The spring season is thankfully almost over. I’m not calling it the worst season in recent memory but I do know I routinely had trouble finding worthy series to fill all 5 spots on my weekly Anime Power Ranking ballot for the first time ever, even with watching more then 20 airing series. The biggest disappointment of the season has been JoJo. I appreciate a manga author taking risks by shifting time periods and main characters and powers like Hirohiko Araki has done with JoJo; however, Japanese Jojo and company (not including grandpa Jojo) are the weakest and blandest cast of the franchise and the bad guy of the week format does not allow any of the villains to really become memorable. I’m only going to continue watching because grandpa Jojo is still around; if something happens to him then I think I’m going to sit JoJo out until the next part gets adapted.
That’s enough dwelling on the past. Let’s turn our attention to the near future with the new season of anime. It looks like a pretty good season of anime.
I don’t mind laughing at myself; so, instead of merely listing all the new series or just the series I’m interested in, I’m going to predict which new anime series will rank in my top 10 of the summer 2014 season and revisit this list when we get to end of the season. I’m going to attempt to get this list right and pat myself on the back for my prognostication skills but I suspect its going to be hilariously wrong.
So, coming in at number 1, the anime I think will be the best new anime of summer is …
#1 – Aldnoah. Zero
There are two original productions that have serious star power and talent attached to them this season. This isn’t a guarantee for greatness but it’s a great start. Of these two, I’m picking Aldnoah. Zero for the top spot in part because I respect the involvement of writer Gen Urobuchi more. Having been behind the story of Madoka Magica, Gargantia, and Psycho-Pass, I know Aldnoah. Zero is going to have the depth to its story that will keep me thinking about it all season long. I also know that I’ll get a good science fiction story out of it, given the synopsis – In an alternative 1972, humanity finds a hypergate on the Moon and eventually war breaks out between humans on Earth and those that settled on Mars. Also, the music should be very good for Aldnoah. Zero with Hiroyuki Sawano (Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan) handling those duties.
#2 – Barakamon
This isn’t the other original production with serious star power and talent attached to it. This is an adaptation of a slice-of-life, comedy manga centered on a young urban calligrapher who gets exiled from Tokyo to a small island where the locals are generally odd in the way country folks are (at least in the eyes of city folk) and how he adapts to this change in lifestyle. I’m choosing this for second on the apparent strength of the manga and how well similar series have done in the past. The only thing that will hold this series back is a weak adaptation that fails to bring out the potential.
#3 – Terror of Resonance
Okay, here’s the other star-studded anime original production. Many other people would put this at the top of their list and I can’t really blame them. Terror of Resonance will almost assuredly be the most polished anime of the season (Space Dandy 2 might have the best animation, though) with an original high concept story, music by Yoko Kanno, and animation from Studio Mappa. What’s preventing me from placing this at the top is it’s a one cour noitaminA series which means 11/12 episodes which is not a lot of time to do something interesting with the story then end it well. And the multiple examples of failure from noitaminA series with setups like this in the last couple of years hardly help the case. What’s soothing my fears partially is that Studio Mappa is behind the production of it and, if you don’t know, they’re a spin-off from Madhouse containing the creative arm of it who always did the interesting, off-beat, good series no one watched (which happened to be the series that I enjoyed the most from them).
#4 – Tokyo Ghoul
I’ve already mentioned this anime in an earlier piece and nothing I’ve seen since then makes me any less enthusiastic about it’s chances at being one of the top anime of the season. The animation studio handling it, Studio Pierrot, has never really impressed me with their work. Sure, they can get top-notch animators to create nice fight scenes for their super long shounen series adaptations but that seems like the extent of their talent. Calling in an outside director, Shuhei Morita whose OVA series Freedom I highly enjoyed, to handle Tokyo Ghoul was a really good call on their part and should ensure this anime is at least worth watching. I just hope there’s not too much gratuitous violence.
#5 – Space Dandy Part 2
Confession time – I’m not a huge Shinichiro Watanabe fan. Cowboy Bebop? – Love the idea, the execution lacked something which kept it a good, not great, series. Samurai Champloo? – Love the idea, the dull first half drags this series down to being merely a good series. Kids on the Slope? – Love the idea, the story muddles and fumbles itself enough to deny it greatness and finishes being merely good. See a pattern? The first half of Space Dandy introduced a rather poor cast of characters and the one-off episodes directed by someone different each week made it impossible to build the story in the slightest. Awesome animation aside, there was only 3-4 episodes that I liked enough to ever want to watch again. At this point I see Space Dandy having to struggle to finish a “good series” but I have a gut feeling that this second half will contain a surprise that will allow Space Dandy to finish a good series. Call me an optimist.
#6 – Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal
I have never watched any of the original Sailor Moon anime (though, I did watch about half of the live action version almost 10 years ago) and shoujo anime is the genre that I find hardest to like. That said, I’m excited to see a new adaptation of a classic franchise that was instrumental in shaping anime into what it is today. And hey, maybe Naoko Takeuchi, the original manga author, can wow me in shoujo like her husband, Yoshihiro Togashi, wowed me in shounen with Hunter x Hunter.
#7 – Sengoku Basara – Judge End
I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons of Sengoku Basara. Sure, the story was never a strong point to the series but it’s always been adequate enough to allow the over-the-top, crazy representations of famous historical characters plenty of fun ways to interact with each other. Throw in a great vocal cast and top-notch animation from Production IG and this series has almost assuredly locked in a spot somewhere on the top 10 at the end of the season.
#8 – Free! Eternal Summer
Beyond all the bluster that the first season caused, Free! was a pretty standard KyoAni series and I generally like the standard KyoAni series. So, shoot me, I kinda liked the first season of Free!. I just hope KyoAni does a better job coming up with the story for the sequel then they did for the sequel of Chuunibyou.
#9 – Glasslip
PA Works, like many other animation studios, has allowed themselves to get typecasted about what types of anime they animate. If you have seen their past works then you know what to expect here with Glasslip. As long as the anime is well executed I generally like their series, even if they all start out about the same and look the same. To date, I’ve liked their Mari Okada series (Hanasaku Iroha, Nagi no Asakura) more, with Tari Tari and True Tears being examples of their weaker series. To judge Glasslip’s chances I looked at who is behind it and discovered the director did True Tears and the writer did Tari Tari. So, I’m guessing Glasslip will end up being one of the lesser series from PA Works.
#10 – Kantai Collection
I have only the vaguest knowledge of this latest phenomenon amongst Japanese fandom; but, as I see it, there are two possibilities for this anime. One, it will be a poorly animated horribly constructed mishmash of various worn-out anime clichés that crashes and burns. Or it will be a decently animated fluffy puff anime that will be perfect to watch after a dark anime like Tokyo Ghoul to cleanse one’s palate. I’m guessing it will be the latter.
So there is my prediction of the best series of the upcoming summer season. We will find out in 13 weeks how I did. There are, of course, many other series airing and the series most likely to upset this list are: Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen, Tokyo ESP, Hanayamata. Each of these anime have something going for them but also apparent problems that barred them from making it into my top 10.
Feel free to leave your own predictions below. There is no better way to say ‘I told you so’ in the future then by leaving a dated written prediction.