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Japanator's Summer Season 2011 Preview Guide

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It's summertime! It's time to hang out at the beach, get a tan, enjoy a brief moment of respite from school, and do other summertime things!

Or, alternatively, you could escape the heat and brightness of direct sunlight and stay in to watch the latest in Japanese cartoons. That's what we're doing with Japanator's Summer Season 2011 Preview!

Read on to see what we're going to be watching (or thinking of watching, or not watching) this quarter, then tell us all about what you'll be watching!

 

Blade

Studio: Madhouse (Wolverine, X-Men)

Director: Mitsuyuki Masuhara (Kobato, Chi's Sweet Home)

Air Date: July 1, 2011

Blade, the fourth and last of the Marvel-licensed, Madhouse-animated adaptations, has been out for nearly a week, but we here at Japanator have only now remembered that it is a thing that exists. That's not to say that it's necessarily bad, or even that we don't care about western comic book characters, but the last three Marvel-licensed, Madhouse-animated productions (of Iron Man, Wolverine, and X-Men) have been supremely underwhelming. We might just give it a look out of morbid curiosity, but don't count on continued coverage. But hey, it could turn out awesome!

[Blade has been licensed by Marvel and G4TV for eventual broadcast]

 

Blood-C

Studio: Production I.G. (Blood: The Last Vampire, Blood+)

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Squid Girl, Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan)

Air Date: July 7, 2011

"Chicks in schoolgirl outfits chopping up vampires with a katana" has practically become a subgenre all its own, and shows by Production I.G. incorporating some variant of the word "blood" in their titles have been its main representative.

Alright, it's a very specific subgenre, but it looks like someone out in that studio is dead-set on continuing it, this time with character designs by famed noodle-people illustrators CLAMP. Yet another schoolgirl named Saya (this time voiced by Nana Mizuki, who you may know as Nanoha's Fate Testarossa) started chopping up vampires with her katana a couple of days ago, and Pedro Cortes is on the case. Look for his First Impressions soon...like in, say, five hours or so.

Sacred Seven

Studio: Sunrise

Director: Yoshimitsu Ohashi (Witchblade, Ah My Goddess!)

Air Date: July 8, 2011

Call me a newbie, but I'm still somewhat off-put when Sunrise announces a new series that is not somehow related to Gundam. Sure, they have done a lot of shows that aren't Gundam, but it still gets me every time. And just as I said "Wait, what? It's not Gundam Tiger & Gundam Bunny?" last season, I say "Wait, what? It's not "Gundam Sacred Seven?" this season.

Pedro's looking at it as we speak. Check for what he thought in the coming days!

[Sacred Seven is up for streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll]

 

YuruYuri

Studio: Dogakobo

Director: Masahiko Ohta (Minami-ke, Nadia Secret of Blue Water)

Air Date: July 4, 2011 

This new anime about a group of girls being nice to each other has the word "yuri" in its name, and happens to be based on a manga that runs in a yuri manga magazine. Perhaps they'll be more than just nice to each other, but then again the designs run a little too loli for me to be interested in seeing that. 

Studio Dogakobo is mainly known (or rather, not known) for helping other studios animate their shows, so this production should be...something.

[YuruYuri is simulcasting on Crunchyroll.com]

 

The [email protected]

Studio: A-1 Pictures (Big Windup!, Blue Exorcist)

Director: Atsushi Nishigori

Air Date: July 7, 2011

Gamers in tune with the Japanese game industry - or alternatively otaku aware of memes and their sources - will probably be aware of The [email protected]. For those who aren't, the eponymous idol-simulator series is probably best known as The One Thing Xbox 360 Has In Japan. Seriously, if you thought Microsoft's console was something of a non-starter back then, imagine how bad it would have been had [email protected] not been an exclusive at the time. It was a hardware-mover, as years of [email protected]-themed skins for Ace Combat 6 and Forza can attest. 

So it's a thing, and now it's an anime, as well as the directorial debut of Atsushi Nishigori, a Gainax vet who helped animate the likes of Gurren-Lagann and Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt. Should A-1 give him the right amount of money, the show should look awesome.

Technically speaking this isn't the first [email protected] anime. [email protected] XENOGLOSSIA takes that credit, but where XENOGLOSSIA was a sort of weird mecha-drama anime (really!), this one promises to be more faithful to the original game's concept, which is to say it's about a bunch of idols voiced by famous voice actresses (who are mainly famous for being in [email protected]) and their careers. Think of that what you will.

