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Japanator's Fall 2011 Anime Preview Guide!

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Autumn is upon us, dear readers, and while the leaves of summer flutter to the ground in real life, the world of Japanese cartoons has planted the seeds of new shows, ready to bury themselves in the fertile soil of the otaku mind.

Of course, it wouldn't do to simply walk into a new season blind. There are far too many works on offer for mere mortals to keep up with. That's where your friends at Japanator come in, as our Fall 2011 Anime Preview Guide is now live!

We're here to tell you all about the anime series we're looking forward to this season, as well as telling you what which ones we plan to watch as the next season's worth of recaps come upon us!

Fate/Zero

Studio: Ufotable (Kara no Kyoukai)

Director: Ei Aoki (Wandering Son)

Air Date: October 2, 2011

Perhaps the most highly anticipated title this season, Fate/Zero is based on the light novel written by Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica) as a prequel to Type-MOON's Fate/stay night. Animated by Ufotable and scored by Yuki Kaijura (Xenosaga, Kara no Kyoukai), its production roster is heavy with talent. The Fourth Grail War may well be quite a delight to watch, and it's no surprise that Elliot Gay jumped at the chance to recap this potential gem.

Mobile Suit Gundam AGE

Studio: Level-5 and Sunrise

Director: Susumu Yamaguchi (Gundam F91, Gundam SEED)

Air Date: October 9, 2011

If there was any show to challenge Fate/Zero's claim to the "Most Anticipated" mantle, it would be Gundam AGE, the next core installment in the legendary franchise. Unusually for the franchise, it's not just Sunrise that will be handling the show's production. Mega production house Level-5, the masters of Professor Layton and other well-regarded properties, will be involved in a big way.

Unfortunately, AGE seems to have prompted criticism from some fans for looking "too kiddy" and lacking in the edginess that some regard as critical to Gundam's character. I, for one, look forward to the show, whose story spans several generations of pilots as they inherit the legendary mobile suit in their war against a mysterious alien foe.

Our resident Gundam expert Pedro Cortes has stolen the series like Amuro stole the RX-78 (hah, I've got some Gundam cred too!) and is ready to pilot his recaps straight into your willing faces.

[Gundam AGE has been licensed for streaming on the Anime News Network and Hulu]

Phi Brain: Puzzle of God

Studio: Sunrise

Director: Junichi Sato (Croisee in a Foreign Labyrinth, Aria)

Air Date: October 2, 2011

The second of Sunrise's offerings for the season, the deluxe-sized Phi Brain is curiously labeled as a "puzzle battle" series, and involves Daimon Kaito taking on the sinister organization POG as he solves unsolvable puzzles with his life at stake. 

"Solve this maze or die!" is doubtless a novel concept, more novel even than cooking or baking battle shows. Phi Brain may well be something to watch out for, which is exactly why Chris Walden will be wrapping his mind around the show, and delivering his first impressions soon.

[Phi Brain has been licensed for streaming on ANN and Hulu]
 

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Studio: Sunrise

Director: Manabu Ono (Saki)

Air Date: October 1, 2011

If you were thinking that perhaps Sunrise might be putting out too many series this season, it's time to get surprised, as this will be their third autumn offering. It's quite a bite to chew, not even considering that the light novel they're taking on this time has long been considered "impossible to adapt". Them's fightin' words!

Then again, Horizon's premise is so convoluted that adapting it without barfing a veritable sea of exposition may well be a difficult deal. It's got people from an alternate dimension reliving their alternate medieval history and so that they can save the alternate dimension to their alternate dimension and fighting over interpretations of those alternate histories, and my brain just broke.

As Pedro's brain is clearly capable of deciphering Gundam's twisted canon, he has been selected as the prime candidate for taking on the task. Watch for his first impressions soon.

[Horizon will be streaming on The Anime Network Online]

Persona 4 The Animation

Studio: AIC Asta

Director: Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!)

Air Date: October 6, 2011

Continuing the parade of high-profile is an adaptation of Atlus' high-profile heavyweight video game Persona 4. All of the game's voice talent returns to reprise their roles, along with a new voice (and name) for the previously silent protagonist. This time, the Investigation Team is in our TV World, and it'll be up to us (and AIC Asta) to make sure it doesn't die at midnight on a foggy evening.

