Thursday, December 10, 2009

Winter 2010 New Anime -- full previews w/cast, staff, trailer, story, pics, mangas

katanagatari This is the first season to make me really believe the cries of woe that have been coming from the anime industry for years. My list has only 19 new shows coming out in the first three months of next year. That compares with 36 shows in the same period this year.

But there are some promising and/or eagerly awaited shows among them:
  • Baka to Test to Shokanjuu is a school comedy based on a top-rated light novel, and it is directed by Oonuma Shin, who directed the two ef shows for Shaft. Because of him, this is at the top of my list.
  • Dhurara is by the staff that made the underrated Baccano, and is based on a novel by the same author as that show.
  • Dance in the Vampire Bund is Shinbou Akiyuki's next big thing after Bakemonogatari. It is based on a popular manga in which the loli-looking queen of the vampires pays off Japan's national debt in return for an urban island off Tokyo where her people can live.
  • So Ra No Wo To is by the director of Elfen Lied and the writer of Macross Frontier, but appears to be more like ARIA in a Strike Witches setting, and with K-On character design.
  • Nodame Cantabile: Finale ends that great series under the direction of Kon Chiaki, who directed Higurashi and the somewhat disappointing Nodame Paris. But it is written by the well-known playwright and novelist who wrote Gurren-Lagann.
  • Katanagatari is the second of NisiOisiN's novels to be animated, after Bakemonogatari, and is therefore highly anticipated -- but it is done by the same staff that made School Days and Amenaideyo, so I personally have low expectations. Except for the wonderful art and character design you see above.
  • Ookami Kakushi is a new seinen horror thriller from a game by Ryuukishi07, who created Higurashi.
  • And starting in March, fans will have a new Gundam OVA series, Gundam Unicorn, with an interesting new/old look and written and directed by the men who made Chevalier D'Eon.
And there are other shows that will appeal to various audiences. The following alphabetical list links to fuller descriptions of each show. The full descriptions are in order of first broadcast. For the first time this year I have included links to online scanlations of mangas. Also included are links to video previews of most shows, along with detailed staff and cast info, a story synopsis, and an image.

// Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu     // Chuu Bra!!     //Cobra the Animation     // Dance In The Vampire Bund     // Dhurarara!!     // Hanamaru Youchien     // Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei     // Heartcatch Precure     // Hidamari Sketch X Hoshimittsu     // Kaitou Reinya     // Katanagatari     // Ladies versus Butlers!     // Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn     // Nodame Cantabile: Finale     // Omamori Himari     // Ookami Kakushi     // Seikon no Qwaser     // Sex Pistols     // So Ra No Wo To

-- dates and times may change, and will be updated in my anime calendar, which should come out around the end of the year
-- information from official sites, MoonPhase, AniDB, Anime News Network, Japanese Wikipedia, Who Subs What, et al.
-- English titles link to an anime's Anime News Network page, Japanese titles to its official site

Cobra The Animation

macho mammaries space adventure
Continued revival of an old series. This new TV series follows two OVAs.

Cobra is very known space pirate, but decides to change his face and to clear all his memories. He becomes a common guy, with a common job, and a very boring life, but suddenly he starts remembering his true identity and new adventures begin. (ANN)

This new series features a great supporting cast, including such luminaries as Sakamoto Maaya, Ohtsuka Akio, and Yamaguchi Kappei.

seiyuus: Uchida Naoya, Sakakibara Yoshiko, Honda Takako, Inoue Marina, Minagawa Junko, Ohtsuka Akio, Orikasa Fumiko, Sakamoto Maaya, Shiraishi Ryoko.
director: Shimizu Keizo (Sanada)
writer: Koide Kazumi (Cobra OVA production producer).
animation: Magic Bus. chara-des: Shimizu Keizo (Emily of New Moon, Legend of Basara), Yamamoto Keiko, Masui Ippei. animation supervisor: Yamamoto Keiko (first full show), Kobayashi Yukari (One Piece, Naruto Shippuuden). art: Kouno Jiro (Hi no Tori, Genji).
music: Ike Yoshihiro (Kamichu, Flag, Telepathy Girl Ran).
sat 02 jan 23:30 Yamaguchi Kappei

Haruka Naru Toki no Naka de 3: Owari Naki Unmei
(jp: 遙かなる時空の中で3 終わりなき運命)

reverse harem historical adventure fantasy
Another OVA based on the popular reverse-harem girls' adventure game set about a thousand years ago in Japan. Our heroine is a modern girl thrown back in time and involved in fighting leading up to the great civil war battle of Dan no Ura. But the situation is complicated by the presence of a friend from the present on the other side of the battle.

