Saturday, April 04, 2015

Uchida Maaya -- from gamer/cosplayer to seiyuu/singer

Uchida Maaya 内田真礼 has always been an otaku favorite. They feel as if she respects their ways, and that she is even one of them.

Even in high school, she was a cosplayer. She went on to do photo sessions for amateur photographers, endearing herself to otaku. And she is a devoted gamer herself.

She is in the running for prettiest of all seiyuus, and definitely for sexiest. Her seiyuu work is good, and she can even sing pretty well, for a seiyuu.

Taken together, all this is a formula for success on many fronts, and Mayayan is succeeding on most of them. Her first role was in 2010. She had three roles that year; 7 the next; 19 in 2012; 17 in 2013; and an incredible 26 roles last year. And that leaves out her beloved game work, which is growing quickly: she had 41 game roles in 2014.

Mayayan rose to prominence as Rikka in Chuunibyou in 2012, but it was two roles in 2013 that really caught my attention: the wildly inventive Hajime in Gatchaman Crowds, and the mature military officer Koganuma in Outbreak Company. Last year, she was Sharo in Was the Order Rabbit?, and Iki in Noragami. Last season, she was Ranka in Idolm@ster Cinderella Girls; and this season she has five roles in TV series: Ahde Ririruka in Dungeon, Yoshino Yuuki in Shokugeki no Souma, Shidou Irina in High School DxD Born, Doratan in Etotama, and Miyabi in Yamada-kun and the Seven Witches

Here are pics of a few of her best-known roles: Sanka Rea (Sankarea), Rikka (Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai), Hajime (Gatchaman Crowds) --

Friday, March 20, 2015

Spring 2015 Anime -- Full Previews w/cast, staff, story, trailer, etc.

I keep hearing that anime is dead, but there are more new anime this season than in any season I can remember: over fifty.

Now, I admit I've been finding fewer and fewer shows I like over the past couple of years, but at least the industry seems to be surviving -- perhaps on the backs of its workers; perhaps with a larger number of shows that are only three to fifteen minutes long; perhaps with a larger number of new seasons of past successes -- but surviving and apparently thriving.

Anyway, here are 15 shows that sound potentially interesting to me. There are others that may be more interesting to you. After this brief list will come full notes about all (or almost all) the new shows: cast, staff, story, image, trailer and a few words from me. Hope it helps you find the shows you like.
  • Ame-iro Cocoa – A new show from Mochizuki Tomomi (YKK, Touka Gettan, Zettai Shounen, Saraiya Goyou). This one is a sentimental comedy set in a coffee shop full of bishounen. The only problem is that it looks as if episodes may be very short, as with Mochizuki's pupa, which suffered because of that. We shall see.
  • Danna ga Nani o Itteiruka Wakaranai Ken 2 – A second season of the short comic anime portraying real married life (and love), with Suzumura Kenichi and Tamura Yukari as an otaku and his long-suffering but loving wife. 
  • Denpa Kyoushi – Kamiya Hiroshi as an otaku who becomes a strange but effective schoolteacher. 
  • Etotama: Eto Tamashii – Nya-tan the cat wants to become one of the animals of the zodiac. She and the other animals have two forms: pretty teen girl and cute SD character. From the team that gave us the pretty and enjoyable Astalotte no Omocha
  • Hibike! Euphonium – KyoAni presents another after-school music club, this time a brass band. The set-up makes me groan, but the staff and cast look great. Written by Hanada Jukki, directed by the director of Kanon, Clannad, and Haruhi
  • Kekkai Sensen – Bones and the director of Kyousougiga create an elegantly vicious show set in a New York where humans and weird creatures from another dimension mix. Koyama Rikya and other top male voices star. 
  • Knights of Sidonia: Battle for Planet Nine – My favorite science fiction show in nine years is back for a second season. 
  • Kyoukai no Rinne – A manga by Takahashi Rumiko (Ranma ½, Maison Ikkou) adapted for anime by Yokote Michiko (Princess Tutu, Genshiken, Shirobako). Our heroine can see ghosts, and is surprised when a new transfer student turns out to be a shinigami
  • Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku -- Kimura Juri (who was terrific as Aoi in Shirobako) stars in a show based on the work of Vocaloid composer Last Note. 
  • Nagato Yuki-chan no Shoushitsu – A completely different Nagato Yuki, from a completely different studio and staff, but with all the same voices as in Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu. I'm intrigued. 
  • Ore Monogatari!! – Madhouse, the director of Cardcaptor Sakura and NANA, the writer of Blue Drop and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, and a highly professional cast. These all make me confident about this story in which the big lummox apparently gets the girl. 
  • Owari no Seraph – A virus kills all adult humans and the surviving children are enslaved by powerful vampires, who keep them like milk-cattle for their blood. Our hero is determined to do the impossible, and defeat the vampires. From the director and writer who did the somewhat similar Attack on Titan
  • Plastic Memories – Our hero works for a company that produces androids that are indistinguishable from humans – but that only live ten years. He and a pretty android are a team sent out to recover androids who have reached the end of their lives. From the director of the enjoyable Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
  • Re-Kan! – The young but immensely talented Kido Ibuki stars as a girl who can see spirits. 
  • Show by Rock!! – Excellent cast (Uesaka Sumire, Sakura Ayane, Taniyama Kishou, Miyano Mamoru, Kayano Ai, etc.) in a young-shoujo fantasy about a magical world of music. Our heroine joins a rock band whose members can turn into cute little stuffed animals. Animation by Bones. Produced by Sanrio, the makers of Hello Kitty. 
  • Uta no Prince-sama: Maji Love Revolutions – Another season of pure shoujo wish-fulfilment, with our heroine surrounded by bishounen in a school for idols.
As I said, those are the shows that sound promising to me. Others may be more interested in the new Nanoha series (centered on her daughter); or the new seasons of Baby Steps, Fate/Stay Night UBW, Gintama, Kiniro Mosaic, High School DxD, Teen Romantic Comedy Snafu, Nisekoi, Saint Seiya, or Diamond no Ace; the new Noitamina show Punchline; the ecchi action comedy Triage X; or the gender-switching comedy Yamada and the Seven Witches.

