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Spring 2011 Season Preview

Alright, so we’re pretty much on the eve of the start of the Spring 2011 season, which means it’s time for our previews. Below, you’ll read what each of the 4 of us think of the many many shows that are coming up. It seems that noitaminA is creating great anticipation again with its financial thriller [C] The Money of Soul and Possibility Control, and the much hyped urban fantasy/scifi thriller Steins;Gate has caught our attention. We fork in our interests quite a bit from there, which is expected given the huge number of shows next season, but studio Shaft’s works seem to be on all our radars, a sign of the respect it’s earned over the past 2 years.

Rakuen

I would like to start by saying there is entirely too much anime airing this season. This is both good and bad. On the positive side, with at least 48 series listed on the latest guide I found, there’s a little something for everyone. If you can’t find a show you’re remotely interested in here, anime might not be your thing. On the negative side, it also makes it very difficult for me to watch everything I want to see. Right now, I have 15 series on my list. I am a little enthusiastic about 7 of them, while I’m definitely ready to try out the remaining 8. I expect to see this number dwindle rapidly. 7.5 hours of anime viewing per week is almost impossible to keep up to date, let alone remembering all the characters, plots and so on. Enough of my kvetching. I should get into the meat of my little segment.

I decided to order my lists by airing date, starting with the series I have a little interest in watching. Dog Days occupies the earliest spot on the list. I expect this to quickly devolve into harem territory, but I’ll admit, I’m a sucker for the summoned hero bit. Next up is the new season of Kaiji. The titular character participates in a gambling event where the stakes are his life. Joojoobees piqued my interest in his post about the first season, but I haven’t gotten to it. So, this go on the Want to Watch list by default. Then, we have Hidan no Aria, which gets a first episode watch based solely on adorable girls with lethal weapons.

A Channel seems to be going with a typical four-girl band for a school comedy, but it is a school comedy, so I’ll give it a shot. The little one, Tooru, also has a baseball bat that shows up all over the promo art… so it could be interesting. Next, we have Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, or in shorter terms, a new Shaft show. I loved Soredemo, but didn’t like Arakawa. This seems to lean more towards the latter, what with the main girl insisting she’s an alien. Ao no Exorcist continues the “son of Satan will fight his fate” trend. I wonder if this theme comes up because many people have a desire to fight their own fates. What better example is there than the son of evil trying to do good? Finally, The World God Only Knows rounds out this portion of the list. I went back to finish the first season, which means the series did hold some interest for me. I just don’t know if it can do it for another 12 episodes.

The rest of my list comprises of shows I have stronger interest in, and Moshidora has the “earliest” airdate. Giant Killing got me into sports anime, and Big Windup has continued to strengthen my view of the genre. Like Big Windup, we have a female manager trying to lead a baseball club to victory. However, its airdate has been postponed, so it might have to wait for a later season. KyoAni’s Nichijou also airs this season, but I didn’t even realize they animated it until I started writing this. The synopsis itself got me hooked. A principal might wrestle a deer? This is a school comedy I’ve got to see! Hana-Saku Iroha kind of reminds me of Love Hina with the hot springs centric plot, but that’s where the similarities end. It looks like it completely lacks the male lead, meaning no harem, and the plot sounds more focused on drama. I think both of those aspects are Good Things. Showa Monogatari adds another drama to my list with its family orientation and historical setting. This is a more tentative entry on my list, but the Olympic setting piqued my interest.

Now we’re to two of my most anticipated shows. First, STEINS;GATE, which just looks phenomenally awesome in both the artwork and the synopsis. It has the whole time-travel thing, as well as the struggle for survival with the SERN organization on their tails. I get a little Persona vibe from it too, but it might only be me. Sket Dance is yet another school series, but this one stood out from the pack. The premise reminds me of Haruhi, except with less aliens, time travelers, and espers. Unlike the rest, this has the best chance of a strong overarching plot, which I’m really hoping happens. If someone who’s read the manga could confirm it, it’d be much appreciated. Returning to the outlier series on my list, there’s C, plus its long title. It’s got an economically crapsack Japan and a main character who gets sucked into the shuffle. Sounds interesting, and with its noitaminA slot, I’ve got hopes for it. Last, but not least, is Deadman Wonderland. The fight for survival premise fittingly relates to the old Coliseum. It could have a bit too much violence for my tastes, but want to give it a good shot.

Looking back at my list, there’s plenty of comedy, action, and drama with a variety of premises. This could very well be my most anticipated season since I first got into currently airing shows. I hope school and work don’t kick my ass too hard, so I can have the time to watch all these shows.