Stars Kawakami Tomoko (Utena, Misuzu in AIR, Amber in Darker than Black, etc.), with a harem including Miki Shinichirou, Seki Tomokazu, etc.

TV special airs 26 Dec.

seiyuus: Kawakami Tomoko, Miki Shinichirou, Seki Tomokazu, Takahashi Naozumi, Miyata Kouki, Nakahara Shigeru, Inoue Kazuhiko, Hoshi Souichirou, Ishida Akira, Kuwashima Houko.
director: Kimiya Shigeru (Hand Maid May OVA); chief dir Tsunaki Aki (Harukanaru)
writer: Takamura Kouji (new).
animation: Yumeta (NeoAngelique, Miracle Train). chara-des: Tsunaki Aki (Harukanaru, Miracle Train); orig Mizuno Touko (manga). art: Shibata Chikako (Rozen Maiden, Honey Clover, NeoAngelique).
music: Hirano Yoshihisa (Beyblade, Death Note, Bantorra).
sun 03 jan 25:00 (DVD 24mar)

Chuu Bra!!
(jp: ちゅーぶら!!)

seinen ecchi pantsu
Educational show (lol) about a junior high school girl who has strong principles regarding underwear. In order to educate other students, she starts the "Underwear Club" at her school.

Good cast stars Chihara Minori (Yuki in Haruhi), Yahagi Sayuri (Izumi in Hayate), Kotobuki Minako and Hikasa Youko (Tsumugi and Mio in K-On). The stars sing the OP and ED.

Strange staff group for a show of this kind: the director of Gakuen Heaven and the writer of Saiunkoku and RomeoxJuliet.

seiyuus: Chihara Minori, Kotobuki Minako (Tsumugi/K-On), Yahagi Sayuri, Hikasa Youko (Mio/K-On).
director: Hiiro Yukina (Gakuen Heaven, Shikabane eps)
writer: Yoshida Reiko (Marimite, K-On). Nakata Yumi (manga).
animation: ZEXCS. chara-des: Yatsu Miyako (Idaten Jump).
OPED seiyuus.
manga. subs: Hatsuyuki?. trailer.
mon 04 jan 23:30

So Ra No Wo To
(jp: ソ・ラ・ノ・ヲ・ト)

moe slice-of-life
Set in a "near distant"future in a land that, after years of war, has settled into decline. Kanata Kumika is a 15-year-old girl who fulfills her dream of enlisting in the army and joins a unit of five girls who protect a fortress that looms over a little village. The girls play music that reverberates across the skies over towns without people and seas without fish. Setting reportedly modelled on the Spanish city of Cuenca and the nearby Alarcón Fortress. (anidb)

First in the "Anime no Chikara" series, produced by Aniplex and aired on TV Tokyo, supposedly to televise inventive new series.

Director Kanbe Mamoru did Elfen Lied and Denpateki na Kanojo. Writer Yoshino Hiroyuki did Mai-Hime and -Otome, Macross Frontier and Denpateki na Kanojo, as well as this season's Dance in the Vampire Bund.

Stars model/actress Aikawa Juri (also known as Kanemoto Hisako). Young Yuuki Aoi gets a second winter show (along with Vampire Bund). Kitamura Eri, Kobayashi Yuu, and Endou Aya also appear.

Original character design by Mel Kishida has been simplified to look like K-On, and the situation is reminiscent of Strike Witches, but I don’t think this is like either of those. This has a chance to be quite good: it may be more ARIA than K-On. OP and ED written by Kajiura Yuki, and performed by Kalafina (OP) and Tomatsu Haruka.

seiyuus: Aikawa Juri (aka Kanemoto Hisako, actress/model), Kobayashi Yuu, Kitamura Eri, Yuuki Aoi, Endou Aya, Fukuen Misato, Ishizuka Unshou, Yasokawa Mayuno.
director: Kanbe Mamoru (Elfen Lied, I"s Pure, Denpateki na Kanojo)
writer: Yoshino Hiroyuki (Mai-HiME, Mai-Otome, Macross F, Denpateki na Kanojo). Paradores (orig).
animation: A-1 Pictures (Kannagi, Birdy Decode, Fairy Tail). chara-des: Akai Toshifumi; Mel Kishida. art: Kai Masatoshi; Aoki Tomoyuki.
music: Ooshima Michiru (Xamdo, FMA1). OP Kalafina, ED Tomatsu Haruka (both written by Kajiura Yuki).
trailer. subs: pwq, Yuurisan-Subs & m.3.3.w, Chihiro, Hatsuyuki.
mon 04 jan 25:30

