Saturday, June 23, 2007

Hirano Aya and Koshimizu Ami

Like the last one, this post is just an excuse to post an amazing photo from Aaya's blog. She was on the Comchat live radio show Saturday night, hosted by Sakurai Takahiro and Koshimizu Ami.

She posted this picture, and thanked Amisuke for her help. Amisuke looks surprised by Aaya's closeness, somewhat bemused. Maybe delighted, maybe annoyed. Aaya was probably much more nervous than big Amisuke (168cm>=5'6"), but it doesn't necessarily look that way in the photo. Aaya can be mischievous at times, and is definitely a performer.

In my opinion, these may be the two top young seiyuu working today. Amisuke (21) is a real pro, with the ability to produce any voice required. She has said she is determined to equal anyone in the business.

Aaya (19) is an original, with her own style -- one which many otaku don't like -- perhaps a little rough at times, perhaps occasionally stilted, but full of emotion and never boring.

They both are well known for their great ability and verbal gymnastics. And neither one of them has ever done an ero-game, as far as I can discover.

Hirano Aya and Kano Yui

They worked together in Sumomo mo Momo mo and were co-winners as best young seiyuu in the Seiyuu Awards for 2006. And they seem to have become friends. They had lunch together recently -- after Aaya had finished a Lucky Star recording session -- and both posted in their blogs how much they enjoyed each other.

Aaya said Yui was extremely funny -- "but of course she was drunk" (she wasn't). Yui said Aaya is so funny they laughed the whole time. Yui even referred to Aya as "Hirano sensei," which is what you would call a teacher or the master of an art (e.g., a senior seiyuu or a mangaka). Aaya referred to Yui as "Kano," and "Yui-san."

(l-r) "The girl who ate the cellphone" (Yui from Aaya's blog; probably a play on words from the animated film The Girl Who Leapt Through Time). Aya from Yui's blog. Note that Aaya has a phone that takes bigger and clearer pics. Despite the quality, the shot of Aaya is one of the nicest I've seen.

Summer 2007 Anime Previews -- cast & staff

On the brink of a new season, here is a look at the new shows, concentrating on staff and cast. The shows I'm looking forward to? As usual, it's hard to tell which shows will work for me, but I'm looking at Code E, Doujin Work, Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho, Moetan, Mononoke, Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei, Tetsuko no Tabi, and Zombie Loan, for various reasons.

Zetsubo Sensei is by Shinbou Akiyuki, who directed PaniPoni Dash and Negima!? The director of Kenko Zenrakei, Soutome Kouichirou, was involved in directing Bokura ga Ita and did episodes of Mushishi. I hope Nishimori Akira, who directed Hitohira and PetoPeto-san, will infuse the rather different Zombie Loan with his trademark emotional delicacy. Code E has the participation of some staff people from Simoun.

Titles of shows of special interest to me are in red. Click pictures to enlarge.

Baccano! バッ カーノ! A large cast of alchemists, Mafia, lunatics, immortals and terrorists seeks a long-lost elixir of immortality in 1930s America. Based on a popular light novel. By the director of Jigoku Shoujo (Omori Takahiko) and the writer of Koi Kaze (Takagi Noboru). Starring Yoshino Hiroyuki (Zed in Kiba), Aoki Sayaka (Sia in Shuffle), with Kobayashi Sanae, Kobayashi Yuu, Gotou Saori, Itou Miki and 0thers. Preview. Brains Base. Starts jul26, thu 24:30.

Code E. A transfer student has an uncontrolled ability to disrupt electrical equipment. A boy in her class wants to study her, and a relationship develops. But outside forces are also interested... Director Toshiyuki Kato did Full Moon wo Sagashite and some episodes of Simoun. The director of Simoun, Nishimura Junji, directs some eps of this. The Simoun connections definitely get my attention. I'll be watching episode one.

This appears to be the first named role for the star, Hashimoto Mai. She has a blog, with pictures. Nazuka Kaori (Yun in Simoun) and Halko Momoi are also in the cast. Studio DEEN. 12 episodes. Starts jul03, tue 26:43.

Devil May Cry. Based on a PS2 game, with a cool lead and lots of fighting. Not my thing. With Morikawa Toshiyuki (Takumi in NANA, Chan in Black Lagoon), Tanaka Atsuko (Kusanagi Motoko in GITS), Orikasa Fumiko, Fukuen Misato (Eve in Black Cat), Ohtsuka Akio (Black Jack). Directed by Itagaki Shin (Black Cat). The first ep was quite bloody. Madhouse. 12 episodes. Started jun14, thu 23:00.

Doujin Work ドージンワーク. Based on a 4-koma comic by the well-known doujin mangaka Hiroyuki. The story follows a girl who is a newcomer to the doujin (independent comic) scene.

