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Japanator's Spring 2011 Preview: Part 1

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It is time, ladies and gentlemen and gentleladies. It is time for the Spring season of 2011's scheduled Japanese animated cartoons. And with new seasons come new shows, that you may need to know about!

That, of course, is why we're here with the first part of our spring preview, which we're starting off right now, so that you know it isn't an April Fool's prank!

To kick things off, we'll be hitting up our previews of A Channel, Moshidora, Tiger and Bunny, Battle Girls: Time Paradox, Kampfer: Fur de Liebe, My Ordinary Life - Nichijou, Toriko, Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi and the X-Men anime adaptation!

X-Men
Studio: Madhouse (Iron Man, Wolverine)
Director: Fuminori Kizaki (Macross Plus, Afro Samurai)
Air Date: April 1, 2011

The third of three anime series based off of Marvel superhero comics (the first two being Iron Man and Wolverine), X-Men brings the titular team of superpowered mutants to Japan after their Japanese comrade Armor is abducted by the U-Men, a shady organization bent on transplanting mutant organs in an attempt to gain their powers.

The show airs on April 1st in Japan, but I'm hoping it won't be as much of a joke as Iron Man and Wolverine were. No one's been assigned to cover it yet, but as the person on staff most familiar with X-Men canon, I'll have you know that Armor is an actual character, and not someone invented just to give Cyclops and crew an excuse to hang out in Glorious Nippon.

Moshidora
Studio: Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Honey and Clover)
Director: Takayuki Hamana (Library Wars, Prince of Tennis)
Air Date: April 8, 2011 (delayed)

The twist this time is that high schooler  Minami Kawashima (played by K-ON!!'s Yoko Hisaka) learns about managing the Hodokubo High baseball team through the power of Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices, a classic 1973 how-to book written by business luminary Peter Drucker. That's honestly not something I would have seen coming, but hey, this sort of slight oddness is why I was attracted to these Japanese cartoons in the first place.

It's a baseball anime, so you know Brad Rice is interested in it! It was scheduled for a March 14th debut, but then the great quake happened, putting its release date at an uncertain period. Rumors say April 8th.

A Channel
Studio: Gokumi (Koe de Oshigoto!)
Director: Manabu Ono (Saki)
Air Date: April 7, 2011

Cute girls are doing cute things once again in A Channel, an anime about four high school girls with subtle (and not-so-subtle) lesbian undertones, all of it based on a four-panel gag manga. Sound familiar? It probably is, and features talent from other cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime, including Minako Kotobuki (K-ON!'s Mugi), Aoi Yuuki (Sora no Woto's Noel), and Kaori Fukuhara (Lucky Star's Tsukasa). Hm. Three of the four voice actresses in the main cast are known for playing soft or silent characters. Who's to be the Konata/Ritsu/Kagura of the quartet?

Unsurprisingly, no one on staff has claimed this yet, but you can be sure that we'll at least take a look.

My Ordinary Life - Nichijou
Studio: Kyoto Animation (Lucky Star, K-ON!! )
Director: Tatsuya Ishihara (Kanon, The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya)
Air Date: April 2, 2011

Another cute-girls-doing-cute-things anime, but this time from a studio who are widely considered to have obtained mastery of that art: KyoAni. As its masterwork forebears, My Ordinary Life is once more based on a gag manga but not - and this is potentially important - a four-panel one. Is that a sign of plot possibility? KyoAni certainly squeezed something resembling a narrative from K-ON!.

The art style strikes me as something between the painterly colors of Wandering Son and the more manga-like Lucky Star, so this might be a thing to watch.

The show will be simulcasted on Crunchyroll, so fans with a persuasion towards watching stuff legally can do so without fear.

