Tuesday, August 05, 2014

My Favorite Anime of the Summer 2014 Season

After 4-5 episodes, here are my feelings about the new shows I've watched:

Glasslip – One of the best shows in years, in my opinion (but not in anyone else's, lol). Riveting performance by newcomer Fukagawa Seria, supported by the dependably excellent Hayami Saori and Taneda Risa. Romance(s); magic; sharp and beautiful flow of scenes; brilliant "show, don't tell" animation; outstanding visual and aural backgrounds that really put you there. And several good characters, both male and female. Another great anime from Nishimura Junji (Simoun, True Tears). I'm still trying to figure out why others don't admire this show as much as I do. But I had a similar experience with Simoun, so I should be used to it.

Nobunaga Concerto – I'm not sure why this show isn’t more popular, either. I guess it's partly the animation, which leaves the characters' expressions a bit flat. But this has turned out to be one of the shows I most look forward to every week. Fascinating to see a 21st century teenager become Oda Nobunaga (for real).

Aldnoah.Zero – I'm enjoying it, and so is 2channel. But it seems to move its characters slowly, and not give them much development. The basic situation is very strong, however, and the main characters have some presence.

Hanayamata – I haven't seen the promised yuri yet, but the show is energetic and open-hearted. Young seiyuus Ueda Reina, Tanaka Minami, and Okuno Kaya are all effective. 

Sword Art Online 2: Phantom Bullet – Just as good as the first series, so far. Bringing in Sawashiro Miyuki was a stroke of genius. Popular with 2channel Japanese otaku.

Ao Haru Ride – Nice shoujo romance. She'll discover his secret yet and bring him out of his self-imposed shell.

Thursday, July 03, 2014

Minase Inori -- A Tiny, Perfect Voice Arrives

Minase Inori 水瀬いのり had her first seiyuu role when she was still in middle school. But she graduated from high school this March, and her career has now shifted into high gear: she already has ten roles in 2014.

Her roles this summer are as Eddelrittuo in Aldnoah.Zero and as Mirai in Locodol.

I first noticed her last year, as the shy sidekick Suzu in Love Lab. Then in this past season's Is the Order a Rabbit? she really made an impression with the vividly quiet and contained character of Chino.

Inorin has a flexible, sinewy voice (link to voice samples) that ranges from soft and tiny through elegant to boyish. And she has a feel for acting. She has already had a minor role in a TV drama.

The sheer cuteness of her voice has helped bring her to her current rising popularity. And in her personal appearances on radio and the Web, she is cute, capable and funny. To say nothing of fast-talking. At the age of 18 (born 1995.12.02), she already has her own radio show, focused on anime and game music.

She loved Sailor Moon when she was little. She was still in kindergarten when she learned from her mother that there were actually people whose job it was to provide the voices in anime. And she decided to become a seiyuu.

She also loved detective Conan, and in particular the female protagonist Mouri Ran. She was even inspired by Ran to start learning karate. She says she's the kind of person who doesn't hesitate to take action.

She was a fan of Prince of Tennis, and spent one year of middle school in both the Theatre and Tennis clubs. But after long practice, she found she just wasn't strong enough for tennis, and concentrated on acting.

Character/seiyuu Pages: Glasslip, Tokyo Ghoul, Locodol

Here are character/seiyuu pages for three new shows that begin today:

-- Glasslip, a new story from PA Works and Nishimura Junji, starring newcomer Fukagawa Seria, Hayami Saori, Taneda Risa, Oosaka Ryouta, and Shimazaki Nobunaga.

-- Tokyo Ghoul, a horror story starring Amamiya Sora (Fujimiya in One Week Friends), Hanae Natsuki (Hikari in Nagi no Asukara), Hanazawa Kana, Miyano Mamoru, 15-year-old Morohoshi Sumire (Ichigo in Aikatsu), and Konishi Katsuyuki.

-- Locodol,  a show about "local idols" starring Itou Miku, Misawa Sachika (Kuroyukihime in Accel World), and Minase Iori (Chino in Is the Order a Rabbit?), the seiyuu I am featuring this season.

