Unlike the U.S. television cycle of new episodes from fall to spring with reruns through the summer, Japanese TV chugs along with continuous new content. The calendar gets broken up into four blocks of 13 weeks each, and with a new one starting next month, there’s a slew of anime about to premier. Hold on to your butts, anime fans–this is going to be a fun season!
First out of the gate is Free!, the highly anticipated new series from Kyoto Animation.
Although the studio is best known for mega hits which feature cute girls, such as K-on and Haruhi Suzumiya, Free! is targeted squarely at female fans as it follows the members of a high school boys swim team, and promises abundant shots of the cast’s tight swimwear and abs. Free! premiers on Tokyo MX on July 4 at 12:30 a.m.
2. Excellent Singing Battle Princess Symphogear G
Viewers not interested in such a down-to-earth and male-populated story might instead want to check out Excellent Singing Battle Princess Symphogear G, a continuation of the almost identically-titled Excellent Singing Battle Princess Symphogear.
Studio Satelight, known for shows featuring idol singers and giant robots such as Macross F and AKB 0048, this time presents a story of idol singers and… suits of powered armor. Hey, you can’t blame them for playing to their strengths. The new series also features an opening theme and character portrayal by anime music evergreen Nana Mizuki, and starts July 6 at the comparatively sensible time of 10:30 p.m.
3. Dangan Rompa
Somewhat less straightforward is Dangan Rompa, in which protagonist Makoto Naegi is an average kid who finds himself the winner of an annual lottery that grants admission to the super elite high school known as Kibogamine Academy.
As if the creepy two-tone bear isn’t enough of a sign that foul things are afoot, Dangan Ronpa is based on a series of mystery games for Sony’s PSP console in which the school’s students try to pull off the perfect murder. Add in director Seiji Kishi, who previously worked on the unsettling Humanity Has Declined and lead voice actress Megumi Ogata (Evangelion’s Shinji), and you can expect more than a few dark twists starting on TBS at 1:55 a.m. on July 6.
4. Golden Mosaic
For a less sinister story of school days, there’s Golden Mosaic, premiering July 9 at 12:30 a.m. on Tokyo MX.
In this adaption from the four-panel gag comic of the same name, 10th grader Shinobu Omiya one day receives a letter from Alice, a girl she met during her time doing homestay in the U.K. Alice says she’ll be coming to Japan, along with her half-Japanese friend Karen, presumably to do cute things with Shinobu and her classmates Aya and Yoko.
5. Love Lab
If you still haven’t had your fill of watching girls hang out with each other, there’s also Love Lab, set in the prestigious Fujigasaki Junior High School.
Fujigasaki is an all girls school, and with no boys to date the president of the student council forms a research committee to study romantic love. Love Lab can be seen on TBS on July 6 at 2:25 a.m., a time at which you might just be sleep-deprived enough to find its premise plausible.
6. Fantasista Doll
For anime fans who’d rather see their junior high school girls fighting than loving, there’s Fantasista Doll, the collaborative effort from Code Geass creator Goro Taniguchi and Hisashi Saito, director of Heaven’s Lost Property and Haganai.
The story follows ordinary eighth-grader Uzume, who comes across a set of cards that let her summon a team of five warriors, called “dolls,” with which to defend the Earth. Taniguchi said his recent viewing of a student animation festival inspired him to rethink the way he creates animation, and fans can see the result at midnight on July 8 on Tokyo MX.
7. Hyperdimension Geim Neptune
July 12 is the broadcast date for the first episode of Hyperdimension Geim Neptune on Tokyo MX.
Neptune is based on a series of sleeper hit video games, wherein warring goddesses struggle for control of the world. The hook is that all of the characters are references to video game systems, from heroine Neptune (the planned moniker of a piece of cancelled Sega hardware) to ostensible villain “Majiconu,” a thinly-veiled stand-in for Nintendo’s legendary Famicon/NES. Even the series setting, Geim Gyo, is a pun based on the Japanese gemu gyo/video game industry.
8. Monogatari Series Second Season
Also premiering is the latest installment of the Monogatari franchise, simply titled Monogatari Series Second Season.
Premiering at midnight July 7 on Tokyo MX, Monogatari Series Second Season is the continuation of Nekomonogatari (Black), which is itself a prequel to the 2009 TV series Bakemonogatari, which also has a sequel called Nisemonogatari, and the whole shebang is based on a series of novels. Confusing as this may be, just remember that the whole franchise follows Koyomi Araragi, a high school student who gains supernatural powers after being attacked by a vampire, and you’re more or less good to go.
9. Rozen Maiden
Another series longtime fans will be familiar with is Rozen Maiden, starting July 4 at the precise time of 1:58 on TBS.
A reimagining of the 2004 series of the same name, Rozen Maiden shows what happens when lead character Jun mail orders an intricately-crafted doll that comes to life when he winds it up.
10. Silver Spoon
And last but not least, mark your calendars for the first episode of Silver Spoon on Fuji TV on July 12.
Male lead Yugo Hachiken, despite graduating from an elite junior high school, chooses to attend the relatively undistinguished Oezo Agricultural High School in rural Hokkaido, primarily because it has a dorm and will let him get away from his family. Once classes start though, his classmates’ honest ambition to learn about farming and raising livestock starts to rub off on him.
If this all sounds incredibly boring, Silver Spoon is based on a comic by Hiromu Arukawa, the same creator behind the international hit Fullmetal Alchemist. Having that kind of success under her belt means that Arukawa can write about whatever she wants, and when you consider that her parents are dairy farmers, odds are this series will turn out to be much more than its basic premise would lead you to expect. Silver Spoon’s first episode airs at 1:10 a.m., before moving to its regular slot of 12:55 a.m. the following week.
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