Director Yatani Kenichi did the funny and workmanlike Renkin 3-kyuu Magical? Pokahn. Stars Asano Masumi (Manatsu in Uta~Kata, Mariya in Otome wa Boku ni Koi Shiteru) and Saitou Momoko (Choco in Chokotto Sister, Solty in Solty Rei). I'll be giving this one a shot. Animation by REMIC (Renkin 3-kyuu Magical? Pokahn). Starts jul03, tue 25:30.

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Kai ひぐらしのなく頃に解. Second series of the mysterious, bloody, and well produced anime. More stories from the dangerous world of Oyashiro-sama. Houshi Souichirou, Nakahara Mai, Tamura Yukari, Horie Yui, Kanai Mika (Misato in NANA). Directed by Kon Chiaki, with the same staff as Higurashi 1. Studio Deen. Starts jul06, fri 26:30.

Kenko Zenrakei Suieibu Umisho ケンコー全裸系水泳部 ウミショー. Okimura Kaname joins his school's swimming club in order to learn how to swim. The club is filled with weirdos, but a sunny, happy-go-lucky girl named Ninagawa Amuro , a transfer-student from Okinawa, joins up. Her extraordinary underwater speed and unorthodox swimming style -- and the fact that she likes to swim nude -- rocks the club. She reminds Okimura of a mermaid-like creature he saw once in his early childhood... Based on a shounen manga by Hattori Mitsuru.

Directed by Soutome Kouichirou, who was the general director of Bokura ga Ita and directed some eps of Mushishi. This one intrigues me. Add the facts that the lead writer, Ikeda Mamiko, wrote Emma2, and that animation is by Artland and the animator of Now and Then, Here and There, and this could be a sleeper. Starts jul03, tue 26:00.

Moetan もえたん. Who would ever have expected the Moetan books -- bizarre Engrish-language textbooks using loli-moe characters -- ever to be animated? But add the director of Hayate and Getsumen to Heiki Mina, and seiyuu Tamura Yukari, Kaori Nazuka and Ueda Yuuji (Morita in Honey & Clover) and this could be interesting. Animation by Actus. Starts jul08, sun 25:30.

Mononoke モノノ怪. Noitamina show for the summer, a sequel to the Bakeneko chapters of Japanese traditional horror animation Ayakashi.

The staff -- including director Nakamura Kenji and animator Hashimoto Takashi -- is a carry-over from the beautifully animated Bakeneko, which tells of a medicine seller who kills monsters after first discovering the tragedies that gave rise to them. Scriptwriter Chiaki J. Konaka is also involved. He was the lead writer on Lain, Air Gear, and Texhnolyze, and did several episodes each of Rahxephon and Princess Tutu. The outstanding cast includes Sakurai Takahiro (Suzaku in Code Geass), Tanaka Rie, Kuwashima Houko, Yukana, Hayami Shou, Seki Tomokazu, Midorikawa Hikaru, and Namikawa Daisuke (thanks for the tip, wao). Toei. 12 episodes. Starts jul12, thu 24:45.

Mushiuta ムシウタ. These mushi are insect-like creatures that eat people's dreams, sometimes giving their host great powers, but eventually killing the host when all his or her dreams are consumed. Our protagonists are mushi hosts, mushi investigators, or just people who love someone who is host of a mushi.

With Hanazawa Kana (Ryouko in Zegapain), Nabatame Hitomi (Arcueid in Tsukihime), Asanuma Shintarou (Kyo in Zegapain), Takaogi Reiko (Hino in Corda d'Oro). Written by Yoshida Reiko (Marimite, KGnE, RomeoxJuliet, etc.). Music by Fujita Junpei of Elements Garden. Previews. Beat Frog. 12 episodes. Starts jul05, thu 24:00.

Nanatsuiro Drops ななついろ★ドロップス. Super-cute show about Haru, a shy and clumsy boy who accidentally drinks a potion that turns him into a little stuffed sheep at night. A moe magical girl comes to his aid as he seeks the magic potion that will keep him human. With character designs by Noizi Itou (Shana, Haruhi), written by the writer of Emily of New Moon, Shimada Michiru, and directed by the director of Final Approach, Yamamoto Takashi.

Starring the young seiyuu who played Jun in Happiness, Yuimoto Michiru, and Nojima Hirofumi, who is Shuga in Seirei no Moribito. The incredible cuteness of it all may or may not be enough. Studio Barcelona. Starts jul02, mon 25:40.

Potemayo ぽてまよ. The magical little creature Potemayo, with her black nekomimi (cat ears) appears from protagonist Moriyama Sunao's refrigerator one day. She becomes a favorite of all the kids at school. Then her rival creature Guchuko emerges from the fridge... Interesting cast, including Hanamura Kana (Ryouko in Zegapain), Tsuji Ayumi (Rose in Red Garden), Kitamura Eri (Makoto in Touka Gettan), Kawasumi Ayako, Kugimiya Rie, and Inoue Kikuko. But the director, Ikehata Takashi did Daphne in the Brilliant Blue and Tsuyokiss, so I'm worried. JC Staff. Starts jul06, fri 25:30.

