Category Archives: Initial Impressions

Sangatsu no Lion Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: The protagonist Rei is a 17-year-old professional shōgi player, who lives by himself, not having a real family, and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family, which consists of a young woman, Akari Kawamoto, and her younger sisters, Hinata and Momo, who also keep several cats. As the story progreses, Rei deals with his maturing as a player and as a person, while developing his relationships with others, specially the Kawamoto sisters.

Animation Production: SHAFT

Directors: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Kenjiro Okada

Series Composition: 

  • Akiyuki Shinbo
  • Fuyashi Tou

Character Designer: Nobuhiro Sugiyama

Original Creator: Chika Umino [ Honey & Clover]

Music: Yukari Hashimoto

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Kenjiro Okada

Storyboard: Shinsaku Sasaki

Script: Yukito Kizawa


I decided to change things up a bit and not post so much information on production staff regarding previous anime they’ve worked on.  Hope you all enjoy it!

One of the most anticipated series of the season finally arrives! This adaptation is quite different than what I expected from when it was first announced. This turned out to be quite a solid piece of work.

An incredible use of sound and SHAFT uses creator Chika Umino’s slow-paced story to its advantage with director Akiyuki Shinbo at the helm!  Per Umino’s request! From the trailers and now this first episode I can tell that SHAFT put a lot of restraint on how they typically animate their shows like the Monogatari series.  The first half is a beautifully animated and very subdued long morning for the protagonist Rei Kiriyama.  SHAFT certainly was the right choice in this because they were able to breathe life into Rei’s dark objectified view of the world and flip it with a superb second half.  The animation is simply designed–using a solid palette structure for its backgrounds.  At first glance this isn’t an anime with a large budget like what we’ve been seeing with Yuri!!! on Ice! , but when you see this episode you can clearly get a clear indication that a lot of time was spent on the direction of the animation.  Closeup shots of objects (especially the drinks) and facial expression techniques.  The most important develop of this show is through its use of sound effects!  From the very first scene it’s clear that there is a certain level of discomfort in Rei’s home. He’s internalized all of his emotions (if he has any) and through a very smart stylistic choice in visuals and sound direction that Rei is suffering.  Without the addition of music until the shogi match illustrates a larger picture that Rei enjoys his isolation.

I think it says a lot when a series chooses little dialogue to capture an audience into its narrative. We don’t know the man he’s playing is his father until he sees a news report later on from a tragic unrelated event. Sound was crucial here–the report established Rei’s disconnect from his own circumstances perfectly!

This transitioned nicely into the Kawamoto family’s introduction. Bubbly music score and strikingly bright animation.  Hues of pinks and yellows represents how lively the family is–the antics with the younger children remind me of 7-year old Naru from Barakamon.  The animation in the second half of this episode reverts from the dismal and dark tone that Sangatsu no Lion originally went for!  You either like the style or you don’t. 3-Gatsu no Lion is different than what we’re used to seeing with shows like Honey & Clover.

Akari Kawamoto, the oldest of the three sisters notices Rei’s disconnect from society–it is seen when she, right after Hinata had texted him, requests that he pick up vegetables for the dinner. I like how this show doesn’t force the interpersonal relationships down our throats–we given small details in doses.  The news report, the text messages, even by the end of this episode we see that Rei is gradually crawling out of his shell through the use of shadow effects and dream-state imagery.

I’m actually quite glad that this premiere didn’t shove Shogi matches to explain his character in-depth.  Using a visual narrative and a down-to-earth family to establish his grounding in the world succeeds wonderfully!  Posters of the manga on the train, Sangatsu logo on the grocery store sign. Perhaps SHAFT was taking the source material advertising a bit too literal.  Although, it certainly is one way to do it.


OP: “Answer (アンサー)” by BUMP OF CHICKEN

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Directed by: Naoyuki Asano

Storyboards: Naoyuki Asano

Animation Supervisor: Naoyuki Asano

Key Animators:

  • Hironori Tanaka
  • Tsutomu Shibuya
  • Shintaro Douge
  • Kazuki Ito
  • Atsushi Saito
  • Nozomu Abe
  • You Yamamoto
  • Naoko Masui
  • Tomohiro Shinoda
  • Naoto Nakamura

Notable Key Animator: 

  • Hironori Tanaka [ BLEACH #166 (specifically Ichigo and Grimmjow fight sequence)
    • Known for character acting and expressive animation particularly with line-work animation and hair animations.

Hironori Tanaka animated many of the opening scenes for this, notably, Rei’s drowning and the majority of sections featuring water sequences.  A bit of history about this animator. He’s well-known in the world of sakuga having worked on some very popular series including School DaysFate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade WorksGurren LagannBakemonogatari and one of my favorites The Tatami Galaxy.   I believe what stands out best as his best work as a key animator is on director Kou Matsuo’s Kure–nai.  Episode six to be exact–featuring a musical sequence.  Sometimes there doesn’t need to be -in-between frames when there are many key frames used.  Typically TV Anime do not produce this level of quality, however, there are times when this style of animation is utilized. This seems to be Tanaka’s style resulting in a very smooth flow to his sequences. He’s one of a few animators to be experienced and designs scenes with a purity to them . I say pure because he is able to draw 50 to 80 frames just to get a sequence nailed down properly.

Sangatsu‘s opening has very beautiful animation with varying shades of blues and other dark tonal colors that mesh together with a powered pigment influence.  BUMP OF CHICKEN are back for the anime adaptation reprising their role in 3-Gatsu no Lion material with both a well-designed opening and ending sequence.  They definitely delivered an emotionally-charged and well-written indie-styled rock song that matches these visuals beautifully.  Rei is drowning without a pathway to follow in life–the visual cues with the doorways represents that he has many choices in life but doesn’t have a grasp on his own life yet. I really like how the song gives an uplift with the chorus and suddenly the animation changes to firefly visuals and the family that has taken a chance on him might just give him the push he needs to figure out his life goal.

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Yuri!! on Ice Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

Yuri!! on Ice effortlessly ignites an engaging story about figure skating with fluid animation, a compelling soundtrack, and a creative charm that works perfectly.

PLOT: Yūri Katsuki carried all of Japan’s hopes on his shoulders to win at the Gran Prix Finale ice skating competition, but suffered a crushing defeat. He returns home to Kyushu and half feels like he wants to retire, and half feels like he wants to continue ice skating. Suddenly the five-time consecutive world championship ice skater Victor Nikiforov appears before him with Yuri Plisetsky, a young Russian figure skater who is already defeating his seniors. Victor and both Yuris take up the challenge on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.

Animation Production: Studio MAPPA [Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope]TeekyuZankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo], Garo: Honoo no Kokuin, Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS, PunchLine, Ushio and Tora, In This Corner of the World, Days, Hajime no Ippo: Rising [co-produced with MADHOUSE])

Director: Sayo Yamamoto [Storyboard and Episode Director on Samurai Champloo Episodes 5,11, 18, 22 and 26 / Storyboard on Death Note episode 22 / Series Director and Storyboards on Michiko e Hatchin / Storyboard on Seikimatsu Occult Gakuin Episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 7 / Director and Storyboard on PSYCHO-PASS‘ first opening sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan]’s first ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Space Dandy‘s ending sequence / Director and Storyboard on Shingeki no Bahamut: GENESIS‘ ending sequence)

Series Composition: Sayo Yamamoto

Character Designer: Tadashi Hiramatsu (Animation Character Design and Animation Director on Cutie Honey [Live-Action Film] / Director, Storyboard, Animation Director [OP; episode 1] on Re: Cutie Honey OAV / Key Animator on Darkside Blues film / Key Animator on Master Keaton episode 28 / Key Animator on Neon Genesis Evangelion episodes 15,19, 21, 23, 24, 25 and 26 / Storyboard and Assistant Animation Supervisor on Mushishi episode 8 / Key Animator on Mushishi episodes 16 and 20 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Denno Coil episode 10 / Key Animator on Kimi ni Todoke episode 5 / Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 2 and 17 / Animation Supervisor and Character Designer on Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakkuritsu / Storyboard on Kuromukuro episode 5)

Music: 

  • Taku Matsushiba (Composer for the following advertisements and animation projects: Asahi The Dream, Oono he Kaerou, Yokai-Watch “puni puni”, Toyota Vitz, JR Toukai, Nissin Cisco, Mix Channel)
  • Taro Umebayashi (Composer for the following works: Space Dandy [credited as ‘milk’]

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Jun Shishido (Storyboard and Episode Director on Sakamichi no Apollon [Kids on the Slope] episode 6 / Storyboard on Kingdom episode 32 / Series Director and Storyboard on Hajime no Ippo: Rising episodes 1,2, 21 and 25 / Storyboard on Kiseiju: Sei no Kakuritsu episode 11 / Episode Director on Death Parade episodes 1, 6 and 11 / Storyboard on Death Parade episodes 3,6 and 11 / Director on Ushio and Tora‘s first and second opening sequences /

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Script: Sayo Yamamoto


From the director of Michiko e Hatchin and Lupin the Third: Fujiko Mine comes a story about competitive figure skating.  Originally this project by Sayo Yamamoto was created as a music video entitled “Endless Night” for the Japan Animator’s Exhibition project from Studio Khara [Neon Genesis Evangelion] and Dwango last year.  The visuals are stunning and some of the best this year has to offer. I knew this season would be huge considering that my favorite genre Josei [Sangatsu no Lion and Fune wo Amu] would be getting the spotlight but this knocked out just about every show that’s aired so far out of the water!  Yūri Katsuki is a timid 23-year old skater admiring the talents of skating legend Victor Nikiforov.  This episode does a fine job in establishing Yūri Katsuki as someone with much to learn.  He’s more relatable than many male protagonists and adding to this realism are a few qualities that outlines director Yamamoto’s attention to characterization–he has problems managing his weight. Not to mention the effects of his dog’s death weighing on him too. Which I’m sure the anime will explore this avenue later on.  His issues can clearly be seen as we see him crying in the bathroom and during the childhood segment alongside Yuko–he’s emotional and hasn’t quite come to terms with his loss at Gran Prix. Russian figure skater Yuri Plisetsky didn’t help the situation either. However, it does set up a nice rivalry between the two of them.  We also see how affected Yūri is after losing at the competition through the episode’s stylistic direction affixed on Yūri’s own physical appearance.  This is highlighted in his face perfectly.  From a downward spiral to an ultimately uplifting skating performance that turns out very rewarding in the second half.  As the story progresses we see that Yūri still has passion for figure skating.   Spending the remainder of this episode at the Hasetsu skating rink and an unexpected encounter at the hot springs provides a solid start to the story.

The visual quality is superb–the cast is attractive and this comes across during the skating scene as well.  Transitioning from Yūri and Victor Nikiforov’s skating performances.   MAPPA and Yamamoto didn’t mess around with staffing for this anime.  Picking  two time Japanese national ice skating champion (now retired) Kenji Miyamoto to choreograph all of the skating scenes and the visual appeal is breathtaking.  This isn’t the first time Miyamoto has choreographed either as he’s choreographed show programs for Japanese figure skaters Shizuka Arakawa, Daisuke Takahashi, Akiko Suzuki and Yuzuru Hanyu.  Working as a coach and choreographer gives him a chance to shine on projects like Yuri!! on Ice!

The ice skaters move freely across the screen–extremely life-like.  From hand gestures to flowing hair, Yūri and Victor’s curvatures and clothing embellish a style that’s physically charming and sensually engaging. In other words this is a fine example at what animation can achieve–a physical style that comes off more beautifully than to sexualize its characters through fanservice framing. What’s interesting is how artistic the entire sequence is–you can see his passion through his skating and this is depicted in his slimmer figure on the rink and top-notch performance.  The animation choice during this scene was beautiful on purpose.

Off the ice, this show explores body language in a variety of ways–closeup shots of expressive facial animation and quick comedic caricatures capture ballet teacher Minako-sensei and Yūri perfectly. Hopefully, we will get to see a ballet performance from Minako in a later episode accompanied by a originally-composed Taku Matsushiba piece.  This show couldn’t be all pretty like the previews let on. The goofy animations were done by famous Ranma 1/2 and FLCL animator Hiramatsu Tadashi.  Reminding us that we’re still watching a Japanese anime.  The background designs are a pencil-sketch style and very colorful. Object are highly detailed as well.  These characteristics in animation transitioned nicely to the natural movements of the characters giving off the idea that there is beauty outside of ice skating.

Overall this was a beautiful piece of work that is an extension to “Endless Night”.  One that I highly recommend checking out.  A charming additional to the Fall 2016 Anime lineup!


 

OP: “History Maker” by Dean Fujioka

Directed by: Sayo Yamamoto

Storyboards: Sayo Yamamoto

Animation Supervisor: Sunghoo Park

Absolutely incredible. This is one of the coolest openings I have ever seen. Beautifully animated and on-point with the song by Dean Fujioka!  I love his voice it’s very smooth sounding and his English is amazing. The song was written in cooperation with Taku Matsushiba.  His style is astounding–this song is heavily inspired by classical and contemporary pop music. Providing a nice introduction in the anime’s backdrop–a modern day skating story.  Very inspiring lyrics and visuals that are filled with huge amount of artistic passion!

ED: “You Only Live Once” by Wataru Hatano

Directed by: Yoichiro Hayashi

Storyboards: Yoichiro Hayashi

Animation Supervisor: Tadashi Hiramatsu

This was a surprisingly good ending.  Really good. Coming off from the modern day musical styled opening sequence this one focuses on life outside of the ice skating element.  An entire sequence of instagram posts of the famous figure skaters featured in Yuri!! on Ice! Looks like a sequence taken from  FREE! but with a lot more heart to it.  This ending comes off super smooth with the addition of an electro-pop sound for the ending song and seiyu Wataru Hatano’s singing. Enjoyed this ending a lot. Anyone notice the “bae” acronym? Very funny.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

91 Days Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

Animation Production: Shuka [Durarara!!x2 Shou and KetsuNatsume Yujin-Cho Go Season 5)

Director: Hiro Kaburagi (Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Series Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Stigma‘s Opening Sequence / Series Director and Script on Kimi ni Todoke and 2nd Season / Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Storyboard on Rolling Girls episode 9 / Episode Director on Speed Grapher episode 19)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on Gin no Saji / Series Composition and Script on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!! / Script Writer on Prince of Stride: Alternative episode 2 / Series Composition and Script on Usagi Drop)

Character Designer:  Tomohiro Kishi (Key Animator on Baccano! episode 1 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun / Key Animator on Gunparade Ochestra‘s Opening and Ending Sequences / Animation Director on Space Dandy episode 5 / Animation Director on Zankyou no Terror [Terror in Tokyo] episodes 4 and 6)

Music: Shogo Kaida ( Music Composer on S.A.Uragiri wa Boku no Namae o Shitteiru)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Hiro Kaburagi ( Director on Dededen Specials / Episode Director on Fantastic Children episodes 2, 5, 9, 11, 15, 20, 24 and 25 / Storyboard on Guilty Crown episode 6 / Director on Hozuki no Reitetsu / Episode Director on Kaze no Shoujo Emily episode 19 / Director on Kimi no Todoke / Episode Director on NHK ni Youkoso! [Welcome to the NHK!] episodes 5, 13 and 22)

Storyboards: Hiro Kaburagi (Series Composition on Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED]/ Series Composition on Gin no Saji [Silver Spoon] / Series Composition on Joker Game)

Script: Taku Kishimoto


I remember how spectacular Zankyou no Terror‘s premiere was. Full of dramatic action and sequences that left me wanting so much more from a 25 minute episode run-time.  This was the case with 91 Days.  A revenge story about a young man Angelo Lagusa vows to take a revenge on the family that murdered his own. Script writer, Taku Kishimoto nailed the human relationships in this first episode wonderfully. For the first few minutes we are gently brought into the drama surrounding Angelo and his curiosity towards the Vanetti family.  He receives a picture of his younger brother claiming that the Vanetti family is in the town of Lawless.