Seikon no Qwaser
(jp: 聖痕のクェイサー)

ecchi shounen action adventure
At St. Mihailov Academy, a Japanese Eastern Orthodox school, two students encounter many hardships until they find a mysterious silver-haired boy. The boy is a "quasar," a powerful being who derives power from sucking women's breast milk. Thus begins a shounen action adventure story involving lots of oppai fanservice and bloody violence.

Stars the capable voice of Sanpei Yuuko (Nakiami in Xam'd, Renton in Eureka Seven, Hajime in Natsu no Arashi). Also features two of the K-On girls: Toyosaki Aki and Hikasa Youko, as well as two more seiyuu/singers: Hirano Aya and Chihara Minori. And two top seiyuu actresses: Kawasumi Ayako and Takagaki Ayahi. The creepy voice of Chiba Susumu (Scythe in Phantom) and the deep bell of Ookawa Tooru round out a stellar cast.

Writer Uezu Makoto (School Days) is one of my least favorites, however. Director Hiraku Kaneko is doing her first show.

seiyuus: Sanpei Yuuko, Fujimura Ayumi, Toyosaki Aki, Chihara Minori, Hirano Aya, Hikasa Youko (Mio/K-On), Kawasumi Ayako, Takagaki Ayahi, Chiba Susumu (Scythe/Phantom), Ookawa Tooru.
director: Kaneko Hiraku
writer: Uezu Makoto. Yoshino Hiroyuki (manga story).
animation: Taki (Godannar, Sonic the Hedgehog movie). chara-des: Uno Makoto; Satou Kenetsu (manga art). animation supervisor: Iijima Hiroya, Sugimoto isao.
OP Faylan, ED seiyuus.
trailer. manga. subs: Yuurisan-Subs.
mon 04 jan 25:30

Ladies versus Butlers!
(jp: れでぃ×ばと!)

seinen maids romantic comedy
The director of Kanokon and the writer of Strike Witches and Nogizaka Haruka team up for ecchi shenanigans in a high school that trains butlers and maids.

Outstanding cast includes Kawasumi Ayako, Nakahara Mai, Koshimizu Ami, Kugimiya Rie, Gotou Mai, and 15-year-old Hidaka Rina (Last Order in Index).

First episode preview 29 Dec.

seiyuus: Okitsu Kazuyuki (Izmal/Hanasakeru), Kawasumi Ayako, Nakahara Mai, Koshimizu Ami, Kugimiya Rie, Gotou Mai, Hidaka Rina (age15, Last Order/Index, Anne/Konnichiwa), Itou Mariya, Sakuma Kumi.
director: Ootsuki Atsushi (Kanokon)
writer: Tamai Tsuyoshi (Strike Witches, Nogizaka Haruka).
animation: Xebec (Kanokon, Phantom, The Third). chara-des: Takami Akio (Busou Renkin, Kanokon); Munyuu (manga).
tue 05 jan OP seiyuus, ED Nakahara Mai

Omamori Himari
(jp: おまもりひまり)

catgirl romantic comedy
Our hero is an orphan living alone, cared for by his childhood friend next door. All he has from any relative is a mamori (good luck charm) left him by his grandparents, but that loses its potency on his 16th birthday. But on that day, a mysterious cat-girl samurai shows up to protect him. Unfortunately, he is allergic to cats.

From a popular bishoujo manga. There are complaints from fans about the character design, which is by the person who did charades for Akane Maniax and directed animation for Ranma 1/2. The director and writer seem an odd couple: one directed Strait Jacket, the other wrote Otoboku.

