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Having broken down and subscribed recently, I’m currently following three shows on CrunchyRoll from the Summer 2012 season (I’ll skip over the fact that it is winter where I am).

Tari Tari

Tari Tari is a slice of life show from PA Works, the studio that produced the enjoyable Hanasuku Iroha. Tari Tari has some nice character work but is possibly stretching the angst with one character a touch too far.  There is some fanservice, but it isn’t too intrusive.

So far it is working well overall, and I’m cautiously recommending it.

Kokoro Connect

Kokoro Connect uses a randomised Grand Theft Me MacGuffin amongst a group of five, well, not-quite-friends. They don’t know nearly as much about each other as they thought, but are beginning to find out.

The gender balance of three girls and two boys is quite reasonable but does present challenges in terms of handling cross gender bodyswaps.  There was one exploitative incident in the first episode that I nearly bounced off.  However, subsequent episodes have mostly avoided this, and have been delivering solid character based insights and developments.

This one is also a cautious recommendation at this stage, there is too much risk for it to go wrong in just one episode for me to be more enthusiastic.

Sword Art Online

This is .Hack//Sign dialled up to 11.  It isn’t one person trapped in the MMO, it is everyone.

The setup is that death in the game means death in real life.  That hasn’t been fully confirmed yet, it is unclear how much (if any) communication with the real world is happening.

That said, Sword Art Online is yet to flinch from the premise and has avoided several negative tropes.

The biggest risk I see is that the ending will wimp out by Disney Deathing the earlier episodes, but at four episodes in this is the star pick for this season in my opinion.