The pages show pics of main characters and their seiyuus, and give a bit of info about each seiyuu. For example:

Wednesday, July 02, 2014

Summer 2014 Anime Weekly Calendar

Here's a calendar showing what's on this summer, including both new shows and shows continuing from previous seasons.

Click here or on the image to go to the full calendar:

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

New Anime Season Starts Wednesday

The summer anime season starts on Wednesday.

One of this Wednesday's two shows will be Bakumatsu Rock, an idol show set in mid-nineteenth century Japan (?!), and starring Taniyama Kishou.  The other will be the second season of KyoAni's bishounen school swimming anime: Free! Eternal Summer.

Then on Thursday, things really get going: Glasslip (a new original story from PA Works), Shirogane no Ishi: Argevollen (mecha), Tokyo Ghoul (horror from two award-winning young creators), Strange+ II, Rail Wars (a comedy starring Fukuyama Jun and Uchida Maaya), and Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita (comedy about "local idols" in a small town).

There are seven new shows on Saturday: PriPara (a Pretty Rhythm spin-off),  Sailor Moon Crystal (the long-awaited remake of Sailor Moon), Shounen Hollywood (an idol show featuring male idols), Sword Art Online II: Phantom Bullet, Aldnoah.Zero (a new science fiction show from a story by Urobuchi Gen), Sengoku Basara: Judge End, and Barakamon (a slice-of-life comedy starring Ono Daisuke).

And there are nine new shows on Sunday: Gundam-san (from a comic-strip), Jinsei (a new school comedy from the director of Hayate), Maido! Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku (the gag misadventures of a second-grade boy), Sabagebu! (girls playing survival games, from the staff that made Kotoura-san and Love Lab), Space Dandy 2 (Watanabe Shinichirou's brilliantly animated crazy comedy), Akame ga Kill (fighting adventure written by Uezu Makoto), Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun (Nakamura Yuuichi stars in a romantic comedy), Francesca (an undead idol defends Hokkaido from attack by a zombie Shinsengumi), and Dramatical Murder (an online game, its players, and their AIs).

That's just to whet your appetite. Below is a full list of this season's shows by day of the week, with the date of each show's first broadcast. Here are full previews of all the new shows. And here is a weekly anime calendar, including shows continuing from previous seasons.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer 2014 New Anime -- full previews w/story, cast, staff, trailer, etc.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon - Crystal
Forty-three shows in a summer season? Wasn't the anime industry supposed to be in trouble? There's quantity this summer, anyway. And I think there may be some quality, too.

Here, in alphabetical order, are twenty shows I think may be particularly interesting, to me or to others. After that, I will give full details of all the new shows.

Aldnoah.Zero -- A new show from a story written by the Urobutcher, Urobuchi Gen. An ancient civilization's hypergate is found on the Moon by Apollo astronauts, and it allows Earth people to settle Mars. Within 15 years, however, there is war between the two planets. As the story opens, in 2014, they have been in a state of truce for ten years.

Ao Haru Ride -- Uchida Maaya, Kaji Yuuki, Kayano Ai, and Komatsu Mikako star in a shoujo romance from Production IG. Years before, our heroine loved a boy, but he moved away. Now in high school, he suddenly returns, with a new surname, and with no desire to speak with her.

Barakamon -- Ono Daisuke is a young calligrapher who has been banished to an island for punching one of his seniors. The director of Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and the writer of Bottom-Biting Bug show us his misadventures, as he gets used to rural life.

Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun -- Our heroine has a crush on a handsome schoolmate, who can't even hear her confession and thinks of her as just a fan. It turns out that he is a shoujo manga artist, and she ends up assisting him in his work.

Glasslip -- A new original from PA Works, directed (and co-written) by Nishimura Junji, the director of True Tears. If he can recapture that magic -- or his even greater magic in Simoun -- I will be very happy. Hayami Saori, Taneda Risa, Ousaka Ryouta, Touyama Nao, Kayano Ai.... This is the show I am most looking forward to.