Normally I'd be the first person to fight to the death to cover such a show, but we've instead left it in the capable hands of Pedro Cortes. For some reason I can't bring myself to watch the show. It's the same way I reacted to the Valkyria Chronicles anime adaptation. Perhaps I'm afraid that this new animated work will supplant the video game I played as the true canon of Persona 4

[Persona 4 The Animation has been licensed for simulcast by The Anime Network]

Busou Shinki: Moon Princess

Studio: Kinema Citrus 

Air Date: September 22, 2011

Of all things to do with the "mecha musume" concept, Busou Shinki is one of the premier properties providing pleasure to people of that particular persuasion. This new series of five-minute shorts available on the PlayStation Network (as a tie-in to the PSP game Busou Shinki Battle Masters Mk. 2) is no exception.

Based on the posable figure line and video games of the same name, Busou Shinki (meaning "Armament God Princess") stars a bunch of hand-sized action figures much sought-after by aspiring "Shinki Masters" who use their Shinkis to battle in virtual arenas and generally prance around wearing robot bits for clothing.

As a great fan of the mecha musume concept and the resident recapper for the likes of Infinite Stratos (I'd even recap Strike Witches, though reluctantly so), I'm taking this one. My first impressions are coming soon. 

Squid Girl Season 2

Studio: Diomedea

Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto (Squid Girl)

Air Date: September 26, 2011

We ain't squiddin' you: The second wave of the invasion has struck, and everyone's favorite Index rip-off (haha, I kid) is back, and Chris Walden has his first impressions up for you, after inheriting the mantle from Lauren Orsini. 

...de geso.

C3 - Cube x Cursed x Curious

Studio: Silver Link

Director: Shin Onuma

Air Date: October 1, 2011

From the people that brought you Baka and Test comes a show that is passingly similar to Baka and Test, except with weapons that turn into girls instead of summoned beasts. 

Alright, I'm oversimplifying. C3 might be a little low on our expectations list, but it does hold some promise. I've underestimated some really good shows before, so who knows. I'll tell you who will know, though. Chris will know, because he'll be watching the first episode. 

[C3 is licensed for simulcast on ANN and Hulu]

Working!! Season 2

Studio: A-1 Studios

Director: Atsushi Ohtsuka

Air Date: October 1, 2011

The plucky employees at Wagnaria cafe return to the grim darkness of the far future, where there is only WAR. Blood will flow, Orks will die, and Chaos will reign as Poplar finally earns her Terminator Armor license.

...wait, that's not what Working!! is about? I guess that it's a good thing Chris is recapping this show instead of me.

Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Season 2

Studio: Studio DEEN

Director: Chiaki Kon (Nodame Cantabile)

Air Date: October 7, 2011

Kristina Pino practically throttled me through the internet declaring that she would be handling coverage of this new season of hot-n'-heavy BL action. And remember that "BL" means "Boys Love" and not "Battle". I made that mistake, to my chagrin. 

Bakuman Season 2

Studio: J.C. Staff

Director: Kenichi Kasai (Honey and Clover)

Air Date: October 1, 2011

The ongoing animated saga of two authors of non-animated manga continues as they travel through the grim darkness of the far future....saga of two manga authors as they journey through the grim darkness of the far future challenges of having your work serialized.

Documenting this saga like a manga author might document his experiences is Chris, who thankfully won't need to "pitch" his recaps to us for publication. We trust in him more than any fat-cat publisher would trust a bright young manga author.

UN-GO

Studio: BONES

Director: Seiji Mizushima (Gundam 00)

Air Date: October 13, 2011

First on the revered noitaminA timeslot for this season is a project from BONES, directed by the man behind Gundam 00 (regarded by some as one of the best Gundam TV series) and the scriptwriter behind Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. Adapted from the Ango Detective Stories series (hence the unusual title), UN-GO continues Japan's odd fascination with detectives and stars "the last great detective", Shinjuro Yuuki as he solves cases in postwar Japan with his trap-tastic male friend Inga (who incidentally is voiced by Aki Toyosaki, aka K-ON's Yui).

There's also some kind of weird premise about detectives not being in fashion due to mass media exposes being more effective at crimefighting.

Like most any noitaminA show, it seems to hold some potential. Jeff Chuang will be telling you all about it when it airs.

