Spring 2009 Anime Preview and Watchlist

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Just within the last few days, winter’s frigid fingers have finally loosened their grip around where I live. We had been experiencing high temperatures well below freezing and that’s not conducive to getting in the spring mindset. Yesterday we got into the 50’s and today our high was 65˚F (18˚C); I finally feel like spring is on the way and with spring, comes a new season of anime.

There’s definitely several good shows this season, but after two stellar seasons I can’t help but feel a little disappointed. Since I will probably end up watching a fewer number of shows, maybe I’ll get to some of my backlog. Or maybe a bunch of these shows will surprise me. My criteria for picking shows is the same as last time. I’m looking for which animation house is doing it, if the summary/source material sound very enticing and if one of my favorite seiyuus will be involved.

Some other previews that I found helpful include these here: That Anime Blog, Metanorn, Simplicity, Sea Slug Team, and jp/hinano .

There’s a total of five shows in the first group. These are the ones I’m most looking forward to because I feel these are the surest bets of the season.

Full Metal Alchemist

full-metal-alchemist-season-2

Episodes: 51
Director: Yasuhiro Irie
Studio: Bones – Soul Eater, Xam’d: Lost Memories, Eureka 7
Seiyuu: Rie Kugimiya, Romi Paku, Megumi Takamoto, Shinichiro Miki, Keiji Fujiwara, Fumiko Orikasa
Official Website, Wiki,Trailer

I’m pretty sure this is a retelling of Full Metal Alchemist (especially because of the appearance of one character) and will probably follow the manga this time. This is a title I’m almost sure everyone that fancies themselves an anime fan has watched or is at least aware of in it’s first incarnation. For the sake of completeness though, the story follows two brothers, Edward and Al, that attempt to use alchemy to bring their dead mother back. It doesn’t work and they pay dearly for their attempt. The older brother becomes a government alchemist so he can further his quest in finding a way to fix the damage he’s done to his and his younger brother’s body.

I’ll be upfront about this show. I loved the first Full Metal Alchemist from the start till I was about 60% of the way through. After that point the show became progressively weirder and my enjoyment diminished steadily. By the end of it’s run, I felt gypped of a real ending, duped because I’d spent $200 dollars to get 8 of the 10 DVDs before I realized how bad the show got, and vowing never to spend another penny on anime dvds before watching the entire show. I would stick to this stance (I come from a long line of hard heads) even if that would mean that I’d stop being an anime fan but luckily I discovered fansubs six months later.

Bones has been relatively successful of late. Xam’d was awesome in so many ways but was hampered by needing more episodes and Soul Eater has been everything you’d want in a shounen show and it only needs to end good to cap a very successful run. Since there’s enough source material to cover the entire run of FMA this time, I’m pretty confident that this will be a very good show. I watched the first FMA dubbed and I’m looking forward to hear what Rie Kugimiya sounds like in a non-tsundere role.

K-On!

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Director: Hisako Yamada
Studio: Kyoto Animation – Clannad, Lucky Star, Melancholy of Haruhi
Seiyuu: Aki Toyosaki, Asami Sanada, Madoka Yonezawa, Minako Kotobuki, Satomi Satou, Yōko Hikasa
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

I already mentioned this show a few weeks ago. It’s about four high school girls that attempt to save their music club, even though they don’t know how to play musical instruments or read music. I immediately got Mannabi Straight vibes from the artwork and storyline which would be sufficient to make me excited about this show but that’s not the only reason why. It’s being animated by my favorite studio, Kyoto Animation. It seems like a perfect match of source material and animation studio. The only thing I wonder is how the story will be structured since the source material is a 4-panel manga. These are normally more random, think Lucky Star, and would seem to suggest the story won’t drive the series.

Hayate no Gotoku 2

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Director: ??
Studio: J.C. Staff – Toradora, To Aru Majutsu no Index, Potemayo, Shigofumi
Seiyuu: Rie Kugimiya, Rie Tanaka, Ryoko Shiraishi, Marina Inoue,
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

Hayate has terrible parents and the latest thing they’ve done was sell Hayate to criminals to cover their exorbitant debts. When he attempts to kidnap a rich heiress, Nagi, he is misunderstood and she takes it as a declaration of interest in dating her. He starts down a path that leads him to becoming the butler to Nagi as the means to pay off the debt that she bought off the criminals. Since this an anime, Nagi slowly develops feelings for Hayate, which he doesn’t realize, and Hayate would dearly love Maria, the talented and not old maid of Nagi’s, to notice him. Throw in various threats to Nagi’s life which will test Hayate’s combat butler abilities and Nagi’s many interesting classmates and the result is a very funny (and random) comedy series.

