Friday, March 16, 2012

A Season of Optimism: full previews of spring shows

Big buzz. Everyone seems to have high expectations for the upcoming spring season. Including me. There are promising shows in almost every genre. I'm not sure I see any masterpieces, but time will tell.

Kawamori Shouji (Macross) is working with writer Okada Mari (true tears, AnoHana) to bring us a science fiction anime based on the impossibly popular idol group AKB48: AKB0048.
The director of Full Metal Alchemist and Oh! Edo Rocket presents popular seiyuu/singers Sphere in a new slice-of-life vehicle of their own: Natsuiro Kiseki.

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
There is a new show from Kyoto Animation, the school mystery Hyouka.

Oonuma Shin is animating a popular manga, Tasogare Otome x Amnesia

There is a new show from Sunrise made by the writer and director who did Mai-HiME: Accel World.

Even the arbiters of polite taste can be happy:

Old hero Matsumoto Leiji (Space Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Railways 999) returns with a new offering: Ozuma
Noitamina is presenting two highly attractive and respectable shows -- Sakamichi no Apollon, a hymn to friendship and jazz by the director of Cowboy Bebop, Watanabe Shinichiro; and Tsuritama, from the director of Mononoke and Kuchuu Buranko, Nakamura Kenji.

And there is a year-long space fiction drama that will follow two brothers: Uchuu Kyoudai.

But lovers of the ecchi moe despised by higher minds will not be disappointed, either, with a sequel to the yuri-tinged Saki, as well as shows like Sengoku Collection, from Gotou Keiji; and Upotte!, in which scantily-clad schoolgirls turn out to be assault rifles in disguise. There is a new season of Kore wa Zombie desu ka? And another season of Queen's Blade, for our sins.

Several popular manga are being animated: Medaka Box, Sankarea, Mysterious Girlfriend X.

Old favorite Eureka 7 is getting a sequel. 

Lupin III TV series is coming. 

There will be dark anomie and explosions of blood and gore in shows like Jormungand and Zetman.

There is dry comedy in Haiyore Nyaruko-san, Acchi Kocchi and Yurumates.

There is one reverse harem, Hiiro no Kakera, which has already started well. There is a promising young-shoujo show about a cynical apprentice witch, starring Paku Romi and Orikasa Fumiko: Kuromajo-san ga Tooru.

And there are two shounen sports anime: Kuroko no Basket and Ginga e Kickoff.

In any case, this season I have arranged 38 series into three groups: 1. shows I am particularly looking forward to; 2. shows I'm quite looking forward to; and 3. others.

Read on, or just click on the alphabetical list below to go to individual shows, for which I give full cast and staff info; a picture; an outline of the story; and links to trailers and manga, to more info in English and Japanese, and to AnimeSuki discussion groups.

Accel World     ● Acchi Kocchi     ● AKB0048     ● Eureka Seven Ao     ● Fate/Zero (2012)     ● Furusato Saisei Nippon no Mukashi Banashi     ● Ginga e Kickoff!!     ● Gon     ● Haiyore! Nyaruko-san     ● Hiiro no Kakera     ● Hyouka     ● Jewelpet Kira Deco!     ● Jormungand     ● Kimi to Boku. 2     ● Kingdom     ● Kore wa Zombie Desu ka - Of the Dead     ● Kuroko no Basuke     ● Kuromajo-san ga Touru!!     ● Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna     ● Medaka Box     ● Mysterious Girlfriend X     ● Natsuiro Kiseki     ● Ozuma     ● Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle (2012)     ● Pretty Rhythm: Dear My Future     ● Queen’s Blade: Rebellion     ● Saint Seiya Omega     ● Sakamichi no Apollon     ● Saki: Achiga-hen - Episode of Side-A     ● Sankarea     ● Sengoku Collection     ● Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan     ● Tasogare Otome x Amnesia     ● Tsuritama     ● Uchuu Kyoudai     ● Upotte!!     ● Yurumates 3D     ● Zetman

-- dates and times may change, and will be updated in my anime calendar, which should come out in two weeks' time. 
-- information from official sites, MoonPhaseAniDBAnime News NetworkJapanese Wikipediaet al.
-- generally, English titles link to the Anime News Network encyclopedia; Japanese titles link to official sites.
-- click images to enlarge. 

1. Shows I am particularly looking forward to:
             (in alphabetical order)

  (jp: AKB0048)   jpWiki

idol music science fiction drama
Kawamori Shouji (Macross) and writer Okada Mari (AnoHana, true tears, etc.) bring us an anime inspired by the tremendously popular idol group AKB48. Under Kawamori, Hiraike Yoshimasa (AmagamiSS, Solty Rei, Sketchbook) is doing the hands-on directing. Here's hoping this is better than Basquash.

In the 21st century, a world war erupts and devastates the Earth, forcing humanity to leave for the stars. This story is about a new AKB0048, which names itself after the idol group that was so popular just before the Earth was destroyed. In their new world, almost fifty years after leaving Earth, singing and dancing are strictly forbidden. But they dare to put on their own guerilla performances.

Special auditions were held to choose seiyuus for the cast, which was filled out, however, with a bevy of top names.

seiyuus: Nakaya Sayaka, Satou Amina, Sawashiro Miyuki, Noto Mamiko, Tamura Yukari, Nakahara Mai, Kawasumi Ayako, Shiraishi Ryouko, Ueda Kana, Horie Yui.
director: Hiraike Yoshimasa (Amagami SS, Sketchbook, Solty Rei), chiefdir: Kawamori Shouji (Macross Frontier, Basquash) writer: Okada Mari (true tears, AnoHana). Kawamori Shouji.
animation: Satelight. chara-des: Ebata Risa.
trailer. manga. forum.
sun 29 apr 23:00

Haiyore! Nyaruko-san
  (jp: 這いよれ! ニャル子さん)   jpWiki

seinen comic fantasy
Nyaruko is the silver-haired-young-girl form of the formless, shape-shifting Cthulhu deity of chaos, Nyarlhotep. She saves the protagonist from aliens, and then becomes a fixture in his home. Soon he is surrounded by young girls who are forms of various deities from the pantheon created by horror writer H. P. Lovecraft.

