Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Anime Summer 2009 -- full previews w/cast, staff, story, trailer, pic

bakemonogatariLast summer, I could find only 30 shows to preview. This summer, there are 36, without even counting movies.

And that doesn't include strong continuing shows, such as Requiem for the Phantom, Pandora Hearts, Cross Game, Before Green Gables, Mazinger Z, Guin Saga, Hanasakeru Shounen, Saki -- and new episodes of Suzumiya Haruhi.

The new season starts on Wednesday and Thursday of next week, with mermaid fantasy Umi Monogatari and ecchi comedy Fight! Ippatsu Juuden-chan, and then gets going in earnest on the following Wednesday with the gentle yuri drama Aoi Hana and a new mystery from the makers of Higurashi, Umineko no Naku Koro ni -- and more new shows on succeeding days.

I'll preview all of the new shows in detail, but first here is a brief list of some that catch my eye:
  • Aoi Hana: Shoujo-ai slice-of-life from an excellent manga, adapted by the writer of Rescue Wings and directed by the director of Honey & Clover.
  • Bakemonogatari: Shinbou plus plot. Shaft's main man tries his hand at supernatural fantasy, leavened with comedy and fanservice.
  • Canaan: PA Works (true tears) gives us their second-ever offering, set in a dystopic future and featuring a girl with a gun. Stars Sawashiro Miyuki and Sakamoto Maaya. Written by the writer of true tears, working from a Wii visual novel.
  • Sora no Manima ni: The director of Gintama and School Rumble animates an entertaining manga about an irrepressible childhood friend. Stars a bevy of outstanding young seiyuus: Koshimizu Ami, Hayami Saori, Tomatsu Haruka, Itou Kanae, Maeno Tomoaki.
  • Spice and Wolf 2: A new series of the supernatural medieval finance romance starring Koshimizu Ami as Horo the wolf goddess and Fukuyama Jun as a wandering trader.
  • Taishou Yakyuu Musume: The director of Genshiken and Potemayo gives us an anime based on a series of comic novels about girls playing baseball in 1925.
  • Tokyo Magnitude 8.0: Bones contributes the story of a girl living through the aftermath of a giant earthquake in Tokyo.
  • Umi Monogatari - Anata ga Itekureta Koto: A fantasy adventure involving a lost ring and the mermaids who find it in the sea and come onto land to return it. Directed by the director of ARIA.
  • Umineko no Naku Koro ni: A highly-awaited new mystery from the team that gave us Higurashi.
  • Kowarekake no Orgol: New heights of moe in a doujin anime from the artist who drew Moetan.
So here are all the animes: first an index in alphabetical order (click to go to full info on each show). Then the sections on each show, with shows that seem promising to me first, followed by the rest.

|Aoi Hana       |Bakemonogatari       |Canaan       |Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!!       |GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class       |Kanamemo       |Sora no Manima ni       |Spice and Wolf 2       |Taishou Yakyuu Musume       |Tokyo Magnitude 8.0       |Umi Monogatari - Anata ga Itekureta Koto       |Umineko no Naku Koro ni       |Kawa no Hikari       |Kowarekake no Orgol       |Elementhunters       |Hetalia Axis Powers 2       |Kuruneko       |Needless       |Penelope tete en l'air 2       |Princess Lover       |Suzu Santarou       |Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou       |Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei       |AIKa ZERO       |Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka Hard Core       |Cobra The Animation: Time Drive       |Dogs, Bullets and Carnage       |Hellsing       |Jungle Emperor       |Kodomo no Jikan 2       |Mahou Sensei Negima! - Another World       |Nodame Cantabile OVA       |Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas - Meiō Shinwa       |To Love-Ru OVA       |Utawarerumono OVA       |Utsurun Desu

Notes:
-- info from official sites, Anime News Network, AnimeSuki forums, Anidb, 2channel, Japanese Wikipedia, etc.
-- some info re episode numbers may be unreliable.
-- subs info from the Who Subs What wiki, which shows which groups have expressed interest in each show. There is always some winnowing-out when the season starts.
-- I will post a weekly broadcast calendar when the season is about to start, including broadcast schedule changes that will probably occur between now and then.
-- English titles link to the Anime News Network encyclopedia; Japanese titles link to official sites.
-- click images to enlarge.



Aoi Hana
(jp: 青い花)

yuri, comedy-drama, school life
A wonderful shoujo-ai manga by Shimura Takako finds its way to anime, directed by the director of Honey & Clover, and adapted by the writer of Rescue Wings. I'm all over this one.

High-school freshman Akira is surprised when her childhood friend Fumi moves back into the neighborhood. Fumi is tall and shy. Akira is a little live-wire. The manga follows their lives and subtly shows the affection they feel for each other and for various fellow students in the two separate girls' schools they attend.

Fumi is played by Takabe Ai, who is a 20-year-old actress, TV personality and photo idol with no anime experience. A little awkwardness will suit Fumi's voice. The three rather inexperienced leads are backed up by a fine supporting cast: Horie Yui, Iguchi Yuka, Toyosaki Aki, Noto Mamiko, Nakahara Mai, Yahagi Sayuri.

This is the third show in Fuji TV's new "Noise" timeslot on Wednesday nights, aimed at a more mature, mixed-gender audience. Michiko to Hatchin and Ristorante Paradiso was the first two Noise shows.

seiyuus: Gibu Yuuko, Takabe Ai (photo idol, actress), Ishimatsu Chiemi, Horie Yui, Iguchi Yuka, Yahagi Sayuri, Toyosaki Aki, Noto Mamiko, Nakahara Mai.
director: Kasai Kenichi (Honey & Clover, Nodame Cantabile, KimiKiss)
writer: Takayama Fumihiko (Rescue Wings). Shimura Takako (orig).
animation: JC Staff. chara-des: Onchi Masayuki.
music: Haketa Takefumi (Antique Bakery, Vampire Knight). OP Kukikodan, ED Ceui.
trailer. forum. subs: Jade Fansubs, SHiN-gx & Genjo-Subs, Yuurisan-Subs
wed 01 jul 26:08


Bakemonogatari
(jp: 化物語)

fantasy adventure, supernatural, comedy, fanservice
Shinbou plus plot. Koyomi Araragi, a third year high school student, is almost human again after briefly becoming a vampire. In each chapter of the series, he helps a different heroine, each involved with a different "apparition". In the first chapter, Saitou Chiwa plays a girl whom our hero discovers weighs almost nothing....

