1) Campione! (as of Episode 2)
- Going into the season, this was one of the series I had higher expectations for. It looks a bit generic, considering the whole high school battle premise... but you'd be in wrong if you dismissed it just because of that. Why? Two words. Erica Blandelli: the red dress wearing, fencing rapier wielding Italian chick. For the most part, the show's worth watching just because of her awesomeness... but for those of you that still want some more, you've got the appearance of a variety of "Gods" that trash everything when they fight and a main character in Kusanagi Godou who's job is to slay em'. And god slaying's always fun, no matter how you do it.
- You also get a bunch of good people working on the show: Hanada Jukki of Steins;Gate covers the screenwriting, Hanazawa Kana, Kitamura Eri, and Hikasa Youko are all present too.
- And well, in the end, the result is a surprisingly entertaining show to say the least. I won't say this it's necessarily anywhere near the best show airing at the moment and it'll probably require some suspension of your "logic processing" when watching, but it's a worth a watch in your free time... especially if you're looking for something that doesn't require much thinking. Also worth a watch if you're into things of the action/fantasy genre, with the mix in of some harem/romance elements.
2) Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse (as of Episode 3)
- Keeping the train rolling on the immensely popular Muv-Luv VN series is this animated adaptation of one of the side stories: Total Eclipse. For those of you unfamiliar with the franchise, the side story's been modified via the addition of two quick prologue episodes to start things up and give you some idea of what's going on. You might not have all the details you'd want, but it's enough to get into the story without spoiling too much of the events of the main VN franchise.
- For all basic purposes, ML:TE is pretty much a sci-fi/mecha anime set in a future where humanity is under the threat of aliens known as the BETA. Pushed near the brink of destruction, humanity is continuing their attempt to fight back, using Tactical Surface Fighters (TSF mechs) as the backbone of their force. This side story involves two aces pilots (Takamura Yui from Japan and Yuuya Bridges from the US), who have been sent to a UN base in Alaska to develop the next generation of TSF's.
- The premise itself sounds a bit familiar no doubt to other things you've watched, but as side story to one of the top rated visual novels of all time (in both the US and Japan), that fact alone shows that there's much more to the series than meets the eye. It's still yet to be determined whether the side story will match the awesomeness if the original VN's, but it's definitely solid enough at the moment to warrant a watch. CGI mecha action, skintight pilot suits, lotta piew piew action, and the occasional gore... there's not much to dislike for the typical anime fan. Also, there's a great OP/ED to go along with it as well.
- So if you're reading this, this is one show I'd recommend watching... though it might be catered more toward sci-fi/mecha fans more than anything. Regardless, it's definitely got the potential to be one of the better shows of the season, as far as new summer shows are concerned.
**More information on the Muv-Luv VN series here (spoiler-free), written by myself and a fellow RC writer.
**Notably, I'm covering this series over at Random Curiosity on a weekly basis.
3) Sword Art Online (as of Episode 2)
- Ah, Sword Art Online. To say the least, this was easily the show I had the highest expectations of for the the summer anime season. And from what I've seen working the beat over at Random C, it seems like this was also the most anticipated new summer series for a majority of viewers too. And after watching the first two episodes, it hasn't really missed its expectations... only falling a bit short because there are some small things to possibly nit-pick about, as well as some strange animation discrepancies from time to time. All in all though, despite complaints I've read from people who've read the original source material, SAO is pretty good in my opinion (I personally haven't read the original LN's). Yes, I can see where people say it's similar to say, the .hack franchise and dislike it off the bat because of that, but really, that's just unfair, because SAO does do enough different to warrant being judged separately from the .hack umbrella... not to mention the fact the fact that it's just not right, as well as not objective to criticize an anime right off the bat because of its similarity to another series.
- Anyway, premise-wise, the series revolves around a virtual reality MMORPG whose name sake has been used for the title of the series. Two friends, Kirito and Asuna, find themselves trapped in the game along with 10000 other players shortly after logging in the first time. Subsequently, they are told by the founder that this was the intended purpose of the game, as well as the fact that they must clear the game in order to free themselves from the game. Dying in the game or anyone trying to detach the system linking the players to the game will result in death in real life and indeed, a few thousand players die in the first two years alone...
- All in all, while it's not a world-breaking premise... it's one that sets up all sorts of possible scenarios as a result. In addition, it puts more of a focus on the characters in driving the plot, which is usually a good thing, provided it's done right. Two episodes in, I'd say it's doing a pretty good job of doing that, so this is a show I'll definitely watch from start to finish. Depending on who you are though, this might not be the show for you... but still, I'd recommend that everyone give it a peek, if not just to see why it's so popular/what the hoolah's all about.
- Oh yes, Yuki Kajiura's also in charge of the music for this series... and we all know how epic she is.
**Notably, the author (Kawahara Reki) of the light novel this is adapted from, also has another work that has been adapted and is currently airing: Accel World.
4) Tari Tari (as of Episode 2)
- My pick for surprise of the season, it's definitely been fitting that moniker for the time being. A fair amount of viewers seemed to have discounted the series from the outset due to its similarity in premise/genre to recent series like Natsuiro Kiseki (Spring 2012) and Hanasaku Iroha from a little while back... but the one thing you should keep in mind is that this is PA Works we're talking about at the helm of everything. And when you got PA Works in the picture, there's always potential no matter the premise. Sure, they're not working with Jun Maeda of KEY this time around, but it's still a pretty heart-warming story that touches your emotional heart strings a bit. The cast of characters are also solid, giving us the great character interactions PA Works is known for doing. I do admit I am slightly worried they might rush this, because it's only 13 episodes and they've shown a little bit of time skipping already... but for now, it seems like it's definitely the slice-of-life show to look at this season. Oh yeah, did I mention the big aspect music plays in this series? Just another plus for those of you into that kind of show. :D