Unfortunately the last few years has seen a distinct lack of anime that I’m interested in. For the most part, the animation studios decided their main market to be the shut-ins and hardcore Japanese otaku, and pretty much dropped everyone else. It’s been a long wait, but they seem to have finally realised there were a whole lot of other people who weren’t interested in shounen/harem/fanservice anime and are churning out new shows for this part of their audience.

Of the shows to be released in the second quarter of this year, I am really enjoying the following:

Kids on the slope/Sakamichi no Apollon

Shinchiro Watanabe, director of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, once again dons his director’s hat for Kids on the slope. Kids is a drama that follows two high school boys who couldn’t be any more different. The first boy we meet is Kaoru Nishimi, a very shy and studious boy who is trained in classical piano. When he starts at a new school he meets Sentaro Kawabuchi, a rough loner who is constantly getting into fights. By chance Kaoru discovers that Sentaro plays the drums, and is a huge fan of jazz. Despite coming from a classical background, Kaoru finds himself being drawn into the world of jazz music. This shared love sees Kaoru and Sentaro become fast friends, despite how much they seem to differ on the surface.

It’s Shinchiro Watanabe. Great characters, glorious attention to detail, interesting story and of course fantastic music. While I can easily recommend this to anyone who likes dramas, if you’re a fan of Watanabe and jazz, this is a must see.

Space Brothers

Two brothers, Hibito and Mutta, see a UFO one day while out exploring a forest. They are both amazed by the strange sight before them, and they promise each other that they will both become astronauts. Mutta, being the older brother, feels it’s up to him to lead the way. Fast forward a decade or so, and Mutta has just been fired from his job as a car designer. Hibito has become an astronaut and is busy training with NASA for his trip to space. After a bit of pushing from the people who love him, Mutta soon finds himself working towards the promise he and Hibito made when they were children.

This show caught me completely off guard. It deals with many of the insecurities we face as adults in the real world, such as the role of the older brother, failure, giving up on our dreams, and is also highly entertaining. Recommended for people who like dramas with a touch of comedy.

Tsuritama

Yuki Sanada is a(nother) shy boy who lives with his grandmother. She frequently moves around for work, and as a result Yuki has a hard time making new friends. His few attempts to make friends are usually marked by strange panic attacks, in which he imagines himself drowning while a strange expression forms on his face. After moving to a new city and joining a new school, he meets another strange exchange student/alien by the name of Haru. Haru carries around a water pistol and is sometimes seen walking around with a fishbowl on his head. They befriend a loner from their class, who happens to be a fisherman, Natsuki Usami. The timing couldn’t be better since Haru tells Yuki he needs to learn how to fish in order to save the world.

An anime about fishing! What will they think of next? I’ve only watched the first couple of episodes, but I really liked the odd characters and surreal humour. This show could go downhill, but I like what I’ve seen so far.

Other shows that have caught my interest are:

Eureka Seven – Astral Ocean

The story picks up over a decade after the original show and focuses on Eureka’s and Renton’s son. It’s got great action sequences but I’m not sure I like the direction the story is taking.

Lupin the Third – Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna

A very adult show, with a very different tone from the other Lupin’s I’ve seen. I’ve only watched the first episode but it seems to have potential.

Kuroko’s Basketball

I’ve actually watched the first six episodes of this, and while I am really enjoying it, it’s starting to head towards typical shounen territory. If it mixes things up a bit it should keep me interested. 

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