But the show is not totally episodic, since events of the previous chapters play an important role in the subsequent ones. The series focuses on conversations between characters, and contains parodies of other series, as well as Nishio Ishin's trademark wordplay and metahumor. (anidb)

Seems ideal for Shinbou to do his thing on. And it is appropriate that his original vampire, Saitou Chiwa, returns. Oishi Tatsuya steps into the role of "series director" (i.e., executive assistant to the director, and director of some episodes).

Kamiya Hiroshi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Hanazawa Kana, Horie Yui, Katou Emiri -- I look forward to hearing them all.

The character design and drawing look great. Charades and animation supervision are by Watanabe Akio (SoulTaker, Magical Kanan, Akiba-chan)

seiyuus: Kamiya Hiroshi (Zetsubou sensei), Saitou Chiwa (Hazuki in MoonPhase), Sawashiro Miyuki, Hanazawa Kana, Sakurai Takahiro (Suzaku in Code Geass), Horie Yui, Katou Emiri (Kagami in Lucky Star).
director: Shinbou Akiyuki
writer: Tou Fuyashi (Zoku Sayonara Zetsubou). Nisio Ishin (orig).
animation: Shaft. chara-des: Watanabe Akio (SoulTaker, Magical Kanan, Akiba-chan), VOFAN (orig). animation supervisor: Watanabe Akio.
sound director: Tsuruoka Yota. music: Kousaki Satoru (Haruhi, Lucky Star, Kannagi).
trailer. forum. subs: Sora Subs, ainex, AnimeYoshi?.
fri 03 jul 23:00


Canaan
(jp: CANAAN)

adventure, violence
In the Asian digital world capital, Shanghai, the streets are like a festival every day: angry shouts, lovely voices, and music all merge together in primal chaos. Alone atop a building, a young woman with the lithe movements of a leopardess looks out over it all. Her name is Canaan. She holds a sniper rifle. She pulls the trigger. (official site)

Sawashiro Miyuki as the main star (billed first) means a lot to me. She's one of the real actresses. Add Sakamoto Maaya as the other star, and I see a lot of possibilties for strong acting by highly professional voices. Oh, and also Tanaka Rie. Oh, yes, plus Tomatsu Haruka. Mamiko Noto as an afterthought. And I forgot Minagawa Junko, who is doing such a great job as Oz in Pandora Hearts. And did I mention the old master, Ohkawa Tohru? They even have one of the top sound directors, Aketagawa Jin.

Writer Okada Mari did true tears (for the same studio, PA Works), Red Garden, Vampire Knight, and many episodes of Simoun. The story is based on a side-story written by the co-founders of Type-Moon for the Wii visual novel called 428.

The director is the only question mark. It's his first TV series. In 2007, he directed a movie called Sword of the Stranger. Before that, he directed episodes of FMA and RahXephon, among others, after emerging from the ranks of key animators.

But this remains one of the summer shows that most interest me, mainly because of the writer and the cast. The preview makes the drawing, animation and visual direction look pretty good, though.

seiyuus: Sawashiro Miyuki, Sakamoto Maaya, Nanjou Yoshino, Tanaka Rie, Tomatsu Haruka, Hamada Kenji, Minagawa Junko, Noto Mamiko, Ohkawa Tohru.
director: Andou Masahiro (new, dir. Many eps of FMA)
writer: Okada Mari (true tears, many eps of Simoun). Sega and Chunsoft (orig), Nasu Kinoko (scenario draft).
animation: PA Works. chara-des: Sekiguchi Kanami (true tears), Takeuchi Takashi (draft). animation supervisor: Sekiguchi Kanami (Solid State Society, true tears, eps of FMA).
sound director: Aketagawa Jin. music: Nanase Hikaru. OP Faylan, ED Annabel.
trailer. forum. subs: Formula, Mochi Fansubs, Enigma Collective & Atelier-Thryst?. 13eps.
sat 04 jul 22:30


Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!!
(jp: ファイト一発!充電ちゃん!!)

ecchi moe comedy
Fukuhara Kaori, who played Tsukasa in Lucky Star, gets her first starring role. Will Kaorin become the last of the four stars of LS to get an award at the Seiyuu Awards?

She is supported by two of my favorite young seiyuus, Takagaki Ayahi and Yahagi Sayuri. Miyazaki Ui, the great Kawasumi Ayako, and Shimizu Ai are involved, too.

The story, from a popular ecchi comedy manga by KissxSis illustrator Ditama Bow, involves special office girls whose secret work is to charge up dejected people, with electricity. Our heroine is new at her job....

Kimura Shinichirou (Karin, Mahoraba) knows how to direct heartwarming moe. However, the trailer is all graphic representations of parts of the female anatomy. Can Kimura-sensei make heartwarming Queen's-Blade-level ecchi, too?

seiyuus: Fukuhara Kaori, Takagaki Ayahi, Yahagi Sayuri, Miyazaki Ui, Shimizu Ai, Kawasumi Ayako, Takahashi Hiroki.
director: Kimura Shinichirou (Mahoraba, Karin, PiPoPa)
writer: Yamada Yasutomo (Tsuyokiss, Potemayo, PiPoPa). Ditama Bow (creator, KissxSis).
animation: Studio Hibari. chara-des: Watanabe Atsuko (animator).
OP Fukuhara Kaori, Takagaki Ayahi, ED Fukuhara kaori.
trailer. forum. subs: mflatischler subs, Saikyo Fansubs.
thu 25 jun 08:00


GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class
(jp: GA 芸術科アートデザインクラス)

comedy, slice of life
Anime adaptation of Satoko Kiyuzuki’s slice-of-life manga series GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class. The ongoing GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class manga series premiered in 2004, illustrating the daily lives of five freshman girls in a high school art class. (anidb)

Great cast -- Tomatsu Haruka, Sawashiro Miyuki, Nazuka Kaori, Horie Yui, and the return of Tokunaga Ai, who last worked in 2007. But it will all depend on the staff and the original manga. Have we run out of funny 4koma comic strips about girl students yet?

