As I get ready to look back on the best and worst of 2011 in anime, first let’s look ahead to Winter 2012. As always, I’m only going to preview the series of particular interest to me – there are numerous wikis for those of you looking for something more comprehensive. Full previews are below the fold. Please check the sidebar and vote for your most anticipated series in the poll.
- No, I’m not planning to blog or watch Nisemonogatari. I hope you all love it, but Isin Nisio just rubs me the wrong way – his writing style isn’t my cup of tea. Bad chemistry I guess.
- As always there will be shows I don’t even have on my radar that I’ll end up watching and even blogging – happens every season. I’ll watch the first episode of just about everything (even Nisemono) just in case it grabs me.
- Unless otherwise indicated, I don’t plan on dropping any of the multi-cour series I’m currently blogging. Gundam AGE may be a casualty, even in digest form, if the Winter turns out deeper than I’m expecting.
- Feel free to try and convince me why I should be covering something I’m bypassing . No promises, but I always keep an open mind.
- The plan for now is to continue blogging LE: Fam, Mirai Nikki and Chihayafuru at RC as well as LiA. I expect Natsume Yuujinchou Shi will also be simulcast at both sites. All that is subject to change.
On that note, I recall that I seem to say this just about every season, but Winter looks pretty thin to me, both in terms of must-see shows and overall depth. But then, I’ve been wrong before. Fall will end up going down as a good season, I think, though not a great one.
Without further ado, let’s get to the previews:
Director: Omori Takahiro Writer: Murai Sadayuki Preview:
There’s really not much to say here – I’ve loved Natsumu Yuujinchou for three seasons and I expect to love the fourth. S3 was my least favorite, though that’s mostly personal preference as the show focused more in the humans in Natsume’s life and less on the youkai. All the main cast and crew are back (most critically Omori-dono) so all should be well. My suspicion when the fourth season was announced so quickly was that the manga would be ending and this was being done so that the anime could end simultaneously, but there’s no evidence of that so far.
Director: Kimura Hiroshi Writer: TBA
An interesting and weird premise, an 11 year-old boy who looks like an adult looked after by his 17 year-old sister who looks 11. Not much to go one with Kimura, who’s worked in secondary roles on a few good shows, and relatively minor studio Seven. Source is a 4-koma manga by Higashiya Meme.
Director: Yanagisawa Tetsuya Writer: Yoshioka Takao Trailer:
The premise – lecherous HS loser is killed on his first date and reincarnated as a devil, working for the campus hottie – sounds tired and played out. But the director has a hand with comedy (Sora no Otoshimono) and the writer has a long résumé of generally good composition work, including Elfen Lied. I know these LNs are mega-popular, FWIW, and I’ll be looking in with a good deal of curiosity.
Director: Ogura Hirofumi Writer: TBA Preview:
Mainstream anime powerhouse Shin-Ei (Doraemon, Crayon Shin-chan – also the underrated film Summer Days With Coo) brings us an adaptation of Igano Hiroaki’s popular manga about two soccer-playing brothers. I’ve heard good things about the manga and I’m always “game“ for a solid sports shounen than focuses on character, so I’m hopeful this will win a spot in the rotation – especially given the rarity of soccer anime and even sports anime in the Western market.
Director: Takamatsu Shinji Writer: TBA Preview:
I’ve already previewed this so you know I’m psyched for it. Check out the four PVs (one linked above) for a taste of what’s to come, and that looks like very, very funny stuff. With Takamatsu directing, I’m hopeful this is finally going to be the show that ridicules the “girls in school” trope as it so richly deserves and offers an authentic take on the other side of high school life. If it is, it’ll be just about the first.
Director: Izushima Tsutomu Writer: Higaki Ryou Trailer:
From the moment it was announced this has been my most anticipated series of the Winter season. Any P.A. Works series is going to be special – they consistently deliver some of the most beautiful anime on television. Mizushima-Sensei (I forgive you for Blood-C, Sensei) is a rock-solid director. Higaki-san wrote for Seirei no Moribito and original creator Ayatsuji Yukito is the husband of Ono Fuyumi (Shiki, Ghost Hunt, Twelve Kingdoms). So the pedigree is stellar, and the premise looks like a fascinating blend of suspense, horror and school life. This one looks like the best masterpiece candidate of the season – let’s hope it lives up to the promise.
Director: Yoshioka Shinbou Writer: Okada Mari Trailer:
I’ll be honest – I probably wouldn’t be watching this if it weren’t on NoitaminA, and I’m depressed as hell that Winter will feature this and Guilty Crown as the block. I don’t have anything against Vocaloids or either series, and I thought the BRS OVA was tolerable. But though I support NoitaminA wanting to branch out a little, two heavily commercial series with little in terms of serious character development is a distressing turn of events for the block, because if shows like Hourou Musuko and Sarai-ya Goyou can’t find a home there they’ll never get made – and there’s always going to be a place for shows like this and Guilty Crown. Still, I’ll give it a shot out of loyalty to Yamamoto Koji. As with the OVA Yamakan’s Ordet is the driving force here.
