And Lo’, the Lord did give unto him the 3 Laws of Season Previews:
- Everything is interesting until proven otherwise. Going in with a closed mind is the surest way to miss out on the Next Big Thing.
- There is no such thing as a sure-fire hit. Everything has a chance of sucking.
- Good staff can raise shit source material, and shit staff can rise to good source material. But shit staff and shit source material will always produce a shit anime.
Magi is a shounen fantasy manga that has been hyped up by manga readers. Thing is, it’s become a bit of a boy who cries wolf with highly regarded upcoming shounen manga titles, since every single one gets hyped from the manga reading crowd regardless of quality, from Blue Exorcist to Fairy Tail to Toriko to Bakuman to Kuroko Plays With His Balls. If you’re the kind of person who was genuinely disappointed when they announced the Bleach anime was ending, you might as well stop reading now because will enjoy Magi.
For the rest of us who are more on the fence about shounen titles, I still think Magi is well worth the look. I had a short read of the manga and was impressed. It doesn’t make the typical shounen mistakes of confusing shouting for humour like Beezlebub, or a ridiculously misguided concept of manliness like Toriko. Its action-adventure vibe is certainly closer to the tone of Full Metal Alchemist than most, which is my gold-standard for that genre. It’s supposedly based off the classic story Arabian Nights, albeit in the same way Dragonball is supposedly based of Journey to the West, in that it has barely any resemblance to the source material. The only things that appear to connect the two are a few characters are called stuff like Sinbad and Aladdin, and the Arabian setting. The adaptation is being done by A-1 Pictures, who frustrate me. For all their dosh, they have an annoying tendency to make all their anime look exactly the bloody same in the most generic anime way possible. But the Arabian setting should make up for the lack of directorial visual artistry. Besides, A-1 adaptations are usually competent, especially when you consider the alternative for shounen anime would be Pierrot.
Robotic;Notes comes to us from 5pb, which is a dumb name so I’m just going to call them Semi;Colon. They’re a Visual;Novel company whose previous titles include Chaos;Head and Steins;Gate, the latter of which was Very;Popular and made them Lotsa;Money. Robotic;Notes stars in the Animation;Backwards timeslot with the full 22 episode treatment. As the rest of this preview will proceed to shit over your expectations, keep that hope in mind. It’s by the guys who created Steins;Gate.
Right, expectation deflation time! As much as everyone would like to forget Chaos;Head, it’s important to consider why that didn’t work while Steins;Gate did. Madhouse’s adaptation had unlikeable characters and a nonsensical plot. Steins;Gate was adapted by White Fox (although ironically helmed by a bunch of ex-Madhouse veterans). That clicked thanks to fantastic directing and possibly the best lead character in anime of all time. The actual plot was a bit silly, with the directing papering over the cracks quite well. The great characters are down to 5pb, but so were the terrible characters in Chaos;Head. Their success rate in that department is still 50/50. It’s not the Steins;Gate adaptation staff working on Robotic;Notes either. It’s Production IG, and the last time they made a 22 episode Noitamina giant robot anime was that catastrophic mess Guilty Crown. And at least Guilty Crown looked great, the trailer for Robotic;Notes is as generic as hell. Also you know how Steins;Gate had a cast of eccentric nerdy losers of varying ages and waistlines? Robotic;Notes flaunts convention by having its cast be a bunch of boring looking highschool students like 99% of every anime ever.
Again, it’s by the creators of Steins;Gate, so if you liked that (and judging by its absurdly high score on MAL, you probably did), then you should check out Robotic;Notes. But there’s plenty of reasons to keep those expectations in check too. It’s not cynicism, it’s caution!
Ixion Saga DT
Some crappy video game adaptation. These always suck, and this one doesn’t even have the excuse of being a story-focused game. It’s just some action fantasy game. Nothing to see here-
By the director of School Rumble, Gintama, and Daily Lives of Highschool Boys
Woah wait what? My favourite comedy director in anime is on this? OK, you have my attention, let’s take a proper look. It’s based on an upcoming MMORPG by Capcom that hasn’t been released yet. On the plus side, this means they have no obligation to stick to any pre-conceived story, because trying to adapt the story from a video game to anime directly is almost certainly doomed to fail because the two mediums are so different. On the negative side, all the other stuff this director has done that I loved are adaptations of great manga. He just adapted them fairly faithfully with a good knack for comedic timing. Maybe he just keeps lucking out with great source material and is actually a talentless hack.
Psycho Pass is the other Noitamina title of the season. It’s an original sci-fi police anime about a future where you can discern people’s personalities and inner minds using some device. They’ve been pretty limited with the information about the series. We’ve only just got a plot description, animation studio (good old Production IG again), and that the character designs are by the author of Hitman Reborn, so expect eye-candy for the ladies. However there is some rather big speculation going on. You know the way on the upcoming season preview charts there was this little blank space saying “original anime by Gen Urabochi”. That Butch Gen who wrote Madoka and Fate/Zero. That Gen who is now the hottest shit in the industry and a big enough name to warrant an original Noitamina-slot anime. That Gen for whom the Madoka preview material also tried to hide the fact that he was working on it. That Gen who has said in interviews he’s interested in working on something with BL fodder and has worked on such titles back when he was at Nitroplus. That Gen who retweeted the official Psycho Pass twitter account, 5 days after the tweet was originally made. I’m just sayin’ yo.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
Jojo was a man who peaked in the 90s
But he knew it wouldn’t last
Jojo is a desperate attempt by producers
To bring back old fans from the past
Get back to where you once belonged
Get back before your series bombs
*cough* maiming of classic lyrics asides, Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a ridiculously long running manga. It started back in 1987 and has over 100 volumes published so far. There have been two OVA adaptations of various short arcs of the manga. The 1993 one is incredibly dumb, but in an ingenious sort of way. Then there’s the 2000 OVA, which is incredibly dumb in a dumb way. I have no idea why it took them this long for a proper TV series, but we’re finally here. Albeit in the hands on David Production. Now I know a lot of people seem to like David Production, but that’s less to do with them being a quality animation studio and more because they keep picking up rather weird, left-of-centre material to adapt. Level E, Book of Bantorra, Ristorante Paradiso, each atypical productions with very little polish. Hard to tell what they’ll make of Jojo’s though. The trailer gives very little away.
