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Saturday, April 03, 2010

& Spring Anime Thoughts

Sooooo, exactly how much of that last post was real, and how much was April Fools? About half of it. RaptorIIC did indeed talk to me about the idea of making an anime blog, and the idea has come up again (and more seriously) with Random Curiosity closing. It's not true that we've actually (yet) decided to go for it, and the ecchi/hentai theme is definitely not true, either. And, ironically, the day after I wrote that post, RC announced that it might not be closing after all.

So, moving back into the real world, in this post I'll discuss some of the new series I might actually watch, this season. Of course this is all very tentative, as not even one episode of most of these have aired yet. What's more, many of them really fall into a "I'll take a look at it and see how it is" category, which isn't particularly informative. Again, the series summaries and pictures are coming from RC and THAT (although in this post they'll be quoted, so you can differentiate the summary from my own comments).

Kaichou wa Maid-sama! | 会長はメイド様!
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
After only reading a glimpse of the premise and taking a look at the art style, I was already convinced that “The Student Council President is a Maid!” was my kind of show. Reading a bit of the shoujo manga only reaffirmed that thought, as it has everything I’d want in a romantic comedy. The story focuses on a girl who’s enrolled in an all-boys school that has recently turned co-ed, and worked her ass off to become the student council president so that she can change the bad habits in the still predominantly male school. She develops a tough exterior as a result and doesn’t particularly like men because of how her father walked out on her and her family, but works a part-time job at a maid cafe to make ends meet. The most popular guy in school stumbles onto her secret one day and she thinks she’s set up for a huge embarrassment, but he chooses to keep it a secret because he’s unknowingly infatuated with her.
I'm not so sure about that picture, but the description sounds like it could be entertaining, and slice-of-life comedies (optionally with romance) are my bread and butter in anime, after all. The first episode aired last night (covered by both RC and THAT), and one of the (very) fast but good subbing groups already had it out, so I got a chance to see it. So far it looks pretty good, although you can't always count on the first episode of something being representative of a series, as the first episode usually forms the background of the main story.

The premise of the series is very much like the "so moe I am gonna die" [what it actually got tagged on AniDB at one point] Nogizaka Haruka's Secret. So far this one doesn't seem as horrific as that series; perhaps this is due to this being a girls' series and that one being an ecchi guys' series, though shoujo series can (potentially) be horrific in their own way. This hasn't been the case in the first episode, but the first episode is pre-romance, which is where things could go downhill.

So, I'll definitely watch some more and see how it goes.

Angel Beats! | エンジェルビーツ!
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
One of the series I’m really looking forward to and can safely recommend to all audiences is Angel Beats. For some, it might be enough if I just say, “Key and P.A. Works.” For everyone else, this means the visual novel company that brought us AIR, CLANNAD, and Kanon, and the studio that produced true tears and CANAAN. Maeda Jun from Key is writing the script and screenplay, depicting an afterworld where one girl forms a war front, the Shinda Sekai Sensen (SSS), in defiance to god for giving her an unreasonable and short life. In this supernatural afterlife setting, we follow male protagonist Otonashi, who has no memories of when he was alive and gets dragged into the SSS’s struggles. Guns and superpowers are involved, but so is a seemingly normal school life at the same time.
Key is a very well known maker of "dating sim" games. As mentioned in the summary, to date three of their games have been adapted into anime, and I've seen them all. The supernatural and fighting aspects are certainly different than any of previous ones, though it sounds as though it still has the school slice-of-life parts they're known for, as well. The three series so far have been at least enjoyable, so I'll probably end up watching this, also. It will be interesting to see how they do something less traditional dating sim.

RC has covered episode 1. It's also been subbed by a group, though I haven't seen it, yet.