I'll be taking a look at it once it's out. Ideally, I'll enjoy it but not end up converted to its hardcore fanbase, which includes not-insignificant portions of the scarier sections of otaku-dom.

 

Uta no Prince-sama Maji Love 1000%

Studio: A-1 Pictures (Big Windup!, Blue Exorcist)

Director: Yuu Kou (Giant Killing, Chrono Crusade)

Air Date: July 2, 2011

I might call this show the opposite of [email protected], at least in as far as it involves male idols rather than female ones. At ONE THOUSAND PERCENT!!!!!!

Based on an otome game, female protagonist Haruka Nanami attends a performing arts school full of pretty pretty aspiring-idol boys who at the outset practically throw themselves at her in a flurry of slapstick romance.

Did I mention that [email protected]'s protagonist (sort of) is also named Haruka Amami? Coincidence? Probably, but it's food for thought.

Our resident lover of all things pretty and boyish Kristina Pino will be feasting her eyes upon this show soon. ONE THOUSAND PERCENT!!!!!!!!

[A mere one hundred percent of Prince-sama is available at NicoNico.com, the English outlet of NicoNicoDouga]

Usagi Drop

Studio: Production I.G. (Ghost in the Shell)

Director: Kanta Kamei (Tales of Vesperia)

Air Date: July 8, 2011

If Usagi Drop sounds familiar to you, you might be pleased to learn that the manga it's based on is actually being sold in North America by Yen Press, under the name of Bunny Drop. And if you've read the material, you'd know that it's a rather heartwarming family story about a man who ends up taking care of his late grandfather's very young illegitimate daughter. Think Yotsuba&!, but more serious and thoughtful.

No surprise that it's part of the ever-classy Noitamina time block. Marcus Speer has been in need of some substance to balance out his sugary diet of My Ordinary Life, so look for his thoughts on that soon.

[Rumors place Usagi Drop in Crunchyroll's simulcast lineup. We'll update you on the latest once an announcement is made.]

Ro-Kyu-Bu!

Studio: Studio Blanc and Project No. 9

Director: Keizo Kusakawa (Nanoha, Asura Cryin')

Air Date: July 1, 2011

Ro-Kyu-Bu is a story about an elementary school's all-girl basketball club, whose coach is removed due to allegations of his being a lolicon. High schooler Subaru Hayasegawa is somehow compelled (or coerced) into taking up the position.

Back in the Spring 2011 Preview I declared Astarotte's Toy as a winner for the "Why Japan Why?!" award, based largely on having a premise that might get some viewers placed on some international watchlist. I was wrong about that show, or so I'm told.

Thusly I won't judge Ro-Kyu-Bu! on its premise alone, and instead leave it to Jeff Chuang to watch the show and tell me if it's better than it sounds.

Manyuu Hikenchou

Studio: Hoods Entertainment (Seikon no Qwaser, Aki Sora)

Director: Hiraku Kaneko (Seikon no Qwaser)

Air Date: July 10, 2011

What do you get when you pair the director of breastfeeding anime Seikon no Qwaser with the studio that animated breastfeeding anime Seikon no Qwaser? You get a show about buxom ninjas living in a world where a person's social status is determined by bust size.

It's telling that the show's official site is located at oppaidaisuki.jp. For the unlettered, that means "I love boobs" in Japanese.

Tyler Jones will be making his anime recapping coverage debut by writing up his impressions of this boob-ninja anime. Watch for 'em!

Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts 2

Studio: Silver Link (Baka and Test: Summon the Beasts)

Director: Shin Ohnuma (ef: A tale of memories, Negima OVA)

Air Date: July 8, 2011

The goofball sci-fi high school comedy returns for a second season, where lower-ranked students can take on higher-ranked students by using RPG-like summons that personify their test grades. Naturally, Class F's summons kinda suck, like their grades.

Also, there is a trap named Hideyoshi. 

If it were not obvious enough that I haven't seen this show, I'll have you know that you'll get the BakaTest coverage you love and demand from Tyler, who did in fact see the first season of this show.

[BakaTest 2 has been licensed by FUNimation.]

Ikoku Meiro no Croisée

Studio: Satelight (Macross Frontier, Shugo Chara!)

Director: Kenji Yasuda (Shugo Chara!)

