Tag Archives: Summer 2014

Panther’s Summer Anime Season Breakdown

12 Jul , 2014,
Panther
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Leone

 

So, after my anime season preview, which anime series lived up to their expectations, and which did not? Of the ones I chose, which ones would be worth keeping? Will they even pass the 3-episode test? It is now time to find out.

Just a disclaimer – I obviously do not watch every show in a season, and I do not intend for this post to be anything other than my own opinions of how I think they went. You might like a show I dislike for example, or picked up something that you preferred over something that I wrote about here. So, this is more for those who have actually watched the shows, or those who are thinking of picking up the shows I mentioned, and seeing if they match up to what I said they would likely be. Again, that is from my own point of view, so take it as you will.

The 3-episode test, by the way, is a standard of measure for series for many. Basically, the anime has to keep you interested enough to continue watching it past 3 episodes, and I have found this to be a good gauge on most (but not all) occasions.

Series are listed in terms of tier ratings, following in a descending order, S, then A, then B and so on. An S-ranked show is quite likely to be an excellent show for me, but my tastes could very well be different from yours. Some of the shows only had 1 episode aired, while some have two. The number of episodes aired thus far will be listed beside the anime title. Screenshots are taken directly from the episodes themselves.

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S Tier

Aldnoah.ZERO

 

Aldnoah.ZERO (1)

Airing on Saturday nights in Japan, Aldnoah.ZERO is the story of the discovery of a hypergate on the Moon in 1972. Immigrants to Mars via this hypergate discovered the ancient remnants of a lost civilization 30,000 years past, and promptly used it to proclaim themselves different and superior to the Earthlings. The division led to a war that saw the destruction of the Moon and the hypergate. 15 years after that event, a princess of the Martian Vers Empire makes a goodwill visit to Earth in an attempt to repair the torn relations, but ends up being assassinated. Determined to take revenge, but even more so to take over Earth, the birthplace of their fathers, the Orbital Knights of the Martian empire begin their invasion of Earth, with little to stop them except the egos of the other Knights.

The first episode was nothing short of Urobutcher goodness. The princess died not in a hail of fire but one of pinpoint precision missiles en route to her destination on Earth. The animation was also fantastic when it came to the Orbital Knights descending upon Earth – above, you see New Orleans right before it gets decimated in a fireball reminiscent of what would happen if an asteroid dropped from space…which is not too far from the truth in this case. The plot and its background was given to us in various scenes throughout the episode, but not done in a way that seemed disjointed. In short, it was excellent.

I have great faith in Urobutcher and what I know of his works, and the first episode showed that there will be even more bloodshed and grimness to come, along with lots of possible mecha action and the like. Be prepared if you go into this show – it will not be nice, though in a good way, if you get what I mean.

 

Zankyou no Terror

 

Zankyou no Terror
Terror in Resonance (1)

Crimson has already done up a preview for this, so I will not go into further details as he has already watched an episode ahead of me. All I can say is that the first episode has left me wanting more, and this anime certainly goes down a route which few has gone in a way that might just be unimaginably large. This will likely end up being one of the definitive shows of this summer season.

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A Tier

Kuroi Kobushi

 

Tokyo ESP (1)

A girl named Urushiba Rinka follows a fish she sees to the top of a tower only to find more fishes, and when one passes through her, she discovers she has the ability to pass through objects. Meeting others like herself who have gained special powers, they cannot sit still, and form a vigilante group to keep law and order in Tokyo.

That was precisely what I was expecting out of the first episode, so color me extremely surprised when they dropped right into the action. The first episode had none of that. It was more like a Japanese version of X-men instead, with the espers going up against one another, and a move on the parliament itself. There was not just a lot of action, there were a lot of characters too. Further, there was no censorship to mar it like a series you will read about below, so it was all very well done.

The reason this goes into the A-tier category though was how the music seemed to drown out the speech at certain places, and how many things were just thrown at the viewer at once in the first episode. There were no less than 15 characters possibly introduced in various ways that might have an impact on the story in just the first episode alone, so that was hefty. Otherwise, I find this show to be a likely candidate as well to be a definitive show of the season. It will go on for 2 cours, so there is plenty of time to develop the material, and show us the good stuff.

