Where possible, I've provided links to manga scanlations, to give a fuller idea of the story.
As usual, these previews concentrate on the staff who make a show. For me, who the director and writer are is the best indicator of how good a show will be.
What shows am I most looking forward to this coming season?
- Fractale – Bad-boy director Yamamoto Yutaka directs his first series since Kannagi, a Ghibliesque show he says will appeal to more than just otaku.
- Hourou Musuko – A delicate drama involving cross-dressing middle-schoolers (right). Manga by Shimura Takako (Aoi Hana).
- Mahou Shoujou Madoka Magica – Shinbou's magical girl show, with music by Kajiura Yuki and starring Yuuki Aoi.
- Moshidora –"What If the Female Manager of a High School Baseball Team Had Read Drucker's 'Management'?" From a popular novel that applies management principles to high-school baseball. Production IG and NHK, and the director and writer of Beast Player Erin, give us an anime aimed at men and women in their 30s and 40s. Doesn't start until March.
These next three could be run-of-the-mill ecchi/moe comedies, but each gives some reason for optimism: Rio - Rainbow Gate, Dragon Crisis, and Gosick.
And there are three shows that are highly awaited, but not by me: Mitsudomoe 2, Kimi ni Todoke 2 and Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
Anyway, here are the 22 shows, in alphabetical order -- click to go to info and comments about each one:
- Cardfight!! Vanguard
- Dragon Crisis
- Houkago no Pleiades
- Hourou Musuko
- IS: Infinite Stratos
- Kimi ni Todoke 2
- Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
- Level E
- Mahou Shoujou Madoka Magica
- Mai no Mahou to Katei no Hi
- Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
- Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
- Rio - Rainbow Gate
- Starry Sky
- Suite Precure
- Yumekui Merry
comedy with violence
Juvenile delinquent Oga Tatsumi sees a man floating down a river. He pulls him to shore and the man splits in half, revealing a baby boy. This boy is the son of the demon king and Oga has been chosen as the one to raise it. Only if Oga can find someone stronger and more evil than he is, can he pass off Baby Beel. The story follows Oga's life with the baby demon, and his attempts to get rid of it.
A strong, experienced cast includes Konishi Katsuyuki, Sawashiro Miyuki, Itou Shizuka, Takagai Wataru, Ono Daisuke, Seki Tomokazu, and Toyosaki Aki.
The staff is experienced, but hasn’t made shows I've liked. The director did Tokimeki Memorial and 07Ghost. The writer did Reideen, and MariaHolic. Nevertheless — and despite the fact that this is a Sunday morning show — I plan to give the show a look. The first few pages of the manga are entertaining, and the show is inheriting the timeslot formerly occupied by a show I liked: Yumeiro Patissiere.
seiyuus: Konishi Katsuyuki, Sawashiro Miyuki, Mizushima Takahiro, Itou Shizuka, Takagi Wataru, Takahashi Hiroki, Toyosaki Aki, Ono Daisuke, Seki Tomokazu.
director: Takamoto Nobuhiro (Tokimeki Memorial, 07Ghost)
writer: Yokotani Masahiro (Reideen, MariaHolic, five eps of K-on). Tamura Ryuuhei.
sun 09 jan 07:00 manga.
(jp: カードファイト!! ヴァンガード)
fighting mecha for kids
Shounen Saturday-morning anime based on a collectible card game by Bushiroad. Involves fighting and mecha. Staff and cast details not yet available.
animation: Toms Entertainment.
sat 08 jan 08:00
Teenager Ryuuji rescues a girl from black-market dealers. She turns out to be a dragon, and becomes devoted to him, living with him and following him everywhere.
Kugimiya Rie and Shimono Hiro star. Horie Yui, Yukana, and Inokuchi (not Iguchi) Yuka round out a nice cast.