Air Date: July 3, 2011

Hey, you know what's a good idea for budding character designers who love drawing adorable little girls? Placing said little girls 19th century Europe! Not because the setting or politics of the period are particularly interesting, but because said period allows character designers to dress up their adorable little girls in elaborate goth-loli outfits and for male characters to wear top hats and vests and smoking jackets and that sort of thing.

However, Ikoku has a twist, in that it doesn't fall for the cliche choice of Victorian London, but rather Paris in the throes its Japanese culture craze (called japonisme over there). And rather than starring a young Japanese man meeting a little goth-loli girl, the star is a little Japanese girl who moves to France while wearing an adorably elaborate kimono. Twist!

We've yet to get a volunteer to take Meiro viewing duties since Mike dropped Gosick, but we'll probably give it a look, since the first episode is already out. That is, unless the adorable little girl doesn't snd us into cuteness-induced seizures.

Itsuka Tenma no Kuro-usagi

Studio: ZEXCS (Chrome Shelled Regios, Da Capo

Director: Takashi Yamamoto (Natsuiro Drops)

Air Date: July 9, 2011

Where Blood series anime have a girl named Saya chopping up a ton of vampires,  this show has a boy making some promise with a girl vampire that he promptly forgets about for nine years. Must not have been an important promise.

BUT IT WAS!!!

That's what I'll have to presume, considering that a series exists to cover it. The light novels it's based on were written by Takaya Kagami, the pen behind the hilariously-named Legend of the Legendary Heroes, which people tell me is better than its name suggests.

No one on staff's shown much interest, but we never say never to a show that might be better than its name!

Dantalian no Shoka

Studio: Gainax (Evangelion)

Director: Yutaka Uemura

Air Date: July 16, 2011

It's Gainax's big production of the season, and in what seems to be the trend, it stars a boy and girl, both of whom have a valid excuse to dress up like a dapper gentleman and a gothic lolita, respectively. The boy, Huey (who thankfully looks like more of a man than other male leads in shows toeing this stylistic line), has inherited his grandfather's estate, and the girl, Dalian, is apparently involved in some supernatural business.

It's all based on a light novel series by Gakuto Mikumo, the mind behind Asura Cryin', so this might dampen some of the hopes that this could be the next Panty and Stocking or Gurren Lagann, though Director Uemura did assist with the Lagann-hen movie.

Pedro called this one almost as soon as the staff roll hit the tubes.

Kamisama Dolls

Studio: Brains Base (Durarara!!, Baccano!)

Director: Seiji Kishi (Angel Beats!, Persona 4 The Animation)

Air Date: July 5, 2011

In my personal pick-of-interest for the season, Kamisama Dolls is about a Tokyo college student, Kyohei, whose adorable shrine maiden sister Utao can manipulate kakashi, a form of spirit doll (and not a certain Naruto ninja) that looks suspiciously like an abstract, statuesque version of Kyubey, and behaves a lot like a mecha. They're the "Dolls" in question, which are worshiped by the people of Kyohei and Utau's home village.

Foul play is afoot, however, as Aki, a fugitive from the village and kakashi-user, has been committing all manner of grisly murders in the city. 

So far the show looks a lot more grim than its promotional art seems to suggest, and it came to the point that Brains Base felt it prudent to release a second "Girls Side" trailer showing Utau and some buxom woman acting cute and clumsy and such, to balance out the edgy stuff.

On a side note, Nobuhiko "Kiiiihaaarrraaa-kuun" Okamoto plays the protagonist here, which would put him in key cast roles for multiple shows for several seasons running now, including Tiger & Bunny, Blue Exorcist, AND Sacred Seven. He's the new hotness for male voice actors this year, it seems.

I'll be writing up my First Impressions soon.

[Kamisama Dolls is simulcasting on Crunchyroll]

Natsume Yujinchou San

Studio: Brains Base (Durarara!!, Baccano!)

Director: Takahiro Omori (Princess Jellyfish, Natsume Yujinchou)

Air Date: July 5, 2011

As you might guess in the title's "-san" suffix, this is the third season of the Natsume Yujinchou series, and from the looks of it, the adventures of Takashi Natsume and his round, round cat as he solves problems for spirits and gives their names back. So it's basically the reverse of "kicking ass and takin' names".

Embarrassingly enough, no one on staff's seen the show yet, making the chances of our catching all the way up in time for the show to start (and it's already started) are slim at best. Never say never, though, and the fact that it's simulcasting on Crunchyroll should make the task easier to take on.

