The summer anime season is now underway with various seasons impressing people, and others less so. This news post covers many series which are currently airing (but not all).
Ikoku Meiro started off the season quite nicely with a very charming storyline about a Japanese girl moving to Victorian era Paris; there are plenty of cute and endearing moments along the way as an outsider tries to fit into a foreign world. The animation and scenery are quite exceptional, some of the best you're likely to see in an animated series - it's a rare pleasure to see such high production standards.
Mayo Chiki seems to be a surprise hit and is one that I wholeheartedly recommend. It takes many staples from the harem genre and turns them on their head, combines this with a tsundere main character, a reverse trap and slapstick humour.
The setup for the show is somewhat similar to Maria Holic (though mercifully any similarities to that series are quite limited) the main character falls under the control of a rich girl who doesn't want anyone to know that her butler is actually a girl. All of this is established quite quickly and the plot thunders along to hilarious hijinks: getting the main character to go on a date with the butler - much to the jealousy of many girls who think the butler is a guy. Even the main character's sister professes her love for the butler-who-she-thinks-is-a-guy. It's entirely ridiculous, but oh so funny.
I should warn potential viewers that this is a somewhat ecchi show, however I'm hearing a lot of people say that even though they usually find ecchi offputting they find this extremely enjoyable.
Nekogami is a late arrival to the season with only one episode having aired so far. I'm reluctant to recommend a show based on one episode - but so far this has proven to be an enjoyable comedy very much in the vein of Ika Musume or the more lighthearted Rozen Maiden episodes.
Quite simply this show deals with cat gods (hence Neko-gami) who live on Earth with a human host, though their presence (much like the Rozen Maiden dolls) is very much a double edged sword for the humans who come into contact with them.
Another popular series is Mawaru Penguindrum, which is about a girl who dies and gets resurrected by penguins similar to those seen in Madagascar. Well. Sort of.
In the space of one episode you'll be bludgeoned with excessive fujoshi pandering, otaku pandering and incest. Needless to say, it's all rather strange (and if I might add, not really my cup of tea).
Kamisama Dolls is a somewhat popular series, it's mostly notable for having characters who are actually adults (as opposed to teenagers). Storywise it's nothing remarkable: a guy moves to Tokyo, discovers some dead bodies, realizes they were killed by some guy who lived in the same village as him. There isn't much more to say than that really, it's a shallow series with one dimensional characters and a total lack of charm.
YuruYuri is erm, well, as the title implies somewhat yuri. More precisely, it's another moe-styled slice of life series about 4 girls doing cute things together - hardly original, but nevertheless it does a reasonably good job of entertaining the viewer. If you enjoyed K-on! you should enjoy this too, just don't expect anything unique.
Perhaps the disappointment of the season so far has been Memochou, a series about a NEET detective (though quite how they are a NEET if they're also working as a detective is beyond me). What this essentially manifests as is CSI but with added social awkwardness and nerdiness, and like CSI this follows strictly linear storylines with magical problem solving. One could forgive this if the characters were interesting, but since they are socially awkward NEETs there is little to find interesting about them.
Conversely Dantalian is a rather enjoyable supernatural mystery series set in England (and as an Englishman, I must say they do a rather good job of portraying the English countryside). It's hard to say if the series will remain consistently good, but so far it has made an excellent and impressionable start - both the characters and the mystery prove to be interesting, so this is well worth checking out.
It's safe to say that Manyuu Hikenchou is not for everyone (much as I enjoy it), but if you enjoy series which are so bad they're good then you might get a laugh or two out of this series. This is an extremely ecchi series made by the team who produced Qwaser, and like that this revolves around ridiculously conceited ecchi scenarios - it is the sheer ridiculousness of things such as "secret technique breast theft" that make this so unintentionally funny.