Saturday, December 27, 2008

39 New Winter Anime -- full previews: staff, cast, pic, story, trailer

Genji Monogatari SennenkiThe winter season is usually the least exciting of the year, but there are always surprises. Last year, there were true tears and Spice & Wolf. Here are some of this year's possibilities, followed by a complete preview of almost all the new shows:

-- Genji Monogatari Sennenki is a new anime based on one of the greatest novels in the history of the world, The Tale of Genji. It's directed by Dezaki Osamu (Rose of Versailles, Oniisama-e), and written by Konparu Tomoko (NANA, Nodame Cantabile). Read more about it below.

-- There's also a new season of Maria-sama ga Miteru. That's the complex and delicate tale of yuri relationships in a Catholic girls' school, starring Ueda Kana and Itou Miki, with many other great seiyuu names, including Koshimizu Ami and Kugimiya Rie.

-- Hirano Aya and Nana Mizuki will star together in White Album, the story of a new idol (Aya) and a top idol (Nana). Art imitating life.

-- Shinbo Akiyuki (Zetsubou Sensei, Hidamari Sketch, PaniPoni, etc.) tries his hand at a cross-dressing school comedy in Maria Holic. The streamed preview version was vintage Shinbo.

-- Beast-Player Erin is too long, at 50 episodes, but the novel was written by the same woman who wrote Seirei no Moribito, and it is directed by the director of Library Wars.

-- Two super-moe doujin OVAs will come out over the next few days at Comiket: Kowarekake no Orgol, from POP, the illustrator of Moetan; and Musou Kakyou, from people associated with Touhou games.

Maria-sama ga Miteru-- I've enjoyed reading the manga (translated as "Black God") and now there is an anime of Kurokami. The director of Emma and the writer of Marimite add some depth, although whether they can capture the great look of the manga remains to be seen.

-- Sora wo Miageru Shoujo is the sequel to KyoAni's Munto. I may not love everything KyoAni does, but I like pretty well all of it, so I'm definitely on board for a couple of episodes of this.

-- There's a new two-episode OVA of the funniest anime ever made, Ichigo Mashimaro.

-- The director of Mai-HiME gets a new group of girls together in Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo, and the girls include Endou Aya, Makino Yui, Yahagi Sayuri, and Koshimizu Ami. I wasn't a big fan of the Mai- series, and this adds mecha, which is not my thing, but Hanada Jukki (Rozen Maiden, sola) is writing this, and with the excellent cast, I just have a feeling it is going to work out.

Eve no Jikan-- Fans of some good shows that I never learned to love will be pleased: Minami-ke gets a new season, and so does Natsume Yuujin Chou. There are new seasons of Birdy the Mighty - Decode, and Shikabane Hime. And there's a highly anticipated new five-episode series of Higurashi.

-- The hilarious yuri comedy Candy Boy continues, as does the great science fiction mini-drama Eve no Jikan (ep4 will probably come out in early February). Eve is about the humanness of humanoid robots, and is in the running for my choice as best anime of 2008.

-- Also continuing are the excellent character comedy Toradora, the enjoyable shoujo comedy drama Skip Beat, the unusual road comedy-drama Michiko to Hatchin, the entertaining space opera Tytania, and Clannad - After Story. I'll make special mention of Bounen no Xamdo, the adventure story which has surprisingly captured me, especially with Sanpei Yuuko's great voice work as Nakiami.

-- Shows not on my watch list are also continuing: Gundam00 II, Kurogane no Linebarrels, One Outs, Kuroshitsuji, Tales of the Abyss, and To Aru Majutsu no Index.

And now here is the full meal: previews of 39 new shows. English names are linked to Anime News Network for more info, Japanese names to the official sites. Subs info from Who Subs What. Other info from MoonPhase, Anidb, Anime News Network, Japanese Wikipedia, official sites, etc.

Just scroll down to the article, or click a name in the block below to go to a specific show. The block is in alphabetical order; the article lists the shows by date. Both lists put OVAs in a separate section at the end.

|Akikan!       |Asu no Youichi       |Beast-Player Erin       |Birdy the Mighty - Decode       |Candy Boy       |Chrome-Shelled Regios       |Dokuhaku Suru Universal Yoko Mercator Egg Man       |Fresh Pretty Cure       |Genji Monogatari Sennenki       |Hajime no Ippo - New Challenger       |Hetalia Axis Powers       |Kin-iro no Corda - second passo       |Kurokami The Animation       |MAJOR 5th season       |Maria Holic       |Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season       |Minami-ke Okaeri       |Ride Back       |Shikabane Hime Kuro       |Slayers Evolution-R       |Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo       |Sora wo Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai       |Tower of Druaga - The Sword of Uruk       |Viper's Creed       |White Album       |Zoku Natsume Yuujin Chou       |Abunai Sisters       |Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei       |Ichigo Mashimaro OVA2 Encore       |Kodomo no Jikan 2       |Kowarekake no Orgol       |Kurogane no Vendetta       |Mahou Sensei Negima! ~Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba~       |Seto no Hanayome OVA Gi       |Switch       |Touhou Anime Project - Musou Kakyou       |Tsubasa - Spring Lightning       |xxxHOLIC - Spring Dream       |Zettai Shougeki ~Platonic Heart~       

Candy Boy
(jp: Candy Boy)
"Nonchalant talk of certain twin sisters in daily life." Surprise hit net OVA spawns a series of seven ten-minute episodes. A great little yuri incest slice-of-life comedy. (New genre, lol.) Twin sisters in love attend college together. With Nabatame Hitomi, Yuzuki Ryoka (Eruruu in Utawarerumono), and Katou Emiri (Kagami in Lucky Star). See all four current eps streamed on "Candy Boy Channel."

seiyuus: Nabatame Hitomi, Yuzuki Ryoka (Eruruu/Utawarerumono), Katou Emiri (Kagami/Lucky Star).
director: Hoshikawa Takafumi
writer: Hoshikawa Takafumi
animation: AIC. trailer.
Frostii (and others, no doubt). 4/7 eps. ep5: 9 January.
mon 29 dec.