[UN-GO will be streaming on ANN and Hulu]

Guilty Crown

Studio: Production I.G.

Director: Tetsuro Araki (Death Note)

Air Date: October 13, 2011

Well hail my Britannias, a new show from the director of Death Note, the screenwriter of Code Geass, and the studio behind Ghost in the Shell, couched in the ever-promishing noitaminA block? Call me excited! It's called Guilty Crown, and its initial plot premise sounds a hell of a lot like Code Geass'.

Stop me if this sounds familiar: It's an alternate future, and Japan has been conquered and robbed of national identity by a monolithic, warlike organization. A disaffected youth encounters a mysterious girl, and later involves himself in freeing the country because he has (get this) "The Power of Kings".

You may as well call it Code Crown Guilty Geass, but that would sound like an indie 2D fighting game. Nevertheless, Geass was pretty good, some something like it could be pretty good, too. And it seems that this world's "Power of Kings" isn't a weird mind-control gimmick, but the ability to reach inside a man and pull a sword (or other weapon) out his ass. More or less. 

Hiroko Yamamura will pull recaps out of much more agreeable places (like her mind) once the show airs.

Last Exile - Fam, the Silver Wing

Studio: Gonzo

Director: Koichi Chigira (Full Metal Panic!)

Air Date: October 8, 2011

All hail the glorious return of Gonzo, who wisely picked one of their most interesting IPs to help its journey back to prominence. Shortcomings aside, Last Exile was by far my favorite Gonzo property next to Vandread (haha, I kid). High-speed aerial battles, retro-futuristic mechanical designs, and pilots who wear old-style driving goggles all help seal the appeal (Gankotsuou's style was always a bit too abstract for me). 

This new show, which may or may not be a direct sequel to the 2003 original, stars Fam (Aki Toyosaki), a cheery sky pirate with an eye for thieving airships in a time where the Adess Commonwealth is busy conquering some kingdom run by Miyuki Sawashiro. Now that's a kingdom I'd like to be a serf in!

Marc Speer will be flying these recaps right up your docking ports.

Shakugan no Shana Season 3

Studio: J.C. Staff

Director: Takeshi Watanabe (Boogiepop Phantom)

Air Date: October 7, 2011

The final season of the legendary series is nigh, now that the final light novel it's based on is out. I've yet to see a single episode of Shana, and yet my only thoughts upon knowing about this show is "Thank God it's over."

Why do I pass such early judgment? Simple. Shana's been a pretty tough contender in every Saimoe ever. Perhaps the idea that her show's over may help dull her impact next year. Then again, Nanoha's almost always a top-tier character, and she's been done with for years.

Elliot Gay likes Shana more than I do, and will be covering the show going forward.

Mirai Nikki

Studio: Asread

Director: Naoto Hosoda (Shuffle!)

Air Date: October 9, 2011

Mirai Nikki could be one of those hidden gems among the shows that look "serious" but don't quite have the pedigree or marketing hype as the top-tier contenders of the season. While I barely knew it existed as the hype machines for other anime revved up, learning about its premise immediately pushed it up my watch-list. 

Based on Esuno Sakai's Future Diaries manga, Mirai Nikki's premise is best simplified as a merging of Death Note, Eden of the East, 999: Nine Persons, Nine Hours, Nine Doors, and The World Ends With You.   

Loner and obsessive cellphone-blogger Yukiteru Amano finds out that his Norio Wakamoto-voiced imaginary friend "Deus Ex Machina" is in fact a deus, particularly of spacetime, and has somehow made his cellphone capable of blogging the future (and not in the way that you can set a post to go up at a certain time). Of course, nasty things happen when his new future diary reveals that he's going to be murdered horribly, and must now cooperate and compete with eleven other people, each with their own future diaries (with accompanying gimmicks) in a last-man-standing deathmatch. 

Sounds wild, right? Jeff will be telling us if it'll really be a hidden gem soon.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai

Studio: AIC Build

Director: Hisashi Saito (Heaven's Lost Property)

Air Date: October 6, 2011

BokuTomo, also known as I Don't Have Many Friends, is what I imagine Heaven's Memo Pad would be without the detective agency twist. I could be dead wrong, as I've never seen Heaven's Memo Pad, but BokuTomo seems to have a similar vibe, one of outcasts finding friendship with fellow outcasts. From the apparently comedic angle, one can expect shenanigans to ensue.

