Winter 2008 – 2009 Anime Preview and Watchlist

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I figure it’s appropriate to start writing this on Turkey Day. Physically, I’m stuffed and yet I’m trying to figure out a way to have another piece of my Mom’s apple pie – it’s simply impossible to make a better pie crust then hers. Mentally, I’m stuffed from the huge number of great fall anime shows and yet I can’t help but get excited over the new season.

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.

Edit: You can also check out my meta first impressions post of this season to see what impressed me here. Click here to see my spring 2009 season preview and my first impressions here.

The safest bets of the season are the sequels; so let’s start with them.

Zoku Natsume Yuujin-Chou

AKA: Natsume Season 2 or Natsume’s Book of Friends 2

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Studio: Brains Base – Kamichu, Kurenai, Baccano
Official Site

The first season of this supernatural slice-of-life show aired during Summer 2008 and was the best show of the season. During that season we were introduced to Natsume who can see spirits, like his grandma. With his grandma’s passing, he receives her Book of Friends which contains the names of all the spirits she subjugated during her life. Having the names means that one can control that spirit so this book has great power. Invariably, he begins to meet spirits that want their names back, want the book, or just want his help because they can talk to him.

If you are looking for a show with great characters, a relaxing feel, and a story that can warm the heart and make you laugh a bit – there’s no surer bet then this show for this season.

Minami-ke: Okaeri

AKA: Minami-ke Season 3

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Studio: Asread
Seiyuu: Marina Inoue, Minori Chihara, Rina Satou
Director: Kei Oikawa – appears to be his first time directing
Offical Website

The second surest bet for this season is the third season of the comedy Minami-ke. This show follows the lives of the three Minami sisters, who live together in one apartment, and their interactions with their friends. The oldest sister is in high school and acts as the mom, the middle sister is in middle school and acts like a typical middle child, and the youngest is in elementary school and hates dumb people. The first season was one of the funniest and well-done comedies I have ever seen. A different studio, Asread, was put in charge of the second season and while it was still a very funny show, it wasn’t as good.

I think the same conclusion was reached over in Japan because while Asread is animating the third season, Studio Doumu (behind the first season) is in charge of production. The thought of getting more of the traptastic Maka-chan, Hosaka and his fantasies, Fujioka and his quest to get Kana to like him, and the Minami sisters makes me almost giddy in anticipation.

Birdy the Mighty Decode:02

AKA: Birdy Season 2

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Studio: A-1 Pictures Inc. – Kannagi
Official Website

Another sequel of a Summer 2008 show. In the first season we meet Senekawa, your typical high school student, who likes to explore abandoned buildings. This hobby brings him trouble when an intergalactic police agent, Birdy, accidentally kills him. Luckily for Senekawa, Birdy’s civilization has a means to regrow a copy of his body; so, while that’s being done Senekawa’s mind is placed along side Birdy’s. The body can morph to fit the form of the person that’s in charge of it and that allows Senekawa to be a high school student by day and Birdy to be a police agent by night.

One of the drawbacks of the first season, which became obvious over the course of the show, was that the show had a small budget. So, for example, the show had a number of good action scenes but they occurred almost exclusively at the beginning or the end. Hopefully, the fact that it got green-lighted for a second season will mean that more money will be spent on it and the show can reach it’s full potential.

Shikabane Hime: Kuro

AKA: Corpse Princess Season 2

hime

Studio: Studio Feel – Da Capo 2
Official Site

The fourth sequel that I’m looking forward to is the sequel to the currently running Shikabane Hime: Aka. The second season sees a switch from being a Gainax production to being a Studio Feel production.

In this anime, if a person is greatly attached to this world when they die then instead of moving on that person can come back as a Corpse. Most times these Corpses become dangerous monsters that need stopped but sometimes these Corpses retain their human-form and agree to hunt the evil Corpses. These Corpse hunters can attain heaven after killing 108 evil Corpses.

Because the first season is still airing and the animation studio is changed, it is impossible to fully use the first season as a guide for this second season. However, I’m optimistic that this show will turn out good. Many people probably will not share a similar sentiment because they were disappointed over the first season. I think much of this disappointment stems from this show being the first series after Gainax’s masterpiece, Gurren Lagann. The characters have been solid, the animation has been top-notch, and the evil Corpses have been original and interesting – which has been more then enough to get me wanting more.

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That’s the final sequel that I’m interested in, all the other non-OVA sequels are to shows that I haven’t seen and thus I won’t attempt to watch. For a more complete listing, try here or here. Now it’s onto new shows. I’m going to combine how excited I am about the title with how sure I am it will turn out good and list the remaining from highest to lowest.

