preview

Attack on Titan: Junior High preview released

Aug 02 // Soul Tsukino
The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first day of the school year ceremony. A guest arrives to watch over the ceremony. The reaction is one of surprise. But as you can see things stray a bit from how these events played out in the original. Yeah, this is gonna be a different kind of Titan series.. I mean THIS is the school they are going to: It looks like the Industrial arts wing of Hogwarts. I mean the titans are still scary. But I have a hard time seeing this series having people chewed in half or having met their end going face first into a giant tree. But fear not! This little preview DOES show there is a lot of eating going on. I just D'awwwwed. I bet you did too, be honest. The series looks to be released sometime in October of this year, so in the meantime see this preview of the adventures of Mini-Erin and all his buddies. [embed]34116:4965:0[/embed]     The series has a familiar start it seems with a gathering of the town.. sort of...okay it's the first-day school ceremony.
Attack on Titan photo
But will Senpai notice them?
The mega-popular anime and manga series Attack on Titan has played host to several spin-off stories from the series. Now you can add one more to the list with Attack on Titan: Junior High, where things get slightly smaller, a...

Japanator's Summer 2015 Anime Preview Guide!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
New Series: [embed]33867:4893:0[/embed] Gangsta. Studio: Manglobe (Deadman Wonderland, Ergo Proxy, The World God Only Knows) Director: Shukou Murase (Ergo Proxy, Genocidal Organ) Broadcasting: July 1, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) One of my pet armchair-anime-historian theories is that the true successors to the hyper-masculine era of anime and manga in the '80s and early '90s, the heirs to the likes of Fist of the North Star and its ilk, aren't the "superhero" titles of the modern day, but gritty, crime-and-violence action franchises, of which Black Lagoon stands as current exemplar. That's just a fancy way of me saying that Gangsta., whose title and content seem to originate from two different facets of criminal pop culture, is after that crown, like Jormungand was not so long ago. While I have my doubts that it can make off with it, considering the high regard Black Lagoon still commands these days, the saga of two badasses who pull crazy jobs for both cop and crim alike, stands to be an enjoyable action romp. It's also out right now!   [embed]33867:4894:0[/embed] Chaos Dragon Studio: Silver Link (Fate Kaleid Liner Prisma Ilya, Watamote) Director: Masato Matsune  Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Hey, kids! You know what's cool? The works of Gen Urobuchi, Kinoko Nasu, Ryougo Narita, and Makoto Sanda, that's what! Their combined record of creativity boasts such titles Madoka Magica, Fate/stay night, Durarara!! and Record of Lodoss War. Therefore, Chaos Dragon, which brings all these creators under one project's roof, should be at least five times as awesome as any single one, right? Well, maybe. The "too many cooks in the kitchen" adage still holds true in most things, though there's no denying the appeal of wanting to see what results when you put a number of famous talents in a room, have them play Dungeons & Dragons, then adapt the transcripts into a real live anime series.    [embed]33867:4895:0[/embed] Rampo Kitan: Game of Laplace Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Persona 4 The Golden Animation) Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) The honor of this summer's first official simulcast debut goes to Rampo Kitan, which also happens to be commemorating a whole host of other occasions, including the return of detective-themed anime after a brief surge in popularity a few years ago (when you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting some kind of take on loli Sherlock Holmes), and the 50th anniversary of the death of Edogawa Rampo, a famous Japanese mystery novelist.  I've never been much of a fan of mystery fiction, so I honestly couldn't tell you if we're seeing much of Rampo's work or influences in Rampo Kitan, but he's an author of a similar era to Ango Sakaguchi, who wrote the book that another 2011's somewhat overlooked detective anime Un-Go is based on. Rampo Kitan appears to be angling to push similar buttons.   [embed]33867:4896:0[/embed] GATE Studio: A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Anohana) Director: Takahiko Kyogoku (Love Live! School Idol Project) Broadcasting: July 2, 2015 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) One of the most enduring and - I'll freely admit - fun thought exercises in nerd culture is trying to find out how people from the real world would fare in the many fantastical settings preferred by genre fiction. This usually takes the form of "If you lived in [Insert Fantasy Setting Here], how would you do?"-types of questions, but one particularly popular mutation of that exercise is pitting fantasy against reality, usually a bunch of dudes with guns and tanks against things like dragons, elves, and other magical creatures. It's a staple of everything from Reign of Fire to Pax Romana, even to recent anime like Outbreak Company and arguably the now massive "stuck in a game" subgenre. GATE is a slightly different beast, though, in that it tosses the real-life Japan Self-Defense Force trough a magic portal full of monsters, elves, and lolita mages. In fact, the promo visuals for GATE looks like a Call of Duty or Battlefield soldier accidentally got copy-pasted onto the box art of a Compile Heart JRPG. This could be an interesting watch, provided one tries not to look too hard at the potential for right-wing-nutjob-levels of subtext.   [embed]33867:4897:0[/embed] SHIMONETA: A Boring World Where the Concept of Dirty Jokes Doesn't Exist Studio: J.C. Staff (Danmachi, Food Wars) Director: Youhei Suzuki (The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat, Aki no Kanade) Broadcasting: July 4, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Right as America celebrates its freedom from the oppression of the British, another world celebrates the freedom for high schoolers to run around telling filthy jokes and yelling about copulation, intercourse, and all the less-polite terminology for sexual congress between consenting adults. Expect to hear a lot of screeching, see a lot of fan service, and detect comically obvious subtextual criticism of recent "youth development" legislation with the potential to affect pop culture content.   [embed]33867:4898:0[/embed] God Eater Studio: Ufotable (Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, Fate/Zero) Director: Takayuki Hirao (GYO: Tokyo Fish Attack, Magical Sisters Yoyo & Nene) Broadcasting: July 3, 2015 (Streaming on Daisuki) Considering how much I got hyped up for Unlimited Blade Works, being excited about Ufotable's latest project, now that they're nominally free of the Nasuverse's clutches (at least until they start crunching on the Heaven's Feel movie), should be a no-brainer. And it is! I am indeed hyped, for God Eater is my favorite Monster Hunter competitor, and it's got a style all its own. In fact, it's just stylish enough and takes itself seriously enough that the Ufotable of this era is the perfect studio to pick it up. I'm already mildly optimistic thanks to their choice of a new, original protagonist to replace the canonical putz that is the manga-based "Yuu Kannagi". This new guy seems to be constructed more in the Eren Jaeger mold of being really mad at monsters, but it should at least make for more engaging character dynamics than the boringly earnest audience stand-in. Not that it even matters, given that the game's protagonists are fully customizable by default, anyway. In any case, if God Eater ends up being a lavishly animated action romp and no more, it'll have done its job perfectly.   [embed]33867:4899:0[/embed] School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!) Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Masaomi Ando (White Album 2, Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse) Broadcasting: July 9, 2015 (Licensed by Sentai Filmworks) Three schoolgirls have an impossibly idyllic high school life. Everything is perfect, except for the fact that they're hallucinating, and in fact they're the only survivors of a zombie apocalypse and are trying to survive.  It's a deliciously weird premise that sounds right up the alley of the staff, many of whom are veterans from Gen Urobuchi's Nitroplus, an outfit long known for disturbing and tragic stories. Some folks are describing the manga this is based on as a real emotional rollercoaster (one that mostly angles down), but I'm not fully convinced of that yet. If nothing else, it does promise to be something outside the norm for typical "everyday life" fare.   [embed]33867:4900:0[/embed] Prison School Studio: J.C. Staff (Danmachi, Food Wars) Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls und Panzer, Shirobako) Broadcasting: July 10, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Five men. A thousand women. One high school. That's normally a setup I wouldn't pay a huge amount of attention to, and if I'm honest, I'm mainly interested in Prison School just by virtue of it's being attached to Director Tsutomu Mizushima. Pretty much every show of his that I've watched has ended up on my favorites list (though admittedly I haven't seen it all), and I see no reason to stop giving him opportunities to add to it.  Besides, the Prison School manga has apparently garnered a reputation as a hilarious (if divisive) satire of the whole "harem high school" concept. Here, the few men at a formerly all-girls school are treated less like kings (as is the common conceit) and more like prey, which, honestly, is the far more likely scenario.   [embed]33867:4901:0[/embed] Everyday Life with Monster Girls Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom) Director: Tatsuya Yoshihara (Arve Rezzle, Yatterman Night) Broadcasting: July 7, 2015 Well, it took 'em long enough. Ever since a little comic called "Life with Lamia" made its way off Pixiv some years ago, I had been expecting someone to go and make a proper anime out of the whole "Monster Girl" conceit. As a natural extension of the whole catgirl phenomenon, it was inevitable, but I am genuinely surprised it didn't happen sooner. Unfortunately, though, besides the many amazing athropomorphizations of various mythical beasts and creatures, the show itself appears to be a standard harem/fan service rom-com. Not that anyone would expect that much different from a show titled "everyday life". Plus, that's, like, the whole appeal of monster girls anyway.   [embed]33867:4902:0[/embed] Actually, I Am (My Monster Secret) Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Zetman) Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto (Hero Bank) Broadcasting: July 6, 2015 (Streaming via Crunchyroll) "Actually, I Am"...what? What is she? The answer to that question would depend on who you ask, and forms the central conceit of this season's other monster girl anime, as a milquetoast young man who can't keep a secret to save his life is charged with concealing the true, monstrous natures of his female friends from the general public. Fans of the less human aspects of the monster girl concept might be a bit disappointed initially, seeing as the monsters hinted so far trend towards humanoid types like vampires and aliens and things that aren't lamias or snake-women. That said, I'm getting a bit of a similar vibe here to Spring's Yamada-kun and Seven Witches, so that could end up a net gain.    [embed]33867:4903:0[/embed] Overlord Studio: MADHOUSE (My Love STORY!!, The Tatami Galaxy) Director: Naoyuki Itou (Digimon: Data Squad, Hunter x Hunter: Phantom Rouge) Broadcasting: July 7, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Oh look, another anime where a dude gets stuck in an online RPG game world made real. How novel!  It's easy to dismiss this rapidly growing subgenre with a yawn, but I'd be lying if I said that the gamer within me isn't at least mildly interested. Besides, there does seem to be a bit of a twist in MADHOUSE's latest, with our lead not merely trapped in his game, but reincarnated into the role of the title's final boss, the titular, skeleton-bodied Overlord. That's a trope in and of itself, but hey, at least it's not yet another story about an ace gamer dude meeting with unending success as usual.   [embed]33867:4904:0[/embed] Snow White with the Red Hair  Studio: BONES (Captain Earth, Heroman) Director: Masahiro Ando (Sword of the Stranger, Blast of Tempest) Broadcasting: July 6, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Fairy tale deconstruction, thy name is "Snow White". Good old "Shirayukihime" is anime's go-to character whenever Glorious Nippon wants to take on the roots of western fantasy fiction. That said, there's not a whole lot here to promote the thought that this might be the next Ookami-san, either, with the Snow White in question being a red-headed commoner who flees a forced marriage to the local prince with the help of a young noble named Zen. Romance and fantasy tourism ensue. That actually works for me. After all, not every fantastical setting has to be milked for epic adventure, and some of my favorite fantasy anime are low-key explorations of an exotic land with a side of feelings, rather than rollicking action. And it'll be interesting to see BONES get back on that particular genre horse after a long time.   [embed]33867:4905:0[/embed] Sky Wizards Academy Studio: Diomedea (Kantai Collection, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE!) Director: Takayuki Inagaki (Desert Punk) Broadcasting: July 8, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) You know that feeling you get when you look at an anime poster or even just hear its title and feel like you can predict the plot, characterization, and setting details from all that? And you're not cheating because it's one of those deliberately obvious light novel titles? That's the vibe I'm getting off Sky Wizards Academy right about now, with its story about a magical academy of (wait for it) Sky Wizards and the one disgraced ace wizard who takes on a class of misfit young girl wizards.  This, of course, is not to say that it can't be good or enjoyable, or even that my predictions will be wrong. It's just fascinating to see how even in a nominally creative industry you can still produce artistic works that just outwardly *scream* "product", if you get my meaning.   [embed]33867:4906:0[/embed] Charlotte Studio: P.A. Works (Shirobako, Hanasaku Iroha) Director: Yoshiyuki Asai Broadcasting: July 4, 2015 (Broadcasting on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Daisuki) Pay no attention to the Director credit on Charlotte (sorry, Asai-san), because the big name here is Jun Maeda, he of Key and Sad Girls in Snow. Maeda is like M. Night Shyamalan for anime feelings, in the sense that pretty much everyone who knows his name likes to think they know exactly what he's doing when he does things. Whether or not that notion is actually true doesn't even matter.  In any case, it's also big because Charlotte is Maeda's first anime original since Angel Beats!, with much of the same team at P.A. Works helping produce it. Personally I liked Angel Beats!. Cliche as it was I did derive properly satisfying feels from all the tragic backstory. Ironically, though, it was the romantic bits that I bounced off of. Perhaps it's a good sign for me, then, that the action-to-melodrama balance of the trailer leans more towards the former?   [embed]33867:4907:0[/embed] Classroom Crisis Studio: Lay-duce (Go! Go! 575, Magi: Adventure of Sinbad) Director: Kenji Nagasaki (Gundam Build Fighters, Gundam 00) Broadcasting: July 3, 2015 (Streaming on Daisuki and Crunchyroll) Despite the rather banal high-school-students-with-jobs conceit and its classification as a rom-com, Classroom Crisis might just be this season's show to get the sci-fi juices flowing. Sure, the kids are in high school and have jobs, but when the high school is on frickin' Mars, and the jobs are designing custom spaceships, then you've got my attention.   Sequels, Shorts and Other Notables I've never really believed in the concept of the "Summer Doldrums", but thankfully for anime preview writers who are running terribly late, this summer is strangely stuffed with sequels and short-form productions. Most prominent there would be the new Dragon Ball Super, the first actual sequel to the Dragon Ball Story in nearly two decades. I've never been much of a Dragon Ball person, but it is quite exciting to see that segment of the fandom get all excited again. Then there's the continuation of Durarara!! x2, with the Ten portion of that arc getting its due, ideally this time with the studio not forgetting to animate entire portions of the final episode. The divisive Gatchaman Crowds also gets a second dip, where people may once more fall in love (or hate) with the way Hajime talks. I think it's cute, for the record. Also of interest is Aquarion Logos, a quasi-sequel to Aquarion EVOL, which turned out to not be a sequel to Aquarion at all. Non Non Biyori, Wagnaria, To LOVE Ru, Junjou Romantica and Hetalia also get new seasons after a lengthy absence from the scene, as well as a third (!) season of Fate Prisma Illya, which I honestly didn't think possible. Then again, Symphogear is also getting a third season this summer, so I guess anything is possible if you IMASINE it. Idolmaster Cinderella Girls continues the saga of me almost regretting calling myself an Idolmaster fan when I just can't get into all these new cast members.  Short anime really have come into their own after treasures like Tonari no Seki-kun and, er, Sega Hard Girls, which means that there are even more of them around now across an ever-expanding line of premises. You've got the usual idol and everyday life fodder like Danchigai, Sore ga Seiyuu!, Million Doll, and Wakaba Girl, but also in the margins are weird things like Pillow Boys a show about body pillows turned into cute boys, and Wakako-zake, a show about Miyuki Sawashiro visiting pubs and getting plastered. Even cute-bait and boobs anime have made a jump to the short format, with My Wife Is The Student Council President! and Himouto! Umaru-chan and the so-obvious-I-barely-need-to-preview-it Bikini Warriors. Life is good if you've only got 5-10 minutes to spare in your life for anime-viewing. And that's most of what she wrote! What are you watching this season? [embed]33867:4893:0[/embed] School-Live! (Gakkou Gurashi!) Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, Assassination Classroom)
Summer Anime Preview! photo
The Heat Is On
The Summer is nigh and the sun is out, and you know what that means, folks: Huddle indoors and watch Japanese cartoons! Well, come to think of it, that's our solution to every season, but hey, we're probably biased. After all...

Ghost in the Shell photo
Getting hype?
We're only a couple weeks away from the premier of Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie, in Japan, so you can expect promotion to be kicking into high gear. If you're still on the fence, you probably might be interested in the ...

Japanator's Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide!

Apr 03 // Josh Tolentino
New Series: [embed]33671:4630:0[/embed] The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki) Studio: Sanzigen and Liden Films (009 Re: Cyborg, Terra Formars) Director: Noriyuki Abe (Bleach, Flame of Recca, GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka) Broadcast Date: April 5, 2015 Sorry, Narnia fans: The Heroic Legend of Arslan is sadly not a misspelled title for a story about everyone's favorite leonine Christ analogue (and it would've been such good timing, too, since the debut date of April 5th lines up exactly with Easter Sunday). That said, there might be a reason to rejoice all the same, because this show's based on Hiromu Arakawa's (she of Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon fame) manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka's (he of Legend of the Galactic Heroes fame) long-running fantasy novel series. It's also being run by a passel of veterans assisting Liden Films and Sanzigen. Unfortunately, the weak point in this chain of talent might be the last part, at least going by Liden Films' somewhat lackluster work on Terra Formars. If nothing else, the trailers look alright, and it won't be long until we find out if there's hope to be had. Perhaps the real question is if the material can stand being compressed into a standard TV cour size instead of a more Galactic Heroes-esque 110 episodes.   [embed]33671:4632:0[/embed] Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma) Studio: J.C. Staff (Golden Time) Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani (GaoGaiGar: King of the Braves Final, Tiger & Bunny The Movie) Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015 I have one standard when it comes to watching anime about food: Cooking Master Boy. Thanks to nostalgia - and the fact that Cooking Master Boy is fuckin' awesome - it's a pretty high bar to clear, especially these days that cooking shows have gotten a bit more realistic. Judging by early looks and buzz about the manga, though, Food Wars! looks like it might be able to scratch that longstanding itch. Director Yoshitomo Yonetani's no stranger to hot-blooded action, either, and J.C. Staff are reliable, if rarely exceptional. If it can keep up that sense of drama, we might have something really cool on our hands this go-around.   [embed]33671:4633:0[/embed] Kyoukai no Rinne Studio: Brain's Base (Kamisama Dolls, Penguindrum) Director: Seiki Sugawara (D-Frag!) Broadcast Date: April 4, 2014 Fact: Rumiko Takahashi, she of Urusei Yatsura, Inuyasha, and Ranma 1/2 fame, is one of the most influential manga artists in history. Fact: She hasn't put her name on a new anime production in a very long time. Fact: Her name is on this adaptation of her latest manga, Kyoukai no Rinne. Speculation: It's intriguing to see Takahashi's name out in the field again after so long. You have respect someone who's helped define so much of the anime and manga landscape, and only the obnoxious would refuse to acknowledge that. That said, the manga itself reads a bit like Bleach by way of Noragami, and lacking the unique charms of both. With its after-school time slot the target market for this anime's probably not in my demographic, so I can hardly begrudge teen-stuff for what it is, but Brain's Base has its work cut out if it's going to attract jaded otaku not interested in the gravity of Takahashi's name.   [embed]33671:4634:0[/embed] Denpa Kyoushi: He is a Ultimate Teacher Studio: A-1 Pictures (Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls) Director: Masato Sato (Detective Conan, Fist of the North Star: The Legend of Kenshiro)  Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 What do you need to do to make an anime like GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka for the modern, otaku-dominated age? Biker gangs are as archaic as non-smart phones, and the kids of today aren't about to be motivated to greatness by that old stuff. The solution, of course is to use otaku, or more specifically, the biker gangsters of the internet era: Anime bloggers. Yeah, I said it!  Denpa Kyoushi stars Junichirou Kagami, a housebound physics genius press-ganged into teaching a high school class full of girls. Finding the "teaching" part of being a teacher boring, he resolves to use his otaku knowledge to help his students out in other, more life-lesson-y ways. Far be it from me to question the usefulness of a shut-in's life experience, there are several shades of The World God Only Knows, and other meta-humorous comedies coloring Denpa Kyoushi's prospects.   [embed]33671:4635:0[/embed] Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph) Studio: Wit Studio (Rolling Girls, Attack on Titan) Director: Daisuke Tokudo Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation) Seraph of the End feels a bit generic when you boil it down. A mysterious disease has killed off everyone over the age of thirteen, and the remaining children have been enslaved by vampires for use as livestock. Now one escapee, Yuichiro Hyakuya, joins the Moon Demon Company, a former Japanese army unit dedicated to ending the bloodsuckers' reign for good. Pretty generic, yeah? Personally, though, that might be a good thing, as this might just be the thing to help Wit Studio smooth out its record. Ever since they popped up with Attack on Titan, everything they've made has so far shown a tendency towards wild overreach. Even Rolling Girls, a show that started out utterly gorgeous, ended on an awful slideshow of unfinished production. Imagine if Shirobako had gone full BAD END, only it's in real life and happened to the last episode of Rolling Girls. Forget "PuruTen Hell", we've got "Rolling Hell" right here.  Anyway, Seraph of the End might just be generic enough to allow Wit to concentrate on getting 'er done properly this time, lest their most consistent production end up being Hozuki no Reitetsu. I liked that show, but it was a snoozefest. You don't want to be known for only being able to produce snoozefests reliably, y'know?   [embed]33671:4636:0[/embed] Is It Wrong To try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Danmachi) Studio: J.C. Staff (A Certain Magical Index) Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa (Kill Me Baby, Little Busters!) Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) As a person who picks up all his lady friends in various dungeons, I find this anime series' titular question o-ffensive! Ban this sick filth immediately! While I await a positive resolution on my Change.org petition to have the title changed, I may as well describe it. The protagonist is Bell, an adventurer who, while plumbing the local labyrinth for treasure, while pining after a lady that's out of his league. Y'know who's in his league, though? A goddess with no followers, like Hestia, the Lolita God. Yes, that's actually what she is.  I find it difficult to believe a lolita god wouldn't have any devotees, not in Japan, at least. In any case, this here's going to be our fantasy harem deal for the season, unless I've severely misread the nature of The Heroic Legend of Arslan.   [embed]33671:4637:0[/embed] The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato Studio: Satelight (Bodacious Space Pirates, Log Horizon Season 1) Director: Junichi Wada  Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015 (Streaming via FUNimation) Hey, Haruhi's back! Time to rejo- Oh, it's a spinoff. More specifically, it's a spinoff based on the alternate timeline created by Yuki Nagato in the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. It's been a long time since then, and the landscape has changed. When Haruhi was still around, light novel adaptations were to be the savior of anime. Now they're a punchline.  In any case, it's not even Kyoto Animation that's doing this one, having passed the buck to Satelight. That's not necessarily a problem, though. Satelight are perfectly capable of making a light everyday-life series, which is what this is. Chasing that Prisma Illya money isn't a terrible idea; I hear it was actually quite watchable. If nothing else, if this happens more often, we might even get that holy grail of weird drama-to-slice-of-life conversions: Evangelion. I could totally see a rom-com adaptation based on that one scene from Shinji's subconscious happening.   [embed]33671:4638:0[/embed] Gunslinger Stratos Studio: A-1 Pictures (Seraph of the End) Director: Shinpei Ezaki (Guilty Crown, Sengoku Basara) Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki, and Viewster) "Gen Urobuchi" might go down in the history of Japanese cartoons as a name that rose to prominence..and was quickly run into the ground. And it might not even be entirely his fault. He still does decent work, but from the looks of things he's been far too cavalier about letting people slap his name on projects for extra street cred. Like this thing, an adaptation of a Square Enix arcade game whose main claim to fame is every player getting to use a pretty cool set of combining gun-shaped controllers. Butch himself provides the "main scenario" for the series (and the game), which sounds like he handed them a page from his idea journal about weird diseases and fighting your alternate-universe counterparts, and said "Good luck!". Well, it could still be good. This is a pretty nice time for weird, random-ass arcade and cellphone games to be getting decent adaptations. Last season's Rage of Bahamut Genesis was proof of that. Let's hope that upward trend continues.   [embed]33671:4645:0[/embed] Plastic Memories Studio: Doga Kobo (Majestic Prince, YuruYuri) Director: Yoshiyuki Fujiwara (Engaged to the Unidentified, GJ Club) Broadcaste Date: April 4, 2015 (Available on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki) It's funny: Doga Kobo is actually a pretty prolific studio, but most of their credits are for helping out with other studios' series. Their own shows, like YuruYuri, GJ Club, and Majestic Prince, have largely passed without making much of an impact (though YuruYuri has been pretty fertile as a spawning ground for memes).  Plastic Memories, though, might be a little different. This story about a guy who joins a nonprofit dedicated to retrieving lifelike androids - Giftia - at the end of their service lifespans feels like an anomaly in Doga Kobo's typically light fare. If anything, the premise feels like it could be a more bittersweet, rom-com-esque take on Blade Runner, even. Instead of "retiring" Replicants with a big ol' pistol, protagonist Tsukasa Mizugaki tries to bring 'em home. If it can avoid falling into the usual rom-com or harem show pitfalls and milk the premise for all it's worth, we could end up with a sci-fi sleeper hit.    [embed]33671:4647:0[/embed] Show By Rock!! Studio: Bones (Captain Earth, Space Dandy) Director: Takahiro Ikezoe (Arad Senki, Ozma) Broadcast Date: April 5, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Speaking of weird adaptations of cheap videogames, here's Show By Rock!!, Bones' take on a Sanrio cellphone rhythm game. That's about as shallow a videogame to adapt as has ever existed, at least until someone produces an anime based on bouncing superballs or playing Teks/Slipstream.  Beyond that, this is actually a significant step for Sanrio, as it's the first anime they've made targeting the late-night audience, more specifically otaku and other cute-girl-loving portions of the demographic. It's not hard to see their efforts, in the form of animal-eared moe girls in a band being  all musical and adorable, without a glimpse of Hello Kitty for miles. Only time can tell if the venture will prove successful, but I do have to say that it's been a while since we've had a show so earnest in its attempt to be cutesy. The trend these days is for moe anime to be more self-aware and have a bit of parodic/satirical edge, after all.   [embed]33671:4648:0[/embed] Sound! Euphonium Studio: Kyoto Animation (Nichijou, Amagi Brilliant Park) Director: Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nichijou, Clannad) Broadcast Date: April 7, 2015 And lo, the Great Beast slumbered, until it heard The Words. The Words that would awaken It. The Words "Cute Girls In A Band". And lo, they were uttered into the void. Springing to life, it made its own proclamations. Opening its endless maw, it sent its own exclamations into the ether. "Cute Girls In A Band, you say? Let's do that!" "How about a brass band? Like with the horns and tubas and whatnot?" "Alright, put it on for Spring." And so did the money river begin to flow, once again filling The Great Beast's treasure room. And all was well.   [embed]33671:4649:0[/embed] Punch Line Studio: Mappa (Rage of Bahamut Genesis, Terror in Resonance) Director: Yutaka Uemura (The Mystic Archives of Dantalian) Broadcast Date: April 9, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) When I first heard the title "Punch Line" I was hoping Mappa's first original program would be a kickass show about stand-up comedians, or perhaps some weird dark sci-fi boxing thing. Unfortunately, the "Punch" in "Punch Line" turned out to be a pun on the way Japanese pronounce the English word "Panty". Accordingly, the trailer was chock full of a guy catching glimpses of lady's underwear.  I guess I can't blame Mappa for not wanting to go too high-concept with their first outing, and concentrate on something pretty but potentially dim, but when you're a young studio out to impress, ambition is key! If nothing else, it'll be worth the look to see if the visuals hold up, and if all those ex-Gainax staffers Mappa snapped up can throw their weight around.   [embed]33671:4650:0[/embed] Ninja Slayer From Animation Studio: Trigger (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Kill la Kill) Director: Akira Amemiya (Inferno Cop) Broadcast Date: April 16, 2015 (Available via FUNimation) Speaking of young studios out to impress, for me Trigger's been by far the most reliable of the new up-and-comers. Kill la Kill was great, and they even managed to elevate the otherwise pedestrian Inou Battle to new heights, purely through strong production and direction that made the material far more engaging than it had any right to be. And then there's Inferno Cop, which is frickin' brilliant. They've given the madman responsible for that his own show, and here it is: Ninja Slayer: show based on a story that started out as a Twitter prank by two Japanese "translators" who tweeted out some absurd thread about "translating" the work of two fictional western comic book authors. The result is a series-length parody of what Japanese anime fans think American anime fans - ones of a certain age at least - think anime "is all about". It's all wild colors, action-lines, low framerates, '80s-style deep shadowing, violence, gore, and manliness, a perfect take on what is "anime" to the kind of fan who only knows anime from watching Ninja Scroll, Robotech, Akira, or other dark and gritty '80s standbys.  I'm hoping they don't play it too straight, though. Most "parody" anime has the unfortunate tendency to become the things they purport to mock or subvert, but at least going by Inferno Cop and Trigger's record, we should be in good hands.   [embed]33671:4651:0[/embed] Triage X Studio: Xebec (Rio Rainbow Gate!, Argevollen) Director: Takao Kato (Gdleen, Sorcerer Hunters),  Akio Takami (Busou Renkin) Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015 All you really need to know about Triage X is three things: It's based on a manga by Shoji Sato, author of Highschool of the Dead, it's by Xebec, and its premise goes as follows: "What if all the busty nurses and doctors at your local hospital were secretly bike-riding vigilante murderers, like if The Punisher were adapted as a Boobs Anime?" If that's enough to grab you, Triage X is your anime for the season. If it's not, perhaps it's best to pass.    [embed]33671:4652:0[/embed] Etotama Studio: Encourage Films and Shirogumi, Inc. (Moyashimon Returns, Ontama!) Director: Fumitoshi Oiazki (Astarotte's Toy) Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) In all honesty, Etotama is less of an anime series than it is a vehicle for showing off some pretty good CG and improving the bad rap CGI has gotten in the anime field. While I'm sure there are quite a few otaku out there who would like nothing more than for all CGI to go away and never come back, that's not an especially productive mindset to have. And to be frank, most of the reason why people think CGI in anime is bad is because anime studios aren't very good at CGI. Unfortunately, CGI is here to stay, and it'll need to get better if it's going to be more effectively meshed with regular 2D anime or carry more shows on its own. Going by the trailers, at least, Etotama looks like good sign of progress, though the narrative conceit of the Chinese zodiac being turned into cute girls is hardly original. But that's not really a problem when your show is a showcase for CGI, so hey, whatever. I kind of wish this thing had come out in time to improve Knights of Sidonia's framerate, though. That would've been helpful.   [embed]33671:4653:0[/embed] Yamada-kun and Seven Witches Studio: Liden Films (Terra Formars) Director: Tomoki Takuno Broadcast Date: April 12, 2015 If you're a witch, what good is it to have your magic powers only work when you kiss someone? You'd have to be locking lips right and left just to get anything done. Then again, being normal except when kissing people is a decent enough way to hide your nature...at least if you don't go to school where Yamada-kun does. If so, you're in for a rom-com "witch hunt" of harem-ic proportions. As Japanator's resident harem apologist I can't bring myself to dislike the show, but I have to say that the genre's gotten so rarefied that they have to sneak its tropes into other shows just to keep the torch lit. I suppose hunting witches is a more original premise than being the only male student in a girl's school or some other BS, but if harem is to grow and thrive once more it'll need to innovate.   [embed]33671:4654:0[/embed] Re-Kan! Studio: Pierrot Plus (Beelzebub, Sabagebu!) Director: Masashi Kudo Broadcast Date: April 2, 2015  As ever, Studio Pierrot (or one of its subsidiaries), gets the drop on the season with Re-Kan!, the first new late-night show of the season. Unfortunately, as ever, a Pierrot-made show enters the field with little fanfare. Then again, there doesn't seem to be that much to talk about, this being a 4-koma adaptation in the daily-life vein, starring a schoolgirl who can (wait for it) see ghosts.  That's not a problem in and of itself, but the season's got a number of seemingly better-produced low-key "healing" shows already, so it feels a bit unnecessary right about now.   [embed]33671:4655:0[/embed] Ore Monogatari! (My Love Story) Studio: Madhouse (Chihayafuru) Director: Morio Asaka (Galaxy Angel, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie) Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015  Chihayafuru was one of the most underrated shows of its time. Or rather, it was a show that seemingly everyone that did watch loved, but no one seemed to watch. And this latest story, not about competitive card-flipping but about a big ol' dude who finally finds love, is from the people that brought you that. Sounds like a good time to me!   [embed]33671:4656:0[/embed] Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen) Studio: Bones (Heroman, Xam'd) Director: Rie Matsumoto (Kyousogiga) Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming via FUNimation) Ah, Yasuhiro Nightow. That's a name I haven't heard in quite a bit, basically since he lent his Trigun cred to a weird PS2 game a long, long time ago. Now he's back, and attached to this adaptation of his manga, wherein New York is blown up and quarantined behind some kind of magical barrier. Renamed "Jerusalem's Lot", the remaining humans in NYC must live alongside demons and other monsters in a strangely Shin Megami Tensei-esque existence. Among them are the Libra, self-appointed peacekeepers/superheroes who've got powers and stuff, and it's all extreme and too cool for school and everyone's wearing huge coats with too many buttons and has giant shoulders and arms and it's like the '90s again. Seems cool!   Sequels, Spinoffs, and Continuations: On the sequel front we've got a good many returners, including new seasons of Teekyuu, Uta no Prince-sama, High School DxD, My High School Rom-com SNAFU, I Can't Understand Why My Husband Is Saying!, Baby Steps, Kin-iro Mosaic, Ace of the Diamond, Nisekoi, and even Robot Girls Z. Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works gets its continuation this season, as does Knights of Sidonia, though viewers in North America may need to wait for Netflix to batch-release the show again, as what happened last time. Grisaia fans will get more of that, with Eden of the Grisaia as well as Labyrinth of the Grisaia.  Gintama is getting a seeming reboot for folks that missed the legendary show in its original run (the trailers even seem apologetic for doing this), and Ghost in the Shell: Arise is getting a TV broadcast, with new material designed to link up with the next movie.
Spring Anime Preview! photo
The latest and greatest of the season
Spring is in the air, folks! First-semester romance, flower-viewing parties, and the first blooms of the season! And like those youngest, prettiest buds, we here at Japanator are ready to scope out the brand-newest (and brand...