It’s tough to compare Jojo’s to anything, since they don’t really make anime like Jojo anymore, but I think it’s closest comparison would be Pro Wrestling. Lots of incredibly buff men pointing at each other dramatically and saying how they’re angry because they’ve been betrayed or something like that, and generally being giant balls of meat who struggle to express emotions in any way that doesn’t involve punching something. Or at least, talking about punching something. There’s about 10 seconds of punching, followed by lots of talking about the moves they just did and a reiteration of their goals in life. I was never into Pro Wrestling as a kid. Something about buff men in tight black underpants getting hot and sweaty in front of a crowd never really did it for me. I know anime doesn’t produce stuff like this anymore, but Jojo’s brand of hyper masculinity is all the rage in American male culture, and it’s something I’ve never gotten into. Maybe it’s because I got into anime in the mid-00′s, but Jojo’s seems like the product of a bygone era and people going “yeah this is the kind of anime I like” are weird hanging on oldies who should probably try getting back into Pro Wrestling.
Ah I’m just trolling, because I know Jojo’s fans will get pissed at that. While my sentiments about hyper masculinity remain, I’m genuinely looking forward to this new rendition of the franchise. I enjoy its weirdness and how hard it embraces some incredibly stupid plot points. There’s a genuine earnestness to it I can get behind, even if the characters resemble scarecrows made out of bowling balls.
Mecha Musume is one of those weird things that you have to know ANIME to understand. It’s some kind of horrific lovechild of mecha and moe fandom in which cutesy moe girls dress up in spandex leotards and equip multiple robotic parts to their arms and legs until you can barely see the girl beneath a swarm of hardware. Busou Shinki is based off a set of figurines of these mecha musume models. There was a web-series before this too, 10 episodes long with 5-minute episodes. I saw the first one and it was like a cross between Rozen Maiden and Beyblade. It wasn’t bad, but I totally forgot to watch any more or even that it existed in the first place until it showed up on this season preview. It’s being made by the same staff and studio that did Infinite Stratos, another mecha musume show, although personally I prefer Busou Shinki because it has the novel idea of the girls actually being 6 inches tall and having real figurine joints. Ultimately it’s just an advertisement for the figures, but if you honestly like the idea of your teeny tiny girls with giant robot legs and arms get into punch ups, I’d hazard a guess that this will be a decently produced version of that.
Say “I Love You”
‘Tis the season for shoujo fans, for we have 3 in a row coming up. While I do try to take a step back and ask why would anyone be interested in an upcoming anime, rather than just why would I be interested, my personal biases will still come into play. So I feel I should lay my cards on the table now: I don’t like shoujo. I know it’s a target audience rather than a genre, but the shoujo manga that are adapted to anime share a lot of similar traits that I really don’t like, There have been two exceptions to that though. The first is Rose of Versailles, which doesn’t count because it was made in the 70′s and what counted as shoujo back then doesn’t apply anymore. The political intrigue and dramatic plot twists bears a greater resemblance to Code Geass than Kimi ni Todoke. The second is Paradise Kiss, which was Madhouse flaunting their artistic willy in the newly hatched Noitamina timeslot. It still was plagued with some of the issues I have with modern shoujo, but its stylish directing and realistic characters and dialogue won me over. It also had That Sex Scene, which remains the only sex scene in any form of entertainment ever that didn’t make me cringe. It was my sole place of reference for my unsullied virgin heart at the time for what first time sex would probably be like, in that it would be in a smelly room on an uncomfortable bed with lots of apologising (which is a fairly accurate depiction of how it eventually went, except with even more apologising).
Oh right, you’re reading this for upcoming anime, not my sexual history. The reason I bring this up is because the first thing you learn if you do any reading about Say I Love You is that there’s lots of sex. Nearly all of the mangaka’s works are labelled ’smut’. Of course, Paradise Kiss could be labelled smut too, but its more down-to-earth approach was refreshing next to happy bubbly sparkles or ridiculous melodrama. Or it could just be 50 Shade of Grey-esque smut, it comes down to how it’s presented. The studio adapting it are ZEXCS, a studio whose devotion to the utterly bland is so reliable that I’m starting to think they’re doing it on purpose. I took a look at the source material, but all I got from that was that it was just like every single shoujo ever. Female lead with no money/friends is picked up by the most handsome/dangerous boy. It even had the token misogyny, where the man tells the female lead that if she goes out on her own she has to expect to be raped and don’t worry because you can leave all your worries to the man and oh I hope you don’t mind if I sexually assault you now.
Shoujo Storm #2. Kamisama Kiss has Akitaro Daichi directing, and he’s a bit of a weird dude. His résumé includes some of the wackiest weirdest comedies, like Gag Manga Biyori and Sexy Commando. However he’s also directed Fruits Basket, and I have a feeling that is the more relevant title when looking at Kamisama Kiss. I tend to blame Fruits Basket for most modern shoujo tropes. This will the the shoujo-est of shoujo ever to sparkle their way past the sexual assault parlour. Actually the first chapter of the manga didn’t have any sexual assault from what I saw. It was about a girl with no money/friends being picked up by the most handsome/dangerous boy, but the male didn’t sexually assault her. Instead he forced her to work in his temple for no money because she was homeless while he went off drinking with his buddies in between verbally abusing her, but it’s OK because deep down he’s probably a nice guy. It’s not sexual assault, it’s just slave labour. That’s all right then!
