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The 2014 summer anime season just started, and we are in episode 2 or 3 for most shows this week. There are a lot of great shows this season, with both returning favorites and a bunch of new programs, some of which look quite good even though it is still early in the season. I have my own favorites, but I will wait for one more week’s worth of episodes before sharing them. That is partly because I want an additional episode of each to make sure they are consistently good, and partly because I am still trying out new stuff I haven’t seen yet to decide whether or not to add them to my watched list. What I wanted to share today was a couple of good places to find out about the shows.

Crunchyroll has the Final Summer 2014 Anime Season Chart, with each show individually detailed to include the studio that made it, a description of the program/premise it was built on, what kind of media it began life as (Game, Manga, Light Novel, etc.), the date the show began, and a link to the Anime’s home page (the BAKA.BZ entry for each one). You can find the details about how this grid was created at Neregate, which includes all the entries, not just the ones Crunchyroll is associated with. This is a wonderful resource for figuring out what is available and where it began, but a pretty poor tool for basing your decisions on. With this one, you read about each entry and decide for yourself which ones to check out, without any kind of descriptive streamlining, trailers, rating system, or recommendation. Still, there is a ton of good info here, well worth your time to explore!

Kotaku has Your Complete Summer 2014 Anime Guide, and I do like the format. They give you the title, the genre, when it starts, where you can watch it, a single sentence description of the plot/premise, and a trailer for each show. It doesn’t take much time to go through the article and get a short list of interesting series to check out, with an idea of what other ones might be worth watching once you have discarded the less than stellar members of that first set. This way to go about your decision making takes a personal approach, meaning you have to be involved at every step of the process. While the initial run through the guide doesn’t take long, watching the shows themselves to decide which ones are worth following can take a bit. For instance, if you start by checking the first 3 episodes of the 5 shows you find interesting, you have burned 345 minutes, or just under 6 hours. Drop the 2 you find least interesting and check out a different show, and you have burned an additional 150 minutes. This is way better than doing everything yourself so I find it a serious improvement over the previous method.

Anime News Network has the Summer 2014 Preview Guide, which is built more on a crowd-sourcing basis than a traditional top down reporting structure. Any given show has reviews by multiple people, each of whom has their own perspective on the program. This kind of reporting system has its own advantages, such as allowing you to compare and contrast the different reviews against your own impressions about a given entry in order to build a rating system for the reviewers themselves. Once you rate the reviewers from 1 to 5 in terms of the ones who’s opinions always match yours at 5 to the ones who’s opinions never match yours at 1, the next step is simple. You build a spread sheet or database (depending on which environment you are most comfortable working in) that creates a matrix with your reviewer rating as the X axis and that reviewer’s rating of each show as the Y axis. It takes some time to do the original analysis of the reviewers and then build the matrix, my guestimate being around 12 hours total. But once you have the matrix built, it is just a matter of dropping the current seasons reviews into place, rating any new reviewers since last season, and running the report.

I admit, my conclusions are more about my being lazy while in geek mode than about your own best use of the resources to come to your own conclusions. So you will have to check out the sources for yourself, and see which source/technique makes the most sense for how you like to do things. Please let me know about any new resources or processes you find that I haven’t mentioned here; I am sure there are a number of them, and I would like to add them to the collection.