Experienced director Sakurai Hiroaki did the World Masterpiece Theatre version of Les Miserables. Writer Machida Touko did Lucky Star, but also the less successful (in my opinion) Allison and Lillia and Tears to Tiara.

seiyuus: Tomatsu Haruka, Tokunaga Ai, Sawashiro Miyuki, Nazuka Kaori, Horie Yui.
director: Sakurai Hiroaki (Cromartie High School, Les Miserables Shoujo Cosette)
writer: Machida Toukou (Lucky Star, Allison & Lillia, Tears to Tiara). Kiyuzuki Satoko (orig).
animation: AICPLUS+. chara-des: Watanabe Atsuko (Valkyria Chronicles).
trailer. forum. subs: SubsFckingWhere.
mon 06 jul 26:14


Kanamemo
(jp: かなめも)

yuri moe slice-of-life comedy
Adaptation of Shouko Iwami's Kanamemo four-panel manga. The story revolves around the daily life of Kana Nakamichi, an orphaned middle-school girl who begins living and working at a newspaper delivery office staffed exclusively by cute young girls. (ann)

Great cast includes Toyosaki Aki (Yui in K-On), Mizuhara Kaoru (Misao in Lucky Star), and a number of big names. The staff is more of a question. Director Takayanagi Shigehito did some Galaxy Angel series and Himesama Goyoujin. Writer Nakase Rika did Fushigiboshi no Futagohime, Rocket Girls, and Junjou Romatica.

"Yuri moe slice-of-life comedy" sounds good to me, so I'll be there to see how this one gets going.

seiyuus: Toyosaki Aki, Mizuhara Kaoru, Hirohashi Ryou, Endou Aya, Kitamura Eri, Horie Yui, Kugimiya Rie.
director: Takayanagi Shigehito (Galaxy Angel A, S, X; Himesama Goyoujin)
writer: Nakase Rika (Fushigiboshi no Futago Hime, Rocket Girls, Junjou Romatica). Iwami Shouko (orig).
animation: feel. chara-des: Tatsuta Shinichi.
music: Hashimoto Yukari (ToraDora). OP Toyosaki Aki, Mizuhara Kaoru, Kugimiya Rie. ED Horie Yui.
trailer. forum. subs: Chihiro, Saikyo Fansubs.
sun 05 jul 25:30


Sora no Manima ni
(jp: 宙のまにまに)

comedy, school life, romance?
Saku returns to his old hometown after seven years and is shocked to meet his childhood tormentor, the boisterous Mihoshi. But she remembers them being the best of friends, and sets about inveigling him into her astronomy club. Hilarious and touching manga has a chance to be a good anime.

The seiyuu line-up takes my breath away, with two of my favorite voices: Koshimizu Ami and Hayami Saori. To say nothing of Tomatsu Haruka and Itou Kanae. Wow. Some of the best young voices in anime.

And director Takamatsu Shinji is a solid top hand, having done School Rumble, Gintama, and the underrated Ginban Kaleidoscope. But no lead writer is credited, so I don’t have a handle on how the manga will be adapted. But I will certainly be there to find out.

OP by Sphere (Tomatsu Haruka, Takagaki Ayahi, Toyosaki Aki, Kotobuki Minako).

seiyuus: Maeno Tomoaki, Itou Kanae, Tomatsu Haruka, Koshimizu Ami, Hayami Saori, Takagi Reiko, Majima Junji.
director: Takamatsu Shinji (Gintama, School Rumble, Ginban Kaleidoscope)
writer: Kashiwabara Mami (orig).
animation: Studio Comet. chara-des: Watanabe Hajime (Kaleidostar, School Rumble, Les Miserables). animation supervisor: Watanabe Hajime (Kaleidostar, School Rumble 3).
OP Sphere (Tomatsu Haruka, Takagaki Ayahi, Toyosaki Aki, Kotobuki Minako).
trailer. forum. subs: Chibi, DATS.
tue 07 jul 10:30


Spice and Wolf 2
(jp: 狼と香辛料II)

fantasy adventure w/ economics and fanservice
I thought Koshimizu Ami's turn as Horo in the first series was the best seiyuu performance of 2008. She and Fukuyama Jun are back, and Paku Romi joins the cast. Not bad.

The same main staff returns, too, but now the studio is listed as Brains Base, with the previous studio, Imagin, listed only as part of the production committee. The first episode has already appeared, and the look is subtly different form the first series.

The story follows the travels of a mediaeval trader and a wolf-goddess who takes the form of a beautiful teen-aged maiden.

seiyuus: Koshimizu Ami, Fukuyama Jun, Paku Romi, Koyama Rikiya, Watanabe Akeno.
director: Takahashi Takeo
writer: Arakawa Naruhisa. Hasekura Isuna (orig).
animation: Brains Base. chara-des: Kobayashi Toshimitsu (Futakoi Alt), Ayakura Juu (orig).
forum. subs: BSS, Frostii, ASR:Kurou.
thu 09 jul 24:45


Taishou Yakyuu Musume
(jp: 大正野球娘)

comedy
Anime adaptation of a light novel series featuring the antics of a group of baseball-playing schoolgirls in 1925. "By the way, what's baseball?"