 

Kampfer Fur de Liebe
Studio: Nomad (Oretahi ni Tsubasa wa Nai)
Director: Yasuhiro Kuroda (Myself, Yourself)
Air Date: April 23, 2011

Kampfer was pretty much the guilty pleasure fanservice show of its season (of its year, I say!), and could have just as well been titled Genderswap Voice Actress Ensemble Lesbian Jelly Party, but I shall remember it forever for giving Marina Inoue her cutest role ever, and giving Yui Horie the opportunity to cuss like a sailor who watched too many episodes of Deadwood. Also, it's the only anime I can remember that featured hot genderswap making-out action that was not sold as pornography. Then again, I haven't seen Yosuga no Sora.

To be honest, this is really just a two-episode special, one of which won't even be broadcast, so there's little chance I'll be able to get my sweaty palms on this one.

Battle Girls Time Paradox
Studio: TMS (Cardfight! Vanguard, Bt'X )
Director: Hideki Okamoto (DC II: Da Capo 2)
Air Date: April 4, 2011

Also known as Sengoku Hime Momoiro Paradox, this one is to Samurai Warriors what Koihime Musou is to Dynasty Warriors. High school girl Hideyoshi Toyoomi (note the lack of a second "t") gets transported to an alternate Sengoku period where all the famous warlords of the time are hot girls. Notably, Nobunaga is played by Megumi Toyoguchi, the voice of Chifuyu in this season's guilty pleasure show, Infinite Stratos. She's no Norio Wakamoto, but good nonetheless.

But yeah, it's that kind of anime, and based on a pachislot machine to boot. Best to dismiss it on principle, but then again, it's being streamed on Crunchyroll, and will be looked into by Pedro Cortes, who'll also be taking on the next season of The World God Only Knows.

Also, Rio - Rainbow Gate was based on a pachislot machine, too.


Tiger and Bunny
Studio: Sunrise (Code Geass, Gundam 00)
Director: Keiichi Satou (Gundam UC, The Big O)
Air Date: April 2, 2011

If you tell a Japanese studio to make anime based on American superheroes, you'll get something along the lines of X-Men or Iron Man (naturally). If you tell them to make an anime featuring "American-style" superheroes, and, depending on the target demo, you'll get something either along the lines of Heroman, or this, which is an interpretation of superpowers closer to uber-mecha than uber-mensch. Then again, this is Sunrise we're talking about, and mecha is what they do.

In this case, they're part of NEXT, a group of corporate-sponsored superheroes who fight crime on reality TV. Sound like the setup for Marvel's Civil War arc? Maybe, but these guys have more of a Booster Gold twist to them, in that real-life companies are invited to buy ad space on the mecha designs.

The real make-or-break deal will be whether or not a diverse range of sponsors steps up to the plate, lest we end up with a remake of Code Pizza Hut. Either way, I'll probably end up watching it.

Toriko
Studio: Toei Animation (One Piece)
Director: Akifumi Zako (Myself, Yourself)
Air Date: April 3, 2011

As Cooking Master Boy once taught me, absolutely any subject can be made serious enough that it can be adapted into a long-running shonen manga. That's Toriko, wherein the titular hunter spends each Shonen JUMP chapter tracking down and gathering the world's most exotic (and dangerous!) ingredients with which to construct the ultimate full-course banquet.

Hell, if this were about fighting guys more often, I might even have to add it to our Fighting Friday lineup! Lauren jumped all over it once she heard about the premise, so look forward to her coverage!

 

Sekai-Ichi Hatsukoi
Studio: Studio DEEN (Fate Stay Night)
Director: Chiaki Kon (Junjo Romantica)
Air Date: April 8, 2011

This season's BL offering looks to be much more robust than last season's moe-zodiac anime Starry Sky, but we'll have to wait for Kristina's first impressions of the show to be certain. In the meantime, here's the setup:

Ritsu Onodera's having trouble working at his new publishing company after quitting the family business. First he's assigned to edit shoujo manga, a genre he has no interest in, knowledge of, or experience with, and then he's having issues dealing with his high-handed boss, Takano, who - as will later be revealed - he has a longtime connection with...

I'll leave it at the ellipses, but if you swing that way, Crunchyroll has your back.


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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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