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Monday, July 8, 2013

Summer 2013 Anime Interlude:

While we wait for new series to premiere, this might serve as a good time to mention the sequel series and continuing-from-spring series that are also quite good this summer.  The summer season doesn't seem to have any blockbuster new intellectual properties, but it's actually stuffed full of some of the best anime ever.

I can only repeat myself, but if anyone is missing Railgun Sisters they're insane.  This is one of the most emotional, philosophical, and immersive stories ever told.  After the climax of the Sisters arc, the anime promises to go into mindless filler again, but for now this is the best anime currently showing, and has been throughout the spring season as well.

The World God Only Knows III pulls one of the fastest synopsis in anime history, breezing through hundreds of chapters of the manga in a few minutes with a few slideshow screens and an extremely brief exposition.  If you haven't read the manga, you'll be totally lost by this point.  But for those who have read the manga, it's not such a big deal.  What's important is what happens next.  The Goddess arc is the best part of The World God Only Knows, which is already one of the best mangas ever, so the anime we're watching is the best of the best.  The story begins at the beginning of this arc, and immediately delivers.  Kanon is as beautiful as ever, both to look at and to listen to.  Keima is his same dismissive self.  Everything we've come to enjoy about the series appears immediately in the beginning of this third season and hits the ground running.  This season is why I have TWGOK anime ranked so highly, because I know just how great it's about to become.  As such, for anyone who has read the manga, TWGOK III is the second most important series airing this summer.

Third up is Bake-(etc)-monogatari.  This season picks up where we left off from Nisemonogatari.  Nekomonogatari is a prequel, and Kizumonogatari still hasn't been animated yet, so the chronology is still in a horrendous mess, but oh well.  I'm not sure if the pacing of this season will be up to the monumental task ahead of it.  It has six books to cover, and 24 episodes to do it in.  Nisemonogatari, meanwhile, was 11 episodes long covering two books, and Bakemonogatari was 15 episodes long covering just two books.  Four episodes per book, if that is the plan, is going to feel an awful crunch to squeeze it all in.  In any case, this will double the amount of light novels covered by the anime, so it should at least make the series twice as good as it has been up until now.  This is why I prophetically rated the series so highly, in anticipation of this new season being great, and so far it's doing fine.  The same unique twists to the camera, the same snappy dialogue, the same attractive varied set of characters.  Getting to know everyone better sounds like a great idea, in fact, it's a lot like the Goddess arc of The World God Only Knows which gets to know better a lot of girls that Keima has already conquered in the past.  This series deserves the hype and therefore ranks in as my 3rd most anticipated show this summer.

Fate/Kaleid Liner Prism Ilya is a spinoff from the actual Fate/etc timeline/storyline, but it's so good that this is no hindrance to its worth at all.  In the end this manga series may be more popular than the original story in the first place.  Taking the Type/Moon world and transforming it into a setting for a magical girl show can only be an upgrade, as was immediately shown by how great the first episode of the series was.  Ilya is cute, the humor is great, there's flashy action sequences, friendship, love, etc, etc.  This is everything a mahou shoujo series is supposed to be, unlike the awful Fantasista Doll and Genei Kakeru Taiyo.  My only worry is that the series won't cover much of the manga, which is already up to its third iteration.  In that case the anime will only serve as an advertisement teaser for the rest of the story which everyone will have to pursue elsewhere.  Like with Bakemonogatari, I've already drastically improved the ranking of the Fate/Etc series with Kaleid Liner in mind, and my expectations weren't betrayed.  This summer season will go far to justifying Fate's hugely popular reputation.

Hunter x Hunter, in the middle of the Chimera Ant arc, is extremely exciting.  First off, this is all new anime content, as the previous series only got so far as Greed Island.  As nice as a modern remake is, all new animated episodes is even better, so this is really the HxH we've all been waiting for.  Hunter x Hunter is so good both Cart Driver and Random Curiosity are blogging about it every week, so it's pretty crazy for an anime fan to not be watching it at this point.

Tamayura ~ More Aggressive ~ is the sequel we've been waiting seemingly forever for.  Continuing the story of 'healing' from last season, about a family that lost their father to an early disease, but not their love for him, or his love for them, or their love for each other, or their love of life, continues on in the same vein we've come to expect from the series.  A uniquely touching story that plucks at the heartstrings like a bard, Tamayura could have been the standout series of the summer if there weren't so many other good series also airing right now.  Having already taken this sequel into account, Tamayura has already been pushed up in my rankings, and it's good to see the summer season isn't letting my expectations down.