The first ten minutes of this episode as beautifully written, incredibly drawn and the camera angles were a stylistic choice that comes off like you’re watching a high-budget 1920’s crime film.  Angelo’s brother Luce Lagusa and his friend Corteo playing with the candle are a small piece of what makes 91 Days a step up above many shows that are airing this summer season.  Shogo Kaida handles the music in this anime and I’ve got to say I’m impressed.  The use of strings during the murder scene weaves together nicely between shots of the kids looking through the crack of the closet doors witnessing the traumatic event unfolding. I also love the slow-motion effects the creators decided on using–Testa slashing at Vincente Vanetti to Luce running out of the closet to a well-lit room to save his mother.  The framing in this was spectacular!  Three Vanetti members were involved in the killing of his mother, father and brother and it creates potential in developing these characters further when (or if) we are introduced to them in some way or another.

An original story and I’m glad to see a newer studio tackle it too–they produced the previous Durararax2 Shou and Ketsu seasons so I can clearly see where their budget was being used on. It was for this. The lighting between many dark scenes of the house and landscape of the woods fit together.  I’m glad they decided on a TV route for this rather than a feature-length film.  So much story is involved!  Hopefully, they will make this longer than 1-cour (91 episodes is wishful thinking).

After the murder scene we are treated to an introduction reminiscent of the Godfather films that sets the tone and atmosphere of a 1920’s world.  Also this acts as a gradual build in time jump that begins Angelo’s revenge on the Vanetti’s. Creteo being a moonshiner was a nice choice.  It reminds us of the time this series is set in and opens up a door for Angelo to get involved with a ragtag team of bootleggers that turn out to be none other than Nero Vanetti himself, one of the men that helped with murdering the Lagusa family!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Spring 2016 Anime Series Preview

I’m still behind on posts but that won’t stop me from writing about some of the newest animated works coming out of Japan. This season isn’t much different from last season. There are a ton of terrible series airing this Spring.  Gone are the days that we would have between seven and fifteen series a season and only one or two of them would be horrendous.  If I recall that was around the early 2000’s that we had a lot of gems.  Even though we still get really great series like last season’s Boku Dake ga Inai Machi and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu I’m still eager about what will be exceptional this Spring. I’m always for anime shows that surprise me. Here’s a breakdown of what’s been airing for the Spring 2016 anime season!

12-sai.: Chiccha na Mune no Tokimeki

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Oriental Light and Magic (OLM)
DIRECTOR: Seiki Taichu
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Nao Maita
SERIES COMPOSITION: Fumi Tsubota
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shouko Hagiwara
MUSIC: Motoyoshi Iwasaki

PLOT: The story begins with Hanabi, a sixth-grade girl who is neither an adult nor a child. She deals with issues such as accidentally witnessing her homeroom teacher kissing, and worrying about experiencing physiological changes before her friends. The anime depicts a 12-year-old girl’s innocent worries and first love. ~ANN


A continuation of 12-Sai. I have never read nor seen this show. It doesn’t look too promising as it tackles melodrama at an early age. Fumi Tsubota has never written a full-fledge series on her own aside from assistance work. The good thing is that there’s a regular children’s series music composer working on this. So at least they have THAT going for them.

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Aikatsu Stars!

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Bandai Namco Pictures
DIRECTOR: Teruo Satoh
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuko Kakihara
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yukiko Aikei
MUSIC: onetrap

PLOT: Yume Nijino aims to become a top idol, and she enrolls in the Yotsusei Gakuen (Four Stars Academy). This academy has a special group called the S4, who are the top four active idols in the school. Yume and the other first-year students aim to become a part of the S4. ~ANN


The fifth season of Aikatsu. And another idol series focusing on music? Sheesh. How many of these do we have a season now? The upside about Aikatsu is that occasionally it has some stunning animation. Every once in awhile I check this out solely for this reason alone.

A perfect example of this is a really neat dancing animation by animator Shingo Fuji from episode 127 of the Aikatsu series!

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LIKELY TO BLOG: 5%


Anne-Happy

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ANIMATION STUDIO: SILVER LINK
DIRECTOR: Shin Oonuma
SERIES COMPOSITION: Hitoshi Tanaka
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Cotoji
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Miwa Oshima
MUSIC: MONACA

PLOT: Tennogofune Academy’s is a home for students with “negative karma,” otherwise known as misfortune. The school’s class 1-7 has collected students burdened with negative karma. Hibari finds her first day of school ends in bad luck. Hanako noticeably suffers from poor health. Together, the two unlucky high school students might find their school life will become a “blessing.” ~ANN


This I might have to check out. Only because it’s SILVER LINK and MONACA. What is MONACA doing in a show like this? The animation studio impressed me with 2015’s Yuri Kuma Arashi and 2012’s Kokoro Connect with a varied style. Here we’ve got a series following the anime industry’s trend of “cute girls doing cute things”. If Bakuon! misled you into this style then this will be right up your alley. A comedy series rife with misfortunes. SILVER LINK might not be on the same tier as Kyoto Animation or MADHOUSE when it comes to designing its characters but it does have a niche in creating characters that are bright in tone and color. Looks like a warm and inviting series about school-life.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 52%


BAKUON!

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ANIMATION STUDIO: TMS Entertainment
DIRECTOR: Junji Nishimura
SERIES COMPOSITION: Kurasumi Sunayama
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Mimana Orimoto
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Isao Sugimoto
MUSIC: Ryousuke Nakanishi

PLOT: Hane Sakura is a high school student who looks a little bit like an airhead. On the way to her all-female high school one day, she is worn-out climbing a hilly road with a bicycle, but she sees a girl named Onsa Amano who is riding a motorcycle. Sakura immediately becomes interested in motorcycles, and she and Onsa join the motorcycle club at the school. Then, Sakura sets out to get her license. ~ANN


Think K-On! and the take on everyday life but with girls entering a motorcycle club. Huge worry is that this is Junji Nishimura. The same Nishimura that ruined Glasslip and had little to no character development. Considering that he wrote the series composition to that series I sure hope MONSTER’s script writer Kurasumi Sunayama can smack some sense into Nishimura and develop something halfway decent with this show.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 40%


Battle Spirits: Double Drive

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Bandai Namco Pictures
DIRECTOR: Kunihisa Sugishima
SERIES COMPOSITION: Katsumi Hasegawa
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hajime Yatate
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Naoki Iwamoto
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yoshinori Yumoto
MUSIC: Nobuaki Nobusawa

PLOT: Shunta Mogami loves the Battle Spirits game. One day he is transported by a light from a Battle Spirits card to Spirits World, the origin of all Battle Spirits. He meets a girl named Eto, who claims to have summoned him to Spirits World in order to prevent its destruction at the hands of the revived Evil God-King, who once plotted the destruction of Spirits World before being defeated and sealed away. Together with the confident, green-deck-wielding Yoku Albatrosa, who also came from another world, Shunta sets out to find the twelve God-Kings whose power originally sealed the Evil God-King. ~ANN


A children’s series about spirits and looks stereotypical for Beyblade director Kunihisa Sugishima. Not interested.

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Beyblade Burst

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Oriental Light and Magic (OLM)
DIRECTOR: Katsuhito Akiyama
SERIES COMPOSITION: Hideki Sonoda
ORIGINAL CREATOR: based on the original series by Takao Aoki
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Toshiaki Ohashi
MUSIC: Yuusaku Tsuchiya

PLOT: Bart Aoi is a hot-blooded kid who loves to attack and wields a Beyblade named Valkyrie. His close friend Shū Kurenai is an elite Blader who is a genius but still puts in a lot of effort, and wields the Beyblade named Spriggan. ~ANN


It’s strange that Kunihisa isn’t doing this series and transitioning into the Battle Spirits anime. Make no mistake though. This series will do really good for kids. It’s insanely popular and has expanded into over 880 countries selling in total for the franchise US$1.6 billion. I’d like to see Masaaki Yuasa do a kids series for once just to change this genre up! Aside from his work on the Adventure Time series in the US.

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Big Order

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Asread
DIRECTOR: Nobuharu Kamanaka
SERIES COMPOSITION: Katsuhiko Takayama
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sakae Esuno
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Chika Kojima
MUSIC: Evan Call

PLOT: Eiji Hoshimiya is an introverted high school student with a huge secret — he wished for the destruction of the world when he was younger. Fairies give certain people special powers called Orders. What Order Users can do with their power depends on their wishes. 10 years after the Great Destruction, Eiji struggles to come to terms with his immense power.~ANN


From the animation studio of Mirai Nikki and Ga-Rei Zero, this has the designs of those characters written all over this! I’m really interested in this! Love the key visuals for this anime! I’m really eager to see what Kamanaka does for this series. In the past he directed one of the most amazing episodes of Birdy the Mighty Decode I’ve ever seen. In a rarity where the sequel is better than the original series and Big Order’s director played a lead hand into that! Venturing into a style that Kemonozume didn’t even risk to go! Birdy episode 20 was marvelous and I hope to see that powerful episode direction translate to a full-fledged series like this one entirely! Also the music is going to be intriguing as it’s by California-born musician Evan Call. He began his career as a classical musical theatre singer before getting into writing music. Proficient in Japanese and Spanish as well as his native language English. He taught voice at Berklee College of Music and is branching out into other styles including rock, jazz and latin. Currently living in Tokyo as a member of the production talent Elements Garden. The works he’s done previously aren’t the greatest I’d like to see him do music for a unique series and (hopefully) this might be it! Now I really want to check this out!

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Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon: Crystal – Death Busters-hen

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Toei Animation
DIRECTOR: Chiaki Kon
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuji Kobayashi
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Naoko Takeuchi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Akira Takahashi
MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

PLOT: The third season of Sailor Moon CRYSTAL! ~ANN


I finished the first two seasons of CRYSTAL. That was a horrible mess with super thick animation that never allowed the sailor scouts to move freely in any of the episodes! Everything about the show felt extremely forced and stiff! Apparently I’m not the only one who felt this way as the committee took it upon themselves to fire the director Munehisa Sakai. I hope he never works in this industry again! He tainted the story of Sailor Moon! This third season looks very promising! We’ve got the return of everyone who worked on the 2015 series (including the exceptional Mononoke composer Yasuharu Takanashi!) except we’ve got a new person in the director’s chair. Chiaki Kon. The director of Nodame Cantabile:Finale and Paris-hen!!! Yes!! Judging by the previews the animation looks absolutely stunning and freeform!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 90%


Boku no Hero Academia

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ANIMATION STUDIO: BONES
DIRECTOR: Kenji Nagasaki
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yousuke Kuroda
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kohei Horikoshi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yoshihiko Umakoshi
MUSIC: Yuuki Hayashi

PLOT: Mankind has developed superpowers known as “Quirks” with 80% of the population having some kind of superpower. These new abilities see the rise of both superheroes and villains. A prestigious school known as the The Hero Academy trains superpowered hopefuls into the heroes the world needs. Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he’s part the 20% without a Quirk. Unwilling to give up his dream, he plans to take the exam and be accepted into a high school for budding heroes. Through a series of serendipitous events, he catches the eye of the greatest hero, All Might, who agrees to train him. ~ANN


I am excited to see this series! I’m a huge fan of BONES and love just about every show they do! I have yet to read the manga to this so I will leave myself surprised when I start watching the anime! We’ve got a promising staff on this one! TRIGUN script writer, Gosick episode 15’s storyboard Kenji Nagasaki in the director’s seat! And of course one of my favorite composers this year. Death Parade’s Yuuki Hayashi!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 100%


Bungou Stray Dogs

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ANIMATION STUDIO: BONES
DIRECTOR: Takuya Igarashi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yoji Enokido
ORIGINAL CREATOR:

  • Kafka Asagiri (story)
  • Sango Harukawa (Art)

CHARACTER DESIGNER: Nobuhiro Arai
MUSIC: Taku Iwasaki

PLOT: After young man Atsushi Nakajima saves a man from his wish of suicide, he and his friends join the “Arms Detective Company,” a league of literary figures that also harness special powers. ~ANN


Literary figures with supernatural abilities! I’m sold. This reminds me of the Hollywood film League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. From the trailers the visuals look insanely good, and with STAR DRIVER director at the helm I have no doubt this series will have solid characterization. Revolutionary Girl Utena series composition Yoji Enokido and music [C] the Money of Soul and Possibility CONTROL’s and Gatchaman CROWDS’ music composer Taku Iwasaki! What the hell?! This is a dream team right here!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 200%


Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou – THE LAST SONG

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ANIMATION STUDIO: BONES
DIRECTOR: Seiji Mizushima
SERIES COMPOSITION: Shou Aikawa
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Shou Aikawa
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNERS:

  • Hekiru Hikawa
  • Noizo Ito
  • Ryo Hirao

MUSIC:

  • Kakeru Ishihama (MONACA)
  • Keigo Hoashi (MONACA)
  • MONACA
  • Yohske Yamamoto

PLOT: Titans from outer space, life forms from a mystical world, phantoms and goblins from ancient times, cyborgs created by scientists, relics that rose out of the ruins of ancient civilizations. In another Japan, it’s not just a question of “what if”—it’s a reality. Some of the superhumans choose to keep their identities a secret, while others bask in their superhuman fame. Jiro Hitoyoshi, member of the Superhuman Bureau, keeps track of their doings. ~ANN


BONES sure is doing a lot this season. I haven’t even finished the first half of this show. I’m curious how this will turn out. Maybe I will marathon this entire series once it’s finished airing. Looks really good.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 90%


Duel Masters VSRF

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ANIMATION STUDIO:

  • Music & Digital Entertainment
  • Ascension

DIRECTOR: Shinobu Sasaki
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yoichi Kato
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Shigenobu Matsumoto
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yosuke Yabumoto
MUSIC:
Jun’ichi Igarashi

PLOT: The band-aid on Shōta Kirifuda’s forehead — used to suppress his uncontrollable power — has peeled off. There seems no adverse effect at first. Suddenly, Shōta’s pet hamster Hamkatsu starts talking, revealing a big secret.~ANN


The director Shinobu Sasaki worked under Animation Studio Duame for a little while and he’s been working on Duel Masters for the past couple of seasons recently. What ever happened to Duame? Seriously. They animated Shiki and that turned out amazing. Speaking of amazing, one of the studios behind this work actually did handled the animation on the Colorful film. Talk about a surprise! Never got into the Duel Master series. I tried. I really did. It’s a mediocre show based off of a popular card game in Japan. How many of those do we have now? The only redeeming factor about Duel Masters is the 3D creature designs and animation are pretty neat. Aside from that there isn’t much here.