Japanator's Winter 2015 Anime Preview Guide!

Jan 04 // Josh Tolentino
Tsukimonogatari [embed]33406:4377:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: December 31, 2014 (Streaming on Daisuki) Director: Akiyuki Shinbo (Monogatari Series, Arakawa Under the Bridge) Studio: SHAFT (Monogatari Series, Mekaku Cityactors) This one's actually a bit of an oddball entry, and not just because it's the latest part of the naturally oddball Monogatari franchise. It's oddball because you can watch it right now on Daisuki, as all four episodes of the arc premiered at once, Netflix-style. Then again, SHAFT did pull this stunt before, its adaptation of Nekomonogatari (Black) last year, as part of the runup to Monogatari Series Second Season.  In any case, we continue the increasingly complicated run of adapting author Nisioisin's novels, with a story arc focusing on Kagenui and Yotsugi, the demon-hunter/familiar pairing that first made their debut in Monogatari Series Second Season. Tsukimonogatari purports to be the opening to the "Final Season" of the Monogatari Series, so if you're new to the franchise, there's a lot you'll need to watch if you want to catch up. Or not, the different arcs have stood well enough on their own with a little bit of background research done.    Kantai Collection ~Kan Colle~ [embed]33406:4378:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 7, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Director: Keizo Kusakawa (Sekirei, Unlimited Fafnir) Studio: Diomedea (Squid Girl, Astarotte's Toy) One of the most fun things about the growth of the mecha musume genre is just how wide its figurative net is when it comes to scope. All you really need is the juxtaposition of cute girls (or more rarely boys) and some kind of nerdy nonsense like enthusiasm over battle mecha or vintage World War II hardware.  Kantai Collection is one of the latter, based on the browser strategygame that took the otaku world by storm with its moe anthropomorphizations of classic Japanese naval ships. As an overarching plot - or rather the lack thereof - has never been much of a problem for mecha musume shows, Kan Colle's premise feels like a melding of Strike Witches and the more recent Arpeggio of Blue Steel. A bunch of cute girls are apparently capable of channeling the spirit of Japan's old navy, and these "Kan Musume" are the only weapon in a war against some mysterious fleet denying humanity its seafaring birthright.  As Japanator's resident mecha musume fan, I'll be giving this one a look, but after good runs with the likes of Girls und Panzer and even Arpeggio, Kan Colle has a surprisingly high bar to pass to impress.   Maria the Virgin Witch [embed]33406:4379:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 11, 2015 Director: Goro Taniguchi (Code Geass)  Studio: Production I.G. (Kick-Heart, Haikyu!!) Superficial a person as I am, I initially dismissed this one on account of its vaguely Dragon Ball-esque character designs.  Akira Toriyama's style is essentially the reason I never played Chrono Trigger until the PSP era, a permanent black mark on my RPG nerd credentials, so I irrationally blame him for it. Upon closer examination, though, it's really only Maria, the titular virgin witch, that looks like a cousin to Android 18. More importantly, Maria the Virgin Witch is about a virginal sorceress living in the time of England and France's Hundred Years War. She hates the warso much she summons a succubus and incubus to do the dirty work and bring peace to the land. Let me say that again: She summons a succubus and an incubus. Seems that Miss Maria has some pretty dirty "dirty work" in mind!    Assassination Classroom [embed]33406:4380:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 9, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Seiji Kishi (Humanity Has Declined, Arpeggio of Blue Steel) Studio: Lerche (Re: Hamatora, Danganronpa The Animation) And here's the winter's young-audience heavy. You know the one: Adapted from some obscenely popular ongoing manga, now with an anime adaptation to serve as marketing fuel for the source. This season's entrant is Assassination Classroom, where an alien that destroyed the moon promises takes over a high school class and promises to destroy the Earth if the kids in the class can't kill him by the time they graduate. Given how dominantly school life features in every modern Japanese person's youth, there's no wonder a story about a bunch of students following through on their urges to murder their teacher took off like a rocket. That said, after World Trigger's poor showing and the near-absence of Seven Deadly Sins thanks to a rumored license snap-up by Netflix (which also bogarted Knights of Sidonia last time), I'm a little wary of this particular type of seasonal offering.  That said, thanks to FUNimation the show will be in fairly wide release, so there's no reason to to at least see what the fuss is about.    Sengoku Musou [embed]33406:4381:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 11, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Kojin Ochi (Detective Conan, La Corda d'Oro Blue Sky) Studio: Tezuka Productions and TYO Animation (Detective Conan, Tamayura Hitotose) If I were an executive in charge of tie-in marketing at Koei Tecmo, makers of Dynasty Warriors and its associated spin-off franchises, I would be pissed at the people who let Sengoku Musou (aka Samurai Warriors) fall by the wayside. After all, the Samurai Warriors games have been putting the mass slaughter in videogame Japanese history for far longer, and yet the culture at large has credited Capcom's Sengoku Basara series with putting feudal warlords on the pop-cultural map, leading the so-called "Samurai Boom" that led to marriageable young ladies to have crushes on Date Masamune, Sanada Yukimura, and a host of other 16th-century jerks. And here we are, with Sengoku Musou's first anime adaptation, and it just looks sad. After Sengoku Basara received no less than three seasons and a movie, the original samurai brawler ends up looking like the pale imitation. I guess this is what it must feel like to have been a fan of Everquest around the time World of Warcraft blew the doors open on MMORPGs. Yurikuma Arashi [embed]33406:4382:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 5, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll and FUNimation) Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara (Penguindrum, Revolutionary Girl Utena) Studio: Silver Link (Penguindrum, Kokoro Connect) Debuting back in 2011, Penguindrum was a deliciously weird production that for many a fan, made the long wait for a new series from the director of Revolutionary Girl Utena worth it. Three years later, it looks like Ikuhara's been watching a few too many of Stephen Colbert's ThreatDown segments, because the premise of Yurikuma Arashi revolves around an unending war between mankind and its immortal enemy: BEARS! Yup, a weird asteroid exploded and turned all the bears anti-human (just as all humans were already inherently anti-bear), and now the two sides are separated by a giant wall. But lo, a pair of bears have taken human form to infiltrate the other side in order to find tasty people to eat, and so begins the forbidden human-ursine infatuation story, complete with lots of blunt innuendos about cute girls (or bears in cute girl form) "eating" other cute girls. Hm, methinks that Ikuhara's been watching what Goro Taniguchi's had planned with Maria The Virgin Witch as well.   ISUCA Broadcast Date: January 23, 2015 Director: Akira Iwanaga (Tegami-Bachi) Studio: Arms (Ikkitousen: Dragon Destiny, Wizard Barristers) If When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace was a showcase of the things you need to do to make what is ultimately a harem rom-com seem fresh and exciting, ISUCA seems like a showcase of a harem rom-com doing precisely none of those things. Honestly, I'm rarely this negative about a show I haven't seen, but there's very little to make this thing stand out, other than some positive word about the source material providing some good Shana or Familiar of Zero vibes. It doesn't help that the only trailer on hand barely a month out from debut is a live-action music video preview of the opening theme. Now, I liked at least one of those shows, and I'm regularly Japanator's resident genre apologist when it comes to harem pap, but ISUCA's gonna have to work real hard to make its own case, even in a relatively light season like this one.   World Break: Aria of Curse for A Holy Swordsman [embed]33406:4384:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 11, 2014 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Takayuki Inagaki (My mental choices are completely interfering with my school romantic comedy) Studio: Diomedea (Squid Girl, Astarotte's Toy) Who's better, Warriors or Mages? That's the eternal question, and if you ask me, my money'd be on Mages if only they didn't wear robes most of the time. But what if they wore school uniforms (alongside the warriors), channeled the spirits of ancient heroes from ages past, and what if the hero of this story was a Mage AND a Warrior?!   That's pretty much the premise of World Break, and you'll be forgiven for thinking that sounds uncomfortably similar to a lot of other shows that have come and gone over the years. As an avowed fan of a game type that everyone else says is always the same every time, I can't in good conscience be too dismissive of the show, but it's hard to get really hyped up over it. Then again, I thought the same of Lord Marksman and Vanadis last season, and that turned out to be way more watchable and engaging than the initial premise held out to be, so there's always hope. Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! [embed]33406:4385:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 6, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Shinji Takamatsu (After War Gundam X, Daily Lives of High School Boys) Studio: Diomedea (Squid Girl, Astarotte's Toy) Magical Boys. It seems like so simple a twist on the Magical Girl concept, but why has it taken until 2015 for a show to take it as far as this one has? Sure, we had the "Masou Shojou" from Is This A Zombie, and for decades now cute boys have had transformation sequences and group relationships as drool-worthy as the ones cute girls have had, but this might be the first time I've seen a studio create what seems to be a genuine Magical Boy anime. Sure, thanks to the comedy pedigree of director Shinji Takamatsu, Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! is more than likely to be a screwball parody show, but there's enough earnestness in there to make it all work out, especially given that you're not supposed to take REAL Magical Girl shows - the PreCures and Sailor Moons of the world - that seriously anyway. This'll be one to watch - and not just to see hot young men dress fancy, fight evil, and in promo art, stack themselves on top of one another that gives uncomfortable subtext to the term "wood pile". Unlimited Fafnir [embed]33406:4383:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 8, 2015 Director: Keizo Kusakawa (Sekirei, Kantai Collection) Studio: Diomedea (Squid Girl, Astarotte's Toy) Is Diomedea this season's J.C. Staff? I'm not sure, but what I am sure about is that they're making no less than four full-length anime series this season, and Unlimited Fafnir, a show about cute girls who have dragon powers and the one boy who they fall in love with, is probably the least interesting of the bunch. I normally would conveniently forget to include a show like this in a season preview, just to save myself the trouble of pretending to be enthusiastic about a program no one on staff and few in the audience would watch, but I'm irrationally irritated by Unlimited Fafnir's existence at the moment. Y'see, it's being directed by Keizo Kusakawa, who's also directing Kantai Collection, and I'd really like that show to be good. Thus anything that appears like it could split his or Diomedea's resources away from making Kantai Collection decent is on my blacklist.  Naturally, that sentiment doesn't make much sense, especially not with what we know about anime production, but like I said, I'm irrationally irritated with the show.  The Rolling Girls [embed]33406:4386:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 10, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Kotomi Deai (Silver Spoon Season 2) Studio: Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Hozuki no Reitetsu) You thought Wit would be back to work on Attack on Titan after their brief diversion with Hozuki no Reitetsu? Well, don't worry, because they are, and that's coming later. For now, though, feast your eyes on The Rolling Girls, the studio's first original project.  It's been a decade since the Great Tokyo War, and all of Japan's prefectures have gone solo, becoming countries for themselves and going to (highly colorful and cartoonish) war with armies called "Mobs" led by heroes called "Mosa". Enter the Rolling Girls, a quartet of girl bikers drawn from the Mob and tasked with travelling across the scattered nations to mediate disputes, solve problems, and probably find themselves or something. Sounds good, looks even better, and I can't help but admit that and if I didn't know who was making it, I'd have mistaken The Rolling Girls this for a Trigger-produced spinoff from Kill la Kill. That's a pretty good problem to have for Wit, if you ask me, and it's great to see these relatively new studios flexing their muscle by trying different projects, rather than being attached to one big thing and ending up being defined by it.   The Idolm@ster: Cinderella Girls [embed]33406:4387:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 9, 2015 (Streaming on Daisuki) Director: Noriko Takao Studio: A-1 Pictures (The Idolm@ster, Sword Art Online) I actually said almost everything I needed to about Cinderella Girls in this post, so I'll do the lazy thing and quote some of it here: Given that The Idolm@ster was my favorite anime of its year, I feel almost obligated to find something to like about this new adaptation of Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls, the mobile game spinoff I gave approximately zero attention to over the last few years. So here goes. Umm..well, the girls of 346 Productions (pronounced "Mishiro Pro") all look alright, and personality-wise it's fairly easy to take your favorite 765 idol and apply their archetype to one of the others. I can already see a Takane-type of sorts in Anastasia, an Azusa type in Minami, and a Miki-type in Rika. So when in doubt, existing Im@s fans can pick whichever one most resembles an idol they already like and stick with her.  That said, they don't make as much of an impression as the 765 girls did. That might shake out once they're given more time to say more than their names and catchphrases, though. Plus, despite there being over 200 idols in the Cinderella Girls game, they seem to have picked this core cast uniformly from the younger end of the pool. At their ages, very few of these "cinderellas" will be out past midnight. Perhaps the more pertinent question at this point is how the show will fare with some key staff shuffled around from last time, and without the muppet-faced character designs I liked so much before? Also, will the Cinderella Girls be enough to carry the idol torch in a post-Love Live world? War has changed, friends.   Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend [embed]33406:4388:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 8, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll and Aniplex) Director: Kanta Kamei (Tales of Vesperia: The First Strike, Bunny Drop) Studio: A-1 Pictures (The Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls) I don't consider myself an especially hardworking feminist (else I'd have big problems with a larger proportion of anime than usual), but even I take issue with the way Aniplex has localized the title of Saenai Heroine no Sodate-kata. In Japanese, the literal translation is "Method of Raising a Dull Girlfriend", where "kanojo" (meaning "Girlfriend") gets those special chuunibyou pronunciation characters to make it read as the English "Heroine". The problem here is that it sounds awfully sexist, to "raise" your boring girlfriend. Aniplex should've paid attention to those furigana! As for the show, it's from the writer of White Album 2 and stars Tomoya, a nerd that enlists the help of two lady classmates to create a visual novel starring his muse, the beautiful Megumi Katou. The catch is Megumi has all the personality of a male visual novel lead (read: none whatsoever), and he and his co-creators will have to train their would-be heroine into a woman properly suited to star in that most noble of vehicles for fiction: The dating sim. So clearly, the plot itself isn't nearly as problematic as the title might imply. It's almost a reverse angle on The Taming of the Shrew, if you wanna be generous about it. After all, it's these three nerds helping a girl be as much of a character as her good looks would imply. Meeting one's full potential and all that. Why the bad title then? Death Parade [embed]33406:4389:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 9, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation) Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa (Death Billiards) Studio: Madhouse (Redline, Chihayafuru) If you've been deprived of "dark" anime, and don't feel like jumping on the Tokyo Ghoul or Aldnoah.Zero trains halfway through, Death Parade is poised to be your jam. It's based on Death Billiards, Madhouse's entry to Anime Mirai 2013. As might be imagined from the title, Death Billiards involved a couple of guys playing a very high-stakes pool game in some purgatorial bar. Death Parade expands on the concept to encompass darts, roulette, and all manner of pub and casino games to illuminate human nature. Maybe Mushishi was too tranquil for you?  Gourmet Girl Graffiti [embed]33406:4390:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 8, 2015  Director: Akiyuki Shinbo (Tsukimonogatari) Studio: SHAFT (Monogatari Series) There's very little I need to write to justify how this show could be really exciting. All I need to do is first, point out that Gourmet Girl Graffiti is quite proud of its "slightly erotic eating sequences". Next, I'll point out that SHAFT and Akiyuki Shinbo are the studio and man that did this for toothbrushing. I'm in.   Sequels and Continuations On the sequels and continuations front, we've got a bunch of expected entries, like the Egypt arc of JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, as well as the returns of Aldnoah.Zero and Tokyo Ghoul after taking breaks.  For some reason somebody commissioned a third season of Dog Days, and perhaps even more bafflingly, a new, two-cour season of Fafner, which is actually way novel now that Evangelion clones are out of style.  The real star of the returnee's party, though, is the new season of Durarara!!, and that's been gone and missed for long enough that it deserves its own info box:   Durarara!!x2 Shou [embed]33406:4391:0[/embed] Broadcast Date: January 10, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll and Aniplex) Director: Takahiro Omori  Studio: Shuka  It's been a whole five years of waiting, but we're finally getting some more Durarara!!. And all it took was for someone to wrangle together the original staff at Brains Base to form a whole new studio just to put this thing out.  And not just this thing, for Durarara!!x2 Shou is just the first sequel. Two more seasons, subtitled Ten and Ketsu are planned for later this year and early next, all set to adapt gobs more of the original novels.  Man, it's been so long since I last saw some Durarara!! that I can't even remember what happened besides the second half not being as good as the first. I'll need to catch up!   And that's pretty much it for winter's new offerings. Beyond all that, shows like Gundam Build Fighters Try, Log Horizon 2, and Terra Formars, if I ever get around to catching up on that, will continue on schedule. I may have said this was a "light" season, but there's still plenty to watch! What's on your viewing slate this Winter, and what would you like to see us cover? Let us know!
Winter Anime Preview! photo
Cartoons to keep warm by!
Winter may be upon us, and as the weather cools, it's the perfect time to curl up by the fire or stick your legs under the kotatsu and let the Japanese cartoons roll! This is Japanator's official Winter 2015 Anime Previe...

Japanator's Fall 2014 Anime Preview Guide!