Great cast features Itou Kanae (Amu in Shugo Chara) supported by a long list of top names. Director Ikehata Takashi did Genshiken and the hilarious Potemayo.

seiyuus: Itou Kanae (Amu in Shugo Chara), Nakahara Mai, Ueda Kana, Noto Mamiko, Kaida Yuuko, Kitamura Eri, Hirohashi Ryou, Makino Yui, Gotou Saori, Fujimura Ayumi.
director: Ikehata Takashi (Genshiken, Potemayo)
writer: Ikehata Takashi. Kagurazaka Atsushi (orig), Ikehata Atsushi, Amagawa Nobuhiko, Shiraishi Masahiko (script).
animation: JC Staff. chara-des: Kamimoto Kanetoshi, Koike Sadaji (orig), Koutaro (anime draft).
OP Itou Kanae, Nakahara Mai, Ueda Kana, Noto Mamiko.
trailer. forum. subs: Kattehoudai, Saizen.
thu 02 jul 25:59


Tokyo Magnitude 8.0
(jp: 東京マグニチュード8.0)

sci-fi adventure
A magnitude 8 earthquake (that's a big one) hits Tokyo. We follow the story of Mirai, a high school freshman, as she lives through the aftermath.

From Bones, with new director Tachibana Masaki at the helm. He did much work on GITS:SAC and on Noir. Competent writer Takahashi Natsuko did Blue Drop, Tales of Agriculture, and 07-Ghost.

The concept makes this one intriguing. That and the involvement of Bones.

seiyuus: Hanamura Satomi (Miki/Windy Tales, Anise Azeat/Galaxy Angel Rune), Kaida Yuuko, Kobayashi Yumiko, Kitamura Eri, Toyosaki Ami, Endou Aya, Takahira Narumi, Sawashiro Miyuki, Nonaka Ai, Inoue Kikuko.
director: Tachibana Masaki
writer: Takahashi Natsuko (Blue Drop, Moyashimon).
animation: Bones/Cinema Citrus. chara-des: Nozaki Atsuko.
music: Ootani Kou (Haibane Renmei, Shana). OP abingdon boys school, ED Tsuji Shion.
trailer. forum. subs: Jade Fansubs?, Frostii.
thu 09 jul 24:45


Umi Monogatari - Anata ga Itekureta Koto
(jp: うみものがたり~あなたがいてくれたコト~)

fantasy adventure w/fanservice
This "transforming magical girl action story" centers on Marin and Urin, two pure sisters who live with the fish in the sea, but yearn to be in the world beyond the water.

One day, a beautiful ring falls into the sea, and Marin and Urin retrieve it. The two decide to leave their waterbound world for the first time to deliver the ring.

On an isolated island, they find a high school girl named Kanon. The encounter between Marin and Kanon — the maiden of the sea and the maiden of the skies — awakens a hidden power, as the world is threatened by an enveloping darkness. (anidb)

Based on a pachinko game, but there is some promise in the mythical story and in a good anime staff. Director Satou Junichi did ARIA, and was the creator and chief director of Princess Tutu. The lead writer is up-and-coming Yamada Yuka, who wrote Tideline Blue and the underrated Neo-Angelique Abyss, as well as working on shows such as Mushishi, Bokura ga Ita, and Hataraki Man. Character designer Iizuka Haruko did Sisters of Wellber and was animation director of Karin.

The three leads are played by interesting seiyuus: Asumi Kana was Yuno in Hidamari Sketch and is very popular with Japanese otaku. Kotobuki Minako plays Tsumugi in K-On. And Horie Yui is Horie Yui. Sawashiro Miyuki and Toyosaki Aki (Yui in K-On) are also here.

seiyuus: Asumi Kana (Yuno in Hidamari), Kotobuki Minako (Tsumugi in K-On), Horie Yui, Sawashiro Miyuki, Toyosaki Aki (Yui in K-On), Majima Junji, Fukui Yukari.
director: Satou Junichi (ARIA)
writer: Yamada Yuka. Tsukiji Toshihiko (draft), Yokotani Masahiro & Yoshida Reiko (script).
animation: ZEXCS. chara-des: Iizuka Haruko.
music: Muramatsu Ken (Kurenai, Sketchbook). OP marble, ED Itou Masumi.
trailer. forum. subs: imuR88, Wasurenai. 12eps.
wed 24 jun 25:29


Umineko no Naku Koro ni
(jp: うみねこのなく頃に)

mystery moe violence
More from the director and writer of Higurashi. Umineko no Naku Koro ni takes place on October 4-5 1986, on a secluded island. The head of a wealthy family lives on and owns the island and is near death. Eight of his family members arrive to discuss how his assets will be divided once he is dead. Also on the island are three family members who live there, five servants, and a doctor. After the eight family members arrive, a typhoon traps them on the island and people start to be mysteriously murdered. (ann)

This show is so highly anticipated that it has already got its own forum on AnimeSuki, three weeks before the first episode airs. Strong cast includes Horie Yui, Inoue Marina, Ohara Sayaka, Kugimiya Rie, and Ono Daisuke (those first two aren’t favorites of mine, but I respect their popularity among the cognoscenti). ED by Jimang of Sound Horizon.

seiyuus: Ono Daisuke, Inoue Marina, Horie Yui, Suzumura Kenichi, Kugimiya Rie, Kobayashi Yuu, Ohara Sayaka, Mugihito, Itou Miki, Koshimizu Ami.
director: Kon Chiaki (Higurashi, Hanasakeru Shounen)
writer: Kawase Toshifumi (Higurashi). 07th Expansion (orig).
animation: Studio DEEN. chara-des: Kikuchi Youko (KgNE, Junjou Romantica).
ED Jimang.
trailer. forum. subs: ainex, WinD.
13eps.
wed 01 jul 25:30


Kawa no Hikari
(jp: 川の光)

family ecological fantasy adventure
NHK's adaptation of Hisaki Matsuura’s novel Kawa no Hikari (River’s Light). Environmental awareness story about a family of rats that set off in search of a new home after losing their habitat to human construction. Serialized in the Yomiuri Newspaper since July 2006. (anidb)

Key animator Hirakawa Tetsuo (Crayon Shin-chan, Kannagi, Afro Samurai, XXXholic, etc.) gets his first directing job. With assistance from long-time director Hara Keiichi (Crayon Shin-chan).