The first season’s length (52 episodes) and meanderings in the middle caused some to not finish the series which is a shame because the last quarter of the series was really good. Once or twice I thought I was getting tired of the series but each time after a couple weeks of break, I found myself eagerly watching the show again. That said, I dearly hope the switch in animation studios will result in a better, tighter-focused series.

Eden of the East

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Episodes: 11
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Studio: Production I.G – Library War, Seirei no Moribito, Ghost in the Shell:SAC
Seiyuu: none known yet
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

Set in 2010, after a terrorist attack known as “Careless Monday” where Japan was struck by 10 missiles but with no apparent victims. Saki, a young Japanese citizen, visiting America on a graduation trip gets into trouble but she’s saved by a fellow Japanese citizen. The strange thing is he happens to be naked, has amnesia, and carrying a gun and a cell phone with a very large sum of digital cash on it. This is apparently an original creation of the director behind the Ghost in the Shell tv series.

My first reaction reading the synopsis was to think of the Bourne Identity but the art style reminds me of Honey and Clover (same character designer) and I’m having a hard time reconciling the two in my mind. I guess it’s possible to create a slice-of-life action flick but more probably the story will somehow tie into the themes of Steinback’s East of Eden. Whatever the story of the show is, I’m really looking forward to this.

Hatsukoi Limited

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Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa
Studio: J.C. Staff – Toradora, To Aru Majutsu no Index, Potemayo, Shigofumi
Seiyuu: Mariya Ise, Shizuka Itou, Takahiro Sakurai, Aki Toyosaki, Ayumi Fujimura, Minako Kotobuki, Rie Tanaka, Ryoko Shiraishi
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

J.C. Staff’s record in adapting shows is all over the board; they’re currently doing almost godly work with Toradora but at the same time they’re going barely proficient work on Index. And if you look in their past it continues, on one hand is Azumanga Daioh and Honey and Clover but on the other hand you have Zero’s Familiar. From what I can see of the source material, the story involves several interlocking stories each involving a different middle school and high school girl and her relatives and friends. Then these individual stories will lead to the main story involving most of the cast from the individual stories.

The idea of many interlocking stories sounds interesting and could make this another hit for J.C. Staff. I would a bit disappointed that, even with a large cast, Rie Kugimiya isn’t doing a voice but she’s already working on large parts in both Hayate and Full Metal Alchemist. Since J.C. Staff does a better job of adapting shows like this (no fight elements like Shana, Zero’s Familiar, Index), I’m cautiously optimistic that Hatsukoi Limited will be a good show.

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This next group of shows rank lower in my expectations but I still think shows have a real possibility in being good shows.

Ristorante Paradiso

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Episodes: 11
Director: Mitsuko Kase
Studio: David Production – new
Seiyuu: Fumiko Orikasa, Jin Yamanoi, Kazuhiko Nishimatsu, Takaya Kuroda, Yoko Soumi, Youji Ueda
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer, more info here

I’m always on the hunt for quality slice-of-life shows and this show definitely is giving off the right vibes. The story follows Nicoletta who becomes apprenticed in a Roman restaurant full of colorful characters and owned by her new step-father. Also in this show’s favor is the setting – Rome – is different and there should be ample opportunities to showcase this beautiful city. If this was coming from either Hal Film Makers or Brains Base I’d be really excited but it’s coming from a new studio and I have no clue if they’re any good.

Pandora Hearts

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Director: Takao Kato
Studio: Xebec – Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Chrome Shelled Regios
Seiyuu: Junko Minagawa, Ayako Kawasumi, Kousuke Toriumi
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

The story is set in a fantasy world and follows what happens when Oz Bezarius, heir to one of major houses, is thrown into the Abyss prison while attending his coming-of-age party when he turns fifteen. He is saved by a bloodstained black rabbit known as Alice and now he must figure why he was imprisoned, who is Alice and what are the aims of the secret organization known as Pandora.