The Monster Seated Next to You
Otherwise known by weeaboos as Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun, this is easily the most anticipated shoujo of the three this season. Brains Base are handling this with whole bunch of their most talented staff, and they have a damn fine record. Plus judging by the tongue-in-cheek trailer, they’re clearly having fun with this. Brains Base have had a few stumbles lately, but that’s because they’ve been expanding and experimenting a lot. I’m willing too accept the occasional Sengoku Collection when it also brings Mawaru Penguindrum. Mind you, people have assured me Sengoku Collection is actually really good, but there’s always a handful of people that assure me that the latest Sengoku Era Turned Moeblobs is actually really good, so much like shounen fans I’ve learned to ignore them. Oddly enough, shoujo fans appear to be the opposite of shounen fans in that there appears to be fairly universal agreement on which are good and which are not. Between the three shoujo coming out this season, this is far and away the one with the most critical acclaim.
I did check out the first chapter of the manga for this too, but…well, it seemed to me to be the exact same as every single other shoujo ever. Female lead with no money/friends is picked up by the most handsome/dangerous boy. Then there’s a scene where the male bishie grabs the female lead, covers her mouth, pulls her behind a wall and says “don’t move or I’ll rape you”. KYAAA SO ROMANTICU~~! [le sigh] I know entertainment aimed at men have this issue with Friend Zone and that women are creatures you can fill kindness coins into until sex pops out, but forgive me if I find the concept of “if you’re kind to a woman she will have sex with you” less offensive than fetishising threats of sexual assault. There’s also the issue of ‘rape as backstory’ being thrown around lightly with little understanding, but at least there it’s at least still agreed upon as rape being a Bad Thing. I know I don’t like shoujo, but I would have thought Rape =! Sexy would be a universal truth irrelevant of taste in Japanese Cartoons.
Whatever, I’m probably overreacting. If you like shoujo, you’ll love this. It’s just I came across this same thing in the first chapter of each of these shoujo manga. I had to get that off my chest.
From the New World
Right, enough of those crappy shoujo titles, time to move onto some Proper Anime. With cutesy anime girls getting caught up in an apocalypse and shit. Yeah, anime! The trailer certainly makes it point loud and clear with the dramatic music that wouldn’t feel out of place in a grand sci-fi western action game. Latin chanting and everything. Well, it’s not Latin. They’re just repeating “ahh” over and over again, but chanting nevertheless. It’s based off a novel, which tend to have pretty solid writing. Not a light novel, a proper regular novel. You can tell because the title is not also the plot description. It’s being adapted by A-1, so of course it looks like every single other anime ever made ever, but at the very least having A-1 on board means it should be competently executed. The director has never directed anything else before, but the guy in charge of series composition has been around the block a few times, having worked on everything from Full Metal Panic to Trust and Betrayal to GTO to Kekko Kamen. A-1 is certainly laying out something ambitious with this, I really hope it pays off.
Code:Breaker is being adapted by Kinema Citrus, a name that’s always amused me. Like they remake Die Hard except replace Bruce Willis with a giant lemon. What they are in reality is basically just studio Bones. The director is the same guy who did Full Metal Alchemist Brotherhood, the staff all worked on previous Bones properties, and the only other anime to their name is their co-production on Tokyo Magnitude with (surprise surprise) Bones. The manga is by the same author who did Samurai Deeper Kyo, which is one of those titles everyone seemed to forget existed once it ended. I took a look at the first chapter and, while the writing wasn’t exactly stellar, I liked that the female lead was anti-moe. Characters would comment on how she looked serene and they wanted to protect her, but she was too busy punching boys in the face to be protected. Well, she didn’t punch any boys in the face in the first chapter, but she has super strength and the villains are men so I assume there will be some face-punching to be had. Or not, judging by the numerous angry reviews I read of the manga. I know right, a shounen manga with an upcoming anime adaptation with bad reviews? Maybe I’ll have to revise my “shounen fans like every shounen manga”. Which is a shame because I’d love to see
Bones Kinema Lemon and Lime produce another FMA.
GoHands is the perplexingly named animation studio who until very recently had only worked crappy fanservice stuff like Princess Lover and Seitokai Yakuindomo. However people In The Know have said they’re a studio with big ambitions and you just watch out. Their most recent project was Mardock Scramble, which I don’t think quite worked but I certainly appreciated the effort and ambition. What really made me sit up and take notice were the early trailers for their new original TV anime K. Like holy shit, have you seen how great the animation looks? They are pumping a huge budget into this, as should come quickly clear when you look at the voice acting crew they’ve brought in. Tomokazu Sugita, Daisuke Ono, Mamoru Miyano, Jun Fukuyama, Daisuke Namikawa. Basically every single big name male voice actor that fangirls cream their pants over is in this show. Well, apart from Norio Wakamoto, but I’m sure he’ll turn up somewhere as a cute little animal/god of time and space/whatever fucking weird role they give him this time.