Oct 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]33011:4207:0[/embed] TERRAFORMARS Studio: Liden Films (Senyuu, Miss Monochrome) Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins;Gate) Opens: September 26, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) TERRAFORMARS, also known as Terra Formars, Terra For Mars, and That Anime With The Super-Racist-Looking Monster Cockroaches, is pretty much the poster child for the fall season, and at first glance looks to be this season's contender for Attack on Titan's crown: A violent, bleak anime featuring humankind against an implacable, unknowable enemy. But where Titan had a bunch of giant nude weirdos and Knights of Sidonia featured piles of fleshy tentacles, Terraformars has hyper-evolved cockroaches who just so happened to evolve into the giant, nude, spitting image of some truly unfortunate racial caricatures. I'm hoping the resemblance wasn't intentional, because you'll likely be hearing a lot about that imagery as the show enters the western consciousness. Like Attack on Titan, it's also based on an obscenely popular, currently ongoing manga, licensed by Viz Media in the west. This first, deluxe-sized season will cover the "Annex 1" arc of the manga, when humanity sends a bunch of superpowered exterminators to reclaim Mars for mankind.  The first episode's already aired on Crunchyroll, and I'll be giving it a look soon-ish.   [embed]33011:4208:0[/embed] Amagi Brilliant Park Studio: Kyoto Animation (Free!, Beyond the Boundary) Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya) Opens: October 2, 2014 I hope you're not one of the dwindling contingent of KyoAni fans who was hoping that the studio's next adaptation would be from Full Metal Panic!, because if you are, it's time to be disappointed for the eighth year running: Amagi Brilliant Park, a story about a high school jerk made to take care of a crumbling amusement park alongside a bevy of beautiful young ladies, is not a Full Metal Panic sequel.  That said, Amagi Brilliant Park IS written by Shoji Gatoh, who also wrote the Full Metal Panic! novels, so in the right mindset, you could say it's the next best thing!  Right.    [embed]33011:4210:0[/embed] Gundam Reconguista in G Studio: Sunrise (Gundam Build Fighters) Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam) Opens: October 2, 2014 (Streaming on GundamInfo) Despite being one of the best damn Gundam shows in years, I can buy the argument that some have put forward that Gundam Build Fighters isn't a "true" Gundam show. After all, Gundam as a fiction has always had a wartime edge, and while I don't think Gundam stories need to be war stories to be Gundam stories (hello, G Gundam), this new one certainly looks to be more in line with traditional expectations than Build Fighters was. Yoshiyuki Tomino himself is said to be directing, though given his history he may not be as hands-on as one might expect from the position. Whatever the case, it's clear that Sunrise wants this to be their next big, all-new thing. Speaking of all-new, have you seen that Gundam design, the hilariously named G-Self? It's the weirdest "lead" mobile suit since the Turn A Gundam! Look at those horns! That might be a good sign, given that Turn A was pretty awesome.   [embed]33011:4211:0[/embed] Gundam Build Fighters Try Studio: Sunrise (Gundam 00) Director: Shinya Watada (Gundam 08th MS Team Battle in 3D) Opens: October 8, 2014 (Streaming on GundamInfo) And for everyone else that doesn't care how "kiddy" Gundam is, there's Build Fighters Try, the sequel to Build Fighters. Set some years after the original, Try returns to the tournament/dueling structure of the original Build Fighters (apologies to the folks hoping for some weird "Arian War" arc to develop), and sticks with three new leads of Team Try Fighters, as they strive for the Japanese championship. It's an interesting reduction in scale from the world-beating stakes of Build Fighters, now that Sunrise established the world and conventions of Gunpla Battle in the first season. And while simply shifting the cast isn't a radical departure, that's not what one really expects out of the Build Fighter series, since it's really a love letter to fans of Gunpla young and old. The best it can do is remain a thoroughly entertaining romp with a ton of new designs and mobile suit cameos. In the latter department it's already doing quite well, with stronger representation from G Gundam, Zeta Gundam, and SD Gundam in the three heroes' Gunpla. That ought to scratch a few itches for fans who thought SEED was a tad over-represented in the first season.   [embed]33011:4212:0[/embed] Garo: Mark of the Flame Studio: Mappa (Rage of Bahamut Genesis, Terror in Resonance) Director: Yuichiro Hayashi Opens: October 3, 2014 (Streaming via FUNimation) Garo is an odd duck of an anime, seeing that it's explicitly based on a live-action tokusatsu series. Usually that sort of thing tends to happen the other way around, but then again, Garo is very much the kind of tokusatsu series that would translate easily to the exaggerated manner of late-night anime series. That's exactly what's happening here, as young Makai Knight Leon Lewis fights demons and seeks the power of the Gold Knight. All things considered, the one thing I do worry about is just how well Garo will be able to distinguish itself as an anime series. It's one thing to be the dark-tinged big fish in tokusatsu's typically kid-friendly pond, but there's plenty of anime that target the same slightly older demographic. However it turns out, our resident toku junkie Salvador G-Rodiles will be checking the show out when it airs.   [embed]33011:4213:0[/embed] World Trigger Studio: Toei Animation (Pretty Cure, One Piece) Director: Mitsuru Hongo (Outlaw Star, Sakura Wars: The Movie) Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Manga adaptations have always been part and parcel of every season's anime offerings, but a more recent trend of the past few years has been to give the long-running, Shonen JUMP-type manga the seasonal treatment, adapting single story arcs over a shorter period than is typical for the usual, run-forever Naruto and Dragon Ball types of series. In effect, seasonal treatments make a given show more like an extended ad for the source material rather than its own thing. Add to that the fact that World Trigger is also a supremely popular JUMP manga about kids defending their city against interdimensional aliens (called the "Neighbors") with special powers called (you guessed it) "Triggers", and you've got a winning formula. Hiroko will be giving this one a look-see,   [embed]33011:4214:0[/embed] Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons Studio: Sunrise (Gundam Build Fighters Try) Director: Yoshiharu Ashino Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Strangely enough, Cross Ange might be the most straightforward new series of the Fall season, seeing as pretty much everything about it can be inferred from reading the premise. Angelise, Princess of the Misurugi Empire, is outcast after it's revealed that she is in face a "Norma", a weird person who can't use "Mana", the power source that's turned the world into a utopia. Exiled to an island with other Normas, she dons what has to be one of the most ridiculous pilot suits ever devised, then jumps into a giant robot to go and hunt a bunch of dragons that are invading for some reason.  Sounds like a show that knows exactly what it's about, and promises to provide nothing more or less than that. Fans of idol voice actress Nana Mizuki can also look forward to hearing more of her in the lead role, as well as singing the show's theme.   [embed]33011:4215:0[/embed] Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works Studio: ufotable (Fate/zero) Director: Takahiro Miura (Fate/zero) Opens: October 4, 2014 (Streaming via Aniplex USA and Crunchyroll) If you're not the type of anime fan to follow Type-MOON's works very much, you might be thinking "Wait, wasn't there one of these already?". You'd be right, since there is indeed an existing adaptation of Fate/stay night's "Unlimited Blade Works" story arc. Unfortunately, that movie was done by Studio Deen, who, while competent in their own right, have fallen out of the favor of Fate fans for dropping the ball when it came to the original Fate/stay night TV series. This new series is a do-over from ufotable, the top-notch studio responsible for Fate/zero and The Garden of Sinners. And when it's done, it'll be followed up by an adaptation of the "Heaven's Feel" story arc as well. It's gonna be a good few months to be a Fate fan, that's for sure. I'll be checking this show out, seeing as Unlimited Blade Works happens to be my favorite of the three Fate storylines. Rin is best girl, after all.   [embed]33011:4216:0[/embed] The Seven Deadly Sins Studio: A-1 Pictures (Persona 4 The Golden Animation) Director: Tensai Okamura (Darker than Black, World Conquest Zvezda Plot) Opens: October 5, 2014 I hope you weren't thinking that the next big thing from the director of Darker than Black would be a show that was just as dark, because The Seven Deadly Sins looks like a real colorful romp. Then again, considering that that same director's work in the meantime has included the likes of World Conquest Zvezda Plot, I can't think of anyone who would. That's to be expected from a star manga aimed at the shonen-loving set, and to be perfectly fair, the show looks pretty interesting, striking out for medieval fantasy territory as a young princess sets out to unite a group of legendary warriors called The Seven Deadly Sins, in order to oust the Holy Knights that have taken over her kingdom. Initial preview spots suggest a pretty lighthearted production, with character designs reminiscent of a more modern Dragon Ball and a friendly character who is in fact a 30-foot tall giant girl. Color me intrigued! On a side note, that kind of mortal sin motif leaves some big shoes to fill, since the antagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist used it as well. I can't help but wonder how their "Lust" archetypes will compare with each other.   [embed]33011:4218:0[/embed] Rage of Bahamut Genesis Studio: Mappa (Garo: Mark of the Flame) Director: Keiichi Satou (Tiger & Bunny) Opens: October 6, 2014 For this season's entry in the "It Could Go Either Way" category, we've got Rage of Bahamut Genesis, which is based on the Rage of Bahamut social card game. Game "adaptations" like these are usually story-light and more often than not come across as really cheap tie-ins, but the trailers look surprisingly good, and with some tempered expectations it could be a pretty good action outing. After all, if there's an upside to adapting a card game, it's that you're pretty much free to go anywhere you like in the narrative department.   [embed]33011:4220:0[/embed] Wolf Girl & Black Prince Studio: TYO Animations (Tamayura, Utakoi) Director: Kenichi Kasai (Love Stage!!, Bakuman) Opens: October 5, 2014 Ah, blackmail, what could be more romantic?  Well, a lot of things, if you ask me, but Wolf Girl & Black Prince's premise is ripe for a good rom-com romp. Appearance-obsessed Erika's been bragging about having a boyfriend without actually having one, and snaps a photo of some random hottie as "proof" of her relationship. All goes well until it turns out that said hottie is her classmate Kyouya, after which she needs to convince him to act the part out to keep up the charade. Adding insult to injury is the revelation that Kyouya's a real dom of a boy, and power-play antics ensue. If this sounds a bit too on-the-nose to make for a truly interesting romance show, there's a good chance you're right. But that's hardly a problem in the grand scheme of things. Romance is romance, and cliches live because they work. Not everything needs to be a postmodern deconstruction, and if nothing else, Wolf Girl seems to be going for laughs rather than creep-out, so if TYO can stick the landing on the right rom-com notes, shoujo romance fans can be happy.   [embed]33011:4221:0[/embed] Lord Marksman and Vanadis  Studio: Satelight (Bodacious Space Pirates, Macross Frontier) Director: Tatsuo Sato (Bodacious Space Pirates, Martian Successor Nadesico) Opens: October 4, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) The winner for this season's "Difficult Title To Pronounce" award is Madan no Ou to Vanadis, which, besides the terminology-wank of a header, seems like a perfectly decent  medieval fantasy story. There may be too much in the way of boobage for Vanadis' story of an expert archer taken in by a group of warrior-queens to be taken too seriously, but you never really know in cases like this. Last season's Blade and Soul turned out surprisingly well for an adaptation of a Korean MMO whose lewd female character models was considered a major selling point, and I thoroughly respect both Satelight and Tatsuo Satou for their recent work on Bodacious Space Pirates.  If only the could've come up with a show title as memorable as Bodacious Space Pirates, though, we'd be golden.   [embed]33011:4222:0[/embed] Gugure! Kokkuri-san Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Hero Bank) Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike (Wagnaria!!, Kaleido Star) Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) It's almost surprising that there are fewer 4koma comic strip adaptations being made these days, though I suppose it's not that surprising when light novel adaptations have taken their place, with the 4koma gigs moving out into the growing field of 2- to 5-minute shorts. Still, this is one of fall's few 4koma-based full-length shows, and it's likely to be about as shallow as you might expect, with the minor spirit Kokkuri-san summoned by a helpless little girl named Kohina. What's implied to follow is hijinks, hilarity, and maybe a bit of tenderness.    [embed]33011:4223:0[/embed] Orenchi no Furo Jijou  Studio: Asahi Production (Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector) Director: Sayo Aoi Opens: October 6, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Well, who'd have thought it. Despite the growing popularity of the whole "monster girl" concept of young men living with moe-fied personifications of famous monsters and mythical beasts, I wouldn't have expected one of the first such anime series to actually be a monster boy show.  Yup, Orenchi no Furo Jijou is the touching tale of an ordinary guy and the merman* living in his tub. Of course, they'll be playing it up for laughs, and if I were to editorialize for a bit, Orenchi seems to promise a more engaging level of humor than Kokkuri-san above, if for the sheer novelty of having a merman in the tub (as opposed to the well-trodden territory of having gods in one's home). *To be fair, mermen are probably the least "out-there" form of monster-person anyway (catgirls and "animal-eared" types don't count), so this show isn't exactly pushing the frontier at the moment.   [embed]33011:4237:0[/embed] Karen Senki Studio: Next Media Director: Hiroi Ohji (Sakura Wars) Opens: September 27, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Depending on who you ask, Karen Senki isn't actually an anime. It definitely talks the talk and walks the walk as far as anime-lookin' TV cartoons go, but much of the production is in fact being handled by Taiwan-based studio Next Media, in a partnership with Sakura Wars creator Hiroi Ohji. Then again, going by that logic, The Simpsons and Family Guy are Korean cartoons, so I'm of the opinion that the show's creative roots are definitely still anchored in Glorious Nippon, which is just fine for our purposes. The first episode's out on Crunchyroll, and they pretty much had me at "from the creator of Sakura Wars".   [embed]33011:4238:0[/embed] When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace Studio: Trigger (Inferno Cop, Kill la Kill) Director: Masanori Takahashi Opens: October 6, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (aka Inou Battle) starts with an interesting question: What if you and your closest friends had superpowers....and nothing happened? That's pretty much what happens to the literature club, who are convinced that they will one day be recruited to fulfill the epic destinies promised by their talents. Hijinks ensue, I guess. On balance, that doesn't actually sound like an especially promising show, but I will admit that I like the way it twists on the old Spider-Man canard: Great Power, No Particular Responsibilities.   [embed]33011:4230:0[/embed] Celestial Method Studio: Studio 3Hz Director: Masayuki Sakoi Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) Had your fill of sad girls in snow yet? Didn't think so, but Celestial Method is promising relatively cheery girls under blue skies. Not that the differences in setting matter all that much, since this is coming from the creator of Kanon, that most iconic of visual novels designed to jerk a tear out of the withered hearts of otaku.   [embed]33011:4231:0[/embed] The Fruit of Grisaia Studio: 8bit (Tokyo Ravens, Aquarion Evol) Director: Tensho (Kinmoza) Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll) You know you've got a winner when the show you're looking at refers to a girls' school as an "orchard" designed to cloister young ladies away from the world "because of reasons" (this is literally one of the ways to translate the premise). And then you know what you're in for when you realize it's a dating sim adaptation. This rarely turns out super-well, you have to admit. Perhaps I'm a little less hopeful about this one because the plot promises to be one of the kinds of stories where the male lead is the catalyst to help traumatized girls get over their tragic pasts, and for me stories like that only work from the usual first-person perspective of a typical VN. I suppose it'll have to depend on how 8bit approach the structure of the thing, though. It's not as if VN adaptation jobs are automatically doomed to failure.   [embed]33011:4232:0[/embed] Parasyte Studio: Madhouse Director: Kenichi Shimizu Opens: October 8, 2014  Parasyte seems like the kind of show that can really catch newcomers off-guard, especially if they're not the type to follow anime previews and trailers and that sort of thing, and if they're completely unaware of the source material. That is exactly what happened to me because HOLY CRAP THAT GUY'S HAND TURNED INTO A FACE. I honestly don't even want to know any more about the show, but I can tell you that I'll be watching it only in the daytime, lest all this body horror infect my dreams.   [embed]33011:4233:0[/embed] Shirobako Studio: PA Works (Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari) Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls und Panzer) Opens: October 9, 2014 I haven't been especially attached to the output of P.A. Works since Angel Beats!, but their new ntry into the "anime about making a manga or anime" field might be the thing that tips me over the fence, especially since it's got the director of Girls und Panzer at the helm. Now, it doesn't look like these pretty girls will be driving too many tanks around as they pursue careers in the anime industry, but Mizushima's shown himself to have a knack for finding the right approach to anime about people engaging in their jobs and hobbies and whatnot, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with a premise as mundane as making an anime. On a more political note, it'll also be interesting to see how (or if) Shirobako will be taking on some of the touchier topics affecting Japan's animation industry today, like the cultural dependence on otaku, labor practices, outsourcing, censorship, and other hot buttons. I somehow doubt they might, but I'd admire it all more if it did happen.   [embed]33011:4234:0[/embed] Ronia the Robber's Daughter Studio: Polygon Pictures (Knights of Sidonia) and Studio Ghibli Director: Goro Miyazaki (From Up On Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea) Opens: October 11, 2014 Despite the fact that this show's being made mainly by Polygon Pictures, most folks are going to refer to Ronia the Robber's Daughter as "The Ghibli Anime Series", in large part due to the involvement of director Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki. For folks who've already said their goodbyes to the not-quite-closed-though-it-looks-to-be-going-that-way Ghibli, this adaptation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's fantasy story symbolizes a continuation of Ghibli's legacy, of sorts. After all, if this turns out well, Ghibli will never truly be gone. That's a lot of expectation to pile onto a family show, and already some have turned their ire onto Polygon Pictures' CGI work. I can't entirely blame them, as for almost half the series Knights of Sidonia's weakest point was its own CGI animation work. That said, Ronia is looking far more lush and smooth. I'm hoping this quality rubs off onto the next season of Sidonia as well, for its sake. And that's it for our preview! Beyond these newer productions, there's quite a bit to take in this season, including the continuations of Selector Spread WIXOSS, Log Horizon, Yowapeda, Chaika the Coffin Princess, Psycho Pass, Mushishi, Sword Art Online and more! Tell us in the comments what you're watching, and what you'd like to read about from us!
Fall Anime Preview! photo
Things Get Awesome In Autumn
As the leaves turn, so do the hearts of men, as humanity's collective consciousness casts its gaze upon matters of true universal importance: The next batch of animated offerings from Glorious Nippon. This is Japanator's Fall...

HAL photo
Looks pretty
This one seemed have just slipped by me. Studio WIT, which is a subdivision of the mighty Production I.G. has a new animated film coming out, under the unassuming title HAL. The name gives me some serious Space Odyssey flash...

Japanator's Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide, Part 2!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]32786:4012:0[/embed] Sengoku BASARA: Judge End Studio: Telecom Animation Film (Moyashimon Returns, Yowapeda) Director: Takashi Sano (Blassreiter) Opening: July 5, 2014 PUT YA GUNS ON!  That's not a catchphrase I expected to be able to say again after Sengoku BASARA: The Last Party was released, because as I understood it, we've been over this story already. After all, The Last Party was a feature-length movie that basically covered the plot (such as it is) of Sengoku BASARA 3, which in turn brings Capcom's stylized saga of samurai superheroes to Sekigahara, the battle which in real history effectively brought an end to Japan's sengoku era. That would've been a pretty good spot to put the sunset on the BASARA boys, but alas, here we are. Judge End apparently covers the exact same plot period, though I presume it'll be including involvement from some of the characters left out of The Last Party, such as the genderswapped gunner Magoichi Saika and some dude whose weapons are a ball-and-chain and a fantastic set of abs.  Unfortunately, production duties have been passed from Production I.G., which handled the last two seasons and the movie, to Telecom (aka TMS), who last delivered Yowapeda. That might not be the best sign, but then again even in I.G.'s hands Sengoku BASARA was never quite the "sakuga" powerhouse it could've been, so it could work out just fine.   [embed]32786:4018:0[/embed] Samurai Jam - Bakumatsu Rock! Studio: Studio DEEN (Fate/stay night, Hakuoki) Director: Itsuro Kawasaki Opening: July 2, 2014 Streaming on: Crunchyroll The other day I mentioned that we've passed a Rubicon when it comes to finding otaku-friendly twists for historical anime. It's simply not enough anymore to make Nobunaga a cute girl or hot guy and call it a day. You've gotta have a weird twist, be it some kind of bonkers sci-fi drivel or...rock music idols.  Bakumatsu Rock is the latter, jumping forward some three centuries to the Meiji Restoration and casting Ryoma Sakamoto, a key figure in the overthrow of the Tokugawa Shogunate, and now a well-haired rock star seeking to take down the government squares with his songs of love, peace and freedom. The show just aired last night, so look forward to some First Impressions soon!   [embed]32786:4024:0[/embed] Free! Eternal Summer Studio: Kyoto Animation (Free! ~Iwatobi Swim Club~) Director: Hiroko Utsumi (Free! ~Iwatobi Swim Club~) Opening: July 3, 2014 Streaming On: Crunchyroll and FUNimation  Much as I am a fan of Kyoto Animation's work, I sort of bounced off of Free! I'm not sure why, but I know it wasn't the hot boys or even the swimming. Maybe I just wasn't up for a "sports anime", even though it was as much a sports anime as K-ON! was a "band anime", so I dunno. But hey, good thing I'm not in charge, because Free! is back and airing right now, complete with a new subtitle, Eternal Summer. That said, I don't think hot boys swimming shirtless is what the people of Westeros wish for when they talk about how "Winter is coming."* *Yes, I made a Game of Thrones reference to disguise the fact that I don't have all that much to say about Free!    [embed]32786:4028:0[/embed] Black Butler: Book of Circus Studio: A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online II) Director: Noriyuki Abe (Bleach, Flame of Recca) Opening: July 10, 2014 Streaming on: Daisuki Get ready for a new generation of anime fans to name their online game characters "Phantomhive", because the show that brought us the Sebastian meme is back. After considerable departures from the original plot early in the series, Book of Circus pulls a Days of Future Past and turns back the clock, jumping off from episode 15 of the first season and effectively nullifying the entire second season like it was a future filled with mutant-hunting robots. To boot, they've brought on a Director with plenty of experience helming JUMP shows that need to stay manga-faithful and a writer that's probably best left unburdened with the task of creating original stories (Gundam SEED Destiny and Vividred Operation scribe Hiroyuki Yoshino). If A-1 can keep up the production values, I think Brittany can expect a fun ride through the land of butlers and delicious shipping opportunities.   [embed]32786:4030:0[/embed] Tokyo ESP Studio: XEBEC (Rio Rainbow Gate, Yamato 2199) Director: Shigehito Takayanagi (Galaxy Angel X, The World God Only Knows Season 2) Opening: July 11, 2014 I liked what little I saw of Noragami, mainly for the execution on its romance hook and endearing characters. Unfortunately, it wasn't especially exciting as an action show, which might explain why I sort of forgot it existed until I had to write about Tokyo ESP.  For whatever reason, Tokyo ESP rubs that Noragami itch, except where the latter's female lead was turned into to a narcoleptic catgirl ghost, Tokyo ESP's lady lead Rinka basically turns into Kitty Pryde, who is one of my favorite X-Men. I'll consider that an official endorsement from Marvel Studios.   [embed]32786:4031:0[/embed] Barakamon Studio: Kinema Citrus (Black Bullet, Yuyushiki) Director: Masaki Tachibana (.hack//Quantum) Opening: July 5, 2014 Streaming on: Crunchyroll On title alone I'd have thought Barakamon to be like a mashup of a certain blade-armed Mortal Kombat character and everyone's favorite Pocket Monster dogfighting sim, but no, it's a thoughtful character piece about a jerkfaced calligraphy dude who gets sent off to the sticks for being a jerkface, where he meets a little girl that changes his jerkfaced outlook on life.  Basically, it's this season's Bunny Drop, and that really can't be a bad thing, especially not since their source manga is apparently quite good. Of course, they could foul up the adaptation, but that can happen with anything, really.    [embed]32786:4032:0[/embed] DRAMAtical Murder Studio: Naz (Hamatora) Director: Kazuya Miura While shows like Free and cute boy idol programs like Bakumatsu Rock and Shonen Hollywood are ripe for shipping, the boys in them tend to remain generally straight, much to the consternation of fans who like their hot boy pairings "canon". That's where shows like DRAMAtical Murder come in, based right off of popular BL and yaoi games. Though I'm still not swinging the way I'd like to for this type of program to strike my fancy, it does look a sight more interesting than other shows in its ilk, featuring weird "Rhyme Battles" and properly nutso character designs.   [embed]32786:4033:0[/embed] Persona 4 The Golden Animation Studio: A-1 Pictures Director: Seiji Kishi (Persona 4 The Animation, Angel Beats!) Opening: July 10, 2014 Streaming on: Aniplex and Daisuki  As much as I'd love to call myself a superfan of Persona, everything about this adaptation of Persona 4 Golden screams "unnecessary". Sure, it might be adding in the involvement of some new characters from Atlus' definitive version of Persona 4, but are Marie, a scooter, a garden, and a vacation to the mountains really enough to justify an entire new anime series? I'm inclined to disagree. That said, it's not as if the original Persona 4 anime was perfect either, and this might be a chance to correct some of the missteps made the first time around. Dae's going to be checking it out, and we'll see if he can form a social link with it.   [embed]32786:4034:0[/embed] Invaders of the Rokujyoma!? Studio: Silver Link (Strike the Blood, Mawaru Penguindrum) Director: Shin Oonuma (Baka and Test) Opening: July 11, 2014 You can tell it's going to be a weird season when there's no obvious candidate to take care of the harem-loving contingent and for better or worse, Summer 2014 will NOT be a weird season, thanks to Invaders of the Rokujyoma!  Normal everyday potato-man Koutarou rents a 6-tatami apartment (that's basically a broom closet), but meets a whole bunch of weird girls that make his life cliched and interesting. I sort of liked in when harem shows were getting postmodern, like with Is This A Zombie? and even Date A Live, but unfortunately I'm not quite getting that vibe from this one.
Anime Preview 2! photo
It's getting hot in here!
The sun's up and it's time to get the heck into the shade and watch some Japanese cartoons! Welcome to the second part of Japanator's Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide! Just as we did in yesterday's first part, we're here to ta...

Japanator's Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide, Part 1!

Jul 02 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]32704:3986:0[/embed] Sword Art Online II Studio: A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, The iDOLM@STER) Director: Tomohiko Ito (Sword Art Online) Opening: July 5, 2014 Streaming on: Crunchyroll Man, Sword Art Online was popular, wasn't it? It certainly felt that way back when it was airing, to the point that it was so popular questions of its actual quality almost didn't even matter, so outsized were the reactions one way or the other. Even Karen was so off-put by the hate she felt it necessary to dampen the flames of ire a little bit. Whatever you think of the show, though, it’s here for a second helping of your attention! A-1 Pictures returns to animate the saga of Kirito and all the good things that happen to him in MMO land in Sword Art Online II. This time around the players, Kirito included, have switched to a new game, Gun Gale Online, where players use firearms of varying sorts and a special black gun seems to be killing people...in real life ("IRL" for you net-savvy Zero-Cool types). Gasp! Seriously though, I find it quite amusing that wherever an MMO-related crisis arises, Kirito and crew find themselves at or diving into the center of it. It’s like they’re the Justice League of online gaming ridiculousness. Salvador is all about superheroes (just check his Annotated Tokusatsu recaps!), so he's volunteered to see if Sword Art Online can do some justice...to itself!   [embed]32704:3987:0[/embed] Aldnoah.Zero Studio: A-1 Pictures and Troyca (Persona 4 Golden The Animation) Director: Ei Aoki (Fate/Zero) Opening: July 5, 2014 Streaming On: Aniplex Channel The Butcher is back! Gen Urobuchi, fresh from bringing us closer to hitting a "Bingo" than any Kamen Rider fan should be able to stomach, has a new concept, and it's ostensibly a mecha show about two futuristic societies in fundamental conflict...wait, did I just describe Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet? Oh, it says "Earth versus Mars" here, so we're good.  Anyway, facetiousness aside, it looks like a promising original anime in a sea of adaptations, which is always a plus. I am beginning to get a little bit worried, though. We're seeing Gen Urobuchi's name being attached to an increasing number of projects, and while most of them have panned out so far, I'm concerned that if this trend continues he might end up the Suda51 of anime production, more a name attached for marketing cachet than out of genuine involvement. Only time will tell, though, and Dae will be on hand to tell us if that line's been crossed.   [embed]32704:3988:0[/embed] Zankyou no Terror Terror in Tokyo) Studio: Mappa (Teekyu!, Kids on the Slope) Director: Shinichiro Watanabe (Space Dandy, Cowboy Bebop) Opening: July 10, 2014 Streaming On: FUNimation It looks like Shinichiro "Cowboy Bebop guy" Watanabe really is back in business, with three anime in three years, and that can only be a good thing. Then again, given my worries about Gen Urobuchi's rising profile, Watanabe's a lot closer to that "name you attach to stuff" phase. But I'm not worried, though, since everything he's made since he came back has never been less than decent. Featuring a mysterious terror attack perpetrated by Japanese teenagers, Terror's got strong Eden of the East vibes going for it. Dae will be watching it, and with luck, it won't be so similar to Eden of the East that he gets his privates threatened by ladies with cigar cutters.   [embed]32704:3991:0[/embed] Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal Studio: Toei Animation (Sailor Moon, Pretty Cure) Director: Munehisa Sakai (One Piece Strong World, Suite Precure) Opening: July 5, 2014 Streaming On: Viz Media And here's the heavy. Back in the days when "Japanimation" was the word for anime rather than a term sites will fire you for using unironically, there was Sailor Moon, the grandmommy of magical girl anime for many a young otaku. Now it's getting the Dragon Ball Kai treatment, with a more manga-faithful remake courtesy of Toei and broadcast everywhere Sailor Moon hit like a pop-cultural tidal wave (which is pretty much everywhere, when you think about it). Beyond the unthinkable notion that audiences these days have grown out of Sailor Moon, and the occasional pro-toast protest it's hard to see this going terribly wrong. Director Munehisa Sakai has experience helming crowd-pleasers like One Piece, as well as having his hand on the reins of the thing that took over for Sailor Moon, Precure. I think we're gonna be OK. After years and years of delays and no-shows, when Crystal was finally confirmed as a thing that was really real and happening this season, Brittany's sigh of relief was audible...in space! So she'll be watching it.    [embed]32704:3994:0[/embed] Argevollen Studio: XEBEC (Upotte!, Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Broken Blade) Director: Atsushi Ohtsuki (Ladies vs Butlers!, To Love-Ru Darkness) Opening: July 3, 2014 Streaming on: Crunchyroll This is purely down to personal bias, but I'm quite happy that unremarkable mecha and sci-fi series seem to have superseded unremarkable dating sim/incest comedy adaptations as the "filler" shows of a given season. You know the type, a show that you've heard little about beyond a trailer or some vague premise, that may impress or simply fade from memory like last week's breakfast. Right now, Argevollen, with its tale of two fictional nations at war and the super robots that might tip the balance, feels exactly like that.  Only time and word from yours truly will be able to tell us if XEBEC's latest production will be the Valvrave of its time...or the Buddy Complex of its time.   [embed]32704:3995:0[/embed] Tokyo Ghoul Studio: Studio Pierrot (Naruto Shippuden, Level E) Director:  Shuhei Morita (Tsukumo, Kakurenbo) Opening: July 3, 2014 Streaming On: FUNimation The last couple of years have seen a resurgence in anime that manage to ably tap the horror vein, or at least give a satisfying amount of creepy spooky J-vibes*. For lovers of that kind of thing, Tokyo Ghoul's story of cannibals and the young man that becomes half-one might be a winner.  Sure, things seem a bit iffy when Studio Pierrot gets attached to something that's not also being published in Shonen Jump, but they're a proven outfit, and the actual creative team doesn't share much overlap between the people doing the actual grunt work on Naruto and the like, so in essence all bets are off. Hiroko's been looking for something to sink her teeth into now that she's back with us, so she's torn off a hunk of this show to lay her eyes on. Let's hope it proves meaty enough for her taste. *Creepy Spooky J-Vibes is also my rap name.   [embed]32704:3996:0[/embed] RAIL WARS! Studio: Passione (Haitai Nanafa) Director: Yoshifumi Sueda Opening: July 3, 2014 Trains, right? Gotta love 'em! Selphie love's 'em, the ToQgers love 'em, the Galaxy Express 999 people love 'em, everyone loves 'em. Trains.  You know who doesn't love trains, though? TERRORISTS. Capitalist terrorists in particular, who hate trains so bad they want to...privatize them? And to defend state-owned infrastructure from the predations of would-be railway robber barons are a bunch of high school train cops.  Yeah, Rail Wars! might be just the right kind of weird, and we've Dae's volunteered to wait at the crossing for this doozy of a show to make a stop. Will he get aboard, or will it make him want to leap off the platform?   [embed]32704:3997:0[/embed] Akame ga Kill! Studio: White Fox (Steins;Gate, Tears to Tiara) Director: Tomoki Kobayashi Opening: July 6, 2014 Akame ga Kill! bills itself as a "dark fantasy", which in the parlance of anime and manga adaptations, means lots of blood, violence, "mature" content and probably boobs. Main character Tatsumi has taken up living in the Capitol, a place that could be called "a hive of scum and villainy" as a gross understatement. And here, even being a merciless assassin marks you as one of the good ones. So yes, depravity ahoy! Hiroko's taking a few steps into the big city, but whether she can tolerate it is a matter best saved for after the First Impressions writeup.   [embed]32704:3998:0[/embed] Hanamonogatari Studio: SHAFT (Monogatari series) Director: Akiyuki Shinbo (Monogatari Series) Opening: August 16, 2014 It's ironic, but Hanamonogatari is becoming both easier and harder to explain in terms of the new season. For one, it's part of the now long-running Monogatari Series franchise, but isn't actually a new installment or season. Instead, this five-episode banger represents the middle portion of Monogatari Series Second Season, and consists of storylines originally intended to air during that period, including the "Suruga Devil" arc, starring everyone's favorite breathy-voiced lesbian, Kanbaru. So basically, it's less like Bakemonogatari or Nisemonogatari, and more like Nekomonogatari (Black), i.e. another product of SHAFT's continuing not to give an eff about proper project and budget management. So that's why Hanamonogatari is hard to explain. It's easy to explain as follows: "If you haven't kept up with the rest of this nonsense, this isn't the place to start." And there we go. Thankfully, Amber has kept up with the rest of this nonsense, so she's taking the case.   [embed]32704:3999:0[/embed] Normal Girls Try Becoming Locodols (Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita) Studio: feel. (Futakoi Alternative, Kiss x Sis) Director: Munenori Nawa (Fortune Arterial, Haruka Nogizaka's Secret) Opening: July 3, 2014 "What's a Locodol", is probably the first question you'll have upon reading this light novel-esque descriptive title, and the answer is "It's yet another Japanese truncation of two loan words 'local' and 'idol'." So yes, these "local idols" are basically a poppier, slightly more sexist* version of the "town mascot" concept. I'm really not sure how this becomes a thing, because in my mind, an idol that starts "local" and stays that way is not a very successful idol. Watching iDOLM@STER has taught me to believe that idols must have endless ambition and always aim to be the "top idol" and so on. Well, I suppose it'll be up to Dae to tell us if Locodols are really a thing when he watches it.   [embed]32704:4000:0[/embed] Hanayamata Studio: Madhouse (Kaiji, Akagi) Director: Atsuko Ishizuka (The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, No Game No Life) Opening: July 7, 2014 "Is this a dancing anime?" has been a joke since the Haruhi days, but I think this might be the first time I've encountered a show that allowed me to answer the question seriously. Yes, Hanayamata is a dancing anime. It is a dancing anime about a very specific kind of dance, the Yosakoi, and the cute girls who take it up. If you ask me, it's probably closer to this season's idol anime to watch than the Locodol thing above. Heck, Bandai Namco's already got a game tie-in planned. As resident wota expert, Jeff's taken this one and will be relaying his thoughts on their steps.   [embed]32704:4003:0[/embed] Survival Game Club! (Sabagebu!) Studio: Pierrot Plus (Beelzebub) Director: Masahiko Ohta (Minami-ke) I guess we should've anticipated it, but "Airsoft girls" anime are now a thing. In retrospect, I suppose it would've been inevitable as soon as Strike Witches consciously evoked love of World War II military hardware as it spun off from more typical sci-fi-styled mecha musume shows.  And then, between Girls und Panzer, Uppote! and Stella Girl's Academy Division C3, we've got another show that's all about a normal girl, this time Momoka Sonokawa joining the all-girl airsoft club. Unlike C3's dark turn, though, it looks like Survival Game Club may deliver as promised. Whether that's a good or bad thing will be up to Dae to decide.   [embed]32704:4004:0[/embed] MajiMoji Rurumo Studio: J.C. Staff (Aria the Scarlet Ammo, Little Busters!) Director: Chikara Sakurai (Naruto Road to Ninja) Opening: July 9, 2014 No genre ever really goes away completely, and while pervy rom-coms about some youthful milquetoast meeting a girlfriend he couldn't possibly deserve are thankfully no longer the bulk of the quarterly anime output, they're still around. MajiMoji Rurumo is that thing, starring as it does a horny young teen guy who accidentally summons a young witch, and somehow forms a contract with her for 666 wishes, which she must convince, coerce and entice him into using up so she can go home. Unfortunately for him, using up all the wishes would mean his death, so there's the rub. Much as I am a lover of dumb crap, I'm not feeling this one, but we at Japanator are blessed to have another person on staff who shares my initials: Josh Totman. And he seems quite into pervy rom-coms, so he'll be tackling this witch-themed wish-fulfiller.   [embed]32704:4009:0[/embed] Momo Kyun Sword Studio: Tri-slash and Project No. 9 (Recently my little sister is unusual, Ro-Kyu-Bu!) Director: Shinsuke Yanagi (Ryo-Kyu-Bu!) Opening: July 8, 2014 In addition to MajiMoji Rurumo above, Josh Totman will also be handling the season's other "boobs anime", Momo Kyun Sword. Apparently no longer content with turning sengoku-era warlords into cute girls, Anime, Inc. has turned its adapting eye to old stories, this time the venerable tale of Momotaro and his three animal companions. Momotaro is now "Momoko", and she's got to get back her village's sacred treasure from a pack of ogres and their princess, Onihime. Beyond that, adventure! I for one fully support the continuing spread of the "reimagine it with cute girls" trend, as with enough time and persistence I'm hoping it'll hit some real classics. Think about it! How about Arthurian legends gender-swapped (beyond Fate/stay-night of course), or the Ramayana or Wagner's Ring Cycle with all the cute girls you can handle.   [embed]32704:4010:0[/embed] Glasslip Studio: PA Works (Tari Tari, Hanasaku Iroha) Director: Junji Nishimura (Ranma 1/2, You're Under Arrest: The Movie)  Opening: July 3, 2014 Streaming On: Crunchyroll Going solely by the title and knowing Japan's penchant for truncation, I would've assumed Glasslip was a romantic comedy anime loosely based off the story of Cinderella. And maybe it would have samurai warlords reimagined as cute girls or something.  The truth, though, is far more mundane (and, ironically, more potentially interesting). Touko Fukami dreams of becoming a glass artisan, and during her summer vacation, meets a boy who claims to hear voices from the future. Romantic hijinks and slice-of-life comedy ensue between Touko and her boy, plus a balanced male-to-female core cast full of well-glazed character designs. This isn't usually my cup of tea: I get enough melodrama watching telenovela with my grandmother, but I definitely won't begrudge anyone who does like having their heartstrings tugged.   [embed]32704:4011:0[/embed] Shonen Hollywood - Holly Stage For 49 - Studio: ZEXCS (Diabolik Lovers, Cuticle Detective Inaba) Director: Toshimasa Kuroyanagi (Say I Love you, Minami-ke) Opening: July 5, 2014 Streaming On: Crunchyroll Shonen Hollywood is a male idol anime, and also a light novel adaptation, but also not, because the actual plot of the anime (such as you can get from idol shows) is set a full fifteen years after the light novel it's based on. this would be like starting an Idolm@ster anime franchise with the cast members of Million Live!, who instead have the original 765 Pro girls as mentors, or even people who run things in the present. Either way, it looks less bonkers than the likes of Uta no Prince-sama, so there's a good seed to be found if you're looking for hot boy anime to fill your lonely nights.
Anime Preview! photo
In the Summertime
It's the summertime, and the weather is high. You can reach right up, and touch the sky. When the weather's fine, we've got Japanese cartoons on the mind! It's the first part of Japanator's Summer 2014 Anime Preview Guide! Th...