My initial interest in this series stemmed from the studio doing the anime adaptation – Xebec. I’ve just finished up a rewatch of Wagaya and enjoyed it even more the second time and the latest episode of Regios (episode 8 ) finally feels like the show has come together. If that’s the case then both shows suffered a bit at the beginning by Xebec injecting too much fighting into the series and not focusing on the characters enough; something I’ll need to keep in mind when watching this show.

Since I’ve been so slow putting this preview together, I’ve had the chance to read some of the other previews and Fuyumaiden mentions really liking the first few chapters of the manga that she read. I was glad to hear this because I was getting the feeling that this would play out like a generic fantasy RPG anime but if the source material is actually good then this might be one of the hits of the season.

Phantom ~Requiem of Phantom~

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Director: Koichi Mashimo
Studio: Bee Train – Blade of the Immortal, El Cazador de la Bruja
Seiyuu: Miyu Irino, Ayahi Takagaki
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

In another anime seemingly set in America, a dangerous assassin known as Phantom is killing Mafia leaders left and right. A tourist witnesses Phantom’s latest assassination and would normally be killed but instead he’s captured by the organization that Phantom belongs to and is brainwashed into becoming their newest assassin.

I will admit to having never watched a Bee Train series though I’m aware they’re known for their girls with guns series. I figure it’s time to finally watch something of theirs and I am interested to see who the setup will play out. Also, I’m always interested to see how America and it’s citizens are portrayed by non-Americans.

Natsu no Arashi

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Director: Akiyuki Shinbo
Studio: SHAFT – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Maria+holic, Hidamari Sketch
Seiyuu: Ai Nonaka, Ryoko Shiraishi, Chiaki Omigawa, Kaori Nazuka, Yuko Sanpei, Hiroki Yasumoto, Yui Horie
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

The manga comes from the creator of School Rumble (which I never watched but seems like the lame ending of that made lots of fans angry). The story of Natsu no Arashi centers around what happens when middle school student Yasaka meets a beautiful sixteen-year old girl that works at a coffee house in the city where he’s vacationing. Yasaka quickly realizes that the girl, Sayoko, is not a normal girl but that will not deter him from trying to protect her from trouble.