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Endride

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Brain’s Base
DIRECTOR: Keiji Gotoh
SERIES COMPOSITION: Touko Machida
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNERS:

  • Kazushi Hagiwara
  • Nobuhiro Watsuki

MUSIC:

  • IMAGINE PROJECT
  • Kouhei Tanaka

PLOT: Endra is an unknown world beneath the surface of Earth itself. It is another world, where the giant Adamas shines above and seven-colored bands drift across the skies. One day, Shun Asanaga — an ordinary yet positive and bright 15-year-old middle school boy who lived in the “Land Above” — discovered a mysterious crystal at his scientific businessman father’s company, and the moment he touched the crystal, he was transported to Endra. He meets the recently captured 16-year-old Prince Emilio, who strongly despises the current King Delzaine and was imprisoned after seeking vengeance against the current monarch. ~ANN


This has been done to death. From the trailers the animation looks shoddy and very bland. The whole idea behind a mysterious object transporting the lead male character to a fantasy world is the same premise for about 4 series this season and was the story of at least 3 that I can recall last season! Come on Brains Base try something different! At least the studio is redeeming themselves with another Natsume season later this year!

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Flying Witch

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ANIMATION STUDIO: J.C. Staff
DIRECTOR: Katsushi Sakurabi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Deko Akao
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Chihiro Ishizuka
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Masato Yasuno
MUSIC: Yoshiaki Dewa

PLOT: Aomori, Japan. In a land blessed by nature’s bountiful beauty, bizarre things begin to take place. Makoto Kowata, 15 years old, is a professional witch. She left Yokohama with Chito, her black cat, to live in the house of her relatives in Aomori. This is where she begins to train as a witch. Even though Makoto’s powers are still limited to just flying through the sky, she and her second cousins Kei and Chinatsu surely make the most out of each and every day. ~ANN


This looks absolutely adorable! There aren’t many series you can sit down and have tea and just relax. This would be one of them. A slice of life coming of age story about a young girl becoming a witch. This will be good I can say that for sure. The charm is that it will have a nice balance of humor and sincerity. No huge Urobuchi plot twists to mess with your mind just all around light-hearted fun! The visuals look pretty good and just hope Deko Akao can keep up the momentum from the amazing Akagami no Shirayukihime! Which I still need to finish reviewing. *laughs*

LIKELY TO BLOG: 85%


Future Card Buddyfight DDD

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ANIMATION STUDIO: 

  • Oriental Light and Magic
  • Xebec

DIRECTOR: Shigetaka Ikeda

SERIES COMPOSITION: Masanao Akahoshi

ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yoshimasa Ikeda

CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kumiko Ozawa

MUSIC: Hiroaki Hayama

PLOT: Gao Mikado, a 6th year student of the Aibo Academy Elementary Division, is partnered with Dragon of the Sun, Bal Dragon, a monster born from a mysterious egg. To earn the coveted title as the strongest fighter in the world, Gao and Bal team up to challenge other fighters in the “World Buddy Cup”. The two will have to battle others in a card game called Buddyfight, which allows monsters to fight alongside humans as buddies. Their rivals include ex-Buddy Police Tasuku Ryuenji, and the self-proclaimed strongest combination, Gaito Kurouzu and his buddy monster Black Death Dragon, Abygale. ~ANN


Another children’s series. This looks awful. It amazes me how Xebec can go from animator 90’s and 2000’s classics like Martian Successor Nadesico and The Third. Hell even Space Battleship Yamato 2199 to shows like Upotte!!, Triage X and now this. When will we get another Masterpiece Theater animation?

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Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2

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ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
DIRECTOR: Manabu Ono
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yukito Kizawa
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yuu Miyazaki
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Okiura
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Tetsuya Kawakami
MUSIC: Rasmus Faber

PLOT: Upon Rikka, the academy-city above water, or what many call the “Asterisk,” students of the six schools prepare for the Festa. These annual comprehensive battle tournaments are held on a worldwide scale and each of the six schools place their hopes in their teams to bring them victory. In the Phoenix Festa (tag-team battle) category, Seidoukan Academy’s Ayato Amagiri takes up the challenge along with his partner Julis, the Witch of the Resplendent Flames (Glühen Rose). ~ANN


After hearing Rasmus Faber do the work of his jazz anime theme song albums it’s so strange to hear him do chiptuning and dubstep for Gakusen Toshi’s soundtrack. It would be cool to hear compose for a Shouwa period anime. That would be incredible! I saw the first season and it was terrible. Six schools right next to each other that only escalate further to some of the worst melodrama I’ve ever seen. A-1 Pictures does hits and misses. Last season’s Boku Dake ga Inai Machi was awesome. Having nother season of this crap. Oh boy. -_-

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Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari! (Ace Attorney)

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ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
DIRECTOR: Ayumu Watanabe
SERIES COMPOSITION: Atsuhiro Tomioka
CHARACTER DESIGNERS:

  • Keiko Ota
  • Koji Watanabe

MUSIC: Kaoru Wada

PLOT: Rookie lawyer Ryūichi Naruhodō faces his first murder case; the accused defendant is his grade school classmate Masashi Yahari. With limited evidence, logic has become the only weapon Naruhodō has in order to turn the case around when all the odds are stacked against him.~ANN


I feel bad for Wada. The composer to D.Gray-man doing a lawyer series. Wrong move. Just wrong. Videogame adaptations are rarely ever good. Unless it’s Steins;Gate. This series I would not recommend it if you weren’t playing the games. Judging by the style of the show it looks as though everything is made in reference to them. I don’t have high expectations for this at all.

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Haifuri

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Production IMS
DIRECTOR: Yuu Nobuta
SERIES COMPOSITION: Reiko Yoshida
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takaaki Suzuki
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Atto
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Naoto Nakamura
MUSIC: Shigeo Komori

PLOT: Childhood friends Akeno Misaki and Moeka China want to become Blue Mermaids, a new female force established to protect the remaining coastal towns after many countries have sank into the sea. Together with others who shared their dream, they enrolled in Yokosuka’s Marine High School.~ANN


Another “cute girls doing cute things” series. Based on what I’ve seen of episode 1 it feels a lot like Kantai Collection. No thank you. This will be heavily animated due to the fact that Aniplex is producing this. Judging by their track record I can tell that there’s going to be a lot of merchandising efforts involved with Haifuri down the road. Perhaps Yuu Nobuta should ask Tomohiko Ito [Boku Dake ga Inai Machi] on how to establish “cute” in an anime series.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 0%


Hundred

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Production IMS
DIRECTOR: Tomoki Kobayashi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Hideki Shirane
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Jun Misaki
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Nekosuke Okuma [from Nitroplus]
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Norie Tanaka
MUSIC: Shuhei Naruse

PLOT: Hundred is the only weapon that can counter the mysterious Savage life form attacking Earth. To become a Slayer who wields this Hundred, Hayato Kisaragi successfully enrolls in the marine academy city ship Little Garden. However he feels a strange yet familiar sense of incongruity towards Emil Crossford, his roommate who somehow knows him from somewhere. On top of that, as soon as he enters the school, he is challenged to a duel by the “Queen” and the school’s most powerful Slayer, Claire Harvey.~ANN

After seeing this first episode. I really wish I could get that time back. What the hell was this?! Awful. Absolutely awful! A girl crossdressing as a boy is actually a boy. What? Not to mention there was not research done on how school systems function. A student council president can expel students? Oh Production IMS don’t even get me started on your fanservice with this show. Flashbacks after flashbacks and does Kobayashi even know how to handle pacing? If there’s an example this season of how to write a terrible episode this would certainly be it. And as such I’m giving this show negative percentage. You want to know what the sad thing is? This will probably get another season. It’s based on a light novel and otaku eat that crap up like pocky.

LIKELY TO BLOG: -75%


JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai

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ANIMATION STUDIO: David Production
CHIEF DIRECTOR: Yuuta Takamura
SERIES DIRECTOR: Toshiyuki Kato
DIRECTOR: Naokatsu Tsuda
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yasuko Kobayashi
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hirohiko Araki
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Terumi Nishii
MUSIC: Yuugo Kanno

PLOT: It’s the year 1999, 11 years after Jotaro Kujo’s desperate fight against Dio in Egypt. Jotaro meets with Josuke Higashikata, the illegitimate son of his grandfather Joseph Joestar. He discovers that Josuke also has the same “Stand” power and that a new threat is surfacing in Morioh City.~ANN


I’m actually not sure why I haven’t written about the previous JoJo series. The series is really funny. It’s highly entertaining! This looks even better than the previous seasons of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure series. You know this will be good when you’ve got the entire team behind the previous ones working on this. Plus, they’re in higher positions so they can direct any newer staff coming onto this series. One of the reasons why I like watching JoJo is for the over the top action. It’s ridiculous and for good reason. Visuals look cool and the music still sounds awesome. Considering its coming from Yuugo Kanno. The composer to PSYCHO-PASS.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 80%


Joker Game

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Production I.G.
DIRECTOR: Kazuya Nomura
SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Koji Yanagi
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shirow Miwa
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Toshiyuki Yahagi
MUSIC: Kenji Kawai

PLOT: In 1937, before World War II begins in earnest. Lieutenant Colonel Yūki of the Imperial Japanese Army forms the “D Agency,” an army intelligence outfit under his command and tutelage. Army General Staff attaches Lieutenant Sakuma to observe the unit’s performance. D Agency casts a wide net to find agents beyond Japanese military personnel, and Yūki establishes D Agency’s tenets, which go against IJA doctrine: “Don’t kill, don’t get killed, don’t get captured.” With this, Yūki trains a team of operatives who conduct missions against domestic and foreign powers. ~ANN


One of my favorite composers working on a shouwa spy period piece! Yes! I’ve been waiting for someone to adapt the 2011 novel series and the live-action was top-notch! Boku Dake ga Inai Machi’s series writer Kishimoto will be handling the overall writing of Joker Game. Now I know these characters will be handled nicely. The visuals look stiff but as heavy as GANGSTA was last year. Be sure to look for my post on this first episode soon!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 95%


Kaitou Joker 3

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Shin-Ei Animation
DIRECTOR: Yuukiyo Teramoto
SERIES COMPOSITION: Dai Sato
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hideyasu Takahashi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Miho Shimogasa
MUSIC: Yusaku Tsuchiya

PLOT: Mysterious Joker continues his tour around the world: escape from luxurious cruise ships; survive at southern islands with mysterious relics; against ninja, chef, and idol dancer; last but not least, the Timeslip, the ultimate goal. ~ANN


The staff. This is strange. I’ve never actually seen this show but it sounds like a less mature version of Lupin the Third. What makes me interested in this is the series composition is done by Space Dandy writer and Ergo Proxy screenplay writer. Bizarre. I wonder if this will be good considering those two series were incredible. Perhaps I should start with season 1 first since its handled by the same team.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 50%


Kamiwaza Wanda

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ANIMATION STUDIO: TMS Entertainment
DIRECTOR: Mitsuo Hashimoto
SERIES COMPOSITION: Katsumi Hasegawa
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sakae Esuno
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mayumi Watanabe
MUSIC:

  • Hideyuki Fukasawa
  • Takatsugu Wakabayashi

PLOT: In a world where every event has been turned into programs, there are mysterious monsters known as “Promin” that maintain the world. However, many Promin who have turned into bugs known as “Bugmin” are responsible for many of the world’s real-life bugs. Left alone, they may eventually turn into a big problem. The boy Yūto encounters the space dog Wanda, and the pair use a camera-like device and key items to capture Bugmin. Promin themselves are able to do things like “accelerate objects,” “spew fire,” or “create objects,” through an ability known as “Kamiwaza” (miracle), and are able to fend off Bugmin with it. At first, the Bugmin only cause small, bothersome things, but it will soon elevate into a global scale threat. ~ANN


Another tournament series created by Japanese toy company Takara Tomy and TBS. The reason this series was made was to sell more merchandize. Not really into children’s series unless it really catches my eye. This looks to be more of the same that we’ve seen before in previous seasons.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 10%


Kidou Senshi Gundam RE: 0096

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Sunrise
DIRECTOR: Kazuhiro Furuhashi
SCREENPLAY: Yasuyuki Muto
ORIGINAL CREATORS:

  • Hajime Yatate
  • Yoshiyuki Tomino

ORIGINAL STORY: Harutoshi Fukui
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yoshikazu Yasuhiko
MUSIC: Hiroyuki Sawano

PLOT: U.C. 0096. Three years after Char’s Rebellion, Banagher Links, a boy living at the manufacturing colony Industrial 7, meets a mysterious girl who calls herself Audrey Burne. Audrey claims that she is trying to stop the Vist Foundation from handing over Laplace’s Box to the Neo Zeon remnants known as the Sleeves, an act which could spark another war, and Banagher decides to help her. But the colony becomes a battlefield as fighting breaks out between the Sleeves and the Earth Federation Forces, who have also come to stop the handover…~ANN


I really enjoyed the OVA film series. This looks to be a more expanded version of it. Retro style with some fascinating visuals. Looking forward to seeing this one.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 75%


Kiznaiver

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio TRIGGER
DIRECTOR: Hiroshi Kobayashi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Mari Okada
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Mari Okada
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shirow Miwa
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mai Yoneyama
MUSIC: Yuuki Hayashi

PLOT: The fictional Japanese city named Sugomori City is built on reclaimed land. But as the years go by, the city’s population is decreasing. One day, Sonosaki tells her classmate Katsuhira: “You have been selected to be a Kiznaiver.” The Kizuna System, which allows Katsuhira to share his wounds, connects him to the classmates whose lives and personalities completely differ from his. The Kizuna System is an incomplete system for the implementation of world peace that connects people through wounds. All those who are connected to this system are called Kiznaivers. When one Kiznaiver is wounded, the system divides and transmits the wound among the other Kiznaivers.~ANN


This looks really good. It caught me by surprise that Imaishi isn’t working on this one. He’s too busy with his other shorter length series Space Patrol Luluco. Good to see this is going to be in capable hands. Interesting sci-fi premise and some of the best visuals this season! It’s not wacky and wild and far away from TRIGGER’s usual style! Love this! I am a bit worried that this is a creation of Mari Okada as she’s done some pretty poor series in the past. She does however know how to deliver solid drama at times–GOSICK, Red Garden, Simoun, Toradora, Anthem of the Heart. I hope she knows what she’s doing with her first ever TRIGGER series.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 100%


Koutetsujou no Kabaneri

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ANIMATION STUDIO: WIT STUDIO
DIRECTOR: Tetsuro Araki
SERIES COMPOSITION: Ichiro Okouchi
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Tetsuro Araki
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Haruhiko Mikimoto
MUSIC: Hiroyuki Sawano

PLOT: On the island country Hinomoto, humans hide themselves in fortresses called “stations” against the threat of zombie-like beings with steel hearts known as “Kabane.” Only armored locomotives known as “Hayajiro” go between the stations.~ANN


If anyone has seen the live-action Korean/U.S. film Snowpiercer then this might be right up your alley. This is basically Shingeki no Kyojin [Attack on Titan] meets Princess Mononoke. It’s by the same team that did Shingeki. Really the same exact team down to the key animators! I wonder if Tetsuro Araki has known for awhile that the second season of Shingeki was going to be delayed and decided to make this. Perhaps the original announcement of Kabaneri was much different than what we’re seeing in the final product. This has his style written all over it. Steampunk and post-apocalyptic. Fantasy and action. This would be as if he though Shingeki was a great introspection into human fear and decided to “up the ante” with feudal Japan character designs in the mix. This team knows exactly what its doing. Getting Hiroyuki Sawano to compose for another Araki anime they know exactly how to develop works that sell. I will say this premise with zombies does sound intriguing. I’ll give this a shot. I love the character designs. Finally a WIT STUDIO got someone that knows how to use shading techniques properly. It will also be interesting to see how Amazon Prime’s deal with this show will be handled from here on out. Looks like a lot of series are following this trend of simulcasting.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 75%


Kuma Miko

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ANIMATION STUDIO:

  • EMT Squared
  • Production I.G.