Scamp talking about voice actors, what has the world come to? Thing is, asides from the godly trailers, K is being rather coy with information. We still don’t know what it’s even about, except that it vaguely resembles Durarara. On that note, they’ve also been coy about releasing any information about who works on it, but rumours abound on 2ch suggest Ryohgo Narita, the author of Baccano and Durarara, is working on it. However I’m pretty sceptical about that being the case. The crop of big name male voice actors and bishie laden trailers got me a bit worried that this would just be fujoshi bait, but then the latest trailer featured a cat girl with humongous bouncy bosoms, which was basically the creators going “no wait fanboys there’s tits too come baaaack”. Which is a good thing in my book. The more an anime gravitates towards equal opportunity fanservice, the better. Too bishie laden is alienating, while too tit-tastic makes me ashamed to watch it. Tits and bishies fondling each other combined just feels Anime. Yeah I’m just weird like that
Settle down children, for I shall tell thee a tale. A tale of Key game adaptations. I may not get all the details exactly right, so you may read the comment section to find the people arguing.
Back in the days of yore, animation companies tried to adapt video games into anime. However they never really worked because video games were as focused on storytelling as a hungover student is focused on his morning lecture. One day, the now defunct animation studio Oirental Light and Magic found that adapting the eroge/dating sim/visual novel To Heart by simply placing out each attractive heroine from the game in animated format was a license to print money. However the world of eroge was a strange and confusing place with weird women with giant eyes and irritating verbal tics. For example, there was a genre known as Nakige, roughly translating to “cry you easily emotionally manipulated bitch”. One creator of these nakige games was Key, run by the demonic overlord Jun Maeda, who had a frightening tendency to depict little girls dying in his stories, often while it was snowing for bonus poignancy points.
One Piece was yet to become to juggernaut it is today, and Precure hadn’t been conceived yet, so Toei were scrambling about for the next big cash cow and thought maybe Key would be it. They attempted to adapt their game Kanon in 2002, but it didn’t quite work. The botched experiment led to female characters with their eyes taking up 90% of their faces and their mouths situated somewhere around their foreheads. And so Toei gave it up as a lost cause. A few years later, a small upcoming studio Kyoto Animation, who had cut their teeth helping Gonzo with the hilarious Full Metal Panic spin off, took their shot at a Key game with Air in 2005. Tears were shed, little girls with died in seasonal weather, and money was made. The next year, KyoAni made a little show called The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, which burst onto the scene, spurned a huge charge into the realm of light novels with overly long titles, and changed the face of anime as we know it. Brimming with confidence, they decided to show Toei how it’s really done and made their own adaptation of Kanon. Tears were shed, little girls died in seasonal weather, and the product flew off the shelves. To top it all off, next year they adapted the next Key game Clannad. Tears were shed, little girls died etc, and it became their most popular Key adaptation to date.
Key were in a pretty comfortable position. Their games were doing incredibly well thanks to the Kyoto Animation adaptations, and they were excited to give them Little Busters, their next visual novel. Thing is, KyoAni had a policy of only doing one anime at a time, and they were currently busy on a little 4-koma cutesy thing called K-ON. It was only planned to be a one-cour thing and they’d move onto Little Busters next. Key were fairly pleased with this arrangement, because they had seen what happened when another studio attempted to adapt their works, and were adamant about only allowing KyoAni to tough their products. Unfortunately for them, K-ON fucking exploded in popularity and KyoAni were too busy swimming in giant piles of money to listen to their old partners. Key held out to try get KyoAni interested, but they just didn’t care anymore. And so Key slumped off, got drunk, and then woke up the next morning to discover they’d slept with the fat mouth breathing guy from the cubicle next door: JC Staff.
JC Staff had their heyday in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and were ironically partly to blame for Key’s current predicament, having introduced the world to cutesy all girl 4-koma adaptations with Azumanga Daioh back in the day. But for the past 5 years they had been consistently terrible. Botched adaptation after botched adaptation littered their floor like used tissues on an unhygienic bachelor’s bedroom floor. OK perhaps there’s a bit of personal bias creeping in here, but for christ sake, they didn’t even pick the crew who worked on their well-liked stuff like Toradora or Ano Natsu. Instead they got the director of Hatsukoi Limited and fucking Kill Me Baby. Despite what some people might tell you, who adapts your material does matter hugely. The Key anime adaptation history is the perfect example of this in action. So cry, my dear Clannad/Kanon/Air fanboys. Cry like the little girls in the cartoons you watch. Your most anticipated anime of the season is doomed.
Or maybe it will be good. I dunno, I don’t really care either way. It will probably be the same as all the other Key stories. Amusing at first because it involves a sarcastic dick picking on mentally handicapped girls. But then the melodrama will burst into the room like a chariot pulled by polar bears with their testicles in vices, with about as much subtlety too.
Zetsuen no Tempest
Zetsuen no Tempest is an adaptation by Bones about a dystopian Orwellian future with pretentious dialogue and alarming levels of homo-eroticism. It bears closest resembles to No.6, an adaptation by Bones about a dystopian Orwellian future with pretentious dialogue and alarming levels of homo-eroticism. No.6 was full of interesting ideas, but what brought it down was a cast of unlikeable fucktards and a nonsensical plot that exploded in truly baffling fashion with the world being taken over by a giant moth. Will Zetsuen no Tempest escape that fate? Director is a relatively talented bloke, having worked on a bunch of Bones titles in the past, most notably having directed Sword of the Stranger. He sorta jumped ship in recent years and has been directing stuff for PA Works, like Canaan and Hanasaku Iroha, but he’s back at his home company again. Unfortunately, like a man trailing a piece of toilet paper from the bottom of his shoe after he’s been to the toilet, he’s brought along from his time at PA Works a scriptwriter by the name of Mari Okada.
No. No, I’m not doing this. I just wrote 800 words on Little Busters, an anime I honestly don’t even care about. I’m not going to go into another big rant about how much Mari Okada sucks. I’ve been doing that for what must be the past 6 season previews because she’s fucking ubiquitous these days, I don’t want to go through that again.