Maria+Holic

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Studio: Shaft – Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei
Seiyuu: Asami Sanada, Marina Inoue, Yu Kobayashi
Official website

Shoot me – I can’t help but being excited about this show.

The story is about a second year high school student, Kanako, who has a phobia of men and so she transfers to an all-girl school to find her yuri love partner. She meets her ideal girl in the form of Maria, the most beautiful and popular girl in school. The twist is that Maria turns out to be a sadistic trap. And it gets even better. Maria+Holic is being animated by Shaft who did such a bang-up job on the twisted Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei.

If this show can exploit it’s crazy premise for laughs and make us like the characters then Maria+Holic might be one of the top shows of the season.

Genji Monogatari Sennenki

AKA: A Tale of Genji

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Studio: Tezuka Productions
Official Site, More info here

From what I’ve read, the novel this is based on is 1000 years old and considered the world’s first novel. Even if I haven’t read many books that are considered “classics” I give them their due. For example, I might not have gotten Shakespeare in high school but the fact that we’re still talking about him 500 years later must mean there is something to his work. Likewise, the story this anime is based on wouldn’t have lasted a 1000 years if it was garbage. Therefore, I’m excited about watching this show.

If you want a little more help to decide, I was reading from the summary – “The story follows the happy but sorrowful tales of the glorious youth Hikaru Genji’s love, and the women in his life who strive to make their love towards Genji significantly differently from others.” – and it almost sounds like this show has what’s considered harem elements to it. I’m probably wrong but if you were going to pass on this show because it’s a classic, it might be worth your time to watch a couple of episodes.

Rideback

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Studio: Madhouse – Death Note, Kaiba, Kurozuka
Official Website

This is another title I’m very interested in. The plot has the possibility to be interesting – A young woman is an anti-government protester in the year 2020 and has a robot that doubles as her motorcycle to help her. I always enjoy a good diasporan SF tale like “V for Vendetta” and this sounds like it could be something similar. Based on Madhouse’s current string of successes, I feel confident that this will turn out to be another.

Kemono No Souja Erin

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Studio: Production I.G. – Ghost in the Shell:SAC, Library War, Seirei no Moribito

Because Production I.G. is behind this and because the story comes from the same person that did Seirei no Moribito, I’m going to check this series out. However, the story to this one doesn’t grab me – After her mother, a veterinarian, is executed for allegedly killing a clutch of fighting snakes, the daughter Erin is adopted by a beekeeper and meets the king of the animals in the mountains. Erin follows in her mother’s footsteps to become a veterinarian and this decision will put the fate of the kingdom of the animals in her hands.

Just from the summary, I’m getting environmental vibes and that’s normally a big turnoff. If it wasn’t for shows like Studio Ghibli’s Princess Mononoke and Pom Poko that had an environmental message without being over-the-top sickening like Captain Planet or Ferngully – I’d just skip this one. Instead, I’ll give this show a fair chance to like it.

Akikan!

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Studio: Brain’s Base – Kamichu, Kurenai, Baccano, Natsume
Official Site

In another case of great studio, weak story comes Akikan!. In this one, Daichi just wanted to buy a can of melon juice pop from the vending machine but what he got was a can that magically transforms into a girl who needs carbon dioxide gained from kissing to stay alive. This has brain-dead written all over it but Brain’s Base has a track record of making great shows with interesting characters that you end up liking a lot. I don’t know if they can work their magic here but I am willing to watch a few episodes to see how this turns out.

Chrome Shelled Regios

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Studio: Zexcs – Wagaya no Oinari-sama
Director: Itsuro Kawasaki
Official Site

Chrome Shelled Regios is set in a future where “Pollution Beasts” have forced people to live in mobile domed cities. The pollution has also given people powers which they can use against the pollution beasts. Our hero is a high school student in training to battle these monsters. To me the story has possibilities but it could easily devolve into a generic fantasyesque hack-n-slash series. The reason I was initially going to catch this was because of the studio behind it, Zexcs, did a very good job on Wagaya no Oinari-sama. However, I found the trailer and my opinion of this shows chance of being a good show has gone up in no small part to having nice looking animation – which was the weak point for Wagaya.

From here my interest in the shows drops enough that I’m only kinda interested in catching them.

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Hetalia Axis Powers is a gag story where the major countries of the world are made into people that display the stereotypical view of the country. So, for instance, Italy is shown liking pasta and women and Japan is shown as an otaku. It’s supposed to retell history between WW1 and WW2 among other things. The concept is so out there that I want to see it but I wonder how the politics of the time will be shown. I can accept and expect some slanting when retelling history of this time from the Japanese point of view (like what I expect when I ask a southerner about the Civil War) but I will get very angry if they animators bring up their role in dragging us into WW2 and either use it for laughs or making it look like it was the American’s fault. Therefore, I think it’ll be best if I read a couple of reviews first – I really don’t want to get overly angry and feel like I need to rant about the historical inaccuracies of an anime show. Another reason to temper my enthusiasm is the studio behind it is Studio Deen which I still equate with their work on Higurashi.

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Asu no Yoichi is a romantic comedy about a boy who’s a swordsmen, like his dad, and he decides to leave their mountain training facility to continue his training in the city. This being a romantic comedy, he ends up in a dojo with four females and presumable wacky hi-jinks ensue. This sounds really generic and I’d skip it totally if AIC wasn’t doing it. AIC was responsible for Seto no Hanayome which I found much funnier then it should have been. If they can do the same thing here, it might just be worth the time to watch it.

kurokami

The last title is Kurokami. It’s appears to be about a computer programmer named Keita that tries to protect a Kuro (some sort of being with powers) from another Kuro and in the process he loses his left arm. The Kuro that he was trying to protect replaces his arm and in the process a contract is formed between the two. I’m feeling neutral about the story and I’m feeling less then neutral about Sunrise being behind this; however, the picture is particularly interesting and the last time a preview picture of a show made me feel that was Kaiba. On the strength of maybe my gut knowing something I don’t, I’ll catch a few episodes of this because it might turn out to be good.

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A word of thanks for the people that created the above chart, and to THAT Animeblog for having pictures that I stole for my preview and also to MyAnimeList for the same reason.

20 thoughts on “Winter 2008 – 2009 Anime Preview and Watchlist”

  1. I am going to blog about Tale of Genji and Maria Holic. If Konnichiwa Anne and Winter Sonata will be released early next year, I might cover them too. I’ll check out Hetalia Axis Powers and Kemono No Souja Erin also.

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  2. “if they animators bring up their role in dragging us into WW2 and either use it for laughs or making it look like it was the American’s fault. ”

    Are you saying it wasnt ? USians totally had it coming, after they called an embargo on Japan.

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  3. woo. minami-ke season 3. I just finished 2 and i was wondering why there were almost no scenes for hosaka to get a strong punch line in.

    Surprisingly, it was minami ke that struck me to take an interest in hot springs. Not that hot springs aren’t excessively popular in anime and manga, but it was just the fact they made the Hot spring like an exclusive event rather than a normality .

    ~Rant mode Terminated~

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  4. Thanks for this. That poster is great, too. I love Tale of Genji the novel, so I will be right there for that. Yes, it really is like a harem: the shining prince sleeps around, but remains loyal to the women he sleeps with and brings them into his palace, when he can. I’m also looking forward to two romantic shows that didn’t strike your fancy: White Album (with Mizuki Nana and Hirano Aya), and the new Marimite series.

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  5. @hashihime – I almost included White Album because of Aya but I have too many series to watch; though, I probably would have included it if the animation studio was one I liked. I will check the reviews when it airs and maybe fit it in if people are liking it. As for the Marimite series, I haven’t seen the first 3 seasons so I have to skip that one.

    @Kitsune: I saw your post on the English translations of the book – after the anime, I might try reading it.

    @karry: I’ve never been a fan of embargoes myself but it’s not like the US decided to embargo a country out of the blue. If Japan wasn’t wanting to control huge amounts of Asia and already occupying parts of China, I don’t think the US would have wanted to embargo Japan.

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  6. Whatever you’ve heard about Sunrise being this godawful failure of a company (really they aren’t a bad company at all, it’s just a meme), don’t believe it and for the love of god don’t buy into it and prejudge all of their shows. If Kurokami does turn out weak I doubt it will be by their hands alone and it probably will have something to do with the manga as well. Sunrise behind an adaptation usually means it has a chance of being good. Good animation, good music, proper flow, solid adaptation. I don’t know what your expecting (and god knows what lies you’ve picked about them over the memesphere) but god willing if your expectations are then it’s sooner likely to blow you away then let you down if you haven’t already prejudged it.

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  7. This is so trashy no good animes on this list like evry single one is a romance like its been done by some kind of lovey dovey prospective i give it 2 thummbs down….wackness

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  8. no but a really good amount of it is………4 example i couldnt find H2 in either one of those sites so i had to find a torrent for it……..but i guarantee that they will have most of what you are looking for

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  9. first of all, thanks for the review! it really2 help. well.. after read your review, i decided to go with natsume yuujin-chou. as u said, its a very calm and inspiring story. im totally hooked up! im glad that i watched that anime. 😉

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