Orikasa Fumiko heads a mature and capable cast. She, Kaneda Tomoko, and Yamadera Kouichi are a family of rats. Tanaka Atsuko is a nice cat and Hirano Aya is a friendly dog. The character designer did key animation on Dog of Flanders and Nausicaa. The stills and preview make the animation look like Miyazaki. We'll see.

seiyuus: Orikasa Fumiko, Kaneda Tomoko, Yamadera Kouichi, Hirano Aya, Tanaka Atsuko.
director: Hirakawa Tetsuo
writer: Yoshioka Takao (Elfen Lied, Sky Girls). Matsuura Hisaki (novels).
animation: Gallop (Hataraki Man, Kaa-san - Mom's Life). chara-des: Tannai Tsukasa (key anim Dog of Flanders, Nausicaa).
music: Kurihara Masaki (Petopeto-san, Azumanga Daioh).
trailer. OVA.
sat 20 jun 19:30


Kowarekake no Orgol
(jp: こわれかけのオルゴール)

moe
Doujin OVA by POP, the illustrator of Moetan. The moe scores are off the scale for the advance illustrations on the official site and for the trailer.

About a sad musician and a magical little girl. Originally to be released at Comiket in late 2008. Definitely worth a look, if you like moe. This should be a truer version of POP's work than Moetan was.

More samples of POP's work here.

director: POP
animation: ElectromagneticWave.
trailer.
OVA. 1/1eps.
summer. date not yet set.


Elementhunters
(jp: エレメントハンター)

sci-fi, education, adventure, kids
Japan-Korea co-production of an anime intended to teach kids about the chemical elements. In 2029, various chemical elements begin to disappear, making life much more difficult. Later, a group of kids under 13 is formed to go to the other dimension where it has been determined the elements went, and recover them.

Some great voices: Kuwashima Houko and Kobayashi Sanae, among others. I hope the script is up to them. Writer Arakawa Naruhisa did Elemental Gelade, Lovege Chu, and the much better Naisho no Tsubomi. Director Okukura Yoshiaki did Antique Bakery and little else. I look forward to hearing the music, which will be by Sahashi Toshihiko, who did the powerful music for Simoun. OP by Ishikawa Chiaki (who also did the Simoun OP).

seiyuus: Motoshiro Yuutarou, Enomoto Atsuko, Kuwashima Houko, Kobayashi Sanae, Sasaki Nozomu, Koyama Rikiya.
director: Okumura Yoshiaki (Antique Bakery) & Hon Honpyo
writer: Arakawa Naruhisa (Elemental Gelade, Lovege Chu, Naisho no Tsubomi). Itou Kazumori (orig).
animation: NHK Enterprises & Hee Won Entertainment. chara-des: Okumura Daigo (orig).
music: Sahashi Toshihiko (Simoun). OP Ishikawa Chiaki.
trailer. subs: Eclipse?.
sat 04 jul 18:00


Hellsing
(jp: HELLSING)

supernatural violence drama
The sixth and final episode of the Hellsing OVA series that has taken so many years to roll out. Directed by the director of Claymore, Tanaka Hiroyuki, and written by Kuroda Yousuke (Phantom, Gundam00, etc.). Continuing to star Nakata Jouji and Orikasa Fumiko. Worth a look.

seiyuus: Nakata Jouji, Orikasa Fumiko, Sakakibara Yoshiko, Hirata Hiroaki, Hayami Shou, Wakamoto Norio, Saiga Mitsuki, Kaida Yuuko.
director: Tanaka Hiroyuki (Claymore)
writer: Kuroda Yousuke (Hayate, Phantom, Gundam00, etc.). Hirano Kouta (manga).
animation: Madhouse. chara-des: Nakamura Ryouji. animation supervisor: Nakamura Ryouji (Great Teacher Onizuka).
sound director: Tsuruoka Yota. music: Matsuo Hayato.
forum. 6/6eps. OVA
24 jul


Hetalia Axis Powers 2
(jp: ヘタリア Axis Powers)

comedy, implied yaoi
Surprise hit based on a popular web manga gets a second season. It has been described as a "cynical gag" story set in Europe in the years between WW1 and WW2 (1915-1939). Bishonen boys play exaggerated caricatures of various nationalities: the Italian character is into pasta and women. The German bishi loves potatoes and sausages. And Japan is an otaku.

Directed by the director of Gravitation and written by the sound director (!) of Aishteruze and Library Wars. Lots of big-name seiyuus. 26x5min episodes. Some people love this show. Give it a look.

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 Aishteruze, Library War, etc.). Himaruya Hidekazu (orig).
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Kannan Masaaki. animation supervisor: Matsuda Keiichi.
trailer. forum. subs: gg. 26x5mneps.
fri 03 jul 16:00


Kuruneko
(jp: くるねこ)

family comedy
Based on an extremely popular manga blog about cats. Directed by Akitarou Daichi (Fruits Basket, Bokura ga Ita, Gag Manga Biyori). One seiyuu plays all the roles: Kobayashi Satomi, a well-known TV and film actress.

seiyuus: Kobayashi Satomi.
director: Akitarou Daichi (Fruits Basket, Bokura ga Ita)
writer: Kuruneko-Yamato (manga blog).
animation: Dax, Studio DEEN. animation supervisor: Ooshima Rie.
13?eps.
sun 05 jul 08:55


Needless
(jp: NEEDLESS)

science fiction adventure, gar, moe
Year 2130 -- after the third world war, large contaminated areas known as "Blackspots" formed all over Japan. Large Walls were used to quarantine off these "Blackspots." Among the survivors who had been abandoned inside the Blackspots, labeled as "those who were unneeded," were possessors of uncanny abilities: fire, wind, brute strength. Others, fearful of their powers, expelled them and named them the "Needless."

This appears to be gar men and moe girls. I'm afraid it might end up as generic shounen, which is not my thing. The director seems to be more of a comedy director, however (Strawberry Panic and Kamen no Maid Guy) so we could be in for some surprises. The writer did Welcome to the NHK, which seemed a second-rate adaptation to me, and Zettai Karen Children, which I couldn’t bear to watch despite the presence of Hirano Aya.