DIRECTOR: Kiyoshi Matsuda
SCRIPT:

  • Masao Iketani
  • Pierre Sugiura

ORIGINAL CREATOR: Masume Yoshimoto
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Hiroyuki Saida
MUSIC: Akiyuki Tateyama

PLOT: Machi is a middle school student who serves as a shrine maiden (miko) at a Shinto shrine enshrining a bear (kuma) in the recesses of a certain mountain in Japan’s northern Tōhoku region. Machi’s guardian is a talking bear named Natsu, and one day Machi says to Natsu, “I want to go to a school in the city.” The worrywart Natsu then gives Machi — who is ignorant in the ways of the world — a set of trials that she must pass in order to be able to survive in the city. ~ANN


This looks adorable. I like those background designs and it’s got an interesting opening and ending song judging from the previews. Looks like a cross between the cuteness of Inari Kon Kon and Shirokuma Cafe. I might give this try. I’ve never heard of EMT Squared. Wonder how much Production I.G. will be doing since they’ve got a few other series they’re working on this season.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 45%


Kuromukuro

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ANIMATION STUDIO: P.A. Works [with 3D cooperation by BONES]
DIRECTOR: Tensai Okamura
SERIES COMPOSITION: Ryou Higaki
ORIGINAL WORK
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yuriko Ishii
MUSIC: Hiroaki Tsutsumi

PLOT: During the construction of the Kurobe Dam, an ancient artifact was discovered, and so the United Nations Kurobe Research Institute was established. Intellectuals from all over the world gathered to study the object, and the children of those researchers attend Mt. Tate International Senior High School, including the institute head’s daughter, Yukina Shirahane. In the summer of 2016, a lone samurai once again awakens.~ANN


Yes P.A. Works is finally doing something different! It’s about time! I only hope they don’t decide to focus on the school life rather than the mecha series its advertised to be. If things go well for them we might be seeing more like this series in the future. Animation is P.A. Works usual–all in-house animation, music, sound effects. They’re betting a lot on Kuromukuro considering its being simulcast worldwide by Netflix.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 60%


Kyoukai no Rinne 2

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Brain’s Base
DIRECTOR: Seiki Sugawara
SERIES COMPOSITION: Michiko Yokote
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Rumiko Takahashi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kazuhiko Tamura
MUSIC: Akimitsu Honma

PLOT: Rinne and Sakura’s wacky shinigami adventures continue, with the young shinigami trying to scrape together any money possible to survive. Their daily lives get more complicated with the appearance of Renge, a shinigami-in-training turned damashigami who is in love with Kain. ~ANN


The return of Rumiko Takahashi’s series.  She’s popular worldwide with her previous works including Ranma 1/2, Inuyasha and Urusei Yatsura.  Then the incredible Maison Ikkoku. Everyone from the previous season of Rin-ne.  If you are a fan of BLEACH or supernatural series such as Natsume or Nura then you’ll definitely enjoy this one! I may write a full season review of this once it finishes airing.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 70%


Macross Δ

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Satellight
GENERAL DIRECTOR: Shoji Kawamori
DIRECTOR: Kenji Yasuda
SERIES COMPOSITION: Toshizo Nemoto
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Shoji Kawamori
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Chisato Mita ( from Capcom)
CHARACTER DESIGNERS:

  • Majiro
  • Yuu Shindou

MUSIC:

  • Mina Kubota
  • Saeko Suzuki
  • TOMISIRO

PLOT: Macross Delta is set in the year 2067, 8 years after the events of the latest Macross TV series, Macross Frontier. The story focuses on Walküre, a team of talented idols and the Delta Squadron, a team of experienced Valkyrie pilots as they battle against the Var Syndrome, a mysterious phenomena that is consuming the galaxy and there is also the mysterious Aerial Knights Valkyrie fighter team of the Kingdom of Wind. ~ANN


The original Macross was a classic, Macross Frontier which surprisingly enough was never released in the U.S. due to the Harmony Gold issue including previous Macross works was an amazing series.  What the heck is this?  Pop idols piloting mecha?!  This show will sell I can tell you that much but whether or not Shoji Kawamori can get his team to tell a good story that’ll be something else.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 30%


Magi: Sinbad no Bouken

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Lay-duce
DIRECTOR: Yoshikazu Miyao
SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
ORIGINAL CREATORS:

  • Shinobu Ohtaka
  • Yoshifumi Otera

CHARACTER DESIGNER: Souichirou Sako

MUSIC: Tomohiro Okubo

PLOT: Thirty years before the events of Magi, a brave and handsome young man named Sinbad set sail and started his adventure. The future High King of Seven Seas gradually matured through various encounters and farewells, taking him towards kingship step by step. ~ANN


Magi is an entertaining series.  A fantasy series based on the story of Ali Baba.  This season will take a huge time leap.  I wonder how mature this show will be compared to its predecessors because the OVAs on the Sinbad arc were pretty good.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 50%


Mayoiga

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Diomedea
DIRECTOR: Tsutomu Mizushima
SERIES COMPOSITION: Mari Okada
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Naomi Ide
MUSIC: Masaru Yokoyama

PLOT: 30 young men and women come together on a shady bus tour. The tour’s destination: an illusive, possibly nonexistent village called Nanakimura. In Nanakimura, one can lead a utopian existence, free of the world’s obstacles, or so it was rumored, like an urban legend.~ANN


This show is trying too hard to be like ANOTHER.  I was unimpressed by the trailers and from what I’ve seen of episode 1.  I initially was excited about this show because Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso’s composer is finally doing a horror series. This felt more like a P.A. Works production rather than a Diomedea work. I’m sure the setting will be good because this is coming from staff that originally were a part of Mushi Pro and Group TAC.  Gilgamesh was an interesting post-apocalyptic setting wrapped around dreadful characters that were done by a few of the writers of this show. Aside from that there isn’t much here. My biggest worry is that Mari Okada could favor this show over Kiznaiver.  Let’s hope that is not the case.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 40%


Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Project No.9
DIRECTOR: Shinsuke Yanagi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuya Takahashi
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Shibai Kineko
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Hisasi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Naomi Ide
MUSIC: Maiko Iuchi

PLOT: Hideki Nishimura confessed to a person he thought was a girl online, only for that person to turn out to be a boy. He keeps this “black history” secret and swears to never to trust a “girl” online again. However, one day a girl online confesses to him, and it turns out she’s actually a beautiful girl named Ako Tamaki. Ako cannot tell the difference between the online world and reality, and she is a loner who has trouble communicating. Hideki and his friends from his guild decide to work together to “correct” her.~ANN


My jaw dropped when I saw the title for this.  What?  The sad thing is this series is probably going to sell strongly.  I have no anticipation for this at all.  This will be terrible plus the designs are done by popular hentai artist Hisasi.

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PriPara 3rd Season

ANIMATION STUDIO:

  • Tatsunoko Production
  • Dongwoo Animation

DIRECTOR: Makoto Morikawa
SERIES COMPOSITION: Michihiro Tsuchiya
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shoji Hara
MUSIC:

  • Rei Ishizuka
  • Tsuneyoshi Saito

PLOT: One day, a huge UFO suddenly appeared above the PriPara town. While hovering, in addition to lots of shiny jewels, a mysterious baby also descended from the UFO and immediately started calling Laala “mommy.”~ANN


Another children’s series.  And it’s about idols. Nope. No thanks.

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Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu

ANIMATION STUDIO: WHITE FOX
DIRECTOR: Masaharu Watanabe
SERIES COMPOSITION: Masahiro Yokotani
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Tappei Nagatsuki
ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shinichirou Otsuka
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kyuta Sakai
MUSIC: Kenichiro Suehiro

PLOT: Subaru Natsuki is an ordinary high school student who is lost in an alternate world, where he is rescued by a beautiful, silver-haired girl. He stays near her to return the favor, but the destiny she is burdened with is more than Subaru can imagine. Enemies attack one by one, and both of them are killed. He then finds out he has the power to rewind death, back to the time he first came to this world. But only he remembers what has happened since.~ANN


This sounds interesting. A bunch of cliches that many fantasy series follow and this series doesn’t do that at all.  He meets a strange girl who pretty much ignores him. And the only power he has is that when he dies, he goes back to the start of the day again.  That sucks. I really like it when series do this.  They repeat a series of events that could last a span of episodes with minimal changes in between–that is if the main character doesn’t do anything drastic to change his fate.  I’m curious to see how this one is going to turn out.  And from the looks of it the premiere will be two episodes instead of one. It’s also going to follow a 1A and 1B route rather than episode 1 and 2.  Clever!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 80%


Sakamoto-desu ga?

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN

DIRECTOR: Shinji Takamatsu
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yasuhiko Fukuda
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Nami Sano
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Atsuko Nakajima
MUSIC: Yasuhiko Fukuda

PLOT: Sakamoto, a gopher to his upperclassmen in middle school, is suddenly accepted as the coolest guy in high school, with everything he does thought of as art.~ANN


This looks funny. People having issues with Sakamoto–the perfect (and very ridiculously over-the-top) student. I haven’t read the source material but I have to say seeing the trailers I kept laughing.  This will be excellent!  Hope these stories are episodic because that would make his small adventures at school land a larger impact as a whole for this series!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 95%


Sousei no Onmyouji

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN

DIRECTOR: Tomohisa Taguchi
SERIES COMPOSITION: Naruhisa Arakawa
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yoshiaki Sukeno
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kikuko Sadakata
MUSIC: Mikio Endo

PLOT: Rokuro is from a family of exorcists who remove the evil Kegare, but his real dream is to be a singer, a soccer player, or anything other than an exorcist. When another exorcist name Benio arrives, Rokura is suddenly inflamed with competitive spirit and decides to put his natural knack to good use. Their rivalry gets more complicated when they both learn they are the destined “Twin Star Exorcists,” two ultimate fighters fated to marry and create the prophesied child who will eliminate all the Kegare in the world. ~ANN


It amazes me sometimes how quickly source material can receive an anime adaptation or feature-length film for that matter!  A standard shonen series but with an upside and a downside to this.  The upside is that the characters are finally going to fight together as a team.  None of that BLEACH 3 to 5 episode long fight sequences.  The bad is that Studio Pierrot is animating this.  They are sub-par and seeing as how horrible Tokyo Ghoul turned out to be aside from the premiere episode back in 2014 I don’t see this changing anytime soon for the studio.  Too bad MAPPA couldn’t animate Tokyo Ghoul that would have been awesome.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 55%


Seisen Cerberus: Ryuukoku no Fatalite

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Bridge
DIRECTOR: Nobuhiro Kondo
SERIES COMPOSITION: Hiroshi Ohnogi
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Gou Toutsuki
MUSIC:

  • Hideakira Kimura
  • Nobuaki Nobusawa

PLOT: On a continent ruled by sword and magic called Kunaaan, there are three kingdoms with a fragile power balance that could spell disaster and war at any moment. Another power, the evil dragon Daganzord, also resides on the continent, and no one is powerful enough to stop him from spreading destruction and charred land in his wake. Bairo and Kismitete, and a party of wizards attempted to seal the dragon, but were foiled. This event was known thereafter as the Balbagoa Tragedy. Bairo and Kismitete’s son Hiiro is saved by Giiru, and Hiiro swears to avenge his parents’ deaths and trains himself with the sword. When Hiiro turns 16, he sets out on a journey to slay the dragon, and Giruu accompanies him, having no choice. Along the way, they meet many types of people, and gain companions on their journey. ~ANN


The only redeeming aspect of this series is its composer.  From the same that gave us the solid score for Eureka Seven.  Aside from that I don’t hold too much hope for this one.  Based on a card game and this premise feels like every other card adapted to anime that’s ever been done before.  The only recent one I can think of that was good was Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 10%


Shonen Maid

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ANIMATION STUDIO: 8 Bit
DIRECTOR: Yusuke Yamamoto
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yoshiko Nakamura
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Ototachibana
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kana Ishida
MUSIC: Tomohiro Yamada

PLOT: Chihiro Komiya is an energetic elementary school student who was living with his mom. Chihiro is very good at doing housework and chores, and his mother’s motto is “No work, no food.” After his mother suddenly dies, a man named Madoka Taketori who claims to be his uncle shows up, and asks Chihiro to come live with him. Chihiro initially refuses, but when seeing the horribly dirty state of Madoka’s rich home, he decides to start cleaning it. Then Madoka makes another offer to Chihiro: that he comes to live with him, but in exchange Chihiro will do the housework. Chihiro accepts this deal, but suddenly finds himself in a maid uniform. ~ANN


This sounds like a horror series.  Unfortunately it isn’t.  A comedy series that focuses on the lifestyle of a maid.  Too bad Duame couldn’t animate this and have it directed by either Masaaki Yuasa or Kunihiko Ikuhara. That would make this show gold.  I am curious how the composer Yamada got into this profession since he’s been doing producer for the past twenty something years even on the Love Hina series.

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SUPER LOVERS

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ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
DIRECTOR: Shinji Ishihara
SERIES COMPOSITION: Yoshiko Nakamura
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Miyuki Abe
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Miki Takihara
MUSIC:

  • Yasuharu Takanashi
  • Shūji Katayama
  • Kenji Katō

PLOT: A high school boy named Haru and his mother are living overseas. His mother orders him to take care of and “civilize” his adoptive brother Ren, a wild young boy who dislikes talking with other people. While their relationship is adversarial at first, they grow closer as they begin to understand one another. ~ANN


Studio DEEN is known for making yaoi series so this was right up their alley.  Not too interested in this show because one, this series has been done before and two the romance in this sounds very creepy.  The visuals do look pretty good for Studio DEEN and considering their track record it’s not all that surprising.

