Sunday, October 08, 2006

Fall 2006: the first week of new shows

Somehow I've managed to see the first episodes of almost all the new anime. Here's what I thought of them. As usual, there are far too many watchable shows.

Just for reference, my favorite recent shows are Simoun, Honey & Clover, Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, NANA, and Bokura ga Ita. But I've also enjoyed Kashimashi, Lemon Angel Project, NHK ni You Koso, Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, Shinigami no Ballad, Saiunkoku Monogatari, and Noein, among others.

Here is a trip through the week, day by day. Shows I like most get a screencap. Best show so far? For me, it's Asatte no Houkou. For others, it might be Kanon, Death Note, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, or Negima. I also have a calendar of the week, showing days and times the shows are on in Japan, and highlights of staff and cast.

Sunday:

Gin-iro no CordGin-iro no Cord ~Primo Passo~ -- Reverse-harem romance in a high school devoted to music. Takagi Reiko does a lovely job communicating the heroine's feelings. The music fairy who is the guardian of the school gives her a magic violin that enables her to compete with the best musicians in the school, most of whom are bishounen. I liked it. So sue me.

Galaxy Angelune -- Crazy comic beautiful girls commit crazy violence in good causes. Despite Hirano Aya and Kobayashi Akiko (PuniPuni Poemi), this didn't do much for me.

Marginal Prince -- An innocent Japanese boy becomes a student at a grand old school on an island in Europe, where the half-dozen students are all princely bishounen. Uh-oh: I enjoyed this simple, old-fashioned, somewhat cheesy and yaoi-ish bishounen show. Your mileage may vary.

Monday:

Tokimeki Memorial ~Only Love~ -- School comedy. Beautiful girls. Stupid humor. Some people apparently liked this ero-game conversion. Not me.

Rabudoru ~Lovely Idol~Rabudoru ~Lovely Idol~ -- Another simple show I enjoyed a lot. Girls becoming idols. Decent music. A nice look. Great voice-acting: Nogawa Sakura, Sakai Kanako (REC), Nakahara Mai (Mai in Mai-HiME), Chihara Minori (Yuki in Suzumiya Haruhi), Gotou Yuuko (Mikuru in Suzumiya Haruhi), Momoi Haruko (Nurse Witch Komugi). (Second episode was not so enjoyable.)

Pumpkin Scissors -- Well-made show set in a post-war purgatory of famine and disorder. Decent action. Characters with character, although kind of shallow, for me. Itou Shizuka in one of her two good roles this season (the other being in Asatte no Houkou). Ueda Kana as the humble secretary who knows everything.

Tuesday:

D. Gray Man -- Monster-of-the-week. Well-made but a bit limp. Set in London circa Jack the Ripper. Kobayashi Sanae (Maya in Glass Mask) is good as the (male) protagonist.

Death NoteDeath Note -- Powerful, excellently animated and well-acted descent into megalomaniac madness. For many, this will be the show of the season. Great performance by Miyano Mamoru (Tamaki in Ouran, in a totally different role) as the top student who gets a shinigami's notebook, enabling him to kill whom he pleases. And Hirano Aya and Kudou Haruka will apparently show up in episode 2.

Ghost HuntGhost Hunt -- Nicely-made female-oriented story of a girl who becomes part of a group of ghost-hunters led by a (sort of) bishounen. Good voice-acting by Nazuka Kaori (Yun in Simoun). Develops slowly.





Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (Perfect Girl Evolution)Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge (Perfect Girl Evolution) -- Animation that's completely nuts of a manga that's completely nuts by a director who's completely nuts (Nabeshin, who made PuniPuni Poemi). Four bishounen are given free rent in a mansion if they can convert the owner's niece from a hikikomori, self-conscious, negative horror freak into a charming young lady. (Second episode was hilarious.)

Shounen Onmyouji -- Great Heian setting for a monster-of-the-week anime featuring yin-yang magic. Love interest arrives in episode 2. Looks wonderful, has some nice features, including a terrific (and powerful) animal companion, but didn't do much for me. Screenplay by the man who did Wolf's Rain and Turn A Gundam, however, so things may improve. My problem is that monsters bore me.

Black Lagoon ~Second Barrage~ (haven't seen it)

Red GardenRed Garden -- Fascinating supernatural mystery featuring amazing realistic animation and pre-recorded voices that really act. Set in New York, centered on four girls at the same school who discover they have all forgotten the evening when a classmate died, and are told that they are dead, too. (Second episode was outstanding.)



Wednesday:

Negima!?Negima!? -- Wonderful comic animation directed by Shinbou Akiyuki (Tsukuyomi ~Moon Phase~, PaniPoni Dash!), with a cast that never stops: Kanda Akemi (Kazuki in Tonagura, etc.), Satou Rina (reprising her role as Negima), Nonaka Ai (Iriya, etc.), Kadowaki Mai, Noto Mamiko, Horie Yui, Inokuchi Yuka (Anju in Karin). (Second episode blew me away.)

Busou Renkin -- Almost bearable monster show. And that's saying something, coming from me. Hirano Aya as a (platonically) loving imouto is worth the price of admission. Yahagi Sayuri (Karin) will show up soon. (Second episode bored me, descending into real monster-of-the-week. But Hirano Aya was still great.)

Super Robot Taisen OG ~Divine Wars~ -- People who like this sort of thing seem to like it. Good mecha. Nice bright look. Takahashi Mikako in a b-role as the brave damsel in distress. For boys.

Galaxy Railways ~The Junction Point to Eternity~ -- I find the whole concept of a train flying through space difficult to swallow, and don't like mecha that look as if they were designed in the 19th century. But even that aside, this first episode of the new series seemed pretty lame to me: logic seemed quite absent. I've never watched Galaxy Railways 999, which people say was a good show.

Yoake Mae yori Ruriiro na Crescent LoveYoake Mae yori Ruriiro na Crescent Love -- Cute game-conversion comedy that I actually found funny. Nabatame Hitomi (Shizuma in Strawberry Panic, Nobue in Ichigo Mashimaro) is wonderful as the regal but romantic moon princess who comes to Earth for a homestay with the hero (his onee-san is chief spokesperson for the president of Earth). (Second episode has me hooked.)

Souten no Ken -- Appears to be a stupid, cheap, ugly, fighting show. I couldn't stand to watch enough to really find out.


Thursday:

Sasami Mahou Shoujo Club 2 -- Kid stuff. The main seiyuu are all under 15 and sound like it. Charming, but of little interest to me.

Pokemon Diamond & Pearl (haven't seen it)

Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku wo!Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku wo! -- A big surprise. Funny and extreme. The superwoman (and I do mean Superwoman) school idol instantly falls in love with the weak little new boy. Hilarious schtick and well-done fanservice. Takahashi Mikako in a new kind of role.



KanonKanon -- As good as advertised. Fabulous, deeply moving animation. Melancholy supernatural romance featuring sad girls in snow. The largest, most liquid eyes ever. Horie Yui, Tamura Yukari, Sugita Tomokazu, Seki Tomokazu, Kawakami Tomoko, Kawasumi Ayako. Directed by the director of Air, written by the writer of Full Metal Panic, animated by Kyoto Animation. Need I say more?

009-1009-1 -- Could become a camp classic. Voluptuous, invincible, cool female James Bond and voluptuous colleagues in a 1960s East Block-West Block cold war setting. Great character design. Well directed, if simple and old-fashioned. Enjoyable fighting and bionic weaponry. Based on a classic late-1960s manga by Shotaro Ishinomori. A sleeper. Feminist bishoujo?

CODE GEASS - Lelouch of the Rebellion -- Entertaining enough, but not as gripping as I'd hoped. Area 11 (i.e., Japan) rebels against rule by the Britannia Empire. America/England bad, Japan good. The first of two anti-foreign shows from Sunrise. I want to see and hear more of the intriguing alien (?) played by Yukana.

Gin-iro no Olynssis -- A misfire from Artland. Fairly silly, with some nice shots and the potential for a good silent beautiful alien. Second-rate monsters are even worse than first-rate monsters. So far this is a waste of the talents of Nazuka Kaori, Hisakawa Aya and Akemi Kanda.

Asatte no HoukouAsatte no Houkou -- The best first episode of the week. Beautifully directed and acted, with an intriguing premise involving a little girl who wants to grow up fast, and a young woman who wants to go back to being a child. We'll see where it goes. Ito Shizuka is marvellous.







HappinessHappiness -- Made me happy. Appears to involve tension-free romance at a school for magicians. Lamune vibes.







Sumomomo MomonoSumomomo Momono -- Hilarious and outrageous. Unique character design. The daughter of one martial arts master is betrothed to the somewhat older son of another so that they can produce a worthy heir. She wants to be his bride (does she ever) and he just wants to become a lawyer. But be warned: the greatest amount of loli fanservice I have ever seen in one episode. Hirano Aya enters the fray starting with episode 2.

Gift ~Eternal Rainbow~ -- People love the game, but the first episode didn't do much for me. I didn't like the protagonist, and the "plot" was pretty limp. But the VA cast is nice: Shimizu Ai, Miyazaki Ui, Shintani Ryouko, Koshimizu Ami, Tai Yuuki(Chevalier/D'Eon).

Friday:

Bakumatsu Kikansetsu IrohanihohetoBakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto -- Animation at least as good as Kanon, if you can imagine it. So beautiful it brought tears to my eyes. Complex end-of-Edo-period plot involving swordsmanship and magic. Anti-foreign and maybe anti-Chinese vibes, but the animation is so good it doesn't matter.

Kujibiki Unbalance -- It's going to take a while to get over the complete dissimilarity from the OVA eps in Genshiken, but I enjoyed it, up to a point. Moe voice-acting and reworked cliches to the max. Nonaka Ai was just fabulous as Tokino, and lots of others were good, too, including Koshimizu Ami as The Chairman and Gotou Yuuko at her most extreme kiddy-moe. The semi-unknown new recruits to the voice-acting cast stepped right up.

Saturday:

Katekyoshi Hitman Reborn! (haven't seen it)

Ayakashi Ayashi -- Another Edo swordsmanship and magic story, like Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, with simpler (but still very nice) animation and a simpler (but to me more moving) plot. Fujiwara Keiji (Shuuji in Honey & Clover) and Niino Michi (Aaeru in Simoun).

Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori -- Great new opening, at least for the first episode. If anything even more beautiful and tormenting that the first series, if this episode is any example. But still repetitive and unsatisfying.

Otome wa Boku ni Koi ShiteruOtome wa Boku ni Koi Shiteru -- Kashimashi reborn. Following his grandfather's will, a very pretty boy dresses as a girl and goes to a girls' school, where everyone falls in love with him (I mean her). Lots of Strawberry Panic, too. Horie Yui, Matsuki Miyu (Simoun/Anguras, Strawberry Panic/Hikari), Kanda Akemi (Negima /Asuna, Tonagura /Kazuki), Asano Masumi, Gotou Yuuko, Nogawa Sakura. Plenty of yuri-esque fanservice.

History's Strongest Disciple Ken'ichi (haven't seen it)

7 comments:

Katapan said...

This season ends up as promising as I expected it to be. I guess I won't miss great spring shows such as Simoun or Ouran too much.

A quick review of shows that also interest me after viewing the first episode, for various reasons:

- Giniro no Corda - So far a well-done reverse harem, with a theme that can't be bad for a music newbie like me. I laughed a few times, and even liked some of the bishonen, quite a nice surprise.

- Lovely Idol - I enjoyed listening to some of the seiyuu (Yuuko Gotou especially, she doesn't sound as reserved as in most of her other roles), but that was about it. The songs were way too plain, and the characters not so interesting for now.

- D.Gray-man - Only because I had heard lots of positive feedback on the manga. It's decent, but I'm not too much of a shonen person.

- Death Note - Promising story, Madhouse doing a good job on it, and an awesome cast (I've been yearning to hear more Haruka Kudou). Very excited about the upcoming episodes.

- Ghost Hunt - I blame Yun for making me want to watch this only for Nazuka Kaori. A good first impression, but this is one of the shows I won't understand fully until subs are out.

- Yamato Nadeshiko Shichi Henge - I had high expectations for this, but in the end I thought it wasn't as funny as I wanted it to be. I also have some problems dealing with the character design, but I'll eventually get through it (with the help of Tomokazu Sugita).

- Red Garden - The art is original, and I'm liking it a lot. Subs would also help here, unfortunately. I'll hold my real judgement until then.

- Negima!? - Seems like a very promising adaptation to me. I thought some voices were not too fitting, though (I haven't seen the first version, only read the manga recently).

- Busou Renkin - I liked Aya Hirano in the sister role, but that's about it.

- Mamoru-kun ni Megami no Shukufuku wo! - Some funny moments, especially thanks to Mikako Takahashi. I didn't think a 'megadere' role would fit her that well, but she sounded a lot more convincing than in the trailers.

- Kanon - Let's just say my expectations were reached. It's KyoAni, after all.

- Code Geass - Nice first impression, although I don't particularly love or hate the story. Loved hearing Ami Koshimizu, and I'm looking forward to C.C. speaking more.

- Sumomomo Momomo - I like some of these crazy shows, kind of the Magikano type. A bit ecchi, but not in the bad way. It had its funny moments, and as usual, Aya Hirano is a nice plus.

- Ayakashi Ayashi - I'll wait until the story develops further, I think it may show a lot of a potential. In any case, I'll love hearing more Niino Michi.

- Jigoku Shoujo Futakomori - I enjoyed the first season a lot, so needless to say this was a must-watch on my list. First episode didn't disappoint.

I doubt I'd be able to watch many more shows, but I'll take a look at shows I hear a lot of good things about, such as Asatte no Houkou and Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto (is anyone already able to type the full name without looking at it?). Fall shouldn't get boring, especially with Bokura ga Ita still going on.

Lalita said...

I really like kiniro no corda too! I am so looking forward to being able to see all the subbed episodes! I got the manga earlier this week too!

Anonymous said...

"Galaxy Railways ~The Junction Point to Eternity~ -- I find the whole concept of a train flying through space idiotic."

After seeing your in-depth approach to Simoun and Bokura ga Ita, I find it unfortunate that you're unable see that a train flying through space is all about nostalgia. I don't know if GR is any good because I haven't had time to check it out, but its predecessor Galaxy Express 999 is a wonderfully deep story that makes excellent use of the train idea, so there's certainly nothing wrong with the concept. You sound very thoughtful otherwise, so I'm surprised to see you take such a superficial and judgemental stance on this.

hashihime said...

You're perfectly right. I do have to take a look at the older series sometime. This one just played into my prejudices by being fairly lame in itself. Maybe I'll edit what I wrote. Actually, one of the feelings I had when I saw the first episode of Simoun was : "Oh, no, more of that 19th-century-looking mecha design I so despise." Same with Last Exile, which was also a good show.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this overview - I've been using it as my Tokyo Toshokan guide in the search for good shows this season.

Have you seen Kemonozume? Has anyone seen Kemonozume? It's the find of the year, I thought, but is being totally panned by the blogsphere. Just curious -

hashihime said...

Anonymous: Thanks, I'm glad this item is useful. Yes, I've watched a couple of eps of Kemonozume, and it is good. But I have no time to watch the shows I'm already watching, so I'm just archiving it for the future. I dipped into a later episode and can see that it is going somewhere. And the animation is pretty special, although I did have trouble getting used to what seemed like ugliness, at first.

Michael said...

Kemonozume's first episode took a long time in getting used to, but it was alright. Not ZMOFG amazing, but decently alright.

As for YNSH, it has disappointed me a whole lot. WHY CAN'T NABESHIN DIRECT?