Stars the outstanding Koshimizu Ami and Hirakawa Daisuke, with Nomizu Iori (Nymph in Sora no Otoshimono) and Shindou Kei (Kuro in Kodomo no Jikan).

seiyuus: Koshimizu Ami, Hirakawa Daisuke, Nomizu Iori (Nymph/SoraOto), Shindou Kei (Kuro/KnJ), Okame Asuka (Meishen/Regios), Neya Michiko.
director: Ushiro Shinji (Strait Jacket)
writer: Hasegawa Katsumi (Final Approach, Otoboku, DC2SS), Matra Milan (manga).
animation: ZEXCS. chara-des: Isono Satoshi (Ranma anidir, Akane Maniax).
OP Sakamoto Aya & Kawada Ruka.
trailer. manga. subs: ExSSubs, Mochi Fansubs.
wed 06 jan 25:30

Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu
(jp: バカとテストと召喚獣)

shounen comedy school romance fantasy
Based on the top-rated novel of the year and directed by Oonuma Shin, who directed the excellent ef animes. Not only that, but the writer wrote the ef animes, Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, and Natsu no Arashi.

This one is definitely on my list.

The novel is said to be hilarious. It is set in a school that strictly stratifies students, and the comforts of their classrooms, by test scores. The lowest ranked class uses every means to battle the higher ranked classes. Our hero has the lowest marks in the school. The heroine is a smart girl who missed exams due to illness and was ruthlessly relegated to the bottom class.

Talented cast includes Shimono Hiro (Jin in Kannagi), Harada Hitomi (Tomoe in Sasameki Koto), Mizuhashi Kaori (Ogiue in Genshiken), Katou Emiri, Miyata Kouki (Arthur in Emma), Nanjou Yoshino (Koko in DC2, and the new singer in fripSide), and Taketatsu Ayana (Azusa in K-On).

seiyuus: Shimono Hiro (Hiro/ef, Jin/Kannagi), Harada Hitomi (Tomoe/Sasameki Koto), Mizuhashi Kaori (Ogiue/Genshiken, Miyako/Hidamari), Suzuki Tatsuhisa (Tezuka/Library War, Sugata/SoraOto), Katou Emiri, Miyata Kouki (Arthur/Emma), Taketatsu Ayana (Azusa/K-On, Vanilla/Yumeiro Patissiere, Ako/kissxsis), Terashima Takuma (Teppei/Princess Lover), Nanjou Yoshino (Koko/DC2, Maria/Canaan, fripSide singer).
director: Oonuma Shin (ef)
writer: Takayama Katsuhiko (Hantsuki, ef, Natsu no Arashi). Inoue Kenji (novels).
animation: Silver Link (Tayutama). chara-des: Oshima Miwa (Love Love, Saiunkoku, Koihime Musou); Haga Yui (orig). animation supervisor: Oshima Miwa (Love Love, Koihime Musou). art: Azuma Kohji (Mushiuta, Natsu no Arashi).
OP Aso Natsuki, ED milktub.
trailer. manga. subs: Mochi Fansubs, KazenoKoe-Fansubs & Keishou-Subs.
wed 06 jan 26:20

Dance In The Vampire Bund
(jp: ダンスインザヴァンパイアバンド)

vampire action violence fanservice
Mina Tepes, Queen of the Vampires, pays off Japan's national debt in return for an urban island off Tokyo where her people can live. Akira, a werewolf teen, comes to her service, having been raised from birth to be her bodyguard. In the manga, Mina usually appears to be a loli, but sometimes appears as a beautiful -- and often naked -- young adult woman. As Mina and Akira get to know each other, they must defend themselves and the island from attacks from within and outside.

Shinbou Akiyuki gets another title he can really sink his teeth into. Young Yuuki Aoi (age 17, Murasaki in Kurenai) takes the lead, supported by Nakamura Yuuichi (Alto in MacrossF) and Saitou Chiwa -- who was Shinbou's first vampire, in Tsukuyomi Moon Phase.

Adapted by the writer who did Mai-HiME, MacrossF, and Denpateki na Kanojo.

This should be good.

seiyuus: Yuuki Aoi, Nakamura Yuuichi, Saitou Chiwa, Kaida Yuuko, Itou Shizuka.
director: Shinbou Akiyuki; series dir Sonoda Masahiro (eps/boards NHK, Gendai Mahou)
writer: Yoshino Hiroyuki (Mai-HiME, MacrossF, Denpateki). Tamaki Nozomu (orig).
animation: Shaft. chara-des: Konno Naoyuki (Kikaider, 009-1). animation supervisor: Konno Naoyuki (009-1, Shina Dark promo). art: Azuma Kohji (Mushiuta, Natsu no Arashi).
music: Dobashi Akio (Wellber, Yozakura). OP Nakano Aiko, ED hibiku.
trailer. manga. subs: Kesenai Subtitles?, Yuurisan-Subs, gg, Hatsuyuki.
thu 07 jan 09:00

(jp: デュラララ!!)

seinen comedy drama
From light novels by the author of Baccano. Produced by many of the same people who made Baccano, including director Omori Takahiro and writer Takagi Noboru (who also did Koi Kaze).