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Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedruge

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ANIMATION STUDIO: SILVER LINK
DIRECTOR: Shinya Kawatsura
SERIES COMPOSITION: Akemi Omode
ORIGINAL CREATOR: Nozomi Uda
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Haruko Iizuka
MUSIC: Hiromi Mizutani

PLOT: Tanaka is a high school boy who sighs (with a hand on his chin), dozes and sleeps just about anytime and anywhere: in classroom, in PE classes, and even after school hours he is too lazy to move. In contrast, his friend Ohta and other classmates around him are quite energetic, despite of their numerous failed attempts to “wake” Tanaka up. ~ANN


A series about a guy who is lazy.  Sounds boring. Pass. SILVER LINK should stick with totally obscure series like Yuri Kuma Arashi that was their best animated show rather than all of these slice-of-life series they’ve been doing lately.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 0%


Terra Formars

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ANIMATION STUDIO: LIDEN FILMS and TYO Animations
DIRECTOR: Michio Fukuda
SERIES COMPOSITION: Naruhisa Arakawa
ORIGINAL CREATORS:

  • Kenichi Tachibana
  • Yu Sasuga

CHARACTER DESIGNERS:

  • Atsushi Ikariya
  • Masahiro Aizawa

MUSIC: Takafumi Wada

PLOT: 2620 A.D. In order to find a vaccine for the virus from Mars with a death rate of 100% called the Alien Engine Virus, Hizamaru and the crew went to Mars to get a sample of one of the giant cockroach creatures, otherwise known as Terraformars. An unforeseen accident happens, and while Akari and the others fight the roaches to try to escape, humanity is fighting with each other behind closed doors. ~ANN


Sequel to Terra Formars. Couldn’t get into the first one. I think it was because this series heavily relied on deaths being as gruesome as possible.  Losing any sort of integrity this series built for its characters only to have them die in future episodes.  Not my cup of tea. Plus the pacing is terrible.

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Ushio to Tora 2

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ANIMATION STUDIO:

  • Studio MAPPA
  • Studio VOLN

DIRECTOR: Satoshi Nishimura
SERIES COMPOSITION:

  • Kazuhiro Fujita
  • Toshiki Inoue

ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kazuhiro Fujita
CHARACTER DESIGNER: Tomoko Mori
MUSIC: Eishi Segawa

PLOT: Sakamoto, a gopher to his upperclassmen in middle school, is suddenly accepted as the coolest guy in high school, with everything he does thought of as art.~ANN


The visuals of the first season looked amazing.  I still have yet to finish that one. I’m glad to see this manga getting a faithful adaptation and with an extremely capable animation studio to produce fluid styles and heavy sound effects during the fight sequences.  One day I will write a full review on this series.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 80%


 

 

ONE-PUNCH MAN Episode 1 [Initial Impression]

Animation Production: Studio MADHOUSE ( BECK: Mongolian Chop Squad, Boogiepop PhantomAoi BungakuBarefoot Gen, Black LagoonBio HunterCasshern SINSCardcaptor SakuraChobitsChihayafuruGungraveThe Girl Who Leapt Through TimeHajime no IppoHellsing Ultimate, Highschool of the DeadHunter x Hunter 2011KaibaKurozukaDenno CoilLast Order: Final Fantasy VIIDeath NoteDeath ParadeNeo TokyoNinja ScrollParadise KissParanoia AgentKiseijuuRecord of Lodoss War, PaprikaPrince of Stride: AlternativeMonster, Moryo no HakoSummer WarsThe Tatami GalaxyTokyo GodfathersTrigunWicked CityDemon City ShinjukuXWolf Children)

Director: Shingo Natsume ( Series Director on Space Dandy / Key Animator on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann episodes 1, 5, 10, 14, 22 and 27 / Key Animator on FullMetal Alchemist: BROTHERHOOD episode 23 / Episode Director, Storyboard and Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 1, 13 and 26)

Series Composition: Tomohiro Suzuki ( Script Writer on Lupin The Third 2015 episodes 2, 4, 8 and 14)

Character Designer: Chikashi Kubota ( Key Animator on Monster episode 57 / Animation Supervisor on Shinsekai Yori episodes 1, 8 and 25 / Animation Supervisor and Key Animator on Space Dandy episodes 12, 8 and 10 / Key Animator on Ashita no Nadja‘s opening sequence / Animation Supervisor on Toki o Kakeru Shoujo / Key Animator on Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann‘s first and second opening sequences / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin‘s second opening sequence)

Music: Makoto Miyazaki ( Music Composer on Dragon Crisis! / Theme song composition on Hyoka‘s opening sequence / Music Composer on Triage X)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Shingo Natsume

Storyboards: Shingo Natsume

Script: Tomohiro Suzuki


MADHOUSE this was amazing.  This is one of their top productions of 2015.  Saitama is a hero that trained in the simplest of ways to gain the title of “One Punch Man” and its the hilarity of his situation that breaks the mold and destroys every action series out there.  Studio Pierrot should learn from these animators and bring back BLEACH.

Saitama lives a simple life in an apartment and lacks a strong personality.  I like how the three years before he goes bald is a cliche backstory.  He saves a kid from death and realizes he wants to become a hero.  Giant crab monsters, Vaccine Man, the Giant brother and little evil doctor brother–everything about this anime screams cliche.  It’s so ridiculous that it works because visually it’s one of the prettiest series I’ve ever seen and it molds together monster-of-the-week formula and packs it into an adrenaline rush of 24 minutes!

I’ve read the manga’s first volume and from what I can tell the jokes that were not as funny are portrayed hilariously in the anime.  That’s when you know this is going to be a stellar series.

Director Shingo Natsume is perfect for this!  He’s got a style that’s very loose and full of charisma.  That’s the charm of this show–a visually stunning adaptation.  Shingo Natsume learned how to bring life to ONE’s manga from his TV animation debut in Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei and this show looks freeform from anything that aired in Fall 2015!  We’ve also got a handful of animators from Space Dandy on this–Saitama’s fight with Vaccine Man was impressive but the impressive part had to be his fight against the Subterraneans!

The Blu-ray volumes look stunning in 4K and its great to see retail company Emotion adding English subtitles to this release like what they did with GANGSTA and Space Dandy.


 

OP: “The Hero!! ~Ikareru Ken ni Honō o Tsukeru~” (THE HERO!! ~怒れる拳に火をつけろ~;The Hero!! Set Fire to the Furious Fist) by JAM Project

Directed by: Shingo Natsume

Storyboards: Shingo Natsume

Animation Supervisor: Chikashi Kubota

Jam Project.  This band is a good pick for the action theme of this series.  Tons of monsters show up in this and its great to see how heavily detailed they are. Fantastic illustrations and smooth animation provide a short but sweet look at Saitama’s abilities.  

ED: “Hoshi Yori Saki ni Mitsukete Ageru” (星より先に見つけてあげる;I’ll Find It Before the Stars for You) by Hiroko Moriguchi

Directed by: Shinichiro Ushijima

Storyboards: Shinichiro Ushijima

Animation Supervisor: Chikabi Kubota

This reminds me of Kisejuu‘s ending in that it offers a glimpse of simplicity.  Life far removed from the supernatural and downright strange monsters that appear in this show.  I like how toned down it is compared to the rest of One-Punch Man and its opening.  Vocals by Hiroko Moriguchi are beautiful.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Shōwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjū Episode 1 [Initial Impression]

Animation Production: Studio DEEN ( Ranma 1/2, Maison IkkokuEhrgeizRurouni KenshinShadow SkillFruits BasketRead or DieGetbackersMouseZipangGravitationLaw of UekiJigoku ShojoFate/stay NightSimounAmatsukiVampire KnightGiant KillingNurarihyon no MagoHigurashi no Naku Koro ni KaiSankareaMeganebu!Rozen Maiden: ZuruckspulenPupaSakura TrickHybrid Child OVASuper LoversSakamoto desu ga?)

Director: Shinichi Omata (credited as Mamoru Hatakeyama) ( Storyboard on Arakawa Under the Bridge episodes 1, 2, 5, 11 and 13 / Animation Producer and Director on Campus OAV / Episode Director on Phi-Brain Kami no Puzzle episode 9 / Episode Director on Puella Magi Madoka Magica episode 4)

Series Composition: Jun Fumagai ( Series Script Writer on Aquarion Logos / Script Writer on Galilei Donna / Series Composition on Hamatora / Script Writer on Junrui wa Suitai Shimashita episodes 5, 6, 7 and 8 / Script Writer on PSYCHO-PASS 2 / Script Writer on Zankyo no Terror episodes 5 and 7)

Character Designer:  Mieko Hosoi ( Assistant Animation Director on Air film / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Aoi Bungaku episodes 9 and 10 / Key Animator on BLEACH: The Diamond Dust Rebellion / Character Designer of Hai to Genso no Grimgar / Key Animator on Metropolis film / Key Animator on Michiko e Hatchin episode 17 / Key Animator on Moryo no Hako episode 6 / Key Animator on Yojō-Han Shinwa Taikei episode 5 / Key Animator on Sasami-san@Ganbaranai / Key Animator and Drew Illustration scene on Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso‘s first opening sequence )

Music: Kana Shibue ( brand new composer for the anime industry!)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Directors: 

  • Hiroaki Akagi ( Key Animation on Cybersix / Episode Director Hetalia The Beautiful World / Storyboard and Episode Director on Prince Mackaroo episode 7 and 9 / In-Between Animator on Porco Rosso)

 

  • Kenichi Takeshita ( Director and Storyboard on Amon- Apocalypse of Devilman / Episode Director on Final Fantasy: Unlimited episodes 1 and 13 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex episode 15 / Episode Director on Hunter x Hunter 2011 episode 4 / Animation Director on Taiho Shichauzo You’re Under Arrest episodes 11 and 19)

Storyboards: Shinichi Omata

Script: Jun Kumagai


Anime isn’t what it used to be.  Stories about real people.  Solid characterization and most importantly animation that translates well into a strong story.  Josei is a genre that is somewhat of a lost breed in the anime industry.  The 90’s was a decade that flourished with astonishing josei anime from MADHOUSE’s Pet Shop of Horrors to Versailles no Bara.  The 2000’s gave us the acclaimed drama NANA, romance comedy Nodame Cantabile and the inspirational sports karuta-based Chihayafuru.  Josei is without a doubt my favorite genre.  Without all the moe and unnecessary fanservice we get to see shows focusing on adulthood from parental challenges, relationships and achieving your dreams as you grow older.  The rewards are great because there’s fantastic direction and some top notch characterization!  The last few years we haven’t had a memorable josei series aside from a few Expo shorts and OVAs (Original Video Animations).

Enter Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju a historical josei series based on the manga by Haruko Kumota.  This is the first manga that she is branching out with and doing a story that doesn’t heavily feature yaoi (boys love) connotations. Her art is amazing and her work on this showa time period is fascinating.

The Showa era is the time period during the reign of the Japanese Emperor Hirohito from Dececmber 25th, 1926 through January 7th, 1989.  It was the longest reign of any emperor previously and it was a time where Japan was moving toward a restructuring of its country.  Political totalitarianism and facism became the backbone in Japan’s invasion of China in 1937.

A lot of series use the showa period as a backdrop.  The decades after 1945 are usually overlooked but the few that have tackled this time frame have done exceptionally strong.  Showa Monogatari set in 1964 and follows the Yamazaki family around the time of the Tokyo Summer Olympics.  It’s a good dramatic slice-of-life series if you are looking for a showa period to get into.  Moving back to Showa Rakugo the narrative is the second time, Joshiraku being the first, that I know of, that tackles rakugo.  Rakugo is a comedic monologue form of entertainment. The structure is laid out in three parts–the makura (preliminary comments), honmon (main story) and the ochi (the punchline).  The makura was the most important aspect of rakugo storytellers during the Edo period as to aid the audience in two-ways.  Draw them into the mystery of the stories and to ensure the audience would understand the jokes throughout the stories.  In anime format the makura is correlated to information drops at the beginning of the story.  For Showa Rakugo the show doesn’t highlight this first part as much and with good reason.  I believe it would distract the viewer and make them bored of the story on screen. There’s the difference between good rakugo and bad.  This first episode does an amazing job with this by contrasting Yotarou and Yakumo’s relationship and their own rakugo.

Showa Rakugo should have been the other series to air alongside Boku Machi on Noitamina’s timeslot.  One is seinen and the other is josei–what a better way to introduce these two genres to new and old viewers than run them side-by-side.  This was the only premiere to have 47-minutes of storytelling and omit an opening and ending sequence all together.  Remember the two OVA’s that came out last year?  This is a re-telling of it.  More in-depth and combines the two episodes together.  Watching this I felt as though I was seeing a feature length film!  The splendid mood and its setting was resembles the strength Mushishi carries on screen!   I really like how there’s no definite year that this show is set around.  We just get an idea based on the setting and the dialogue.  It’s definitely post-war era and judging by the look of the cars we are probably seeing this premiere from the 1970s.

The introduction is paced nicely.  The young ex-prisoner knows his dream of becoming the apprentice of Rakugo master Yuurakutei Yakumo so he stalks him.  He’s carefree and reminds Yakumo of an old friend that once mastered Rakugo theater. The seiyuu involved reminds me that there still is hope for powerful voice acting with anime actors.  Boku Machi also has talented actors!  We sure are lucky this Winter season!  I bet Akira Ishida trained for a few months to nail down that Rakugo performance!

Yotarou is very energetic and we see that from the very beginning of this episode as he’s causing Yakumo’s driver Matsuda grief. He’s been in prisoner for awhile and after a visit with Yakumo decides he’s going to change his ways.  He changes his whole outlook even down to his appearance!  Nice way to build up the mystery surrounding Yakumo’s rakugo as Yotorou describes his performances as “scary”.  Konatsu’s rakugo provides a strong primer into the entertainment this show will dive into.  This show does what many anime this season are incapable of doing–balancing the structure of “showing without telling”. Too many premieres this season have beaten a terminology backstory to death especially with Divine Gate‘s horribly laid out first episode.

Showa Rakugo introduces us to Yotarou’s former crime boss and in an odd-twist he represents the viewer’s perspective of being brand new to the art of rakugo.  Such an incredible way to deliver Yotarou’s “Dekigobokoro” with sheer brilliance! Rather than showing us scenes of the thief and the homeowner describing his situation to the landlord we’re given very expressive animation from Yotarou and superb acting by Akira Ishida!  Then there’s the audience laughter that breathes a ton of life to this entire scene!  I felt as if I was right there with the crowd laughing at all the jokes!

The best out of all of this has got to be how its directed.  Shinichi Omata (also known as Mamoru Hatakeyama at Studio DEEN) has his background in a few ecchi series and a select amount of SHAFT produced anime.  Omata’s photographic style is defined by his biggest influence–the director of Bakemonogatari Tatsuya Oishi.  He was working at SHAFT studios in 2011 and 2012 on the hit Monogatari series and it wasn’t until 2012 he received a promotion under Studio DEEN that he would become the director of Sankarea. He’s got a fair amount of experience in key animation and episode direction so seeing as how spectacular Showa Rakugo‘s first episode was I am definitely going to be keeping an eye on this director’s future works!