Sayonara Zetsubo Sensei さよなら絶望先生. It appears that prime-time anime Negima!? -- which was an artistic success but a commercial disaster -- has not blighted Shinbou Akiyuki's career. Here he is again with a late-night anime about a teacher.

Hiroshi Kamiya (Takemoto in Honey & Clover) stars as a multi-level marketer who gets into some kind of danger and flees to southern Japan, where he is mistaken for a teacher in a girls' school. The plot involves his class of weird girls foiling his repeated attempts at suicide.

I think Shinbou (who also did Tsukuyomi Moon Phase and PaniPoni Dash and oversaw Hidamari Sketch) is a great director, especially visually, so I'll be watching. Outstanding cast includes Kobayashi Yuu (Setsuna in Negima), Sawashiro Miyuki, Gotou Yuuko, Shintani Ryouko, Matsuki Miyu (the last three all from Hidamari Sketch), and Sanada Asami (Di Gi Charat). Animation by SHAFT. Starts jul07, sat 24:30.

School Days スクールデイズ. Based on an animated game that is infamous for its violence. A girl (Sekai) helps a boy (Makoto) get closer to her beautiful friend (Kotonoha). When Makoto finally gets a date with Kotonoha, the compensation Sekai demands is…a kiss.

An interesting love-triangle-with-violence premise, but the director and writer did the horrible Amenaideyo and Lovedol, so I'm not hopeful. Animation by TNK. 13 episodes. Starts jul03, fri 26:15.

Shigurui シグルイ. Based on a seinen manga by Yamaguchi Takayuki. "An exceptional manga artist decides to tackle the forbidden work by the last giant figure in samurai literature, only to give birth to a colossal period drama filled with unspeakable tragedy and cruelty!" (

The director of Texhnolyze (Hamasaki Hirotsugu) and the writer of Asatte no Houkou and co-writer of Paprika (Minakami Seishi) do the anime adaptation, working with Madhouse. This could be good, if you can stand the gore. With Namikawa Daisuke (Rock in Black Lagoon), Kuwashima Houko, Sasahara Emi (Sailor Jupiter, Karin's mother in Karin), Sasaki Nozomu (Yuusuke in Yu Yu Hakusho). Preview episode jul01. Madhouse. 12 episodes. Starts jul19, thu 23:30.

Sky Girls スカイガール. Moe young girls in skin-tight suits are integrated with their own individual mecha frames to defend the Earth. The one-episode OVA went nowhere, and now we have 26 episodes? Very moe, but I have my doubts.

It has a good director (Iwasaki Yoshiaki: Love Hina, Gokujou Seitokai) and writer (Yoshioka Takao: DearS, Elfen Lied), however, and an outstanding cast: Kawasumi Ayako, Gotou Saori (a strong up-and-coming talent), Itou Shizuka, Tsuji Ayumi (Rose in Red Garden), Fujiwara Keiji, Horie Yui, Shiraishi Ryouko, Taniyama Kishou. And music by Mitsumune Shinkichi, who did Asatte no Houkou and Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora. So there is hope. Preview. JCStaff. 26 episodes. Starts jul05, thu 25:28.

Tetsuko no Tabi 鉄子の旅. Non-fiction account of editor, mangaka and train otaku travelling Japanese train lines in he 1980s. 4-koma comic is bizarre, low-key, and amusing. Old-school director Nagaoka Akinori did eps of Rose of Versailles and Record of Lodoss War.

Cast includes Tomosaka Akira (Kate in Red Garden) and Hiyama Nobuyuki (Madarame in Genshiken). OPED and some music by SUPER BELL ''Z, which specializes in using samples of rail station sounds. Preview. Group TAC (Hantsuki, Futatsu no Spica). 13 episodes. Starts jun24, sun 10:00.

Tokyo Majin Gakuen 2 東京魔人學園剣風帖 龍龍 第弐幕. If you liked the first series, you'll probably like the second: shounen supernatural horror, with good animation, good voice actors, lots of fighting and a school setting in a dark world. I tried the first series, but couldn’t get into it. BeStack/AIC. Starts jul27, fri 23:00.

Wangan Midnight 湾岸MIDNIGHT. Animation of a popular manga about street racing, which has now reached 36 volumes. The protagonist buys a Nissan S30 Fairlady Z which is about to be scrapped and discovers it is the legendary "Devil Z," a car that was the fastest ever, but ended up killing its owner, because it was so hard to control. This is the story of the protagonist's struggles to restore and tame the Devil Z.

