That culture festival ep in Hyouka was pretty amazing. I can't recall in recent times seeing a better episode regarding a premise that is so overused and mundane into something that was a lot of fun. My three MVPs:
"Galaxy! Oh no, My Saturn!"
"It's quiet here... best job ever"
Chihayahyouka (Aka Karuta)
Late reply because I've had loads going on recently.
Despite what Angel Beats may have suggested, PA Works has one of the better "touches" for this kind of material, though I'd still say Kyoto demonstrates an even superior touch in Hyouka
Konatsu has some pretty nice headphone moe going on, but by far the most effective moe hits I've received recently have been from Hyouka's Chitanda.
First episode hit most of the things that bug me about harem comedy without many of the things I like about them (which a couple other harems this season did). That said, my girlfriend showed me a bit from the manga that I found somewhat more impressive than what was on display here.
I'm not sure what to say on Kokoro Connect, my impressions haven't changed much from the preair.
You know, I'm trying my best to like Kokoro Connect because I do appreciate what it's trying to do, so I gave it a full rewatch trying my best to dump any evaluations I had of it in the past, and this was the outcome.
So I think at this point, it's 95% confirmed Tari Tari is the best slice of life this season since Koichoco spectacularly bombed and Kokoro Connect didn't grab my attention. I guess I should never underestimate PA ever again... makes my bitching in the thread in the past look silly now :3
I like PA Works' art style, the mixed gender cast, and I'm interested in seeing what happened to the one girl during her previous performance. On the other hand, it doesn't have a de facto lead character like Hanasaku Iroha did and I think it suffers because of it - where HSI invests it's first episode in Ohana and getting her story rolling to great effect, her the first episode is rather thinly spread across a few characters. I think we'll get a decent story, but the first episode doesn't reveal a lot about it. The True Tears reference was pretty awesome though.
As for Oonuma, I honestly don't think it's reasonable to expect his stuff to live up to EF, because those sorts of "fits like a glove" director/source material combos are extremely rare. I've liked some of Oonuma's post EF work (particularly Dusk Maiden as it manages to develop a pretty strong romance thread) but but I never expected EF's greatness from any of them.
Sword Art Online - Think this one is no brainer as it is the most hyped given how popular the original LN source is. Never read the LN, but given it's premise sounds like .hack (except probably good this time), with Yuki Kajiara on music and with A-1 Pictures being the forefront studio, this is probably the safe bet for "best of the season" if you had to predict.
Tari Tari - Anime original by PA Works. Slice of life/drama, but without Mari Okada. PA Works anime original is enough reason for me alone but no Mari Okada just has me jump up in joy because now I'm reasonably insured that it won't be sabotaged by weird fetishes. If anyone can do "moe" or "cute girls doing cute things" with quality, it's PA Works. And this is coming from a person who doesn't really care much about the concept or premise.
Moyashimon Returns - Noitamina. Slot has been very schizophrenic in quality so I've been skeptical. One season it has shit like Guilty Crown, other times it has quality like Usagi Drop. Not sure what to expect. However, I try every noitamian series regardless.
Natsuyuki Rendezvous - Same as above.
Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi - Heinan Period Karuta series by old-time director Kenichi Kasai who did a lot of the older noitamina titles. But it's not on noitamina (doesn't really matter though). My only beef is that it's been quite a long time since Kasai did something decent - Aoi Hana was the last thing I remember. Bakuman and Bakuman 2 were complete snore fests.
The 2x Code Geass OVAs - really liked 1st season, found 2nd season ok despite being trainwreck. Spinoffs to a mega-popular franchise so pretty much a given.
Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse - Muv-Luv Alternative is the highest rated VN on VNDB. Unfortunately this is a spin-off/backstory to it so it makes me less interested since they won't be adapting the actual source material.
Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate - With the exception of Gainax (over-size) boobs of certain female characters, otherwise the designs are quite attractive. Will watch for visuals alone and any potential luls, but I do expect this to deteriorate past the half-way mark.
Kokoro Connect - The first half of the pre-air episode was very unimpressive. However, I'm willing to give it 2-3 episodes before giving it the ultimatum. I think I may still be holding onto the hope of Shin Oonuma and his glory days of ef, even though he's been trash for 3-4 years straight.
Avoiding the ecchi, yaoi, pure-shonens and sequels of animes I haven't seen or finished (Yuru Yuri, Horizon and Rinne). Otherwise, I'll try whatever there is buzz of when the season starts.