 

Leone

 

Akame ga KILL! (1)

Barely making it into A-tier is Akame ga KILL!. The series follows a country boy, adept at fighting, who goes to the capital in search of fame and glory, that he might earn enough money to save his village from taxation and ruin. While there, he gets scammed of his money, and learns that the capital is actually a very corrupt place. He is “saved” by a girl of nobility, only to discover through the invasion of a group of assassins that she has actually killed his best friends who were supposed to meet up with him, torturing them slowly to death. He kills her, and subsequently gets forced to join the assassin group.

There was more humor than I thought there would be in the show, but they do not mince words, nor do they stop with the gore and the blood. The assassin group is like a group of vigilantes – where justice is unable to punish evil, evil shall punish evil instead. They kill those who are guilty, and that certainly sounds like something that has been done quite a few times. Still, the series’ humor, combined with its corrupt setting, makes for some good watching, and the only girl with nekomimi (猫耳; cat ears) this season is in it.

Akame ga KILL! is planned for 2 cours, and according to those who have read the manga, the first episode lived up to expectations, so it will likely be good enough to keep watching throughout. All is not fun and games in this show, but neither is it all blood and dark either.

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B Tier

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

 

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen (2)
Silver Will: Argevollen

Argevollen, as it is better known by, has a rather generic plot. I liken it to a combination of Valkyria Chronicles‘ story, and the mecha action of Break Blade. They all have something in common – a war begins between a great power intent on conquering the smaller country for its resources and wealth, disguising it as a war of liberation. A young pilot disobeys orders from his commander while their unit starts retreating from the frontline in order to try and save civilians from being chased by enemy units. He fails spectacularly, but while trying to get the remaining civilian alive away from the battle, she unleashes a new type of mech that he is asked to pilot, one that might just change the tide of the battle in their favor.

While all too generic, they did show how Tokimune, our protagonist, failed to hit the enemy on his first try in Argevollen. The main reason was because he was trying to compensate for the slowness and the lag in his older mech type, but Argevollen moves just as you want it to. The creator of this series, as someone put it, “gets mechs”. The second episode also introduced a little variable that disallowed anyone but Tokimune to pilot the mech, dampening the series because of a rather cliche plot development, but otherwise, the mecha action has indeed been great. Tokimune is also definitively not good at piloting Argevollen – while he may be superior in technology, his inexperience as well as fighting ability makes him rely on teammates as well, which is a good thing for the series.

The third episode’s preview has its title as “One Man Army”. I am hoping it is not a reference to Tokimune becoming just like a one-man army, but I highly doubt he will get to that point because no war is won and fought alone by one man or mech, and Argevollen, despite its generic elements, does not seem to be going down that path. I will most likely finish this both for the mech action as well as the strategies and tactics used to fight the war. Oh, and the girls, all in all, probably have the best looks this season in every show I have watched so far. I mean, look at Suzushiro! None of the others are shabby either. That is some nice character design.

 

Fukami Touko

 

Glasslip (2)

There is something about slow, slice-of-life series that make or break them for me. Individual variations exist, but Glasslip seems to fall at the lower end of that spectrum. Fukami Touko (above) dreams of becoming a glass artisan, and has a group of close friends with a no-dating policy. A newcomer, Okikura Kakeru, appears before her and tells her that he came to meet her. Both apparently have the power to see or hear into the future.

Little else is really shown in the show thus far, but there are a lot of shots of scenery and the like, making it one of the more aesthetically pleasing shows of the season. P.A. Works is at least not disappointing in that area, and I must say, this would likely be quite golden as a show for people who love ones like these. There are a lot of romance problems involved, especially with the lifting of the no-dating policy in the second episode, so we will likely get to see just how the relationships between the tangled mess of folks here develop, and in what manner.

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C Tier

Magoichi Saika

 

Sengoku BASARA Judge End (1)

I really have nothing to say. The first episode left me more shocked than anything. The series was damned by the change in studio – the pacing and the art direction was seriously lacking compared to the first two seasons and the movie done by Madhouse. I have no idea why they changed studios, or why they even bothered to continue the series. Oh wait, money. Sengoku BASARA is pretty hot in various forms in Japan, owing much to its possible yaoi aspects and the overwhelmingly ridiculous action in the anime series thus far. Unfortunately, it has just gone down the drain.