Hana Yamata -- Young female director Ishizuka Atsuko (age 32) takes another step. She directed Sakurasou for JC Staff, and then No Game No Life for Madhouse. Now Madhouse gives her top writer Yoshida Reiko (Marimite, K-On) to help her animate this shoujo ai manga, set in the world of traditional Japanese dance. Another of my most anticipated shows.

Love Stage!! -- Director Kasai Kenichi (Major, Honey and Clover, Bakuman) and writer Yokote Michiko (Princess Tutu, Genshiken) venture into the world of boy's love, bringing us a shounen ai story of love between a young movie star and a beautifully feminine boy he had thought was a girl. JC Staff.

Majimoji Rurumo -- Our sex-obsessed teen hero is shunned by all the girls. He finds a book of magic and plays at summoning a witch...and a cute, impassive young witch appears, offering him a wish...after which she will kill him. Really, even if this show turns out to be awful, the idea of Mimori Suzuko as the cute witch is irresistible.

Minarai Diva -- An amazing concept: an anime ad-libbed and produced in real time, using motion capture of the seiyuus and MikuMiku Dance software. The producer describes it as like an animated radio show. The young seiyuus being put on the spot are Murakawa Rie (Hotaru in Non Non Biyori) and Yamamoto Nozomi (Ogiue in GenshikenSS).

Nobunaga Concerto -- And here's a show that's rotoscoped -- although the trailer looks quite different from Aku no Hana. Our hero is a teen boy who suddenly finds himself four hundred years in the past, having to play the role of the rising warlord Oda Nobunaga, of whom he is the spitting image. The director directs TV dramas. The writer did Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 and Brothers Conflict.

Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal -- This is the most anticipated show of the season: a remake of Sailor Moon, made on the 20th anniversary of the original show, and with the original seiyuu (Mitsuishi Kotono) playing the lead. Other roles are given to younger seiyuus: Hirohashi Ryou (!), Koshimizu Ami, Satou Rina, Kanemoto Hisako, Itou Shizuka, et al.

Rokujouma no Shinryakusha!? -- Oonuma Shin tries his hand at harem comedy. I keep hoping he will someday produce something I like as much as his ef shows.

Sabagebu! -- The team of director Oota Masahiko and writer Aoshima Takashi has made a number of shows together, including Mitsudomoe, YuruYuri, Kotoura-san, and Love Lab. I liked the last three, and hope the team can do something with this manga featuring high-school girls playing survival games with air guns after school.

Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance -- The director of Kannazuki no Miko and the writer of Elfen Lied. I hope for something from them even in this ecchi harem comedy set in a school for spirit contractors, all but one of whom are girls. Kido Ibuki is one of the stars.

Shounen Hollywood: Holly Stage for 49 -- An idol anime featuring bishounen idols. Why has no-one thought of this before?

Space Dandy 2 -- More craziness from Watanabe Shinichirou.

Sword Art Online 2: Phantom Bullet -- Kirito has to investigate a new game world, in which deaths of characters are linked to deaths in the real world. More of the same will be fine. ED by Haruna Luna.

Tokyo ESP -- Kido Ibuki plays a girl who gains the mysterious ability to walk through walls (and fall through floors). From a manga by the author of Ga-rei. ED by Yousei Teikoku.

Tokyo Ghoul -- A truly horrific horror story presented by a young anime director whose work was nominated for an Oscar and a young writer who has won multiple awards for writing and directing stage plays.

Zankyou no Terror -- A second show from Watanabe Shinichirou, apparently much more serious than Space Dandy: Tokyo is rocked by huge terrorist bombings. People are scared and confused. Meanwhile, the two young culprits methodically go about their plan to awaken the world.

Click a title in the alphabetical list below to go to full details of a particular show. Or just keep reading, for full details of all 43 shows, in chronological order by first broadcast.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Thoughts after 2-3 episodes of the spring 2014 anime

Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Is the spring anime season really this good, or am I just in the right mood? Whatever the case, I am enjoying too many shows to keep up with.