The amusing series of two-minute Net anime is now transformed into an actual TV anime series. Good cast will be managed, more or less, by the director of Kyou no Go no Ni and the writer of Amagami SS+. Based on a series of novels. I'm looking forward to this.

seiyuus: Asumi Kana, Kugimiya Rie, Matsuki Miyu, Kitamura Eri, Ootsubo Yuka, Shimada Bin, Kusao Takeshi, Kouda Mariko, Arai Satomi, Hisakawa Aya.  
director: Nagasawa Tsuyoshi (Kyou no Go no Ni, MM)   writer: Kimura Noboru (Amagami SS+). Aisora Manta (novel).
animation: Xebec. chara-des: Takayama Shintetsu. animation supervisor: Takayama Shintetsu.
music: monaca (Working!!, Star Driver). OP seiyuus, ED Zutto.
trailer. forum.
mon 09 apr 26:00

  (jp: キングダム)   jpWiki

shounen historical adventure
This doesn’t start until June, but could be a sleeper hit when it does. The director of Hikaru no Go and The Third, the writer of Spice and Wolf and Yosuga no Sora. And a brilliant cast: Fukuyama Jun, Morita Masakazu, Kugimiya Rie, Hikasa Youko, Koyama Rikiya.

But the story is what appeals to me most, centering on a war orphan in the ancient Chinese kingdom of Qin. He is separated from his friend, and later meets a boy who looks just like the friend -- but is the prince who will later become the First Emperor of China.

seiyuus: Fukuyama Jun, Morita Masakazu, Koyama Rikiya, Kugimiya Rie, Hikasa Youko.
director: Kamiya Jun (Hikaru no Go, The Third)   writer: Arakawa Naruhisa (Rizelmine, Spice & Wolf, Yosuga no Sora).
animation: Studio Pierrot.

manga. forum.
sun jun 19:00

Medaka Box
  (jp: めだかボックス)   jpWiki

shounen comedy
Our put-upon male main character follows the irresistible force of a female club president. Sound familiar? Well, this manga transcends the stereotype. Medaka is overwhelmingly rich, smart, strong, kind, and nuts. But she actually loves the underling she has dragged after her since pre-school, and admits it.

This may not sound like a character Toyosaki Aki can do, but if the trailer is anything to go by, she gives us a strong interpretation. Add Kayano Ai, Katou Emiri, and Ono Yuuki (Kaname in Kimi to Boku, Arashi's brother in Machi ga Mawatteiru, Pin in Kimi ni Todoke) and you may really have something. The guy is put-upon, but very strong.

Years ago, director/writer Saeki Shouji did This Ugly Yet Beautiful World and He Is My Master, but has been on the edge of things since then, doing key animation, scripts, storyboards, and episodes. We'll see what he can do with this top manga, written by Nisio Isin.

seiyuus: Ono Yuuki, Toyosaki Aki, Namikawa Daisuke, Kayano Ai, Katou Emiri.
director: Saeki Shouji   writer: Saeki Shouji. Akatsuki Akira, Nishio Ishin.
animation: Gainax. chara-des: Kuwano Ikuo.
OP Toyosaki Aki, ED Kuribayashi Minami.
trailer. manga. forum.
wed 04 apr 25:50

Natsuiro Kiseki
  (jp: 夏色キセキ)   jpWiki

slice of life comedy with music and magic
Forget K-On, this is Sphere itself in a slice-of-life comedy that looks a bit like Tamayura with more music. But the name of the show is "Summer-colour Miracle," and there are hints of magic in the trailer, so there may be something more.

Top director Mizusawa Seiji did FMA, Oh Edo Rocket, and Gundam00. Writer Urahata Tatsuhiko did Monster, Strawberry Panic, A-Channel, and Horizon. The possibilities are endless. The Sunrise animation looks good, with nice art direction by Ikeda Shigemi (Bartender, Gundam UC, High School DxD) and charades by Tanaka Yuuichi (Last Exile, Index) based on drawings by Hidari (who did the original drawings for Fractale).

seiyuus: Kotobuki Minako, Tomatsu Haruka, Takagaki Ayahi, Toyosaki Aki.
director: Mizushima Seiji (FMA, Oh Edo Rocket, Gundam00)   writer: Urahata Tatsuhiko (Monster, Strawberry Panic, A-Channel, Horizon).
animation: Sunrise. chara-des: Tanaka Yuuichi (Last Exile, Index, Railgun), orig:. art: Ikeda Shigemi.
music: Nijine. OPED Sphere.
trailer. 12eps. forum.
thu 05 apr 26:25

  (jp: オズマ)   jpWiki

science fiction adventure
Matsumoto Leiji (Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express, Captain Harlock) returns to anime. His original story is scripted by Takegami Junki (Naruto). Director Ikezoe Takahiro (Arad Senki) works with chief director Takahasho Ryousuke (Votoms).

In the far future, elevated radiation from the sun has destroyed the environment and the birthrate has drastically decreased. The government controls society with an army of cloned soldiers. Sam Coin is a trader in a desert. One day, he saves the beautiful Maya, who is being chased by soldiers. He shelters her in his trade ship, but soldiers surround the ship…. Stars Kakihara Tetsuya, Tanaka Rie, and Fujimura Ayumi.

seiyuus: Kakihara Tetsuya, Tanaka Rie, Fujimura Ayumi, Tanaka Atsuko, Kuroda Takaya, Hayami Shou, Sakurai Toshiharu, Nakakuni Takurou, Uran Sakiko, Tatekabe Kazuya.
director: Ikezoe Takahiro (Arad Senki), chiefdir: Takahashi Ryousuke (Votoms)   writer: Takegami Junki (Guyver, Yu-Gi-Oh, Naruto). Matsumoto Leiji (Battleship Yamato, Galaxy Express 999, Captain Harlock).
animation: LandQ Studios. chara-des: mechades: Matsumoto Hideyuki (Toward the Terra). art: Matsumoto Leiji, Yuki Nobuteru.
music: Yamashita Kousuke. OP Ftisland, ED Kizuki Nami.
6eps. forum.
fri 16 mar 24:00

Sakamichi no Apollon
  (jp: 坂道のアポロン)   jpWiki

josei coming-of-age drama
The return of director Watanabe Shinichirou (Cowboy Bebop) in an anime for Tezuka Productions that will air in the noitaminA timeslot.