Top 3: Steins;Gate, Sket Dance, C

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There sure are a lot of shows coming out next season, but somehow the only ones I’m looking forward to are the sequels: The World God Only Knows, Maria+Holic Alive, and the Kampfer specials.

Just kidding; besides those 3, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day (AnoHana) on noitaminA’s block sounds like it has potential, simply for being a real-life drama on noitaminA. Oh, and it also contains a character type that’s near and dear to the hearts of everyone here on this site, a hikikomori. Then again, noitaminA has been really hit or miss lately, with the trainwreck that is Fractale and the hugely disappointing Kuragehime, even if AIC’s Wandering Son is absolutely knocking it out of the park this season. AnoHana is being made by A-1 Pictures, which is responsible for some pretty poor shows such as Kannagi and last year’s Anime no Chikara duo Sora no Woto and Occult Academy, so I’m very prepared to be disappointed. Still, the director has A Certain Scientific Railgun on his resume, and that didn’t suck too much, and I’ve heard his Toradora! did drama well.

Besides that, only 2 other non-sequels have caught my eye: Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko and Steins;Gate. Denpa Onna because it’s Shaft, even if it sounds just like another version of Arakawa Under the Bridge, which turned out… alright. Steins;Gate because I’ve read some other people really excited about it. Plus, I like modern-day scifi stories.

But really, the sequels are what I’m looking forward to.

The World God Only Knows was a surprisingly entertaining show for which didn’t have a bit of faith in going in. But Keima’s cynical, almost nihilistic personality combined with his occasional outbursts made for good comedy. A show that was as meta as that could have been a lot more meaningful, sure, but it was a fine source of dumb laughs. The 1st season ended on a planned cliffhanger, and though I doubt the pickle Keima got into will last more than an episode, I look forward to seeing how he will continue to add to his transient harem.

What I liked about Maria+Holic was Asami Sanada‘s Kanako, the perverted lesbian man hating protagonist. Her smooth, soft voice is unique, and seeing her character constantly abused somehow didn’t get old. Didn’t hurt that it was Yuu Kobayashi as Maria doing the abusing. She plays male characters well, and she does crazy well, too. Then there’s Marina Inoue as Matsurika. I like to think of it as a gay Stalker-tan being forced to live with an abusive Kaere and her snarky maid Symmetrical-tan. What more whacky antics will these 3 and the rest of the cast get into?

And bottom of the sequel list is Kampfer. Now here’s a show that was pure guilty pleasure. Looking for things like action, plot, character development, or meaningful relationships was a fruitless endeavor. I just loved seeing Natsuru and his/her thick head be dragged around by his psychotic harem. And this show’s cast is pretty much a who’s who list of female voice actors right now. I wish they’d do a 2nd season instead of just a couple episodes, but I suppose they’ll do.

Top 3: The World God Only Knows, Maria+Holic Alive, We Still Don’t Know the Name of the Flower We Saw That Day

Raphael

Pleasantly, there’s a good bit of original anime in this crop. Tiger & Bunny is among them and has received more press for the large amount of product placement it’ll employ than for the fact that Sunrise is doing a superhero show. I’m hoping it will be fun and won’t drag. Another of these original shows is Dog Days by the team behind Nanoha. The setting and premise don’t appeal to me, but I may well give it a whirl; it’ll probably at least look nice. The most promising of this lot in my eyes is C. Strong staff, very interesting premise, noitaminA. Unfortunately, the trailer didn’t meet my expectations, with the wonderful character designs not translating as well as I’d hoped and the animation looking a tad under par. It’s still the season’s series I’m most eagerly awaiting. The last two original anime, Hana-saku Iroha (which, judging by trailers, will look stunning) and AnoHana seem to fall squarely into the slice of life/drama genre zone. They also have the same head writer in Mari Okada. Both could be enjoyable if done well, but I feel like both could also try my patience, especially given that Hana-saku Iroha is reportedly 26 episodes. I’ll give them a go.

Moving onto the adaptations, we have manga-based slice-of-life comedies in A Channel and Nichijou. I’ve read the source of the former, and I was expecting to discard it quickly… but I found myself really enjoying it. It’s nothing new, but the humor has a slightly mean bent and I got several good laughs out of it. I’m curious to see how it translates to anime, as there’s a fairly new studio on board but also the director and series composition guy who did Saki. The latter is Kyoto Animation’s spring offering and, like Hana-saku Iroha, is supposedly two-cour. I found the prequel OVA nowhere near as funny as I do A Channel’s manga, but I definitely felt it had charm to it. I’ll give both of these series a try. Other comedies include Xebec’s entries Hen Zemi and Softenni. I’ll be watching Hen Zemi because I liked its OVA for its disgusting humor, but I do wonder if things will get cleaned up for TV. In addition, the OVA’s director will not be returning for the series; instead he’s been replaced by the director who did Rio – Rainbow Gate! and To Love-Ru. Meanwhile, the man behind the OVA will be working on Softenni, which I get big Saki vibes from. I’m also a massive tennis fan, so – though I’m sure I’ll feel silly for thinking there might be actual tennis-playing involved – while I really, really doubt I’ll enjoy it anywhere near as much as Saki, I’ll give it a shot. Hopefully I won’t want to be shot because of it/need several shots of something to get through it. (Punning is hard, give me a break (ha!).) Shaft will also have two comedies airing: the sequel to Maria+Holic, and the bizarre enough for me to check out Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko.