Showa Rakugo is patient in its delivery but the reward by the end is amazing.  I’m glad to see we’re getting a bit of background about Yakumo’s relationship with the deceased Sukeroku through Yotarou’s actions and rakugo.  Yakumo doesn’t seem to be happy about this.  I’m sure this show will delve deeper into his friendship with Yakumo and the reasons why Sukeroku’s daughter Konatsu feels bitter about him.  Overall, it’s the best premiere this season!

Judging by the preview it looks like we will be traveling to the past and seeing how Yakumo and Sukeroku got into rakugo.  I certainly hope that we get back to Yatorou and Konatsu as they’re just dynamite to watch on screen!

That song during the credits. Wow. Megumi Hayashibara on vocals and Sheena Ringo writing the song was a great collaborative effort! The soundtrack to this series rocks!

I’ve watched this twice now and I hadn’t notice this before but it was a smart move cinematically to have visuals during Yakumo’s performance.  Yotarou’s rakugo is passionate and extremely comical we didn’t need much help gathering what the story was about.  Yakumo’s on the other hand was fierce, detailed, and gripping!  The dark images that represented his story illustrated this divide in rakugo style.  A strong visual choice that paid off greatly at the end of this episode!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 11/10

 

 

Musaigen no Phantom World Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

In the near future, in a world born of human imagination, what humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called “phantoms.” Haruhiko Ichijō, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability “Spirit of Five Elements,” Reina Izumi, who has the ability “Phantom Eater,” and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world. ~ANN


 

Animation Production: Kyoto Animation ( Amagi Brilliant Park, Free!K-On!Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai!, Figure 17Full Metal Panic!, Hibike! EuphoniumHyōkaKanon, Kyoukai no Kanata, Lucky StarNichijoSora o Miageru Shōjo no Hitomi ni Utsuru SekaiTamako Market)

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara ( Director on Air / Director on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Episode Director on Fushigi Yugi episode 19 / Chief Director and Storyboard on Haruhi Suzumiya film and TV series / Director on Nichijo  / Director on Hibike! Euphonium / Storyboard and Episode Director on Tenchi Universe episodes 3, 8, 13 and 23)

Series Composition: Fumihiko Shimo ( Series Composition on AirAria the Scarlett Ammo Double AClannadMelancholy of Haruhi SuzumiyaKokoro Connect, and most of Kyoto Animation and Ishihara’s directorial projects)

Character Designer:  Kazumi Ikeda ( Animation Director on Air episodes 2, 5 and 8 / Animation Director on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 5 and 11 / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Clannad / Key Animator on Free! ending sequence / Character Designer on Chūnibyō demo Koi ga Shitai! / Animation Director on Hibike! Euphonium)

Music: EFFY ( Wrote insert song arrangements for Cross AngeMagical Girl Lyrical Nanoha the Movie 2nd A’s and No-Rin)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Ichirou Miyoshi ( Episode Director and Storyboard on Air episode 11 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Full Metal Panic! The Second Raid episodes 4 and 12 / Storyboard and Episode Director on Gate Keepers 21 / Storyboard and Episode Director on K-On! season 2 episode 4)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director on Amagi Brilliant Park / Key Animator and Storyboard on Amagi Brilliant Park ending sequence / Storyboard and Director on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences / Storyboards on Kaze no Yojimbo episodes 4 and 22 / Storyboards and Episode Director on Kyoukai no Kanata episodes 2, 4 and 10)

Script: Fumihiko Shimo ( Script Writer on Amagi Brilliant Park episodes 1, 2, 8, 11 and 13)


Typical Kyoto Animation.  They produce about one series a season and it’s all in-house staff.  Character Designs, backgrounds, musical style, color designs every aspect of this show seems to me a lot cheaper to do with an average budget. I like how visually imaginative this show is but for realism purposes I can’t continue it because it does not make sense.  If our brains were altered we could possibly see pixie girls and giant monsters?

Optical illusions play a big part of this show and it was a good choice to use Kyoto Animation for this premise.  However, it’s not straying away from their usual works.  Adaptation from light novel material with a large amount of fanservice and moe.  Apart from the beautiful animation and top notch sequences by Kyoto’s in-house animators Taichi Ishidate, Shinpei Sawa and Kouhei Nakahara we just have a generic Kyoto Animation fanservice fluff show. Boring.  Please do something more interesting.

This was a step-down from what they’ve delivered in previous years with Hyoka, Haruhi Suzumiya and Air.  The definite killer for me in this was Mai Kawakami’s breasts becoming a major plot point and resolution to the totem poles situation.  What?  At least the 16-bit style was a cool addition that’s out of the norm for Kyoto Animation. I don’t have a valid reason to watch this show other than for its animation.


 

OP: “Naked Dive” by SCREEN mode

Directed by: Tatsuya Ishihara

Storyboards: Tatsuya Ishihara

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda ( Key Animator on Naruto episode 55)

Generic J-Rock that has a style similar to the artist Mell. The animation cuts and transitions aren’t good as it focuses more on fanservice rather than being original.  Cookie cutter character designs.  Come on Kyoto! Branch out more! I will say this. If there’s a studio saving the industry in getting otaku to purchase their products it’s Kyoto Animation and SHAFT studios.  It’s like I’ve mentioned before sometimes you have to be more visually appealing than have a decent story however this studio does the same stuff way too often.  This opening clearly indicates that.

ED: “Junshin Always” (純真Always; Innocence Always) by Azusa Tadokoro

Directed by: Yasuhiro Takemoto ( Director and Storyboards on Amagi Brilliant Park opening and ending sequences)

Storyboards: Yasuhiro Takemoto

Animation Supervisor: Kazumi Ikeda

Japanese Seiyuu with two series this season–Divine Gate’s Bedivere and this anime’s Ruru.  It’s not a big surprise that they used a seiyuu to do the ending song for this. Just like the opening this was generic.  Mostly with Ruru flying.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 4/10

 

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga artist and pizza delivery man who has the ability to turn back time and prevent deaths.  ~ANN

Animation Production: A-1 Pictures

Director: Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Sword Art Online / Episode Director on DEATH NOTE episodes 2, 7, 14 and 17 / Storyboards and Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4, 12 and 19)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!! / Script Writer on Prince of Stride: Alternative episode 2)

Character Designer:  Keigo Sasaki ( Key Animator on Le Chevalier D’Eon episodes 3, 8, 11 and 22 / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 1 / Character Designer on Ao no Exorcist and Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda)

Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi ( Music Composer on Ah! My Goddess TV and film / Music Composer on Galilei Donna / Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor on Final Fantasy VII Advent Children / Music Composer on Shirobako / Music Composer on Tari Tari)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomohiko Ito

Storyboards: Tomohiko Ito

Script: Taku Kishimoto


 

The new season is finally here and with it another Noitamina series.  I’ve been very un-interested in a lot of what this season has to offer but from the announcement of what was going to be airing there were three that had my attention.  Josei series Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, science fiction action series Dimension W and this. Adapting a Kei Sanbe manga was the right choice for 2016.  It’s about time we get one of his works.  He’s known for writing enthralling characters and putting them into situations that evolve their characters to great heights.  I was actually quite surprised this would be the series to receive an anime adaptation before some of his earlier works in the 2000’s. After seeing this premiere however, my mind has changed on this.  Boku Machi takes a college-aged student, gives him an extraordinary ability to time travel and throws dreadful situations at him one after the other.  This is by far one of the top premieres this season–stunning visuals, tense atmosphere not to mention fast-pacing.  Tomohiko Ito compiled an entire volume in just 25 minutes!

Even better is the fact that we’ve got two extremely famous Japanese actors voicing 29-year old and 10-year old Satoru Fujinuma.  Only other time this has happened, If I remember right, is Michiko e Hatchin.  I give props to them for handling this entire episode wonderfully.  The narrative warrants Boku Machi as the “stand-out” show of this season.  I really like how real Satoru’s personality is influenced by his power. He’s well aware of Katagiri liking him but doesn’t want to get closer to her probably because of what he’s seen with his time traveling.  His relationship with his 52-year old mother is very much real–the conversation they have about Katagiri being marriage potential was one of the more subtle scenes that explores his family relationship very strongly.  I’m sure when we see his childhood scenes its very different–lot less respectful.  His mother, Sachiko clued in on the incident that happened when Satoru was a child and what a great way to foreshadow the ending by using serial murderer Jun Shiratori as the red herring.

An aspect that keeps me coming back to watching a variety of anime is how an episode is storyboarded.  This episode used a ton of distance shots to capture this theme of time really well.  The composition is ridiculously good for a television series.  Great framing on the characters to build up the tense atmosphere surround Satoru’s ability and I really love the shot where it pans around Sachiko’s keen sense of another abduction attempt.  There both just standing there–Satoru is trying to figure out with his time traveling ability what’s out of place and his mom definitely knows something isn’t right and figures it right out!  Given how we’re left with a cliffhanger I wonder how this will pan out since the director announced he was going to be following the manga’s ending and it hasn’t even ended yet! There’s sure to be a lot of material cut.

At first the narration had me a bit worried.  There’s a lot.  However, it works in that Tomohiko Ito was able to keep the momentum going while trimming down from the source material.  If there’s more manga parts left from the anime I really hope the execution of this series stays true because if that’s the case this might be the best anime to air this season!

The sound effects were very strong.  Coming from Another’s and PSYCHO-PASS‘s sound director Yoshikazu Iwanami this was pretty impressive for its first episode.

My club just recently had our after holiday anime party. This was one of the episodes shown including holiday-themed episodes from Nisekoi and Ranma.  Feature film was Tokyo Godfathers.  Boku Machi received a huge applause after it was shown.  Really good to see Noitamina’s picked up a gem.  Next one they should do is Omoide Emanon.  Gorgeous artwork in that manga and a fascinating story!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Haruchika: Haruto to Chika wa Seishun Suru Episode 1 (Initial Impressions)

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Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it. ~ANN

Animation Production: P.A. Works ( Angel Beats!CANAANHanasaku IrohaShirobakoTrue TearsTari TariNagi no Asukara)

Director: Masakazu Hashimoto ( Episode Director on Hanasaku Iroha episode 13 / Episode Director on Immortal Grand Prix 2 episodes 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 19, 22 and 24 / Director on Soul Eater NOT!)

Series Composition: Reiko Yoshida ( Screenplay Writer on Aria the Avyenire OAV / Script Writer on Ao No Exorcist The Movie / Series Composition on Chu-Bra!! / Script Writer on Genshiken episode 2)

Character Designer:  Asako Nishida ( Character Designer on Active Raid / Character Designer on Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko / Animation Director on Fate/Stay Night (2005) / Character Designer on Moryo no Hako / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Simoun)

Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi ( Music Composer on Ah! My Goddess TV and film / Music Composer on Galilei Donna / Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor on Final Fantasy VII Advent Children / Music Composer on Shirobako / Music Composer on Tari Tari)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Storyboards: Atsuko Ishizuka

Script: Taku Kishimoto


We’ve seen school-based mystery and music themed series before. Both of which were a part of Kyoto Animation’s works– Hibike! Euphonium and Hyouka.  I enjoyed Hyouka and am still getting through Hibike but I have to say I get the feeling this won’t be a great show.  Coming from the same director of Tari Tari no less it would surprise me if this turns out to be anything spectacular.  Take Chika Homura for example, she’s a kawaii tenth grader eager to join the school band club.  Her character is very annoying.  From the get-go I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this show being animated by P.A. Works simply because this is supposed to be a deep mystery series and in this first episode we’re getting  a girl trying her hardest to be cute for her teacher.  The first half was your typical backstory–Chika has always wanted to be in concert band and it did develop her character but from the moment the teacher stepped into the picture its as if the writer forgot about her development.

I really can’t quite grasp why P.A. Works couldn’t step out of their element here and do something different.  Be a bit more faithful to the novels.  The artwork in those were incredible and I can’t see why Asako Nishida couldn’t design characters that looked older.  The only good part from this guy’s career was his designs on Moryo no Hako.  This show needs to step it up.  This entire episode screams impressionism.  Similar to Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works is another studio that you can tell from the first scene that it’s their work.  Brightly lit backgrounds, beautiful childlike characters (even some of the adults in the series that should be 50-something look 18 to 30).

The only part of this that breaks the norm is the other lead Haruta Kamijo is gay and also in love with the band teacher.

I was really hoping for blood with those music notes not paint and an entire episode dedicated to the two leads confessing their love.

Please, just let Studio MAPPA take over now.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 2/10

DROPPED

 

Winter 2016 Anime Series Preview

I am so behind on my posts. Still need to work on around 10 shows that’s not including series from the Summer and Fall season.  For one of my New Years resolutions I’m making it a priority to cover this new season on a regular basis. At least I’m going to try to.  Without further ado here is the list of series.


Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Production IMS
  • CHIEF DIRECTOR: Goro Taniguchi
  • DIRECTOR: Noriaki Akitaya
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Original Work
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Naruhisa Arakawa
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Asako Nishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shun Saeki
  • MUSIC: Kotaro Nakagawa

PLOT: An original anime set in a part of Tokyo that has descended into a quagmire, the story follows Unit 8 of the 5th Special Public Security Section’s 3rd Mobile Assault Division — popularly called “The Eighth” — who don powered armor “Willware” exoskeletons to counter the rise in crime.


The chief director is the same director of Code Geass. I’m glad to see we’ve got the Bakuman director helming this project under Taniguchi.  Hopefully there will be a mix of creative influence here.  Having the Spice & Wolf may help with the pacing of this series.  However, knowing it’s the same script writer of Upotte!! has me very worried that this is going to be just another mecha series filled with fan service.  Premise sounds interesting though especially the quagmire as the backdrop.  I just hope they’ve done their research for this show.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 65%


 

Ajin

Ajin

  • ANIMATION STUDIO: POLYGON PICTURES
  • CHIEF DIRECTOR: Hiroyuki Seshita
  • DIRECTOR: Hiroaki Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Gamon Sakurai
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Hiroshi Seko
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yuki Moriyama
  • MUSIC: Yuugo Kanno

PLOT: 17 years ago, immortals first appeared on the battlefields of Africa. Later, rare, unknown new immortal lifeforms began appearing among humans, and they became known as “Ajin” (demi-humans). Just before summer vacation, a Japanese high school student is instantly killed in a traffic accident on his way home from school. However, he is revived, and a price is placed on his head. Thus begins a boy’s life on the run from all of humankind.


Coming back from the film the entire staff returns for the television adaptation.  POLYGON PICTURES uses a 3D technique that not very many companies use.  Their known for this and it really works, it’s very different from most anime that air alongside it. It’s also the team that did the Sidonia no Kishi series and film. I’m looking forward to this since it’s a horror series and music composer Yuugo Kanno did a nice job with the first season of Psycho-Pass’ soundtrack. What has me really sold is the script writer one of my favorites from 2015.  Hiroshi Seko.  Amazing writer that took on the best episode of Kill la Kill, episode 5.  Plus a few episodes of Zankyou no Terror.  I haven’t read the manga but I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about it. I’m looking forward to this one.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 75%


 

Akagami no Shirayukihime Season 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: BONES
  • DIRECTOR: Masahiro Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sorata Akizuki
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Deko Akao
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kumiko Takahashi
  • MUSIC: Michiru Oshima

PLOT: A follow up to the first season’s story. Shirayuki was born with extremely rare and beautiful red hair. When the Prince of her home country asks her to become his concubine, she decides to run away from her home. While making her escape through a forest, Shirayuki has an encounter with a boy named Zen, the Prince of a neighboring country. Shirayuki decides to join Zen in his country, in the pursuit of a better life, respect, and romance.


