Anime World Cup – Summer 2014: Preview

With the new anime season upon us, I’ve devised a fun way–for me at least–to review many of the shows of the season without losing my mind from anime overload.

Inspired by this year’s World Cup, I’ve broken 24 different series into six groups of four, each group roughly representing a different genre. Each series will go head to head with the other three series in its group over the next three weeks, a letter grade for each episode used as the deciding factor. At the end of the three weeks, the two episodes from each group that have fared the best, will move on to the next round, which I’ll get into when we get there. For those completely uninterested in soccer or the machinations of the first round of the World Cup, bear with me as I think this will be fun and easy enough to follow.

As I mentioned, each group represents a different genre, give or take a little. This will ensure that I’ll be reviewing different genres of anime, rather than focusing on the 12 sci-fi shows of the season–which is what I would do otherwise. So if all four mech/action shows are awesome and all four sports/music/idol series are unwatchable, that’s too bad. I’ll still be reviewing two of each of those.

Check it out…

Group A: Sports/Music/Idol

Posters for Bakumatsu, Free, LocoDol and Shounen Hollywood

There’s a lot of shoujo here–outside of LocoDol–so that’s a connecting factor too. Bakumatsu has an interesting premise and I’m looking forward to Free! Eternal Summer, since the first season was pretty enjoyable in its celebration of the beauty of swimming–though it’s kind of hard to get through all the female fan service, but after years of scantily clad heroines, I guess this is the comeuppance we deserve. The two idol shows, on the other hand, look fairly underwhelming but I’ll withhold judgement.

Group B: Action/Mecha

Posters for Shirogane, Rail Wars!, Aldnoah.Zero and Sabagebu

It’s awesome to see two mech shows this season that look promising. Aldnoah.Zero is probably the standout for me with Gen Urobuchi–Psycho Pass, Puella Magi Madoka Magica–as the head writer and creator, as far as I can tell. Rail Wars! has an interesting premise, though I wonder if it can live up to the two mech shows. Sabagebu doesn’t look too good, but I said I’d watch 24 shows for the first few weeks, so there you go.

Group C: Slice of Life/Romance

Posters for Barakamon, Gekkan Shoujo Nazaki-Kun, Jinsei and Ao Haru Ride

I don’t have much of an opinion going into this group. Barakamon is a fish out of water tale that sounds like it could be Silver Spoonish while I like the manga and journalism slants of Gekkan Shoujo and Jinsei respectively. Ao Haru Ride sounds like the most generic of all of them, but the Production I.G. label raises my hopes a little.

Group D: Fantasy/Magical Girl

Posters for Sailor Moon Crystal, Sword Art Online 2, Akame ga Kill and Fate/kaleid liner 2wei

This group frightens me the most, not because I don’t like shows with numerous female protagonists, but because Sword Art Online and Fate/kaleid liner both look like they could potentially be pedo bait, just from the images I’ve seen. I’ve yet to see the sister shows in either franchise, so I could be wrong but we’ll see. I’m looking forward to the new Sailor Moon series, but I know next to nothing about Akame ga Kill!. Maybe Fate/kaleid liner or Sword Art will surprise me.

Group E: Mystery/Horror/Thriller

Posters for Tokyo Ghoul, Dramatical Murder, Persona 4 and Zankyou no Terror

I’m looking forward to all of these outside of Dramatical Murder–which could be good, I’m sure–so it’ll be tough picking the best. Tokyo Ghoul looks wicked in a way that few anime series are and Zankyou no Terror–besides being directed by Shinichirō Watanabe of Cowboy Bebop and (now) Space Dandy fame–is certainly doing some interesting things with its focus on two teenage boys who commit an act of mass terrorism. I hear that this is the third or fourth adaptation of Persona 4, which is certainly troubling, but having not seen any of those series and being a fan of the game, I’m hoping this newest version turns out well.

Group F: Wildcard

Posters for Glasslip, Space Dandy, Kuroshitsuji and Tokyo ESP

So the Wildcard group is meant for those series which couldn’t fit into any other grouping. Yeah, Glasslip is slice of life, but there were already four others. Honestly, Space Dandy: Season 2 will probably be marginally better than all three of these, so that leaves them at a disadvantage. Tokyo ESP sounds interesting but could be stupid and Glasslip is telling a story we haven’t seen yet–one about glassblowers–but could prove to be lacking in the entertainment department. Either way, Space Dandy‘s return is what I’m most looking forward to this season, so I’ll be stoked to see how the other three compare.

Check back tomorrow when I’ll be posting the results of Group A’s first week. It’ll be Bakumatsu Rock vs. Free! ES and LocoDol vs. Shounen Hollywood.

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