It is 1966. Kaoru has to move from the city to a seaside town. Because of his father's jobs, he has always had to move and is indifferent to the classmates around him. But he is a good student and feels particularly alienated among the country people. However, a hoodlum classmate ends up introducing him to jazz and to local girls and boys. Playing piano to his new friend's drums opens him to friendship, to music, and to romance.

Nice cast features Kimura Ryouhei (who won a supporting actor seiyuu award earlier this month), Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nanri Yuuka, Endou Aya, Suwabe Junichi, and Okamoto Nobuhiko. Highly promising, even for someone like me who isn't that fond of jazz.

seiyuus: Kimura Ryouhei, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nanri Yuuka, Endou Aya, Suwabe Junichi, Murase Ayumu, Okamoto Nobuhiko.
director: Watanabe Shinichirou   writer: Kakihara Yuuko, Katou Ayako. Kodama Yuki.
animation: Tezuka Productions. chara-des: Yuuki Nobuteru. animation supervisor: Yamashita Yoshimitsu.
music: Kanno Youko, with Matsunaga Takashi and Ishikawa Shun. OP Yuki.
trailer. manga. forum.
thu 12 apr 24:45

Saki: Achiga-hen - Episode of Side-A
  (jp: 咲-Saki-阿知賀編 episode of side-A)   jpWiki

yuri-moe mahjong comedy-drama
New series of the successful yuri-moe fanservice anime from a couple of years ago, this time following Achiga Girls' Academy of Nara as they rise through the mahjong tournaments. The same staff is in charge, now working as Studio Gokumi, instead of as part of Gonzo. The new cast stars Yuuki Aoi and includes many moe young voices. Yuri subtext and some of my favorite young seiyuus? I can't resist, even if I do end up dropping it halfway through, as I did the first series.

seiyuus: Yuuki Aoi, Touyama Nao, Hanazawa Kana, MAKO, Uchiyama Yumi, Ogura Yui, Ishihara Kaori, Manami, Noto Arisa, Matsunaga Maho.
director: Ono Manabu   writer: Urahata Tatsuhiko. Igarashi Agurashi, Kobayashi Ritz.
animation: Studio Gokumi. chara-des: Sasaki Masakatsu. animation supervisor: Sasaki Matsukazu.
OP Stylips, ED seiyuus.
trailer. manga. forum.
sun 08 apr 25:05

  (jp: さんかれあ)   jpWiki

ecchi horror comedy romance
Furuya is obsessed with zombies, and when his cat dies he studies how to revive it as a zombie -- and succeeds. Then his life takes a strange turn, as he becomes friendly with the beautiful school idol, whose home life makes her want to die….

The manga by Hattori Mitsuru (Umisho) is good, and could become an excellent anime, if Studio Deen can manage the trick. The writer did Koi Kaze and Durarara. The director is either a new name or else working under a pseudonym. The character designer has done such varied shows as Ichigo Mashimaro and Steins;Gate. Varied cast includes Kimura Ryouhei, the underrated Yahagi Sayuri, Iguchi Yuka, Fukuen Misato, and Hayami Saori.

seiyuus: Kimura Ryouhei, Uchida Maaya, Yahagi Sayuri, Iguchi Yuka, Fukuen Misato, Saitou Shirou, Ogino Seirou, Hayashi Saori, Asano Mayumi, Ishizuka Unshou.
director: Hatakeyama Mamoru (new or pseudonym)   writer: Takagi Noboru (Koi Kaze, Baccano, Durarara). Hattori Mitsuru (Otogi no Machi no Rena, Umisho).
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Sakai Kyuuta (Ichigo Mashimaro, Higurashi, Steins;Gate).
music: Hashimoto Yukari. OP nano.RIPE.
manga. forum.
thu 05 apr 25:55

Tasogare Otome x Amnesia
  (jp: 黄昏乙女xアムネジア)   jpWiki

supernatural mystery romance
"Dusk Maiden x Amnesia." Oonuma Shin (ef, Baka to Test) animates a popular manga in which our hero encounters the ghost of a girl deep in an abandoned part of the old school complex. They form a paranormal activities club and set about solving people's problems, even though he is the only one who can see her. And their relationship deepens, as they try to solve the greatest mystery of all: who she is and how she died.

Writer Takayama Katsuhiko did the excellent short anime Hanbun no Tsuki ga Noboru Sora, ef and Baka to Test. Character designer Ban Yukiko did the very well-drawn (and underrated) Yakumo. Stars Hara Yumi, who made her name in The Idolm@ster, along with Yonaga Tsubasa, Kitamura Eri, and Fukuen Misato.

seiyuus: Hara Yumi, Yonaga Tsubasa, Kitamura Eri, Fukuen Misato.
director: Oonuma Shin, Sakamoto Takashi (chiefdir)   writer: Takayama Katsuhiko (Hantsuki, ef, BakaTest, Natsu Arashi, Mirai Nikki). Maybe (manga).
animation: Silver Link. chara-des: Ban Yukiko (Yakumo). animation supervisor: Ban Yukiko (Umineko, Yakumo).
music: MONACA. OP Suzuki Konomi, ED Okui Aki.
trailer. manga. 12eps. forum.
sun 08 apr 24:30

2. More shows I am looking forward to:

Accel World
  (jp: アクセル・ワールド)   jpWiki

fantasy wish fulfilment action
The writer (Yoshino Hiroyuki) and director (Ohara Masakazu) of Mai-HiME and My Otome bring us another show for Sunrise. If you liked those (I didn't, much) you may like this. A fat, insecure middle school boy is fast as lightning in the virtual world of games. The school queen chooses him to become her knight in the accelerated virtual life of Accel World.