Japanator's Spring 2014 Anime Preview Guide!

Mar 26 // Karen Mead
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders [embed]31835:3724:0[/embed] Studio: David Production (JoJo: Phantom Blood, JoJo: Battle Tendency) Air Date: April 4 This is already the standout show of the season for many before it's even aired -- to the extent that people are saying "Who even cares what else is airing in the spring, there's more Jojo!" Personally I missed the boat on Jojo, but considering just how excited anime fans are for this second season, it looks like I'm going to have to catch up if I want to retain what little cred I have as an aniblogger. However, that won't be my job next season, as Elliot will clearly need another weekly brew of over-the-top action to inject directly into his veins once Kill La Kill comes to an end. Expect him to be all over this like show like Mako Mankanshoku with a plate of piping hot croquettes. Knights of Sidonia [embed]31835:3725:0[/embed] Studio: Polygon Pictures (Ghost in the Shell: Innocence, Sky Crawlers) Air Date: April 10 "Though this one more or less flew under the radar as a manga, as an anime it's had quite a few folks intrigued. Sidonia offers mecha-based, high-concept anime with an almost Titan A.E.-like post-apocalypse plot, full of generation ships, gene-engineering, third genders and a voluminous cast. Sidonia seems to be what older anime fans who watch for sci-fi have been waiting for. It also reminds me a bit of Broken Blade, the serious sci-fi darling of a few years ago."-- Josh Tolentino. What Josh says. The CG-animation will be a turnoff for some viewers, but I'm willing to give it a shot. I didn't watch Arpeggio of Blue Steel, but this show has some surface similarities; I think the fact that it doesn't include ships personified into adorable moe girls may lead to it being taken more seriously. I hope this show ends up being a quality example of hard sci-fi, because it seems like that's a genre that anime tends to botch more often than not. I'm going to be covering this, and though I'm only a casual sci-fi fan -- I've always been a fantasy gal at heart -- maybe this will be the story that converts me. The Irregular at Magic High School [embed]31835:3726:0[/embed] Studio: Madhouse (Wolverine, Iron Man, X-Men, Redline) Air Date: April 6 "I figured it was inevitable that this light novel series would get an anime adaptation. I know this because even as far back as Accel World's 6th episode, where billboards and posters advertised the novels and even implied an anime was on the way."-- Josh Tolentino This is the show that everyone's saying is going to be "the next Sword Art Online," and as Japanator's resident person who doesn't hate Sword Art Online, I thought I'd give it a shot. However, I'm having second thoughts; this is by the same people that did the X-Men anime? Really? That was one of the worst shows I've ever seen. Plus the main character is supposedly bad at magic and goes to magic high school, only all the girls totally want him for some mysterious reason; it's one of those deals. Plus, this is one of those shows where all the girls have weird-looking boobs. Seriously, I'm okay with boobs getting an emphasis, but if you want to showcase breasts, learn how to draw breasts; is that really so much to ask? Oh well, it looks like this may be typical harem fare, a la Infinite Stratos II, but maybe this one will surprise us. I'll try to keep an open mind and see what there is to learn at this latest magical school; it certainly can't be any duller than this season's Magical Warfare. It just...can't. No Game, No Life [embed]32032:3743:0[/embed] Studio: Madhouse (Wolverine, X-Men, Redline) Air Date: April 9 So instead of a tale of one awesome gamer who gets pulled into a video game, No Game, No Life features a brother-sister pair of awesome gamers who get pulled into a video game. I'm tempted to poke fun at how many of these sorts of shows we've seen lately, but the fact of the matter is, there's nothing inherently wrong with the "pulled-into-a-video-game" format; it's only a problem when the writing isn't any good. I don't know how the writing is going to be for this one, but at the very least, from the trailer the animation seems to have some spark to it; I'm kind of digging those weird glowing eye-worm thingies a few characters are sporting, among other things. Who knows, maybe this will be the video game anime that puts other video game anime to shame. At the very least, it should help keep fans of Sword Art Online and Log Horizon occupied until those shows return in the summer and fall, respectively. L.B. has donned his iridescent, flame-retardant gear and is prepared to cover this, along with about ten other shows; seriously, if there's a show you're interested in that isn't listed here, you should probably just assume L.B. is covering it. He's a go-getter, that one. Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin (Nanana's Buried Treasure) [embed]31835:3727:0[/embed] Studio: A-1 (Idolm@ster) Air Date: April 10 The Noitamina block just ain't what it used to be. When it started out, it was where you looked to find original anime that had something new and different to offer. However, ever since the baffling decision to air Black Rock Shooter years ago, the brand no longer stands for creativity and artistic merit the way it once did. Now, with Nanana's Buried Treasure, the once celebrated platform for creative, original shows is being used for...a magical girlfriend show. A young man encounters a beautiful girl with magical powers, and hijinks ensue, blah blah blah you know the rest. Unless this is the show that's going to perform a massive deconstruction of the magical girlfriend show (yeah, ok), it looks like yet another harbinger of Noitamina's slow decline. Still, Aniplex of America ran out and licensed this before it even premiered, so maybe they know something about this show that we don't; after all, it is possible that the bog-standard premise could be hiding something more interesting. I checked who signed up to cover this, and apparently Amber signed up to cover Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin and L.B. signed up to cover Nanana's Buried Treasure, so they've both laid claim to it in different languages. You guys? Work this out among yourselves, okay? Don't make this have to go to a cage match, you have no idea what that does to our insurance premiums. Goukoku no Brynhildr (Brynhildr in the Darkness) [embed]31835:3729:0[/embed] Studio: Arms (Wizard Barristers, Elfen Lied) Air Date: April 6 A brainchild of Lynn Okamoto, the creator of Elfen Lied, the big question on everybody's lips about the upcoming Brynhildr is "Will this be super-violent like Elfen Lied, or just kind-of-sort-of violent?" Either way, we didn't have much violence this past season (with the exception of the Guillotine Gorilla Incident that will forever live in infamy), so fans who like some proper gore with their entertainment are definitely going to have to give this a shot. The set-up -- featuring a sad boy who is made less sad when he encounters a girl who looks exactly like his dead childhood friend -- doesn't really tell us much, so it's mainly the Elfen Lied pedigree that draws interest here. Studio Arms also did Wizard Barristers though, and after the travesty of justice that was Wizard Barristers 11, let's just hope that they manage their animation budget a little better this time around; it kind of defeats the purpose of gore if you can't see it. Brittany, our mistress of horror coverage, will be tackling this one, but of course. Mekaku City Actors [embed]31835:3730:0[/embed] Studio: Shaft (Nisekoi, Madoka Magica) Air Date: April 12 All the trailers for this show so far do that annoying thing where they just show still character artwork but make the camera zoom all over the damn place to try to fool you into thinking it's animated. Fortunately, since this is a Shaft project, we already have a pretty good idea what this show's going to look like: expect plenty of supposedly "normal" locations that actually look like they take place on an alien planet, or perhaps in some bizarre hell dimension where everyone's neck is triple-jointed. I've read like five summaries and I still don't quite get the concept of this show; supposedly it's based on a series of popular Vocaloid music videos. I mean, I know what all of those words mean individually, but what? Anyway, the story is about a guy who meets a magic vocaloid and gets magical powers...and is also an actor, I think? Then he and a team of actors use their new powers to fight, I don't know, Beyonce? This sounds like it has all the makings of a hot mess to me, unless it comes back around from the other direction and becomes fabulous. Chris missed his Shaft fix by forgetting that Nisekoi existed this season, so he's going to give Mekaku the old college try. Ping Pong The Animation [embed]32032:3736:0[/embed] Studio: Tatsunoko Productions (Gatchaman Crowds, Wake Up, Girls!) Air Date: April 10 This one is a bit of an oddity. A popular sports manga being tapped for an anime adaptation is certainly nothing new, but it's pretty unusual for a studio to go back and pick a manga from twenty or so years ago. Plus, it's being directed by Maasaki Yuasa of Tatami Galaxy fame, which means it's a sports anime with a really respected director at the helm. I've been hearing for years that Tatami Galaxy is a woefully unappreciated masterpiece, so I look forward to seeing what the guy can do with the story of a bunch of dudes playing ping pong; I should also go back and watch Tatami Galaxy already, but that's neither here nor there. Yuasa's trademark art style -- which many people consider ugly -- is on full display in the trailer, so it's possible the visuals may turn some viewers off right from the outset. However, as a card-carrying fan of Flowers of Evil, there is no anime with characters too ugly for me to get into! NONE! Ben, always quick on the draw when something with good critical buzz comes along, will be covering this to fill the hole in his life after Samurai Flamenco is over. Of course, we all know that nothing can truly replace Samurai Flamenco, but hey, that's not Ping Pong's fault. Black Bullet [embed]32032:3737:0[/embed] Studio: Kinema Citrus (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Yuyushiki) Air Date: April 8 In the year 2031, Tokyo still exists, and there are magical girls in it; there is also one dude with a gun, who interacts with the magical girls. There's some kind of magical virus at work, but it only affects females, and...honestly, this sounds like the most generic light novel adaptation ever and I'm having trouble mustering up the interest to even write a few sentences about it. That's not to say it's necessarily going to be bad, and in a moment of foolishness I agreed to cover it, so I hope it has something going for it. But it sounds like every other light novel that's been adapted in the last four years...that doesn't feature a bunch of people trapped in an MMO. Since I have nothing else to say about the show, let's talk about the song by fripside that's playing in the trailer: is it just me, or does every song that fripside has put out since Only My Railgun sound just like Only My Railgun, only not nearly as good? Discuss! Kenzen Robo Daimidaler (Daimidaler the Sound Robot) [embed]32032:3738:0[/embed] Studio: TNK (Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor, High School DxD) Air Date: April 5 First of all, this show may have the most annoying website I have ever seen. I'm conflicted about Daimidaler; on the one hand, the villains are supposedly giant penguin robots, and I am all about giant penguin anything. However, the enemy mechs in the trailer don't actually look all that penguin-like and apparently, our protagonist powers his robot through lust and can only go into combat after groping a girl's soft bits...all brought to you by the studio responsible for Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor. Is there any sentence in existence that inspires less confidence then "From the studio that brought you Ikkitousen: Xtreme Xecutor?" Not too many, I'm sure. I don't know if the alleged penguin motif can do anything to save this one, but there's always a chance it'll turn out to be wacky, self-parodying fun, so who knows. So far, no one has stepped up to the plate to cover this, but someone's going to have to check on it at some point to confirm whether or not the whole Penguin Empire thing is just a tease. Captain Earth [embed]32032:3739:0[/embed] Studio: BONES (Space Dandy, Noragami) Air Date: April 5 Listen to this premise: aliens from outer space come and attack, and a young boy must pilot a giant robot to fight them. C'mon BONES, are you even trying? At least put in something about how the robot can only be powered by his hormones/suppressed memories/cotton-poly blend jumpsuit! A dull premise, and to add insult to injury, the title led me to believe this was going to be some awesome Captain Planet redux, but alas. All that said, the trailer looks nice enough and Bones has been doing some good stuff lately -- like whenever an episode of Space Dandy has a decent script for them to animate. I'm still kind of mad at them for making No. 6, but that was years ago already and I have to let it go. Elliot needs some more mecha in his life so he'll be covering this one for us; I sincerely hope this show gives him the giant robot action he's looking for, and not just boys with beautiful, soulful eyes staring at each other endlessly...not that there's anything wrong with that. Ishuukan Friends (One Week Friends) [embed]32032:3741:0[/embed] Studio: Brains Base (My Little Monster, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU) Air Date: April 6 This is a 4koma adaptation, but instead of being all about girls just hanging out (or boys plotting during class like mad geniuses; still love you, Tonari no Seki-kun), it's seems to be a much more somber affair. Chronicling the story of a sad girl who loses her memories of her friends after only one week, and the boy who endeavors to be friends with her in spite of that, this might tick that box of "anime that makes me need a good cry" after Golden Time comes to an end. I don't know about you, but I've scoped out a perfectly good crying spot and I don't want to stop using it just because Banri and Koko are no longer making each other miserable on the regular. I'm curious how the pacing is going to work, because while I'm very familiar with how comedy 4koma stories translate into anime, this could be a different beast. Then again, just because it deals with chronic memory loss doesn't mean there can't be humor -- perhaps of the wistful and wry variety. If all else fails and this turns out to be a bust, I guess we can all just go watch The Notebook and bawl our eyes out. In any case, newcomer Dae Lee is on sobbing coverage duties. Hitsugi no Chaika (Chaika the Coffin Princess) [embed]32032:3740:0[/embed] Studio: BONES (Heroman, Captain Earth) Air Date: April 9 I have to admit, for all the magical girls out there, I haven't seen too many that are packing sniper rifles, so that's something Chaika immediately has going for it. We don't know much about this one except that the titular Chaika seems to be carrying a coffin on her back and pals around with a soldier, but my interest is piqued because the original light novel is written by Ichirō Sakaki, who recently penned Outbreak Company. He also wrote Scrapped Princess, which I know has its own contingent of fans, but I haven't seen it so I can't comment. But still, as little as we have to go on here, Outbreak Company showed us that even a flimsy premise can be made to work if it's written with the proper care. Apparently Sakaki wrote Hitsugi no Chaika before Outbreak Company though, and what little I've heard about the former light novels isn't too good, so I may be getting excited for nothing. Fortunately, Elliot is doubling down on his BONES coverage and will be able to let me know if this one turns out to be another pleasant surprise. Mahou Shojou Taisen (Magica Wars) Studio: Gainax (Stella Women's Academy, High School Division Class C3) Air Date: April 8 Now, this is interesting. This is a magical girl show starring 47, yes 47 magical girls, each one based on one of Japan's prefectures. The "create a magical girl based on your prefecture" project was undertaken by the TV show Otaku 2.5 Dimension, and all the girls have been designed by artists on Pixiv. To further cement the whole "local pride" thing, the girls are played by voice actresses who hail from each of their respective prefectures. Cute. What about the plot?, you ask. What kind of stupid question is that? Who even needs a plot? This show has 47 magical girls in it, do you even understand? I have no idea if this is actually going to work as an anime (and Gainax's recent track record has been less than stellar), but it's interesting as a design project if nothing else. Amber is going to be checking this one out to see if it really has 47 magical girls or if some of them are just palette-swaps, but I know I have to try at least an episode of this for myself just to see what it looks like. Selector Infected Wixoss [embed]32032:3744:0[/embed] Studio: JC Staff ( A Certain Scientific Railgun, Witch Craft Works) Air Date: April 4 Now this project is truly a strange witches' brew of concepts and staff. It's ostensibly about girls playing a magical card game, which makes you think it's going to be a cheerful and super-commercial kids show. But then you watch the trailer, and it's all dark, foreboding imagery with a hard-edged industrial soundtrack. On the creative side we have Takuya Satou, the director of Steins;Gate. I for one thought Steins;Gate was brilliant -- and not only because it has a semicolon in the title. But then we also have Mari Okada doing series composition, and her style is controversial to say the least. I don't hate her the way some otaku do, but I do think she's very uneven; Nagi no Asukara is pretty decent, but the Kenshin New Kyoto Arc OVA was absolutely god-awful. Based on the trailer and knowledge of Satou's involvement, I think this one has a lot of potential, but I'm only very cautiously optimistic; I'm sensing that this could become one of those anime that seems to have a zillion promising ideas thrown into a blender, but never really forms into a cohesive whole. I'm definitely going to give it a shot anyway, but regardless, L.B. will be delivering the verdict on this one. Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara (Once She's Flagged (?)) [embed]32032:3742:0[/embed] Studio: Hoods Entertainment (Fantasista Doll, Mysterious Girlfriend X) Air Date: April 7 The title translates to something like "Her flag has flipped over," but I've yet to see a proper English translation for this puppy yet, so I'm going with the snappier Once She's Flagged, which amuses me more than it probably should. I can only hope the sequels will be called Once She's Flagged Again and Once She's Flagged Xtreme Xecutor. This appears to be a harem anime where the twist is that the main character can see "flags" over the girls' heads, just as though he were playing a visual novel, only it's real life-- or, err, real life inside the anime. You know what I mean. I'm not confident this title will have much appeal beyond the cross-section of people who are already fans of both harem shows and visual novels, but hey, The World Only God Knows has achieved a fair amount of popularity, so its certainly not out of the question. I'm afraid this could end up being very boring, but unlike me, Brittany has no fear and has volunteered to cover this. Hey: how much do you want to bet the main dude spends the whole anime trying to save the tragic girl marked with the "death" flag? I will bet you an entire box of Pocky this is the case. Mangaka-san to Assistant-san (The Comic Artist and His Assistants) [embed]32032:3746:0[/embed] Studio: Zexcs (The Legend of the Legendary Heroes, Mushi-shi, Chu-Bra!!) Air Date: April 8 Hey, this is by Zexcs, the studio that did Chu-Bra!! Yaaay! I realize I'm the only one in the world who's excited by that, so I should mention that they also do Mushi-shi. This is based on a 4Koma about a plucky comic artist and his beautiful assistants; I don't know why he has so many beautiful assistants, but apparently he does. He wants to draw sexy times in his manga, and they're willing to model for him to help him draw sexy times, but how far will they go? And is his manga any good? Honestly, this could be the lamest comedy ever and I would probably still enjoy it, just because I love comics and I love shows about people making comics. Still, I hope the humor actually has to do with manga, and it's not just a typical harem/sex comedy that happens to take place in an office with piles of drawings and ink pens around. I'm covering this one, needless to say. Akuma no Riddle (Riddle Story of the Devil) Studio: Diomedia (Gingitsune, Astalotte's Toy) Air Date: April 4 Diomedia is in my good books for animating Gingitsune, everyone's favorite coming of age story about divine fox heralds and the cozy little shrine they live in. As a follow up, the studio is taking on Akuma no Riddle, which is about...a whole bunch of teenaged girl assassins killing each other to death. Well, never let it be said that Diomedia doesn't have some range. The two main female characters fall in love, but it remains to be seen whether this show has some serious yuri vibes going on or if the love affair is just a minor distraction from the murder and mayhem. See, now I'm imagining Sakura Trick, only full of vicious career killers who also happen to be adorable schoolgirl lesbians; that's probably not what this show's going to be like, but it sounds awesome, so I can dream. Meanwhile, it remains to be seen what any of this has to do with the Devil or riddles; maybe L.B. can tell us after he checks this one out. Haikyuu!! Studio: Production I.G. (Eden of the East, Kuroko's Basketball) Air Date: April 6 Another sports anime, only this time the sport of choice is volleyball. Recent seasons have brought us baseball and basketball anime, so I suppose it was only a matter of time before this sport got its day in the sun. Somewhere out there is an otaku who loves playing volleyball, and for them, this anime will represent a wonderful convergence of interests; however, I am not that person. I never want to write anything off, since you never know what series may end up holding surprises, but this is a sports anime based on a Shonen Jump manga; if you've ever seen one of those, you probably already know what to expect. No one jumped up to claim this (sigh), but eventually someone will have to give in to the urge to post screenshots displaying witty dialogue like "I love the way you handle balls," and it will be covered. Question: if these sports anime keep proliferating like rabbits, when am I going to get a good figure skating anime? It's gotta happen, right? Atelier Escha and Logy: Alchemists of the Dusk Sky Studio: Studio Gokumi (The Ambition of Oda Nobuna, The Severing Crime Edge) Air Date: April 10 I really think they should have just dubbed this series Alchemists of the Dusk Sky and left well enough alone. Or how about just Alchemist Dusk? That's actually kind of catchy. I've never played any of the Atelier series of games, even though the combination of grinding and item crafting via alchemy sounds right up my alley. I'm really just afraid I'll get super-addicted and end up putting 600 hours into Atelier Cream Pastry, or whatever the latest game in the series is called. Maybe with this adaptation I can dip my toe into the world of Atelier without my OCD kicking in big time. Something tells me that the item-synthesis based gameplay of Atelier may not translate that well to a television show; I'm sensing there are going to be a lot of talking heads here. Still, if the art on the show looks anything like the game then it's at least worth checking out, because Atelier has a really pretty, classy, style that I'd like to see more of. No one's volunteered for this yet, but I'll probably drop in to Duskland to see if this anime with the convoluted title has anything new to bring to the table. Kamigami no Asobi: Ludere deorum (Tricks of the Gods) Studio: Brains Base (Blood Lad, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU) Air Date: April 5 Here's another one of those reverse harem shows about a gaggle of absolutely gorgeous guys romancing one lady on an idyllic, palatial academic campus. However, this show one-ups other reverse harems by making the handsome heroes literal gods; heroine Yui has been appointed, by no less than Zeus himself, to teach young gods about love. I kind of like the fact that they skipped the pretense of making the guys in any way human/realistic. Usually the "romance" in these shows is pretty tame, but there's a sick little part of me that's kind of hoping this show will go all Fifty Shades of Grey on us out of nowhere. Then the internet can go nuts having arguments about whether or not Yui is able to consent to sex with angels, or if they are just so eminently desirable that she has no agency, or something. C'mon, Tricks of the Gods! Get all weird and perverse on us so someone will actually remember this show a few months from now! Surprise genre-switching notwithstanding, I doubt that this show is going to appeal to anyone who wouldn't normally watch a reverse-harem, but maybe the whole divine backdrop will add some points of interest we haven't seen before. If nothing else, it could be a gift from the gods to sustain rabid Uta No Prince-Sama fans until that show returns in 2015.   So, that's a lot of shows to look forward to. Obviously, there's more anime slated to air this season that isn't covered in this guide; we just picked what we felt were by far the highest-profile shows that carry the greatest expectations, plus a few personal picks. Still, there's some anticipated sequels on the way (Date a Live II, Love Live II, plus the return of Fairy Tail) and plenty of other titles to consider. Tell us: what are YOU watching this season? Besides Jojo's Bizarre Adventure, obviously.
Spring Preview photo
Oh, all the series we will watch
Spring hasn't really sprung for me in my neck of the woods yet, but it's officially the season of flower buds and abundant sunshine, no matter what my thermostat says. Fortunately, even if I have to wait a while for warm, bea...

Preview: Cloudbuilt

Mar 19 // Brittany Vincent
Cloudbuilt (PC)Developer: CoilworksPublisher: Rising Star GamesRelease Date: March 20, 2014 Cloudbuilt is a game you dive headfirst into. It's your job to guide your adorable anime-styled protagonist across several floating 3D platforms in the sky as quickly and efficiently as possible. Each course has different methods of approach, though if you want to outdo yourself on additional runs, memorization and precision are the keys to success. Immediately you're moved to take to the skies, sliding and boosting to and fro from platform to platform until your inevitable first meltdown. When your heroine skates off into the abyss for the first time, starting from a precious checkpoint or even from the very beginning feels more like an expected outcome rather than an unfortunate mishap. You know you're going to fail sometimes, because with this kind of speed and split-second reflexes required of you, it's a sure thing. But, like similar PC darling Trackmania or even your favorite racer (which is what this game ends up conjuring more often than not) you simply get back on the horse and keep chugging along. Why? It's fun. A tutorial level gets you up to speed before hurtling you into the sprawling, spacious levels, but from the beginning it's clear that your jet pack is vital to all functions while zipping through the air. It allows you to boost up walls and keep momentum while running on them and provides a way for you to cover long distances between platforms. As you make your way through the game's impending twenty levels, it quickly becomes evident that no matter how much of a speed demon you are, it doesn't matter if you can't temper it with guile and direction. You will be frustrated. You will want to quit. And you'll come right back afterward. I feel with additional controller support it will be much simpler to become accustomed to the controls to find a rhythm that works best for you when the game drops, but the keyboard option works well too with practice. I'm generally spoiled when it comes to gaming on the PC as most of my favorites offer controller input options, so that will be a boon when it's finally available.  Cloudbuilt proves to be an indomitable force that isn't afraid to act as the dark horse of what's available in the realm of PC gaming, especially given its gorgeous art style, multiple pathways to victory, and general cavalier attitude toward what's "acceptable" or "fun" these days. I enjoy it for what it is, and I surmise you will as well.
Cloudbuilt photo
Like walking, er, running on air
I don't like hand-holding. Sometimes, I want to jump in and make my own mistakes. I don't want the safety net of a checkpoint or the illusion of control afforded to me by objectives. Perhaps that's why, even in games like Mir...

Import Preview: Puyo Puyo Tetris

Feb 12 // Elliot Gay
Puyo Puyo Tetris (PS Vita, PS3, Nintendo 3DS, Wii U)Developer: SegaPublisher: SegaRelease date: February 6, 2014Price: $50.99 [PS3: $50.99] [Wii U: $51.99] [3DS: $50.99] I've been playing puzzle games for a very long time, despite having never been any good at them. Tetris got a whole lot of attention from me on the original Gameboy, but it was Puyo Puyo that made falling blocks truly amazing for me. Originally developed by Compile, the arcade version's big claim to fame at the time was its focus on two player competitive modes. While Tetris eventually ended up adding head-to-head to its repertoire, the basic game mechanics stayed mostly the same. In Compile's series however, players were constantly forced to think quickly about how to create combos and send useless garbage over to the other player's side. The competitive element was strong, and it felt good watching another player, be it your friend or the CPU, struggle under the weight of colorless puyo blobs. It was fast paced, exciting, and perhaps just as importantly, super cute thanks to the odd cast of characters taken from Compile's other series, Madou Monogatari. So here we are, 13 years after the initial release of Puyo Puyo for the MSX and Famicom systems. In what can only be described as one of the oddest crossover games I've ever seen, Sega has given birth to Puyo Puyo Tetris. It combines the two massive puzzlers into one package, bringing both styles of gameplay together for the first time. If this sounds crazy to you, that's because it probably is. It's so crazy that it actually works. Puyo Puyo Tetris is a a package of significant volume, featuring game modes for every type of possible player. This means that if you just want to play Puyo Puyo the traditional way, you can. Feel like taking on a game of Tetris? Go right ahead. It mostly definitely feels as though Sega designed this game to celebrate these two beloved puzzle franchises. New modes include PuyoTeto Mix, Swap, Party, Big Bang, and Tokoton. The first of the bunch combines Tetris blocks and puyos together on the game field, forcing you to think ahead for when the rules change without notice. It's frantic and incredibly demanding, but also quite exciting. Swap mode has you playing only Tetris or Puyo Puyo as a timer counts down. When that timer hits zero, the other game is swapped in. This creates a situation where you have a limited amount of time to push ahead of your opponent before you're forced to focus your attention elsewhere. Party allows players to pick whichever game style suits their needs. Big Bang is played entirely in Fever mode, making for high speed puzzle battles in which the goal is to do damage to your opponent's life bar. In my experience, these matches don't ever last very long, making it great for short bursts. Tokoton takes you through six different rule sets. Each of these modes are available in local and online multiplayer. Regardless of your play style, there's something here for everybody. The online tools are also extremely robust, allowing for ranked matches, non-ranked matches, watching replays, and a setup for an entire country-wide puzzle league. I've only played a few matches online, but the latency was fine. For the record, the PS3 and Vita versions are cross-play, and so are the Wii U and 3DS versions. The feature set is the same across the board, so feel free to pick the platform of your choosing. This wouldn't be a proper Puyo Puyo game without a ridiculous story mode. Fortunately, Puyo Puyo Tetris brings the heat. The Adventure mode is a sprawling quest that tells the story of what happens when the denizens of Puyo Puyo's world meet the new characters from the Tetris side. It's cute, it's genuinely funny, and it's a great way to learn the mechanics of both games. I know that for some folks, the idea of a story mode in a puzzle game seems odd, but the cast of Puyo Puyo has always made for lots of funny moments. Puyo Puyo Tetris continues using the art style first used  Puyo Puyo Fever, which means the it's bright and resembles pop art. The UI is friendly and easy to navigate, making for a stress-less experience. I purchased the game on the Vita, and have thus far encountered no slowdown or graphical issues. I'm fairly certain the game runs at native resolution as well. When Puyo Puyo Tetris was announced, I have to admit that I had a good laugh over the whole thing. Who in their right mind would really get that excited over a crossover between two puzzle games? The whole thing seemed ridiculous to me. I'm more than happy to admit that I put my foot in my mouth on this one, because Puyo Puyo Tetris is the most fun I've had with a falling block game in a very long time. The whole package has been refined and polished, with so many different ways to play and share your experience. If you've ever been a fan of either of these series, I can't recommend Puyo Puyo Tetris enough. This may very well be a game of the year contender come the end of the year.
Puyo Puyo Tetris photo
A fantastic celebration of two classic series
Those of you who follow me on Twitter have probably read my tweets hyping up Sega's new crossover puzzle game, Puyo Puyo Tetris. A few folks have expressed confusion toward my excitement, going so far as to wonder if I'm...