Aside from bad pacing and art, the story is also different from the previous iteration, or rather, the story that led up to this point is different from the previous storyline. That was a bad move right from the start – I was coming into this wholly expecting them to continue after a recap of the end of movie. They also introduced two new characters, both women, one of whom is Magoichi Saika (above). I am fine with the introduction of new characters, but give me back my previously good action, art, and development please. This could easily be one of the worst upsets of the season; I am now unsure if I can even bring myself to finish it if it continues like this.

 

Kaneki Ken & Rize

 

Tokyo Ghoul (2)

Ghouls look like humans, but cannot survive without feasting on human flesh at least once a month. The appearance of a binge eater, Rize (mirror above), causes problems for both ghouls and humans alike, as she shatters the fragile fabric of co-existence between ghouls and humans. A freak accident kills her and leaves Kaneki Ken (also above) almost dead, and the surgeon in charge of the operation makes the decision to transfer Rize’s organs into him in order to save his life. It turns him into a ghoul instead. Now neither human nor ghoul, Kaneki must confront the horror of his new world, and find out more about the ghouls and humans if he is to continue his existence.

The story seems all well and good, but there were people already harping on the lack of quality in the first episode. I thought it was fine, but then I watched the second episode and I was like, “What are they doing?” The primary reason for this was the censorship. They had no real reason to keep censoring gore, blood, and the like, what with other shows mentioned above already doing it. Further, there was an entire scene in episode 2 where all the blood was changed to a different color, painting the entire scene in a way that Bakemonogatari once did. In that series though, it worked very well, and was a great artistic move for the show. Here? It was just gaudy eye candy that simply took away from the experience of the show. I am pretty sure a lot of people came for the blood and gore, and they would have been left feeling worse than disappointed at where this seems to be going.

In any case, whether or not I continue watching this boils down to the plot. With good material but bad execution, even a show can become little more than an existence denied by the diehard fans of the manga series, and Tokyo Ghoul might just go that way real soon, if it has not already done so.

 

Kasagi Shizuka

 

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? (1)
Invaders of the 6-Tatami-Mat Room!?

Invaders of the Rokujouma, as it is likely more known by, is supposed to be the gag comedy of the season. None of the humor in it has not been used before though. Satomi Koutarou moves into a new apartment with a floor size that of 6 tatami mats, which is a common way of measurement in Japan. He got it cheap for just 5,000 Yen a month, and he plans on keeping things cheap, so imagine all the ruckus that comes when a ghost, then a magical girl, an underground person, and an alien all show up and try to drive him out of his apartment! Invaders indeed.

Unfortunately the humor was a little forced at times, and really, none of it having not been done before meant that you would likely chuckle at the jokes, but nothing more than that. Some fanservice might be expected, but this is not really a fanservice show. The four invaders are voiced by new talent who are backed up by some stronger talent, and that is about it. Unless you seriously find the jokes funny, this one is likely to be dropped not long after you start it.

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F Tier

Momoko

 

Momo Kyun Sword (1)

That picture says it all. Incidentally, I have never seen a post on my Tumblr go beyond 1,000 notes before, but as of this writing, the post I made with this screenshot (warning: NSFW language) has garnered over 1,600 notes. Really, why would you start on it? I expected this, and I got it full-on. I wonder if I can even keep past the next episode, in fact.

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And there you have it, the results of my picks for the summer season. I would like to say that I did well, but really? Not really. At least, I am only following 10 shows this season, with 2 more continuing from the last season, for a total of 12. Most of them also air during the weekends too, which is helpful.

Panther’s Summer 2014 Anime Season Preview

1 Jul , 2014,
Panther
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Sengoku BASARA - Date Masamune

 

Date Masamune says it all – let’s put the guns on! YEAH! Welcome to the summer, folks. And with summer, comes a whole new anime season. Date is not just there for show either (for those who know Japanese and caught the pun, good job) – he will be in this season once more. Before we get down to it however, there are a few things to keep in mind as you read this anime season preview.