 Young Misawa Sachika gets her first starring role (she was a "sweets fairy" in Yumeiro Patissiere). With her is a strong cast including Toyosaki Aki, Asanuma Shintarou, Kaji Yuuki, Tomatsu Haruka, and Suzumura Kenichi. OP by May'n. ED by KOTOKO.

seiyuus: Misawa Sachika, Toyosaki Aki, Asanuma Shintarou, Kaji Yuuki, Tomatsu Haruka, Suzumura Kenichi.
director: Ohara Masakazu (Mai-HiME, My Otome)   writer: Yoshino Hiroyuki (Mai-HiME, My Otome, Guilty Crown). Kawahara Reki.
animation: Sunrise. chara-des: Aikei Yukiko. animation supervisor: Aikei Yukiko.
music: MintJam, Onoken, Oshima Hiroyuki. OP May'n, ED KOTOKO.
trailer. manga. 24eps. forum.
fri 06 apr 24:30

Acchi Kocchi
  (jp: あっちこっち)   jpWiki

seinen comic
The misadventures of a group of school friends, centered around a tsundere girl and a dense boy. The comic has a dry humour to it.

Director Oizaki Fumitoshi did the smooth and competent Astalotte's Toy, so he clearly has an idea how to do moe. Writer Amagawa Nobuhiko did the long-delayed cross-dressing OVA Mayo Elle Otoko no Ko.

Ookubo Rumi was Chinatsu in Yuruyuri and has recently come to prominence in Precure. The rest of the cast is nice, featuring Okamoto Nobuhiko, Nabatame Hitomi, Asanuma Shintarou, Fukuhara Kaori, and others.

seiyuus: Ookubo Rumi, Okamoto Nobuhiko, Fukuhara Kaori, Nabatame Hitomi, Asanuma Shintarou, Minaguchi Yuuko, Konno Hiromi, Yonaga Tsubasa, Takamori Natsumi, Iwao Junko.
director: Oizaki Fumitoshi, asstdir: Suzuki Kaoru   writer: Amakawa Nobuhiko. Ishiki.
animation: AIC. animation supervisor: Furukawa Hideki.
music: Yokoyama Masaru. OP Acchi Kocchi, ED Ookubo Rumi.
manga. forum.
thu 05 apr 25:25

Eureka Seven Ao
  (jp: エウレカセブンAO)   jpWiki

science fiction action romance
On an isolated Okinawan island that comes under sudden attack, a girl's special powers are activated and a boy discovers a powerful mecha.

This could be triumph or disaster. The director was assistant director of the original E7, but has never really directed a show on his own. No writer is listed in the credits, which seems a bad sign to me. And the cast is almost entirely young and/or unknown. The character designer did OreImo, however, which could be interesting. And the sound director did E7, true tears, and Darker than Black. And in any case, this is Bones.

One thing I am definitely looking forward to is the ED by Stereopony, who did the OP for Darker than Black 2.

seiyuus: Miyamoto Kanako, Honjou Yuutarou, Omigawa Chiaki, Oohashi Ayaka, Inoue Kazuhiko.
director: Kyouda Tomoki
animation: Bones. chara-des: Oda Hiroyuki, Yoshida Kenichi.
OP Hemenway, ED Stereopony.
trailer. forum.
thu 12 apr 25:55

Fate/Zero (2012)
  (jp: フェイト/ゼロ (2012))   jpWiki

seinen action fantasy
Continues the well-received Fate/Zero series that began last fall.

seiyuus: Seki Tomokazu, Koyama Rikiya, Oohara Sayaka, Nakata Jouji, Kawasumi Ayako, Okiayu Ryoutarou, Midorikawa Hikaru, Tsuruoka Satoahi, Shingaki Tarusuke, Ootsuka Akio.
director: Aoki Ei   writer: Urobuchi Gen.
animation: Ufotable.
OP Kalafina, ED Luna Haruna.
trailer. 12eps. forum.
sat 07 apr 24:00

Ginga e Kickoff!!
  (jp: 銀河へキックオフ!!)   jpWiki

shounen sports
Our protagonist's soccer team was disbanded, but after meeting a pro women's player, he decides to revive it. Top kids' anime staff includes the director of One Piece and the writer of Doremi, Yumeiro Patissiere, and Marie and Gali. They are working with a novel by prolific young people's novelist Kawabata Hiroto.

Top cast includes Kobayashi Yuu, KENN, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Koyama Rikiya, Tanaka Rie, and Kuwashima Houko. Preview broadcast of eps 1-5 on 26 March.

seiyuus: Kobayashi Yuu, Nakatsu Mariko, KENN, Tachibana Shinnosuke, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Tazawa Rieko, Kikuchi Kokoro, Koyama Rikiya, Tanaka Rie, Maeno Tomoaki, Kuwashima Houko.
director: Uda Kounosuke (One Piece)   writer: Yamada Takashi (Doremi, Yumeiro Patissiere, Marie and Gali). Kawabata Hiroto (novel).
animation: TYO Animations.
OP knotlamp, ED Fuudan-juku.

tue 03 apr 19:00

Hiiro no Kakera
  (jp: 緋色の欠片)   jpWiki

reverse harem supernatural adventure
I enjoyed the first episode of this, which was previewed in early March. Kasuga Tamaki's parents are transferred overseas, and she has to go to the countryside to live with her grandmother at a mountain shrine. On her way up the mountain, she is saved from demons by a bishounen. It turns out that Tamaki is the born successor to her grandmother as Tamayuri Princess, keeper of the shrine that seals away a demon. A team of bishounen is devoted to protecting her.

Hetalia director Bob Shirohata directs. Written from the otome game by Nakamura Yoshiko, a key animator who has also done scripts for Junjou Romantica, Hakuouki, and Lilpri. This is her first gig as lead writer. Star Miyake Maria was Ringo in Mawaru Penguin Drum. With Sugita Tomokazu, Namikawa and Hirakawa Daisuke, et al.

seiyuus: Miyake Marie, Sugita Tomokazu, Okano Kousuke, Namikawa Daisuke, Shimowada Hiroki, Hirakawa Daisuke, Isomura Tomomi, Nagano Yoshikazu, Ueda Youji, Yasumoto Hiroki.
director: Bob Shirohata   writer: Nakamura Yoshiko.
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Onda Naoyuki. animation supervisor: Onda Naoyuki.
music: Nanase Hikaru. OP Fujita Maiko, ED Kita Shuuhei.
trailer. forum.
sun 01 apr 22:00

  (jp: 氷菓)   jpWiki

school comedy with mysteries
KyoAni returns with a mystery series centering on a passive boy who is browbeaten by his big sister into joining the Classic Literature Club she used to belong to. There he is browbeaten by the ojousama club president, as they find and solve mysteries. 