Director Tachibana Hideki hasn't directed a whole show before, but did storyboards and directed episodes of Honey and Clover and Railgun. Writer Kurata Hideyuki did Kannagi and OreImo. He and the cast and the character design will have me watching the first episode.
seiyuus: Kugimiya Rie, Shimono Hiro, Horie Yui, Yukana, Nigo Mayako, Inokuchi Yuka.
director: Tachibana Hideki (boards and eps of Railgun, Honey and Clover)
writer: Kurata Hideyuki (Kannagi, OreImo). Miyazaki Makoto.
animation: Studio Deen. OP Horie Yui.
sun 10 jan 25:30 trailer.
fantasy adventure science-fiction romance comedy
Director Yamamoto Yutaka returns for his first show since Kannagi. Kobayashi Yuu and Hanazawa Kana star. One of the shows I most look forward to this winter. Yamakan says he is trying to make a show that does not limit its audience to otaku, and claims he will quit anime if this doesn’t succeed.
Top writer Okada Mari may provide him with a script that maintains its energy, as I thought Kannagi did not. The original story is by new-generation culture critic Azuma Hiroki.
In a future world, a "Fractale" system allows everyone to live alone, tended by avatar-like doppels. Crane finds an injured girl called Phryne. She stays with him for a while, then disappears, leaving a pendant behind. He sets out for a journey with the girl-shaped avatar Nessa, who seems to have come from the pendant, to look for Phryne and discover the secrets of the Fractale System.
Noitamina is producing a string of triumphs (Five Leaves, Tatami Galaxy, Shiki, Kuragehime). Here's hoping this is another.
seiyuus: Kobayashi Yuu, Hanazawa Kana, Tsuda Minami, Iguchi Yuka, Asanuma Shintarou.
director: Yamamoto Yutaka
writer: Okada Mari. Azuma Hiroki (story).
animation: A-1 Pictures, Ordet.
thu 13 jan 24:45 manga. trailer.
ecchi romantic action adventure comedy drama
Beings from a different dimension have started a war with mankind. To counter this threat an academy called "Genetics" trains female warriors called "Pandoras" who can wield special weaponry and armor. Kazuya Aoi enrolls, following his sister,, an outstanding alumnus who died in battle. There he meets fellow-student Bridgette L. Satellizer, "The Untouchable Queen," and slowly begins to change her.
The director of Shana and DaiMaou. The writer of Index and Tegami Bachi. A good cast stars Noto Mamiko, Hanazawa Kana, and Inoue Marina. The combination of violence and nudity reminds me of High School of the Dead. I hope that here there are real characters behind the violent masks. The manga is enjoyable, but feels cliched, through a couple of chapters. We'll see what this competent director and writer can do with it.
seiyuus: Ichiki Mitsuhiro, Noto Mamiko, Hanazawa Kana, Inoue Marina, Kaida Yuko, Koshimizu Ami, Kuwatani Natsuko, Mizusawa Fumie, Okamoto Nobuhiko, Takahashi Rieko, Ueda Kana, Watanabe Akeno.
director: Watanabe Takashi (Slayers, Shana, DaiMaou)
writer: Akahoshi Masanao (Index, Tegami Bachi).
animation: ACGT. music: Yokoyama Masaru.
sat 08 jan 09:30 trailer. manga.
Set in 1924 in the tiny fictional European country of Sauville. Kazuya Kujo, the son of a Japanese Imperial soldier, is a transfer student at St. Marguerite's Academy. There he meets Victorique, a mysteriously beautiful and brilliant girl who looks like a wise loli but sounds like a mature woman. She never comes to class and spends her days reading several books at a time in the library and solving the many supernatural mysteries around the school.
Old-school director Nanba Hitoshi did Heroman and an Anpanman movie. Writer Okada Mari is a hot property these days, having given us true tears, Canaan, and Zakuro. Animation by BONES.
The female lead will not be announced until a live event a week before the series starts. Excellent supporting cast includes Sawashiro Miyuki, Neya Michiko, Ohkawa Tohru, Kiuchi Hidenobu — and the return from obscurity of Kano Yui.
seiyuus: , Eguchi Takuya, Sawashiro Miyuki, Neya Michiko, Ohkawa Tohru, Kiuchi Hidenobu, Kano Yui.
director: Nanba Hitoshi (1980s veteran, Anpanman movie, Heroman)
writer: Okada Mari (true tears, Canaan, Zakuro).
animation: BONES. music: Nakagawa Kotarou (Planetes, Hayate, Cross Game, Stitch). OP risa, ED Komine Risa.
fri 07 jan 25:23 trailer. manga.