The first is easy – any preview is subjective in nature and should never be taken as anything more than an opinion by another person. So please, nothing written here is absolute, and you should take it in stride with that in mind. What I write is all my own opinion – you are more than welcome to hold a different opinion, because as Virgil said, “I may disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” So by all means, do not get offended if your favorite show is not in here, or was not given enough attention. You and I just have different views about it, that is all.

 

Secondly, the preview will not cover all shows airing in the season. Most of it are major shows, and I will also skip over even more shows compared to other previews. These posts can take hours to write up. I jest you not; on my old blog trying to do almost every show in a season including my thoughts, one of these previews once took over 5 hours to complete in total. I will mention in passing some that will likely be given attention elsewhere, but I will not do much for them.

Lastly, I am taking my information from these excellent sources. Random Curiosity is a very established and well-known anime blog in the aniblog community, and you will be richly rewarded with more information than anything here if you go over there to read their Summer 2014 Preview post. Hashihime is another blog I trust, though he deals a lot more with seiyuu (voice actors/actresses), an aspect of anime I am more into than others. You can hop on over to check out his preview as well. I thank these two blogs for their sources of information, and remember, their previews are opinions too.

 

One more point – I will often talk about certain seiyuu in my posts, but I will not list their more famous roles. Some of these roles can be subjectively remembered by everyone for different reasons, while other roles may be more prominent for you for a seiyuu. I will link their ANN profiles so you can always click on their names to go there and check for yourselves.

By the way, the new season actually starts tonight in Japan (or tomorrow, if you see it as being in the wee morning hours of Wednesday), hot on the tails of several anime series finishing tonight for the spring season. Actually, the new season will start in the wee morning hours of the 3rd of July in Japan, one day away from the end of the spring season. Off we go.

Glasslip

 

Glasslip

While largely a season of sequels, Glasslip is one of the original anime series coming out that is getting quite a bit of attention. I made up my mind to watch this since I knew about it before or around the start of the spring season, when it was announced. Glasslip is about a group of students, including Fukami Touko who wants to be a glass artisan, having their lives changed by the appearance of Okikura Kakeru, who came to her saying he heard a voice from the future that led him to her. A slice-of-life anime from a studio known for doing such stuff, I am looking forward to this for a “softer” anime series.

Hayami Saori and Taneda Risa are in this, and these two have a great track record by now. They are backing up a younger, newer cast, so I guess I will not be too upbeat about the cast themselves. P.A. Works, however, has a great track record. The anime’s concept is reminiscent of Tari Tari, but with Uchouten Kazoku added into the mix, I am pretty sure that we can expect an average anime in Glasslip at the very least.

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

 

Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen

Argevollen is another original anime series, though this time in the mecha department. Coming from XEBEC and the makers of Break Blade, which I really liked, the story follows a long conflict between two countries that sees the balance being tipped when a new weapon is introduced. Rather typical for a plot, but I am expecting the animation quality and the action to be no less than Break Blade (the movies’). There is little information surrounding the series, but I hardly see that as a problem when XEBEC and mecha are combined in this case.

In the main team, Oonishi Saori may not be as well-known as a favorite veteran of mine, Ohara Sayaka, but both are being backed by some excellent voice talent in Hayami Sho (I have to mention Aizen Sousuke of Bleach here, still his most badass best role by far), Yoshino Hiroyuki and Sakurai Takahiro. Osaka Ryouta rounds out the cast that I know, so we can expect some excellent work in the voice department.

Tokyo Ghoul

 

Tokyo Ghoul

A horror anime series that might, for fans of the horror genre, be a long time coming, Tokyo Ghoul is one of the more hyped series of the season. While there are some raised concerns about the anime, as mentioned in RandomC’s preview, I suspect that the hype surrounding this show will at least have some truth to it when the show gets released. I am not very much into the horror genre, but Tokyo Ghoul has perked my interest enough that I will definitely be watching this for a bit to see if it is worth continuing.

