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My top five most exciting summer releases, based purely on the first episode - and slightly skewed because nobody's fansubbing Kuruneko. C'mon, you guys.
Fifth place goes to, PRINCESS LOVER!. A boy goes to live with his fabulously rich grandfather after his parents are killed, rescues a princess, gets engaged to a sword-swinging valkyrie and enters a posh school full of sexy girls. Yes, it's a harem anime - no, it doesn't have anything particularly to distinguish it from all the other harem anime out there. But it's got a sense of humour, nice animation, and a main character who isn't a complete twit, so for relaxed and mildly enjoyable viewing, this is my vote.
Taking fourth is UMINEKO NO NAKU KORO NI. A rich family has their reunion on a private island to discuss what will happen when the secretive head of the family finally pops his clogs. Turns out the old sod made a deal with a witch that's going to come back to bite them all in the bottom, and before you know it people will be dropping like flies. Based on the third series of games from the creators of Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni, solid production values and the garuntee of an unholy gore fest and a plot that'll knock your socks off are somewhat undermined by a cast of largely wooden characters and the fact that if you've seen Higurashi, you already know roughly what's going to happen.
In third place is TOKYO MAGNITUDE 8.0. Your typical sulky teenager and her little brother get caught up in an enormous earthquake and have to find their parents with the help of a woman who rides a motorcycle. This meticulously researched disaster series is based on the prediction that Tokyo will have a 7.0 or above earthquake within the next thirty years - add in the high production values and you've got a series dedicated to realism. The visual style is very reminiscent of Eden of the East, the series it replaced on Fuji TV's late night slot, but expect an emotional rollercoaster rather than the action and mystery of it's predecessor.
Second place is justly deserved by CANAAN. A mysterious gunwoman, the leader of a terrorist group, an idealistic photojournalist and her world-weary boss looking for his next big scoop, a scary Chinese lady with no sense of social propriety, a man and his mute girlfriend involved in some kind of people trafficing and unexplained deaths from here to kingdom come - all in a dazzlingly animated Shanghai. With a concept from Type Moon (Fate/Stay Night fame), a solidly up-and-coming studio and astronomical production values, this was always going to be the gem of the summer releases - it's just nice to see it living up to expectations. I'm anticipating the juciest mystery plot I've had for a long time, interspaced with lots of gorgeous but realistic women kicking ass.
But what could take top spot away from the season's hottest release? Prepare for the feast of audio-visual delights that is BAKEMONOGATARI. A boy, recently saved from vampiredom, accidentally discovers his beautiful and icy classmate's secret weightlessness and attempts to help her out. Not the most original storyline, but you'll forgive it immediately once you see the delivery. The animation is out of this world - words do not exist to describe this arthouse masterpiece. It's like a party in your eyes. Add in the fast flurried wordplay and off-beat laugh-out-loud jokes, the solid, quirky and endearing characters and the slightly-less-than-reverential take on the youkai genre, and you've got a series already destined to be a classic. This, ladies and gentlemen, is something really special.
And that's all for now, folks. Tune in next week for my Top Five Anime for People Who Don't Watch Anime.
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