Directed by Takemoto Yasuhiro (FMP, Lucky Star), written by Gatou Shouji (FMP, Druaga). This seems like the second team to me, but KyoAni is one studio where the studio may be more important than the specific staff.

Stars the very busy Nakamura Yuuichi, along with Satou Satomi (Ritsu in K-On). Kayano Ai, Hayami Saori, Yukana, Yukino Satsuki, Asano Masami, Toyosaki Aki, Ogura Yui...lots of interesting voices, including Yuuki Aoi in her first KyoAni show.

seiyuus: Nakamura Yuuichi, Satou Satomi (Ritsu), Sakaguchi Daisuke, Kayano Ai, Yukino Satsuki, Yukana, Koyama Mami, Hayami Saori, Yuuki Aoi, Asano Masami, Toyosaki Aki, Ogura Yuiu.
director: Takemoto Yasuhiro (FMP, Lucky Star)   writer: Gatou Shouji (FMP, Druaga). Yonezawa Honobu.
animation: chara-des: Nishiya Futoshi. art: Okude Shuuhei.
manga. trailer 21eps. forum.
sun 22 apr 24:00

  (jp: ヨルムンガンド)   jpWiki

dark violent adventure
Emotionless child soldier Jonah joins international arms dealer Koko's group in order to find the arms dealer responsible for his family's death.

One of my least favorite directors, Motonaga Keitarou (School Days, Katanagatari) works with good writer Kuroda Yousuke (Ookiku Furikabutte, Phantom 2, HSotD). Solid young androgynous seiyuu Tamura Mutsumi stars, along with the even more solid Itou Shizuka. The manga is sharp and well written. That alone may help me overcome my dislike for the director.

seiyuus: Tamura Mutsumi, Itou Shizuka, Ishizuka Unshou, Hatano Wataru, Shinomiya Gou, Konishi Katsuyuki, Yanai Hitoshi, Katsunuma Kiyoshi, Oohara Sayaka, Nomura Kenji.
director: Motonaga Keitarou 
(School Days). writer: Kuroda Yousuke (HSotD). Takahashi Keitarou. 
animation: White Fox. chara-des: Nakamura Kazuhisa.
music: Iwasaki Taku.
trailer. manga. 12eps. forum.
tue 10 apr 24:30

Kuromajo-san ga Touru!!
  (jp: 黒魔女さんが通る!!)   jpWiki

kids' fantasy novel
Choco Kurotori (Orikasa Fumiko) is a cynical fifth-grader who is training to be a black witch, under the tutelage of Gubid (Paku Romi). Those two seiyuu in themselves would be enough to warrant a look. The director and writer teamed up for the also rather cynical Gokyoudai Monogatari.

seiyuus: Orikasa Fumiko, Paku Romi.
director: Yasumi Tetsuo (Gokyoudai Monogatari)   writer: Ueno Kimiko (Gokyoudai Monogatari). Ishizaki Hiroshi.
animation: Shin-Ei Animation. chara-des: Ootake Masae. animation supervisor: Ootake Masae.
wed 04 apr 18:20

Lupin the Third: Mine Fujiko to Iu Onna
  (jp: LUPIN the Third ~峰不二子という女~)   jpWiki

shounen/seinen cop action comedy
This new series will show Lupin's gang in their younger days, and will reportedly capture the "sensuality" present in the original manga with a "daring interpretation" of the franchise. Lupin the 3rd is the grandson of Arsène Lupin, the fictional French gentleman thief. Lupin and his gang travel the world stealing treasures and escaping scot-free.

Directed by the stylish woman director Yamamoto Sayo (Michiko to Hatchin), and written by the ubiquitous Okada Mari (true tears, Kuroshitsuji, Hanasaku Iroha, AnoHana, etc.). Sawashiro Miyuki will play "the woman called Mine Fujiko."

seiyuus: Sawashiro Miyuki, Namikawa Daisuke, Kurita Kenichi, Yamadera Kouichi, Kobayashi Kiyoshi.
director: Yamamoto Sayo (Michiko to Hatchin)   writer: Okada Mari. Monkey Punch.
chara-des: Koike Takeshi.
13eps. forum.
wed 04 apr 25:29

Mysterious Girlfriend X
  (jp: 謎の彼女X)   jpWiki

comedy romance seinen
Normal guy Tsubaki-kun and dark loner Urabe-san start going out together, and their daily ritual is not quite a kiss: they stick a finger in each other's mouths and are turned on by licking off the other's saliva. This sounds just plain weird, but the manga is actually fairly sweet, if frustratingly slow. And with Irino Miyu and actress Yoshitani Ayako in the main roles, and Hirohashi Ryou behind them, the show could actually be pretty good.

The director has worked his way up in the Doraemon staff to direct a couple of recent movies. Writer Akao Deko has worked for Shaft, writing Asura Cryin' and Arakawa (neither of which I liked), and also wrote Astalotte no Omocha (which I did).

seiyuus: Irino Miyu, Yoshitaka Ayako, Hirohashi Ryou, Fukuen Misato, Kaji Yuuki.
director: Watanabe Ayumu (Doraemon films)   writer: Akao Deko. Ueshiba Riichi (Yume Tsukai).
animation: Hoods Entertainment. chara-des: Konishi Kenichi. animation supervisor: Kaneko Shizue.
music: Hasegawa Tomoki.
manga. 13eps. forum.
sat 07 apr 25:30

Sengoku Collection
  (jp: 戦国コレクション)   jpWiki

moe fanservice historical fantasy
Gotou Keiji returns to anime in this era when he can be more open about the fact that what he is mainly interested in is moe fanservice. In shows like Kiddy Grade and Uta~Kata, he had to clothe his characters in plot. This time, he is animating a game by Konami that transforms the great generals of the Japanese Warring States period into loli-moe girls.