Click on a title in the alphabetical list below to go to its full preview:

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Shirobako: seiyuus, characters, and characters' job titles

The first episode of Shirobako was entertaining in more than one way. I enjoyed the human interactions, but I also enjoyed the look inside the world of anime production.

In making a characters/seiyuus page for the show, I was able to include the job titles of each character, from director to line producer to animation director to production assistants -- 24 characters after only one episode! Click on the image to go to the full page.

To understand what each job does, have a look at this page, which I used to standardize the translations of the job titles.

The cast is an interesting mix of new and experienced seiyuus, featuring the newer ones (mainly in the top row of the table). I can't say I was that impressed with the voice work. It was good enough but no better. But the story and the characters came through.

Monday, October 06, 2014

Thanks for 2 Million Hits

Thank you! (Simoun)
I started this blog almost nine years ago, with a post on Paradise Kiss. Other shows featured in those early days: Noein, Glass Mask, Lemon Angel Project (an early idol anime), Suzumiya Haruhi no Yuuutsu, and especially Simoun, which remains my favorite show of all time.

That was 856 posts ago. I missed it when the hits topped a million. Now, after many years, they have hit two million. Thank you all.

I hope the blog has brought you some pleasure and some information. Making the posts has done both of those things for me.

My anime-viewing is slowing down a bit, so I'm not sure how often I will post as time goes on. But I'm enjoying doing character/seiyuu pages for a number of current shows, so it probably won't die out entirely.

And seiyuus continue to be my greatest anime interest. I started as a big fan of Hirano Aya, after hearing her in Haruhi. As her personal and professional life crumbled, I moved on to a new young seiyuu, Yuuki Aoi. Now that she is established as a top name, I find myself following the growth of young Kido Ibuki. At least my taste is improving a bit. And as producers continue to prefer cheap young voices to expensive older ones (except for a few big stars), there is a continuous supply of interesting new voices to listen to.

So I guess I'll keep posting a bit -- unless I continue to find myself loving shows that everyone else hates (Glasslip) and just get too depressed to carry on. Lol.

Friday, October 03, 2014

Characters/seiyuus Pages for Several New Shows

Le Fruit de la Grisaia
As in previous seasons, I am making character/seiyuu pages for a number of the new anime this fall.

The pages include pics of main characters and their seiyuus, with a bit of info about each seiyuu. I find them useful when I'm watching the shows. I hope you will, too.

So far, I have done the following shows:
You'll see the links in the upper right of any page of this blog.

So far, I have enjoyed the two shows in this list that I have seen, both of which are comedies. Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken ("The Matter of My Not Understanding What My Husband is Saying") follows the life of a woman who has married a total anime otaku: she goes out to work, he stays on the Net, making a bit of money from his blog. But they do love each other and seem to enjoy their lives, so far, even if she doesn't understand what he's talking about much of the time. Tamura Yukari and Suzumura Kenichi star -- and I do mean star. Episodes are three and a half minutes long.