Japanator's Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide!

Dec 22 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]30608:3299:0[/embed] Houzuki no Reitetsu Studio: Studio Wit (Attack on Titan) Air Date: January 9, 2014 Studio Wit's next big thing doesn't look to be anywhere near as intimidatingly bombastic as the saga of spider-men fighting giant skinless freaks, but maybe going for a lower key this season won't overrun their budget. Reitetsu follows the life of Houzuki, a minor functionary living life in a world inhabited by demons and various creatures of Japanese folklore. That world is called Hell (or jigoku if you want to get all, like technical about it, sheesh).  Yep, it's a show about Hell's bureaucrats, and a premise like that is ripe for good stories and fun slice-of-life antics. We could get the next The Eccentric Family, though personally I'm anticipating something more along the lines of Servant x Service with more monsters and riffs on Japanese folktales (the trailer spits out some classic Momotarou, even).  Given the current trajectory of my existence, I expect I'll be the first of Japanator's staff to arrive in hell, and will as such be in a prime position to watch this show and tell you how it compares to the real thing.   [embed]30608:3300:0[/embed] Noragami Studio: Bones (Heroman, Wolf's Rain) Air Date: January 5, 2014 Noragami follows the classic story template of "bullied highschooler gets rescued by a helpful but also useless supernatural being"...wait, is that an actual story template? Either way, our hapless heroine Hiyori, apparently not taught never to call numbers she finds scrawled on the inside of bathroom stalls, contacts the penniless hero Yota, a tracksuit-wearing "god" whose only claim to greatness is a cool sword and the voice of Monogatari's Koyomi Araragi. The trailer looks quite well put-together (a testament to Bones' craft), and seems more action-packed than the premise might imply. I'm not sure how all that action will help Hiyori become less bullied, but at least we'll see some stuff get chopped up proper. Amber Hunt will be giving Noragami its first look when it opens in January.   [embed]30608:3302:0[/embed] Space Dandy Studio: Bones (Noragami) Air Date: January 5, 2014 And now for winter's most hyped show, directed by Shinichiro "Cowboy Bebop" Watanabe, and written by Dai "Eureka Seven" Sato and Keiko "Macross Plus" Nobumoto, a trio responsible for roughly half of the modern anime series average westerners are aware of (the other half being Gundam Wing, Naruto and Inuyasha). With an art style that looks like a cross between Redline and Space Adventure Cobra and a tone that Watanabe himself described as "25 episodes of Mushroom Samba", Cowboy Bebop's famous drug trip episode, Space Dandy's saga of "A dandy man in the space" looks like it could go all the way, which would explain why it's heading to near-simulcast on Cartoon Network's Toonami block of all places, with simulcasts from pretty much every international distributor they can get their hands on. Confirmed dandy man Ben Huber will be covering Space Dandy for us. Let's hope his inherent dandiness doesn't outshine the dandiness of the man "in the space".   [embed]30608:3303:0[/embed] Nobunagun Studio: Bridge (Mitsudomoe, Devil Survivor 2) Air Date: January 5, 2014 Imagine if you had to fight in Fate/stay night's Grail War, but instead of getting a historical figure as your assistant, you were given a weapon themed after them instead? That's the basic premise of Nobunagun, an anime which sounds like someone was watching Fate alongside those parts of Kamen Rider Decade where Decade pulls out a card and turns one of his fellow Riders into a giant sword or gun or something. Here, the titular "Nobunagun" is a big machine gun, because Oda Nobunaga's most famous historical single achievement was his use of coordinated gunfire to break the infamous Takeda cavalry charge at the Battle of Nagashino. Ever since, nearly every pop-history depiction of the Sixth Demon Lord (a title he gave himself, if you can believe it) has had him alongside firearms, be they demon guns, machine guns, moe-moe guns, or a wife who's really into guns. The series promises more historical figure-weapons, including a gravity-altering Isaac Newton and a weapon based on Gandhi. According to the blurb, the Gandhi weapon is a barrier of some kind. I was hoping for some nukes, to be honest.   [embed]30608:3304:0[/embed] Mahou Sensou ~Magical Warfare~ Studio: Madhouse (Redline, Iron Man) Air Date: January 9, 2014 Whew...well, recent seasons have taught me to avoid dismissing shows based solely on the appeal of their setup, but Magical Warfare is making that policy rather difficult to keep up, because it sounds like the most generic stuff ever. And this is coming from a guy who really enjoyed Infinite Stratos. But OK, let's get into it. Standard-issue high school male Takeshi is fake-dating his childhood friend because of reasons, and encounters another girl who kisses him, then apologizes because The Kiss is how you turn people into magicians. And she's a magician, too! Action and romance ensue, as well as a sweet shot of some guy using what looks like a vacuum cleaner to shoot bees. Or are those wasps?   [embed]30608:3305:0[/embed] Wake Up, Girls!  Studio: Ordet (Fractale) Air Date: January 10, 2014 Yutaka "Yamakan" Yamamoto returns to save anime one more time with...an idol show. Yes, the studio that saved anime with Fractale is giving us the saga of a small-time talent agency and its attempt to produce the next group of young pop stars. Reports say that key staffers who were once involved with my favorite show of 2011, The Idolm@ster, are involved here, too, but this trailer seems to take itself quite a bit more seriously than the Idolm@ster did, and I liked the latter program mainly because it was virtually impossible to take seriously. In any case, Wake Up, Girls! also distinguishes itself by being set in Sendai, an area of Japan's Tohoku region hit by the disaster of March 11th. Reportedly the voice cast was also recruited via an open call through the area. Perhaps those factored into the show's more serious-seeming tone, but for the life of me I can't tell you if that'll end up a good or a bad thing. Perhaps it'll be different. After all, we've got the likes of Love Live, Aikatsu!, and the Idolm@ster if we want our idol shows light, bubbly, and thoroughly unreal. Jeff, who is contractually obligated to pass judgment upon whether Yamakan can save anime every time Yamakan has a new project, will be taking a look at Wake Up Girls.    [embed]30608:3306:0[/embed] Nisekoi! Studio: SHAFT (Monogatari Series, Maria Holic) Air Date: January 11, 2014 It's SHAFT's new project, and this time it doesn't involve girls tilting their necks at dangerous angles. Or at least, we can't tell yet just how they'll go about adapting Nisekoi, since full trailers have yet to hit the tubes. Instead I've embedded Viz's Shonen Jump Alpha teaser for the manga (available starting last year), and trust that you'll get the premise.  If anything, you can at least bet on SHAFT and director Akiyuki Shinbo's ability to turn stuff that's nearly unreadable in print (such is my opinion of Nisioisin's novels) into engaging, engrossing on-screen material (such is my opinion of Nisiosin's novels when turned into anime). Elliot Gay will be testing that theory soon enough.   [embed]30608:3301:0[/embed] Tonari no Seki-kun! Studio: Shin-Ei (Doraemon, Crayon Shin-chan) Air Date: January 5, 2014 Confession: I always confuse this show with My Little Monster from a few seasons ago, since that show's Japanese title is Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun. An understandable mistake, wouldn't you agree? Anyway, but rather than falling in love with a pseudo-harasser this time, this anime's female protagonist must struggle not to be distracted by the surreal antics of her seatmate, who employs insane arts-and-crafts powers to construct elaborate distractions.  I'm not fully sure what that would entail, but the ideal situation in my mind would be a full season of those parts of Nichijou where Mai engages MAXIMUM TROLLING to mess with Yukko. Good times! Whatever the case, it's probably best not to expect too much detailed coverage, since each episode's just ten minutes long, and Seki-kun seems like it'll be the sort of show that's only really fun if you watch it for yourself, like Daily Lives of High School Boys, or Kaiji.   [embed]30608:3309:0[/embed] A Love Song to An Airship Pilot (To Aru Hikuushi e no Koi-Uta) Studio: TMS Entertainent (Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine, Yowapeda) Air Date: January 6, 2014 This one's actually an odd duck, since it's a sequel of sorts to a movie, whereas the typical case for anime is that a movie follows a TV series. In this case, the movie in question is The Princess and the Pilot, a show I didn't watch personally, but others regarded somewhat well. This show also happens to be from the people that brought us Lagrange ~ The Flower of Rin-ne~, another progam I didn't watch personally but others regarded somewhat well. I do have to say that I'm intrigued by its steampunk-ish setting, which reminds me a bit of Sky Crawlers merged with a bit of Last Exile, and that sounds pretty good to me, and Karen, too, since she'll be handling coverage for this one.   [embed]30608:3310:0[/embed] Pupa Studio: Studio Deen (Is This A Zombie?, Meganebu!) Air Date: January 9, 2014 We actually previewed this one last season, but the show was delayed for whatever reason. As far as we can tell the premise hasn't actually changed, so assuming it doesn't get delayed again, you can look forward to some real gross incest-cannibal psych-horror stuff. We also found out that using those words in combination acts as some kind of auditory signal for Brittany Vincent, author of JapanaTerror and lover of all things horrific. She has officially claimed the show for coverage.   [embed]30608:3311:0[/embed] Super Sonico Studio: White Fox (Steins;Gate, The Devil Is A Part-Timer!) Air Date: January 2014 Super Sonico is basically the Hatsune Miku anime you've always wanted, at least in the sense that like Miku, Sonico is basically a character design that went viral. Unlike Miku, though, Sonico doesn't represent any particular piece of software, and is pretty much just the mascot character for Nitroplus, the company behind Jingai Makkyo, Saya no Uta, and alongside 5pb, Steins;Gate and the "semi-coloned" family of visual novels. That doesn't give White Fox much material to "adapt" into an anime, but conversely, they've got a lot of freedom to do whatever the hell kind of story they prefer. I mean, what you're seeing in the trailer definitely seems to be some kind of high school minor idol show, but you never know.   [embed]30608:3312:0[/embed] No-Rin Studio: Silver Link (WataMote, Penguindrum) Air Date: January 10, 2014 Did you like Silver Spoon but feel it didn't have enough cute idol girls in it? No-Rin might be the show for you! Like Brad's passion of the last season, No-Rin is set in an agricultural school, but seems more focused on light comedy and school romance than learning more about farms, as the big catalyst for the events of our male lead's life is the arrival of one hyper-famous idol to the school. Imagine the introduction of Rise to Persona 4, but instead of working at a tofu shop she joins your school, and your school's a farming school. Then drop all the Persona elements and structure the plot around that. Then, just maybe, you have No-Rin.   [embed]30608:3313:0[/embed] Wizard Barristers  Studio: ARMS (Mezzo Forte, Elfen Lied) Air Date: January 12, 2014 Remember Kite and Mezzo Forte? Those two OVAs gained some notoriety for being real bloody and, if you had the right versions, quite porn-y as well. The mid-00's saw sorta-sequel TV adaptations to both of those, but without the blood and porn they didn't make much of an impact, sadly. Wizard Barristers, on the other hand, will suffer from no such "legacy" baggage, despite coming from the same director as Kite and Mezzo Forte (and this season's Galilei Donna). That said, with it coming from studio ARMS, boobs and blood are probably a given. Plus it seems to have a pretty cool premise, though I suspect the titular wizards will be doing more fighting than lawyering, judging by the action-packed trailer. While that's exciting in its own right, that also means the market is still open for reimagining Phoenix Wright as a wizardly courtroom procedural. Karen will be telling us what to look forward to soon.   [embed]30608:3314:0[/embed] Inari, KonKon, Koi Iroha Studio: Production IMS Air Date: January 5, 2014 The somewhat puzzlingly named Inari, KonKon, Koi Iroha is another of the growing trend of anime centered around interacting with various folk spirits and gods. This interaction, though, seems a bit more traditional, as a young lady saves a fox spirit and gains powers in the process, powers she'll likely employ as part of her day-to-day life and in the pursuit of sweet shoujo romance. Whether she finds it or not is Karen's mandate to determine.   [embed]30608:3315:0[/embed] Nobunaga The Fool Studio: Satelight (Macross Frontier, Bodacious Space Pirates) Air Date: January 5, 2014 Shoji Kawamori returns fresh off of blasting the world with AKB0048 to drown us all in a fresh dose bonkers-ness, with his multimedia extravaganza, The Fool series. Yes, "The Fool", as in "this anime Nobunaga The Fool is just a part of all this foolishness". The rest of The Fool apparently includes a series of stage performances we'll never get to see because no theater producer outside Japan is daft enough to produce an anime tie-in play. Anyway, for Nobunaga The Fool, Kawamori takes the idea of an oriental/occidental split and takes it dimensional, with literal "Eastern" and "Western" worlds, where people named after famous historical figures battle it out with giant robots, because giant robots are cool. And I have to say, this universe's "Nobunaga" is definitely a "fool", because he's being portrayed as an expert swordsman. Don't you know every Nobunaga's supposed to be a gunner?! I just stated that rule in my Nobunagun preview! It'll be up to editor-at-large Hiroko Yamamura to watch this arm of The Fool and tell us if I should be humiliated for having an anime rule I made up violated in the very same season.   [embed]30608:3317:0[/embed] Witch Craft Works Studio: J.C. Staff (The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, Joshiraku) Air Date: January 5, 2014 J.C. Staff continues its eternal search for something to strike the same gold it did with the likes of Shana and Familiar of Zero by plumbing the light novel well. Say hello to Witch Craft Works, a fantasy high school action/romance saga of a boy who meets the most popular girl in school and finds out she is...wait for it...a witch! Like Magical Warfare above, this one tests our ability to remain open-minded about as many shows as possible, but there may be shards of hope in this pit of creativity, seeing as Tsutomu Mizushima, who directed my favorite anime of 2012, Girls und Panzer is helming this project. GuP was the kind of show that, seemingly against all odds, managed to rise above its otherwise pedestrian premise, and reports suggest that part of it was due to Mizushima, who, among other things, enforced a strict "no panty-shots" rule for all aspects of GuP's broadcast run, except for the Blu-ray OVA specials. Now, while I don't anticipate that removing underwear-peekaboo from the equation will suddenly make Witch Craft Works 2014's anime to beat, that incident is proof that sometimes little changes are all that's needed to make something feel fresh and fun to watch. Hopefully that'll rub off on J.C. Staff, though it'll be up to Josh Totman, returning from his long hiatus, to tell us how it pans out. [embed]30608:3308:0[/embed] World Conquest: Zvezda Plot (Sekai Seifuku ~Boryaku no Zvezda~) Studio: A-1 Pictures (Galilei Donna, Sword Art Online) Air Date: January 11, 2014 Aniplex actually locked down streaming of this show and NiseKoi just a couple of days ago, and I think I'll let their press release do the describing for me: Every leader of the past has thought of it… but all they have done was to merely dream of its greatness. WORLD DOMINATION…nobody has been able to achieve it. Until one little girl by the name of KATE HOSHIMIYA came along. KATE HOSHIMIYA will shock the world! How was she was able to carry out such a MAGNIFICENT stunt? So FRIGHTFUL! So GLORIOUS! Could this be…the ZVEZDA PLOT?! Let the light of our great ZVEZDA shine upon this land far and wide! Maybe by "Zvezda", they're referring to the fact that the girl barely wears any clothing. Kate! Cover your Zvezda!   [embed]30608:3318:0[/embed] Hamatora Studio: Naz Air Date: January 7, 2014 For such a packed season, Winter looks surprisingly light on pure superhero shows. I mean, sure, there are teen heroes with all kinds of special powers all up in this piece, but they're all either wizards or gods, or god-wizards. With its plot of several suspiciously stylish young men having special powers called "Minor Miracles" (What kinds of minor miracle? Like leaving your car unlocked in a bad neighborhood and coming back to see nothing amiss?), Hamatora looks to be filling the urban-fantasy niche once covered by the likes of Durarara!! and countless videogame adaptations. I suppose it fits, then, that the adapter of countless videogames and game-like projects, Seiji Kishi, is at the wheel for this series. Kishi's output has been up and down over the past couple of years, with gems like Humanity Has Declined and Arpeggio of Blue Steel tempered by duds like Devil Survivor 2 and Danganronpa. Let's hope our own Salvador G-Rodiles catches him on the upswing this round.   [embed]30608:3319:0[/embed] Lately, My Little Sister Has Been a Bit Strange (Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga) Studio: Project No. 9 Air Date: January 4, 2014 I'm sure many of you are familiar with the film Ghost, where a dead dude makes pottery with his live wife. The show whose unwieldy title has been truncated to the more convenient ImoCho is sort of like that. Except instead of sexy ghost pottery we've got a ghost with the hots for our male lead possessing his little sister.   It's being flogged as a "chastity belt anime", so I imagine that those medieval devices will play a role in all this perversity. Then again, a chastity belt seems like a pretty good solution to keeping a possessed little sister from jumping your bones in the night, so if we're lucky this will evolve into a dead-serious take on The Exorcist, with more high-pitched anime voices.   [embed]30608:3320:0[/embed] Sailor Moon Studio: Toei Animation Air Date: 2014 Despite numerous delays, and with a supposed broadcast window of January rapidly approaching, we've yet to see hide nor hair of Sailor Moon's 20th-anniversary remake. It has been "confirmed" for next year since as early as this October, so it's our duty to say that this is a thing that's scheduled to happen. Check out a trailer for it above.* If it does, Brittany's claimed it, though Elliot has ten bucks riding on this being a winter no-show. Where are you putting your money? *Hah!   [embed]30608:3321:0[/embed] Robot Girls Z Studio: Toei Animation Air Date: January 4, 2014 If you've been dying for more mecha shows, well...this could be something to look forward to. Robot Girls Z is a Toei nostalgia-fest starring the moe-fied cute-girl versions of various classic Toei super robots, including Mazinger Z, Grendizer, and Great Mazinger. Unfortunately for red-blooded mecha fans, the visual homages to the robot parts of Toei super robots are very much in the vein of "inspired by". If you're in this to see chicks wear rocket fists and metal-plastic bits and bobs, you may be disappointed, at least going by the first 4 minutes of the first episode shown above. That said, there could be some good in-jokes in there somewhere, and I'm personally looking forward to seeing how (or if) they interpret Mazinkaiser, in all its testosterone-soaked grotesquery.     [embed]30608:3322:0[/embed] Go! Go! 575 Studio: C2C Air Date: January 9, 2014 Nothing lasts forever. Not even the popularity of Hatsune Miku, which is why companies all over the firmament are scrambling to find the next big thing in virtual idolatry. Uta-Kumi 575 is an app (and upcoming PS Vita game, the commercial for which is above) that aims to do just that, allowing players to construct or tap along to songs in the 5-7-5 meter common to Japanese poetry. Go! Go! 575 is the transmedia extension of that effort. If you remember our legendary Haiku-tor April Fool's gag, then you're already fully equipped to understand and appreciate this show...whatever it might be about. Oh, and the character designs are from the guy who did OreImo, so they'll probably be cute or something.   [embed]30608:3323:0[/embed] Unconfirmed & In-Progress (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei) Studio: Dogakobo (GJ-Bu, Majestic Prince) Air Date: January 8, 2014 We originally thought this was a new category of crowd-funded productions, a kind of Steam Early Access for Japanese cartoons, but no, it turns out that Unconfirmed & In-Progress is the actual title of a 4-koma adaptation about some girl that has her fiance and future sister-in-law just show up on her doorstep one day. Not sure how that plot setup has anything to do with the title, but this is of course an age when anime productions can get away with titles as unwieldy as Lately, My Little Sister Has Been A Bit Strange. Brave new world, everyone.   [embed]30608:3324:0[/embed] Silver Spoon Season 2 Studio: A-1 Pictures Air Date: January 9, 2014 It's the second season of Silver Spoon, the actually really good farm-college epic from the author of Fullmetal Alchemist. In this season we learn that the world is really an alternate dimension from the FMA universe, and that the titular Silver Spoon is the symbol of the State Agriculturalist, a superpowered special agent of the government.* Karen and Brad are sharpening their Lirpas to duel over the privilege of covering the second season...to the death! *Not actually true, but wouldn't it be amazing if it were?!   [embed]30608:3325:0[/embed] Love, Chuuniybou, and Other Delusions 2 (Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! Ren) Studio: Kyoto Animation (Free! Iwatobi Swim Club, Beyond the Boundary) Air Date: January 8, 2014 Straight from Kyoto is the next stage in the ongoing chronicle of one girl's attempts to set aside childish things. And largely failing to do so, because childish things are frickin' sweet! Kids have it great and being mature sucks! Oh, right, the show continues to be called Love, Chuunibyou and Other Delusions (I prefer "Her 'nibs"), and Chris Walden will be taking the reigns over from Elliot, seeing as the latter is preoccupied by thoughts of Life Fibers, sentient clothing, and for some reason, the toes of the camel.   [embed]30608:3326:0[/embed] Seitokai Yakuindomo 2 Studio: GoHands (Coppelion, K) Air Date: January 4, 2014 I know very little about Seitokai Yakuindomo, besides this imageboard macro, and the fact that I know Yoko "Houki Shinonono" Hisaka plays the macroed character, but I imagine the rather uninformative trailer represents the show's approach to humor. Not that that's bad, mind you. Chris, however, is better-informed than I on many school-council comedy anime, so he'll give this one the first look.   [embed]30608:3327:0[/embed] Maken-Ki! Two Studio: XEBEC (Space Battleship Yamato 2199, Nyaruko: Another Crawling Chaos) Air Date: January 15, 2014 Filling out (heh) this season's quota of Boobs Anime is Maken-Ki! Two, which is mainly novel for using the actual word "two" in its second season title, bucking recent trends of just adding, like, an extra exclamation point, an apostrophe, asterisk or some other unpronounceable ridiculousness that makes Search Engine Optimization needlessly difficult. Get some SEO consulting on, anime companies! Oh right, boobs. There are boobs in this show.   [embed]30608:3328:0[/embed] Saki: Zenkoku-Hen Studio: Studio Gokumi (Saki Episode of Side A, A Channel) Air Date: January 5, 2014 I always find Saki inexplicably popular, though as a person who liked Girls und Panzer I really shouldn't be surprised; that show was consistently described as "Saki with tanks", so there's definitely something to it that perhaps I'm not getting yet. The latest season, which no doubt will re-establish Saki dominance in 2014's Saimoe tournament (this year benefitted from a near-total Madoka-empowered Saki shutout of the Best 16), is technically the sequel to the original Saki anime, covering the national tournament arc (Episode of Side A was a side-story), so expect more superpowered mahjong to take over your screens. Jeff and Chris are currently drawing tiles, and the first to deploy the fabled "Hellscythe Zenbu" will win coverage rights. [embed]30608:3329:0[/embed] Buddy Complex Studio: Sunrise (Valvrave The Liberator, Gundam Build Fighters) Air Date: January 5, 2014 If you found Valvrave the Liberator too nuts and Gundam Build Fighters too kiddy, Buddy Complex might be the Sunrise mecha anime for you. Explicitly described as a "traditional robot anime", Buddy Complex involves young everyday lead Aoba Watase meeting a girl, a dude named Dio, and various giant robots and, I dunno, learning about war, or something. I'm being flippant, sure, but if Valvrave can teach us anything, it's not to pass judgment until after it's actually on the air (perhaps not even then). I will say, however, that I'm not finding the robot design too impressive from what little's been shown in the trailer. Perhaps I've been ruined by the combination of Gundam Build Fighters' riffs on classic design and the glow-in-the-dark glory of Valvrave's mecha.    [embed]30608:3330:0[/embed] Sakura Trick Studio: Studio Deen (Fate/stay night, Pupa) Air Date: January 9, 2014 Tapping the lipstick-lesbian charms of YuruYuri, A Channel, and countless other mutant outgrowths of the "cute girls do cute things" subgenre, Sakura Trick at least seems to imply a slightly deeper relationship than the usual girl-crush giggles portrayed in this type of show. If nothing else, the girls involved have made lip contact, which is farther than their peers tend to go. At the same time, this is a 4-koma adaptation, so any expectations of how much complexity the show will explore may be limited. Brittany's volunteered to apply her expert yuri senses to determine whether Sakura Trick really is anime's equivalent to Blue is the Warmest Color. 
Winter Anime Preview! photo
The hottest anime for the coldest season!
As the year draws to a close, it's time to think about all the Japanese cartoons you'll be watching next year. That's right, folks, it's Japanator's Winter 2014 Anime Preview Guide! We're here to deliver the preliminary word ...

Luka artbook photo
Hail to the pink-haired lady!
UDON Entertainment have revealed a nifty 12-page preview of an artbook featuring the lovely Luka Megurine all by her glamorous self. This artbook comprises over 150 illustrations on 96 pages created by over 35 artists, and it...

Japanator's Fall 2013 Anime Preview Guide!

