First was Kono Minikuku Mo Utsukushii Sekai ("This ugly and beautiful world"), a new series by GAINAX. Takeru is a slacking highschool student who lives with his aunt and uncle. (Rule no. 1 of anime series starring teenagers: first, get rid of the parents!) When he delivers a package for his uncle's business together with a friend, they see a strange light in the sky. They follow it, and it turns out to be a (naked) girl (named Hikari) who 'floats' around in a treetop. Just as she descends into the arms of Takeru, she is attacked by a huge monster!
Takeru vows to protect her, and when the monster attacks again, he transforms into some beast-like creature. His arms can transform into awesome weapons and he proceeds to beat up the monster into a bloody pulp. He restrains himself from delivering the final blow, and while he wonders what is happening to him, the monster crawls off to Hikari. Hikari suddenly doesn't seem her shy and helpless self...
It's an interesting premise (probably something to do with the extinction of humankind -- the opening voice-over hints to that), and this being GAINAX and their 20-year anniversary series, I expect a lot from this series. One to watch!
Next was The Mars Daybreak (amusingly enough misnamed 'The Mars Teabreak' on AnimeNfo), the new series by Bones. The design similarity with RahXephon and Wolf's Rain is immediately apparent. The series is set on Mars, which has been terraformed. The planet is covered in vast oceans, and the majority of the population lives, in fact, under sea level. There's a crack team of pilots being flown in from Earth, to help defend the colonies against the pirate ship Aurora. Meanwhile, there's an economic crisis going on, and we see our main character (a crane driver named Gram) being laid off at the start of the episode. When he gets home, a shady character asks his help for a break-in at the military base.
Due to various circumstances, Gram ends up at the base during the break-in, but they are discovered by the guards. While a chase ensues, the pirate ship Aurora attacks, and Gram ends up in the sea. The bead he wears around his neck 'activates', and he is picked up by a special type of underwater mecha. The defending Earthlings think he is in league with the pirates and attack him, but Gram gets the hang of the controls pretty fast. He gets rescued by one of the pirate mecha pilots, and the episode ends with Gram joining the pirates.
The world is pretty interesting -- at first, it reminded us of Cowboy Bebop: terraformed planets, but plenty of low-life neighbourhoods with a lot of crime going on. The mecha designs are interesting, but I fear for a repeat of the RahXephon-theme: boy being 'destined' to pilot some bad-ass mecha. Still, it's visually very appealing, so we'll be collecting this one as well.
Finally, we checked out Midori no Hibi. The series is about Seiji, a juvenile delinquent who delights in beating up gang-members with his 'demon right hand'. However, he can't get a girlfriend because everyone is terrified of him. In fact, his only lover until now has been his right hand... And then there's a flash, and there's a girl attached to his right arm, where his hand used to be! It's Midori, who has had a crush on Seiji, and she's very happy to be with her idol forever!
Seiji has his own thoughts about this, but when Midori saves him from an attack (apparently she has some way to move around by herself), he starts to see her as a person that he has some sort of responsibility for.
There's a lot of screaming slapstick and supposedly 'funny' situations in this series, but I wasn't laughing. The premise is perhaps too ecchi and too weird for us to be actually enjoyable, and this first episode soon found itself in /dev/null...