Though I'm sure Kristina has many friends of her own, she's volunteered to take BokuTomo on. That's certainly worth friendship in my book!

Ben-To

Studio: David Production

Director: Shin Itagaki (Basquash!)

Air Date: October 9, 2011

Ben-To is one of those shows with a premise so insane and "only in anime" that you've just got to watch it, even if for a single episode.

You know those gags run in anime, when a starving high schooler relies mainly on taking advantage of the late-in-the-day discounts held at Japanese groceries and convenience stores? Ben-To takes that idea and turns it into a battle show. I'm totally serious. Chinese cooking and baking bread have nothing on this.

With all the high-profile series demanding some attention, no one on staff's committed to covering this, but with the gods of cheap food as my witness, we'll get some words out about Ben-To.

Chihayafuru

Studio: Madhouse

Director: Morito Asaka (Card Captor Sakura)

Air Date: October 5, 2011

You'd think that a show about karuta, that weird card game where someone reads a poem and players jump to grab some corresponding card from the floor, would be as crazy as a show centered around go, shogi, mahjong, or igo soccer. Instead it's looking like Chihayafuru is using karuta as a catalyst for its characters to get past their personal drama. Soap opera shows are in the minority this season, and should one of us pick it up, Chihayafuru may be a good palate-cleanser.

Kimi to Boku

Studio: J.C. Staff

Director: Mamoru Kanbe (Elfen Lied)

Air Date: October 4, 2011

Hmm..a show about a group of high school-age boys messing around, sharing music with the band that does Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000%? Sounds like an anime for Kristina! Except Kimi to Boku might not be the BL festival that the one-sentence summary might let on. For all we know it could be a refreshing slice-of-life show about a group of boys just fooling around.

No one's picked this up yet, but we may give it a look at some point.

Tamayura -Hitotose-

Studio: Hal Film Maker

Director: Junichi Sato (Aria)

Air Date: October 3, 2011

This season may be filled with high-energy, high-impact blockbusters, but there's always room for a show that's a little more chill. That show might be Tamayura, a laid-back anime about a girl moving back to her hometown and doing...something. Mostly it looks like she'll be making friends and viewing the world through a real-life classic camera that, should Tamayura grab the hearts of otaku, will instantly become a collector's item. Count on it.

It's been a while since we've had so many blockbusters, so it seems that no one is in any hurry to pick up a laid-back sort of production. But hey, everyone can get weary of that high-intensity viewing slate.

Majikoi ~ Oh! Samurai Girls

Studio: Lerche

Director: Keitaro Motonaga (Getbackers)

Air Date: October 1, 2011

No anime season is complete without one or more h-game adaptations, and Maji de Watashi ni Koi shinasai! is one of them. Naoe Yamato runs a gang of four boys and three girls, all descended from famous samurai and renowned for their fighting skill. Two more girls join the gang, and fanservice happens. Yay!

The show is licensed for streaming on The Anime Network, so I suppose we have some kind of duty to give it a look, but....ehhhhhhhhhhhh~

Mashiro-iro Symphony

 

Studio: Manglobe

Director: Eiji Suganuma (Kodomo no Jikan)
Air Date: October 5, 2011
Ah, another h-game adaptation. This time it's about (wait for it), a boy who attends an all-girls' high school for some contrived reason, ending up surrounded by gaggles of nubile young teenagers.
Great. At least Majikoi has an actual streaming option. I doubt any of us could be troubled to devote the bandwidth needed to torrent this sort of thing.

Maken-ki!

Studio: AIC Classic

Director: Koichi Ohata (Burst Angel)

Air Date: October 4, 2011

With so much else on the slate to watch, you'd think that we wouldn't have much time to watch a fanservice high school battle anime, but believe it or not, I would rather watch this than an h-game adaptation. At least these things are more knowing, and Maken-ki! seems to know that it plays like a blend of Ikkitousen and Freezing, but with less Kanu Unchou than the former and less gratuitous violence than the latter. One might consider it a lesser show for it, but anything can happen when it comes to judging fanservice shows within their narrow context. It might be good. I wouldn't count on it, though.

 

 


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



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