Set in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, with an amazing ensemble cast including Miyano Mamoru, Hanazawa Kana, Kamiya Hiroshi, Ono Daisuke, Fukuyama Jun, Nakamura Yuuichi, Kaji Yuuki, Takagaki Ayahi, Kobayashi Sanae and Toyonaga Toshiyuki (Ayumu in Zettai Shounen) playing roles such as street thugs, high school students, a female radio host, an underworld doctor, a young information vendor, and a headless Irish fairy.

This show has my full attention.

seiyuus: Toyonaga Toshiyuki (Ayumu/Zettai Shounen), Miyano Mamoru, Hanazawa Kana, Kamiya Hiroshi, Ono Daisuke, Fukuyama Jun, Nakamura Yuuichi, Kaji Yuuki, Takagaki Ayahi, Kobayashi Sanae.
director: Omori Takahiro (Baccano, Natsume Yuujinchou)
writer: Takagi Noboru (Koi Kaze, Baccano); Narita Ryohgo (novels).
animation: Brains Base. chara-des: Kishida Takahiro (Koi Kaze, Noein, Baccano);orig Yasuda Suzuhito (Kamisama Kazoku, Yozakura Quartet). animation supervisor: Takada Akira (new, keyanim GITS:SAC, Samurai Champloo). art: Itou Akira (Elfen Lied, Baccano, Denpateki Kanojo).
music: Yoshimori Makoto (Koi Kaze, Baccano, Natsume Yuujinchou).
trailer. manga. subs: Moetaku-Fansubs?, gg.
thu 07 jan 25:25

Hidamari Sketch X Hoshimittsu
(jp: ひだまりスケッチ×☆☆☆(ほしみっつ))

moe slice-of-life comedy
A new series of yet another of Shinbou Akiyuki's successful franchises. Two new girls are introduced: Nori and Nazuna. Nori in particular seems to be arousing some excitement on 2channel.

seiyuus: Asumi Kana, Mizuhashi Kaori, Gotou Yuuko, Shintani Ryouko, Matsuki Miyu, Kugimiya Rie, Sawashiro Miyuki, Chou, Fukuen Misato.
director: Shinbou Akiyuki
writer: Hasegawa Nahoko (Hidamari1); Yoguchi Natsue (eps of Hidamari). Aoki Ume (mangaka).
animation: Shaft. chara-des: Itou Yoshiaki (Hidamari, Gakuen Alice). animation supervisor: Itou Yoshiaki (Hidamari, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei).
music: Kikuya Tomoki (Potemayo, Kyouran Kazoku). OP seiyuus, ED marble.
manga. subs: Yuurisan-Subs?.
thu 07 jan 25:29

Ookami Kakushi
(jp: おおかみかくし)

seinen horror thriller
Sixteen-year-old Kuzumi Hiroshi moves to a town in the mountains. A river divides the town into new and old districts. Class rep Kushinada Nemura gives him a word of advice: “Stay away from the old streets." Set in 1983 -- and centuries before.

Based on a PSP mystery adventure game from a concept by Ryuukishi07, who wrote the Higurashi game, and with designs by Peach-Pit.

Director Takamoto Nobuhiro did Rakugo Tennyo and Tokimeki Memorial. Lead writer Machida Touko did Muteki Kanban Musume and Lucky Star. She is working from Ryuukishi07's original work this time, though.

OP written by Kajiura Yuki and performed by Fiction Junction, ED by Ozawa Takumi performed by Nanri Yuka.

seiyuus: Kobayashi Yuu, Fujita Saki, Katou Emiri, Ise Mariya, Gotou Yuuko, Fuchigami Mai.
director: Takamoto Nobuhiro (Rakugo Tennyo Oyui, Tokimeki Memorial, 07-Ghost)
writer: Machida Touko (Muteki Kanban Musume, Lucky Star, Tears to Tiara). Ryuukishi07 (orig., Higurashi creator), Konami.
animation: AIC. chara-des: Watanabe Atsuko (Valkyria, Charger Girl, GA); orig Peach Pit. animation supervisor: Watanabe Atsuko (Valkyria, Charger Girl).
OP Fiction Junction, ED Nanri Yuka.
subs: Formula, Hatsuyuki.
thu 07 jan 25:29

Kaitou Reinya
(jp: 怪盗レーニャ)

kids adventure comedy
Morning Musume memberTanaka Reina stars, and was the inspiration for this show and for the comic strip on which it is based. Reinya is a convenience store's kanban musume ("signboard girl") by day, and a whimsical thief by night.