Ookubo Rumi in her third show of the season. Hanazawa Kana, Nakahara Mai, Noto Mamiko -- and the return of Kudou Haruka, the model who played Hagu in Honey and Clover. She has had some minor roles, but nothing major since 2006. I'll be watching because Uta~Kata was one of the first shows I loved.

seiyuus: Ookubo Rumi, Hanazawa Kana, Nakahara Mai, Noto Mamiko, Kudou Haruka, Tsunematsu Ayumi, Nishi Asuka, Hara Sayuri.
director: Gotou Keiji (Kiddy Grade, Uta~Kata, Gigantic Formula)   writer: Mitaka Shijuurou (possible pseudonym). Konami.
animation: Brain's Base. chara-des: Shibata Katsunori.
music: Kikuya Tomoki. OP ABCHO, ED Sweety.
thu 05 apr 25:45

Shining Hearts: Shiawase no Pan
  (jp: シャイニング・ハーツ ~幸せのパン~)   jpWiki

harem fantasy, from an rpg
"Shining Hearts: The Bread of Happiness." The main attraction of this show is the fact that it is based on character designs by famous game illustrator Tony Taka. The story is set on an island where beasts, elves and humans live in peace. A boy called Rick is washed up on shore and saved by three girls who operate a bakery. All is well until a red moon rises in the sky and the storm-winds blow.

Kamiya Hiroshi and Itou Kanae head a cast that includes appearances by Kuwashima Houko, Midorikawa Hikaru, Horie Yui, Hirohashi Ryou, and Saitou Chiwa. The director/writer did Canvas2 and Chrome-Shelled Regios, as well as Papa no Yu Koto o Kikinasai.

seiyuus: Mikami Shiori, Itou Kanae, Aizawa Mai, Kamiya Hiroshi, Nakai Kazuya, Satou Masaharu, Kuwashima Houko, Midorikawa Hikaru, Hirohashi Ryou, Saitou Chiwa, Horie Yui.
director: Kawasaki Itsurou (Canvas2, Chrome-Shelled Regios)   writer: Kawasaki Itsurou. Sega.
animation: Production IG. chara-des: from original designs by Tony Taka. animation supervisor: Yahiro Yuuko.
music: Kikuta Hiroki.
thu 12 apr 26:55

  (jp: つり球)   jpWiki

SF (shounen fishing) story
Director Nakamura Kenji (Mononoke, Kuchuu Buranko, C) may be moving toward accessibility with this story of four boys on the tourist island of Enoshima. Yuki (Oosaka Ryouta) is uncommunicative and friendless. Haru (Irino Miyu) proclaims himself an alien, and wants Yuki to go fishing with him. Natsuki (Uchiyama Kouki), an Enoshima native, is angered by everything he sees. Akira (Sugita Tomokazu), a mysterious Indian, is always hanging around near the others.

Writer Ono Toshiya did Suite Precure. I'm not sure what that implies. The cast is clearly excellent. Especially when you add Katou Emiri to the mix. It will be interesting to hear Ogura Yui in a show like this, too.

seiyuus: Sugita Tomokazu, Irino Miyu, Oosaka Ryouta, Uchiyama Kouki, Katou Emiri, Yamamoto Nozomi, Hirano Fumi, Tominaga Miina, Ogura Yui.
director: Nakamura Kenji   writer: Oono Toshiya.
animation: A-1 Pictures. chara-des: Takahashi Yuuichi, Uki Atsuya (orig).
music: Kuricorder Quartet. OP FUJIFABRIC.
trailer. forum.
thu 12 apr 25:15

Uchuu Kyoudai
  (jp: 宇宙兄弟)   jpWiki

seinen science fiction
Highly anticipated science fiction drama scheduled to run for a year. Personally, I have my doubts. Director Watanabe Ayumu has directed many Doraemon films (!?) Writer Uezu Makoto is a big name whose work I have never liked: School Days, AkaSaka, Katanagatari. But this is from a top manga, so maybe it will work out.

Two brothers made a vow as kids to travel to space. The younger brother did become an astronaut, but the elder brother started working for a car-maker. One fateful day in 2025, however, the elder brother's life changes….

Stars KENN (Jil in Druaga) and Hirata Hiroaki, who recently won a seiyuu award for his starring role as Tiger in Tiger and Bunny. The dependably effective Sawashiro Miyuki is also in the cast.

seiyuus: Kenn, Hirata Hiroaki, Sawashiro Miyuki, Ikeda Masako.
director: Watanabe Ayumu   writer: Uezu Makoto. Koyama Chuuya.
animation: A-1 Pictures. chara-des: Yabuno Kouji. animation supervisor: Yabuno Kouji. art: Katou Hiroshi.
music: Watanabe Toshiyuki. OP Unicorn.
trailer. manga. 48+eps. forum.
sun 01 apr 07:00

  (jp: うぽって!!)   jpWiki

moe comedy with girl-rifles
A newly hired teacher discovers that the female students at his new school are all excellent marksmen. One of them confides to him that they are actually assault rifles in human form. This appears to be a full-on fanservice comedy, with no-pan character design by the designer of Kanokon and Ladies v. Butlers.

The director did Pandora Hearts, and To Love-Ru. The writer did Rizelmine, Naisho no Tsubomi and Yosuga no Sora. From a manga by the author of Eden's Bowy. The cast is full of interesting lesser names, including Nomizu Iori and Togashi Misuzu.

seiyuus: Misato, Nomizu Iori, Togashi Misuzu, Sadohara Kaori, Furya Shizuka, Mina, Gouda Aya, Zougou Saeko, Kosuge Mami, Iguchi Yuka.
director: Katou Takao   writer: Arakawa Naruhisa. Tennouji Kitsune.
animation: Xebec. chara-des: Takami Akio. animation supervisor: Takami Akio.
trailer. manga. 10eps. forum.
sat 07 apr 24:00

Yurumates 3D
  (jp: ゆるめいつ3でぃ)   jpWiki

ironic seinen comedy
The hilarious (to me, at least) two OVAs now get an actual TV series. Based on saxyun's comic-strip manga about three girls and a guy living in a run-down rooming house in Tokyo. They are ronin, studying to get into a Tokyo college. But actually they may do a bit more drinking than studying.