Mawaru Penguindrum

Studio: Brains Base (Durarara!!, Baccano!)

Director: Kunihiko Ikuhara (Utena)

Air Date: July 7, 2011

The third of Brains Base's productions this season is by far the most mysterious, not least because there's been very little concrete information released about the series, besides some vague trailers, cryptic tweets, blurry magazine scans, and the naming of one Kunihiko Ikuhara as Director. In case you didn't know, Ikuhara is the man responsible for the seminal Revolutionary Girl Utena. This would be his first major project in nearly fifteen years, and excitement is high.

But don't take my word for it. Community member Greenman has constructed a very informational C-blog post about what's known so far and why it's so intriguing. Check it out, and then read our thoughts on it when the show finally airs.

Kami-sama no Memo-chou

Studio: J.C. Staff

Director: Katsushi Sakurabi (Tsukihime, Gunparade March)

Air Date: July 5, 2011

If a NEET is a person who basically isn't doing anything with their life, wouldn't being a NEET detective be a contradiction? That's who Alice is, and she's also running a little NEET detective agency out of her room, which has more screens in it than the rooms people run comment-spam sweatshops out of (sigh). And for that matter, if she runs a detective agency out of her damn apartment, how is that being a NEET? She's self-employed! She seems to be supporting herself just fine, thank you very much! And no, I'm not being defensive about how similar my current situation is, barring the "being a cute girl detective" thing. Not one bit! Nuh-uh! Shut up!

J.C. Staff seem to be working from their basic template of "milquetoast boy meets flat-chested girl" character formula, but the other parts of the recipe, namely the whole NEET thing, shows potential. Tackling some of Glorious Nippon's increasingly serious social issues in this context might just help the show rise out of the muck of productions that all too readily pander to an audience suffering from those same social issues.

We'll see how well it does that job while still making little Alice adorable beyond belief in our First Impressions writeup soon.

;

No. 6

Studio: BONES (Jyu-Oh-Sei, Heroman)

Director: Kenji Nagasaki

Air Date: July 8, 2011

Noitamina's second-slot show is a high-concept science fiction deal, set in the far, far future of 2013, where the society of No. 6, a so-called "model city" has been separated into haves and have-nots. The intelligentsia are separated from the low-IQ scrubs in a matter not unlike...society as we know it. Except more literal. Protagonist Shion is a have, who rescues a have-not named Nezumi ("mouse") on his 12th birthday.

This season of Noitamina's followed the dynamic-duo template of show concepts, as it has been for the past few seasons: one heartwarming, down-to-earth family/romantic drama, accompanied by a high-spec visual spectacle of the fantasy or sci-fi persuasion. It's a formula that appeals to me, with the whole something-for-everyone appeal. 

Marcus has declared himself this season's go-to guy for Noitimana recaps. Look forward to words from him once No. 6 hits the tubes.

R-15

Studio: AIC (Blessing of the Campanella, Amagami SS)

Director: Munenori Nawa (Fortune Arterial, Kiss x Sis)

Air Date: July 9, 2011

Pegging itself as this season's pervert harem fanservice comedy, R-15's main schtick is that the protagonist, Takuto Akutagawa, authors porn novels, which happens to be the "special talent" that gets him into Hirameki High, a school for especially unique people. Once there, he resolves to attain a prominent position and assemble his dream harem of nubile young students.

A fifteen-year-old writing porny novels doesn't seem that unique (that's all fifteen-year-olds think of, after all), but I'll assume that he has some kind of commercial success. And since he's writing novels rather than manga or games, he's less likely to run afoul of Tokyo Governor Ishihara's big anti-everything ban.

I made the call for volunteers to pick this one up, but none have stepped forward to answer it. Still, if you asked me I'd not have stepped forward to pick up The World God Only Knows, and look how well that turned out.


Mayo Chiki

Studio: Feel (Kiss x Sis, Da Capo II)

Director: Keiichiro Kawaguchi (Hayate the Combat Butler, Zettai Karen Children)

Air Date: July 8, 2011

Kinjiro Sakamachi's rich-girl classmate Kanade has a butler that accompanies her to school, emphasizing her richness. Amazingly, said butler turns out to be...a trap! She's a cross-dressing girl for some reason! Gasp!

The premise sounds like a reverse version of the situation between MariaHolic's Mariya Shidou and his maid Matsurika, except this time the "Matsurika" of the pair is the cross-dressing one. Unfortunately having the "poor" girl do the cross-dressing isn't nearly as interesting as having the rich girl doing it. Adding insult to injury, Mayo Chiki doesn't look nearly as interesting as Shaft's bizarro comedy, and so far doesn't even have the raging libido of Kanako Miyamae to add flavor.

None of us have been able to work up the energy to tackle this task, and sadly it's doubtful we ever will.

Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel

Studio: J.C. Staff (A Certain Magical Index)

Director: Yoshiaki Iwasaki (Love Hina)

Air Date: July 5, 2011

J.C. Staff is in charge of this anime, which is based on a pachinko machine, but shows none of the promise that Rio: Rainbow Gate! exuded. Yes, I'm comparing this show unfavorably to Rio-goddamn-Rainbow-Gate. I didn't even bother to ask the staff for volunteers, lest they think me a cruel sadist.

Nekogami Yaoyorozu

Studio: AIC Plus

Director: Hiroaki Sakura (Cromartie High School)

Air Date: July 9, 2011

This anime about a girl who runs an antique shop and has a cat goddess in it who loves hanging out and getting plastered has one thing going for it: It's from the Cromartie High School guy!

Other than that....eh. Unless the show somehow comes up with a prominent reference to Queen, I don't think we can be arsed to cover it extensively. As ever, things can change. Freddy Mercury really could show up!

Nyanpire the Animation

Studio: Gonzo (Gankutsuou, Last Exile)

Director: Takahiro Yoshimatsu

Air Date: July 6, 2011

Nyanpire is the herald of Gonzo's glorious return! After sinking obscene amounts of money into unprofitable CG-heavy endeavors, the misfortune-riddled studio has chosen a comparatively safe production to accompany its ambitious, potentially awesome Last Exile -Fam project.

But it's not as if they'll just be treating this one like a red-headed step-kitten. The adventures of the adorable vampire kitten and his various Sanrio-esque companions boast some top-tier voice talent (including Code Geass' Jun Fukuyama and Ami Koshimizu) and a Director who played key roles in bringing such classics as Trigun to the screen.

It's something to keep an eye on, and Tyler's ready to watch it.

Appleseed XIII

Studio: Jinni's Animation Studios (Fireball)

Director: Takayuki Hamana (The Prince of Tennis)

Air Date: July 3, 2011

To be honest, we're not sure if we'll even be able to cover this series at all, as it's an exclusive web stream located on Nico Nico Douga (the Japanese version). Nevertheless, I'll give it a try, as I feel a compulsion to check things out whenever someone wants to try animating the work of Masamune Shirow.

And aside from Ghost in the Shell, this is the work of Masamune Shirow. Appleseed is the home of his trademark LandMate mecha (think powered armor with two big arms and two small arms, with the small arms acting like motion controllers for the big ones), and the cyber-age romance between Deunan Knute and her bulky metal boyfriend Briareos.

This would be Japan's third crack at animating Appleseed, with the 2D animated movie first, plus two full-CG OVAs. XIII will be in the hands of Jinni's, a studio I now love because they animated Fireball and Fireball Charming, perhaps the two strongest proofs that Japan can excel at making compelling, gorgeous full-CG productions.

Morita-san wa Mukuchi

Studio: Seven

Director: Naotaka Hayashi

Air Date: TBA

It's another contender to Lucky Star's 4-panel adaptation throne (if you decide that K-ON!! did not already shove it off), and the twist this time is that its main character....doesn't talk very much. Great. A show about a quiet girl is trying to compete in a genre largely characterized by girls talking a lot about almost anything. 

And said quiet girl is voiced by Kana Hanazawa, a girl who I'd love to hear talking a lot about almost anything. Just great. At least Is This A Zombie managed to do mute girls right, which was to make up imaginary scenes where the mute girl talks in loli tones delivered by a variety of voice actresses, a different one each time.

Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyo

Studio: DEEN (Fate/stay-night TV)

Director: Michio Fukuda (Ouran Host Club)

Air Date: July 3, 2011

It's the second season of Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, the VIZ-licensed shonen fight show in the vein of Bleach and Naruto. As we never did pick up the first season, we've yet to consider picking up the second. Then again, it is simulcasting on Hulu and VizAnime.com. There's always a chance. 

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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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