Houkago no Pleiades
moe comedy drama with astronomy
A coproduction of Gainax and the automaker Subaru. Little is known yet, except that it will feature astronomy and some parody.
director: Saeki Shouji (Kore ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama Kore ga Watashi no Goshujin-sama, Mahoromatic Tadaima)
Release dates unknown. trailer.
gender-bender romantic drama
Shy preteen boy Shuicihi Nitori transfers to a new school, where he quickly makes friends with the tomboyish Yoshino Takatsuki. Together they decide to take the first steps toward becoming the people they want to be, by secretly dressing in the clothes of the opposite sex.
From a popular manga by Shimura Takako (Aoi Hana). Directed by the director of Ga-Rei Zero and Kara no Kyoukai 1. Written by the now-ubiquitous Okada Mari, who is also writing Fractale and Gosick.
The two stars are young actors around the same middle-school age as their characters. They are supported by a strong cast including Chiba Saeko, Fujiwara Keiji, Horie Yui, Honda Takako, Mizuki Nana, and Toyosaki Aki — as well as fripside vocalist Nanjou Yoshino, who continues to keep her hand in as a seiyuu.
This one is definitely worth a look.
seiyuus: Setou Asami, Hatekayama Kousuke, Chiba Saeko, Fujiwara Keiji, Honda Takako, Horie Yui, Mizuhara Kaoru, Mizuki Nana, Nanjou Yoshino, Nanri Yuka, Toyosaki Aki.
director: Aoki Ei (Ga-rei Zero, Kara no Kyoukai 1)
writer: Okada Mari (true tears, Vampire Knight, Kuroshitsuji). Shimura Takako.
animation: AIC. music: Kousaku Satoru (Bakemonogatari, OreImo). OP Katou Yukari.
thu 13 jan 25:15 trailer. manga.
IS: Infinite Stratos
romantic comedy adventure with mecha and some fanservice
Infinite Stratos (IS), a weaponized exoskeleton system, has become the dominant tool of warfare and conflict. Only women are able to operate Infinite Stratos...with very few exceptions. One of those exceptions is Ichika, an orphan raised by his older sister who is herself a famous IS pilot. When his compatibility with IS is discovered at the age of 15, he's given a scholarship and enrolled in a school that specializes in training IS pilots. And his life among women warriors begins. (info from anidb)
The director did Macross F. The writer did both Kanon and Clannad. That odd combination gives me hope, along with an excellent cast: Hikasa Youko, Hanazawa Kana, Uchiyama Kouki, Inoue Marina, Yukana, Tamura Yukari, Toyoguchi Megumi.
seiyuus: Uchiyama Kouki, Hikasa Youko, Hanazawa Kana, Inoue Marina, Yukana, Tamura Yukari, Toyoguchi Megumi, Shimoda Asami.
director: Kikuchi Yasuhito (Macross F).
writer: Shimo Fumihiko (Kanon, Clannad).
animation: 8-bit. music: Nanase Hikaru (Galaxy Angel, Requiem for the Phantom). OP Kuribayashi Minami, ED seiyuus.
thu 06 jan 25:25 trailer.
Kimi ni Todoke 2
Voted best shoujo manga of 2008, this show now enters its second season as an anime. Sawako and Kazehaya-kun now realize how much they like each other, but no doubt the path of true love will continue to be bumpy, as Sawako's insecurity is hard to tame.
Director Kaburaki Hiro made a success of his first full anime, after having done episodes of NHK. Writer Kanparu Tomoko has a longer resume: she wrote Nodame Cantabile and Genji Sennenki, among many other shows.
Noto Mamiko and Namikawa Daisuke play the leads, and are surrounded with a stunning supporting cast including Sanpei Yuuko, Sawashiro Miyuki, Nakamura Yuuichi, Hirano Aya, and now Miyano Mamoru.