But Scamp, what about all the new kids who’ve never read your season previews and couldn’t name a single anime director outside of Miyazaki to save their life? Go on, I’ll buy you an ice-cream.
Fine, but it better have a flake in it.
Mari Okada is a screenplay and script writer who has worked on a number of anime in the past few years, including a few anime original titles like Ano Hana and Black Rock Shooter. The series she works on tend to have a re-occuring trend of absolutely terrible melodrama. The concept of emotion seems to be something she’s only read about but doesn’t fully know how to convey realistically, so instead makes characters yell a concept of that emotion as loud and in-your-face as possible. The characters don’t act like people when the drama hits the fan. They act more like abstract concepts of emotion that has no bearing on reality. She also worked on Hanasaku Iroha, a show I honestly kinda liked, apart from the sections when it disappeared into melodrama for the exact same reason. The only anime she’s worked on I really like is Aquarion EVOL, but that’s the exception that proves the rule. Someone once tried to argue with me that the characters emotions in EVOL is the one thing that makes it relatable and human, which is utter nonsense. EVOL is a show that plays with the very concept of what emotions are in their most basic form. The characters are specifically meant to be abstract concepts of emotions, which when wrung through the gloriously delirious mind of Kawamori creates utter hilarity.
Some people have tried to argue that you can’t contribute the problems of the anime she works on to her, because script and screenplay don’t hold huge creative control over the property and you don’t know the inner workings of an animation studio. Which is true, I don’t know the exact details of Mari Okada’s job. But I can spot patterns. When every anime she works on has the same issue and the issue is specifically with the writing, I start to think that perhaps this is no longer a coincidence. Another retort I’ve heard is that I should stop picking on Mari Okada because it’s not her fault she’s hired to write dreadful melodrama. This may indeed be the case, but the very fact she keeps being hired for these roles implies the production staff looked at her previous works and thought “gonna get me some of that”. Another one I’ve honestly gotten is that my dislike of Mari Okada is because I’m sexist, which is fairly baffling. I get the feeling crying ‘sexist’ is the new ‘racist’, because clearly my dislike couldn’t be fuelled by something rational such as disliking the anime she’s worked on. Nope, it must be sexism. Another final one I’ve heard is “but I like these anime she worked on so she can’t be bad”. In that case, welcome to the wonderful world of having different opinions as someone else.
Now where’s my ice cream.
If you held a gun to my head and asked me what my favourite anime studio was, I’d say Madhouse. They’re wildly experimental, handling all sorts of genres. Their heyday was the late 00′s, but they’ve undergone a bit of a dip recently. Albeit a ‘dip’ by their standards also happens to include Redline, Tatami Galaxy and Chihayafuru. Still, the horrid quadrangle of Marvel adaptations they did suddenly made everyone hate them, which I felt was awfully unfair. They are still the studio with the most daring and take on wildly artsy ambitious titles like Redline and Tatami Galaxy. That all said, it isn’t the Madhouse that produced those two shows that they appear to be channeling for Btooom! Instead it appears to be more along the lines of Highschool of the Dead.
Btooom is based off a manga about some kid who’s really good at an online shooter, only for the apocalypse to come knocking at his door like a Jehovah’s Witness and suddenly the world turns into that shooter he’s really good at. The trailer doesn’t really sell it to me either, and I’ve always been uncomfortable about a trailer that depicts rape. As I illustrated earlier, I’m fine with rape as a plot device, even when it’s implemented kinda shoddily. But when you put it in a trailer it has this uncomfortable feel that I’m supposed to be getting off to it. It’s fine if you’re into watching women being ravaged upon by several men, but can’t it be consensual? Like as an experiment when she’s finished college or she’s doing it to raise money for charity or something? That all said, Highschool of the Dead has always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me. It’s shockingly stupid, but in a endearing self-aware sort of way, where breasts gyrate faster than the speed of sound. The scriptwriter is by the same guy who did HOTD, but this is the director’s first full time directing role. His previous experience working on anime is pretty limited, but that limit consists entirely on episodic directing on Blue Literature, Chihayafuru and Madoka Fucking Magica. Can’t say I blame Madhouse for snatching this guy back and fast-tracking him into directing, even if it is on the anime adaptation of Counterstrike With Tits.
Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai
Normally I’d translate the title so we can stop all being weeaboos (rough translation in this case would be “She has Adolescent Delusions, But I Want to Love Her Anyway”, with Light Novels continuing their trend of the title also being the plot description). Thing is, it has that little buzzword Chuunibyou. Its translation is something like “middle schooler syndrome” and refers to the desire teenagers have to be something more than what they are. Super powers, amazing anti-hero, fighting against The Man, something along those lines. Think Okarin from Steins;Gate. The term has also been used by poncy critics to describe stories written for people with Chuunibyou. Where some angsty teenager gets magical powers and all the ladies because he was The Hero all along. Think Accel World or Guilty Crown. It’s a bit of a buzzword because people can’t agree exactly on what it means. Plus the vague description I gave there could also include characters like Harry Potter or Luke Skywalker, so the criticism is pretty pathetic. I’ve made a personal rule not to use it, but I kinda have to here because it’s in the bloody title.