Ghouls in TKG are beings that look like humans, but must feast on human flesh in order to survive. Kaneki Ken gets close to one without knowing it, and his life is changed forever thereafter. It sounds like a generic plot at first, but what happens after can turn out very interestingly sometimes. Hanae Natsuki and Hanazawa Kana voice the main characters, backed by the likes of Amamiya Sora, Miyano Mamoru, Sakurai Takahiro, Asanuma Shintarou, Nakamura Yuuichi and Konishi Katsuyuki…is this like a red carpet walkthrough of a stellar male seiyuu cast or something? At the very least, I bet fangirls of said seiyuu would be delighted to know they are all together in this show.

ALDNOAH.ZERO

ALDNOAH.ZERO

Another original anime series in the mecha genre, this one is immediately famous not for the genre, but for the creator, the infamous Urobuchi Gen, otherwise known as Urobutcher. Author and creator of such works as the visual novel Saya no Uta, and anime series like Psycho-Pass, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and the more recent Suisei no Gargantia (considerably milder than his previous works), this is a series not to be missed just because it is one done by the Butcher himself. At the very least, it should be given a chance to see whether it will go down a similar route to Gargantia, or perhaps end up being more sinister like in Psycho-Pass or Madoka.

A hypergate was discovered in 1972 on the moon, and it led to the colonization of Mars. Conflict occurred between the immigrants and Earth, and the hypergate went out of control destroying the Moon in the process. Now 2014, 15 years after the war began, the story is set to begin. Little else is known about the show, but Sawano Hiroyuki comes in as the series’ composer, ensuring that the background music will be nothing to laugh at as well.

Hanae Natsuki and Amamiya Sora star together once again in an anime series; they must be getting popular or something. Hayami Sho, Ohara Sayaka, Kayano Ai, Oukawa Toru, and Nakai Kazuya make up the veteran cast, while Misawa Sachika and Komatsu Mikako come in as relatively new seiyuu, though the latter has already made quite a name for herself as a singer.

Sengoku BASARA Judge End

 

Sengoku BASARA Judge End

ARE YOU READY GUYS? PUT THE GUNS ON!

I never would have thought it possible, what with the movie ending the series on an excellent note, but they are having this third season of Sengoku BASARA after all. All of the yaoi implications aside, the show is a ridiculous throwback to the likes of a warring state era that I dearly loved when I was younger, and read about the ones in China. And the level of ridiculous power in Sengoku BASARA has never failed to entertain, alongside the action as well as the music, so there really is nothing left to say about a show that has already set its expectations quite high.

The only worrying thing is that a new studio took over for this season instead, so I hope they will keep up the standard. Nothing needs to be said in terms of the seiyuu either – they are a very strong group. This will definitely be one of the biggest sequels to look forward to this season.

Akame ga Kill

 

Akame ga KILL!

WHITE FOX brings us the adaptation of a dark manga series, where the seemingly good are the true evil, and the killers are the real harbingers of justice. Nothing good seems to come out of this world, and those who wish to watch it should bring a very open mindset to this series as you will likely step down the path of bloodshed in order to see where the concept of “good” truly lies. The series has a lot of hype surrounding it, and will run for 2 cours, so I am definitely watching this for the gore, action, and the plot. WHITE FOX is pretty decent in its track record, so I expect that they will at least do justice to the manga adaptation.

Amamiya Sora appears once again. Konishi Katsuyuki, Noto Mamiko, Komatsu Mikako, Asakawa Yuu and Tamura Yukari are also in this, so there should be no worries with respect to the voice cast.

Momo Kyun Sword

 

Momo Kyun Sword

A re-imagining of the classic folk tale of Momotarou the Peach Boy, but with a girl instead. The plot is generic as all hell, but the cast might just make this a funny show to watch on the side. Momoko will be voiced by Taketatsu Ayana, and she will be backed by a strong host of female seiyuuImai Asami, Takahashi Chiaki, Asano Masumi, Katou Emiri, and slightly newer ones in Komatsu Mikako, Tsuda Minami, and Mimori Suzuko. There really is not a whole lot of reason to watch this other than for the fanservice and perhaps the humor though, so you would be well advised to keep that in mind if you plan to watch this.