Director: Kobayashi Tomoki Writer: Kimura Noboru Preview:
It’s an anime-original second season, with Kobayashi-san stepping up to the Director’s role this time. Looks like a miniaturized version of the omnibus S1, which means two episodes centered on each heroine. There were very nice moments mixed in with a lot of yawns in S1, but I’ll be watching for the Haruka at the very least. More ramen scenes, please!
Director/Writer: Sato Tatsuo Preview:
The premise – schoolgirl becomes captain of a pirate ship in space – sounds a bit lame, to be honest. But it’s Satelight, who always offer an interesting perspective, and Sato has written some interesting stuff (Nadescio, Kino’s Journey) and been involved in shows like Pita Ten and Stellvia. This one is giving off sleeper vibes for me. Of course, this LN adaptation has been in development limbo since 2009, which could be a sign of trouble. I’m curious, at the very least.
Director: Tsuda Naokatsu Writer: Nemoto Saizo Preview:
David Production has had a very good 2011 (Level E, Ben-To) and while they’re not prolific or long-standing, they’ve established themselves as a studio with a quirky sensibility and real visual flair. This adaptation of Fujiwara Cocoa’s popular manga looks fairly interesting, though the plot strikes me a bit convoluted. Still, a mansion full of ayakashi secret service agents (S.S.) protecting ojou-samas is somewhat intriguing. As for the staff, there’s not enough evidence to push my expectations either way.
Director: Kawasaki Itsuro Writer: Arakawa Naruhisa Trailer:
Honestly, I suspect this LN adaptation about a 19 year-old college student suddenly having to watch over three little girls (13, 11 and 5) could be truly awful – full of the worst kind of lowbrow fanservice and otaku pandering. And there’s really nothing in the track record of either the director or writer that makes me feel differently, though Arakawa did write the adaptation of the interesting (and ecchi) Yosuga no Sora. But I’m giving it a shot just on the off chance that it could be an R-15 style surprise, an ecchi show with more heart and smarts than it looks like from the outside.
Director: Yamamoto Yusuke Writer: Okada Mari Trailer:
Lots of big names involved with this intriguing project – Okada, arguably the most star-filled cast of the season, and legendary Kawamori Shoji (director of the original Aquarion and Macross, et al) to oversee the series. I haven’t seen much of the original series but it has an undeniable pedigree among mecha fans, and this sequel – set 12,000 years later – is one of the most high-profile entries of the Winter. The animation and character designs, fittingly I suppose, are extremely retro.
I may be wrong, but I don’t recall JC Staff doing too many original series and while they’re not among my favorite studios, this looks like an interesting work. The director, Nagai-sensei (AnoHana), has shown a sure and sometimes brilliant hand with relationship drama. But the staff list is loaded with quality, like Onegai Teacher franchise character designer Uon Taraku and writer Kuroda (Onegai, Honey & Clover II, Oofuri, Infinite Ryvius) is no slouch either. Haruka Tomatsu is the female lead – always a win – and the male lead, Nobunaga Shimazaki, is a relative unknown and fairly young, something we’ve see too rarely of late with male seiyuu. Concept art is very HanaIro – all we know of the story is that it’s a high-school romantic comedy featuring two girls and a boy. Maybe the most high-profile original series JC Staff has done in some years.
Will Definitely Blog: Natsume Yuujinchou Shi, Daily Lives of High School Boys, Another, Black Rock Shooter (to start with at least), Amagami SS+ plus, Mouretsu Pirates, Ano Natsu de Matteru
This Winter definitely has a strong crop of OVAs. I’ll be following R-15 (12/13), Hoshizora (12/21 – Ayumu end?), Toradora (12/21), Major – World Series Arc (12/16), Denpa Onna (1/25), Fairy Tail (February), and Steins;Gate (2/22). There are also more Usagi Drop shorts coming, as well as a series of Ikoku Meiro shorts.
On the big screen, Rurouni Kenshin: Shin Kyoto-Hen (which I think should have been called “WTF Are You Thinking-Hen”) arrives 12/07. My disappointment with this decision to animate an anime-original retelling of the splendid Kyoto Arc when there’s still the manga’s sublime “Jinchu” Arc waiting for adaptation has been well chronicled – it’s like someone offered the Louvre a previously unknown Da Vinci portrait and they said “No thanks – we’re hiring a local guy to update The Mona Lisa”. But it’s animated RK, so I’ll be looking on with great trepidation and curiosity. There’s also a .hack film coming on 1/21, Berserk: Golden Age Part I on 2/4, and for those of you interested, the K-ON film from KyoAni comes this week.