Oct 05 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]29737:2889:0[/embed] Kill la KillBroadcast Date: October 3 (Simulcasting on Daisuki, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Aniplex Channel)Studio: Trigger (Inferno Cop, Little Witch Academia) This is The Big One of Fall, and when you consider that it's being helmed by the ex-Gainax luminaries who created Gurren Lagann, Inferno Cop and more-- art punk-darling Studio Trigger-- it's hard not to be hyped for this uber-pretty actioner about a girl who wears a sentient sailor uniform and wields a scissor sword. It's getting a five-language simulcast on all the major channels (including Animax Asia for you folks living in Southeast Asia!), so it's fairly clear that someone's looking to make Kill la Kill a global success. Our own Elliot Gay's been riding the hype train since Trigger, er, pulled the trigger on Kill la Kill, so we'll let him tell the story.   [embed]29737:2893:0[/embed] CoppelionBroadcast Date: October 2 (Streaming on Viz Anime)Studio: GoHands (Mardock Scramble, K Project) The story behind the production of Coppelion  may be a tale as intriguing as the source material. The show was originally slated to come out in 2011, but was delayed after the 3/11 disaster and the accompanying meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant. Y'see, the premise of Coppelion starts with a similar nuclear meltdown rendering Tokyo a radioactive wasteland, explored only by specially-engineered schoolgirls. Why schoolgirls? Well, you may as well ask that question of any anime.  Anyway, the first few chapters of the manga were made available as part of a JManga-led crowdsourcing translation promo, and it looked interesting, if more laid back than the high-action trailer here seems to imply. Studio GoHands has good experience making series look pretty, so we can look forward to a cool-looking sci-fi actioner with a rad premise. Brittany Vincent is in charge of telling us more, and she's already chimed in with her First Impressions.   [embed]29737:2897:0[/embed] Golden TimeBroadcast Date: October 3Studio: J.C. Staff (ToraDora!, A Certain Scientific Railgun) Hearing that something is "From the creators of ToraDora!" is a pretty good way to decide whether or not a show will be for you. It's good, then, that this story of an amnesiac college student and his friend's attempts to dodge a old flame who's somehow evolved into "the perfect woman" (voiced by Yui Horie, naturally), is coming from such a known quantity.  First off, with this premise you can already make a number of pleasantly melodramatic predictions as to the plot, which is good in a number of ways (especially if you're the ToraDora-loving type). Second, why would anyone want to "dodge" a hookup with the perfect woman? Is this some kind of Japanese "herbivore man" thing? I don't know, but I can bet that Chris Walden will be able to tell us.   [embed]29737:2900:0[/embed] Kyoukai no KanataBroadcast Date: October 2 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)Studio: Kyoto Animation (Tamako Market, Chuunibyou demo Koi ga shitai!) If it weren't for Trigger and Kill la Kill, I'd have put money down that Kyoto Animation's new project would be the title a lot of folks were getting all pumped up for this fall. Kyoukai no Kanata (aka Beyond the Boundary) sounds almost like the Monogatari series as imagined by KyoAni, rather than SHAFT. Somewhat like your typical Monogatari, the story involves a more-than-normal boy encountering a bevy of equally uncanny characters. The trailer shows KyoAni's typically lavish production, but it also seems to be a more conventional sort of supernatural action-adventure. The key difference most of the character designs look like stepped out of Tamako Market or some other hyper-moe otaku bait show, so it still looks just a little bit weird. Whatever the case, Karen will be on hand to tell us if KyoAni's gone "beyond the boundary" of the K-ON!-derived comfort zone it's spent the last few years in. Her First Impressions are now available for your perusal.   [embed]29737:2899:0[/embed] Gundam Build FightersBroadcast Date: October 7 (Streaming via Gundam.info)Studio: Sunrise (Gundam AGE, Valvrave the Liberator) If you're the type to follow trends in mecha fiction, you may have noticed a strange level of what can only be described as "meta" affecting the latest in Sunrise's bread-and-butter Gundam franchises. The latest in Gundam, from videogames to this latest anime series seems to be concentrated not on mobile suits as fictional sci-fi robots that "really" exist, but portraying them as they exist in our reality: as buildable models that hobbyists mess around with. That's the exact premise of Gundam Build Fighters, and the show's heroes build and complete their own "PlaMo" to compete in battle. It's pretty much Angelic Layer or Busou Shinki, but starring licensed Gundam mecha from across the franchise's 35-year history. By that tack, i.e. the lack of truly new designs, this isn't a "true" Gundam show, but I'm hardly the guy to make that kind of judgment. Pedro Cortes is, though, so we've assigned him to pass the verdict.   [embed]29737:2902:0[/embed] Valvrave The Liberator Season 2Broadcast Date: October 10 (Simulcasting on Crunchyroll)Studio: Sunrise (Gundam AGE, Gundam Build Fighters) If Gundam Build Fighters is too aware of itself for you, perhaps the next season of the utterly bonkers Valvrave The Liberator will do the trick. Despite making what seemed to be the world's blandest mecha anime back in its first episodes, Sunrise really pulled the brakes off this train to Crazytown as they rolled the "plot" along, and barring some uncomfortable missteps, Valvrave is as entertaining as watching a casualty-free train wreck. Actually, it's less a train wreck and more a train catapult, come to think of it. I'll certainly be keeping my eye on it this season.   [embed]29737:2904:0[/embed] Nagi no AsakuraBroadcast Date: October 3 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)Studio: P.A. Works (Angel Beats!, Hanasaku Iroha) Here's a show to whet your appetite for supernatural romance: It's mermaids (and mermen) without the whole "fishtails instead of legs" conceit. Turns out that instead of humans and Neanderthals, the sentient races of the world were divided into people who lived underwater, and people who lived on land. Never did the two interact, until one day an undersea school closes, forcing its kids to learn like landlubbers. Hijinks, romance, and scripts by melodrama maven Mari Okada ensue. Being a real sucker for that kind of stuff, we pulled Brad Rice out of the pool and tossed him into this ocean of heart-wrung tears.   [embed]29737:2905:0[/embed] Outbreak CompanyBroadcast Date: October 3 (Simulcasting on Crunchyroll)Studio: Feel (Minami-ke Tadaima, Futakoi Alternative) You know how every nerd has had a fantasy where they get teleported to a place where their unique skills and interests, for the longest time dismissed by the wider world as the pursuits of the socially inept, are suddenly the most important thing in the world? There have been countless iterations on that bit of escapist fiction, and for the most part they've been game-based. Some gamer kid gets pulled into a game where the "mad skillz" they acquired with all that time clutching a controller or fondling a keyboard can save the universe. That, or  The World God Only Knows and its own dating-sim-divinity. Outbreak Company, though, brings the fantasy to moe otaku, and their intimate knowledge of the cancer killing the anime industry*. Apparently there is an entire world full of loli princesses and maid races out there, and  "professional otaku" Shinichi Kanou must be Earth's ambassador to it. So far no one in Japanator tower's volunteered to be the ambassador to Outbreak Company, but there's always a chance to form a delegation. *Hah! I kid, I kid.   [embed]29737:2912:0[/embed] Samurai FlamencoBroadcast Date: October 10 (Simulcasting on Crunchyroll)Studio: Manglobe (Samurai Champloo, Ergo Proxy) “To those ‘adults’ who don’t want to become adults…Hero will never give up, never hide, never be defeated, never accept evil.” Such is the tagline of Samurai Flamenco, a story about a male model who becomes a superhero in what looks to be the classic Kamen Rider/Super Sentai-inspired vein. This feels sort of like Salvador's Superhero Time column made "anime", and I am totally down with that concept. Tim's down with it, too, and will be handing in his own impressions as soon as the show airs. [embed]29737:2914:0[/embed] BlazBlue: Alter MemoryBroadcast Date: October 8Studio: Hoods Entertainment & TeamKG (Manyuu Hikencho, Mysterious Girlfriend X) A fighting game adaptation from the makers of Manyuu Hikencho doesn't exactly inspire confidence, but I suppose it's possible that BlazBlue: Alter Memory will surprise us. In all likelihood, it will be fun for viewers who are already fans of the game franchise and of little interest to anyone else, but our own Brad Rice will be checking it out to see if this show has more to it than just popular fighting game characters grimacing and doing fisticuffs with each other. Stranger things have happened. [embed]29737:2915:0[/embed] GingitsuneBroadcast Date: October 6 (Simulcasting on Crunchyroll)Studio: Diomedea (Campione!, Astralotte's Toy) This show is apparently about the male equivalent to a shrine maiden, which is interesting because: there's a male equivalent to a shrine maiden? Who knew? There seems to be at least one show per season that heavily features furry critters from Japanese folklore, and this is our premiere folklore-based series for fall. The fact that studio Diomedea is responsible for cheesy otaku-bait shows like Astralotte's Toy may scare some viewers away, but the trailer above looks classy enough. Since Karen wants to learn more about Japanese folklore (and is quite possibly the only person on Earth who actually kind-of-sort-of liked Astralotte's Toy), she'll be providing annotation services on this one. [embed]29737:2916:0[/embed] Galilei DonnaBroadcast Date: October 10 (Simulcasting on Crunchyroll)Studio: A-1 Pictures (Uta No Prince-Sama Magi Love 200%, Silver Spoon) Continuing the theme of post-apocalypse (or at least, post-cataclysmic-disaster) of this season, Galilei Donna is about the world in 2061, after global warming is old news because the earth has entered a new ice age. Three (moe) sisters who are descended from Galileo Galilei himself must work together to do...something. It's not immediately evident if they're going to save the world, but I think it's a pretty safe bet. Oh, and an evil shadow organization is hunting the sisters, because of course they are. The whole "descendants of Galileo" idea has some potential, but time will tell if this show will be a worthy watch, or just more of the moe cancer that's killing anime.* Jeff Chuang will find out and report back. *Lol jk kidding again Other Shows Japanator Is Definitely Checking Out: Freezing Vibration (Pedro), Little Busters Refrain (Chris), Kyousougiga (Sal), Monogatari S2 (Josh), Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio~Ars Nova~ (Jeff), Infinite Stratos 2 (Josh), Meganebu! (Brittany), and Walkure Romanze (Tim). In Limbo- Shout If You Want It: Tokyo Ravens, Log Horizon, Ace of Diamond, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Strike The Blood, Magi: The Kingdom of Magic, Ridiculously Long Light Novel Title That I'm Not Even Typing Out Because WTF, Phi Brain: Kami no Puzzle, Yowamushi Pedal, White Album 2, Hajime No Ippo Rising, Yozakura Quartet, Sekai de Ichiban Tsuyoku Naritai!, and Super Seisyun Brothers.
Fall Anime Preview photo
A last minute look at the latest in anime
The fall anime season just kicked off, and you guys need to know who's covering which shows for Annotated Anime. Here at Japanator, we like to imagine that you base your viewing decisions strictly on which of your favorite st...

TGS 2013 J-Stars photo
It'll be a grand battle!
It wouldn't be a stretch to say that nearly three quarters of Namco Bandai's Tokyo Game Show booth is composed of Shonen Jump games.  Perhaps the biggest of the bunch is J-Stars Victory VS for the PS3 and the Vita. A fou...

TGS 2013 Tales photo
An old favorite, reborn but not really?
I didn't exactly have high expectations for Tales of Symphonia Chronicles, but it still somehow managed to miss them by a long shot. First, I have a confession to make. I've never actually played past the first two hours of t...

TGS 2013 Sengoku Basara photo
Put your guns on?!
I've never been much of a fan of Koei's Dynasty Warriors series. That isn't to say the appeal is lost on me; the idea of smashing through hundreds of weak soldiers has always been an exciting one. I suppose in my case, DW jus...

TGS 2013 Geist Crusher photo
Impressions of Treasure's latest
Capcom's latest attempt at capturing the hearts and minds of Japanese children comes in the form of 3DS action game, Geist Crusher. Developed by Treasure, makers of many a classic video game, Geist Crusher is a 3rd person act...

TGS 2013 Sen no Kiseki photo
Another Falcom hit?
Despite the fact that Falcom's latest JRPG, Sen no Kiseki, is hitting store shelves next Thursday, I couldn't help but hit the lines to play the demo here at TGS. For those of you unaware, Sen no Kiseki is the sixth game in t...

Little Busters! Extra photo
...if you have the cash
It's been quite some time since we last saw the colourful members of the Little Busters, but not to worry, as they'll be returning in a previously unaired bonus episode. There's a catch, however, as you're going to need to b...

Japanator's Summer 2013 Anime Preview Guide, Part 2!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]29034:2577:0[/embed] Silver Spoon Air Date: July 11, 2013 (licensed by Aniplex US) Studio: A-1 Pictures (Servant x Service) Directed By: Tomohiko Ito (Sword Art Online) The only offering this season from the vaunted Noitamina programming block (the other scheduled show is a rerun of Ano Hana) is something that you should consider watching, even if it doesn't have the bombast of an Attack on Titan or Gargantia. You should watch this story about a kid going to agricultural college because it's based on Gin no Saji, the next big manga from Hiromu "Fullmetal Alchemist" Arakawa. Yeah, that lady. It's a big jump, to be sure, but she was raised on a farm, so this sort of transition makes sense from that perspective. That said, I wouldn't expect too much action from this light comedy, but Arakawa's work has certainly earned the benefit of the doubt. And A-1 seems to be delivering it this season with regards to anime with an atypical setting. We'll give it a look when it airs next week or so.   [embed]29034:2578:0[/embed] The World God Only Knows: Goddess Arc Air Date: July 8, 2013  Studio: Manglobe (The World God Only Knows, Sacred Blacksmith) Directed By: Satoshi Osedo (The World God Only Knows) It's the third season of TWGOK (an acronym that reads more like a sound effect) and I'm pretty sure you should know what you're in for if you're going to be watching this show. I for one, do not, but you can thank the dating-sim deities that Pedro Cortes does, since he's volunteered to recap the show for Annotated Anime, as he's done for the previous seasons.  Wait...if this is "The world God only knows", and Pedro knows it...is Pedro God? It's not even on the air yet, and already this anime is posing deep questions!   [embed]29034:2579:0[/embed] KINMOZA! Kin-iro Mosaic Air Date: July 6, 2013 (airing on Crunchyroll) Studio: Studio Gokumi (A Channel) Directed By: Tensho KINMOZA! is one of this season's token "lolis and [subject]" anime (as distinct from "cute girls and [unusual hobby]" anime, naturally), and while we normally wouldn't give this show much notice, our resident Brit Chris Walden couldn't help but consider the premise: Japanese and British lolis mixing and hanging out. He couldn't help but consider the premise, and as a proper subject of the crown, took it upon himself to give the show a viewing, lest it cast ill upon the name of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland.  Will it be a nuanced, sensitive portrayal of what life is like for British tourists in Japan, or a circus of national stereotyping? Whatever the result, Chris will keep his chin up and let us know what's what.   [embed]29034:2580:0[/embed] Senki Zesshou Symphogear G Air Date: July 4, 2013 Studio: Satelight (Moretsu Pirates)  Directed By: Katsumi Ono (Beast Saga) That scene in the clip above, that's not the trailer for the next season of Symphogear. This is the correct trailer, and shows new Symphogear users, including a Black-colored Gungnir-wielder.  The reason I put up a clip from the last episode of the first season up there was because this moment crystallized the last three episodes, coming to represent the sadly belated moment that when Symphogear finally became the show I hoped it would be, rather than a hyper-dramatic riff on everything from Evangelion to Macross to Idolm@ster Xenoglossia. Until then it was frequently ugly, had a plot that bordered on incomprehensible, and didn't need no damn localization. It had its moments, but for the most part it was being dumb in a bad way. Then it was dumb in a great way, and all is forgiven. Let's hope the next season won't take nearly its entire run to pull the "good-dumb" lever. I know I'll find out soon enough.   [embed]29034:2581:0[/embed] Rozen Maiden Zurückspulen Air Date: July 4, 2013 (streaming on Crunchyroll) Studio: Studio Deen (Dog and Scissors) Directed By: Mamoru Hatakeyama (Sankarea) THEM DOLL JOINTS! That's really all you need to know, but for the sake of due diligence, this new Rozen Maiden series seems not so much to be a continuation of Rozen Maiden Traumend but a reboot of sorts. Ideally that should mean it'll be friendlier to newcomers like myself, but the trailers seem to imply it'll be referencing the previous adaptations as well. I'm just not sure, but I bet Chris will be able to tell us the full score once he gets eyes-on. Of course, the real question is if these new dolls can capture the attention of His Excellency.   [embed]29034:2582:0[/embed] ~il sole penetra le illusioni ~ Day Break Illusion  Air Date: July 6, 2013 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)  Studio: AIC (Blessing of the Campanella) Directed By: Keizo Kusakawa (Nanoha A's) Magical girls are serious business all over again, and while Little Witch Academia bides its time, the exhaustively named Day Break Illusion will be filling in everyone's much-needed dose of edgy magical girl goodness. That sounds quite cynical, I know, but the visuals of the show look really great. A mite more conventional than the likes of Madoka, but still polished and possessed of a more traditional appeal. I don't know how the show will turn out, but I do know that Jeff will be watching it, and writing about it for us (and you!).   [embed]29034:2585:0[/embed] Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya Air Date: July 6, 2013 (streaming on Crunchyroll) Studio: Silver Link (WataMote) Directed By: Shin Oonuma, Takashi Sakamoto (Dusk Maiden of Amnesia) If you're one of the people who complained that Illya von Einzbern never got her own route in Fate/stay night, this is the anime for you...sort of. It's certainly a new take on Fate characters, but this time the entire show's been rewired as a magical girl joint, starring Illya. Yeah, it's probably not what you meant when you said you wanted an Illya route, but hey, it's actually looking better than the Fate/stay night TV adaptation, so there's that. Indeed, resident Type-MOONinite Elliot couldn't resist the call, and will be watching the show this season.   [embed]29034:2587:0[/embed] Hyperdimension Neptunia The Animation Air Date: July 12, 2013  Studio: David Production (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure) Directed By: Masahiro Mukai So this is what David Production's doing instead of animation Stardust Crusaders! How dare they?! I kid, I kid. Despite its paper-thin premise of transparent videogame jokes and moe moe anthropomorphization of various pieces of game hardware and mascot-placement from a multitude of otaku-bait game developers like Nippon Ichi, Gust, Compile Heart and others, the series has been oddly successful. Though I bounced off the original game, I'm thinking that an actual TV show might be a more welcoming environment for Neptunia's brand of humor. I've handed the controller to Salvador and we'll see if it's leveled up since last we checked.   [embed]29034:2588:0[/embed] Gatchaman Crowds Air Date: July 12, 2013 Studio: Tatsunoko Productions (C - Control) Directed By: Kenji Nakamura (Tsuritama) That trailer above isn't for Gatchaman Crowds, but rather for the Gatchaman live-action movie slated for this August, starring a guy I'm pretty sure was ShinkRed in Samurai Sentai Shinkenger. But it's telling, since that trailer - or rather, an anime of that - was what most people were expecting to see when Gatchaman Crowds was first announced. Well, Gatchaman Crowds looks....different. As someone who has little attachment to Gatchaman besides seeing its localized G-Force incarnation as a kid (I preferred Robotech), I'm open to any interpretation of the classics, and I hope Hiroko is, too, because she volunteered to take this one on.   [embed]29034:2591:0[/embed] Love Lab Air Date: July 4, 2013 Studio: Dogakobo (Majestic Prince, YuruYuri) Directed By: Masahiko Ohta (Minami-ke, YuruYuri, Kotoura-san) In case YuruYuri was too subtle for you, Dogakobo is now making Love Lab, a slice-of-life show about cute girls practicing romance with, on, and for each other. Hm. I think I might have made my summary a bit too on-the-nose there, because now that makes it look like Brad is picking up a bad show. Well, I don't know much about Love Lab (ignorance is a good catalyst for lowering expectations), but to be fair, both Dogakobo and Director Masahiko Ohta have produced work that turned out to be more enjoyable than their one-sentence summaries seemed to indicate. For all our sakes (Brad's especially), let's hope that's the case here.   [embed]29034:2592:0[/embed] High School DxD NEW Air Date: July 7, 2013 Studio: TNK (School Days, High School DxD) Directed By: Tetsuya Yanagisawa (High School DxD, Heaven's Lost Property The Movie) Well, credit where credit is due, I'll just use the Anime News Network's tagline for High School DxD New, because they said it better than I could: There is such a thing as boobs after death...And a second season of them, to boot! Yes, indeed, there is such a thing. Josh Totman will be covering the show this summer.   [embed]29034:2593:0[/embed] Uchouten Kazoku Air Date: July 7, 2013 Studio: P.A. Works (Angel Beats!, Hanasaku Iroha) Directed By: Masayuki Yoshihara (Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: SAC) Based on a novel by the author Tatami Galaxy, with character designs from the author of Sayonara Zetsubou-sensei, and set in a world where Tanuki, Tengu, and humans all coexist (and occasionally eat one another), Uchouten Kazoku looks to be the real "critic's choice" anime of the summer. That's not to disparage it, mind you, but rather acknowledge that there's at least one production every season that emerges seemingly untouched by the commercial realities of merchandise-friendly character designs or genre-friendly plotting and characterization. That doesn't necessarily make a show inherently better than its more conventional comrades (we'll have to wait on Brittany to tell us the good news), but it does warm the heart to see a show born from as much creativity as consumerism.   [embed]29034:2594:0[/embed] Kami-sama no Inai Nichiyoubi Air Date: July 6, 2013 Studio: Madhouse (X-Men, Redline, Photo Kano) Directed By: Yuuji Kumazawa (The Ambition of Nobuna Oda) This show's concept of a world without "God" in it, and as such without birth or death, reminds me a bit of what I can remember from Paradise X, a Marvel story where Death is destroyed and no one can die and the superheroes have to find ways to end the suffering of the supposed-to-be-dead. If only they had a "Gravekeeper" like this shows, whose main job is to help the supposed-to-be-dead rest permanently. While I doubt Sunday without God will be much like Paradise X, it certainly strikes a sadder, more melancholy tone than its character designs might indicate. Pedro will be checking the show out to see if that tone holds true. Then maybe, just maybe, he too can find eternal rest!   [embed]29034:2595:0[/embed] Kimi no Iru Machi Air Date: July 13, 2013 Studio: Gonzo Directed By: Shigeyasu Yamauchi (Dream Eater Merry, Xenosaga The Animation) There are two kinds of "train wreck" TV shows. There's the practical train wreck, where viewers are entertained by watching situations get set up and then seeing the carnage after everything goes wrong (or right). That's your Valvraves and Code Geass-types. Then there's the emotional train wreck, which feeds on anger and frustration as cast members make dumb decisions or have stupid misunderstandings, all in service of some kind of rage-fueled cathartic bliss. The two types aren't mutually exclusive, but lend themselves better to different genres and settings, the practical wreck suited to epic action/adventure shows and the emotional wreck suited for romances and soapy dramas. Kimi no Iru Machi (aka A Town Where You Live) is allegedly one of the latter types of train wrecks, so much so that its fans lovingly nicknamed it "A Town Where You RAGE". Now it's getting that in television-animated form, in case you feel your blood pressure is too low. Kristina's been trying to work off the stress of moving to Japan, so she'll be giving this RAGE Town a bit ofa visit to see what's what.
Summer 2013 Preview Pt. 2 photo
The heat is on
It's summer and the sun is shining bright! That's why it's time for us to give you a number of reasons to stay inside and watch Japanese cartoons! It's the second part of Japanator's Summer 2013 Anime Preview Guide! In case y...

Japanator's Summer 2013 Anime Preview Guide, Part 1!

Jul 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]28893:2561:0[/embed] Dog & Scissors Air Date: July 1, 2013 (Also simulcasting on Crunchyroll) Studio: Gonzo (Nyanpire, Last Exile - Fam) Directed By: Yukio Takahashi (Macross Frontier: Sayonara no Tsubasa) The first new anime to open the summer season is notable not just for being from Gonzo, who seem to be making a comeback of sorts after last year's OZMA, but also for being the second consecutive anime featuring scissors - spring's chopper was The Severing Crime Edge - and some form of vague fetish, though where Crime Edge went for hairdressing, Dog & Scissors (aka Inu to Hasami wa Tsukaiyo) goes for a domineering lady author abusing a dog that happens to be the reincarnated form of a book nerd fan of hers. Abusing him with a pair of scissors. Though it's all played for laughs, there's still something vaguely disturbing about the premise, given that a lot of folks react quite poorly to animal abuse, even fictional animals. If you've ever known a person who gets really bummed out at scenes in movies where they kill the dog, this is a whole series of that, sort of. I don't know what the law's like in Japan, but if anyone saw a grown woman menacing a wiener dog with a pair of scissors like that, there'd be hell and jail time to pay. There seems to be more to the concept than a mere "I call you flat-chested and you shear me bald" character dynamic, based on the first episode, but barring a truly jarring development next week I doubt anyone will be covering the show regularly, so consider this a mini-First Impressions writeup.   [embed]28893:2558:0[/embed] Free! - Iwatobi Swim Club Air Date: July 3, 2013 (Also simulcasting on Crunchyroll) Studio: Kyoto Animation (Hyouka, Tamako Market) Directed By: Hiroko Utsumi This is it: Kyoto Animation's much-anticipated "Swimming Anime", initially thought to be some kind of incredibly handsome practical joke, but actually in the works for some time, being based on a top entry in the studio's periodic light novel contests from a couple of years back.  Besides the deliciousness of the hot, simmering man-meat on display, the basic premise is fairly typical of KyoAni's oeuvre: high school-age kids form a club and have fun. If that sounds somewhat unoriginal to you, you'd probably right, but at least chances are good it'll be very pretty, and won't be a complete disaster. Either way, Elliot will be on hand to tell us if these Y-chromosome bearers can *ahem* float the idea of friendship series getting by without the "waifu" appeal, or if Free! is *ahem* dead in the water.    [embed]28893:2562:0[/embed] Gifu Dodo!! Kanetsugu and Keiji Air Date: July 1, 2013 (simulcasting on Crunchyroll) Studio: Studio Deen (Fate/stay night, Hakuoki) Directed by: Tetsuo Hara (Fist of the North Star), Bob Shirohata (Hetalia Axis Powers) If you're an avid fan of sengoku-period samurai (or simply a veteran Shogun 2, Sengoku Basara or Samurai Warriors player), Naoe Kanetsugu and Maeda Keiji may be familiar names to you, identifying famous retainers of the Uesugi. Well, those names are familiar to Tetsuo Hara, Studio Deen, and the man behind Hetalia as well, and this is the result: A heavily fictionalized account of the exploits of two legendary samurai. As someone who enjoyed Hyouge Mono a great deal I feel almost obligated to give this one a look, especially seeing that it's not based on a cellphone game, and doesn't involve moe gender-swaps...yet.   [embed]28893:2565:0[/embed] Brothers Conflict Air Date: July 2, 2013 (streaming on FUNimation) Studio: Brain's Base (Durarara!!, My Little Monster) Directed By: Jun Matsumoto (Night Raid 1931) Are the two hulking studs of Gifu Dodo!! too intimidating for you? The four Michael Phelps-sans of Free! too nekkid? Well, Brain's Base has you covered in quantity, with eleven nubile young step-brothers all ready to court one Ema Hinata. Based on a novel and two otome games, Brothers Conflict (tellingly truncated to BroCon) aims to cover the entire spectrum of female-targeted appeals, with its lady-bait lads ranging in age from a mere 11 to a practically venerable (for anime at least) 32. There's someone for everyone, but as the plot must dictate, they're all here for you (read: her). Brad's been expanding his horizons since his return to recapping form this spring, so he's bravely volunteered to join the audience and see if he can bro out with his near-dozen new brothers. [embed]28893:2566:0[/embed] Stella Women's Academy High School Division Class C3 Air Date: July 4, 2013 (simulcasting on Crunchyroll)  Studio: Gainax (Medaka Box) Directed By: Masayoshi Kawajiri Stella Women's Academy High School Division Class C3 (which I'll just refer to as Class C3 from now on) is the latest in the growing line of "cute girls do [insert unusual activity here]" anime. Where K-ON!! was "cute girls do rock music" and Upotte!! was "cute girls do firefights" and Girls und Panzer was "cute girls do Panzerfahren", Class C3 is "cute girls do airsoft". Now, the genre is hardly unsalvageable, even to haters of "the moe". Girls und Panzer was top-quality entertainment for anyone with an open mind, and Upotte!! proved interesting to read as an artifact of the kind of "gun culture" that grows in a culture that has only airsoft to work with. Now, Class C3 aims to cut out the middleman, and maybe portray a bit of airsoft culture through the lens of its "Survival Game" enthusiasts. Either way, I'll be taking a look at it to see if it's on-target.   [embed]28893:2572:0[/embed] Danganronpa The Animation Air Date: July 4, 2013 (streaming on FUNimation) Studio: Lerche (Carnival Phantasm, MajiKoi - Oh! Samurai Girls) Directed By: Seiji Kishi (Persona 4 The Animation, Devil Survivor 2 The Animation) Confession time: I know absolutely zilch about Danganronpa, besides the fact that it's based on a well-regarded game. Hell, until about two days ago I had assumed Danganronpa the game was a bullet-hell shmup, purely based on the sound of the name. The truth, though, is that Danganronpa is a murder mystery game of sorts, a hybrid of Persona and Ace Attorney. That sounds like my kind of title, and perhaps it's fitting that the director of the Persona anime and the studio behind the most entertaining non-Fate/Zero Type-MOON anime pair up to take this one on. Brittany will be taking Danganronpa's case, but for her sake let's not hope Director Seiji Kishi and writer Makoto Uezu turn in better adaptation work this time than they did for Devil Survivor 2.   [embed]28893:2573:0[/embed] Monogatari Series Second Season  Air Date: July 6, 2013 (streaming on Crunchyroll and Daisuki) Studio: SHAFT (Nisemonogatari, Arakawa Under the Bridge) Directed By: Akiyuki Shinbo (Bakemonogatari) If you've ever wanted more Monogatari in your anime-viewing life, this is your time (and mine). The inaccurately-titled Monogatari Series Second Season is actually the third TV series, fourth Monogatari animated product overall, and spread all about the place chronologically, covering the Kabukimonogatari, Hanamonogatari, Otorimonogatari, Onimonogatari, and Koimonogatari novels, and kicking off with Nekomonogatari (White). That's a lot of stories and a lot of Nisioisin banter to sit through! If you're at all familiar with the show and its style, you know what you're in for: lots of storytelling buried in tons of incidental conversation, all set to an inimitable aesthetic sense. Now the only worry is that SHAFT will run out of money animating a full-sized season and be unable to finish on time, but that's a bridge to cross when we come to it.   [embed]28893:2574:0[/embed] Servant x Service  Air Date: July 4, 2013 (streaming on Crunchyroll) Studio: A-1 Pictures (Wagnaria!!, The Idolm@ster) Directed By: Yasutaka Yamamoto (Problem children are coming from another world, aren't they?) You would be entirely forgiven for thinking that a show called Servant x Service, was somehow about butlers, maids, nuns, knights, or all of the above. It isn't. Instead, from the looks of things it's the anime equivalent of The Office, and is set in a government building following its staff of public servants as they work the day away. Though I've never seen Wagnaria!! I can certainly appreciate a slice-of-life comedy that isn't set in a high school club of some kind, and the trailers above seem promisingly self-aware. We'll see if that potential pans out as Brad submits his application to the position of "Office Comedy Recapper" soon.   [embed]28893:2575:0[/embed] Genshiken Second Season Air Date: July 6, 2013 Studio: Production I.G. (Robotics;Notes) Directed By: Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls und Panzer, Genshiken) Ahh, Genshiken. It's an anime close to our hearts here at Japanator HQ, and I'd put some otaku cred down that it's likely close to yours, too (especially if you're the type of person to put the words "Modern Visual Culture" into their resume to avoid saying "I enjoy watching cartoons"). Not that I did that at all! Absolutely not! This time, Genshiken Second Season is about as close as you can get to western cartoons' '90s tendency to label everything "The New Adventures Of", with a core cast of the next generation of members for the Society for the Study of Modern Visual Culture. Under the leadership of aspiring manga author Chika Ogiue, the gender ratio's been flipped, with more girls and new crises for the college club to muddle through. Another bit of happy news is that the show might finally be getting a studio to match its quality. After a TV series and OVA featuring some bargain-bin studios at the help, this summer will see the vaunted Production I.G. at the helm, as well as its director Tsutomu Mizushima enjoying new prominence thanks to the love for Girls und Panzer.  Things are looking up for Modern Visual Culture enthusiasts, and Chris will be first in line to tell everyone how things pan out for the next generation.   [embed]28893:2576:0[/embed] WataMote ~No Matter How I Look at It, It's You Guys Fault I'm Not Popular!~ Air Date: July 8, 2013 Studio: Silver Link (Baka and Test) Directed By: Shin Oonuma (Baka and Test, Fate/Kaleid Liner) Wow, what a mouthful of a name! If there's any good thing to come out of the rise of light-novel-style titling conventions (WataMote is actually based on a manga), it's that shows are becoming easier to pin down without actually knowing anything about them.  As you might imagine from the title, it's about someone being unpopular, and the someone in question is one Tomoko Kuroki, an outcast with a worldview informed primarily by otome games, which are a notoriously poor representation of high school relationships. This is the story of how she gets it together and actually becomes popular. Maybe. The show's particularly notable because its director apparently gave credit to infamous imageboard 4chan for helping WataMote successfully get made. Supposedly 4chan's (and by extension the English-speaking anime-watching community's) interest in the manga tipped the scale when the decision to greenlight the anime was made. That's mildly ironic, considering that none of the major English-language legal distributors of anime have announced a simulcast or disc release for the series, meaning that English-speaking fans who want in on the show (including Brittany) will have to get theirs through less-than-legal means. Ah well, we've a few days left before opening day, so there's still time to put it in a place that will actually profit its creators.
Summer 2013 Anime Preview photo
Here comes the sun
Summer is here! And while most other forms of temperate pop media: film, television, videogames, go into the "Summer Doldrums", Glorious Nippon rolls on, undaunted by the blazing heat, to dive headfirst into the summer anime ...