Shikabane Hime Kuro
(jp: 屍姫 玄)
The second series about the "Corpse Princess," an undead girl who has to hunt down 108 living corpses in order to go to heaven. There was mixed response to the first series.

Writer Aikawa Shou is a top hand. He was series story editor for Fullmetal Alchemist and wrote Oh! Edo Rocket and maybe even Simoun (under a pseudonym). Director Murata Masahiko did Gilgamesh and Night Head Genesis.

The lead seiyuu are Akiyama Nana, a young actress, model, and singer; and Nakamura Chise, an actress and gravure idol. Lots of good supporting names, including Fujiwara Keiji and Yuuki Aoi, who played Murasaki in Kurenai.

seiyuus: Akiyama Nana, Nakamura Chise, Fujiwara Keiji, Chiba Saeko, Kikuchi Mika, Horie Yui, Sugita Tomokazu, Suwabe Junichirou, Yuuki Aoi.
director: Murata Masahiko (Gilgamesh, Night Head Genesis)
writer: Aikawa Shou (FMA, Tenpou Ibun Ayakashi Ayashi, Edo Rocket).
animation: Gainax/feel. trailer (first series).
Funimation?, Lunar Anime, Tomodachi. 13eps.
sun 01 jan 10:30

Maria-sama ga Miteru 4th Season
(jp: マリア様がみてる 4thシーズン)
A full new season of the classic yuri girl's-school drama. New stars join the already glittering cast: Nabatami Hitomi (Aruma Nana), Kawasumi Ayako (Kanako's mother), Koyama Rikiya (her father), and Inoue Marina (Naitou Shouko).

The story apparently continues from ep3 of the OVA, following the novels. It seems that Yumi (Ueda Kana) has still not chosen between Kanako (Koshimizu Ami) and Touko (Kugimiya Rie) as her petite soeur.

This is a must-watch, for me.

seiyuus: Ueda Kana, Itou Miki, Ikezawa Haruna, Itou Shizuka, Noto Mamiko, Kugimiya Rie, Shimizu Kaori, Koshimizu Ami, Satou Rina, Saitou Chiwa.
director: Katou Toshiyuki (Marimite, Blue Dragon, Hantsuki)
writer: Konno Oyuki (novels).
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Hibiki Reine, Matsushima Akira.
trailer. subs: Chihiro? 13eps.
sat 03 jan 10:30

(jp: アキカン!)
A high-school boy's empty can of melon soda magically transforms into a cute girl. Then more "empty can" (akikan) girls keep appearing. And they all have to be kissed to infuse them with the carbon dioxide they need to live.

I am one of the few who admits to finding this premise intriguing. Unfortunately, the staff does not have enough credentials to hope for high quality. The cast, however, has its high points. Fukuyama Jun is good as the randy harem lead. I look forward to hearing Yuuki Aoi again after her triumph as Murasaki in Kurenai. And Noto Mamiko and Toyoguchi Megumi (Klan in Macross F) are both always interesting.

The preview version of episode one has already been streamed. It promises a fairly entertaining third-rate show, with some moe potential. I like the website URL:

seiyuus: Fukuyama Jun, Narita Sayaka (Mayu/Ai yori Aoshi, Kusukusu/Shugo Chara), Toyosaki Aki (Amuro/Umisho), Noto Mamiko, Yuuki Aoi (Murasaki/Kurenai), Okiayu Ryoutarou, Toyoguchi Megumi.
director: Himaki Yuji (Anpanman movie 2006)
writer: Koyasu Hideaki (work on Minamike, Yoakena).
animation: Brains Base.
sound director: Takadera Takeshi (Rosario). OP:Charmmy Queen, ED:Nomiko.
trailer. subs: CoalGuys, Corona, Mayu-Genjo, Saikyo Subs?, AnimeYoshi.
sat 03 jan 24:00

White Album
(jp: ホワイトアルバム)
From a game by Aquaplus. Hirano Aya plays a girl who gets her big break as an idol just as she has graduated from high school. Will she and her boyfriend Maeno Tomoaki be able to stay together through the ups and downs of her new life? Complicating matters is the top idol played by Mizuki Nana: is she friend or foe?

This is one of my most anticipated shows of the season, because I like the bit of manga I've read, and because of Aaya and Nana-chan. Art imitates life.

The "trailer" is a radio rip of Nana-chan's OP.

seiyuus: Hirano Aya, Mizuki Nana, Maeno Tomoaki, Takamoto Megumi, Masu Nozomi, Paku Romi, Tomatsu Haruka, Sakaguchi Daisuke (Keel/Tideline Blue, Sunohara/Clannad), Hayami Shou (Maximilian Jenius/Macross7, Julious/Angelique).
director: Yoshimura Akira (new, dir eps of Planetes, Samurai Champloo, Gundam00, etc.)
writer: Satou Hiroaki (dir. Yoshimune).
animation: Seven Arcs. chara-des: Yoshinari Kou, Kawata Hisashi.
sound director: Shioya Yoku. music: Elements Garden. OP: Mizuki Nana, ED: Suara.
trailer. subs: Aero Subs, Osu!, alchie, Eclipse, Menclave-ANBU.
sat 03 jan 26:00

Maria Holic
(jp: まりあ†ほりっく)
Directed by Shinbo Akiyuki (MoonPhase, PaniPoni, Negima!? Zetsubou-sensei, Hidamari Sketch). Shinbou's visual extravagance and off-centre comedy are much in evidence in episode one, which is now being streamed. Check official site for details.

The story centers on a girl named Kanako who enrolls in all-girls school because she has a phobia of men and wants to find her destined yuri partner. She meets a captivating freshman named Mariya who fits her criteria — except that her seemingly ideal mate happens to be a sadistic, cross-dressing boy.