From reading the description and looking at the artwork, I was initially surprised that SHAFT was working on this until I remembered that they did the slice-of-life show Hidamari Sketch which was nothing like Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei. So it is possible for them to do more then one type of show. I had thought Maria+holic was perfect for their talents but was under-whelmed with the result so now I’m wanting to see something totally different which this seems to be.

~~~

The third group of shows are the wildcards of the season. There might be a Mike Piazza in this group (drafted near the very bottom as a favor but turned out to be one of the best catchers of all-time) but more then likely, they will probably just struggle to become watchable.

Senjou no Valkyria – Gallian Chronicles

AKA Valkyria Chronicles

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Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto
Studio: A-1 Pictures – Birdy the Mighty Decode 1 & 2, Kannagi
Seiyuu: Susumu Chiba, Marina Inoue, Houko Kuwashima, Jun Fukuyama
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

Even though this is a adaptation of a video game (and hence will probably be mediocre) I’m planning on watching this because of the studio working on it, A-1 Pictures, did such a good job with Birdy. The story is set in an alternate 1930’s Europe where two large empires rule most of Europe. One side decides to invade a small, neutral country and a plucky band of heroes will have to step up and save their tiny kingdom. Another reason why I’m willing to give this a chance is Marina Inoue is involved.

Shangri-La

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Director: Makoto Bessho
Studio: Gonzo – Last Exile, Rosario + Vampire, Strike Witches, Tower of Druaga
Seiyuu: none known yet
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

If you’ve been following anime news you’d know that Gonzo has been having financial troubles for some time now. They’ve slashed a large number of jobs and cut the number of series they’re doing in half. I bring this up because oftentimes adversity will cause people to dig down deep to overcome their problems and that might mean that Gonzo will go all out to make sure their series are a success. Shangri-La is about a future Tokyo that’s warmed enough to become tropical. The government is trying to cool the city down by morphing the city into the world’s largest forest city but anti-government rebels will attempt to stop the government’s efforts.

I should mention that I don’t personally believe in human-directed global warming. From personal experience I’ve just gotten through the third bad winter in a row and last summer was one of the coolest I can remember in the last 20+ years as well as looking at the actual science and how our temperature has fluctuated over the last million years – I just don’t see the evidence for it. As a fan of science fiction, I can go along with just about any type of future scenario even if global warming is probably at the core. As long as this show doesn’t become a knockoff of Ferngully or Captain Planet and I have to sit through hearing how evil humans are then I’ll probably stick around.

Saki

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Director: Manabu Ono
Studio: Gonzo – Last Exile, Rosario + Vampire, Strike Witches, Tower of Druaga
Seiyuu: Ami Koshimizu, Jun Fukuyama, Kana Ueda, Rie Kugimiya, Ryoko Shiraishi, Shizuka Itou
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

The other show by Gonzo this season. It’s about a mahjong playing high school freshman and how she doesn’t actually like the game but is pretty good at it. She gets dragged to the school mahjong club and into the world of competitive tournaments. I’m not a big fan of sports based anime, even for sports I like – baseball, but I’m applying the same rule to this show; namely, Gonzo needs a good show to stay afloat and thus this might be worth checking out.

Asura Cryin’

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Director: Keizou Kusakawa
Studio: Seven Arcs – Inukami, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Sekirei
Seiyuu: Miyu Irino, Haruka Tomatsu, Ai Nonaka, Sayuri Yahagi, Rie Tanaka, Eri Kitamura
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

The story for this one is supposed a light-hearted and serious story about a high school boy who is haunted by the ghost of a girl that claims to be his childhood friend. I’m normally a fan of shows that are light-hearted and serious, just look at Clannad, but I don’t think I’ve actually ever gotten through a Seven Arcs show. Maybe this will be the first.

Hanasakeru Seishounen

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Episodes: 39
Director: Chiaki Kon
Studio: Studio Pierrot – Bleach, Naruto
Seiyuu: Aya Endo, Daisuke Namikawa, Daisuke Ono, Jun Fukuyama, Toshiyuki Morikawa
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

In another anime set at least partly in America, a young Japanese-American woman is summoned by her father to come to America and choose from 3 different candidates that he’s picked as potential husbands, except somehow it becomes four. Also involved is a political mystery surrounding a small oil-rich country in the middle-east. I’d normally steer clear of a reverse-harem shoujo series but the artwork looks pretty interesting and it has a pretty good voice cast so I’ll watch at least a few episodes. What could it hurt.

Tears to Tiara

spring09tearstotiara1

Episodes: 26
Director: Tomoki Kobayashi
Studio: Oriental Light and Magic – Berserk, Utawarerumono, Pokemon,To Heart
Seiyuu: Makoto Ishii, Toru Ohkawa, Yuko Goto, Mai Nakahara, Rie Tanaka
Official Website, Wiki, Trailer

I never finished Utawarerumono (or Underwater Ray Romano as I remember it) but it still seemed decent. That’s the primary reason for my interest in this series because the visual novel that Tears to Tiara comes from is the same company that made Utawarerumono. The setting appears similar, quasi Middle Ages, but this time the story features a girl that was going to be sacrificed to a newly awakened demon god but the demon god decides to free the girl and presumably the two will become a couple or something. My interest is enough, I’ll catch a few episodes and see how it turns out.

~~~

There’s a few more titles that I might give a watch to depending on how I feel. These include: Tayutama -Kiss on my Deity-, Fight Ippatsu! Juuden-chan!!, and Winter Sonata. The first sounds like it could be a more fan service version of Kannagi. If so, I kinda want to watch and see if they can do better then the lackluster Kannagi. The middle one doesn’t start till a month after just about everything else, in May, and I couldn’t find anything about it except it involves a woman from a parallel universe that is an office lady and she goes around charging up dejected people. And the third title is another example of not knowing enough to decide if I want to watch it.

I might update this in the future if I find any more series that are interesting. If that’s the case I’ll call your attention to the changes somehow (there’s a feature with this theme called the alert box that I might use if I can figure out how to use it correctly). See the chart below (click to enlarge) for the full list an anime coming for the spring season.