Import Preview: Shin Megami Tensei IV

Jun 17 // Elliot Gay
Shin Megami Tensei IV (Nintendo 3DS)Developer: AtlusPublisher: AtlusRelease Date: May 23, 2013 (Japan) The first thing that hit me as I powered up Shin Megami Tensei IV was the uniquely dark tone the game sets right off the bat. The creepy music and strange opening sequence make for one of the more mysterious RPG openings of recent years.  If you've played Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne, you'll be in comfortable territory with IV. Dungeon exploration takes place from a third person perspective, and in a first for the series, you can see enemies onscreen and even preemptively attack them. The encounter rate is still fairly high, but if you're hurting and desperately need to make it to safety, being able to see your enemies on the field makes life a little bit easier. That being said, it can also make situations that much more stressful; a group of enemies spawning around you at the same time, for example. The Press Turn system from Nocturne returns in IV. By nailing an enemy with its elemental or physical weakness, you gain a free turn. This system is mostly the same as you remember it, save for one key addition: Grinning. Building upon the Press Turn concept, when you hit an enemy with a critical attack or a weakness, the attacker has a chance to enter a Grinning state. In this form, their chances of dodging attacks sky rockets, as does their damage output for one turn. Of course, this technique is also available to enemy demons; combined with Press Turns, an enemy can easily take out your entire party if they hit a weak point.  Those of you hoping to see your characters in-battle (think Nocturne) might want to temper your expectations. Combat in Shin Megami Tensei IV is very similar to Strange Journey in that the player's party is offscreen, and the enemies are animated sprites. That being said, there are some key visual differences that help to make the experience feel more modern. Backgrounds are rendered in 3D, and there are a handful of cool death animations that differ according to what weapon/spell/skill is used to destroy your enemy. Minor camera movement helps create a sense of speed and impact as well.  One change that I think folks will be divided on is the ability to save anywhere at anytime. As somebody who plays a lot during commutes and down time at the office, this feature is a huge a deal to me. No more worrying about your battery dying while the 3DS is asleep. Otherwise, this is the Shin Megami Tensei you know and love. Demon fusing and negotiating come back in full force and continue to be the keys to not dying every other battle. Grinding might help you fuse higher level demons, but there's no boss that can't be defeated through proper planning. Yes, Shin Megami Tensei IV is a tough game. In Naraku, the prologue dungeon, I died a grand total of four times while trying to complete one of the very first tutorial quests. That might sound terrible, but in reality it's a genius way of forcing players to learn how to play a SMT game properly. These early deaths send you to Charon, keeper of purgatory, who teaches you about the new revival system in place. By spending macca (the game's currency) or 3DS game coins, your party can be revived and brought back to the area you were in before you died. This is all information that Shin Megami Tensei IV organically teaches you in its opening 45 minutes.  I know a lot of folks were concerned that towns would be entirely menu based, so I'm pleased to report that that isn't the case. The first area in Shin Megami Tensei IV is a set of menu options, but once the story moves into Tokyo, the entire thing opens up. The city map is huge, with lots of bonus dungeons and locations to explore at your own pace. The towns you get to visit in Tokyo are all explorable and feature NPCs as well as the usual shops.  Strong writing is something I've come to expect from mainline Shin Megami Tensei games, and IV is no different in that respect. There is a focus on world building that makes the experience that much more involving. You're never quite as alone as you were in Nocturne, but it doesn't make exploring post-apocalyptic Tokyo any less unsettling. I don't want to spoil the story for anybody, but be prepared for lots of twists, turns, and hard choices. Replacing Meguro as the lead composer is Ryota Kozuka (Devil Survivor 2), whose work on SMT IV spans an impressive range of musical genres. Each section of Tokyo has its own piece of music, and there are a bunch of different battle themes for both normal encounters and bosses. Some of Kozuka's tracks wouldn't be out of place in an 80s Japanese horror film. Long time Shin Megami Tensei fans will also be delighted to hear that several themes from earlier games make a return in IV. It's a fascinating blend of styles that comes together to create a very unique soundtrack that I'm really looking forward to owning at some point. It's been quite some time since a game has hooked me so hard that it was all I could think about during the day. Shin Megami Tensei IV was one hell of a ride thus, and as far as I'm concerned, it's a must-have for RPG fans. I can only hope that the crack localization army at Atlus does the story justice.  Frankly? I'm not too worried. (Note: It took me 63 hours to complete the game's Neutral route on the standard difficulty setting.)
Shin Megami Tensei IV photo
Atlus' flagship franchise returns in a blaze of glory
It's been a long ten years since the excellent Shin Megami Tensei III: Nocturne hit the PS2. When the Persona series blew up on the PS2, the chances of a new SMT game seemed to fade into the dark...

Japanator's Spring Season 2013 Anime Preview, Part 2!

Apr 05 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]28408:2301:0[/embed] OreImo 2 Studio: A-1 Pictures (The Idolm@ster) Air Date: April 6, 2013 Ah, Ore no Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga nai, pioneer of the lengthy-ass light-novel-adaptation title and "incest comedy" subgenre. Despite being far more tame (and rather more endearing) than your pervy title suggests, you helped define the times we live in. Now you're back, with sixteen new episodes set to sync up with the final volume of your source. But we're ready for you this time. Or at least Chris is. His body is ready for some proper "True End" action.   Flowers of Evil (aka Aku no Hana) Studio: ZEXCS (Chrome Shelled Regios) Air Date: April 5, 2013 Besides word that the source manga is some seriously disturbing material, I know absolutely nothing about Flowers of Evil. And now the first episode's been out in the wild for less than 24 hours, and it's proving perhaps the most divisive show of the season, and perhaps even the year. That decidedly "un-anime-like" image above might be part of the reason. Either way, I can't wait until the streams open up proper and Brittany gets her eyeballs on this to tell us what she saw.    [embed]28408:2302:0[/embed] Karneval Studio: Manglobe (Deadman Wonderland) Air Date: April 3, 2013 A confession we at Japanator are forced to make is that the majority of us are pretty much hopeless when it comes to so-called "otome-bait" anime, especially when we're without the services of our own expert maiden Kristina Pino. And so, while Kristina's indisposed temporarily, we've let the hot-dude-tastic anime Karneval go somewhat ignored. That's not to say it's bad or anything. In fact, the premise even gives the idea of "joining the circus" new meaning, as the "Circus" in this show is a high-powered government criminal-hunting organization that our two delicately attractive male leads join. Adventure, action, and well-haired sparkling bishies ensue!   [embed]28408:2303:0[/embed] A Certain Scientific Railgun S Studio: J.C. Staff (A Certain Magical Index) Air Date: April 12, 2013 Between this and OreImo getting a sequel season, it's hard to say which is more eagerly anticipated among fans. I for one am in camp Biribiri, if only because an electric tsundere is superior in my book to a non-electric little sister. Railgun S looks to deliver fans all the convoluted joys of the Index universe free of icky male protagonists and their Y chromosomes and spiky hair and all that. It's girls' season out this spring, and I'll be watching along.   [embed]28408:2304:0[/embed] Muromi-san Studio: Tatsunoko Productions (Gatchaman) Air Date: April 6, 2013 Here's a more literal take on the classic fish-out-of-water story. Except it's a fish-woman, a mermaid named Muromi, fished out of the sea by some lucky/unlucky fisherman. But rather than scoring an "Ariel"-class of sea-born wife, Muromi is something of an alcoholic party-fish. Hijinks ensue, propelled by the voice of Yukari Tamura. So far no one on staff's cast a line for this one, but it could prove a nice, pure gag show if played right.
Spring 2013 Anime Pt. 2 photo
What's on and who's watching it this Spring!
For all this talk that the anime industry is on the ropes, there sure are a lot of shows coming out, aren't there?* Though we covered a good dozen or more anime in the first part of Japanator's Spring Season 2013 Anime Previe...

Japanator's Spring Season 2013 Anime Preview, Part 1!

Apr 04 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]28126:2286:0[/embed] Space Battleship Yamato 2199 Studio: AIC and Xebec (Persona 4, Nyaruko-san!) Air Date: April 7, 2013 Ah, Space Battleship Yamato. Known to the western world as Star Blazers, Yamato wasn't just any anime - it was the anime. Perhaps the most influential single anime series, the adventures of the Yamato and her crew as they desperately searched for a way to save Earth basically established anime as viable medium for adult-targeted drama. Now they've gone and remade the darn thing with modern graphics, plotting, and 500% more female characters (five up from one onboard the Yamato alone!). Technically speaking, the first half of Yamato 2199's been available for watching since last year, having been released over time on video and to theaters, but we may as well treat it as new here. I did sneak a peek at the first couple of episodes to see how it compared to some old Star Blazers VHS tapes I had lying around, and it's more Battlestar Galactica 2004 than Battlestar Galactica 1974, if you get my drift. In a way, that strikes me as more interesting than a straight-up remake would be, so I'm definitely sticking around to watch the rest and tell you all about it.   [embed]28126:2287:0[/embed] Valvrave the Liberator (aka Kakumeiki Valvrave) Studio: Sunrise (Gundam) Air Date: April 11, 2013 To be fair, Valvrave the Liberator looks like a perfectly decent mecha show, and goodness knows that a bunch of folks who were dissatisfied with Gundam AGE have been waiting for a new Sunrise original to hit the tubes. The premise, involving young highschooler Haruto defending his home against a bunch of fascists in Valvrave, a powerful mecha, sounds a bit like a classic Gundam plot, though as ever the devil is in the details (and mecha designs, which somehow remind me of a fusion of Macross and Cybuster). Fans of Code Geass may be intrigued, as screenwriter Ichiro Okouchi - who co-wrote the saga of Lelouch and the Elevens - is writing the show. I'm certainly a Geass fan, and the show is streaming this season on Crunchyroll, so I'm looking forward to how this is going to turn out.   [embed]28126:2288:0[/embed] Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet (aka Suisei no Gargantia) Studio: Production I.G. (Robotics;Notes) Air Date: April 7, 2013 Butch is back, and by that I mean, Gen "Puella Magi Psycho-Pass/Zero" Urobuchi, and this time he's writing this new sci-fi fish-out-of-water story. Or perhaps it's more a "human-into-water" story, as it follows an ace mecha pilot and lifetime soldier, Ledo, as he gets stranted on a future, peaceful, Waterworld-ized Earth and learns to live in a time of peace onboard Gargantia, some kind of floating city-ship. While the premise is naturally interesting since it ostensibly flips the whole "teen protagonist drawn into a war-torn world" trope on its head and trades it for a more Planet of the Apes vibe (minus hostile apes of course), the main draw here is obviously Urobuchi's involvement. A personal hope of mine for Gargantia is that Butch himself bucks expectations and writes a story that's not as, well...grim as his typical ouvre, or at least explores a more peaceful vibe. The idea of a kid raised on war living in a peaceful society has a lot of potential. Either way, we'll be letting our Elliot tell us how it is. He's been living in a peaceful society for a while now (still have to confirm if he's been raised in war-torn space), so it should be a good fit for him.   [embed]28126:2290:0[/embed] Majestic Prince  Studio: Dogakobo (GJ-bu, Koihime Musou) Air Date: April 4, 2013 First in the wave of new sci-fi shows to hit the spring, Majestic Prince seems like it has a chance of also being the weakest...or that might just be me being prejudiced against character designer Hisashi Hirai, who's been making people look like they were from Gundam SEED since Infinite Ryvius. In any case, the premise is solid enough, what with specially-engineered mecha-pilot teens called "Princes" fighting Jupiter-based aliens. With Jormungand and Katanagatari director Keitaro Motonaga at the helm, this should be an interesting "serious anime" proving ground for studio Dogakobo, since much of what they've made doesn't really fall into the categories that jerks like me consider "serious anime" (i.e. not a sci-fi mecha show). So prejudiced already! I'll at least give it a chance, given that it's airing on Crunchyroll in a matter of hours. [embed]28126:2289:0[/embed] Attack on Titan (aka Shingeki no Kyojin) Studio: Wit Studio and Production I.G. (Hal, Ghost in the Shell)  Air Date: April 6, 2013 Of all the new late-night shows this season (which excludes the prime-time-slotted Yamato), Attack on Titan is clearly the Heavy. Based on a manga that's won truckloads of awards and commercial success to match, the anime adaptation's also scored Tetsuro Araki, director of Death Note (and, er, Guilty Crown). It's also got a bitchin' horror-sci-fi setting with young pilots defending the last of humankind against Gundam-sized, people-eating, skinless giants. That's a pretty rad premise, and is also supremely convenient, because Elliot is also a Gundam-sized, people-eating, skinless giant. Who better to cover Attack on Titan, right?!   [embed]28126:2292:0[/embed] RDG: Red Data Girl Studio: P.A. Works (Tari Tari) Air Date: April 3, 2013 Despite the fact that RDG aired roughly two weeks ago on Niconico first, and that the first episode has aired, I know little about the show. That's partly because it's Hiroko who volunteered to watch P.A. Works and character designer Mel Kishida's (he of Tari Tari, Hanasaku Iroha, and three Atelier-series games) latest, but also it's partly because Red Data Girl's premise is my personal hell. Izumiko Suzuhara's a twin-braided highschooler who doesn't know much about the world, because she destroys any electrical device she touches. She can't use phones, computers, cars, or most modern conveniences. Apparently she's a "Red Data Girl" because she's listed as an "endangered species" in some kind of "Red Data Book" or something to that effect. The marketing-speak notes that Izumiko has "a strange power that everyone seeks to obtain for themselves". I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to opt out of this "everyone", because being unable to use electrical devices is no kind of power I want. If I ever ended up a "Red Data Boy" in the same vein as Izumiko, I'd make myself extinct.   [embed]28126:2294:0[/embed] Date a Live Studio: AIC PLUS+ (Cat Planet Cuties/Asobi ni Ikuyo) Air Date: April 5, 2013 Self-proclaimed "generic highschool boy" Itsuka turns out to be, well, as he proclaims, except his sister is the commander of some secret organization dedicated to fighting "spirits", one of which is a mysterious girl that caused a "spacequake" to destroy Itsuka's hometown. Now he must woo said mysterious girl in an attempt to steal her powers and thus save the world. Boy, Date a Live sure does sound like a light novel adaptation! That's not necessarily a problem, considering I like a number of such things, but we can only hope that Brad's recaps show us that Itsuka's self-proclamations to generic-ness don't extend to the rest of the show (or even himself, if we're extra lucky). The trailer doesn't look all bad either, with weird costumes, sci-fantasy action aplenty amid the other harem-romance junky stuff. If we're not that lucky, that might be the influence of  director Keitaro Motonaga, who's pulling double duty helming this and Majestic Prince.    [embed]28126:2295:0[/embed] Devil Survivor 2 The Animation Studio: Bridge (Mitsudomoe) Air Date: April 4, 2013 Despite the fact that the Devil Survivor franchise is my second-favorite Megami Tensei property (after Persona), I'm actually going to be staying away from this show for the time being, seeing as I've not yet actually finished the game. What I have seen, though, is pretty cool, as a bunch of fashionable teens use demons to fight off thirteen world-ending Evangelion angel concepts Zodiac-themed "Messengers".  Of course, we're not so crass as to let this field go fallow because I have a stuffed backlog. In her recapping debut, Brittany Vincent will be taking up the task of covering the show as it airs on Crunchyroll.   [embed]28126:2293:0[/embed] Photo Kano Studio: Madhouse (Redline) Air Date: April 4, 2013 Ah, the first dating-sim adaptation of the season! I rarely have high hopes for their like, but I'm holding a positive view considering that the PSP game this is based on is regarded as a spiritual successor to Amagami, a personal favorite of mine. I'm hoping they take that show's "omnibus" format, which after Amagami I regard as the ideal way to adapt these kinds of things. Photo Kano's other claim to fame is that the voice cast consists almost entirely of top-tier female talent, including Miyuki Sawashiro, Kanae Ito, Mai Nakahara, Chiwa Saito, Hisako Kanemoto and Mariya Ise. That's a lot of delicious voice-porn for seiyuu enthusiasts! Josh "Totsu" Totman found himself drawn to the show, and will be taking it on.   [embed]28126:2296:0[/embed] Hataraku Maou-sama! Studio: White Fox (Steins;Gate) Air Date: April 4, 2013 Latest in the growing crowd of shows that mess around with common JRPG narrative or setting tropes, Hataraku Maou-sama! (which translates to Demon King Working!) puts its titular Demon King...well, to work. But instead of world conquest, the goal is a basic livelihood in the wondrous world of fast food preparation, while dealing with spectres of his fantasy past, including Heroes out to finish the job.  I'm quite partial to the whole "fantasy characters live in the 'real' world" trope, so Hataraku already scores points with me on that front (though I think a better name for it would be "Minimum-Wage Maou" or somesuch), but the challenge will, as with any setting-fusion show of its type, will be how effectively it can mesh the fantasy setting and tropes with real-world concerns, and balance the two out properly. No one's volunteered to see if a Demon King working can work yet, but I may give it a look-see, at least.   [embed]28126:2297:0[/embed] HENNEKO: The Hentai Prince and the Stony Cat Studio: J.C. Staff (Joshiraku) Air Date: April 13, 2013 Every person probably has one or two things they don't like about themselves, and for Youto, that's his voyeuristic fetish, which leaves him leering at women and not getting caught. On the other hand, Tsukiko's overly blunt, dropping truth bombs and speaking her mind all over the place. In seemingly classic, stereotypical Japanese fashion, neither party considers this a positive personality trait, and turn to a magic stone cat to remove their burden. However, all cats are terribly unreliable, even stone ones (I speak from personal experience), and the two end up getting their least favorite traits swapped. Now Youto can't help but sputter horny things like a pervert with tourettes' and Tsukiko...well, the promo trailer doesn't really cover that part, but I'll make sure to ask Totsu's thoughts once the show hits the airwaves.   Arata the Legend (aka Arata Kangatari) Studio: Satelight (AKB0048) Air Date: April 8, 2013 Fushigi Yuugi was one of my formative anime, and finding out that Arata the Legend is from the same creator (Yuu Watase) was a real nostalgia blast for me. Hell, Arata even sounds like a similarly constructed show, what with having an ordinary Japanese highschooler teleporting into a magical fantasy land, destined to solve its problems. The twist this time is that Arata, our ordinary Japanese highschooler has a fantasy-world counterpart, also called Arata, who takes his place in the regular world. No doubt both antics and possibly epic adventure will ensue. So far no one's volunteered to take up Arata's magic sword, but we'll see if we can't at least give it a try.   [embed]28126:2298:0[/embed] The Severing Crime Edge (aka Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge) Studio: Gokumi (The Ambition of Nobuna Oda) Air Date: April 3, 2013 It's a little strange, the way trends sometimes develop in the anime offerings of each season, from year to year. First it's gender-swapped historical figures, then it's twists on Dragon Quest and other JRPG conventions. Now, it's characters with hair fetishes, with last season's Cuticle Detective Inaba, and now The Severing Crime Edge. That said, this anime's protagonist's fetish for cutting ladies' hair - and his ecstasy at finding a magical pair of shears capable of cutting his patron's lengthy locks - just seems to be the beginning, as the trailer above quickly goes dark, and seeing the otherwise-innocuous barber scissors - complete with cute integrated comb - getting used for much more than cutting hair, gives me a strange Mirai Nikki/Future Diary vibe. That's a good thing, since Mirai Nikki produced perhaps anime's most powerful yandere, Yuno Gasai. I don't know if Crime Edge will be able to crete the same magic, but there certainly looks to be potential in this one.
Spring 2013 Anime Pt. 1 photo
What's on and who's watching it this Spring!
With the passing of winter comes a new season, and while "Spring" has little climatic meaning for this writer, Japanophiles the world over can associate the word with more than just a softening of the weather - they can assoc...

Preview: Ni no Kuni

Dec 12 // Chris Walden
As is the case with most of the Ghibli films, Ni no Kuni has a simple yet gripping story designed to pull you right into its fictional world. An ordinary young boy called Oliver lives in the ordinary town of Motorville, which is pretty aptly named as his friend Philip has been building a car (kids these days!). While I could tell you more about what happens next, it came as quite a surprise when I played it, so I'll just hope you haven't found out already! Oliver soon finds himself in the land of Ni no Kuni, where he and 'lord high lord of the fairies' Drippy set out on an adventure. Consider that the spoiler free synopsis! On his journey, Oliver will be faced with many people that are 'broken hearted'. You will have seen one case of this in the demo, as you meet a guard that lacks enthusiasm. To cure them, you must source another person with excess enthusiasm in order to do a little transplant of sorts. These people have been cursed, so as the innocent young boy you are, you should help them out! What happens when you help them often yields different results, be it opening a new path (like the guard in the demo) or giving you new spells and/or items. The entire system is an interesting one, and using the spells to fix those who are broken hearted is very simple. No complex menus to scroll through, so that's a bonus! Like any localised Japanese game, you've got to know just how good the vocal dub is. Even more so when it involves Studio Ghibli, as their movies have become renowned for having great voice actors work on them. From what I have played, Ni no Kuni doesn't disappoint either. Something I want to point out is that Drippy has a Welsh accent in the English dub. The reason I want to point this out is because I played the first half of the demo and noticed that it wasn't until the end that we ever get to hear Drippy speak! I'm sure this will have confused a lot of people, as I even saw mention that his dialogue had 'typos', where the dialogue has been written to reflect his accent. He speaks a lot more in the actual game and his voice is just perfect, so much so that a few of us at Namco Bandai began to discuss it.  Oliver's voice is an interesting one. I discovered that the company behind the dub actually went around London-based schools in order to find the perfect voice for him, so when you hear it, know that there is a young boy behind it, not an actor! I'm not sure about the rest of the voice cast, but characters like Philip, Oliver's mum and the Great Deku Tree Old Father Oak certainly had solid voice work. The problem with dubbing voices in another language is that there isn't often much you can do about the original mouth movements in the game/film. Still, Ni no Kuni does very well to keep them in sync, and there were only a few occasions where it really became noticeable (on a parrot, no less!). Short of messing with the character models there's nothing much you can do about these few instances, and I think I'd rather the game come out as soon as possible over waiting another year! Dialogue in the game is always written with the accents included, meaning that speech from characters like Drippy may appear a bit strange. I personally found nothing wrong with this, as the first time you speak with Drippy specifically, you hear his voice. I know a lot of people don't like it when accents are written into the dialogue, but I personally think it's a good thing. It's a shame that the demo players were left a little confused by what appeared to be typos before Drippy spoke, but for the deaf gamers amongst us, it's great for characterisation. It also really isn't an issue for the rest of us, but after hearing one person on Youtube speaking Drippy's lines in a Jamaican accent before hearing the little guy speak Welsh, I figured I'd point it out! This game is an RPG, so there are many little systems to learn during the beginning of the game. Drippy helps to explain everything in the first hour and a half or so, which isn't so long when the game will likely take over 40 hours of your time to see it through to the end. The game takes its time to explain things and make sure you aren't left wondering what it is you're mean to be doing, as well as establishing key characters and the stories surrounding them. Sure, this means you don't get into your first battle until around 40 minutes into the game, but I came away from the entire event feeling confident that I knew the ins and outs of combat and the various mechanics. So, let's talk battles! The battle system is certainly unconventional, but it's not at all difficult to get to grips with when the game talks you through it. You control Oliver on the battle screen, and you can move him around the battlefield like you can in games like Star Ocean. He can perform regular attacks by hitting enemies with his wand, cast magic spells which come with an MP cost and a cooldown to prevent mashing fireballs one after the other, or even summon a familiar to fight in his place. He can also defend and use items, in case you find yourself in a bad situation. An interesting system introduced in Ni no Kuni involves 'glims', small, coloured spheres that pop onto the battlefield when you land attacks on the enemy, and occasionally when Drippy throws some in to help you out. They only provide very minor boosts to HP and MP (depending on their colour), but quite a few times it meant I could afford that one extra fireball or cure spell. There are also gold glims, which I only saw appear during the boss fight with the Guardian of the Woods. They seem to give Oliver and his familiars a super move of sorts, and while it isn't guaranteed to defeat the enemy, it certainly inflicts a sizeable amount of damage on whoever is on the receiving end.  Pre-emptive strikes can be performed by creeping up on an enemy, which grants you some extra time to perform attacks before your enemies can act. Similarly, enemies can get behind you and initiate this themselves, forcing you to wait a short time before you can act and leaving you running around the battlefield in a wild attempt to avoid being hit. It certainly means you'll be more vigilant on the world map, making sure that the fast-moving bird enemies don't manage to get behind you. I also made sure to have my character be defeated in battle, just to see what would happen (and not because I messed up, honest!). Interestingly, you are allowed to carry on from where you were, but you will lose 10% of your money, known in this game as 'guilders'. You also have the choice to decline this offer and carry on from the last time you saved, if you prefer. It's definitely nice to have this option, and I'll take a 10% hit to my wallet over a traditional game over any day! As mentioned earlier, Oliver can use familiars to fight for him. These little critters have their own stats and attacks, and they also level up individually. They can learn new attacks after hitting certain levels, and each familiar can only have a set number of attacks 'set' for use in battle at one time. It's all a little bit Pokémon in this respect, but rest assured that you don't 'forget' attacks that you aren't currently using. Using them in battles is a good way of protecting Oliver, and using them to exploit particular weaknesses in an enemy seems to be the way to go. I got to use Mitey (who you use in the Guardian fight in the demo), as well as a second familiar that I earned towards the end of my three hour session. They have plenty of differences besides their attacks, so picking which one to use isn't as simple as seeing which one has the higher level. Familiar stats can be boosted by levelling up, as well as feeding them 'treats' outside of fights. It seems that there is a limit to how much you can boost their stats this way, but I'm unsure exactly where the boundaries are.  The graphics, as you might well have seen already, are absolutely stunning. It comes as a mix of gorgeous cel-shaded models for most of the game, with animated videos placed here and there in the traditional Ghibli style. Cel-shaded games are certainly a dime a dozen these days, but Level-5 show that they aren't going to be satisfied with simply looking like the others. The models are neat, the animations add plenty of character and the shadows, which are usually terrible in cel-shaded games, look pretty good too. Perhaps the highlight of all things graphical in Ni no Kuni is the world map. It oozes charm and looks fantastic, while simply serving the same purpose of any other world map. It's quite the sight, so be sure to check it out! One thing that does concern me about this game is how it'll be accepted by those who frequently play JRPGs. Don't get me wrong, the battle system and all of the stats and mechanics surrounding it are great, but my issue lies specifically with the mini-map. If you are given a quest, it shows you exactly where you need to go instead of making you explore. Sounds good in theory, and I'd certainly agree, but you could argue that you will only be moving from one waypoint to another this way. Hopefully this isn't always the case, as I wonder what the popular opinion on it will be, otherwise.  As is the case with all games, you'll be pleased to hear that I experienced no issues with frame rates, and the loading screens were extremely short. I've been trying to beat Final Fantasy XIII before the end of the year (I know, I know) so I can appreciate the lack of loading times when my chocobo treasure hunting has been hampered so much by it! I can't tell you for sure if it's because the game was installed on the hard drive or not (or whether you can actually do that and if it's required), but the less time spent in limbo staring at a swirly icon and not in the wonderful land of Ni no Kuni, the better. Joe Hisaishi is in charge of the music, and it might be a name you are already familiar with. He has composed a lot of the soundtracks to existing Ghibli films, including My Neighbor Totoro, Spirited Away and Ponyo, so rest assured that you will be receiving a stunning musical score. If you were worried that this game might not feel like a Ghibli production, know that this is just one of many things that make it feel almost like an interactive Ghibli movie. I mean this as a compliment of course, don't go comparing it to Modern Warfare 2 or something! Ni no Kuni belongs on your shelf next to the other Ghibli films, and I feel that's the highest compliment I can give it. As for my three hour progress, I managed to complete a few quests in Ding Dong Dell (which is perhaps the best name), which is the area you get to see at the end of the demo. I really enjoyed my time with it, but I have only scraped the surface when it comes to actual content. I eagerly await getting my own copy of the game to play through, and sincerely hope that the Ghibli magic I saw in this brief time lasts throughout the entire experience. Rest assured that we'll have a review nearer the time, and I'll certainly be aiming to see everything the game has to offer before giving you my final thoughts. Be sure to grab the demo if you still haven't, and keep your eyes peeled for a review around the official release date of January 22nd/25th (US/EU). 
 photo
It looks proper good!
It's been less than a week since the Ni no Kuni demo landed on the PlayStation Network for Studio Ghibli and Level-5 fans alike to clamour over. It offers two trips into the game, each at about 25 minutes long apiece, but per...

Japanator's Fall 2012 Anime Preview Guide, Part 2!