Highly competent cast. I didn't enjoy the manga much, since Maria was so loathsome, but I'm intrigued to see what Shinbo makes of it. Episode one was excellent, with a good performance from Sanada Asami (Di Gi Charat) as the heroine, in particular.

seiyuus: Sanada Asami, Kobayashi Yu, Inoue Marina, Sawashiro Miyuki, Matsuki Miyu, Shintani Ryouko, Gotou Saori, Kaida Yuko, Kanda Akemi.
director: Shinbo Akiyuki
writer: Yokotani Masahiro (Reideen, World Destruction). Endou Minari (creator).
animation: Shaft. animation supervisor: Yamamura Hiroki (Zetsubou).
sound director: Kameyama Toshiki (MoonPhase, Nanoha, Red Garden, Zetsubou, etc.). OP: Kobayashi YU, ED: seiyuus.
trailer. subs: Corona-Yuurisan Subs, Saikyo Subs?, gg.
sun 04 jan 24:30

Minami-ke Okaeri
(jp: みなみけ おかえり)
Season three of the popular comedy features a new director and new writer, although it comes from the same original manga series. The animation company is the same as series two rather than series one.

The humor of the earlier series didn’t reach me as much as it did other people, and with the new staff I really have no idea what to expect. But I'll be watching ep1, for sure.

The "trailer" I have is a little promo talk by the three main seiyuus: Satou Rina, Inoue Marina, and Chihara Minori.

seiyuus: Satou Rina, Inoue Marina, Chihara Minori, Ono Daisuke, Kakihara Tetsuya, Mizuki Nana.
director: Oikawa Kei (new, key animator, ep of Coyote Ragtime)
writer: Kogomi Rie (小塵りえ pron?, unknown).
animation: asread. trailer. subs: Ayako?, Ayu?.
sun 04 jan 25:30

Zoku Natsume Yuujin Chou
(jp: 続 夏目友人帳)
A new series of the successful show about giving spirits back their names. Classy anime that bored me.

The director of Koi Kaze, Jigoku Shoujo, and Baccano; the writer of Ai Yori Aoshi, Jigoku Shoujo, and Zetsubou Sensei.

The cast of actors includes Kamiya Hiroshi in the lead, with Inoue Kazuhiko, Kobayashi Sanae, Sawashiro Miyuki, Fujimura Ayumi, and Itou Miki. I will be giving myself a third chance to like this.

seiyuus: Kamiya Hiroshi, Inoue Kazuhiko (Hatake/Naruto, Gorou/Moonlight Mile), Kobayashi Sanae, Sawashiro Miyuki, Ishida Akira, Itou Miki, Fujimura Ayumi.
director: Omori Takahiro (Koi Kaze, Jigoku Shoujo, Baccano)
writer: Kanemaki Kenichi (Ai Yori Aoshi, Jigoku Shoujo, PaniPoni, Zetsubou Sensei). Midorikawa Yuki (creator).
animation: Brains Base. subs: BSS, ainex?.
mon 05 jan 25:00

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo
(jp: 宇宙をかける少女)
Humanity has migrated to countless colony clusters in space. A girl named Shishidou Akiha (Mako) encounters a malevolent artificial intelligence on her colony. Akiha is joined by an Inter-Colony Police officer named Kannagi Itsuki (Endou Aya), a taciturn young girl named Kawai Honoka (Makino Yui) , and a robot named Imoko "Imo-chan" (anidb)

With SoraKake Shoujo, the creator and director of the Mai-HiME series strike again with a team of shoujo fighters in space. This time, well-known writer Hanada Jukki (Rozen Maiden, sola) joins the team. The cast list is outstanding, with Endou Aya (Sheryl/Macross Frontier), Makino Yui, Fukuyama Jun and many others, including two of my personal favorites, Yahagi Sayuri and Koshimizu Ami. Mako, who played Yurie in Kamichu, is the heroine.

seiyuus: Mako (Yurie/Kamichu), Endou Aya (Sheryl), Makino Yui (Misaki/NHK), Fukuyama Jun (Lerouche), Nonaka Ai (Iriya), Tamura Yukari (Nanoha), Yukana (C.C.), Koshimizu Ami (Horo, Kallen), Yahagi Sayuri (Karin), Kitamura Eri (Saiya/Blood+, Rin/KnJ).
director: Obara Masakazu (Mai-HiME, My-Otome)
writer: Yatate Hajime (creator, also creator of Gundam, Votoms, Escaflowne, Mai-HiME). Hanada Jukki (Rozen Maiden, sola, Yozakura Quartet).
animation: Sunrise. chara-des: Kabashima Yousuke (work on MSGundamSD, Idolmaster Xenoglossia).
OP: Ali Project, ED: seiyuus.
trailer. subs: Strike-subs, Shinsen-Subs?, Chihiro?.
mon 05 jan 25:30

Viper's Creed
Director Aramaki Shinji directed Appleseed and did mecha work on MS Igloo. The story is set in the mid-21st century, as a private military company helps clean up after a disastrous war and runaway environmental degradation.

Stars the outstanding Toyoguchi Megumi (Klan in Macross F), Kuroda Takaya (who, as Renjou in Kurenai, stole scenes from a child) and Fukuyama Jun (Lerouche).

seiyuus: Kuroda Takaya (Renjou/Kurenai), Toyoguchi Megumi, Fukuyama Jun, Kawada Shinji, Minagawa Junko, Kaida Yuki.
director: Aramaki Shinji (Appleseed director, Igloo and other mecha designs)
writer: Akahoshi Masanao (Ikkitousen GG, To Aru Majutsu no Index).
animation: AIC Spirits. trailer.
tue 06 jan 22:00

Hajime no Ippo - New Challenger
(jp: はじめの一歩 New Challenger)
I'm completely unfamiliar with this popular boxing manga/anime franchise. But a lot of people are eagerly awaiting the new season.