Zankyou no Terror

 

Zankyou no Terror

While probably listed under the “horror” genre, Zankyou no Terror is more of a horrifying thriller than anything. A terrorist group has practically annihilated Tokyo in a large-scale attack, and unbeknownst to the common public, the group called “Sphinx” responsible for it is actually made up of two boys. It is the beginning of their grand game that will soon engulf all of Japan in terror.

I do like psychological thrillers and this one seems to have great tangible consequences, so I will definitely pick this up. The show will very likely play around with your mind a lot, so if you are not into that, stay far away from this series. With its deep-seated creepiness, this one looks to be quite the hit in its own right, and being an original anime series, who knows how it will go? Ishikawa Kaito voices one of the two boys, but little else is known about the voice cast. The director Watanabe Shinichiro, however, is no strange name in the industry, so we can expect quite the solid show in this one.

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?

 

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!?

Invaders of the Rokujouma (a 6-tatami-mat sized apartment) is an obvious comedy from start to finish. With wacky characters surrounding our literally poor protagonist, he has to face a ghost determined to drive him out of this small hole. As with comedy shows, the humor could be hit-or-miss depending on your tastes, so you might want to approach this one with caution. Nakamura Yuuichi voices our lead, while Hayami Saori, Taketatsu Ayana and Yuuki Aoi are also in it. One can only hope that the humor will be good right now.

Tokyo ESP

 

Tokyo ESP

Urushiba Rinka is a normal girl, until she sees a flying penguin and chases it, resulting in her ending up with strange powers. Together with a boy from her school, they meet others with various different powers, and end up as justice fighters. The premise seems interesting and there is a lot of good hype surrounding the show’s adaptation, so I expect quite a lot out of this show. Some fantasy and magic done well is always welcome.

Kido Ibuki, a mere 16 years old, is getting a major role this season as Rinka in this one. Quite a bit of the cast are veteran seiyuu, such as Inoue Kazuhiko, Genda Tesshou, Ogata Megumi and Nakata Jouji, while some relatively new ones like Tadokoro Azusa and Misawa Sachika are also in it. There sure are a lot of good things going for this even before it airs, so it will probably be one of the top shows of the season.

Hanamonogatari

Hanamonogatari

Little really needs to be said about the continuation of the almost epic -monogatari series by NisiOisin. Hanamonogatari will run for 5 episodes covering Kanbaru Suruga’s latest problem, and for fans, you know exactly what to expect out of this by-now legendary series. Really, do I have to say anything more?

*****

Mentions

Free! -Eternal Summer- – The second season of the wildly popular bishounen swimming anime Free!. I bet there are lots of fujoshi looking forward to this.

Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal – Yet another season of the very long-standing series Sailor Moon. Established fan levels will probably guarantee its success no matter what.

Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 49- – A male idol anime. Idol anime are certainly getting very popular nowadays. This one will largely cater to the ladies.

Sword Art Online II – Wondering why this did not make the list above? Because I am not watching it. In fact, if I were to watch it, I would just make fun of it. I had enough of Kirito and his broken stuff. I also heard the GGO arc is bad, which is what they will cover in this. But hey, I am not even bothering with the series anymore. Still, if you are a fan of this, this is not to be missed of course.

Space Dandy 2 – I did finish the first season, but it was a lot of hit-and-miss. I am still debating if I should watch the second season. If you liked the first season though, go ahead with this one. I have heard that Westerners far prefer this than Japanese viewers, so you would do little to hurt yourself by giving the first season a go at least.

Ao Haru Ride – One of those romance genre series that I am not into. I am pretty sure there are lots of people who would be into this though, so if you like the genre, give it a try. There have been some good things said about the series.

LOVE STAGE!! – Yaoi is written all over this. You know how that goes for me – a big no. But I am sure there are many fangirls (maybe even fanboys) who would be into this so fast, you would have to take out a camera to slow it down frame by frame so you can see what they are actually doing.

 

I have left out several other sequels of shows I do not watch, but you get the general idea already from this. I still suggest going to both RandomC’s and Hashihime’s posts to find out more if you are interested, for this is just a very general look at the season at hand. Further, the shows might have hype, but whether you like it or not is another matter once they actually start airing. Have fun with that when the season starts!