The cast here, however, is wonderful. Endou Aya, Kitamura Eri, Koyasu Takehito, Makino Yui, Taniyama Kishou, Gotou Saori, Ise Mariya, Itou Kentarou. I think Endou Aya is brilliant in everything she is doing now. Her starring role in Hanasakeru Shounen is one of the best performances of the year, for me. And Koyasu Takehito may be my favorite male seiyuu.

seiyuus: Endou Aya, Kitamura Eri, Koyasu Takehito, Makino Yui, Taniyama Kishou, Gotou Saori, Ise Mariya, Itou Kentarou.
director: Sakoi Masayuki (Strawberry Panic, Kamen no Maid Guy)
writer: Nishizono Satoru (Digimon Adventure, Welcome to the NHK, Zettai Karen Children). Imai Kami (orig).
animation: Madhouse. chara-des: Kato Hiromi (Beck anidir).
OP Granrodeo.
forum. subs: Last Impressions Fansub.
thu 02 jul 25:30


Penelope tete en l'air 2
(jp: うっかりペネロペ 第2シリーズ)

family
From the children's novels by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben. Five-minute episodes, Monday-Friday.

writer: Shimada Michiru.
animation: Nippon Animation.
26eps.
wed 29 jun 07:40


Princess Lover
(jp: プリンセスラバー!)

ecchi comedy
Teppei Arima is a second-year high school student who loses both of his parents in a traffic accident. His grandfather, Isshin Arima, who wields the puppet strings in Japan's vast economy, takes him in, but demands that Teppei becomes his successor as the head of the Arima Group.

To prepare for his debut into high society, Teppei enrolls in an elite academy for the scions of the rich and powerful, suddenly jumping from ordinary life to life among the beautiful people. (anidb)

One again, some nice voices, but doubts about the staff. I particularly look forward to Yuzuki Ryouka here, following her charming peformance as Yukino in Candy Boy. And I don't get to hear enough of Toyoguchi Megumi. But with a first-time director and animation director, I don’t know what to expect. And writer Nakamura Makoto did the slow and predictable Telepathy Girl Ran.

But this is the debut production of an ambitous new Osaka studio called GoHands, so they will be going all out to make something good.

seiyuus: Terashima Takuma, Yuzuki Ryouka (Yukino in Candy Boy), Toyoguchi Megumi, Katou Emiri, Matsuoka Yuki, Miyake Kaya, Mizuhara Kaoru, Koyasu Takehito, Shiraishi Minoru, Wakamoto Norio.
director: Kanazawa Hiromitsu (new, eps of Shugo Chara and Macross F)
writer: Nakamura Makoto (Noramimi, Telepathy Girl Ran).
animation: GoHands. chara-des: Suzuki Shingo (new). animation supervisor: Suzuki Shingo (new).
OP Hashimoto Miyuki, ED yozuca.
trailer. forum. subs: Saikyo Fansubs, AQS-Anime?.
sun 05 jul 24:30


Suzu Santarou
(jp: 鈴3太郎)

comedy
Series of two-minute episodes starring three bells in a Shinto shrine. Mon, Thu.

animation: Avex x DoCoMo.
24x2mineps.
01 jun


Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou
(jp: よくわかる現代魔法)

magic adventure comedy
The story revolves around Koyomi Morishta, a clumsy high school freshman who is so sort that she is often mistaken for a grade-schooler. Koyomi becomes a disciple of Misa Anehara, a 25-year-old graduate student who happens to be one of the most powerful modern-day magicians. Based on a light novel series. (ann)

I hope director Kuroda Yasuhiro is in his Kyouran Kazoku Nikki mode, rather than the halting Chokotto Sister mode. I look forward to the work of character designer Koga Makoto, who did Aria and Kyouran Kazoku.

Nonaka Ai and Nabatame Hitomi headline a cast with the ubiquutous Tomatsu Haruka and, fresh from her role as Mugi-chan in K-On, Kotobuki Minako.

seiyuus: Nonaka Ai, Nabatame Hitomi, Tomatsu Haruka, Kotobuki Minako (Tsumugi in K-On), Asanuma Shintarou.
director: Kuroda Yasuhiro (Chocotto Sister, Kyouran Kazoku Nikki)
writer: Kuroda Yasuhiro, Monda Yuuichi.
animation: Nomad. chara-des: Koga Makoto (Aria, Kyouran Kazoku).
music: Hashimoto Yukari (Toradora). OP Asou Natsuko, ED Misato Aki.
trailer. forum. subs: SubsFckingWhere, Chihiro, Eclipse?, Chibi-Formula.
sat 11 jul 24:00


Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
(jp: 懺・さよなら絶望先生)

comedy
Yet another season of what is now one of the most successful franchises of recent years. The world's most negative man teaches a class of fairly odd high-school girls. Hilarious, for those who like the style of humor.

After his brush with death in a motorcycle accident near the end of recording Honey & Clover, Kamiya Hiroshi has come back to be one of the top male seiyuus of all, having won the award as best leading man of 2008 for this role and that of Natsume in Natsume Yuujinchou.

seiyuus: Kamiya Hiroshi, Nonaka Ai, Inoue Marina, Tanii Asuka, Sanada Asami, Kobayashi Yuu, Sawashiro Miyuki, Gotou Yuuko, Shintani Ryouko, Matsuki Miyu.
director: Shinbou Akiyuki
writer: Tou Fuyashi (Zoku Sayonara). Kumeta Kouji (orig).
animation: Shaft. chara-des: Morioka Hideyuki. animation supervisor: Morioka Hideyuki (REC, D.Gray-man, Sayonara, MariaHolic).
forum.
sat 04 jul 24:30


AIKa ZERO
(jp: AIKa ZERO)

ecchi fighting adventure
Bandai Visual describes the project as "the return of the legendary low-angle, sexy action anime in an all-new OVA series." In this story, set in a future world (mostly submerged under water), the 19-year-old Aika Sumeragi is going to college while training as an agent. (ann)

If this is like previous Aika series, it will be all legs, breasts and guns, with a rather banal plot to hold it all together. But with wonderful voices: Koshimizu Ami, Noto Mamiko, Gotou Yuuko, and Takahashi Mikako, in particular.

The director is new, but the presence of lead writer Kanemaki Kenichi promises something: he was lead writer on Natsume Yuujinchou, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Jigoku Shoujo, Aoi yori Aoshi, etc.

seiyuus: Koshimizu Ami, Noto Mamiko, Fukuen Misato, Gotou Yuuko, Takahashi Mikako, Shimoda Asami, Ohtsuka Akio.
director: Yamauchi Noriyasu (new, charades/animator)
writer: Kanemaki Kenichi.
animation: Studio Fantasia. chara-des: Yamauchi Noriyasu (Stratos 4, Najica Blitz Tactics). animation supervisor: Yamauchi Noriyasu.
OVA. 1/3eps. forum.
tue 25 aug. Ep2 27oct.


Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka Hard Core
(jp: あかね色に染まる坂 ハードコア)

harem, romance
I guess the first six DVDs must have sold sufficiently well, so they are producing an OVA episode for this watchable but unsatisfactory series.

We ended season one with the hero choosing between his (unrelated by blood) sister (Hirano Aya) and his fiancee (Kugimiya Rie). But the loser was still around….

seiyuus: Hirano Aya, Kugimiya Rie, Hatano Wataru.
director: Motonaga Keitarou
writer: Uezu Makoto.
animation: TNK. chara-des: Hirayama Madoka, Horii Kumi. animation supervisor: Hara Shoji.
forum. subs: Jade Fansubs, SHiN-gx & Genjo-Subs, Yuurisan-Subs.
OVA. 1eps.
fri 26 jun


Cobra The Animation: Time Drive
(jp: COBRA THE ANIMATION コブラ タイム・ドライブ)

fighting, fanservice
Continued revival of an old series featuring macho, muscle and mammaries. This is the second "Cobra the Space Pirate" OVA series. The preview is for last year's first series. There is also a full TV series planned.

seiyuus: Nozawa Machi, Sakakibara Yoshiko.
director: Maeshima Kenichi (Patalliro Saiyuki)
writer: Suenaga Mitsuyo (Patalliro Saiyuki).
animation: chara-des: Shimizu Keizo (Emily of New Moon, Legend of Basara).
sound director: Miyoshi Keiichirou (Saikano, Ray). music: Ike Yoshihiro (Kamichu, Flag, Telepathy Girl Ran).
trailer.
OVA. 2/2eps.
fri 26 jun


Dogs, Bullets and Carnage
(jp: Dogs, Bullets and Carnage)

guns drama carnage
Sometime in the future, somewhere in Europe, Mihai is a retired assassin who has returned home to settle a vendetta and start a new life as a restaurant owner. Haine was genetically experimented on as a child, which led to him possesing dog-like attributes. Badou is the clumsy chain smoking partner who becomes deranged when denied cigarettes. Naoto was orphaned as a child and has amnesia; she was trained to wield the sword. Their pasts are somehow connected to the secret underground and the organization that controls it. (ann)

The director has no track record, and the writer did Kurogane no Linebarrels. But the show was made "with assistance from" Taniguchi Goro. And the cast is professional: Ohtsuka Akio, Ishida Akira, Itou Shizuka, Ohara Sayaka, Shiraishi Ryouko, et al.

I've seen ep1, and it was entertainingly dark, with second-rate animation but much well-placed "bullets and carnage." Both eps are already in cyberspace.

seiyuus: Ishida Akira, Itou Shizuka, Ohara Sayaka, Shiraishi Ryouko, Ohtsuka Akio.
director: Abe Tatsuya (animator)
writer: Yoshimura Kiyoko (Linebarrels).
animation: david production. chara-des: Kanbe Hiroyuki (mecha designer, animator).
trailer. forum. OVA. 2/2eps.
fri 17 jul


Jungle Emperor
(jp: ジャングル大帝)

family environmental fantasy adventure
Remake of the 1965 anime Jungle Emperor (aka, Jungle Taitei, Kimba the White Lion), based on the manga by Tezuka Osamu. Celebrates the 50th anniversary of Fuji Television and Tezuka's 80th birthday.

Directed by Taniguchi Goro (Planetes, Code Geass), and written by Suzuki Osamu, who writes the SMAPxSMAP TV variety show and wrote the live-action version of Lovely Complex.

"The new project will be the first Jungle Emperor story set in the 21st century, although it will still deal with familiar Tezuka themes such as family, friendship, and environmental issues. In this future story, mankind is plagued by the environmental destruction it did little to prevent. The United Nations entrusts a company called Eternal Earth to create 'Neo Jungle,' an artificial environment for the wildlife that faces extinction. Within this thriving miniature ecosystem, a young white lion named Leo is born. While the cub lacks bravery at first, he vows to 'become the Jungle Emperor like my father someday!' One day, Leo encounters Ken'ichi, the son of the head of Eternal Earth." (ann)

director: Taniguchi Goro (Planetes, Code Geass)
writer: Suzuki Osamu (SMAPxSMAP TV, Lovely Complex live action). Tezuka Osamu (manga).
animation: Tezuka Productions. chara-des: Amano Yoshtaka.
OVA. summer, date not yet set.


Kodomo no Jikan 2
(jp: こどものじかん)

ecchi comedy
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 previous OVA episodes 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. forum. OVA. 3/3eps.
fri 24 jul


Mahou Sensei Negima! - Another World
(jp: 魔法先生ネギま!~もうひとつの世界~ 第1話)

fantasy comedy drama
Will cover the Mahou Sekai story arc. Shinbou is back to direct, and mangaka Akamatsu Ken writes this series as he did the previous OVA series. Also back from the previous OVA series is animator/character designer Jitsuhara Noboru.

seiyuus: Satou Rina, Shiratori Yuri, Kimura Madoka, Sasagawa Ayana, Kuwatani Natsuko, Yamakawa Kotomi, Asakura Azumi, Itou Shizuka, Kanda Akemi, Bandou Ai.
director: Akiyuki Shinbou
writer: Akamatsu Ken. Akamatsu Ken (manga).
animation: Shaft. chara-des: Jitsuhara Noboru. animation supervisor: Jitsuhara Noboru.
OP Satou Rina, Akemi Kanda, Nonaka Ai, Kobayashi Yu.
OVA. 1/4eps. forum.
thu 17 sep


Nodame Cantabile OVA
(jp: OAD のだめカンタービレ)

shoujo/josei comedy
Special OVA included with limited edition of volume 22 of the manga. This probably has the same staff and cast as the Paris-hen series, but I can't find direct confirmation of that. A second Paris-hen series is due in the fall.

seiyuus: Kawasumi Ayako, Seki Tomokazu.
forum. OVA. 1/1eps.
mon 10 aug


Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas - Meiō Shinwa
(jp: 聖闘士星矢 THE LOST CANVAS 冥王神話)

fighting fantasy adventure
The Goddess Athena and the god Hades have fought against each other repeatedly over the centuries. This story takes place in 18th century Europe, 243 years prior to the original “Saint Seiya.”

Three small children, Tenma, Alone, and Sasha have all shared a very happy childhood together. Tenma, who is aggressive but upstanding, has moved to Sanctuary to become a saint. There he is reunited with Sasha, who learns that she is the reincarnation of Goddess Athena. Alone, who is kind, gentle and loves painting was chosen for the body of her enemy, King Hades. Tenma eventually becomes a saint of Pegasus and engages in a fierce battle with his best friend Alone, the King of Hades. (anidb)

Hirano Aya gets my attention here, in the lead female role. The other voices are fairly starry, too. Director Nabeshima Osamu has been fully occupied with the long-running D. Gray-man. Animation director Iwasa Yuko did D. Gray-man and some episodes of Mushi-shi. Writer Suga Yoshiyuki could be a weak link, however, having done Fighting Beauty Wulong and Kenichi the Mighiest Disciple.

seiyuus: Kakihara Tetsuya (Simon in Gurren-Lagann, Fujioka in Minamike), Shimono Hiro (Hiro in ef, Jin in Kannagi), Hirano Aya, Abe Atsushi, Mizuki Nana, Fukuyama Jun, Kobayashi Sanae, Miki Shinichirou, Sakurai Takahiro, Houshi Souichirou.
director: Nabeshima Osamu (D. Gray-man)
writer: Suga Yoshiyuki. Teshirogi Shiori (manga).
animation: Tom's Entertainment. chara-des: Iwasa Yuko. animation supervisor: Iwasa Yuko.
music: Wada Kaoru.
trailer. forum. OVA. 1/13eps.
wed 24 jun


To Love-Ru OVA
(jp: OVA To LOVEる)

ecchi romantic comedy
Moderately successful ecchi comedy gets an OVA, released with volume 15 of the manga.

A glamorous interstellar princess suddenly shows up naked in a teenage boy's room and decides he is to be her husband. Directed by the director of Busou Renkin and Rockman.EXE. Written by the lead writer for Blue Dragon, Busou Renkin, and Simoun.

Good cast features Tomatsu Haruka, Watanabe Akeno, and Yahagi Sayuri, as well as Koyasu Takehito. Tomatsu and Yahagi combine for the OP and ED.

oHagi is also involved in the ED for the new Hayate. I guess she has been working on her singing, as well as her voice-acting. A slowly rising star. Three roles this season.

seiyuus: Watanabe Akeno, Tomatsu Haruka, Yahagi Sayuri, Arai Satomi, Koyasu Takehito, Hanazawa Kana, Kawasumi Ayako, Nazuka Kaori, Oura Fuyuka, Yoshino Hiroyuki.
director: Kato Takao (Busou Renkin, Rockman.EXE)
writer: Yamatoya Akatsuki (Blue Dragon, Busou Renkin, Simoun).
animation: Xebec.
sound director: Mima Masafumi. OPED Tomatsu Haruka, Yahagi Sayuri.
forum. OVA. 3/3eps.
tue 04 aug 25:55


Utawarerumono OVA
(jp: OVA うたわれるもの)

fantasy adventure
The OVA is based on the popular fantasy adventure game and anime series, but all new staff and studio make this one a crap-shoot. First-time director Katsura Kenichirou did character design on Comic Party Revolution and wrote some of DC Da Capo.

The outstanding cast is back, however: Koyama Rikiya, Yuzuki Ryouka (Yuki-nee in Candy Boy), Sawashiro Miyuki, Ohara Sayaka, Nakahara Mai, Kugimiya Rie, Tanaka Atsuko.

seiyuus: Koyama Rikiya, Yuzuki Ryouka, Sawashiro Miyuki, Ohara Sayaka, Nakahara Mai, Kugimiya Rie, Tanaka Atsuko, Watanabe Akeno.
director: Katsura Kenichirou
writer:
animation: Chaos Project/Aquaplus. chara-des: Katsura Kenichirou.
OP Suara, ED Uehara Rena.
trailer. forum. OVA. 1/3eps.
24 jun


Utsurun Desu
(jp: 伝染るんです)

bizarre comedy
An anime adaptation of Sensha Yoshida's Utsurun Desu "nonsensical" gag comedy comic-strip manga. The manga uses a stable of off-the-wall characters to tell jokes that defy logic. (anidb)

Director Mankyuu is a young filmmaker (just turned 29) who made his name with short flash animations and now has this OVA series.

I have no idea what to expect. A guest seiyuu (comedian Takayama Takenori) says that the lines he was asked to say were all just onomatopoeic sounds that he shouted out. (ann)

seiyuus: Chafurin (Inspector Megure in Detective Conan), Mamiko Noto, Seki Tomokazu, Nakahara Mai, Wakamoto Norio.
director: Mankyuu
writer: Yoshida Sensha (orig).
trailer. OVA. 1/3eps.
fri 21 aug. ep2 18sep, ep3 23oct