The combination of Madhouse with the writer of Kamen no Maid Guy and the director of Saiunkoku is pretty interesting. And you can never go wrong with Fujiwara Keiji and Seki Tomokazu, to say nothing of Koyama Rikiya.

seiyuus: Kiyasu Kohei (Ippo, Fukurou/Noein, Kaoru/Prince of Tennis), Fujiwara Keiji, Koyama Rikiya, Seki Tomokazu.
director: Shishido Jun (Saiunkoku)
writer: Fudeyasu Kazuyuki (Kamen no Maid Guy). Morikawa Jouji (creator).
animation: Madhouse. subs: sMi-INP, Frostii, Saizen.
tue 06 jan 25:29

Dokuhaku Suru Universal Yoko Mercator Egg Man
(jp: 独白するユニバーサル横メルカトル Egg Man)
Monologues of Universal Transverse Mercator. To be released on Crunchyroll.

3DCG. A serial killer who leaves an egg at the scene of his crimes is caught and put on death row. And then the story begins.

seiyuus: Terasoma Masaki (TV actor, seiyuu).
director: Kishi Kaisei
writer: Hirayama Yumeaki (novelist).
animation: T.O.Entertainment. trailer.
wed 07 jan

Asu no Youichi
(jp: 明日のよいち!)
After seventeen years of martial arts training in the countryside, already-capable fighter Youichi is sent to a special doujou in the city, where he will complete his training in company with four beautiful sisters. What will "Tomorrow's Youichi" be like? Comic, for one thing. The preview looks fairly cliched, but there is some potential here.

Writer Kurata Hideyuki adapted Kannagi, and that means something to me. This is the first series for director Kujo Rion, who did the Love Doll OVA, and worked on Xenoglossia.

Seiyuu names like Hanazawa Kana, Makino Yui, Nabatame Hitomi, Satou Rina, Tamura Yukari, Tomatsu Haruka, Konishi Katsuyuki, and Yahagi Sayuri are exciting. Lead male Okamoto Nobuhiko was Yorito in sola.

seiyuus: Okamoto Nobuhiko (Yorito/sola), Satou Rina, Hanazawa Kana, Makino Yui, Nabatame Hitomi, Tamura Yukari, Tomatsu Haruka, Konishi Katsuyuki, Yahagi Sayuri.
director: Kujo Rion (new, did Love Doll OVA, work on Gunsword, Xenoglossia)
writer: Kurata Hideyuki (Kannagi).
animation: AIC. animation supervisor: Ishii Yumiko (first series).
sound director: Aketagawa Jin. OP:meg rock, ED:Misato Aki.
trailer. subs: Aero Subs, Osu!, Saikyo Subs?, AnimeYoshi, Genjo-subs.
thu 08 jan 25:28

Tower of Druaga - The Sword of Uruk
(jp: ドルアーガの塔 ~the Sword of URUK~)
What a cast and staff! Why didn't I look at more than half an episode of the first series? One of the few unknowns in a cast of huge names is the star, Kenn. Director Chigira Kouichi did both Full Metal Panic and Last Exile. Sound director Gouda Hozumi is a big-name seiyuu who also did sound direction for shows like Zettai Shounen and Vampire Knight.

The protagonist is a strong-willed young champion who is battling his way up the great world-tower toward the treasures above, and the evil lord at the top. A female oracle, a mage, a child, various warriors — this anime fits squarely in its genre. I guess that genre may be why I didn’t take this show seriously before. But I will now.

seiyuus: Kenn, Orikasa Fumiko, Sakurai Takahiro, Horie Yui, Hayamizu Risa, Gouda Hozumi, Chihara Minori, Ishida Akira, Yukana, Yajima Akiko.
director: Chigira Kouichi (FMP, Last Exile)
writer: Gatoh Shouji (FMP creator, FMP:TSR).
animation: Gonzo.
sound director: Gouda Hozumi (Zettai Shounen, Vampire Knight, seiyuu).
trailer. subs: GONZO/Crunchyroll.
thu 08 jan 25:30

Kurokami The Animation
(jp: 黒神 The Animation)
Distant echoes of Shakugan no Shana in this show based on a fine but/and bloody manga done in Japanese by two Koreans. Kuro is an innocent power loli from a clan who infiltrate human society to protect or attack humans. She is a protector, and finds herself making a contract of power with a human young man to save his arm, which had been ripped off by one of her enemies. He is the tsundere in the relationship; and he has an oneesan osananajimi who secretly loves him. Kuro herself is an innocent powerful puppy.

Strong cast stars Shitaya Noriko, who was Himeko in Kannazuki no Miko, and Namikawa Daisuke, who was Rock in Black Lagoon and Iks in The Third. With Ohara Sayaka, Nakata Jouji, and Tamura Yukari.

Director Kobayashi Tsuneo did Emma and Twelve Kingdoms. Top writer Yoshida Reiko (Marimite, RomeoxJuliet) does the adaptation. The OP is by Kuribayashi Minami and the ED by the enjoyable two-member electro-goth group, Yousei Teikoku ("Fairy Empire"), whose lead singer is sometime-seiyuu Itsuki Yui.

This could be a good one. Simultaneous dubbed broadcast on iaTV cable in the US. The trailer looks a little too cleaned up compared to the manga. We'll see how this goes. The manga is scanlated as "Black God." EDIT: The first episode has been streamed via Bandai Channel and looks excellent to me, with reasonable character design and reworking of the plot, plus some Emma-style depth, as well as not-much-censored fights. All epsiodes will be streamed via Bandai Channel.

seiyuus: Shitaya Noriko (Himeko/Kannazuki), Namikawa Daisuke (Iks/The Third), Ohara Sayaka, Nakata Jouji, Tamura Yukari.
director: Kobayashi Tsuneo (Twelve Kingdoms, Emma)
writer: Yoshida Reiko (Marimite, Shinigami no Ballad, RomeoxJuliet, etc.).
animation: Sunrise. chara-des: Nishimura Hiroyuki (Deltora Quest). animation supervisor: Nishimura Hiroyuki.
sound director: Kikuta Hiromi. OP: Kuribayashi Minami, ED:Yousei Teikoku. trailer.
thu 08 jan 26:40

Birdy the Mighty - Decode
(jp: 鉄腕バーディー DECODE)
A second season for the successful remake of a 1990s show. I lost interest in season one, but it was definitely well made, and season two is worth a look. A hapless shounen is accidentally killed and merges bodies with a glamorous interplanetary agent.