This show was highly popular, but despite my love of the manga, and of shoujo romance in general, I found that the first season dragged, and that Noto-san was too extreme in the way she played the role.
seiyuus: Noto Mamiko, Namikawa Daisuke (Rock/Black Lagoon), Sanpei Yuuko (Nakiami/Xam'd), Sawashiro Miyuki, Nakamura Yuuichi (Tomoya/Clannad), Hirano Aya, Miyano Mamoru.
director: Kaburaki Hiro (Welcome to NHK storyboards and epdir)
writer: Kanparu Tomoko (Nodame Cantabile, Genji Sennenki). Shiina Karuho (mangaka).
animation: Production I.G.
tue 04 jan 24:59
Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?
fantasy adventure comedy with fighting and romance
High school boy Aikawa Ayumu is killed by a serial killer. But then he is resurrected as a zombie by a necromancer girl named Yuu, whom he had just met before dying. He reawakens in a world surrounded by magical girls and vampire ninja, and is assigned duties by a magical warrior girl named Haruna. (info from anidb)
Based on its staff, I have little hope for this show. Uezu Makoto may be my least-favorite anime writer, and director Kanesaki Takaomi did the forgettable Macademi Wasshoi.
It will be interesting to see if Nomizu Iori (Nymph in Sora no Otoshimono) is up to starring.The presence of Hikasa Youko is interesting, as is that of new moe sensation Kanemoto Hisako (Ika Musume, star of SoRa No WoTo). And so are some names buried deep in the cast list: Shimizu Ai (Karen in Please Twins, Mikoto in Mai HiME), Shitaya Noriko (Himeko in Kannazuki no Miko), Mina (Sahara in Sora no Otoshimono).
seiyuus: Majima Junji, Nomizu Iori, Hikasa Youko, Kanemoto Hisako, Mina, Shimizu Ai, Shitaya Noriko, Yoshino Hiroyuki, Yamaguchi Rie.
director: Kanesaki Takaomi (Macademi Wasshoi)
writer: Uezu Makoto (School Days, Katanagatari, Qwaser).
animation: Studio DEEN. music: Kakijima Shinji. OP Nomizu Iori, ED Rie Yamaguchi and manzo.
mon 10 jan 25:30 trailer.
fantasy adventure comedy
An alien prince shares an apartment with a high-school freshman.
The drawing seems clumsy, and the director did the terrible Code-E, but the lead writer is Hanada Jukki (Seitokai no Ichizon, Rozen Maiden), so I have hopes. Music by Ryou Kunihiko.
A highly professional lead cast features Namikawa Daisuke, Akesaka Satomi, and Koyasu Takehito.
seiyuus: Namikawa Daisuke, Akesaka Satomi, Koyasu Takehito, Hosoya Yoshimasa.
director: Katou Toshiyuki (Full Moon wo Sagashite, Code-E)
writer: Hanada Jukki (Rozen Maiden, SeiZon).
animation: Pierrot x David Production. music: Ryou Kunihiko (Saiunkoku, Letter Bee).
mon 10 jan 25:45 trailer.
Mahou Shoujou Madoka Magica
Shinbou Akiyuki's magical girl anime.
Written by famous Nitroplus game writer Urobuchi Gen. Music by Kajiura Yuki. OP by ClariS (OreImo). Starring great young seiyuu Yuuki Aoi, along with Saitou Chiwa, Kitamura Eri, Mizuhashi Kaori, and Katou Emiri. Yuuki, Chiwa, and Emirin are among my favorite seiyuus.
Kajiura-san says the script is so enjoyable that when she was reading it on the train, she was so engrossed that she missed her stop. We'll start to find out January 6. I will certainly be there, even if I am not the world's biggest magical girl fan.
seiyuus: Yuuki Aoi, Saitou Chiwa, Kitamura Eri, Mizuhashi Kaori, Katou Emiri.
director: Shinbou Akiyuki
writer: Urobuchi Gen (Blassreiter, Nitroplus games).
animation: Shaft. music: Kajiura Yuki. OP ClariS, ED Kalafina.
thu 06 jan 25:25 trailer.