Stars Momoi Haruko (who sings the OP), Kuwatani Natsuko, Matsuki Miyu, and Hino Satoshi. Directed and adapted by first-time director Yuuzumi Yoshihide.

seiyuus: Momoi Haruko, Kuwatani Natsuko, Hino Satoshi, Matsuki Miyu.
director: Yuuzumi Yoshihide, chiefdir: Yamanashi Tomohiro)   writer: Yuuzumi Yoshihide. saxyun.
animation: C2C. chara-des: Oda Takeshi (orig: saxyun).
music: Katayama Shuuji. OP Momoi Haruko.
mon 02 apr 25:35

  (jp: ZETMAN)   jpWiki

bloody seinen action horror
Promising staff. The director of D. Gray-man. The writer of Pumpkin Scissors and Inazuma Eleven. Created by the author of Video Girl Ai, DNA2, and I"s Pure. The art director did Kurokami.

Jin is a strange kid with an angel mark on his hand. He spends a peaceful life with his grandfather, living among the other vagabonds near the river. One day, his peaceful life changes when a strange monster appears, chopping off heads and killing everyone it sees.

Interesting cast is topped by Miyano Mamoru and Namikawa Daisuke, and includes Hisakawa Aya, Fujimura Aumi, and Suzumura Kenichi. Highly anticipated for the stylish bloody action that can be glimpsed in the trailer.

seiyuus: Miyano Mamoru, Namikawa Daisuke, Iizuka Shouzou, Hirose Masashi, Hisakawa Aya, Yusa Kouji, Fujimura Ayumi, Suzumura Kenichi, Kusumi Naomi, Mitsuo Senda.
director: Nabeshima Osamu (D. Gray-man)   writer: Tomioka Atsuhiro (Inazuma Eleven). Katsura Masakazu.
animation: TMS Entertainment. chara-des: Takaya Hirotoshi. art: Yoshihara Shunichirou.
OPED Hitoto You.
trailer. 13eps. forum.
mon 02 apr 26:38

3. Other shows:

Furusato Saisei Nippon no Mukashi Banashi
  (jp: ふるさと再生 日本の昔ばなし)   jpWiki

folk tales
"Hometown Regeneration: Japanese Folklore." Folk tales from around Japan, narrated by a well-known actor and actress.

seiyuus: Emoto Akira, Matsukane Yoneko.
animation: Tomason.
sun 01 apr 09:00

  (jp: GON -ゴン-)   jpWiki

CG anime, animated by what seems to be a Korean staff. Will take over Gintama's timeslot. Unknown creature Gon suddenly appears and throws the animal world into turmoil.

seiyuus: Kumai Motoko.
director: Kim Gil-tae   writer: Tanaka Masashi.
chara-des: Noh Hyun-min.
mon 02 apr 18:00

Jewelpet Kira Deco!
  (jp: ジュエルペットきら☆デコッ!)   jpWiki

magical girl
The long-running Sega/Sanrio fanchise gets yet another season -- probably a full year. The director of Milky Holmes draws in. Further details not yet available.

seiyuus: Toyosaki Aki, Hirano Aya, Terashima Takuya, Ono Daisuke, Sonoda Yasutaka (pron?), Ueda Youji, othersdirector: Moriwaki Makoto (Lilpri, Milky Holmes)   writer: Fudeyasu Kazuyuki. OPED Ashida Mana.
sat 07 apr 09:30

Kimi to Boku. 2
  (jp: 君と僕。2)   jpWiki

cute boys doing cute things
New series of the quietly enjoyable anime from last fall. Excellent voice work. Directed by Kanbe Mamoru, the director of Denpateki na Kanojo, Sora no Woto, and Elfen Lied. Written by the writer of K-On, Yoshida Reiko. I enjoyed the first series, but didn’t finish it.

seiyuus: Kimura Ryouhei, Uchiyama Kouki, Toyonaga Toshiyuki, Irino Miyu, Ono Yuuki, Kaji Yuuki, Toriumi Kousuke, Nakajima Saki, Satou Miyuki.
director: Kanbe Mamoru   writer: Yoshida Reiko. Hotta Kouichi.
animation: JC Staff. chara-des: Onji Masayuki.
music: Elements Garden. ED Sakai Yuu.
trailer. manga. 13eps. forum.
mon 02 apr 25:30

Kore wa Zombie Desu ka - Of the Dead
  (jp: これはゾンビですか? OF THE DEAD)   jpWiki

ecchi moe comedy
Second season of the sometimes enjoyable zombie comedy. Ayumu is killed by a serial killer but revived by sorcerer Eucliwood Hellscythe as her servant. He accidentally steals magical girl Haruna's powers and is then forced to fight as a magical girl.

seiyuus: Majima Junji, Nomizu Iori, Tsukimiya Midori, Hikasa Youko, Kanemoto Hisako, Nabatame Hitomi, Shimizu Ai, Shitaya Noriko, Mina, Gouda Aya, Yamaguchi Rie, Yoshino Hiroyuki.
director: Kanasaki Takaomi (Macademi Wasshoi)   writer: Uezu Makoto (School Days, Katanagatari, Qwaser). Kimura Shinichi.
animation: Studio Deen. chara-des: Tagashira Shinobu, orig: Kobuichi, Muririn.
OP Nomizu Iori, ED Yamaguchi Rie.
trailer. manga. 10eps. forum.
wed 04 apr 25:00

Kuroko no Basuke
  (jp: 黒子のバスケ)   jpWiki

shounen sports
Kuroko is short, but he was the key player on his famously dominant middle school basketball team. How will he fare in high school? From another popular anime in Weekly Shounen Jump (like Bleach, Gintama, Sket Dance).