These are the shows I won't miss (in alphabetical order):
  • Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou – Dawning romance in a boarding house. The usual puerile humour is well counteracted by a sweet romance and lovely images. Hanazawa Kana gives us something special here as the shy but determined girl who seems to be discovering love.
  • Brynhildr in the Darkness – Enjoyable and involving. Extravagances in the plot may attract or repel you: the reappearance of a supposedly dead childhood friend, aliens, a secret government lab where young girls are experimented on, imminent death by general bleeding if you don’t keep taking special pills. From a manga by the author of Elfen Lied. Taneda Risa is excellent as the main girl.
  • Gochuumon wa Usagi Desuka? – Incredibly cute. Well-drawn moe girls running a café. Good voices from Sakura Ayane, Taneda Risa, Uchida Maaya, et al. Nothing but cute girls doing cute things, but this version pleases me more than K-On ever did.
  • Inugami-san to Nekoyama-sanYuri comic-strip comedy starring Touyama Nao and Uesaka Sumire. Hilarious absurdity. Five-minute episodes, unfortunately.
  • Isshuukan Friends – Sweet and deep. An unlikely but powerful set-up that produces heartache, some psychological depth, and growing romance. Beautiful look. Terrific performances from young seiyuus Amamiya Sora and Yamaya Yoshitaka, and Hosoya Yoshimasa as what may be the best wingman character ever.
  • Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei – Excellent (and popular) show starring Nakamura Yuuichi and Hayami Saori, who are both at their best. Nakamura's character keeps revealing more and more fighting skills. Hayamin plays his brilliant sister, who keeps revealing her love for him. They navigate through shoals of friends and enemies in a high-school for powerful magicians.
  • Mekakucity Actors – Shinbou's take on Kagerou Days has fans of the latter up in arms. As a Shinbou fan, however, I'm loving the show. And Jin, the author/composer of the original, is the one who is scripting it for anime, so perhaps he approves, too.
  • Mushishi Zoku Shou – I finally get the beauty of this show, which has never reached me before. I used to think of it as just another boring monster show. We'll see if week after week of them vitiates the appeal of these touching fantasy short stories set in a version of bygone rural Japan.
  • Ping Pong the Animation – At last, a Yuasa show I can appreciate. To me, Tatami Galaxy seemed over-complex and emotionally shallow. However, the simple framework of a well-told sports story here allows me to appreciate the brilliant, if rather ugly, animation.
  • No Game, No Life – Hilarious comedy set in an online-game world, painted with wonderful extreme coloration. Our hero and heroine are mutually dependant siblings whose deep closeness stops just short of being erotic. He has crafty gamer macho; she is a loli genius. A nubile princess (played with brilliant exuberance by Hikasa Youko), in despair at her family's fall, feels herself inexorably drawn to our bold hero.
  • Seikoku no Dragonar – Just another fantasy harem comedy, but I'm enjoying it. The dragon born to be our high-skilled hero's partner turns out to be a tsundere loli with an aversion to clothing. And human girls in this school for dragon-riders are also becoming his friends. Good voice work by Sakura Ayanae, and especially by Ise Mariya as the Kugimiya-esque tsundere girl/dragon.
  • Sidonia no Kishi – Real science fiction, with a well-conceived future world in which huge colony ship/asteroids have fled an Earth devastated by giant alien invaders. Human photosynthesis, fast-growing clones, an intermediate gender, and a young hero who has risen from a rat-like life hidden in the bowels of the ship to become a super-skilled pilot who can confront the aliens.
  • Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii – Shoujo fantasy with a strong, independent heroine who reminds me of Kajika in Hanasakeru Seishounen. And that's a good thing. She is a princess of a minor state sent to marry the emperor of the world, who turns out to be a brilliant, cold-eyed boy of eleven. Of course she will tame him with her magic and bring joy to them both and to the world.
  • Soul Eater Not! – As the title is intended to suggest, this is not Soul Eater, but a different show set in its world. An enjoyable school comedy with violence – and with Hayami Saori and Yuuki Aoi in leading roles