Mai no Mahou to Katei no Hi
magical family education
Eight-year-old Tatsumi Mai uses magic to understand her family's feelings. Will be broadcast direct in mountainous Toyama, the home of animation studio P.A. Works, broadcast on cable in the rest of Japan, and streamed free on YouTube. Two thousand DVDs will be distributed free to schools from nursery school to middle school.
P.A. Works (true tears, Canaan, a Toyama travelogue, Angel Beats) continues to do interesting projects. It looks as if the prefectural government is backing this one in some way.
The only seiyuu named so far are veteran stars Shimamoto Sumi (Nausicaa) and Koyama Mami. No staff named as yet.
seiyuus: Shimamoto Sumi, Koyama Mami.
animation: PA Works.
(jp: みつどもえ 増量中！)
A second season for the hit comedy, which features dangerous little girls purveying a combination of innocent sexual innuendo and toilet humor. I didn’t enjoy season one, but a lot of people did.
Great cast includes Takagaki Ayahi, Tomatsu Haruka, Shimono Hiro, Saitou Chiwa, Toyosaki Aki, Sanpei Yuuko, and others. Director Oota Masahiko did the first Minami-ke.
seiyuus: Takagaki Ayahi, Tomatsu Haruka, Akesaka Satomi, Saitou Chiwa, Shimono Hiro, Toyosaki Aki, Saitou Momoko, Sanpei Yuuko, Inoue Kikuko, Iguchi Yuka.
director: Oota Masahiko (Yoakena, Minami-ke)
writer: Aoshima Takashi (Yoakena, Koharu Biyori). Sakurai Norio.
animation: Bridge. OP seiyuus (Takagaki Ayahi, Akesaka Satomi, Tomatsu Haruka), ED Nomiko.
sat 08 jan 26:58 trailer. manga. (trailer for first series)
management studies comedy drama
Based on a business novel entitled: What If the Female Manager of a High-School Baseball Team Read Drucker's "Management"? Peter Drucker was a highly influential management guru in the latter half of the twentieth century.
This is the first anime to appear on NHK's general channel in four years, and is aimed at men and women in their 30s and 40s.
Directed for Production IG by Hamana Takayuki, the director of Library War and Beast Player Erin. Written by Fujisaku Junichi, the writer of Blood+ and Beast Player Erin.
The concept, the staff, the cast, the studio — this has 'win' written all over it for me. The only thing wrong with it is that it doesn’t start until March.
seiyuus: Hikasa Youko, Hanazawa Kana, Kakihara Tetsuya.
director: Hamana Takayuki (Library War, Beast Player Erin)
writer: Fujisaku Junichi (Blood+, Beast Player Erin).
animation: Production IG.
mon 14 mar 22:55 trailer.
Onii-chan no Koto Nanka Zenzen Suki Janain Dakara ne!!
Nao loves her older brother Shuusuke, despite, or even because of, his room full of adult games, books, and videos. One day, a childhood firend of Shuusuke's moves back into the neighborhood, and a love triangle forms.
One of my least favorite directors, and a manga whose promising character design was wasted by a story that made even potential incest boring. Add to that a cast which, while skillful, doesn't include anyone I particularly enjoy, and this show is not high on my list.
seiyuus: Kitamura Eri, Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Inoue Marina, Nakamura Eriko, Ohara Sayaka, Shiraishi Ryouko, Aranami Kazusa.
director: Motonaga Keitarou (School Days, Katanagatari)
writer: Ooba Koyuri.
animation: ZEXCS. music: Kikuya Tomoki (Hidamari Sketch, Ika Musume). OP Kitamura Eri, ED seiyuus (Kitamura Eri, Inoue Marina, Aranami Kazusa).
sat 08 jan 24:30 manga.
Rio — Rainbow Gate
(jp: Rio — Rainbow Gate)
ecchi comedy drama
Set in a famous resort hotel/casino that draws wealthy players from around the world. Blackjack dealer Rio Rollins is working to be the top dealer, following in her famous mother's footsteps. Based on game-maker Tecmo's franchise of pachinko slot machines, Super Black Jack.