So, what about the anime? It’s the latest piece by KyoAni, whose history I’ve roughly outlined earlier in the ridiculously long Little Busters preview. They’re devotion to cute means I’m not a fan myself, but I recognise their usual supreme quality of animation in the trailer. Actually, let’s talk about that trailer. Awful character designs aside (although that’s just me and my dislike of moe, nobody else seems to care), the trailer looks fucking awesome. Apparently all you need to get me excited in an anime is set the trailer to hard rock music. I’m not sure whether the super powers on display in the trailer are jut products of the delusional teenage girl taking animated form, or actual super powers. The former sounds preferable to the latter. It’s the kind of crazy, embracing of anime’s strengths I can get behind. Oh dear, here we go again. I manage to get myself a teeny bit hyped for the latest KyoAni product, only for it to air and I’m brought back to the crushing realisation that I’ve never liked their stuff. Still, for those who do like KyoAni, this seems to have their usual high degree of polish.
Haitai Nanafa is about some little girls who find some magical spirits. It’s by the director who did Recorder and Randsell, so at a guess I’d say this is also one of those 5 minute long…OK sorry but I can’t hold it in any longer. I’ve been refraining from mentioning it in this season preview so far, but this one is openly challenging me. It’s a holy war I’ve been fighting for a while and there comes a point where I have to take a stand.
Where are their noses?
I mean, at least the one of the right is making an effort. OK it’s just a dot for a nose, but it’s a start. The others though have nothing. Absolutely nothing. A totally blank middle section of their faces. It’s not like they’re chibified or anything. They are just regular old character designs with no noses. I’ve been observing the gradual decline of noses throughout the past few years, but a total absense of noses altogether takes things too far. It looks unnatural! Are noses not considered moe or something? Let me take a regular old dude who could arguably be described as moe.
Now let’s take away his nose.
You see? It looks weird and unnerving! Noseless Bieber will now haunt your dreams.
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
Ah yes, finally something that I can say with a considerable amount of confidence will be bad. Based off a light novel about a guy having to take care of a girl because she’s got a severe mental disability that means she can’t take care of herself and oh boy isn’t that the sexiest thing ever. It has a manga adaptation, so I took a peek at that. Sometimes with manga like Space Bros or Arakawa Under the Bridge, I’m sold within a few pages and know instantly I’m going to love this, usually due to solid witty writing. Pet Girl was like that except the opposite. Underwear, yelling, boring male lead, the works. To throw some more wood on the fire, it’s being done by JC Staff. It’s being written by Mari Okada, although despite my little rant about her earlier, she’s still probably better than the usual staff who are usually put on this sort of stuff. Actually, even the director is pretty talented, being one of those ex-Madhouse folks. I’ve learned from Sankarea that even the crappiest of source material can be made into something watchable, and I have to adhere to rule #3 of season previewing. But still, especially with that trailer, I seriously doubt this will be anything other than total crap.
Litchi DE Hikari Club
This is the most kawaii moe uguu anime of the season. I read the first chapter of the manga and my nutbladder exploded with all the kawaii. It practically melted from my screen into a ball of moe that dripped sweetness and caused my entire room to contract diabetes. Oh wait no, I was thinking of opposite land. Litchi Hikari Club is oh god what the fuck oh jesus help me kind of disturbing. I kept waiting for them to make a joke BUT NO THEY JUST KEPT GOING!!! I’ve heard it described as a parody of those weird guro magazines, which is something I take issue with. You see, with stuff like Detroit Metal City or Popee the Performer, you at least feel like they’re in on the joke. DMC is a mockery of the mask put on by music performers, while Popee is a children’s cartoon put through a different lens. There’s clear parody intent. Litchi Hikari Club is just plain old sadistic guro torture porn. The fact that it’s by a guro artist fuels my theory further that they’re just getting off to this. It’s exaggerated, sure, but exaggeration does not equal parody. You don’t call Gurren Lagann a parody of giant robot anime.You don’t call Ouran a parody of shoujo…well, actually people do call Ouran a parody of shoujo, so maybe I’m alone on this complaint. I have a feeling the fans of the show are going to be pissed with this anime adaptation though, because it’s reportedly going to be an SD version. Although if you ask me, I think that’s exactly the thing I need to push this over the edge into hilarity. Everything the first chapter of the manga had, except in SD form? Sounds great!
Girl Und Panzer
Gentlemen! I have ze vurld of ze anime inustry deciphered. Zere are zwei important factors zat will bring in ze deutsche marks. Ze virst on ze leest is ze vital inclusion of ze frauleins. Ze second important veapon in our arsenal would be, quite literally, ze guns. Ze Bigger, ze better. Zo, vit zis all in mind, I have crafted ze ultimate anime. Girl Und Panzer. It has ze Gurls. Und it has und Panzer. Vat else do you need?
It’s not unheard of for famous mangaka to have their roots in porn doujins. Ken Akamatsu wrote porn before starting Love Hina. CLAMP started out with Saint Seiya yaoi. It’s similar in many ways to fanfiction writing, in that it’s a pretty good way to get practice. What I’m basically saying is that having your roots in porn shouldn’t necessarily be looked down upon. So yes, the creator of the Teekyu manga has only previously made h-doujins. Specifically under the perplexingly named Muchi Muchi circle (NSFW), if you’re the kind of person who knows your doujin circles. They’re a pretty big circle though, and he’s just one of the many authors, so kinda hard to tell whether this author was the guy responsible for that one doujin of Kasumi from Dead or Alive getting attacked by 50 body-builders or not. Anyway, Teekyu is about a bunch of girls in a tennis club quite pointedly not playing tennis. There’s not a whole lot of information on it, but since it’s being done by the same studio that did Kids on the Slope, I think it’s safe to assume that it will save anime.
Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de
It’s annoying when none of the news sites do a direct translation of upcoming anime titles. I would translate it myself, but my Japanese can be best described as barely existing. It’s something like “Blue World of Choo Choo Trains”. It’s based off a manga where each character represents a various Nintendo or Sega vidya game character, although from what I could tell from reading some forum posts, this is largely superficial. It’s just some generic fantasy action story. It’s another manga by a circle mostly known for doing doujins, namely Crimson. They’re a name I actually know too, unlike those Mucho Macho Michi guys, although all I can remember about Crimson is all their doujins include gangrape. They’re not doing the story though, just the artwork. The story is by some lady called Anastasia Shestakova, which is either a made up name or a Russian otaku living the dream. It’s being directed by the guy who did Highschool DxD, so it’s probably safe to stick this in the same category as stuff like Estetica. Fantasy action anime whose main focus is the boobies.
As Long As There’s Love, It Doesn’t Matter If He Is My Brother, Right!?
The token light novel adaptation with absurdly long name that includes the word ‘imouto’ of the season. Thankfully, there isn’t a whole lot of these sorts of crappy harems around this season. There’s this and the Pet Girl anime. More shoujo anime than crappy harems, what sort of world are we living in!?! Actually there’s also a To-Love-Ru sequel, but still, that’s only 3. Well, I suppose the Blue World anime also counts as a fantasy version of a crappy boobie-laden harem. And Teekyu is a crappy harem except without a male lead, although there might actually be a male lead and he just doesn’t appear in the promo art. There’s more Hayate the Combat Butler and Seitokai no Ichizon too, which are basically harems. And I bet that new KyoAni show is also a harem NO GO AWAY SHUT UP LET ME PRETEND ANIME IS GOING UPHILL!
There’s 3 card game anime coming out next season, which the industry has been pumping out with alarming regularity for the past few years now. Not sure how good or bad any of them are. I heard some people say Cardfight Vanguard wasn’t terrible. Thing is, they really do start to blend into one very quickly. Take the two anime above. Battle Spirits: Sword Eyes and Chou Soku Henkei Gyrozetter. Battle Spirits is a long running franchise, of which this is about the 5th installment. Gyrozetter is the first of its franchise, a card game by Capcom. I’m not sure which is which out of the two pictures, but that really only proves my point. The main characters in both look the exact same. I bring this up because they serve as an interesting comparison to the 3rd card game anime coming out this year.
The difference with Aikatsu is that it’s not aimed at young boys. It’s a card game about training up little girls to become the best idols ever. Basically it’s a card game version of IdolM@ster, so it will probably have its audience split between little girls and 20-something year old idol otakus. To add to that, it’s being ‘supervised’ by Seiji Mizushima, director of FMA, Un-Go, Gundam 00, along with a bunch of other reasonable talented staff. I may like Seiji Mizushima a lot, but the only way you could get me less interested in a card game anime was to make it a card game anime about idols. But a disproportionate amount of the people I follow on twitter love Precure and the recent IdolM@ster anime, so if you’re a fan of those kinds of shows, I’d hazard a guess this might be close in tone to them.
Monsuno would be an kids anime without any worth mentioning if not for one interesting little tidbit: This is a Japanese-American co-production. Nik-toons and the Canadian channel YTV have already got rights to air this show, a few months after the Japanese release. They’ve even got toy deals in place already. It’s a rather old-school way of doing things. I hope it does well for them, and get a few more kids into the world of the animus. We’ll have an entire generation of kids who grew up on Monsuno. Of course there’s the slight worry that Monsuno won’t be any good, but who cares. Kids are thick, they’ll watch anything.
Wooser’s Hand to Mouth Life
The 3D shorts center around Wooser, a mysterious mascot character who lives on the Internet and whose charming appearance belies a corrupt heart that craves money, meat, and gals.
Wooser is voiced by Mamoru Miyano, the voice of Okarin from Steins;Gate and Light from Death Note. Also it has music by Supercell. Surprised this isn’t in Noitamina.
Hayate the Combat Butler: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
I lie, this isn’t a sequel. It’s a remake/new material thing, penned by the original author. It’s being done by Manglobe, the same guys who did the recent movie. From what I’ve heard, people really didn’t like what Manglobe did, which just goes to show how low Manglobe have sunk. When people are saying they preferred JC Staff’s version to your version, you’ve truly hit the bottom of the barrel.
Adventures of Count Twattyface and Lord Doofustein as they continue their quest to ensure every woman knows their place: Right by the kitchen sink, amirite guys!?!
To Love Ru Darkness
Sometimes with crappy harem shows, I hear complaints that they should stop putting in the forced drama and just focus on the tits. To Love Ru makes a compelling argument why it’s not the crappy drama that holds these sorts of shows back. It’s the terrible writing, male leads with no personality, boring female doormat characters with maybe one brain cell between them, and generally being insulting to your intelligence. It would be nice if every tits n’ ass show was as classy as the -monogatari series. Or perhaps ‘classy’ is the wrong word…
Hiiro no Kakera 2
Seriously? This got a second season? I know that, in a world where To-Love-Ru gets 3 seasons, fangirls have got to take whatever they get their hands on, but Hiiro ni Kakera?
Her name is Koko she is Loco I said OH NO!
Hidamari Sketch X Honeycomb
I have a weird sort of respect for Hidamari Sketch. Its depiction of the eternally present mirrors my crushing realisation that my life is never moving forward that haunts my deepest and darkest fears. Watching Hidamari Sketch was akin living in one of my nightmares, but it’s so good at it that I have to admire it. I can understand why people like this show and I respect its craft. Just oh god keep it away from me.