Lots of great voice work: Chiba Saeko, Itou Kanae, Nazuka Kaori, Irino Miyu, Fujiwara Keiji, etc.

Directed by Akane Kazuki, director of Noein and Escaflowne. Written by Ohnogi Hiroshi, who wrote Noein and Aquarion. Music by Kanno Yuugo, who did Toshokan Sensou and Hataraki Man. Top sound director Aketagawa Jin (Ichigo Mashimaro, KimiKiss, Genshiken) rounds out a solid staff.

seiyuus: Chiba Saeko, Irino Miyu, Fujiwara Keiji, Itou Kanae, Nazuka Kaori, Noto Mamiko, Kawasumi Ayako.
director: Akane Kazuki (Noein, Escaflowne)
writer: Ohnogi Hiroshi (Noein), Minakami Seishi (Asatte no Houkou, Shigurui). Yuuki Masami (mangaka; Patlabor).
animation: A-1 Pictures (Ookiku Furikabutte, Persona).
sound director: Aketagawa Jin. music: Kanno Yuugo.
trailer. subs: AoShen, Moetaku-Fansubs, Chihiro.
fri 09 jan 26:10

MAJOR 5th season
(jp: MAJOR 5th season)
The fifth season of the perennially popular baseball show. Director Fukushima Riki did season four. The writer is Tsuchiya Rikei (KimiKiss). A seasoned cast.

seiyuus: Morikubo Shoutarou, Namikawa Daisuke, Enomoto Atsuko, Morikawa Toshiyuki, Morita Masakazu, Noda Junko, Paku Romi.
director: Fukushima Riki (Major 4)
writer: Mitsuda Takuya (manga). Tsuchiya Rikei (Kaikan Phrase, KimiKiss).
animation: Synergy SP.
subs: Minor Ja Nai, INP, sMi.
sat 10 jan 18:00

Beast-Player Erin
(jp: 獣の奏者エリン)
Singer-actress Hoshii Nanase has been in eight different TV dramas this year alone, and now she takes the lead in a year-long anime. Stage actress, Hirata Eriko is billed second. Takahashi Mikako and Ishida Akira are the only cast-names that I recognize.

The story follows a young girl called Erin who has the power to tame beasts, and gets tangled up in the wars of her time and place.

Novel author Uehashi Nahoko wrote Seirei no Moribito. She is a well-known fantasy author, as well as a professor of anthropology in Tokyo.

Director Hamana Takayuki did Library Wars. Screenwriter Fujisaku Junichi did Real Drive and Blood+. There is some danger that the story will drag, but the cast, director, and writer capture my interest. The promo has some Miyazaki vibes.

seiyuus: Hoshii Nanase (singer, actress), Hirata Eriko (stage actress), Takahashi Mikako, Ishida Akira.
director: Hamana Takayuki (Prince of Tennis, Wellber, Library War)
writer: Fujisaku Junichi (Real Drive, Blood+). Uehashi Nahoko (creator, creator of Moribito).
animation: Production IG, Transarts. chara-des: Goto Takayuki (GiTS). animation supervisor: Takahashi Nariyuki.
sound director: Hiramitsu Takuya (Library War, Prince of Tennis). music: Sakamoto Masayuki. OP: Sukima Switch, ED: cossami.
trailer. subs: Static-Subs. 50eps.
sat 10 Jan 18:25

Chrome-Shelled Regios
(jp: 鋼殻のレギオス)
School fantasy set in the distant future. Creatures contaminated by pollution have taken over the land, forcing humanity to live in isolated mobile cities called Regios. One such city is a self-contained school in which freshman Reifon Aruseifu has just enrolled. Reifon reluctantly joins the 17th Martial Arts Studies Unit, led by third-year student Nina Antouku, and embarks on a series of adventures. (MangaFox)

Team of kids fights monsters…. Director of Canvas2…. But the lead girl is played by outstanding young voice actress Takagaki Ayahi (Noe in true tears, Otome in DaCapo2), so I'll be watching a couple of episodes, anyway. The preview shows it has some possibilities.

seiyuus: Okamoto Nobuhiko (Yorito/sola, John Brown/Ghost Hunt), Takagaki Ayahi, Nakahara Mai, Taniyama Kishou, Koyasu Takehito, Sakaguchi Daisuke, Takahashi Mikako, Okame Asuka, Sendai Eri, Oura Fuuka.
director: Kawasaki Itsurou (Canvas2, Mamoru-kun)
writer: Ikeda Mamiko (Keroro Gunsou, Himawari, Umishou). Amagi Shuusuke (novelist).
animation: ZEXCS. chara-des: Miyuu (original), Hashimoto Hideki (adapt).
OP: Daisy x Daisy.
trailer. subs: AnimeYoshi, Ayako.
sat 10 jan 25:00

Ride Back
(jp: RIDE BACK -ライドバック-)
Ride Back tells the story of a girl and her "Iron Horse" robot motorcycle in 2020, a tumultous time of anti-government student protests. (ann)

Incredible cast stars Mizuki Nana, who is not one of my favorites, but includes such top talents as Paku Romi, Toyoguchi Megumi, Miki Shinichirou, Hayamizu Risa, Kiuchi Hidenobu, and Kobayashi Sanae.

This is the first full show for director Takahashi Atsushi, who worked on Kemonozume, Paranoia Agent, and Spirited Away. Sound director Nakajima Toshihiko is another seiyuu/sound-director, having been a seiyuu since 1985.