The story follows her adventures, chased by bumbling cops: a handsome detective and a cool inspector. Joining Reinya on her escapades is her trusty mouse assistant, Chuutarou.

seiyuus: Tanaka Reina (Kirara/Onegai My Melody, MoMusu), Youki Sou, Noto Arisa (Hello! Project), Misawa Sachika, Wakabayashi Naomi.
director: Iwami Hideaki (key animator Top wo Nerae, Eva); Something Yoshimatsu (chief dir)
writer: Kanemaki Kenichi (Ai yori Aoshi, PaniPoni Dash, Natsume Yuujinchou, 11eyes). Up-Front Style (draft).
animation: Stingray. chara-des: Mr. A (draft).
sat 09 jan 24:50

Hanamaru Youchien
(jp: はなまる幼稚園)

seinen slice-of-life
Slice-of-life comedy featuring kids and teachers in a kindergarten. Nothing ecchi, just cute with a bit of serious.

I'm not sure what the director of Gundam00 and FMA1 is doing here. The contrast is intriguing.

I'll watch anything starring Takagaki Ayahi (Noe in true tears, Sumi-chan in Sasameki Koto). Also stars Shindou Kei (Kuro in Kodomo no Jikan), and MAKO (Yurie in Kamichu!).

seiyuus: Shindou Kei (Kuro/Kodomo no Jikan), Takagaki Ayahi (Sumi-chan/Sasameki), MAKO (Yurie/Kamichu), Hino Satoshi, Hirota Shimu, Ise Mariya, Mizuhara Kaoru, Honna Youko, Saitou Chiwa, Konishi Katsuyuki.
director: Mizushima Seiji (Gundam00, FMA1)
writer: Oguro Yuichirou (Zoku/Goku Sayonara Zetsubou). Yuto (manga).
animation: Gainax. chara-des: Otsuka Mai (Shakugan no Shana). art: Matsumoto Hiroki.
trailer. manga. subs: pwq.
sun 10 jan 25:30

Nodame Cantabile: Finale
(jp: のだめカンタービレ フィナーレ)

shoujo/josei music romance
The conclusion of the popular anime, the first season of which had the highest late-night anime ratings of the past ten years.

Kon Chiaki, who directed the second series, returns. But there is a new writer: playwright and novelist Nakashima Kazuki, who wrote Gurren-Lagann. Those of us who were a bit disappointed by Nodame Paris can possibly derive some hope from that.

seiyuus: Kawasumi Ayako, Seki Tomokazu.
director: Kon Chiaki (Higurashi, Nodame Paris, Hanasakeru Shounen)
writer: Nakashima Kazuki (playwright, novelist). Ninomiya Tomoko (manga).
animation: JC Staff. chara-des: Shimamura Shuuichi.
OP Sakai Yuu.
manga. subs: Frostii, BSS?.
thu 14 jan 24:45

(jp: 刀語)

samurai adventure comedy
The second NisiOisiN novel to be animated, following Bakemonogatari. But that was done by one of the best staff groups around: Shinbou and Shaft. This is done by what I consider one of the worst: the director and writer who did Amenaideyo and School Days.

The story involves a young man who is the master of a "swordless" sword technique. He and his sister live alone on an island. He is sent on a quest to gather the twelve best swords made by a great swordsmith.

The previews are gorgeous. A screening of the first episode got high praise for the animation -- which is directed by someone new to the staff group -- but there were rumblings of discontent from fans over lines that were changed from the novel.

Lead seiyuu Hosoyo Yoshimasa did a fine job as Juuzawa Juu in Denpateki na Kanojo, and he is backed up by some top names: Tamura Yukari, Nakahara Mai, Ookawa Tooru.