Directed by Tominaga Tsuneo (Wind: a Breath of Heart) and adapted by Kishima Nobuaki (Eyeshield 21, Katekyo Hitman Reborn). With film actor Oguri Shun, Miki Shinichirou (Kurz Weber in FMP) and Suhou Reiko (Kousaka Yuri in NANA). Not my thing, but fans are enjoying the early episodes, although the animation by ACGT is reportedly a bit sub-par. Started jun09, sat 21:00.

Zero no Tsukaima: Futatsuki no Kishi ゼロの使い魔 ~双月の騎士~. New director and chief writer for this second season of Zero no Tsuakima, so it's hard to know what to expect -- except for more of the same from the mistress of tsundere, Kugimiya Rie. Director Kou Yuu and writer Kawahara Yuji did Loveless, so there may be more subtlety involved this time. We can only hope.

Also with Satoshi Hino, Horie Yui, Kawasumi Ayako, Takahashi Mikako, Inokuchi Yuka, Sakurai Takahiro, Inoue Kikuko, et al. Music by Mitsumune Shinkichi, who did Utena, Rozen Maiden, Asatte no Houkou, etc., and is also doing a second show in the new season: Sky Girls. JCStaff. 12 episodes. Starts jul08, sun 24:30.

Zombie-Loan ゾンビローン. "When a human is marked to die, a faint gray line that is invisible to most appears around their neck. As time passes, that ring becomes darker and darker, until it is eventually black, and that person dies. Kita Michiru has an unusual gift, she possesses 'Shinigami eyes,' which allow her to see these rings. When Michiru notices that two of the boys in her Class, Akatsuki Chika and Tachibana Shito not only have rings, but that they're jet black, they reveal to her that the were supposed to die in a tragic accident six months ago. With the help of the Zombie Loan loan office, they were given a second chance at life, should they be able to pay for their debt by doing the work of Shinigami and killing malicious zombies. They petition Michiru to assist them in their efforts, and she finds her everyday life changing dramatically." (ANN)

Directed by the director of PetoPeto-san and Hitohira, Nishimori Akira, and adapted by the writer of Pumpkin Scissors and Trinity Blood, Tomioka Atsuhiro. With an excellent cast: Kuwashima Houko, Sakurai Takahiro, Suzumura Kenichi, Morikawa Toshiyuki, Saitou Chiwa, Suwabe Junichi, Ueda Kana, Gotou Saori. This is one of my picks to click, based on staff and cast alone, even though it isn’t in a genre I normally like. Based on the manga by PEACH-PIT. Animation by Xebec M2. Starts jul03, tue 26:40.

One of the season's more anticipated shows, the loli classic Kodomo no Jikan, has no firm air dates yet, and the main Japanese source, Moon Phase, just has it slated for some time in 2007. The website of the animation studio, Studio Barcelona, makes no mention of it, but emphasizes the new series of Bokusatsu Tenshi Dokuro-chan, which is due to start 24 August. Moon Phase shows a Kodomo no Jikan OVA on September 12.

A new series of Armored Trooper Votoms, the 1980s mecha franchise, is slated to run this summer, too, but date and cast are not yet set. The show will be directed by Takahashi Ryousuke, who did the original OVAs, as well as Hi no Tori. And mecha design is by Okawara Kunio, who did the Votoms series as well as most, if not all, of the many Gundam shows.

There are some other interesting OVAs due out this summer: Ghibli's Iblard Jikan (left) on 4 July; the fantasy slice-of-life Miyori no Mori, directed by the art director of Princess Mononoke, Grave of the Fireflies and Fantastic Children, who also did background art for Toki wo Kakeru Shoujo, Spirited Away, and Castle in the Sky (24 August); and an ARIA OVA called Arietta (starts 21 Sept.) And the second season of Moonlight Mile starts in September.

Dead Girls, the Red Garden OVA is out on 8 August. Marimite 3 final episode will be released 25 July. Ep 2 of both ICE and AIKa-R16 will be out 27 July, with ep3 of AIKa on 25 September. A Sakura Taisen New York episode will be out 1 August. Some sort of Gundam fandisk comes out 25 September, and Saiyuki Reload Burial ep2 comes out on 28 September.

There are a number of animated films coming out: Buzzer Beater, Studio 4°C's Genius Party, Gonzo's Kappa no Coo to Natsuyasumi, Madhouse's Piano no Mori (all July); Naruto Shippuden (August); Rebuild of Evangelion, Kiddy Grade: Truth Dawn, and the Clannad movie (all September).

And Code Geass episodes 24-25 are apparently scheduled for 28 July at 26:25, with "premium" pre-screening events a few days earlier.

Read more about individual shows in the forums on AnimeSuki, especially the Unaired forum.