For the cast alone, as well as the fact it’s from Madhouse, this show deserves a look.

seiyuus: Mizuki Nana, Paku Romi, Koyama Rikiya, Toyoguchi Megumi, Ueda Yuuji, Miki Shinichirou, Hayamizu Risa, Morikawa Toshiyuki, Kiuchi Hidenobu, Kobayashi Sanae.
director: Takahashi Atsushi (new, work on Kemonozume, Paranoia Agent, Sprited Away)
writer: Takayashi Hideo (Okusama wa Joshi Kousei, Kaiji, One Outs). Kasahara Tetsurou (creator).
animation: Madhouse. chara-des: Tazaki Satoshi (Otogijushi Akazukin). animation supervisor: Tazaki Satoshi (FF7 OVA, CCS Movie 2).
sound director: Nakajima Toshihiko (Kanokon, Kemonozume). OP: Mell.
trailer. subs: Infinite-Zero, Formula?. 12eps.
sun 11 jan 24:00

Slayers Evolution-R
(jp: スレイヤーズEVOLUTION-R)
The first revival season of Slayers worked, so here is a second. I didn’t watch past episode two, and I don’t even plan on ep1 this time around. It's just not my kind of fun. But Hayashibara Megumi stars, and director Watanabe Takeshi also did Shakugan no Shana, so the talent is there.

seiyuus: Hayashibara Megumi, Kobayashi Yumiko, Midorikawa Hikaru, Matsumoto Yasunori.
director: Watanabe Takashi (Shakugan no Shana)
writer: Takayama Jirou.
animation: JC Staff.
trailer (series 1 OP). 13eps.
mon 12 jan 09:30

Sora o Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai
(jp: 空を見上げる少女の瞳に映る世界)
Alternate retelling of KyoAni's 2004 Munto: Beyond the Walls of Time, which has been summarized: "Two years have passed since the catastrophic event known as the 'Continent's Dropping.' Yumemi still has not forgotten her ability to see the world above, but now that she's in the last years of middle school, real life takes over. Unknown to the people of the world, the war above rages on. In need of help, Gaz sends Munto down to Earth once more, to find the 'Girl of Destiny' in order to save Heaven from its demise." (ann)

The title translates: "What is Reflected in the Eyes of a Girl Looking Up at the Sky." The cast includes seiyuus who have worked for KyoAni before, especially in Lucky Star. Fired whiz-kid Yamamoto Yutaka was assistant director of the previous OVA. Kigami Yoshiji directs again. I haven't seen the original Munto, so I'm looking forward to finding out what this is like.

seiyuus: Aizawa Mai (Ayame/Garee Zero, Ayano/Lucky Star, Natsumi/Negima), Ono Daisuke, Konno Hiromi (Akira/Lucky Star, Maria/Skip Beat), Mizuhara Kaoru (Misao/Lucky Star).
director: Kigami Yoshiji (Munto)
writer: Kigami Yoshiji.
animation: KyoAni. animation supervisor: Aratani Tomoe (AIR, Munto).
sound director: Tsuruoka Yota. music: Kousaki Satoru (Haruhi, Lucky Star, Kannagi).
tue 13 jan 25:45

Genji Monogatari Sennenki
(jp: 源氏物語千年紀)
Osamu Dezaki (Ace wo Nerae, Rose of Versailles, Oniisama-e, Air movie) tries his hand at an adaptation of the great Tale of Genji, The Tale of Genji (Genji Monogatari), written by a Japanese court lady around 1000 AD, is one of the world's great novels, and possibly the first real novel ever written. It is a tale of forbidden passion and psychological depth set in the bizarre and beautiful world of the aristocracy of Heian Japan.

To tell the truth, I love the book so much that I would watch the worst adaptation. This blog is named after characters in the novel. But the staff and cast make it look as if this anime could actually turn out to be a good adaptation. Anything to bring the Genji to a wider audience.

Sakurai Takahiro (Fakir in Princess Tutu, the Medicine Seller, Suzaku) has a chance to create a fine version of the brilliant, beautiful, sincere, responsible libertine Prince Genji. Tamagawa Sakiko (Onashia in Simoun) is a cinch as the tragic empress Fujitsubo. And I am eager to hear what rising star Endou Aya (Miyuki in Lucky Star, Sheryl in Macross F) can do as Murasaki, the main heroine of the story, whom Genji more or less kidnapped as a ten-year-old and eventually made his wife and helpmeet, the true love of his life.

Konparu Tomoko (NANA, Nodame Cantabile) is a good choice to work with Dezaki on the script. Long-time Dezaki collaborators Sugino Akio (animation) and Suzuki Seiji (music) are also here.

This is the show I most anticipate this season.

seiyuus: Sakurai Takahiro, Tamagawa Sakiko, Endou Aya, Hirata Eriko, Sugita Tomokazu, Fujita Toshiko, Tsuru Hiromi, Horiuchi Kenyuu.
director: Osamu Dezaki (Ace wo Nerae, Rose of Versailles, Oniisama-e, etc.)
writer: Murasaki Shikibu (creator, 1000 AD). Konparu Tomoko.
animation: Tezuka Prod., Tokyo Movie. chara-des: Sugino Akio. animation supervisor: Sugino Akio.
music: Suzuki Seiji. subs: Yoroshiku?, Strawberry Mint Subs. 11eps.
thu 15 jan 24:45

Hetalia Axis Powers
(jp: ヘタリア Axis Powers)
Based on a popular web manga, this has been described as a "cynical gag" story set in Europe in the years between WW1 and WW2 (1915-1939). It uses exaggerated caricatures of the different nationalities as portrayed by a gaggle of bishounen boys: the Italia Veneziano character is into pasta and women; the Deutsche bishi loves potatoes and sausages; and Nippon is an otaku. Installments of the manga have jumped back and forth in setting from ancient times to modern-day geopolitics. The manga's title comes the Japanese words for "useless" (hetare) and Italy (Italia). (anidb)

This show could be a disaster or light up the night. Directed by the director of Gravitation and written by the sound director (!) of Aishiteruze and Library War. Lots of big-name seiyuus. The aarinfantasy sub group clearly expects this to have yaoi aspects, since that is their specialty \nd they plan to sub this show.

seiyuus: Namikawa Daisuke, Takahashi Hiroki, Yasumoto Hiroki, Taniyama Kishou, Kaida Yuki, Konishi Katsuyuki, Kugimiya Rie, Neya Michiko, Paku Romi.
director: Bob Shirohata (Gravitation)
writer: Hiramitsu Takuya (snd dir Aishiteruze, Library War, etc.).
animation: Studio Deen. subs: aarinfantasy. 26x5mn eps.
sat 24 jan 25:52

Fresh Pretty Cure
(jp: フレッシュプリキュア!)
The sixth season of the perennial favorite early Sunday morning magical girl show. This new Precure series, to follow Precure 5, will feature new characters and new stars. Starts in February.