seiyuus: Ono Yuuki (Kimi ni Todoke/Pin, Kimi to Boku/Kaname), Ono Kenshou (dubs Harry Potter), Kimura Ryouhei, Ono Daiseuke, Saitou Chiwa, Hosoya Yoshimasa, Nojima Hirofumi, Eguchi Takuya, Hoshi Souichirou, Suzuki Tatsuhisa.
director: Tada Shunsuke (Prince of Tennis OVAs, Bungaku Shoujo)   writer: Takagi Noboru (Baccano, Durarara). Fujimaki Tadatoshi.
animation: Production IG. chara-des: Kikuchi Youko.
music: RON, Nakanishi Ryousuke. OP Granrodeo, ED Hyadain.
trailer. manga. forum.
sat 07 apr 25:58

Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle (2012)
  (jp: ファイ・ブレイン 神のパズル (2012))   jpWiki

shounen puzzle-battle adventure
In the second season, the story continues to revolve around the Orpheus bangle and Phi Brain, but the puzzle battles heat up. A new enemy, a group of boys named Orpheus Order, appears before Kaito and the others, and the battles begin anew. Great cast, great staff, but the first season left me cold.

seiyuus: Kamiya Hiroshi, Sugita Tomokazu, Ono Daisuke, Saitou Momoko, Hikasa Youko, Konishi Katsuyuki, Yukino Satsuki, Miyata Kouki, Asanuma Shintarou, Shimizu Kaori, Fukuyama Jun.
director: Satou Junichi (Aria, Tamayura)   writer: Sekijima Mayori (Moonphase, Pandora Hearts). "Yatate Hajime".
animation: Sunrise.
OP Nano, ED ammoflight.
trailer. forum.
sun 08 apr 17:30

Pretty Rhythm: Dear My Future
  (jp: プリティーリズム ディアマイフューチャー)   jpWiki

young shoujo idols
A second season for the show based on an arcade game for girls. The lead girls are aiming to rise to the top in the Prism Show, which involves figure skating, dancing and singing.

This is the only series Hishida Masakazu has directed, but writer Akao Deko has done Arakawa, Astalotte and others. One of Ookubo Rumi's three show this season. Also featuring Takamori Natsumi (Mei in Another) and Sakura Ayane (Merry in Yumekui Merry).

seiyuus: Ookubo Rumi (Yuruyuri/Chinatsu), Takamori Natsumi (Jewelpet/Akari, Another/Mei), Tsuda Minami, Sakura Ayane (Yumekui Merry/Merry), Itou Kanae, Miyake Mari, Kim Hyang-lee, Akesaka Satomi, Yonezawa Madoka, Hara Sayuri.
director: Hishida Masakazu   writer: Akao Deko.
animation: Tatsunoko. chara-des: Saitou Rie.
music: Nagaoka Saikou.
sat 07 apr 10:00

Queen`s Blade: Rebellion
  (jp: クイーンズブレイド リベリオン)   jpWiki

ecchi fighting fantasy
The battles continue among half-naked women warriors with large breasts. A simple formula, executed to the enormous satisfaction of its fans. Morino Yousei (Kakyuusei 2) comes in as director, and Shirane Hideyuki (Yumekui Merry) as writer.

seiyuus: Endou Aya, Kobayashi Yuu, Chihara Minori, Itou Shizuka, Toyosaki Aki, Tomatsu Haruka, Takaguchi Yukiko.
director: Morino Yousei (Kakyuusei 2)   writer: Shirane Hideyuki.
animation: Arms. animation supervisor: rinshin.
music: Yokoyama Masaru. OP Tamura Naomi, ED Kobayashi Aika.
trailer. forum.
tue 03 apr 10:00

Saint Seiya Omega
  (jp: 聖闘士星矢Ω)   jpWiki

supernatural action fantasy
A new staff creates a new show in the Saint Seiya series. Hatano Morio is a first-time director. Yoshida Reiko is a top writer doing her first Saint Seiya show. Character designer/animation director Umakoshi Yoshihiko is also doing his first Seiya show.

This story takes place after the end of the great wars of the twentieth century. The goddess Athena is still on Earth, having reincarnated to cleanse it of evil, as she has done through the millennia. The protagonist is 13-year-old Kouga, one of Athena's band of bronze saints. He was raised by Athena and now fights to protect her against the evil Mars, who is trying to abduct her and rule the world.

seiyuus: Midorikawa Hikaru, Konishi Katsuyuki, Yukino Satsuki, Kakihara Tetsuya, Suzuki Tatsuhisa, Suwabe Junichi, Furuya Tooru.
director: Hatano Morio   writer: Yoshida Reiko. Kurumada Masami.
animation: Toei Animation. chara-des: Umakoshi Yoshihiko. animation supervisor: Umakoshi Yoshihiko.
sun 01 apr 06:30


animekritik said...

Wow, great reviews.

I'll be horridly busy this spring so for the moment I'll be sticking to Ozma, then maybe in a few weeks I'll listen to the buzz on the other shows.

Kunagisa said...

Interesting, Urahata's working on Natsuiro Kiseki. I lost interest in the series as soon as I found out Studio11 is responsible for it (same as the one that did Kurokami) despite I liked everything else on the staff list.

Maybe I'll check it out afterall.

TheSethAffect said...

I just stumbled onto your site (Thanks to @cowboybibimbop on Twitter).

Thank you for such a great season review.

There are just way too many shows I want to watch in the Spring but you helped me narrow it down some.

I'll be checking out the site more now.

Are you on Twitter?

hashi said...

@TheSethAffect -- Twitter #nakanokimi. I haven't used it much, and only in (bad) Japanese so far, but I may start using it more for small updates. Just added feed to blog.

soul.assassin said...

OBTW, AKB0048's character designer is actually Mikan Ehime. :)

hashi said...

@soul.assassin -- Both official site and say Ebata Risa 江端里沙.... Oh, I see: I checked for Ehime Mikan 愛姫みかん, and it says that is a pseudonym for the same person, real name Ebata Risa. But I guess you knew that, lol.

saint seiya said...

Incredible! This blog looks just like one that I needed. I am extremely happy to seen it and wanna a copy of this.Although I have some toys that I collected from PIJ I’m excited! I’m going to have these in week!