Denkigai no Honya-san is about the weird young freeters working in a manga shop suspiciously resembling Toranoana. Strong echoes of Working, but with a lot of anime and manga references, general and specific. In episode one, everyone ends up admitting proudly that they love porn.

Two romance shows based on ero-games start this weekend: Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete ("In Search of a Lost Future") on Saturday, and Le Fruit de la Grisaia on Sunday. Both star the members of the original game's cast. Check the character/seiyuu pages to see how many hundred ero-games some of the seiyuus have been in.

I have particularly enjoyed the work of Taguchi Hiroko, who was Miyako in ef memories (game and anime, the game under the pseudonym Natsuno Koori), and of Yanase Natsumi, who was Chihiro in that show (does ero-games under the pseudonym Maki Izumi). Both have roles in Grisaia.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kuno Misaki -- A New Voice from Osawa Office

Agency portrait
Kuno Misaki 久野美咲 has a vivid new version of one of those high, childish voices that are beloved in Japan but not so much outside it.

I first noticed her as Hoshimiya Kate in World Domination -- the Zvezda Plot. She had great command of that powerful lisp. Then she really struck me as the voice of the bloodthirsty fighting pixie Tama in Selector Infected Wixoss.

To me, her uniqueness is the combination of cuteness and power. She makes a great demanding little girl. As a comment on one of her auditions said, her voice creates a real presence.

It didn't take long before I realized that she was a rising star. Comment streams on Nicovideo and 2channel praise her voice with lots of comments about how cute it is, and how well she works it.

The industry knows: she is represented by Osawa Office, the highly respected, somewhat old-fashioned agency that manages Kawasumi Ayako, Noto Mamiko, and Hanazawa Kana.

In real life
Now that I am beginning to look for more info about her, it turns out that being an anime seiyuu is her second career in show business. Starting from age ten, she has done a lot of Japanese dubbing of foreign films: Alien 2, Finding Nemo, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, and many others.

She did only dubbing until she was 15, then after a two-year hiatus, she began doing both dubbing and seiyuu work. She is now 21, and getting a stream of good anime roles. She was born in Tokyo on 19 January 1993.

She began anime work in 2010 with a smaller part in OreImo, as Bridget. In Galilei Donna in 2013, she was Grande Rosso, the AI who looked like a goldfish. And she was Serara in Log Horizon (a role she will reprise this fall). This year, she has had her roles in Zvezda and Wixoss (she will also reprise that latter role this fall). And her new role this fall will be as the proud talking pig who is a friend of the hero in Seven Deadly Sins.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Autumn 2014 Anime -- Full Previews with cast, staff, trailer, story, comments, and links

This preview has two parts: in the first, each new show gets a very brief characterization, just enough to help identify it in your mind. In the second, I give full info about each show: staff, cast, story, image, trailer, comments, schedule, links to manga and discussion forum, etc.

I tried to make a list of the shows of particular interest, but the list was so long that I gave up.  Fans of shounen fighting fantasies have a lot to look forward to this season. But there are promising shows of most kinds coming. In years of participating in the AnimeSuki forums, I've learned that people all have their own preferences, and that there are many kinds of anime that people quite justifiably love and admire, whether I enjoy those shows or not.