A new movie called "Precure All-Stars DX," featuring many of the stars of former series, will open March 20.

animation: Toei Animation.
sun 01 feb 08:30

Kin-iro no Corda - second passo
(jp: 金色のコルダ ~second passo~)
A new series of the enjoyable reverse harem show based of a classical music high school,, complete with talented bishounen. Fine cast includes Takagi Reiko, Taniyama Kishou, and Zero and Kaname — I mean Miyano Mamoru and Kishio Daisuke.

seiyuus: Takagi Reiko, Taniyama Kishou, Itou Kentarou, Fukuyama Jun, Morita Masakazu, Kishio Daisuke, Miyano Mamoru, Hino Satoshi, Mizuhashi Kaori.
director: Ochi Koujin (first series, Pokemon movies)
writer: Yoshida Reiko (Marimite). Koei (game), Kure Yuki (manga).
animation: Yumeta.
broadcast begins in March.


Kurogane no Vendetta
(jp: 鋼鉄のヴァンデッタ)
I have very little info about this apparently fan-made girls-with-mechas anime to be released at Comiket.
OVA. 1/1eps.
mon 29 dec

Touhou Anime Project - Musou Kakyou
(jp: 東方アニメプロジェクト・夢想夏郷)
Doujin anime project based on Touhou games. A shrine maiden, a ghost, a reporter with a nose for disaster, and a magician. And limitless moe. The official English title is: A Summer Day's Dream.

A galaxy of seiyuu stars appears in this show: Nakahara Mai and Sawashiro Miyuki head the list.

seiyuus: Nakahara Mai, Sawashiro Miyuki, Fujimura Ayumi, Takahashi Mikako, Tanaka Rie, Tsuji Ayumi, Toyosaki Ami, Inoue Kikuko.
director: Tokine
writer: Tokine. Zun (creator, from Shanghai Alice).
animation: Maikaze. animation supervisor: Tokine.
music: Tokine.
trailer. OVA. 1/?eps.
mon 29 dec

Kowarekake no Orgol
(jp: こわれかけのオルゴール)
Doujin OVA by POP, the illustrator of Moetan. The advance illustrations on the official site and the trailer all have moe scores that are way off the scale.

About a sad musician and a magical little girl. To be released at Comiket in late December. Definitely worth a look, if you like moe. This should be a truer version of POP's work than Moetan was. He is doing it through his own company, ElectromagneticWave.

director: POP
animation: ElectromagneticWave.
trailer. OVA. 1/1eps.
tue 30 dec

Seto no Hanayome OVA Gi
(jp: 瀬戸の花嫁 OVA義)
Some people think of the original series as the funniest recent anime. I could never get into it, but if it matches your sense of humor, you are in for some fun. Momoi Halko hasn’t done much anime recently, so it’s good to have a chance to hear her. Kitamura Eri and Morinaga Rika are two other voices I like to hear.

The date given below is for a TV preview broadcast of the episode, with DVD release on Jan 30.

seiyuus: Momoi Halko, Mizushima Takahiro, Kitamura Eri, Kaneda Tomoko, Morinaga Rika.
director: Kishi Seiji (Ragnarokr, Galaxy Angel Rune)
writer: Kimura Tahiko (mangaka). Uezu Makoto (School Days, Amenaideyo).
animation: Gonzo x AIC. OVA. 2/2eps.
sun 01 jan

xxxHOLIC - Spring Dream
(jp: xxxHOLiC 春夢記)
More xxxHOLIC for lovers of the first series and the first OVA. Ohara Sayaka and Fukuyama Jun are a great start for the cast. CLAMP and Production IG. Director Mizushima Tsutomu also did Kujibiki Unbalance, Ookiku Furikabutte, and Dai Mahou Touge.

Issued with a special edition of volume 14 of the manga.

seiyuus: Ohara Sayaka, Fukuyama Jun, Nakai Kazuya, Itou Shizuka, Kikuchi Mika.
director: Mizushima Tsutomu (Kujibiki, Ookiku, Dai Mahou Touge)
writer: Ohkawa Nanase (CCS).
animation: Production IG. chara-des: Kise Kazuchika (GITS movies, Evangelion 1.0).
OVA. 1/2eps.
fri 16 jan

Abunai Sisters
(jp: Abunai Sisters)
Campy 3DCG adventure comedy based on the Kano sisters and involving two sisters with large and talented boobs. Ten short episodes on a DVD, simultaneous release in Japanese and English. One episode is being streamed on the website.

seiyuus: Kano Kyouko, Kano Mika (I think).
animation: Production IG. chara-des: Matsushita Susumu.
subs: the version I've seen is in English with Japanese subs.
OVA - ten short eps.
wed 21 jan

Ichigo Mashimaro OVA2 Encore
(jp: 苺ましまろ encore)
Two more episodes of the funniest anime I've ever seen, based on Barasui's manga. Humanity in miniature, with all its hypocrisies and failings. Certainly the best comic ensemble cast I've seen, with Nabatame Hitomi and Orikasa Fumiko at their best, ably supported by Chiba Saeko, Noto Mamiko, and Kawasumi Ayako.

There may be some slight change in the scripting, as Yokote Michiko is credited alongside the director as lead writers. She wrote some episodes of the earlier series.

seiyuus: Nabatame Hitomi, Orikasa Fumiko, Chiba Saeko, Noto Mamiko, Kawasumi Ayako.
director: Sato Takuya (NieA7)
writer: Barasui (creator). Yokote Michiko (Princess Tutu, Genshiken), Sato Takuya.
animation: Doumu. chara-des: Sakai Kyuuta (IchiMash, Higurashi). animation supervisor: Sakai Kyuuta (IchiMash, Higurashi2, Yama to Boushi to Hon).
OP: seiyuu, ED: Orikasa Fumiko. OVA. 1/2eps. trailer
fri 23 jan. Ep2-25mar.