Directed and written by the director and writer of Pandora Hearts. Starring Inoue Marina,Taketatsu Ayana, Hikasa Youko and others.
I have no idea how good this will be, but will watch a couple of episodes at least.
seiyuus: Inoue Marina, Taketatsu Ayana, Shimizu Kaori, Hikasa Youko, Takahashi Chiaki, Fukui Yukari, Nakajima Saki.
director: Katou Takao (Rockman,EXE, To Love-ru, Pandora Hearts)
writer: Sekijima Mayori (Video Girl Ai, Zegapain, Pandora Hearts).
animation: Xebec. OP Love Roulettes, ED Ultra Prism.
tue 04 jan 23:00 trailer.
The heroine, Tsukiko, is the first girl to enrol in a hitherto all-boys school that specializes in teaching astronomy.
From a series of dating games and CDs involving 12 bishounen, one for each of the signs of the zodiac. To be streamed free on the animate.tv website.
Orikasa Fumiko returns to star after her marriage and a rumored child. The male cast is also strong: Midorikawa Hikaru, Suzumura Kenichi, Sugita Tomokazu, Nakamura Yuuichi, Hoshi Souichirou, Yusa Kouji, Ono Daisuke, Hirakawa Daisuke, Ishida Akira, Kamiya Hiroshi, Fukuyama Jun, Miyano Mamoru. Quite a harem. The director did 07Ghost.
seiyuus: Orikasa Fumiko, Midorikawa Hikaru, Suzumura Kenichi, Sugita Tomokazu, Nakamura Yuuichi, Hoshi Souichirou, Yusa Kouji, Ono Daisuke, Hirakawa Daisuke, Ishida Akira, Kamiya Hiroshi, Fukuyama Jun, Miyano Mamoru.
director: Takamoto Nobuhiro (07Ghost)
writer: Nakamura Makoto. honeybee (game).
animation: Studio Deen. music: Kikuya Tomoki.
thu 23 dec 16:00
family moe comedy
Little info yet available on this new Precure series, which is to begin in February. The trailer below is a transformation scene from the current series, Heartcatch Precure.
animation: Toei Animation.
sun 06 feb 08:30 trailer.
Animation of a Marvel comic. Pre-airing introductory special 24 December 22:00h.
Wolverine is a wolf-mutant, with heightened senses, enhanced physical abilities, three strong retracting claws on each hand, and the ability to recover quickly from any injury. He also goes by the name Logan, and works with the X-Men.
The trailer shows some stylish work by Madhouse. Director "Rintaro" is apparenty actually Hayashi Shigeyuki, who has been directing anime since the 1960s, and was director of the Galaxy Express 999 and Metropolis movies. The main cast are all big stars: Koyama Rikiya, Paku Romi, Orikasa Fumiko.
I will be there to see epsiode one, hoping that it sustains my interest more than Iron Man did.
seiyuus: Koyama Rikiya, Paku Romi, Orikasa Fumiko.
director: Rintaro (classic director Hayashi Shigeyuki)
writer: Herb Trimpe, John Romita Sr., Len Wein (Marvel).
fri 07 jan 22:00 trailer.
High-school student Fujiwara Yumeji can see other people's dreams. One day, he meets Merry who had wandered from the "Dream World" into the "Real World". Who exactly is Merry? What is the Dream World and what are Nightmares? Why are the Nightmares entering the Real World? Yumeji and Merry begin their fight against the Nightmares.
seiyuus: Okamoto Nobuhiko, Sakura Ayane, Kayano Ai, Endou Aya, Fujiwara Keiji, Nakata Jouji, Akiya Tomoko, Kawada Shinji.
director: Yamauchi Shigeyasu (Dragon Ball Z movies, Casshern Sins)
writer: Shirane Hideki (Bottle Fairy, Girl's High, Hayate!!).
animation: JC Staff. music: Oku Keiichi (Doremi, Ashita no Nadja). OP Fujiwara Marina, ED Sakura Ayane.
thu 06 jan 25:55 trailer.
-- 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, et al.
-- in most cases, English titles link to the Anime News Network encyclopedia; Japanese titles link to official sites.
-- click images to enlarge.