Sep 30 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]26903:1693[/embed] Code:Breaker Director: Yasuhiro Irie (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood) Studio: Kinema Citrus (Tokyo Magnitude 8.0) Opens On: October 6, 2012 The trailer for Code:Breaker strikes me as just a little bit vague on exactly who's the lead character here. Is it the spunky girl with good looks, fighting skills, and resolute righteousness? Or is it the outwardly amicable boy with burning hands and an Old Testament sense of justice? I guess there's no reason it couldn't be both of them. Either way, Code:Breaker is adapted from a story by the guy who made Samurai Deeper KYO, which struck me as a more gangster Rurouni Kenshin, with a fraction as much overall influence in the greater history of anime fandom. But hey, Samurai X casts a long shadow, so I can't blame Kyo for failing to surpass. Can Code:Breaker do what KYO could not? We might never find out, as none of the staff have opted to cover the show yet, though that could change in the week we have left. There seems to be a healthy amount of interest present.   [embed]26903:1694[/embed] Magi: Labyrinth of Magic Director: Koji Masunari (Read or Die) Studio: A-1 Pictures (Idolm@ster) Opens On: October 7, 2012 A ridiculously loose, shonen-friendly adaptation of Arabian Nights, Magi is likely to be as faithful to its source material as The Ambition of Nobuna Oda is to historically accurate gender designations. From the looks of things, it seems to be a shonen adventure with a Fullmetal Alchemist-like atmosphere, substituting fake Germany for fake Middle East, sort of.  Elliot will see soon whether Magi can keep him up all (Arabian) Night(s) long. I'm so good at puns.   [embed]26903:1696[/embed] Ixion Saga DT Director: Shinji Takatsuki (Gintama) Studio: Brains Base (Durarara!!) Opens On: October 7, 2012 It doesn't bode entirely well that Ixion Saga DT is basically a promotional anime for a game from Capcom that doesn't actually exist yet. Plus, it's an MMORPG to boot. Imagine if that Ragnarok anime (which was based on the game and not the manwha) came first, or if Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning was an anime and the MMO to follow was never cancelled.  Then again, this thing's being directed by the man who gave us Gintama and The Daily Lives of High School Boys, as well as a number of successful manga adaptations, so he's got an enviable track record. Perhaps this show will tell us if that track record's the result of getting great source material, or his personal talent. Or maybe we'll never know, because no one on staff's picked this for their slate. UNCERTAINTY.   [embed]26903:1698[/embed] The Pet Girl of Sakurasou Director: Atsuko Ishizuka (Piano Forest) Studio: J.C. Staff (A Certain Magical Index) Opens On: October 8, 2012 When some critic-types remark that moe is all about exploiting one's desire to nurture vulnerable creatures (girls in particular), they're not entirely off-base. The Pet Girl of Sakurasou seems to take this concept as literally as it can, with its lead heroine just about one step removed from a vegetable in terms of domestic survival skills. Naturally, it falls to one high schooler with a weakness for keeping strays, as well as pretty much everyone in his dorm (the titular Sakurasou) to make sure this savant (she's good at painting) doesn't starve to death or fall out a window or wear her underwear. They intend to care for her like a pet (the titular Pet Girl), which is more than a little creepy, calling to mind manga and anime that cannot be mentioned in polite company. Our own Josh Totman felt the need to care for this pathetic creature, and volunteered for the duty.   Lychee DE Light Club Studio: Kachidoki Studio Opens On: October 1, 2012 The original Lychee Light Club manga is pretty hardcore stuff, with a bunch of high school boys inventing a sentient machine to hunt down women for them. Some call it a parody of guro (for "grotesque") torture porn, and some call it actual guro torture porn.  I don't know what the new "DE" in the title of this TV adaptation stands for, but I'd wager it's related to the fact that this new show intends to emphasize the comedic parts of this horror comedy. Rumors abound that the show has in fact switched to a cutesy, super-deformed style, rather than the disturbing, creepy designs you see above. Maybe that'll make it less intense? I hope so, because guro scares me. We're hoping that Elliot isn't scared by it, though, as he'll be covering this.   [embed]26903:1699[/embed] Shin Sekai Yori: From the New World Director: Masashi Ishihama Studio: A-1 Pictures (Black Rock Shooter) Opens On: September 28, 2012 From the New World takes place a thousand years into the future, long after humanity has declined via the traditional method - apocalypse. In a ruralized Japan full of Shinto imagery (even school uniforms look a bit like shrine wear), a bunch of cute schoolgirls learn telekinesis and get themselves into world-saving and so on. There seems to be a lot of potential in this one, and while I'd have preferred the girls - or at least the character designs - to skew at least a little older, the mix of high-concept SF action and cutesy everyday schooling may yet be a winner. Pedro will be telling us about it. In fact, he's writing his First Impressions right now, given that the show opened two days ago.   [embed]26903:1701[/embed] Girls Und Panzer Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Big Windup) Studio: Actas (eX-Driver) Opens On: October 8, 2012 Now here's how to get me into sports anime: Make the sport driving around a bunch of vintage tanks! I honestly don't need to say any more about this, because it sounds amazing and I'm going to cover it (I threatened everyone on staff with my tank to keep them from calling dibs), but I'll go ahead and say more about this, including a couple of complaints I have: If they wanted proper German the title should be "Madchen Und Panzer" It seems unfair. The Panzer IV the heroines get to ride outclasses pretty much every other machine on the field, with the possible exception of the Jagdpanzer the theater club is driving. That one's a tank destroyer, so if they can keep from getting outmaneuvered they can score a kill. Those kids must have the fortitude of horses. Driving a vintage tank in combat conditions was like driving inside an oven. An oven being shot at. The physical effort exerted by the loader alone would probably break many adult men. I can't wait until this goes on air!   [embed]26903:1702[/embed] ONIAI Director: Keiichiro Kawabuchi (Zettai Karen Children) Studio: Silver Link (Tayutama) Opens On: October 5, 2012 I have to say this trend of light novels and their anime adaptations having ridiculously long and descriptive titles does have an upside: I get to spend a little less time writing previews. So here's ONIAI's full, translated title: "He's My Brother, But It Doesn't Matter So Long As We Have Love!" Yep. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised no one picked this up yet. But then again, some folks tell me OreImo eventually proved to be more than its title.    Aoi Sekai no Chuushin De Director: Tetsuya Yanagisawa (UFO Princess Valkyrie) Studio: 5th Avenue Opens On: October 20, 2012 The basic description of Aoi Sekai sounds as if someone tried to take up someone's challenge to make an anime out of Hyperdimension Neptunia, except tuned as a shonen adventure, and without the actual Neptunia license. The result seems much less self-aware, which, I dunno, is kind of counter to the whole point. In case you're in the dark about Neptunia, Aoi Sekai is like it in that it anthropomorphizes the console war, this time the old-school one between Nintendo and Sega. "Gear", a Sonic-alike that looks nothing like Sonic from the land of "Segua" is out to save the world from the land of "Ninterdo" and its cruel jumping plumber overlord "Marcus". Kristina's taking a foray into this blue world, and if all turns out well, it won't turn her blue with rage.   [embed]26903:1703[/embed] Sukitte Ii na yo Director: Toshimasa Kuroyanagi Studio: ZEXCS (Chrome Shelled Regios) Opens On: October 7, 2012 Perhaps I'm being narrow-minded, but I'm honestly at a loss right now trying to describe Say "I Love You" in a way that makes it sound unique. So I'll be lazy and just describe the basic premise, then leave it at that. A friendless, unpopular girl encounters a popular boy, who for some reason has taken an interest in her, insisting that they're friends, saving her from stalkers and sneaking kisses. Romance ensues. No one on staff's put it on their list yet, anyway, so chances are I may never need to elaborate further, but I can't help but think that that kind of forwardness borders on harrassment. If I were the friendless unpopular girl, I'd be suspicious that he'd be looking to prank her somehow. Endless stories in the media about bullying have conditioned me to think this.   [embed]26903:1704[/embed] Kamisama Hajimemashita Director: Akitaro Daichi (Fruits Basket) Studio: TMS Entertainment (Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine) Opens On: October 1, 2012 For all its shoujo-romance trappings, Kamisama Hajimemashita has a rather intriguing premise. Nanami, newly abandoned by her debt-dodging parents, Hayate the Combat Butler-style, ends up transient, until she takes up a strange man's offer to live in his house. Turns out his house is a shrine, and living in it involves taking over his job...as the local deity.  With the job come a ton of deific responsibilities, as well as a hot familiar with animal ears. Romance and antics ensue. While no one's committed to recaps for this show yet, we'll keep an eye on it to see if it develops on that intriguing premise further.   [embed]26903:1705[/embed]  Aikatsu! Director: Ryuchi Kimura Studio: Sunrise (Gundam) Opens On: October 8, 2012 I know that I regard myself as Japanator's idol anime correspondent, obligated to look into each season's token idol show, but I simply can't get myself excited about Aikatsu, which is based on an idol-themed card collecting game.  Maybe it's because of the game footage above. To be frank, it looks awful. The people complaining about the CG dancing in AKB0048 should consider that show a masterpiece in comparison. And to think this is Sunrise's only show this season (besides remastered episodes of Gintama)! Are they stockpiling cash for the next Gundam joint or something? Perhaps it's time to hang up my wavy glowsticks and wota-coat. That is, I'd think about doing that if I owned any wavy glowsticks and a wota-coat.   Sequel Seasons [Given that sequel seasons often feature the same staff and studios as previous seasons, we're going to save ourselves some work and stick to the blurb and/or trailer for describing them. We love saving ourselves work!]   [embed]26903:1706[/embed] Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb Opens On: October 4, 2012 Hold on to your nutbladders, boys and girls (especially girls!), because the god-tier is descending to burst your vulnerable organs. It's the fourth season of Hidamari Sketch, and Japanator's staff have elected to use Chris as a shield to cower behind. He shall bear the brunt of the moe-strike. May the gods have mercy on his soul. And nutbladder.   [embed]26903:1707[/embed] Medaka Box Abnormal Opens On: October 10, 2012 Medaka's got a formidable pair, so it's only fitting that she get twin seasons to fill out her career.  Bad boob joke? Cut me some slack, this season's been curiously light on blatant boobs anime. This comes close. Hiroko will elaborate when she takes up coverage of the show.   [embed]26903:1708[/embed] Jormungand Perfect Order Opens On: October 9, 2012 The lady Lord of War returns for a second round of gun-porn, action, arms trading, and shenanigans in the sequel to Jormungand. Chris, who was loco for Koko, opted to smuggle a season's worth of this show through the tubes to his computation station.   [embed]26903:1709[/embed] Seitokai no Ichizon Season 2 Opens On: October 13, 2012 It's been a little while since Seitokai no Ichizon's referential humor and cuteness graced the airwaves, and this season it's hitting Nico Nico Douga. That won't be stopping Jeff from covering it, though. Such is the authority of the student council!   [embed]26903:1710[/embed] Hiiro no Kakera Season 2 Opens On: September 30, 2012 As a beautiful maiden herself, Kristina has volunteered to watch the next entry in this maiden baiting saga. In it, she shall likely watch the continuing adventures of a young lass courted by a small horde of men, some dangerous, others decisive, still others demure, but all of them...delectable.
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You've seen the best, now for the rest...of the best!
The leaves may not be falling yet, but the Japanese cartoons are ready to drop, and this is the second part of Japanator's Fall 2012 Anime Preview Guide! Read the first part here, and when you're done with that (or before you...

Japanator's Fall 2012 Anime Preview Guide, Part 1!

Sep 29 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]26873:1680[/embed] Robotics;Notes Director: Kazuya Nomura (Sengoku BASARA: The Last Party) Studio: Production I.G. (Guilty Crown) Opens On: October 11, 2012 One of the more hotly anticipated titles this fall, as well as being one of the revered Noitamina time block's offerings, Robotics;Notes comes to you from the makers of Steins;Gate, one of spring's smartest shows, and a personal favorite of mine. That said, it's by a different director, different studio, and the work itself is substantially different in premise, with the basic concept of "What if kids built their own giant robot", basically. Plus, Chaos;Head, another 5pb adaptation, wasn't the best thing ever. I'll be checking the show out this season. My expectations may be tempered, but my enthusiasm is not dampened. Schoolkids SHOULD make their own giant robots!   [embed]26873:1681[/embed] Psycho Pass Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro Studio: Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex) Opens On: October 11, 2012  Here's this season's super-duper DO WANT show, and it has been nearly from the minute folks found out it was being written by Gen "Madoka Man" Urobuchi. Psycho Pass sounds kind of like a cop show, with a bunch of handsome agent-types stopping crime in a world where mind-reading is instantaneous and commonplace.  That's not quite Fate/Zero in its detail or Madoka in its deconstruction, but Butch is a trustworthy producer of quality material, and Production I.G. is a trustworthy producer of good-looking action. Hiroko will be taking a look at this, and telling us whether that trust is betrayed.   [embed]26873:1682[/embed] Chunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! Director: Tatsuya Ishihara (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya) Studio: Kyoto Animation (Hyouka) Opens On: October 3, 2012 Practically everything Kyoto Animation makes these days is a shoe-in for "hotly anticipated" (except maybe My Ordinary Life, which was a wondrous fastball out of left field), and I Want To Love Her Despite Her Middle-School Delusions! (is the title) is here this fall. Just as the title pretty much describes the premise, the plot involves the infamous "Chunibyou" ("Middle-School Syndrome"), whose exact definition is under debate, but commonly understood as kids (or adults) still stuck in the immaturity, playing out fantasies rather than acting their age like responsible members of society. Think "Okarin", "Star Wars Kid", "Travis Bickle", and every time you've ever struck a cool pose in front of a mirror. "Chunibyou" (shortened by some to "Chuu2") is also a buzzword for anime that cater to a similar tack. I have to say, though, doesn't that hold for a significant part of all pop fiction? You could level the Chuu2 label at practically everything from Accel World to Harry Potter to Drizzt Do'Urden to comic books to The Matrix to Taxi Driver to the New Testament (!). A bit of a boondoggle criticism, methinks. Hell, I'm 27, and still I do some Jim Lee stances in the dark on occasion, so maybe I'm just taking it personally. My Chuu2 aside, we've entrusted Elliot to insert himself into the story, as an intrepid schoolteacher watching cartoons and writing about them on the internet...like a boss. We also demanded pictures of him posing all cool an' shit while he recaps, but that's optional (DO IT, ELLIOT).   [embed]26873:1683[/embed] K Director: Susumu Kudo (Mardock Scramble) Studio: GoHands (Mardock Scramble) Opening On: October 4, 2012 As far as we've seen much of the excitement around K has centered not on its story or premise (which we don't know much about beyond a superficial resemblance to the likes of Durarara!!) or its studio (though Mardock Scramble's been pretty cool), but mainly around its bitchin' animation and its plethora of expensive voice talent. Check it: Tomokazu Sugita (Kyon), Daisuke Namikawa (Persona 4 Protagonist), Daisuke Ono (Sebastian), Jun Fukuyama (Lelouch), Kenjiro Tsuda (Fire Emblem), Mamoru Miyano (Setsuna F. Seiei), Mikako Komatsu (Marika Kato), Miyuki "Miyukichi" Sawashiro (Celty), and of course Yui "Hocchan" Horie (Chie). And more! The siren voices of all these seiyuu were so powerful that two of our editors heeded the call: Pedro called dibs on the first look at K, but Salvador fought him so hard that he won the privilege of the regular recap. It was his Rider Kick that ultimately won the day.   [embed]26873:1685[/embed] Zetsuen no Tempest Director: Masahiro Ando (Hanasaku Iroha) Studio: BONES (No. 6) Opening On: October 4, 2012 Studio BONES' fall entry is a fantasy manga adaptation, and is being directed by the man behind Hanasaku Iroha, and scripted by the writer behind Hanasaku Iroha, as well as Ano Hana and Black Rock Shooter, Mari Okada. That in mind, despite its dystopian setting full of fantasy, world-saving, and murdered parents, you can expect emotions. Lots and lots of emotions. Emotions all over the place, like colors on Skittles. Not that that's a bad thing, mind you. No. 6 could probably have used some emotions, from what little I saw of it. Either way, we'll be checking in with Pedro to see if his emotions can be stirred by the coming tempest. Ideally, the main emotion won't be RRRRAAAAGE! [embed]26873:1686[/embed] BTOOOM! Director: Kotono Watanabe  Studio: Madhouse (Redline) Opening On: October 4, 2012 I love the name of this anime. BTOOOM!. That's like naming a western show KABOOM!, or a Japanese show DOKAAAAAAAN! or a [insert nationality here] show [INSERT ONOMATOPOEIA FOR EXPLOSION HERE!!!!]. You know what else is cool? BTOOOM! is the name of a videogame (note the precipitous increase in videogame meta-presence in recent anime). That's a kickass name, like the actually-existing name WARFACE. WARFAAAACE!!!!. Anyway, some NEET can play the game pretty well, which apparently qualifies him to be trapped in some real-life survival challenge, the challenge being that the whole world ends and transforms into an exact copy of the game he's good at. Kind of like that Hollywood movie Gamer, but the whole world. In real life putting a NEET in a life-or-death survival situation would likely end quickly and gruesomely, but hey, he's good at videogames. If you believe the media, he'll succeed, as well as slaughter all his opponents in a murderous rampage. When Brad picked this one up, he noted that he figured there were breasts in it, which he's into. So there's that.   [embed]26873:1687[/embed] Little Busters! Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa (Kill Me Baby) Studio: J.C. Staff (ToraDora!) Opening On: October 6, 2012 The Jun Maeda Special of this season, people have been waiting forever to see this get done. They got pissed, though, when they found out it was being passed to J.C. Staff while KyoAni went on to make animes about delusional kids. The exact reasons why they passed on a guaranteed money-and-tears machine like a Jun Maeda joint, after doing Clannad, Kanon and Air, but they probably didn't need the cash. Plus, they're a small outfit, and maybe they didn't feel like doing a Jun Maeda joint. Either way, Little Busters! is incoming, and Chris will tell us all about it. Will tears be shed? Will girls with problems die in snow/leaves/sunlight/rain? Only time (and recaps) will show.   [embed]26873:1688[/embed] Busou Shinki Director: Yasuhito Kikuchi (El Hazard Alternative) Studio: 8-Bit (Infinite Stratos) Opening On: October 4, 2012 I honestly don't know why I'm so attracted to every mecha musume and moe moe machine show I see, so compelled to call dibs on them no matter how awful they might seem (though they can surprise in the endgame). Is it my attraction to footless androids and aliens with crazy legs? Is it a tacit admission of a love for style (chicks in/as machines) over substance (the machines themselves)? Am I just entranced by the work of Plamoo? Am I a deviant mechasexual? Or is it a secret desire to see women empowered by technology, which is frankly more excitiing than progressive legislation, and shifting cultural attitudes (so politics!)? Beats me, but rest assured, I've got this one. You may recall an earlier anime of Busou Shinki, a line of mecha musume figurines that this new show (as the old one) is obviously designed to sell. That was the PSN-only Busou Shinki Moon Princess, a series of 5-minute shorts that skewed a little too young to be comfortable. I'm an adult mechaphile, so my fetishes are my own, but no self-respecting pre-teen boy would be into a hobby that involves collecting cute girl dolls, no matter how technologically augmented. Think of the cooties! This new one casts the lead in high school, which seems a proper age group to be into that sort of thing.    [embed]26873:1692[/embed] JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Director: Kenichi Suda (Gundam Evolve) Studio: David Production (Inu x Boku SS) Opens On: October 5, 2012 ORAORAORAORAORAORAORAORA Eric Koziol's got this one MUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDAMUDA!!   [embed]26873:1690[/embed] To-Love-Ru Darkness Director: Atsushi Ohtsuki (Ladies vs. Butlers!) Studio: Xebec (Rio Rainbow Gate!) October 5, 2012 To be perfectly honest, none of us watched To Love-Ru. It's not that we don't watch sleazy harem shows (ask Brad!), but it just didn't happen, and with that in mind, it's likely not to happen this season, either.  Then again, I'm told that the manga this is based on gets strangely grim, much more grim than its comparatively sunny predecessor. If any of us ever catch up on the original (slim chance of that), we may just give it a look.   [embed]26873:1691[/embed] Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun Director: Hiro Kaburaki Studio: Brains Base (Baccano!!) Opens On: October 1, 2012 The Beast Beside You sells itself as a romantic comedy with "a fresh new angle", and Brad has taken up that challenge. Then again, the actual pitch sounds, to be frank, quite stale. A cold-fish honor student girl has little concern but for grades and career (think Humanity Has Declined's Protagonist during episode 11) encounters a troublemaking boy who's actually a nice guy with a bad rep. Romance and comedy ensue. Then again, the trailer above expresses none of that staleness, barring ten seconds' worth of normality. Before that, it's fighting with chicken-swords and syringes and the wild west and kisses in samurai clothing. Maybe it will be fresh after all, if it prefers the first minute-thirty to the last-ten. 
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Autumn's latest and soon-to-be greatest!
It is time. As the sun pulls further away from the Earth and the leaves prepare to drop, we prepare for another season's worth of Japanese cartoons.  That might not sound like much, but hey, this feature isn't called "Ja...

Japanator's Summer 2012 Anime Preview Guide, Part 2

Jun 30 // Josh Tolentino
[embed]23801:1322[/embed] Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse Director: Takayuki Inagaki (Marginal Prince) Studio: Satelight (Moretsu Pirates, AKB0048) Airing Date: July 1, 2012 One of this summer's earliest shows may well be one of its most anticipated, at least based on how beloved the Muv-Luv are, even though those fans ended up having to plow through a lot of high school drudgery to get to the good stuff - that is, alternative-history hardcore giant robot action.  That said, some neophytes may be well-served by Muv-Luv Alternative: Total Eclipse, as it stars a new cast, with a new story involving test pilots and seemingly independent of the high school fluff. Better still, it's from Satelight, the new go-to people when you want an anime robot (or sci-fi idol) done up in CG. Our own mecha-expert Pedro will be taking a look at the show when it airs (it's also streaming on Crunchyroll) and tell just how tight those pilot suits are. Seriously, it's like they're dressed in cling-wrap.   [embed]23801:1323[/embed] Tari Tari Director: Masakazu Hashimoto Studio: P.A. Works (Hanasaku Iroha, Angel Beats!) Airing Date: July 1, 2012 From the people who brought you the lovely soap operatics of Hanasaku Iroha comes another show about a bunch of small-town teens doing adolescent things. Yay? Certainly Hanasaku Iroha delivered the goods when it came to delicious drama, but from the basic premise ("the daily lives of three high school girls who are too young to be adults, but don’t regard themselves as children anymore"), I don't quite see the potential for histrionics. I could be entirely wrong, though. Angel Beats certainly brought it to the yard once the chips were down. Either way, we'll be relying on Marcus Speer's tightly tuned drama-sense (it tingles in the presence of danger, as well) to tell us all about it.   [embed]23801:1324[/embed] Jinrui wa Suitaishimashita (Humanity has Declined) Director: Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Persona 4) Studio: AIC ASTA (Persona 4, Heaven's Lost Property) Airing Date: July 1, 2012 One might think that a series whose premise begins with the near-extinction of humanity would be a dark, serious affair, but check out that trailer. It starts with a headless, defeathered chicken giving a speech while holding a cigar in its wing. Also, the story seems to involve the world's last public school graduate, a girl who just calls herself "Me", appointed as the UN liason with...a race of weird little fairy elf things? Yeah, I'm watching this.    [embed]23801:1325[/embed] Binbou-gami ga! Director: Tomoyuki Kawamura Studio: Sunrise (Accel World) Airing Date: July 4, 2012 Some people are just lucky. Blessed, you might say. Like my dad. He won luggage in a raffle when I was twelve, the lucky git. Where was I? Oh right, Binbou-gami ga! It's about some chick named Ichiko who is exactly That Person, one blessed with good looks, fortune, talent and all that stuff. And in a classic reflection of the envious mainstream's mind, it's all because she's apparently (and unknowingly) leeched all the luck meant for more equitable distribution.  That's where Momiji, a goddess of poverty, comes in. She's there to bring some "mis-" into that broad's fortunes and do some proper redistribution. Thanks, Obama!* Hijinks are scheduled to ensue, and Marcus will be on hand to schadenfreude it up. *POLITICS!   [embed]23801:1326[/embed] Moyashimon Returns Director: Yuichiro Yano (Moyashimon: Tales of Agriculture) Studio: Shirogumi (Antique Bakery) Airing Date: July 5, 2012 It's back! It took years, and frankly no one thought it would happen, but Moyashimon is back! That's what I'm told, anyway, as I've never actually seen the original series. It's allegedly very good though, involving a young man who can see germs and other microorganisms, but instead of freaking out like in Invader Zim at the sight of all those tiny bugs, he has fun and adventures!  Can Josh Totman have fun and adventures with a young man's germ-fetish? He'll watch and see!   [embed]23801:1328[/embed] Hakuoki Reimeiroku Director: Osamu Yamasaki (Hakuoki) Studio: DEEN (Fate/stay night) Airing Date: July 9, 2012 At this point the Hakuoki franchise has practically become an institution in the for-the-ladies line of anime pandering. Now the undying tales of pretty, attractive samurai of the Shinsengumi and their adventures is set to continue on through a new season of anime based on the third original PSP game: Hakuoki Reimeiroku.  Kristina Pino, our resident expert on all things otome, has pledged herself to watch this chronicle of attractive samurai men.   [embed]23801:1331[/embed] Chouyaku Hyakunin Isshu: Uta Koi Director: Kenichi Kasai (Bakuman) Studio: TYO Animation (Tamayura) Airing Date: July 2, 2012 Hey, you know Chihayafuru, that dumb, boring card game anime? It's centered around the game of karuta, which in turn is centered around cards which themselves are centered around the Hyakunin Isshu, a collection of one hundred classic poems. This show is centered around the poems themselves, or rather, the author's "super-liberal", romantic interpretation of them, hence the title, which can be translated as "Super-Liberal Hyakunin Isshu: Love Song". This looks like it could be an intriguing watch, if for no other reason than that it's been a while since we've seen anime adapt something that isn't a light novel or videogame (though Uta Koi was technically a manga first). The classic lit twist might be a good angle to take, provided that the "super-liberal-ness" of the interpretation doesn't end up being a cop-out excuse for using overly familiar setups or tropes. Our newcomer Eric Koziol will be taking a look at the show.   [embed]23801:1332[/embed] Natsuyuki Rendezvous Director: Kou Matsuo (Rozen Maiden) Studio: Dogakobo (Yuruyuri) Airing Date: July 5, 2012 Courting someone who's been in love before isn't an easy task. One can't help but feel a little haunted by your loved one's past loved ones, and the specter of competition and comparison will always haunt the mind. That poignant observation aside, Natsuyuki Rendevous looks to be taking that "haunting" idea in a more literal fashion. Ryusuke's in love with Rokka, a woman eight years his senior (Gasp! Age gaps in my anime?!), but unfortunately she's sworn off love since the death of her husband Atsushi. And it seems that Atsushi himself is still around...as a ghost that only Ryusuke can see. While I'm hardly an avid consumer of romance fiction (animated or otherwise), I quite like the setup. The difficulties of helping the bereaved let go has good potential for high drama, and the supernatural twist introduces some possibility for light-hearted laughs. Plus, the show's NoitaminA time slot holds some branding power (Guilty Crown notwithstanding), as well. No one on staff's volunteered to take the show yet, but it would be a shame to let it go unsampled.   [embed]23801:1333[/embed] Joshiraku Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Big Windup) Studio: J.C. Staff (ToraDora!) Airing Date: July 5,2012 Oh hey, an anime about a group of girls talking about random crap! Well, at least this time they're not just doing it at their school desks or in their club rooms. Instead, these girls talk about random crap in the backstage area of some theater, while sitting on pillows and dressed in traditional clothing. If that sounds a bit specific, it may be because Joshiraku might be taking a page from Rakugo, a Japanese comedy performance  that plays out like a heavily formalized, sitting-down version of American-style stand-up. Except in this case, these rakugo girls are doing it in a group setting. Sounds like a lot of random-ass conversations to me! When the time comes, though, Marcus will be telling us if we heard right.   [embed]23801:1334[/embed] Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate Director: Toru Kitahata  Studio: AIC Build (Haganai, OreImo) Airing Date: July 5, 2012 Here's your customary H-game adaptation anime of the season, and it's about a guy, Yuki Ohjima fighting to save his club from dissolution at the hands of the overzealous (and attractive) student council president, who has the temerity to consider axing do-nothing organizations that leech away school resources. Clearly, just eating snacks in the club room is a truly worthwhile venture. How to save the club, you ask? Enter the school elections, apparently. Hijinks, romance, and maybe boobs, are likely, but Josh Totman will be telling us if this show's worth the vote.   [embed]23801:1335[/embed] Kono Naka ni Hitori, Imouto ga Iru Director: Munenori Nawa (Da Capo Second Season) Studio: Gokumi (A Channel) Airing Date: July 5, 2012 The Premise: A young man is forced to transfer to a prestigious all-girls' school  as a condition of his late father's will, that he might find a wife. The Dilemma: He receives a creepy phone call revealing that one of the young women trying to seduce him is his younger half-sister.  The Twist: She will only reveal herself when he falls in love with her! The Genre: Harem romance with an incestuous stripe. The Staffer That Volunteered To Watch This Show: Jeff Chuang   [embed]23801:1336[/embed] Oda Nobuna no Yabou Director: Yuji Kumazawa Studio: Gokumi (A Channel) and Madhouse (Iron Man the Anime) Airing Date: July 8, 2012 Just as H-game adaptations and light novel adaptations and boobs anime are becoming a fixture of any given season, so the trend goes for anime starring gender-bent samurai-era personalities. This is that, pretty much. This time, though, the protagonist is male, an ordinary high school student time-jumped to the sixteenth century, only to inadvertently cause the death of the man cute girl who would later become Toyotomi Hideyoshi (second of the three most influential Sengoku-era warlords). Whoops. That having happened, he hooks up with Oda Nobuna, the man cute girl who would unite the nation under her flag. So far we've got no takers for this time travel genderswap action show, but if it proves to be as ambitious as the Sixth Demon Lord himself, we'll likely give it a second look.   [embed]23801:1337[/embed] La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia Director: Chiaki Kon (Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi) Studio: J.C. Staff Airing Date: July 1, 2012 Another part of this season's otome offering is an adaptation of a PSP game that to me, looks rather unique for an otome title, at least in the sense that the likes of Hakuoki tend to establish the most common character design conventions. Here everyone looks more "boyish" than "effeminate", and as a result it could pass for a Blue Exorcist-like action show. The premise is also intriguing, lined up around a group of Mediterranean superhero mafia families duking it out for succession, power, and the affection of the sole female lead.   [embed]23801:1339[/embed] Lagrange: The Flower of Rin-ne Studio: XEBEC Airing Date: July 1, 2012 This actually isn't so much a second season as a long gap between episodes, just like it was with Fate/Zero. Unfortunately, Elliot dropped Lagrange back in Winter, and it doesn't look like he'll be picking it back up again anytime soon. If the spirit moves one of us to play catch-up with the first half of the series we'll be sure to spill some text out for this.   [embed]23801:1338[/embed] Yuru Yuri♪♪ Studio: Dogakobo Airing Date: July 2, 2012 It's the second season of lesbian slapstick daily life anime Yuru Yuri! I have to admit that I'm beginning to dislike anime's tendency to not use numbers to indicate seasons. Subtitles are fine, but really, music notes? A double exclamation point?! Have mercy on us people who like to talk about anime rather than just write. Anyway, we failed to give Yuru Yuri the time of day back when it first aired, but that was before we had Chris Walden, who was thankfully more open-minded! He'll be covering the show this season.  
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Welcome to the second half of Japanator's Anime Preview Guide for this summer! In case you missed the first half, this is where we'll take on the most notable names of the coming summer when Japanese cartoons are involved, and which ones we'll be keeping our eyes on! Read on, and tell us what you're going to watch this summer as well!


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