♦ To Aru Kagaku no Railgun
It comes as no surprise that the first episode features some excellent work both on the directing and animation side of things, certainly one of the most impressive first episodes this season. There’s a whole army of animation directors on this episode (9), which says a lot about the good animation quality since more movement means more drawings to correct, so they apparently needed more ADs to complete it in time. Tatsuyuki Nagai‘s directing is interesting as usual, and especially the layout sense throughout the first episode is great with many carefully thought out compositions emphasizing the happenings on the screen and providing an appropriate stage for the characters. The great layout work was supervised by nobody less than Katsushi Sakurabi, known as the director of “Tsukihime” and “Gunparade March”, who did also some good work on Nagai’s former J.C. project “Toradora!”, in particular his job as episode director of #16 and #24.
The final action scene is the stunning climax of this episode, besides the great animation it’s especially the nice storyboarding which gives the scene its tension and Mikoto her stylish and intruding appearance. Since it’s a first episode the key animation credits feature some rather famous names like Shinichi Iimura, Satoshi Iwataki, Nozomu Abe and (of course?) Hiroki Tanaka (the opening displays also some work by him).
So as far as the production is concerned, it’s certainly a very satisfying debut as one would expect of Nagai, but I have to admit that the scenario is a weak point due to the generic nature, at least that is my impression based on the very first episode. Nagai has already established strong character images and the cunning character interactions which made “Toradora!” so good are also there, so I hope he keeps that up in the succeeding episodes and manages to pull everything together in a worthwile way to cover for its weaknesses.
♦ Seiken no Blacksmith
As expected nothing more than a typical light novel/fantasy anime with rather good manglobe quality. The animation is decent enough with some nice cuts now and then, though the directing isn’t that good for the most part but rather bland like the source material. The first episode is dominated by pretty typical anime behaviour and interactions and correspondingly the characters aren’t particularly interesting or likable at this point, however, I’ll check out some more episodes to see where it’s heading.
Despite knowing that Kampfer is another one of those mass-produced anime for bishoujo/moe fans I watched the first episode and naturally wasn’t too impressed. It’s the kind of anime popular among otaku these days, with the usual stereotypical cast of characters and unimaginative storyline/setting as well as absolutely trite character designs and poor directing. At least the animation is a bit better than in the typical Deen/Xebec/Arms/ZEXCS etc. production, but I’m sure that will change in the succeeding episodes.
♦ Seitokai no Ichizon
Another “masterpiece” by Studio Deen, this time presented in a more self-ironic fashion with loads of references, but it lines up in the studio’s record of cheaply produced series anyway.
♦ Tatakau Shisho: The Book of Bantorra
The first episode is neither particularly good nor really bad, but it certainly shows the origins of david production as the execution is strongly reminiscent of past Gonzo works both in a positive and negative way. Miserable CG work is nothing rare in Japanese animation, but in this case the whole integration as well as the realization are simply uneffective and unaesthetic. The hand-drawn animation is decent for the most part, though I’ve never been a fan of these typical “Gonzo style” drawings because they often look too stiff in motion and aren’t particularly expressive, but compared with some former Gonzo and the Beetrain series this problem isn’t that dominant here (at this point) and at the very least I appreaciate the nice variety of character designs and their rather mature look.
I can’t say much about the story yet, but my initial impression is by and large positive, even if the characters and setting feel somewhat familiar. The directing is admittedly not as interesting as I hoped with a pretty typical approach on the visuals.
♦ Kimi ni Todoke
In terms of direction and animation it certainly fulfils my expectations and it’s another good example of how a good production can make up for a generic scenario. The excellent animation enriches the characters’ personalities and makes their behaviour more believable, especially in the scenes with nuanced acting like the part before the ending of episode 1. This scene feels very natural with richness and harmony in the animation and was probably done by Kenichi Yoshida, who did all in all 30 cuts for this episode according to a statement on his BBS. The directing is very interesting too, Hiro Kaburaki certainly knows how to establish a distinctive mood with clear and appealing visuals, even though the typical anime overacting in some scenes is a bit too much for my taste.
Overall one of the better anime of this year’s fall season and certainly worth checking out.