Anyway, here is a list of all the new shows (a couple of kids' shows excepted), with a very brief comment. The shows I myself am most looking forward to are in purple:
  • Ai Tenchi Muyou! – A teen boy's house fills with troublemaking alien women.
  • Akatsuki no Yona – A red-haired princess is exiled from her comfortable life and travels with her cheeky but handsome guard.
  • Amagi Brilliant Park – KyoAni in a run-down Disneyland.
  • Bonjour: Koiaji Pâtisserie – Sweet young girl surrounded by bishounen at a pastry school.
  • Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo – Sunrise mecha with women pilots, starring Mizuki Nana.
  • Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai – Library club from an ero-game.
  • Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken – Tamura Yukari as a hard-working wife, Suzumura Kenichi as her total otaku husband.  
  • Denki-gai no Honya-san – Misfit freeters working in a manga store. The writer did Ben-Tou.
  • Donten ni Warau – The Meiji government makes wearing swords illegal. Our three bishounen heroes ferry law-breaking samurai to an island prison.
  • Fate/Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works – Highly anticipated new Fate/Stay Night seinen fantasy fighting series.
  • Garo: Honoo no Kokuin – Highly anticipated new Garo fantasy fighting series.
  • Girlfriend (Beta) – Eighty top female seiyuus in an animated dating sim. The writer did Genshiken.
  • Grisaia no Kajutsu – Private school for hard cases. From an ero-game…. Good staff and cast.
  • Gugure Kokkuri-san – Sad little girl is taken care of by a bishounen ghost. Excellent cast and staff.
  • Gundam Build Fighters Try – Another iteration of the franchise featuring boys fighting with Gundam models. Also highly anticipated.
  • Gundam G no Reconguista – 35th anniversary Gundam series directed by the franchise creator, Tomino Yoshiyuki. Very highly anticipated.
  • Hi Scoool! Seha Girl – 3DCG game-world series that is one long advertisement for Sega.
  • Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle – Second series of the romantic fantasy adventure featuring a cute little girl with a huge gun.
  • Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de – The five members of the Literature Club suddenly acquire superpowers. Hayami Saori, Taneda Risa, Okamoto Nobuhiko.
  • Kaitou Joker – "Mysterious Thief" show written by Satou Dai (GiTS, Cowboy Bebop, Eureka Seven).
  • Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu – True horror. Worm-like alien parasites invade people through their orifices and assume full control.
  • Log Horizon 2 – Another highly anticipated fantasy fighting adventure.
  • Madan no Ou to Vanadis – This romantic fantasy fighting adventure features women warriors showing moderate amounts of flesh.
  • Magic Kaito 1412 – A "Mysterious Thief" show from a manga by the mangaka of Detective Conan.
  • Mushishi Zoku Shou (2014) – A second season of the new series of gem-like short stories following a wanderer in old rural Japan.
  • Nanatsu no Taizai: The Seven Deadly Sins – Shounen comic fantasy directed by Okamura Tensai (Cowboy Bebop, Darker than Black, Zvezda), and written by Suga Shoutarou (Darker than Black, Isshuukan Friends). Plus: Yuuki Aoi!
  • Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji – I really like shoujo romance. And this show has a nice cast, good director, and promising writer. But the basic set-up, where the guy treats the girl as his "dog" makes me worry. Let's hope they get to the point where he realizes he loves her asap. Otherwise, this show will be for masochists only.
  • Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu – The director of OreImo sends up magical girls with a gender-bent show where the male hero transforms into a real magical girl. With Uchida Maaya and Uesaka Sumire.
  • Orenchi no Furo Jijou – Our hero rescues an ikemen merman, who ends up living in the hero's bathtub. A woman directing her first show. Another woman (the writer of Kiniro Mosaic) writing it. Plus Kido Ibuki.  
  • Psycho-Pass 2 – Season 2 of the future dystopia police drama starring Hanazawa Kana and written by Ubukata Tow (Mardock Scramble).
  • Sanzoku no Musume Ronja – Ghibli TV series. Strong little girl in the forest. "The Mountain bandit's daughter, Ronya."
  • Selector Spread Wixoss – Second series. Card-game with eagerly battling pixie avatars, brief triumphs, deep sadness.
  • Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso – Brilliant manga about a genius boy pianist who stops playing when his domineering mother dies, but is opened up again by a genius girl violinist. Well cast with Hanae Natsuki and Taneda Risa.
  • Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis – Arrestingly animated high fantasy from the director of Tiger and Bunny.
  • Shirobako – Five girls chase their dreams in the anime industry. Unknown cast. Director and writer of Genshiken.
  • Sora no Method – Magic, memory, and sad girls (in snow?). From the writer of the original Kanon game.
  • Terra Formars - Annex 1 – Science fiction horror featuring Martian cockroaches the size and shape of humans, but with many times the strength.
  • Tribe Cool Crew – A young boy and girl come of age through dance and dance battles. Sunrise. Early Sunday mornings.
  • Trinity Seven – Ecchi harem fantasy with seven beautiful sorceresses in a school of magic.
  • Ushinawareta Mirai o Motomete – "In Search of Lost Future." Tragic time-travel romance from the director of Mirai Nikki.
  • World Trigger – A mysterious group of young warriors defends the Earth from attack. Written by Yoshino Hiroyuki (Mai-HiME). Directed by the director of Reideen…and Crayon Shin-chan.
  • Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road – Season two of a popular sports anime.
  • Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru – Yuuki Yuuna is in the Hero Club at her school. Director/writer Kishi Seiji/Uezu Makoto (as in Humanity Has Declined, Arpeggio of Blue Steel).

Read on for details of all shows, or click on the links in the following list to go to a specific show: