After three amazing seasons of anime, the season that starts in January may be a bit of a respite. But that's what I always think, and then the shows that seemed as if they would be ordinary turn out to be great. In January, I'm most looking forward to Nodame Cantabile and Les Miserables. These are the two shows that seem as if they could have emotional depth as well as great voice acting and direction. But there are several shows that promise lots of moë.
I have been captivated by the dorama version that is just ending, but as I watch it I keep thinking that some of the humor would work better in anime form. If the anime can maintain the thrill of the music, this could be a great show. The cast is outstanding, featuring Kawasumi Ayako and Seki Tomokazu, and with Nabatame Hitomi, Noto Mamiko, Kobayashi Sanae (Maya in Glass Mask), Chiba Saeko, and Suwabe Junichi (Ren in Karin). The director is Kasai Kenichi, who did Honey & Clover 1. The lead writer is Konparu Tomoko (Daa! Daa! Daa!, Oniisama-e, Urusei Yatsura, School Rumble, NANA). And on recent performance, the J.C. Staff animation could be great. (Thu night 11 Jan, 1:00am)
Les Miserables - Shoujo Cosette
I'm looking forward to this for the classic story and for Nazuka Kaori in the lead role. I think she has unlimited talent and can expand in such a major role: a full year in prime time. Director Sakurai Hiroaki is best known for Di Gi Charat, which may not be as big a recommendation to me as his recent Winter Garden, a simple and effective little two-part OVA. Screenwriter Konparu Tomoko, who is also doing Nodame Cantabile, gives me great confidence, especially because of her great work adapting NANA. The series is 52 episodes long, so it will have to be really fascinating to keep me watching. We'll see how Les Miserables works with Cosette as the main character. (Sun 7 January, 7:30pm)
Many of the new shows seem to reach high levels of moë, especially Hidamari Sketch and Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight:
This show promises to be about an 8.5 on the moë-richter scale, with the voices of Gotou Yuuko, Mizuhashi Kaori, Shintani Ryouko, and Matsuki Miyu melting hearts and minds. The show involves girl students at a private art high school, living together in a little apartment building near the school. The character design makes them look much younger, of course. This is the first directing job for Kamitsubo Ryouki, but the supervising director is Akiyuki Shinbou, who directed Moon Phase, PaniPoni and Negima!? With him involved, and a late-night broadcast time, I expect there will be a certain amount of fanservice to go with the slices of life. Animation by SHAFT. (Thu night 11 Jan 1:25am)
This is another show that appears to be high on the moë scale. Slice of life in a school in 2035, when the declining birthrate is causing more and more schools to close. The manga is serialized in Dengeki Daioh magazine, home of Yotsubato, Kashimashi, Shakugan no Shana, etc. The staff is not well known, but the lead writer did the same job on Futakoi Alternative, so it could be interesting. And the cast is great: Nonaka Ai, Horie Yui, Hirano Aya, Inoue Marina (Cossette in Petit Cossette), and Fujita Saki (Mina in Tokimeki Memorial). Animated by ufotable. (Sun night 7 Jan 1:30 am)
A new 13-episode series featuring episodes centred on Sia, Nerine, Kaede, Primula and Asa. There was a lot of justified grumbling during and after the first series, but at least we can listen to some wonderful voices: Gotou Yuuko (Kaede), Hinata Yura (Kareha), Itou Miki (Asa), Sugita Tomokazu (Rin). It's unclear whether we'll get alternative endings, a reworking of the first story, or a collection of unused scenes. We'll see how it goes. (Sun night 7 Jan, midnight)
Master of Epic
Based on an online game. No cast or staff details are available yet. But judging by the character design, the show's initials (m.o.e.) are significant. The official site just says that the show presents stories about the many characters on a magical island: stories of magic, friendship, love, etc. (Sun night 7 Jan, 2 am)
Goth lolis save the world. The character design by Hara Shouji (Sasami Mahou Shoujo Club) looks very nice. The story involves three girls -- an orphan, an idol, and a mysterious investigator -- solving strange events that beset Arcana City. A boy with amnesia sets the plot in motion. Enatsu Yuki, who did script work on Peach Girl and School Rumble, is involved. The seiyuu are not household names, except for the fine singer Kobayashi Yu (Setsuna in Negima), and Koyasu Takehito (the powerfully charming Rin Senya in Saiunkoku). (Thu night 4 Jan, 1:55 am)
Venus versus Virus
