with the fact that watanabe and Kanno-san have reunited on a series. See with Space Dandy, I knew exactly what i was getting so i wasnt disappointed in the least. It was clear that it was going to be a fun, comedic anime to allow a team of animators and writers to express their creativity and i was satisfied by the end result. Why people where expecting the next cowboy bebop is beyond me.

    As for terror of resonance, from the meticulous detail gone into portraying the tokyo architecture, to the use of realistic-oriented key animators, and the situation that seems to be at hand, it's looking to be a great 11-ep anime (it's noitamina so im assuming that's how much its gonna get) made to be beginning-to-end tale with no need for a sequel. All the ingredients are there to tell a coherent, heart-pulsing story that im assuming is going to be a sort of social commentary of the state of tokyo and Japan in general. My guess on how things go down is you've got these three main characters, two of which have a hand in the terror that has struck tokyo and the girl caught between supporting them or stopping them. Her reasons for supporting them may stem from her stressful house life as well as the serious amount of bullying that she has suffered throughout her childhood to make her want to see society "get what it deserves". But as she watches what the two boys (and whatever organization they are a part of assuming they are not alone in this) bring despair to others, she realizes that their terrorist acts are the exact same thing she loathes (prehaps drawing parallels to bullying) and attempts to coerce them to stop, putting her relationship with them on thin ice. I think the combination of police investigation, social commentary, and gripping human drama (hopefully, watanabe is good at that after all), if all done well, could make this series one to remember….and temporarily restore noitamina's honor.

  53. People aren't focusing on the MAPPA aspect enough. They're a huge reason why this is high on my expectations list.

  54. R

    Okay, a few thoughts on what I would definitely pick up.

    Aldnoah Zero-I would say that Gargantia felt more like just a breather, considering how much despair the Urobutcher unleashed in the live-action Kamen Rider Gaim (Hey Enzo, you ought to watch that one, it's surprisingly good. So I am not going to be surprised if this would go back to his older themes.

    Glasslip-considering how much I loved Nagi no Asukara, this is already one that i decided to pick from the announcement alone. Though, from the trailers, I think I have a good picture of where it might be going (hischool romance drama and all).

    Sailor Moon Crystal-I'll pick it up for the sole reason that it is a legacy anime of sorts.

    Argevollen-well, I am a sucker for anything mecha,.

    Will probably pick up Ao Haru Ride, though i don't know it if would be like White Album 2 or Isshuukan friends for me, both of which i really liked despite picking them up late.

  55. n

    I've been reading Ao Haru Ride since its first couple chapters. I love it! I've liked most of Sakisaka Io's work though. It has a shoujo story for sure, but it's not so sickeningly cliché.

  56. e

    @enzo did you seen the original sailor moon before?i have to say the new sailor moon will be a diffrent not only becouse it follow close to the manga but also becouse it going to be more dark and violent unlike the original

  57. I've seen pieces of it. Never watched the whole thing.

  58. e

    and from what you seen are some of the scences was intresting to you and emjoyable?

  59. It was fine for what it was, but as I said in the post nothing I'd rank among my personal favorites. Sailor Moon really isn't my bag, but because it's an important as it is and because Takeuchi-sensei is Togashi's life partner, I feel as if it's only right to give the new version an extended trial.

  60. D

    Funny, my impressions of the previous years and seasons are considerably different. I thought 2012 was a rather mediocre year, with a few standout shows but nothing like the fireworks of several 2011 shows. 2013 was in that regard a pick-up again, in comparison, even though there were only two good seasons in that year (winter and especially autumn kind of sucked). Meanwhile, I thought this winter had a good amount of solid shows (more than last year, certainly) and spring is decent (though last year was better). I agree that Summer was easily last year's best season though.

    I doubt we'll see a repeat of that this year, but who knows? I like to be surprised, anyway, so I'm not getting hyped for most new shows – I'll just see where they take me. Space Dandy, Monogatari and Prisma Illya are must-watches though, as I liked their previous seasons.

    I'd like to get excited for Aldnoah:zero too (because of the names attached, including Urobuchi Gen), and I voted for it, but then I remember Suisei no Gargantia and my excitement goes down again. Other pick besides the sequels is Tokyo Ghoul, because, well, people seem to like it.

    But then, people liked SAO too, and the sequel of that one I'm going to watch out of mere spite, because I hated it. I want to have ammunition for logical arguments against it (for discussion's sake), and it's a great source of unintentional comedy to boot.

  61. m

    Can you have "logical arguments" about what someone likes? Yeah, I agree that SAO was dumb and didn't follow it's own world's rules, but that doesn't mean other people aren't allowed to like it or that you should actively seek them out to try to make fun of them or something they like. It's really pathetic to watch something so you can make fun of someone about it.

  62. J

    Somehow the only show in this line-up I am actually excited for is Znkyou no Terror, just something about all the shots I've seen so far, and what I've heard about it gets me excited. All the other PV's just look kinda generic and lifeless.

    Aaaand I'm gonna be watching the second season of Space Dandy, cause its just a fun show.

  63. P

    Honestly I'm looking forward to a lot of series this season. There's a lot of adaptions of manga I quite like so fingers crossed their adaptions will work out. I'm picking up Barakamon, Zankyou no Terror, Space Dandy 2, Aldnoah.Zero, Glasslip, Ao Haru Ride, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, and Tokyo Ghoul for sure. Oh and I'll probably watch Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal and Free! 2 too for the sake of continuity/watching.

  64. Z

    It needs Urobuchi to be at least 60% involved or it isn't a Urobuchi series. Rather what ever Animate or whoever needs it to be.

  65. J

    Does anybody know about Cencoroll 2? Wasn't it debuting this summer? Any release date..? ANY AT ALL?!?!

  66. All I've heard in "Summer 2014" but until I hear an actual date I don't consider it a definite release.

  67. n

    I'm most looking forward to:
    Sailor Moon
    Ao Haru Ride
    Zankyou no Terror
    (not in order of anticipation, but in order of their premiers)

    There are other shows I plan on checking out, but those have piqued my interest the most. I can't wait for July! I've ended up only keeping up with a few shows for the spring season (Baby Steps, Haikyuu!!, Ping Pong, and Soredomo Sekai wa Utsukushi), so I'm very ready for some new anime. ^-^

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