Twelve one-hour episodes broadcast monthly. First ep 25 Jan, second 8 Feb, third 8 Mar. I am apprehensive, but ready to be amazed.

seiyuus: Hosoyo Yoshimasa (Juuzawa Juu in Denpateki), Tamura Yukari, Nakahara Mai, Ookawa Tooru.
director: Motonaga Keitarou (Yumeria, Amenaideyo, School Days, Akasaka)
writer: Makoto Uezu (Yumeria, Amenaideyo, School Days, Akasaka). Nishio Ishin (orig; Bakemonogatari).
animation: White Fox. chara-des: Kawada Tsuyoshi (Best Student Council), Take (orig). animation supervisor: Kawada Tsuyoshi (HoneyClover2). art: Kudou Tadashi (Mizuiro 2003).
music: Iwasaki Taku (Getbackers, Gurren-Lagann).
trailer. subs: Moetaku-Fansubs? Gg?.
OVA. 12x1hr eps.
mon 25 jan

Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn
(jp: 機動戦士ガンダムUC)

shounen mecha adventure
The new Gundam OVA adopts the new fashion of six one-hour episodes. Theatrical and Playstation previews of episode one will be released on 20 feb.

Interesting new/old-style look. Appropriate music. Promising new cast. Expectations run high among Gundam fans.

Director Furuhashi Kazuhiro did Real Drive, Chevalier D'Eon and Rurouni Kenshin. Writer Muto Yasuyuki did Persona, Basara, and Chevalier D'Eon.

Uchiyama Kouki was Soul Eater. Fujimura Ayumi is Niche in Letter Bee and Cecily in Blacksmith. Kaida Yuuko was Mari in Tokyo Magnitude 8. Shimono Hiro was Jin in Kannagi.

seiyuus: Uchiyama Kouki (Soul Eater), Fujimura Ayumi (Cecily/Blacksmith), Shimono Hiro (Jin/Kannagi), Namikawa Daisuke (Kazehaya/Kimi ni Todoke, Benawi/Utawarerumono, Rock/Black Lagoon), Toyoguchi Megumi, Kaida Yuuko, Ikeda Shuuichi, Kakihara Tetsuya, Tezuka Hideaki.
director: Furuhashi Kazuhiro (Real Drive, Chevalier D'Eon, Rurouni Kenshin)
writer: Muto Yasuyuki (Persona, Basara, Chevalier D'Eon). Fukui Harutoshi.
animation: Sunrise. chara-des: Takahashi Kumiko (Tokyo Babylon, CCS, Ouran). art: Ikeda Shigemi (Planetes, Gantz, various Gundams). mecha: Ishigaki Gunya, Katoki Hajime.
music: Sawano Hiroyuki (Yoakena, Gigantic Formula, Sengoku Basara).
OVA. 6x50mineps.
12 mar

Sex Pistols
(jp: Sex Pistols)

yaoi sci-fi romance
Adaptation of a yaoi manga series. In the 2003 sci-fi manga, a teenage boy discovers he is one of a select group of humans who evolved from animals other than apes -- animals such as leopards and bears. Cat ears, romance, and physical relationships ensue.

Staff list not yet published. Ep2 25jun. Preview and manga both NSFW.

seiyuus: Hatano Wataru (Yuuto/Nogizaka Haruka), Sugita Tomokazu (Kyon/Haruhi), Shimono Hiro (Hiro/ef), Kawahara Yoshihisa (Yasu/NANA), Nojima Hirofumi (Shuga/Moribito, Scarecrowman), Yusa Kouji (Vincent Law/Ergo Proxy).
trailer. manga.
OVA. 1/2eps.
26 mar

Heartcatch Precure
  (jp: ハートキャッチプリキュア!)

magical girl fantasy
The seventh Precure series. No staff or cast information yet available.

animation: Toei.
sundays 08:30am begins in February

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Favorite OP/EDs of 2009

There have been some wonderful OPs and EDs this year. I posted this list of my own favorites in an AnimeSuki thread. But I'd like to post a slightly expanded version here.