Zettai Shougeki ~Platonic Heart~
(jp: 絶対衝激~プラトニックハート~)
The story centers on the Platonic Heart, a jewel that — according to legend — can grant any wish. Only a chosen few are allowed to compete in the Platonic Heart hunt, and high school junior Aya Iseshima is one of 11 girls and women who are taking part. (anidb)

Good cast includes Nazuka Kaori, Nonaka Ai, and Koshimizu Ami, among others. The director and writer did Girl's High, unfortunately. A glimpse of ep1 reminded me of the awkwardness of that show, I'm sorry to say. Nice-looking character design, however, by Miyata Naomi, who did the animation for I"s Pure.

seiyuus: Nazuka Kaori, Akesaka Satomi, Kanda Akemi, Nonaka Ai, Kaida Yuko, Koshimizu Ami, Shintani Ryouko, Kawaragi Shiho, Miyazaki Ui, Ueda Kana.
director: Fujimoto Yoshitaka (Koikoi7, Girl's High)
writer: Shirane Hideki (Bottle Fairy, Girl's High).
animation: Studio Kikan (Naisho no Tsubomi). chara-des: Miyata Naomi (Slayers shows), Happoubi Jin (games). animation supervisor: Miyata Naomi (I"s Pure).
OP: Little Non. trailer. OVA. 3/5eps.
fri 28 jan. ep4-25 feb

Mahou Sensei Negima! ~Shiroki Tsubasa Ala Alba~
(jp: 魔法先生ネギま!~白き翼 ALA ALBA~)
The third of three more episodes with Negi and the girls. Directed by the man himself, Shinbou Akiyuki. But in this OVA series, for the first time, the lead writer for the anime is Akamatsu Ken, the original mangaka.

The same cast also returns, including Satou Rina as Negi, and all the rest, but with the addition of Ono Daisuke and Inoue Marina.

seiyuus: Satou Rina, Kanda Akemi, Inoue Marina, Ono Daisuke.
director: Shinbou Akiyuki
writer: Akamatsu Ken.
animation: Shaft.
sound director: Tsuruoka Yota. music: Kikuchi Hajime (of eufonius, did true tears).
OVA. 3/3eps.
tue 17 feb

Kodomo no Jikan 2
(jp: こどものじかん)
A ten-year-old who lives with her doting elder brother but lusts after her young male teacher? A manga full of ecchi scenes between them? But funny and humane, nonetheless.

The OVA and the first series were well animated and well voiced, with Kitamura Eri as Rin and Kadowaki Mai and Shindou Kei as her friends.

First major directorial job for experienced animator Suganuma Eiji (Pumpkin Scissors, Bincho-tan). Watashiya Kaworu's popular manga is adapted by star anime writer Okada Mari (Mamoru-kun, true tears, Toradora, etc.).

seiyuus: Kitamura Eri, Shindou Kei, Kadowaki Mai, Majima Junji.
director: Suganuma Eiji
writer: Okada Mari (Sketchbook, true tears, Toradora, Vampire Knight). Watashiya Kaoru (manga).
animation: Studio Barcelona. animation supervisor: Ishikawa Masakazu (Gakuen Alice).
music: Nishida Masaru (Karin, Chokotto Sister).
trailer. OVA. 1/3eps.
fri 20 feb

Higurashi no Naku Koro ni Rei
(jp: ひぐらしのなく頃に礼)
New five-episode Higurashi OVA series. If you haven’t seen any of the higurashi shows, be sure to give this one a try: mystery, the supernatural, violence, and moe all rolled up into one attractive package. Not my cup of tea, but definitely a fine drink.

seiyuus: Houshi Souichirou, Nakahara Mai, Yukino Satsuki, Kanai Mika, Tamura Yukari, Horie Yui.
director: Kawase Toshifumi
writer: Kawase Toshifumi. Seventh Expansion (creator).
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Kuroda Kazuya.
OP: Eiko Shimamiya, ED: anNina. OVA. 1/5eps.
wed 25 feb. Ep2 will be on March 25, with succeeding eps in May, June and August.

(jp: Switch)
Two newbies at the Narcotic Control Department in Japan, Hal and Kai, struggle against drug dealers, gangs, murderers, psychopaths, mysterious organizations, and mad people in general. The gentle and caring one of the group, Kai, has the tendancy to turn into a lethal killing machine in certain situations, like flipping a "switch."(ann)

Good cast. Good writer. Unknown director. Writer Takahashi Natsuko did Blue Drop, Gakuen Heaven, and Moyashimon, among many other things. Director Odaira Naoki (pronunciation? 大平直樹) is new to directing a full show, having done episodes of Kotetsujin Jeeg and Rental Magica. I didn’t see ep1, so I can’t judge how it's going, but there are a few quite positive remarks on AnimeSuki. From a manga.

seiyuus: Fukuyama Jun, Sakurai Takahiro, Nakai Kazuka, Suwabe Junichi, Ryohei, Sugita Tomokazu.
director: Odaira Naoki (大平直樹) (new)
writer: Takahashi Natsuko (Blue Drop, Gakuen Heaven, Moyashimon).
animation: ACTAS (Tactical Roar, Moetan). chara-des: Itou Takeshi (Tactical Roar).
OPED: Miranosand.
trailer. OVA. 2/2eps.
wed 25 feb

Tsubasa - Spring Lightning
(jp: ツバサ 春雷記)
New Tsubasa OVA from Clamp and Production IG. Tada Shunsuke (Prince of Tennis) directs.
seiyuus: Irino Miyu, Makino Yui, Namikawa Daisuke, Kikuchi Mika.
director: Tada Shunsuke (Prince of Tennis)
writer: Ohkawa Nanase.
animation: Production IG. chara-des: Kikuchi Youko.
trailer. OVA. 1/2eps.
tue 17 mar