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9 thoughts on “Spring 2009 Anime Preview and Watchlist”

  1. That’s a nice list :) I like that you provided a detailed impression for each anime :)

    I have a few anime I am interested in, but it is difficult to predict how they will turn out without seeing a few episodes. I have very high hope for one anime, but that will remain a secret for now till I publish my preview in March :P

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  2. I’d be careful about taking anything from my opinion on Pandora Hearts…there was quite a bit of action if I remember correctly. Of course, nothing more than what’s usual I’d say. Though there was also quite a bit of mystery introduced right at the beginning, which is what got my attention. Every character seems to have more to them than what we see. So interesting~ (Not sure why, but I keep looking forward to this one more and more)

    Seems like you’ve got a lot of things to check out though. I suppose that’s how Spring is though. Lots of things to check out, but no one is sure how any of them are going to turn out. Nothing except for Full Metal Alchemist seems to have a lot of anticipation.

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  3. Coincidentally, I ended up writing a review of Pandora Hearts.

    http://ymarsakar.wordpress.com/2010/05/02/pandora-hearts-review/

    They did a good job with Tears to Tiara. I didn’t finish the series ending cause I wanted to check out the VN. Even for an eroge, the H scenes were too much. Especially with a story that was rather historically accurate in terms of Arthur and Arawn mythology. Skipping through them and having to spend time playing the actual game, got rather annoying. The PS3 version is much better with the revisions and it is what the anime was based off of, though I can’t play that one.

    The VN, of course, does offer a great many more insights. Especially into the villains and side character motivations. The little things that the anime either missed or couldn’t fit in.

    They better remake Utawareruromono cause that was a disgrace to the original story.

    It’s hard to say which I liked more, Pandora Hearts or Utawarerumono VN. They both had mature characters with certain mysterious connections. They both had an ending that was a little cliff hanger but mostly satisfactory. Although Uta’s ending was much more epic in terms of struggle. The character development all came crashing to a point at the end of Uta. For PH, the character development arcs were dispersed more evenly among various episodes.

    To properly explain Utawarerumono, here’s my try.

    The story is set up to keep the player guessing. Each time you see a new shock, you are not quite sure what is really going on. And you don’t realize the real truth until just before the final conflict, so the tension is very taut. In fact, all the villains play around with the people Hakuro is responsible for, so that was a big distraction. You would not even realize that you had seen Her backstory until after she was almost out of the plot picture. Because her voice in the flashback had no identity and was in an alien setting. But you’d piece it together eventually from the hints and some thinking.

    The surprises are also not static. It’s not about any one thing or person. Hakuro’s past, the healer’s connection with Hakuro, Hakuro’s responsibility to protect and nurture his family, those are all part of the synthesis at the Final End. They add on top of each other, one after the next in chronological order. First you get a little bit of individual treatment. Then you see the connections to other characters. Then you see the big picture going over the entire history of the world. Part of the picture becomes half the picture becomes the entire picture. Yet it was the same picture in the end.

    Well, anyways, the thing I liked most was the military command aspect. The loyalty shared between the commander and the commanded. They were going to lose their commander in both war and life. The ending farewell involved a personal chat with each character, one after the other, after they had tried to go after him together. It was like a eulogy. You could see how Oboro started, changed, and finally ended up what he was. Every character was given enough development to feel vital and important. Even some of the villains. Especially some of the villains.

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  4. Director: Takao Kato
    Studio: Xebec – Wagaya no Oinari-sama, Chrome Shelled Regios

    For purposes of studio predictions in the future, you might want to correct that. Chrome and Wagaya are ZX or Zexcs production. Pandora Hearts is Xebec. I see you corrected it later on so might as well update this one too.

    Btw, I’m rewatching Heroic Age to see if I still feel it is worth 5 stars. In point of fact, given the stuff I now notice that I never did before, I’d give it better than a 5/5. The main heroine at a moment in crisis, had 3 different facial expressions at once going from extremely joyful, extremely sad, and extremely determined, all in about 5s. Now that’s skill in character display. That communicated so much more, with very efficient time and production value.

    I confused Chrome’s ZX studio with Xebec as well, which is why it was more of a downer than normal when I first watched the initial episodes awhile ago. I was expecting better story composition and dramatic/character tension than I saw in Chrome Shelled Regios. Well, obviously, it was a different studio entirely.

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