My favorite OP? KOKIA's "Karma," the OP to Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~. The song has KOKIA's usual captivating flow, and such beautiful and appropriate imagery. It does what an OP should: please you with its music and images and draw you in to the mood of the show:

I also loved the OPs for Darker than Black 2 (by Stereopony), Pandora Hearts (Kajiura Yuki and Fiction Junction), Railgun (fripSide), Hanasakeru Seishounen (J-min), Tegami Bachi (Suga Shikao), Spice & Wolf 2 (Arai Akino), Bakemonogatari (Saitou Chiwa), Souten Kouro (Tribal Chair), Shangri-la (May'n), Asura Cryin' OP1 (angela), White Album OP2 (Mizuki Nana), Eden of the East (Oasis), and Basquash! (Eclipse: Tomatsu Haruka, Nakajima Megumi, Hayami Saori). (links are to online streams)

Favorite EDs: Bakemonogatari (ryo and supercell), Phantom ED2 (KOKIA), Guin Saga (Kanon), Hanasakeru Seishounen ED (J-min), Sora no Otoshimono ED9 ("Hatsukoi" by Hayami Saori and Takagaki Ayahi), Sora no Otoshimono ED1 ("Soba ni Irareru Dake" by Blue Drops: Yoshida Hitomi & Hayami Saori), Sora no Otoshimono ED2 ("Misaki Meguri," the flying pantsu ED, sung by Mina), Souten Kouro ED (by Ogre You Asshole), Asura Cryin' ED1 (angela), White Album ED2 (Suara).

As you can see, I like melody. Although there is a bit of punk in there, too. Here are a few embedded streams:

OP Darker than Black 2 -- "Tsukiari no Michishirube" by Stereopony
Creates the perfect mood for this more feminine Darker than Black mystery adventure. Excellent melodic rock and moving lyrics from an all-girl band, and Bones animation that carries you into the story:

OP Pandora Hearts -- "Parallel Hearts" by Fiction Junction (written by Kajiura Yuki)
Another great song from Kajiura Yuki, with animation that's pretty straightforward but captures the feelings of the story. This might have been the OP this year that best got me ready for its show:

OP To Aru Kagaku no Railgun -- "Only My Railgun" by fripSide
Completely undeniable. Picks you up and throws you forward like a railgun, right into the show. Seiyuu Nanjou Hoshino hits it big with her first song as fripSide's new vocalist:

OP Hanasakeru Seishounen -- "Change" by J-min
Beautiful folky music from Korean-born pop singer J-min, wedded to simple but apposite images that give a deeper layer to the show:

ED Bakemonogatari -- "Kimi no Shiranai Monogatari" by ryo and supercell
Has everything: beauty, invention, and fine music from amateurs-turned-pro Ryo and Supercell, with vocals by Nagi:

ED Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ ED2 -- "Transparent" by KOKIA
KOKIA is just terrific. I hope that showing up here in anime music doesn't mean she is losing ground with the general public. She is one of the world's top singer/songwriters, for me. And this ED has the same rich animation as OP1 of this show (see above):

OP Spice & Wolf 2 -- "Mitsu no Yoake" by Arai Akino
A truly professional singer and a lovely song, with beautifully edited images that pull us right into the show's mediaeval world:

ED Guin Saga -- "Saga - This is My Road" by Kanon
Kanon gives me chills with her beautiful, expressive voice and this marriage of classical song and Enya. The imagery is mainly just pans of a lush background, but suits the story so well, as does the song:

ED Souten Kouro -- "Pinhole" by Ogre You Asshole
One of the more unusual OP/EDs I've ever seen. Deceptively simple, as is the music, but with a deep effect:

OP Souten Kouro -- "909" by Tribal Chair
Dramatic punkish rock with a great shouted vocal and terrific visual editing of scenes from the show. I especially like the moment a catapulted rock smashes a wooden guard tower, so well timed to a solid drumbeat:

ED Sora no Otoshimono ED2 -- "Misaki Meguri" by Mina
This is the virally famous "flocks of flying panties" ED. It's not that the music is so great, but the visuals are hilarious and somehow moving:

OP Shangri-la -- "Kimi Shinitamou Koto Nakare" by May'n
A strong, if standard, song, but the editing of the images to the music is superb. Reminds me of the rushing movement of the Railgun OP (above). If only the show were as good as its OP:

OP White Album 2 -- "Mugen" by Mizuki Nana
I've seen some grumbling by Nana fans that this is nowhere near her best work, but as someone who has found it hard to get into her, this song helps do it for me. The amazingly complexity and lithe precision of her singing come through, without the overblown arrangements that put me off. The images are pretty and mysterious, and the lyrics strong:

ED Sora no otoshimono ED9 -- "Hatsukoi" by Takagaki Ayahi and Hayami Saori
Finally, here is a song by two seiyuus who, like Nana-chan, are worthy of comparison with professional singers. The imagery is nothing special, but Hayami Saori's voice (the second you hear) is one of the prettiest on the planet, for me, so I can't help including this ED from last week's episode of this show: