Anime Source: Summer 2011 Anime Preview Guide

Some of my A-S mates and I wrote this article a week ago. It's may be not much of a preview now that we're already in the latter half of the season but well... we've always done it this way. Comments in this post are purely mine, but you can (should) check out the rest of it in the main article.

Yuru Yuri
Episodes watched: 5
The number of big hits this season does made it hard for lesser known series like this to shine... but Yuru Yuri is a surprisingly likable series for "yet another K-ON clone". It also score pretty well on my "most interesting episode of the week", and that's saying a lot if you take the studio and the VA cast into account. The yuri (ahem lesbianism) aspect of the story might be a turn off, but it's generally kept to a modest level without excessive molesting or fanservice. It does have a lot of yuri delusions though, particularly intended for more interesting pairings like Kyouko and Ayano. The show doesn't have a lot to offer other than slice-of-life style of comedy with a (very) slightly perverted angle, but there's nothing you can actually dislike about the show. Having the most catchy OP song of the season really helps too.

Outlook: Good

Dantalion no Shoka
Episodes Watched: 3
The series reminds me so much of Pandora Hearts that I'm close to dropping it after the first episode. Thankfully, the amount of positive reviews on the series urged me to kept watching. The show hasn't been terribly interesting or original, but it does have certain elements that kept it enjoyable. It's a dark, crude mystery in a Victorian setting, which contrasts very sharply with a cute young girl as a main character (reminiscent of GOSICK). The fantasy and action elements make a nice addition to the mystery genre, which until now hasn't been very clever. Ono Daisuke and Sawashiro Miyuki also makes an interesting pair, like their roles on screen. It's just too bad that despite of the mystery genre, you can always smell the answers a mile away.

Outlook: Fairly Good

Ikoku Meiro no Croiseé
Episodes Watched: 5
Aka Croiseé in a Foreign Labyrinth, the show wasn't in my watch list in the beginning, until everyone starts to compare it to Aria, one of my favourite series of all time. Well, there's definitely a lot of similarities, as both series introduces the beauty of a country from an outsider's perspective, and both of them stuck closely to the roots of the slice-of-life genre. The downside of this genre is that there tend to be boring moments, which are quite apparent in the first two seasons of Aria, but not Croiseé. The show smartly fits in bits of comedy and drama, but still stayed true to the genre it was suppose it be and that worked incredibly well. The animation quality was top-notch from the start, which was critical to shows like this, because the show isn't trying to sell on the story, but on the overall atmosphere it can create. That was something the first couple of seasons of Aria didn't quite get. And as a bonus, Yune is definitely the cutest character this entire season. Ikoku Meiro no Croiseé is something I could watch over and over again without getting bored of it, and that makes it my favourite series this season.

Outlook: Excellent!

Mayo Chiki
Episode Watched: 5
The show transformed from guilty pleasure to cheap fanservice in the last couple of episodes. They just HAD to include melodrama in a bid to make things a little more serious, which undoubtedly epic failed. Add in overused misunderstandings, unfounded attraction and poorly-scripted ecchi situations, you have a recipe for a cliche ecchi-romance series. I actually do have a pretty positive opinion of the show up to the third episode, because Subaru's a pretty unique gender-blending character with a penchant for making stubborn decisions, but it seems like Mayo Chiki isn't material for something great after all. It wasn't bad enough to make me drop it, but it wasn't good enough for me to actually start it.

Outlook: Leaning towards negative

Mawaru Penguindrum
Episode Watched: 5
Frankly, despite almost halfway in the season, we still have literally no idea what the "Penguindrum" is, or how it actually affects anything in the storyline. It's like we're just finished with the casting phase; where we shown the roles of each character in the plot setting, but otherwise we know very little about possible developments. But it's a fact that Mawaru Penguindrum is a sweet treat; the story thus far might not be very exciting, but the visual flairs and creativity in the animation styles made it very enjoyable by itself. The concept of the otherworldly being might had been only mildly interesting if not for the unconventional direction the story took, and that itself promises plenty of potential. Call it a gut feeling, but through experience shows like this tend to do better than many others. If nothing else, we should probably guess that they poured big money into this for a reason.

Outlook: High Potential

Nekogami Yaoyoruzu
Episodes Watched: 4
I think it's obvious that anyone who WANTED to watch this, wanted it due to the voice actor cast. We have Tomatsu Haruka (Anaru, Nagi) and Horie Yui (Hanekawa, Minorin) in the lead roles. We have Taketatsu Ayana (Azusa) and Kayano Ai (Menma) fighting to me Tomacchan's bride. We have Toyosaki Aki (Yui, Uiharu, Nakochi) as our deadpan poverty god. There's people like Itou Kanae (Ohana, Elsie), Arai Satomi (Kuroko), Tanaka Rie (Lucas Clyne, Maria, Suigintou) in the supporting roles. Since the animation isn't all that impressive, I guess all their budget went into paying these people.

It seems like the idea here is to find a cheap medium they could adapt and cast all these people in it, because the voices is really the only selling point of the show. The various gods of Japanese culture and their powers might have a lot of potential, but they didn't do a good job making them interesting. The sense of humor in the show is also really poor. Despite having comedy as its main genre, I barely got more than a chuckle or two per episode. Now that I'm much more of a seiyuu otaku, it wasn't hard for me to enjoy Nekogami Yaoyorozu, but the premises itself makes it hard for anyone to actually appreaciate it.

Outlook: Fairly Negative

Kamisama no Memo-chou
Episodes Watched: 5
My impression of the series, based on the premises and before it actually aired, is that it's a detective/mystery series with a tad of moé injection. You know, like every other series from J.C Staff. The twist is that our moé detective is a hikkikomori and never leaves the house, and I figured that's something they wanted the otaku+hikkikomori audience to relate to. Overall, I didn't think of this series highly or took it seriously.

It didn't exactly turned out to be a hit this season, but Kamisama no Memo-chou turned out to have a lot of things I could give praise for. For one, the animation was solid and the overall production quality is really good. Props to giving Alice an actual 15 year old kid seiyuu too. The stories so far hasn't been very exciting, but they are well-written and with a certain level of wit, made it pretty interesting and original. The detective work here is certainly a lot more interesting than that of Dantalion no Shoka, a similar series this season. Also the moé element, Alice, actually worked out really well after all (lol).

Props to them to actually make a story on the topic of enjo kosai, or schoolgirl prostitution (compensated dating). It's a topic shunned by the Japanese society and most people there like to pretend it doesn't exist...

Outlook: Very Good

Kamisama Dolls
Episodes Watched: 5
It's funny that it feels like we're still in the introduction phase even after 5 episodes. While Kamisama dolls is one of the more highly anticipated show of the season, I can't say that the show has completely bought me over yet. Well, the show has a bunch of interesting characters, particularly Aki whose background is still shrouded in mystery I can't wait to find out, because certain clues led me to believe that he's not exactly the bad guy here, despite the number of crimes he had already committed. I'm enjoying the good mix of light-hearted moments (mainly from Utao's cuteness) and the darker tones in the story (what seemed like a large number of deaths), but there's no hint of anything particularly exciting that would come soon. The fights between the dolls are somewhat exciting, but concept of the dolls itself isn't all that special. Perhaps the true value of the dolls have yet to be seen until we see it in the hands of a real doll master (referred to as Seki in the story). The only real flaw in the show is Hibino's ridiculously exaggerated bust and her clothes which appears to have special breast compartments.

Outlook: Good

Check out the rest of the article here.