The new show from director Kimura Shinichiro (Popotan, Maburaho, Mahoraba, Karin, Tsuyokiss) features Chihara Minori (Yuki in Suzumiya Haruhi) as Sumire, a psychic girl who gains the ability to see demons when she is pricked by the brooch of demon-queller Lucia (newcomer Takagaki Ayahi). The two girls then begin to work together to destroy the demons that start attacking Sumire. There are apparently some slight yuri undertones. The manga is not very far advanced, but already has some devoted fans. (Thu night Jan 11, 2:05 am)
Shorts DE Anime Tamashii
This could be a sleeper. It's not one show, but a series of 13 collections of shorts from various animation schools and production houses. No English information available yet. The link from the name is to the Japanese official site. The pics are from two of the five shorts in the first episode.(Thu 28 Dec 3:00 am)
Flag 2nd Season
This neglected piece of animation, a gritty and interesting show featuring the mecha designs of Takahashi Ryousuke, comes back for a second half-season. (streamed, Fri 12 Jan noon)
Kyoushiro to Towa no Sora
With more or less the whole staff of Kannazuki no Miko back for another try, and some suspiciously similar characters in a school, with mecha, perhaps we know what we're getting into. Watch for the scene in the first episode where the hero rips off the heroine's blouse. As someone who didn't like Kannazuki, I have a bad feeling about this. But I will be watching, since this appears to be a big role for Yahagi Sayuri, the young seiyuu I think can be the next Kawasumi Ayako. (Fri night 5 Jan, 1:30 am)
Tokyo Majin Gakuen Kenpucho
Students at a school of magic in Tokyo fight invading monsters. That doesn't attract me at all. But the character design and backgrounds do, and so do Horie Yui, Arai Satomi, and especially Yahagi Sayuri. (Fri 19 Jan 11 pm)
For a break from the moë, here are some bishounen. From the same team that did Koi Suru Tenshi Angelique comes its sequel. This is a straight-ahead reverse-harem fantasy: an ordinary girl is revealed to be a world-saving angel, and around her gather some remarkable bishounen with god-like powers. It will be interesting to see how the dry wit of Kyuuichi, I mean Sugita Tomokazu, fits into this crowd. I will certainly give it a chance. (Fri night 5 Jan 1:30 am)
GR Giant Robo
The art looks interesting. An update of the old kids' robot show, perhaps aimed at the same kids now grown up. Namikawa Daisuke (Koyuki in BECK) and Chiba Saeko are the best-known members of the cast. (Fri 19 Jan, time not set)
Based on highly popular children's adventure fantasy books by Australian author "Emily Rodda" (Jennifer Rowe). Lief, Barda, and Jasmine are on a quest to find the jewels of the Belt of Deltora and defeat the sinister Shadow Lord. Director Hongo Mitsuru did the first series of Crayon Shin-chan and was chief director of the second series of Immortal Grand Prix. But it gives me some hope that he also directed the excellent little OAV Spirit of Wonder. And the dependable Yoshida Reiko is one of several writers on the project. The main VAs are all newcomers. (Sat 6 Jan, 8:00 am)
Hard to tell whether this will be much of a departure from the original Himawari or not. There is unsubstantiated talk that it might pull a Futakoi Alternative. The voices are good, anyway. Young Matsumoto Kana's voice as Himawari is striking, as of course is Hirano Aya's as Shikimi. The new series also features another unique new voice, that of Kano Yui, who plays Momoko in Sumomo mo Momo mo, and Momota here. (Sat night 7 Jan, 12:30 am)
Getsumen To Heiki Miina
Brings to life the weird show loved by Yamada in Densha Otoko. The title translates as "Moonface Rabbit Weapon Miina." Inoue Marina voices the high-school girl Miina, whose super-rabbit outfit apparently involves floppy ears and rear-mounted carrots. She gets a job as a sports announcer and has an accident caused by aliens on her way to a broadcast. Noto Mamiko, Saiga Mitsuki , and Itou Shizuka also appear in the cast. (Sat night 13 Jan, 2:13 am)
MAJOR 3rd Season
The hits -- and strikeouts -- just keep on coming. (Sat 6 Jan, 6:00 pm)
This may be a typically slow winter season, but there are still so many good shows continuing: NANA, Saiunkoku Monogatari, Otogijushi Akazukin, Bakumatsu Kikansetsu Irohanihoheto, Negima?!, Kanon, Mamoru-kun, Code Geass, Soukou no Strain, Death Note, Red Garden, Sumomo mo Momo mo, etc.
And some interesting OAVs are coming out in January: ep2 of Maria-sama ga Miteru 3, ep3 of Kyou no Go no Ni, ep2 of _summer, the yaoi show O-kane ga Nai (shown at left), the very artistic-seeming Tori no Uta and Eko Eko Azarak, and more moë in the form of Sky Girls and Strike Witches.
There has been some confusion about which 2007 shows are actually starting in January. After consulting anidb.info, I have taken my information from the Japanese sites MoonPhase and Shoboi Calendar and from official sites.
There is more detailed cast and staff information in my winter 2007 anime calendar, which is already on line, but to which I am still adding information: more cast and staff links, episode totals, OAV dates and times, etc.