To the action/adventure side of things, Steins;Gate stands out as having potential to be very entertaining and entertainingly technobabble-filled. Premise sounds great, art looks great, and Jukki Hanada is at the writing helm. Really looking forward to this. We also have Ao no Exorcist, Deadman Wonderland, and Hidan no Aria. The first has good buzz and the director of Darker than Black going for it, and it could be interesting. As for the latter two, I’m up to date with what’s been translated of the manga of both. Deadman Wonderland is packed full of gore, action, good characters, and plot twists, and I love it. I’m unsure whether it’ll get the treatment it deserves, though, as Manglobe will be dividing its efforts between it and the second season of The World God Only Knows. But I’m hoping for the best. Hidan no Aria has been less fun for me to get through. I would’ve dropped it very quickly (for its mix of mostly-loli fanservice, poor art, and storm of cliches) if I hadn’t found the concept of a school for armed detectives so enticing. I plan to be watching the anime too, even though Rie Kugimiya as yet another flat-chested tsundere should’ve deterred me, and – despite my grumbling – I’m sure I’ll have some fun. Interestingly, this (along with Gosick) will make two shows airing simultaneously that focus on a foreign-loli-Holmes/Japanese-high-school-boy-Watson duo.

As for the rest? Moshidora‘s unusual premise has piqued my interest, and I plan to check it out; Hyouge Mono, Toriko, Sket Dance, and Showa Monogatari don’t appeal to me; OreTsuba (We Don’t Have Wings) and HoshiKaka (A Bridge to the Starry Skies) look very similar and similarly uninteresting; and Astarotte no Omocha! does not exist. And finally, though I’m almost certain I’ll be unable to get through an episode, I feel obligated to check out Sekaiichi Hatsukoi because BL anime adaptations are just so rare.

Top 3: C, Steins;Gate, Deadman Wonderland

CPAnime

Despite the overwhelming amount of new anime coming out, it feels like most of the stuff out there is either for teens or a generic (adult) drama. Thankfully, there are enough shows out there that choosing which anime I will be watching will still be a difficult task. The following are a few of the anime that I have the most interest in for varying reasons.

It has been about two years since I started watching anime on a season by season basis, and one of the first shows I watched in this way was Maria+Holic. So, with the benefit of two years of full time anime watching experience, it will be interesting for me to see if I find Alive anywhere as interesting as the original was in 2009. Sometimes I wonder if the only reason I tuned in on a week to week basis was to see the OP and ED, so it will be interesting to see if my tastes have changed, or if this show is actually as awesome as I remembered.

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko

I am also pretty interested in the other Shaft show, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, but mainly because I don’t know anything about it. Shaft has built up some serious street cred over the past few months with Madoka Magica, but there is also the possibility that this could turn into an Arakawa under the Bridge 2 situation, especially given the synopsis. Another thing that worries me is that Shaft is doing two shows this season, and seeing as how they can barely manage one most of the time, I think the quality is inevitably going to suffer. Still, girls with mysterious pasts are kind of one my things, so I’ll be checking this one out for sure.

C is another interesting show for me, but for some different reasons. It reminds me a lot of Madoka in that there is a contract being made, though I doubt that the main character will be naive as some of the characters in Madoka, as the show doesn’t seem to be hiding its cards. From the previews I’ve read up to this point, it seems like the show might have a difficult time with its first few episodes as there looks to be a lot going on. Hopefully, a deeper understanding of economics or business won’t be needed for this show, as that could turn off some viewers. Personally, I have confidence that this shouldn’t be a problem as it is part of the noitaminA time slot, but even that is no longer a guarantee.

Moshidora

Staying on the business end of things, the one show I am looking forward to the most this season is Moshidora. While its broadcast schedule kind of seems up in the air, I’m looking forward to watching this during the baseball season. Since I’m a business student and a baseball fan, this show is kind of a no brainer for me, and I can potentially see myself blogging this. Still, I do have my doubts as to whether this will work, despite its popularity in Japan. Mainly, I am concerned that the translation of the material into an anime will fail to jump off the page, if you will, and just become another boring class lesson, though I doubt it.