Romance of the Three Kingdoms | 最強武将伝・三国演義
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
And here it is, the fourth series this season with some basis on Romance of the Three Kingdoms, except this one’s meant to be the real deal, or at least Chinese studio Beijing Glorious Animation’s interpretation of it. It’s actually a joint production with Japan’s Takara Tomy and Future Planet (the first of its kind) in regards to both planning and animation production. So if you don’t care for the pretty girls seen in Ikkitousen and Koihime Musou nor Gundams and wanted a faithful version with old men, then here’s the perfect alternative. This 52-episode series was aired in China by CCTV and completed its run back in 2008, meaning this is a rebroadcasting for the Japanese market. It took four years to complete and cost 650 million yen (~7m USD).
Well, that isn't the most informative summary in the world. For more information, see the Wikipedia entry on the original Romance of the Three Kingdoms.

Basically, it's a pretty famous Chinese story (at least in that part of the world). For that reason I might check it out, although I must say that 52 episodes is a really large number for a series that may or may not be any good. One thing that could be interesting is that, as the series was produced by a Chinese company and originally aired in China, the series might be in Chinese, with Japanese subtitles.

WORKING!! | ワーキング!!
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
If you’re looking for a cute slice-of-life comedy with an all-star cast, then look no further than WORKING. It’s an easy-going series that centers on high school student Takanashi Souta, who gets recruited by his short and absolutely adorable senior, Taneshima Popura, to work at a Hokkaido family restaurant named Wagnaria (hence the official site URL). As a normal and diligent 16 year old, Souta soon learns that all his coworkers are a bit unusual. This includes a manager who doesn’t care to work properly, a floor chief who carries a katana with her, and a server with androphobia. However, as a self-proclaimed lover of all things small and helpless (i.e. “minicon”), Souta sticks with it and there doesn’t ever seem to be a boring day at his job. The first episode of this had a special early broadcast last month, and I found it a perfect fit to fill that quirky yet clean humor slot for the season.
That's about as slice-of-life comedy as you can get. This one actually had an early airing of the first episode a few weeks ago, and it wasn't bad. So, I'm planning on watching it. Oddly, neither RC nor THAT did a summary of the first episode to link you to, despite it being out for a couple weeks.

Arakawa Under the Bridge | 荒川アンダー ザ ブリッジ
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
This is an adaptation of Nakamura Hikaru’s gag/romantic comedy manga about a young man named Ichinomiya Kou who sits on top of the business world, and whose family motto is to never be in debt to anyone for anything. He has that so ingrained in his mind since birth that the mere thought of having debts gives him an asthmatic panic attack. One day by Arakawa Bridge, he’s saved by a homeless girl named Nino living below, leaving him with the biggest debt ever. He’s completely unable to cope with the thought of that and tries to repay Nino by buying her a house, but she’s a bit odd and asks him to love her instead. Thus begins Kou’s life under the bridge with her, where he meets a bunch of very strange individuals, including the resident Kappa village chief. From the manga, I found the character interactions reminiscent of Bakemonogatari, mainly because Kou doesn’t know how to deal with the calm, composed, and most of all weird Nino.
Another one for the "definitely maybe" pile. On the one hand the art and premise just screams "chick flick" (it is a girls' series, after all), though the premise also seems a bit intriguing. Bakemonogatari was pretty good, so if it's like Bakemonogatari, it could be good; we'll have to see how similar they really are.

RAINBOW Nisha Rokubou no Shichinin | RAINBOW 二舎六房の七人
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
If you’re looking for a show that’s very different from the usual stuff, then consider this adaptation of Abe George (Jouji) and Kakizaki Masumi’s award-winning manga. Taking place in 1955 after the end of World War II, it depicts the hardships that six juvenile delinquents go through after getting thrown into a corrections facility/prison, often graphically so. From everything to getting sexually abused by the male doctor and having to deal with the tyranny of the wardens, it’s meant to be a realistic view on poverty-stricken Japan following the war. Upon arrival to the prison, the six boys are thrown into Block 2 Cell 6 where they meet “Anchan”, their senior inmate who shows them some tough love on how to survive. The story follows the lives of these seven, both in prison and afterward. Abe George described this as a “story about friendship and courage”, which I could get a sense of from the first few chapters of the manga. Each of the boys was sentenced for acts of assault and theft, but the circumstances they committed their crimes under don’t necessarily make them bad kids, and you can get a feel for that from the bonds they make.
Another maybe series. From that description, it sounds like it could be interesting, if it doesn't turn out to be too depressing. I tend to dislike series that are dark and depressing, so we'll see how it turns out.

K-ON!! | けいおん!!
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
It was only at the end of last year that K-ON season two was announced, but three months later we already have more of our favorite light music club. Now with one more exclamation mark in the title! The extra DVD/BD live house episode helped tide things over a bit, but it’s not quite the same as a full season where we’re bound to hear a bunch of new songs. For those unfamiliar with this series, it’s Kyoto Animation’s adaptation of a lighthearted 4-koma manga that follows a group of girls who revive their high school’s music club by forming a band called “After School Tea Time”. It’s published in a seinen manga magazine and features quirky humor and a very cute cast of female characters. In short, it’s moe overload. When the original season aired last spring, the cast of seiyuus were all relatively low-profile, but that all changed with this series. The opening and ending theme songs they sang debuted at #4 and #2 on the Oricon music charts respectively, and they’ve all been in numerous series now, especially lead actress Toyosaki Aki. There are 28 broadcast stations lined up to air this highly anticipated sequel, which absolutely dwarfs every other series by a long shot. There’s no doubt in my mind that I’ll be watching this and it’s a safe series to recommend to almost anyone. Go watch the first season now if you haven’t!
...and the infamous moe blob returns. To summarize it in a sentence, it's a slice-of-life school comedy about excessively moe girls doing excessively moe things, especially writing/performing excessively moe songs in their amateur band (the premise of the series). It's "the definition of moe" [what it got tagged on AniDB]: if you love moe, you'll probably love it; if you hate moe, you'll probably hate it.

I watched the first season of this, a couple seasons ago (I mentioned that it had a good ending song). It was fairly enjoyable, although it really had entirely too much moe; though obviously the guy who wrote the summary disagrees with that assessment. In either case, it's decently amusing, even if it can get on your nerves.

Saraiya Goyou | さらい屋 五葉
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
The noitaminA time slot has expanded from half an hour to a full hour this season, and taking the bottom slot is an adaptation of Ristorante Paradiso creator Ono Natsume’s “House of Five Leaves”. It takes place during the Edo period and revolves around a timid rounin named Akitsu Masanosuke. By chance, he runs into a charismatic individual that wants to hire him as his bodyguard but later finds out that he’s the leader of a gang known as the Five Leaves. Realizing what he’s up against, Masanosuke gets wrapped up in the gang and its very unique individuals and learns there’s more to them than it initially seems. Don’t be swayed by the character designs here if they seem a bit odd to you, as this is just Natsume’s unique style. Personally, I find they’re a refreshing change from the more generic ones you often see.
This one's a big question mark. It sounds like it could potentially be interesting, but that's a pretty big maybe. I watched the first couple episodes of Ristorante Paradiso and couldn't stand it, between the art and the writing. So, we'll find out in a week or two how this one is.

Yojou-han Shinwa Taikei | 四畳半神話大系
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AnimeNfo, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi
Taking the top slot in noitaminA’s newly expanded time slot is a novel adaptation about a nameless third-year Kyoto University student (only referred to as “I”) and his life with the “Tennis Circle Cupid” club that he joined in his first year. The story is broken up into four chapters and will be aired as an 11 episode series here. Not having read the novel, I’m not too sure what to expect, but the promo videos already showcase how strangely different everything is. The title on the other hand seems to translate to “Compendium of 4½ Tatami Mythology”.
Another big question mark, and this one is even less clear on what it's going to be like. Though I have to say the art kind of gives me a bad feeling. Either way, we'll again know more in a couple weeks.

Oh, and in case anyone happens to be interested, RC has covered B Gata H Kei 1 (mentioned yesterday).

On a final note, both the Currently Watching section and the Introduction to Anime/List (which includes a list of almost all free-to-watch anime series I've seen) link on the sidebar are still live, and being updated as new series come out.

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