Hah! You thought Sunrise would let something as popular as Gintama die. Although what they’re doing it with is rather strange. They’re re-broadcasting select episodes of the 250-odd episodes of Gintama and throwing in the occasional totally new episode. I guess it makes sense if they’re having issues catching up with the manga, but out of all the shounen properties from the past 10-15 years, Gintama is the one best suited to filler. There’s very little ongoing plot. The show is divided into 1-3 episode stories. You could quite easily bring in aspiring Sunrise directors. Heck, given that Gintama is the closest thing anime has to the Simpsons and genuine satire, you could bring in aspiring comics in Japan to use Gintama as political satire. Gintama has been taken off the air once for depicting a politician. The scene was barely a second or two long, and it was a whole load of fuss about nothing, but it does go to show the sorry state of political commentary in the country. Cartoons are a great way to push the boundaries.
Seitokai no Ichizon 2
Initial D Fifth Stage
The new Initial D is airing 2 episodes per month on a pay-per-view channel. Haven’t heard of this happening before myself, although I’m sure it has happened. Couldn’t tell you what it means for us pirates viewing it either, apart from the fact it most certainly won’t be legally streamed anywhere. Initial D is the only sequel this season I have no prior experience with, which I feel a bit ashamed of. It’s always struck me as one of those anime cool people like. It’s probably the combination of cars and ugly character designs.
Medaka Box Abnormal
Yes, the sequel is actually called “Medaka Box Abnormal”. I don’t know about you, but I think that’s kind of great. I dropped the anime after 4 episodes, but there’s a niggly voice in my head that keeps telling me to go back to it. Something about Medaka’s character fascinates me. And no, before you start, it’s not the tits. Supposedly the manga gets better I swear, so there’s something for those who have weathered the series this far.
Letter to Momo
Home video release date: 26th October
We’re not quite done yet. As usual, I’m covering movies that are getting their home video release in Japan over the next 3 months, not movies getting theatrical releases. This is because we pirates don’t get to see the movies until then. Unless you got to see Letter to Momo in one of its many festival screenings. I unfortunately never did, which I’m rather annoyed about because I’ve been hearing rave reviews from those who did go. The last time I heard this level of rave reviews from movie festivals was for Redline. OK, they haven’t been quite at that level, but it’s still a good sign. It’s by Production IG with one of their ace-in-the-holes directing. Hiroyuki Okiura has worked on almost everything great IG have made, along with stuff like Akira and Cowboy Bebop and Satoshi Kon films. Weirdly enough, his only previous directorial role of note was Jih Roh, for which I must admit I’m not a fan. Still, I’m really interested in watching this movie.
Mass Effect: Paragon Lost
Home video release date: 13 November
Damn it, I’m sick of all these stupid dating sim adaptations.
*cough* anyways, it’s another western video game getting an anime spin off, like Halo and Dragon Age before this. They don’t usually go down that well with either side. Anime fans get their panties in a twist when they see western properties in their Japanese cartoons, while gamers think anime is all pedophilia and Pokemon. The backlash is a bit silly from both sides really, since most anime fans are gamers and most gamers grew up watching anime. As for Mass Effect, the producers are unfortunate this came out after the big backlash to Mass Effect 3′s ending. On the plus side, at least they’ve gone for normal anime-style animation rather than horrible CG again like they did for Dragon Age. Will it be any good? I really like Mass Effect. In fact, I’d go so far as to call it my favourite game of all time. But the trailer didn’t really do it for me. The animation looked kinda shoddy, and there’s the weird disconnect between the usual CGI characters and then seeing them in anime form. Not that a CG movie would look good. The CG cut scenes always looked dodgy as fuck in Mass Effect when the characters were doing anything other than talking. But still, I can understand the trepidation towards this movie.
Strike Witches The Movie
Home video release date: 26th October
You can say what you want about Strike Witches, but that poster is fucking awesome.
Kyousogiga is a weird beast. It’s a bunch of Precure Toei folks who have decided to flaunt their considerable animation talent in this original anime production. It supposedly has some toy line attached to it, but since it streams online, I’m pretty sure it only exists for the Toei guys to fuck around with. There was a pilot OVA a few months back, and it was a load of beautifully animated, shockingly colourful, absolutely gorgeous, indecipherable nonsense. It struck me like they were going for something like FLCL but got a bit too wrapped up in having fun to tell a proper story. Still, it seemed like they had a story to tell, so that’s where this web series comes in. Apparently they got the go-ahead to make more, a 5 episode series with each episode being 10 minutes long. The first episode has been released already, but I’d say it’s worth waiting for the entire thing to come out before watching it.
Arata Naru Sekai
The OVA section is throwing up some weird stuff this season, and this has to be the strangest. It’s a cross-media story, written by the author of Denpa Onna. It’s about a selection of people stuck in time, so they travel around into the past, present and future to figure out…err, stuff. What’s interesting is how each segment of the story is told using a different medium. The past is told via manga. The present is told via novel. The future segment is told via anime. In the past I may have raged against this, claiming that you’re supposed to keep your piece instantly approachable to everyone and not get us to read stupid side material, but I’ve mellowed in my old age. Seems like a cool way to tell a story, particularly since there appears to be artistic reason for using the three different mediums for each stage of the story. That said, it can be difficult for us furruners to get our hands on all 3 of the stories. Still, I think a short OVA is the perfect way to do a cross-medium story like this.
This is one of those manga pack-ins. With a random issue they’ll produce a one-episode OVA for fans of the manga. They’re almost all universally terrible since they’re produced with no budget and made solely to appease fans of the manga. You know this show is legit though. Look at those manly faces. It runs in the same magazine that ran Mad Bull and Elfen Lied and the plot description includes the words Ultimate Gamble.
Ippatsu Hicchū!! Devander
Because I’ve got to finish off this monster post with a bang, here’s an upcoming OVA about a guy riding a robot pegasus.