Finally, the one show that will undoubtedly be my guilty pleasure is Hen Zemi. I recently watched the first episode of the OVA and was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The only real criticism I could levy against it, besides the obvious, was that it took too long to get to its punch lines. I am a bit concerned that the TV broadcast will be impeded by those god forsaken censors (Kiss X Sis‘s OVAs, for example, were and are infinitely better than the censored TV broadcast), but as long as the staff is witty enough, it can probably work around this. Though, it is XEBEC. So… that could be good or bad, depending on your preferences (btw, where is my LxB sequel?).

Top 3: C, Moshidora, A Channel

And that about wraps it up. Which of the dozens and dozens of shows are you looking forward to this spring?


Top 10 Anime Openings of 2009

As I did last year, here is the list of what I thought the top 10 anime OPs of 2009 were. Enjoy!

10. “Aoi Hana” by Kukikodan - Sweet Blue Flowers OP

This is a nice little song to start off the countdown.

9. “Super Driver” by Aya Hirano – The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya OP2

While the ED was the good song from the first season, the OP was the good song from the second season of Haruhi.

8. “Kimi ni Todoke” by Tanizawa Tomofumi – Kimi ni Todoke OP

Another nice soft rock song that I think is pretty good and matches the show pretty well.

7. “Kimi Shinitamō Koto Nakare” by May’n – Shangri-la OP

I wasn’t too sure about this OP to start with, but it kind of grew on me after a while

6. “HANAJI” by Yu Kobayashi – Maria Holic OP

Rather ecchi, but how can one not like this OP?

5. “Karma” by KOKIA – Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom OP1

KOKIA once again makes the list, this time for her excellent, if not eerie, OP for Phantom.

4. “Parallel Hearts” by FictionJunction – Pandora Hearts OP

This OP just stuck on me from the very start.  I think it’s pretty good, anyway

3. “Oyasumi Paradox” by Etsuko Yakushimaru – Natsu no Arashi! Akinai-chū OP

I didn’t watch this show, but I love this OP.

2. “Falling Down” by Oasis – Eden of the East OP

One of the very best OPs of the year, if not for the past few years. And being sung in English (being that it’s sung by Oasis) probably doesn’t hurt either.

1. “kiseki” by NIRGILIS – Birdy the Mighty DECODE 02 OP

However, the #1 OP of the year goes to a show from all the way back in the winter season.  It was a tough choice between #1 and #2, but I thought this one just won out.

Top 10 Anime Endings of 2009

As I did last year, here is the list of what I thought the top 10 anime EDs of 2009 were. Enjoy!

10. “Kimi ni, Mune Kyun” by Yu Kobayashi, Asami Sanada and Marina Inoue – Maria Holic ED

This was kind an odd ED, though it probably fit the series in that regard.  It kind of grew on me, though, after a while.

9. “Hajimari no Asa ni Hikari Are” by midori – Shangri-la ED

I’m kind of surprised this landed as low as it did.  I guess it says something about the quality of the EDs this past year.

8. “Transparent” by KOKIA – Phantom: Requiem for the Phantom ED2

Like KOKIA’s OP for the same series, this one is somewhat eerie, and as a result, fits the series well

7. “Zetsubou Restaurant” by Zetsubou Shoujotachi – Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei ED1

This is kind of a funny ED.  I’ve never seen any of these series, though it kinda almost makes me want to

6. “Link” by angela – Asura Cryin’ ED1

Another good song by angela.  Many of the songs for this show were good, and this was the best one, but the only one to make the lists.

5. “Koi no Uta” by Haruka TomatsuShinkyoku Soukai Polyphonica Crimson S ED

This is kind of a nice, soft but feel-good-like song, with interesting animation to add to it.

4. “BACCHIKOI!!!” by DEV PARADE – Naurto Shippuden ED8

Yes, I even check out OPs and EDs for shows like Naruto when doing this list.  For once, they had one which was not only good enough to make a list, but high on the list.  This ED is just hilarious to me, even though I’ve never watched the show.

3. “Blue sky, True sky” by Aira Yuhki – Tears to Tiara ED1

This was a tough choice for the #3 spot, but I think this song was, overall, a bit better quality.

2. “Don’t say ”lazy”” by Yoko Hikasa with Aki Toyosaki, Satomi Satou and Minako Kotobuki – K-ON ED

This song was a pretty easy choice for #2.  The show might not have been that great, but it did have some good music.

1. “Hikari to Yami to Toki no Hate” by Ceui – Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai ED

I melt whenever I hear this.  This was a no-brainer as #1 on my list.




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