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The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya needs no introduction. A massively popular franchise that influenced a large chunk of the industry in its wake and set KyoAni up as a major player, it’s been conspicuously absent since The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya despite continued demand and plentiful source material. People have even gone so far as to read the light novels to get more!

You’d think then that the fans would clamour for anything even vaguely related, but the announcement of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan demonstrated otherwise. Broadly set in the same universe as the alternate one in The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, this is a spinoff romantic comedy lacking any of the defining supernatural elements and instead centring around Nagato and her crush on Kyon. Hell, it’s not even written by the same author nor animated by the same studio. At least they kept the voice actors I guess?

This is pretty much not what Haruhi fans wanted, especially not after 4 years of longing. But after getting over the initial shock, I have to say that it’s actually not all that bad, surprisingly enough. Or at least, better than you might have expected.

Cuter, too

Cuter, too

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Spring was a touch weak, wasn’t it? Sure, there was a handful of truly great shows (Hibike! Euphonium, Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic, Kekkai Sensen, Ore Monogatari!!, the end of Stardust Crusaders) but that was barely anything else. I was watching fewer shows than I have in a LONG time. At least Bloodborne was great.

Green = sequel, Orange = not sequel, Red = neither

Green = sequel, Orange = not sequel, Red = neither

But let’s look forward, and goddamn Summer’s looking good. And, uh, has technically already started. I’m a bit late on this. But there’s a lot to be excited about, and not just because of all the sequels to shows I love. And Funimation aren’t even licensing anything I particularly care about! Oh, I am feeling so good about this season already!

Anyway, enough beating around the bush – here’s what I’m picking up.

  • Chaos Dragon
  • Charlotte
  • Classroom Crisis
  • Durarara!!x2 Ten
  • Gakkou Gurashi!
  • Gangsta.
  • Gatchaman Crowds insight
  • Non Non Biyori Repeat
  • Senki Zesshou Symphogear GX
  • Working!!!

Low effort discussion ahead:

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Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic

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Kiniro Mosaic getting a sequel was a bit of a surprise. Sure it was a fun series, but I doubt it would be as fondly remembered were it not for that glorious finale – most of my memories are of it being a bit hit-and-miss, a little too slow, and good-not-great. But thanks to that finale it saw an immediate surge of popularity and sales and now here we are with Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic!

Good news! If you liked the first entry of everyone’s favourite cute-blonde-British-girls-doing-cute-things-in-Japan anime, you’ll undoubtedly love Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic. It is definitely more of the same, but so much funnier and more consistent this time around. The humour is on point for the entire series with every episode being stronger than just about any episode from the first series, and where that amazing finale was needed to make up for some of the shortcomings, Hello!! Kiniro Mosaic is so good that a scene like that would barely stand out.

They're back!

They’re back!

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Kamisama Hajimemashita◎

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Kamisama Hajimemashita was very good! I enjoyed it a great deal back when it aired, uneven as it was, and was very pleasantly surprised when a sequel was announced. It was probably the show that sold me on shoujo romance as a genre, and Nanami has endured as one of my favourite heroines amongst them. To cut to the chase, Kamisama Hajimemashita◎ (yes that is the official title, and no I have no idea how it’s pronounced) is basically more of the same, introducing a couple of new elements but for the most part just picking up from where the first season left off without missing a beat.

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Shirobako

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After enough time spent watching anime, it’s to be expected that you’ll be curious as to how it’s actually made – and not just the art of animation, but also the production aspects of it and more besides. It’s unfortunate then that there aren’t really a lot of resources to learn about it. Or at least, not in English. My limited understanding more or less comes from a few Answerman posts on ANN, the occasional bit of info the sakuga nerds retweet onto my timeline, and baseless intuition.

And I have to admit, I was not expecting Shirobako to fill in that educational gap. After all, the premise given before it aired was more or less “a group of high school girls made an anime in school, and now aim to make one together as professionals!” which, y’know, still sounds like a cute-girls-doing-cute-things show just transposed into a working environment. A nice bit of fluff that captures some of the fundamentals but is only really a shallow take on it, because it’s just context for the character-driven meat of the show. Kinda like Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, but anime instead of manga and moe instead of romantic-comedy.

Christ was I wrong.

Very wrong

Very wrong

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A question I’ve seen pop up quite a few times is “why are there no magical boy series?”. Ignoring that the male equivalent to mahou shoujo is superhero tokusatsu à la Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, I guess it’s because there’s no real way to do it without it coming across as self-parody? Especially if you try to stick to standard mahou shoujo conventions – I mean, could you imagine a male Precure? Ok, scratch that, I just remembered the episode of DokiDoki Precure! where Sebastian becomes a Precure. Could you imagine a male Precure done seriously??

Given that, the obvious solution to doing “mahou shoujo but with boys” is to go full-on parody. Enter Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE!, which I’ll just be shortening to Bouei-bu from here on out. While it wasn’t clear before airing – I picked it up for the absurd novelty of the premise – Bouei-bu is a straight up deconstruction parody of the mahou shoujo genre, with a heaping dose of bishounen anime thrown in for good measure. As a budding fan of mahou shoujo, this was right up my alley! What’s more, it’s directed by Shinji Takamatsu, director of Gintama and Daily Lives of High School Boys, noted funny shows with parodic elements. Can’t complain about that.

"Love is over!"

“Love is over!”

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Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso

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For those of us who have watched Nodame Cantabile there’s a shared sense of despair that there will never be more, despite the existence of as-yet unadapted manga content. We fell in love with Noda and Chiaki as their unconventional, classical-music backed relationship grew over the years, so it’s understandable that Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso would draw our attention come the autumn 2014 season.

Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – or Your Lie in April – positions itself similarly to Nodame Cantabile, being broadly about romance between classical musicians, with key differences. The characters are substantially younger – middle-school aged, as opposed to being university freshmen – and tragedy and drama play a central role in the narrative. Indeed, the initial premise is that Arima Kousei – a young piano prodigy – had a mental breakdown during a recital after his mother passed away that left him unable to hear his own playing. By the time the series begins, he hasn’t played for two years. He’s depressed and numb – albeit comfortable, in a quiet sort of way with his friends – and this threatened to remain the case had he not met Miyazono Kaori, a free-spirited violinist who takes it upon herself to pull him back into music.

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