 

I absolutely loved the first season.  I’m still working on reviewing it. Michiru Oshima is one of my favorite composers of 2015. Her compositions are absolutely compelling and for a classic tale like this one it’s not doubt she can’t deliver another top notch score to this second season!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 100%


 

Assassination Classroom Season 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: LERCHE
  • DIRECTOR: Seiji Kishi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yusei Matsui
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Makoto Uezu
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kazuaki Morita
  • MUSIC: Naoki Sato

PLOT: Class 3E is about to begin their second semester. And while some things have changed, the class assignment is still the same: kill their teacher before the end of the year. Easier said than done since Koro Sensei’s made it clear he won’t go down without a fight.


Boring story.  I tried to watch this series when it initially aired last spring and it was just awful.  Which is a surprise because I’ve enjoyed Seiji Kasha’s works before.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 0%


 

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: GONZO
  • DIRECTOR: Fumitoshi Oizaki
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Nacho Kio
    • Ryoichi Watanabe
    • Ryusuke Mutsu
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Reiko Yoshida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: 
    • Itsuka Yuki
    • Suzumori
  • MUSIC: Elements Garden

PLOT: In a world where flying is as simple as riding a bicycle, there is a popular sport called “Flying Circus” (dogfight race). The protagonist who once hoped for a future in this sport suffered a setback due to an overwhelming defeat, and withdrew from the sport for this and some other reason. However, he met the transfer student Asuka Kurashina, and in teaching her to fly the skies, the old passion returned. He takes part in the Flying Circus again.


Another eroge visual novel turned anime series.  Judging by the trailers the animation doesn’t look too bad.  It’s got a strange 3D look on the character designs that almost looks as if they did finishing touches with CG animation. The worrisome part about this is the original PC visual novel was written by Fruit of Grisaia‘s Nacho Kio and Kururu‘s Ryoichi Watanabe.  Both are known for doing extreme ecchi scenes and having an animated work in their hands just oozes sexually suggestive scenes everywhere.  I don’t really know much about the score production other than that its done by Fruit of Grisaia’s team–heavy on the synthesizer stringed melodies.  The story sounds generic too.  Curious about the setting though.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 10%

 


 

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED]

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Tomohiko Ito
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kei Sanbe
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Keigo Sasaki
  • MUSIC: Yuki Kaijura

PLOT: Follows Satoru, a struggling manga artist who has an ability that forces him back in time to prevent deaths. When his mother is killed he’s sent back in time to solve the mystery, but ends up back in elementary school, just before the disappearance of his classmate Kayo.


Asian Kung Fu Generation is performing the opening song! Yes!! What’s even cooler is that they’re redoing a song from 2004, Re:Re.  Nice way to tie in the show’s themes of time travel! I could not have asked for a better team to handle this anime adaptation! I’ve been reading the manga and it’s absolutely wonderful! Gin no Saji‘s Tomohiko Ito will do a nice job getting the slow pacing down. Taku Kishimoto will nail down the characterization wonderfully!  The voice cast has me ever more intrigued. They went with authenticity by having lead character Satoru Fujinuma [29 years old] be voiced by popular J-Drama actor Shinnosuke Mitsushima! Plus, the voice of Satoru Fujinuma [10 years old] will be voiced by J-Drama actress Tao Tsuchiya from popular film series Rurouni Kenshin! This will be the first time these two will be lending their talents to an animated work! If I remember correctly, Michiko e Hatchin has been the only other series to have it’s two starring roles be cast by big name Japanese actresses! This is going to be very good! The music already sounds dark and carries a heavy presence to the series themes of death and supernatural time traveling. Yuki Kaijura will do wonders for this anime! Great addition to the Noitamina lineup!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 110% [I felt going above 100 was appropriate for this series]


 

Bubuki Buranki

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: SANZIGEN
  • DIRECTOR: Daizen Komatsuda
  • ORIGINAL WORK
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Jirou Ishii
    • Yukinori Kitajima
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yuusuke Kozaki
  • MUSIC: Maseru Yokoyama

PLOT: Returning to Japan after having been away for 10 years, Azuma Kazuki finds himself attacked and captured by armed strangers. What saved him was his childhood friend, the girl Kogane Asabuki, and the Bubuki that had become her right hand.


Commemorating the studio’s 10th anniversary. Really?  Let’s hope they don’t mess this up like they did with Arslan Senki‘s animation.  I think what strikes a positive in my book for seeing the first few episodes is Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso‘s composer Masaru Yokohama doing the music for this series.  Arakawa Under the Bridge soundtrack was amazing too. Great to see this guy being used for more stuff! What worries me a bit is that Hamatora was a mess of series and we’ve got the creator of that working on the scripts to this.  The animation is strikingly different than a lot of series I saw last year.  It’s like a cross between God Eater‘s cell-shaded style with designs straight out of Black Rock Shooter not sure if I’m glad about this. 3D animation always has the habit of being too shaky.  Sometimes it works like with Sidonia no Kishi but that’s because that series had a strong narrative to tell.  That being said, Bubuki Buranki is by the illustrator of Speed Grapher.  Character designs in that show were fantastic for its time.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 55%


 

Dagashi Kashi

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Feel
  • DIRECTOR: Shigehito Takayanagi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kotoyama
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Shigehito Takayanagi
    • Yasuko Kamo
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kanetoshi Kamimoto
  • MUSIC: 
    • Pony Canyon [producer]
    • Satoshi Motoyama [sound director]

PLOT: Kokonotsu “Coconuts” Shikada dreams of becoming a famous manga artist. The only problem—he’s terrible. His real talent is selling the complex and delicious snacks in his father’s “dagashi” shop. He never thought much about the family business until the trendy, eccentric Hotaru showed up. As a lover of “dagashi,” she can’t let his talent go to waste and decides she won’t stop ‘til she’s sold him on sweets.


I’m sold on the plot alone because it’s strange.  The focus on sweets should give anyone that’s a fan of Shokugeki no Soma a try for this series.  I checked out a bit of the manga and while it’s decent at best it does carry a lot of anime tropes that are often overused.  A comedy series with no substantial dramatic plot.  Just a strong emphasis on gag jokes with female Hotaru teasing Shikada left and right.  In manga format it’s ok because there is a pacing to it that balances between that and the side girl character that’s in love with Shikada.  Hopefully this show won’t be heavy on the fan service.  Given by this studio’s track record it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that it would be anything more than just that.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 60%


 

Dimension W

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: 
    • Studio 3Hz
    • Orange
    • Funimation [part of the production committee]
  • DIRECTOR: Kanta Kamei
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yuji Iwahara
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Shotaro Suga
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Tokuyuki Matsutake
  • MUSIC: Shiina Go

PLOT: Humanity harnessed a new inexhaustible energy from inventions called “Coils” in 2051. In 2072, a skilled recovery specialist named Kyōma Mabuchi encounters a mysterious, beautiful woman right in the middle of a certain job. It is a fateful encounter that opens the door to the new dimension “W.”


The animation looks very stylish for a series that is extremely action-packed and is sci-fi heavy.  I’m glad to see the Dark Than Black and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex writer working on this.  He’s got a knack for science fiction and as beautiful as the characters look I’m sure this one is going to be pretty good.  My big issue with this is Kanta Kamei.  He did a nice job on Saekano earlier this year and Usagi Drop from 2011 was a great Noitamina series but when it comes to action series he overlooks the importance of characterization and how to get that on the screen.  I’ve got faith that Shotaro Suga will point him in the right direction, not to mention Funimation providing some backbone will definitely make the first few episodes come together quite nicely.  It’ll be interesting to see how the English dub will be handled considering they’ve got their hands in this show even way before it airs.

Looking forward to this one. What’s also great is where the original source material came from–Yuji Iwahara, the creator of King of Thorn!  He also designed the characters to Darker than Black!  When I saw this trailer I immediately got Darker than Black vibes from it.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 90%


 

Divine Gate

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Pierrot
  • DIRECTOR: Noriyuki Abe
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based on GungHo’s iOS and Android app
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Natsuko Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Ichiro Uno
  • MUSIC: Takumi Ozawa

PLOT: No one knows when, where, or how “the gate” was created; furthermore, no one can see, touch, or access it. However, when “the gate” is opened, realms of mortals, fairies, and daemons collide, destroying world orders. While leaders of three realms try to restore orders, some talented and capable mortals begin to approach the gate, now known as “Divine Gate.” Yet no one has reached the Gate and returned, however.


You know I’m not sure why this series’ writer Natsuko Takahashi is even doing this show.  It’s just a rehash of Gate from 2015.  The animation doesn’t even look that good even for Pierrot’s standards.  Takahashi could do so much better. I mean look he wrote the script for the animated version of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo the series that single handedly had one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen in an anime!  Dare I even mention Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, fantastic character study! What’s even weirder is that the studio is using former Madhouse employee Ichiro Uno to design the characters, the same animator that worked on the amazing Metropolis film by Osamu Tezuka!  The anime industry is really grasping at straws these past few season aren’t they?  Gone are the days of 13 series per season.

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Durarara!!x2 Ketsu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Shuka
  • DIRECTOR: Takahiro Omori
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Ryogo Narita
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Noboru Takagi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takahiro Kishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Suzuhito Yasuda
  • MUSIC: Makoto Yoshimori

PLOT: Ikebukuro is engulfed in a spiral of confusion. A group of individuals, each carrying the weight of their own past, gathers at Shinra’s apartment, while in the city the Dollars, Yellow Scarves, and Saika contend for power. However, the situation takes a turn that no one could expect when Celty’s head is revealed to the public, as this tale approaches its conclusion.


I’m really glad to see that nothing has changed between x2 Shou x2 Ten and now this part.  The staff and seiyuu remain the same and I was quite impressed with Studio Shuka’s animation on these previous seasons.  Not as detailed with designs but they do have a different style that’s still very engaging.  I’m sure I will be following this one once I do a full season review of x2 Ten rather than episode-by-episode in order to catch up.

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Fairy Tail Zero

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: 
    • A-1 Pictures
    • Bridge
  • DIRECTOR: TBA
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hiro Mashima
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: TBA
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: TBA
  • MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

PLOT: Many years ago, Mavis Vermilion was a servant on Sirius Island, mistreated by a guild master and his daughter, Zera. But Mavis stayed positive, because her mother once told her that fairies never visit people who cry about their problems. When the guild came under attack, Mavis pulled Zera from the wreckage into the forest. Seven years went by, and the powerful wizards Warrod Sequen, Precht, and Yuri Dreyer arrived on the island, seeking a powerful jade gemstone. This journey would change the course of magical history.


Not much is really known about the anime adaptation of this other than the music is done by the same composer of the ongoing Fairy Tail series. I’ll be honest, I never actually seen Fairy Tail past episode 75.  I stopped because it was getting too repetitive.  I feel this won’t be any different than the mainstream series.

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Ganbare! Lulu Lolo [3rd Season]

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Fanworks
  • DIRECTOR: Yuji Umoto
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Hiroyuki Aihara (story)
    • Nami Adachi (art)
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Hiroyuki Aihara
    • Masako Imai
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: TBA
  • MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

PLOT: The anime centers around the daily life of two twin bear sisters: the orange-colored Lulu and the yellow-colored Lolo. The two take on new jobs and, despite the occasional failure and tears, give their best efforts.


I’ve actually never heard of this.  It’s apparently on its third season and is a children’s series. I have absolutely no interest in this show whatsoever. It’s based on the best-selling Kuma no Gekko picture books that inspired the other two tv anime and feature length film.  If they had Kunihiko Ikuhara direct this I would definitely watch this!

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Gate: Jietai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakeri 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Takahiko Kyogoku
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takumi Yanai
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuhiko Urahata
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Jun Nakai
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Daisuke Izuka
  • MUSIC: Yoshiaki Fujisawa

PLOT: A gate appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district sometime in the 21st century. From the gate pours out monsters, knights from middle-age Europe, and other fantasy-like beings, and they kill many of the citizens of Tokyo. This event is known as the Ginza Incident. The government sends a small group of soldiers from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to the alternate world beyond the gate. Led by otaku soldier Yōji, they find that the villages in the world are being attacked by a dragon. An elf girl who is a survivor from the dragon’s rampage joins the group in their travels across the dangerous new world.


A-1 Pictures is doing a ton of stuff this season. Four series including one of my top picks, Boku Machi.  Plus they’re working on shonen ai film DoukyuuseiGlass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai and Persona 3 The Movie 4: Winter of Rebirth. That’s a lot of budget to use and animators.  Hopefully this season won’t run them dry for awhile. The staff returns for the second half of Gate. Yay. [You may insert sarcasm here]

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Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Ryosuke Nakamura
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Ao Jumonji
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Ryosuke Nakamura
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mieko Hosoi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Eiri Shirai
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: When Haruhito awakens, he’s in the dark. He doesn’t know where he is, why is he here, and where he came from. Around him there are several men and women who have the same circumstances. Haruhito and his companions find themselves in a “game-like world” called Grimgar and must form a party, cooperate, and learn new skills to survive the harsh environment together.


Oh my goodness. This sounds promising.  For one it’s another A-1 Pictures production.  The director of the amazing and horrifying Moryou no Hako!  It’s really good he’s writing adapting this too because he sure knows how to tell a story without too much fluff. However, this is coming from a light novel so we don’t know how far this anime could get too.  Hopefully it won’t end up like what I’ve been hearing Rokka turned out to be. Still need to finish that series.  Also peaking my interest for this one is Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju character designer Mieko Hosoi.  Since its A-1 Pictures and Mieko they both know how to illustrate and get the animation to really move well.

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Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: P.A. Works
  • DIRECTOR: Masakazu Hashimoto
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sei Hatsuno
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Reiko Yoshida
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Asako Nishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Namaniku ATK of Nitro+
  • MUSIC: Shiroh Hamaguchi

PLOT: Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it.


When I heard this was receiving an anime adaptation I was ecstatic.  Sei Hatsuno is a very talented suspense writer.  I don’t know know decided it was a good idea to make this a P.A. Works series but I want to slap them. A tame music composer that’s worked on a lot of shonen and slice of life series.  This doesn’t work at all! The story is about the only thing that has my interest.  If anything they should have had MAPPA animate this with Nobuteru Yuki in charge of designing the characters.  The cover art just screams lots of potential from this guy.  It’s too bad Haruchika is receiving a very different style.  As much as I enjoy this story I will at least check out the first episode and make more judgments then.

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Koukaku no Pandora

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Gokumi
  • DIRECTOR: Muneori Nawa
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Kyushu Rikudou
    • Masamune Shirow
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuya Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takuya Tani
  • MUSIC: TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND

PLOT: In an age when large-scale natural disasters frequently happen all over the world, when cyborgs and autonomous robots are beginning to appear on the market in technologically advanced nations, and major world powers compete for technology and resources, the divide between rich and poor grows and the future for the poor looks bleak. In this transitional stage, everyone wanders around in a self-indulgent daze and the way out isn’t clear… This is the story of how two cybernetically enhanced girls meet.