Ro-Kyu-Bu SS continues to be the infuriating mix of pedophile porn and fantastic story/art/music it's always been.  One moment, it's about young girls licking bananas, and the next it's about children trying to make their parents understand and accept them.  One moment, it's about kimono wardrobe malfunctions on young girls, and the next it's about how being good to total strangers can have great karmic value later on when trying to convince said stranger to trust his daughter to you shortly after.  Ro Kyu Bu is like the story of Sisyphus pushing a boulder up an ever steeper hill.  Sisyphus is the great plot, characters, art, music, and voice acting put in by everyone involved that makes a nigh perfect show, and the boulder that weighs him down and foils his every plan is the decision to sell the series via suggestive scenes to the broader audience.  However, it can't be helped that sex sells.  Sex sells both good and bad series, it's present in practically every single anime product no matter how good or bad, so it's useless trying to avoid what the animators throw at you.  If you are going to enjoy any anime whatsoever, you just have to get used to this sort of thing.  Haruhi wears a bunny suit in Haruhi Suzumiya, Chidori from Full Metal Panic interfaces with the submarine nude, Asuna is nearly raped in Sword Art Online, Lafiel bathes nude in Crest of the Stars, Nanoha is nude during her mahou shoujo transformation sequences, so forth and so on.  If you look past all the prudery, the story still remains good underneath, which is the case for Ro-Kyu-Bu SS as well.  When we combine all this new material to its good old material, it's about time for this show to come out from the cold and enter my rankings already.

Meanwhile, One Piece continues to plod along as its slow pace on the new island of Punk Hazard.  Since the anime is based on the best manga ever made, even a poor anime adaption is still going to be extremely good.  There's no excuse not to watch One Piece, the phenomena that has led anime/manga culture for the last 14 years, but if you're so against the pacing of the current series, check out 'One Pace,' the edited and revised version of the series that tries to cut out as much filler as possible.  Whether you watch One Piece or One Pace, it's a must-see series and will continue to be for most likely decades to come.

Shingeki no Kyojin will now continue after its brief recap episode, hopefully with better animation quality than before.  This second half of the series will really determine whether it reaches my rankings or not.  I've been pretty ambivalent to the series, despite its massive popularity, so far, due to the number of bizarre plot twists that keep coming from out of nowhere and the feeling that the characters have zero control over their own destiny.  Even so, I must admit the art and story is unique, the action thrilling,  and many of the characters are extremely appealing.  Captain Levi, Mikasa, Potato Girl, and others are really putting on a show.  Whether this series is truly great or not, it's definitely high quality and worth watching, so everyone should be following this series that started in the spring all the way to the end as well.

Doki Doki Pretty Cure is throwing a real side winder at the audience.  Instead of Regina becoming the next Pretty Cure, she's turned back to the dark side.  Meanwhile, a new Pretty Cure of completely mysterious origins, coming out of absolutely nowhere, arrived just in time to save the day, Cure Ace, voiced by the superstar Rie Kugimiya.  It's a rather perplexing decision by the writers of the show, but I guess they thought Cure Passion and Cure Beat were enough conversos from the dark side and they wanted to spice things up a bit this time around.  Pretty Cure can't stay at the emotional high that the mid-point climax delivered two weeks ago, but it's nevertheless a great series 365 days a year, year after year.  As the #1 anime of all time, it's madness to not watch Pretty Cure's latest season, whether it's winter, spring, summer or fall.

Lastly, there's good news on the Naruto front.  The filler is finally done (for now).  Apparently this week just won't broadcast anything at all.  From there on, Naruto will join the summer season as a fully participating series that follows the manga.  It has been aeons since the last episode of non-filler Naruto aired, so this will be extremely welcome.  Hopefully it can stay true to the manga throughout the summer season, in which case it will outperform most other series currently airing this summer in quality.

So here we have eleven series that are the actual core, focus, and value of the summer season, which haven't been mentioned at all until now because none of them are new franchises.  Of these 11, 9 are already in my rankings and 2 are likely to join soon.  Which means you can't go wrong with them.  They're 11 must-see shows for the season, which already gets us most of the way to matching the watchable series total of the spring season.  Even if the new series don't look too great, a more zoomed out perspective of the summer season reveals that we're actually doing better than ever.  We don't get much luckier as fans than this.

In addition, Oreimo will be rejoining the lineup in August for a further three concluding episodes, which is naturally must-see TV.  That moves our total up to 12.  We're also going to receive a bevy of OAV's over the course of the summer.  Some are already out and just need subtitling, like Ika Musume and Seitokai no Shukujitsu.  There's also a Fairy Tail OAV, a Little Busters OAV, a To Love ru OAV, and some blu-ray movies that will be appearing during the summer, like the new Index movie, all coming up soon.  If you added all these bonuses the summer anime 'watchable series' list would look huge.

This concludes our summer season interlude.  For the first impressions finale, I'll review the remaining summer series that haven't premiered yet, and rank both the new and returning watchable series against each other to show the relative worth of all the shows I've so far given my stamp of approval.  A shame the 13th is still so far away. . .  :(

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