I love Masamune Shirow’s works and this has a very interesting sci-fi story. I’m too sure about this one. Character designs look decent and it has Shirow’s complex story written all over this.  Cyberpunk setting, artwork looks excellent and the soundtrack sounds promising. TECHNOBOYS landed a very good ending song for Sakurako this past season.  From the trailer the music reminds me of Conisch.  I’m just not sold on the plot but I’ll at least give it a try.  Masamune Shirow’s been given the chance to departfrom his usual gritty technique in storytelling and artistic talent with Pandora.  I’m curious how this will turn out because it also has the creator of wacky, hyper-tension comedy series Excel Saga.

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Luck & Logic

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Dogakobo
  • DIRECTOR: 
    • Koichi Chigara
    • Takashi Naoya
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Kyushu Rikudou
    • Masamune Shirow
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuya Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: 
    • Rei Aoi
    • Katsuhiro Kumagai
    • Kenji Andou (monster design)
    • Makoto Kobayashi (mechanical design)
  • MUSIC: Tatsuya Katou

PLOT: In L.C. 922, people faced a sudden crisis. In Tetra Heaven, the land of legend, a hundred years of war had come to a close. The gods who lost the war searched for a new place to live, and found it in Septpia, the human world, which they proceeded to attack. The Logicalists attached to ALCA, a special police agency whose duty it was to protect cities from assaults by foreigners (angels), were compelled to act in defense of cities, whether they wished to or not. Depending on their ability, Logicalists could initiate trance with goddesses from the other world, and stand a fighting chance on the battlefield. A civilian named Yoshichika Tsurugi, who lacked “Logic” and lived happily with his family, was caught up in an attack, and took shelter along with many people. He meets a beautiful goddess named Athena. In her hands, she had the “Logic” that Yoshichika lacked. Now both Yoshichika and Athena head to their destiny.


Another anime being produced alongside a card game based off of it. There seems to be a ton of these lately.  Bandai Visual, Bushiroad, Lantis, Nitro+ and Yui Iodo.  So many companies are under committee for this series!  Animation is very bright and has an extreme sense of “computer drawn style” to it.  I like the illustrations for the card game however for anime format it doesn’t look as good.  Story doesn’t even sound good–it’s fall under “boy meets girl” trope.  I’ll at least check out the first episode because Studio Dogakobo is a mixed bag.  GJ-bu was horribly animated while Natsuyuki Rendezvous was one of the most gorgeous series of 2012! I’m not going to build up high expectations for this one.

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Mahou Tsukai Precure!

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Toei Animation
  • DIRECTOR: Masato Mitsuka
  • ORIGINAL WORK
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Isao Murayama
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Emiko Miyamoto
  • MUSIC: Tatsuya Katou

PLOT: Mirai Asahina, a 13-year-old girl who’s going into her second year of middle school, witnesses a mysterious object fall in to the park. Excitedly, she brings her stuffed bear Mofurun with her to see what it was. When she gets there she sees a girl named Riko flying on a broom. Mirai has a lot of questions, and Riko explains that she’s searching for something. The two of them are wearing similar pendants. Then Batti, an ally of the dark magic user Dokurokushi, appears before them and demands the “Link Stone Emerald.” Batti creates a monster called a “Yokobaru” and drives them into a corner. Mirai, Riko, and Mofurun join hands and speak the magic words “Cure-Up Rapapa,” their pendants glow, and they become the legendary Precure.


Toei Animation on another Precure! project.  Judging by the other series in Precure! I’m not counting on anything large with this one.  Isao Murayama works on mainly children’s series so it’s nice to know the production is being handled by staff that’s worked on Precure! before.  This is a series that sells extremely well and why mess with a good thing. Unless you get Masaaki Yuasa to make his own Precure! concept. That’s something I’d for sure watch!

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Musaigen no Phantom World

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Kyoto Animation
  • DIRECTOR: Tatsuya Ishihara
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Soichiro Hatano
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Fumihiko Shimo
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kazumi Ikeda
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shirabi
  • MUSIC: EFFY

PLOT: In the near future, in a world born of human imagination, what humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called “phantoms.” Haruhiko Ichijō, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability “Spirit of Five Elements,” Reina Izumi, who has the ability “Phantom Eater,” and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world.


Kyoto Animation’s big work of the season.  Based on a light novel series with loads of fan service.  This looks like a cross between two of Kyoto’s earlier works Kyoukai no Kanata and Amagami Brilliant Park.  It’s weird.  Supernatural elements without slice of life mixed in between?  Chuunibyou was also based on a light novel series and I feel that this series will follow suit only using the source material as a recommendation instead of faithfully adapting it.  Looks like the entire team that gave us Kyoto’s works of the last 5 to 10 years are working on this.  I will say this.  The animation is stunning and these animators know how to pencil out characters that really know how to flow; however outside of that there’s not much.  Everything about this series is all in-house down to the art director and background animation studios.  This must be cheaper for them rather than outsourcing to another animation studio’s pool of illustrators.

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Norn9: Norn + Nonet

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Kinema Citrus
  • DIRECTOR: Takao Abo
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based on Otomate’s Norn9 PSP otome video game
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Natsuko Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yukari Takeuchi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Teita
  • MUSIC: 

PLOT: The era where great powers of the world have all ventured overseas. Revolution and liberalism spread all over the world. Right when souls and earth are ill, a glowing sphere appeared in the sky, and removed the borders of the world. Three girls and nine young men depart together with a flying ship.


CG looks awful.  Stereotypical bishonen series with an overuse of filtering between blurry bright backgrounds and the animation on the characters looks very loose.  The protagonist is like she’s straight out of the otome series Amnesia.  Another horribly written anime and video game. She’s ashamed that she has abilities just like the guys in this series.  Something seriously needs to be done to change the pattern of these adaptations from otome games.  These are targeted towards a female audience but perhaps there should be more depth to the story instead of too much flair.  Here’s an idea try doing something like STAR DRIVER or Captain Earth and give some dynamic characters and add in a story with heart.

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Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Tatsunoko Productions
  • DIRECTOR: Keiichiro Kawaguchi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based off Tatsuo Yoshida’s original series Nurse Witch Komugi
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Momoko Murakami
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takao Sano
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Akio Watanabe
  • MUSIC: Kousuke Yamashita

PLOT: Komugi Yoshida is a somewhat clumsy second-year middle-school student whose strong point is her spiritedness. She performs as an idol like Kokona Saionji (her classmate and close friend) and Tsukasa Kisaragi (an idol who dresses in male clothing). However, unlike Kokona whose popularity is skyrocketing and Tsukasa with her charisma in male attire, Komugi’s only gigs are low-end ones like those at the local shopping district. Still, Komugi has her “dream” as she lives her dual lives as a idol and a middle school girl. One day, a mysterious injured creature named Usa-P appears before Komugi and asks if she wants to be a Legendary Girl who can use magical powers. She reluctantly becomes Magical Nurse and fights waves of masked figures. Meanwhile, a Magical Maid and a Magical Sister also show up.


A tried and true Mahou Shojo series.  I was hoping for another Gakkou Gurashi or Madoka but since this is a spin-off from the original Komugi-chan series then I know that’s not going to happen.  One of the best Mahou Shojo series I’ve ever seen was Mahou Shoujotai.  Amazing work and if anyone ever gets a chance to seeing it I highly recommend it!

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Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Telecom Animation Film
  • DIRECTOR: Keiichiro Kawaguchi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based off SEGA’s hit video game series
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Mitsutaka Hirota
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Minoko Takasu
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: Itsuki Tachibana is a student of Seiga Academy, a co-ed boarding high school with excellent reputation, located in a suburb outside the city center. On a day of second semester, he was summoned by Rina Izumi, the most esteemed and praised chairperson, to the student council room, without knowing what awaits him.


Wow. This looks terrible.  Animation is flat and very little motion to the characters. CG is some of the worst I have ever seen!  The weirdest thing about this is that the director is working on this and mahou shoujo series Nurse Witch Komugi R. I wonder which series will turn out stronger?  Kawaguchi has mostly worked on slice of life series and a lot of them including Psychic Squad and Sket Dance were absolutely horrid.  Not much to expect from this one.

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Prince of Stride: Alternative

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: MADHOUSE
  • DIRECTOR: Atsuko Ishizuka
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Shuji Sogabe (conceptual design)
    • Tomoyuki Uchikoga (graphic design)
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kokunen Ou
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kanako Nono
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: “Stride,” is an extreme sport that involves six people on one team who run relay races through towns. Hōnan Academy and other schools compete to win eastern Japan’s top Stride competition, “End of Summer.” However, Hōnan’s team has shut down. First-year high school students Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai attempt to restart the club, but they must recruit six members for the team. They ask Riku Yagami to join, but he turns them down by saying that Stride is the one thing he doesn’t want to do.


This is the biggest surprise this season.  MADHOUSE adapting an otome game!? What? If there is any show similar to this series narrative it would have to be Air Gear.  That’s the kind of vibe I get with this. A slice-of-life director that worked on a handful of episodes of NANA and Aoi Bungaku is helming this? Again…what?  I already know this series story is going to hold a lot of promise.  Same series writer as Gin no SajiUsagi Drop and this season’s fantastic Boku Machi!  Otome style mixed with FreeRunning sport with a solid director and series writing not to mention from the trailer the animation looks stunning! I will give this one a try!

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Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Iku Suzuki
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Guo Wang Bi Xia
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: TBA
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Makoto Iino
  • MUSIC: 
    • Kazuya Tanaka (sound director)
    • Half HP Studio (sound production)
    • Roy Kawasaki (soundtrack composer)

PLOT: A comet falling will bring about a great calamity, and in order to choose a child fated by the falling comet, the family of the “Reiken” clan with a long storied history is once again resuming its entrance examination process to find disciples. The protagonist Lu Wang, who possesses a special soul that is only available once in a thousand years, decides to take the exam, and he starts down the path toward becoming an exceptional sage.


My favorite sound director. Kazuya Tanaka handled the sound work on Mushishi and Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil).  I wish that another studio was in charge of production, Studio DEEN hasn’t had the greatest track record lately.  I’ll give this one a try since its based on a Chinese online novel.  Details are scarce on how this show is going to look. I’m really curious.  If there’s anything Japan should animate from China it’s the manwha March Story.  Freaking amazing work.

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Rilu Rilu Fairilu: Yousei no Door

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Sakura Gojo
  • ORIGINAL WORK: Developed by Sega Toys and SANRIO
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Aya Matsui
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Jinshichi Yamaguchi
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: “Fairilu” are fairies of flowers, insects, mermaids, or other entities that are born from “Farilu Seeds.” All Fairilu are born with their own key, and they must search to find and open the door that fits only their key. Once the Fairilu pass through the doors, they mature. The doors are also related to the human world.


Another Studio DEEN project this season and another children’s series for that matter.  Directorial debut for Sakura Gojo and coming from the Marmalade Boy script writer I’m not excited about this one.

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Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Lerche
  • DIRECTOR: Masaomi Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Senri Akatsuki
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuko Kakihara
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Keiko Kurosawa
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Ayumu Kasuga
  • MUSIC: Akito Matsuda

PLOT: Lux is a former prince of an empire named Arcadia that was overthrown via a rebellion five years earlier. Lux accidentally trespasses in a female dormitory’s bathing area, sees the kingdom’s new princess Lisesharte naked, and incurs her wrath. Lisesharte then challenges Lux to a Drag-Ride duel. Drag-Rides are ancient armored mechanical weapons that have been excavated from ruins all around the world. Lux used to be called the strongest Drag-Knight, but now he’s known as the “undefeated weakest” Drag-Knight because he will absolutely not attack in battle. After his duel with Lisesharte, Lux ends up attending the female-only academy that trains royals to be Drag-Knights.


I’m a fan of Yuuko Kakihara. Hopefully the show will carry the grace and balance that Chihayafuru‘s second season had. The director of Gakkou Gurashi will be able to provide a solid direction to the cast in this show, hopefully. As much as I hated Glasslip it had a decent musical score.  Akito Matsuda’s work on Sound! Euphonium is probably his best work to date.  I’ll give this one a look at.

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Schwarzesmarken

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: LIDENFILMS
  • DIRECTOR: Tetsuya Watanabe
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hirohiko Yoshida
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuto Higuchi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shuichi Hara
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Carnelian
  • MUSIC: Elements Garden

PLOT: Germany was divided into East and West after WWII, where citizens of either treated the other side as enemies. In the midst of Cold War, however, the Earth was invaded by an alien life form landed on Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, known as “Beta.” Now, ten years after the first contact, East Germany, formally German Democratic Republic, has become the front line.


The spin-off to Muv-Luv and another hentai visual novel series.  This doesn’t have much promise.  I wasn’t a fan of Muv Luv. The weirdest part about this is the director went from doing Zone of the Enders and directing episodes of incredible series like MONSTER and Neon Genesis Evangelion to tons of ecchi series, White AlbumTestament of Sister New Devil. What happened to him?  It doesn’t help that Cross Ange‘s writing is adapting the series.

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Shoujo-tachi wa Konya wo Mezasu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Project No. 9
  • DIRECTOR: Takuya Sato
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takahiro
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuniko Ayana
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takayuki Noguchi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Matsuryu
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: Buntarō is a student who wants to be something, but doesn’t know what. One day his female classmate Sayuki announces she is working on a bishōjo (pretty girl) game. Sayuki scouted him because he wrote a good script for drama club, but Buntarō doesn’t know anything about bishōjo games.


Steins;Gate director is about the only redeeming quality here.  Everything else Sato has worked on was horrible.  Once again we’ve got anime series based on a visual novel.  From the preview the music sounds terrible and is it just me or is Project No. 9 trying to copy Saekano?  The premise even down to the camera angles look reminiscent of that anime.  Designs aren’t even that good.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Mamoru Hatakeyama
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Haruko Kumota
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Jun Kumagai
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mieko Hosoi
  • MUSIC: Kana Shibue

PLOT: The year was 1970s. Fascinated by the performance of rakugo master Yakumo the 8th at a philanthropic show in a prison, delinquent Kyōji visited Yakumo immediately after serving his term, begging Yakumo to take him in as an apprentice. To his surprise, master Yakumo agreed without much hesitation, yet things progressed not quite as Kyōji expected.


Yes!!! Finally a josei series and a historical one at that! The OAD’s were amazing and probably the best acting of 2015 out of any animated work from Japan!  The setting is unique and follows an intriguing genre–rakugo!  Quite the unconventional choice on Studio DEEN’s part but this is what made that studio so fantastic in the first place!  There’s nothing generic about this anime at all!  A character drama driven by Japanese customs!  The entire staff from the OAD’s return to adapt the manga into TV format.  If this is anything like those it’s going to be one of the best if not the greatest series to air this season! The soundtrack from the OAD’s were incredible.  Featuring a collection of smooth jazz songs!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 100%


 

There we have it. The list of everything airing this season.