The new anime fall season is nearly upon us so I guess it’s time for my preview. As usual, it’s not about just mentioning each and every upcoming series, but about those I’ve some expectations for. Therefore, I’ll ignore most of those unwatchable cookie-cutter anime that make up a significant part of each season’s line-up. Sequels are excluded as well.
♦ Star Driver: Kagayaki no Takuto
I can’t deny that I’m pretty excited about this series. First off, Takuya Igarashi is helming it, who is certainly one of the best directors working in Japanese TV animation these days. Secondly, we have Yoji Enokido doing the series composition and Yoshiyuki Ito as character designer and chief animation director, who make up the solid foundation of this original project by studio Bones. The rest of the involved staff is also nothing less than promising, from Yasushi Muraki role as FX animation supervisor to art director Takeshi Waki, which shows that Bones wants to make this project a success at all costs (if it isn’t obvious from the extensive promotion alone). Igarashi‘s previous projects at Bones – ‘Ouran High School Host Club’ and ‘Soul Eater’ – were based on pretty average manga, but are prime examples of how a good director can make any kind of material interesting. I’m admittedly very fond of Igarashi‘s directing style, like how he cares for details and manages to uphold interest at any time. And the episodes he storyboards on his own always feel so perfectly balanced and well thought out with every shot framed in the right way and all sorts of fun ideas spread throughout, so I’m sure that episode 1 will get a lot of people interested in this show who originally thought it wouldn’t be their thing (just like he got me into watching ‘Ojamajo Doremi’ despite not being a fan of magical girl stuff). ‘Star Driver’ is Igarashi‘s first robot anime, but as Enokido pointed out in the interview over at the official website, it’s not a disadvantage. Judging by the interview, Igarashi doesn’t know much about the usual tropes that rule almost all robot anime and isn’t really influenced by any existing works, which certainly is an advantage as Enokido firmly believes. I’m sure this duo of creative talent will show us a fresh vision of this somewhat antiquated genre, at least both seem to have lots of fun with trying out new things and challenging robot anime stereotypes. Just have a look at the comments on the trailer where some said that the magical girl-ish transformations didn’t fit in or the mecha looked weird and such, which proves how deeply ingrained the tropes about how a robot anime is supposed to look are into the fans’ consciousness. Enokido said that he won’t hold back while Igarashi wants to try a bit more adult approach this time around (Enokido joked that he’ll be considered as a rather rascal director from now on), therefore I can’t wait to see what they’re up to with this anime.
♦ Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt
With ‘Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann’ being one of my favorite anime, how couldn’t I be thrilled by the prospect of another series by almost the same staff? Sure, it’s different from the epic mecha action of Hiroyuki Imaishi‘s previous endeavor, but the crazy energy of his directing seems to be just as present in ‘Pansuto’ as it was in ‘Gurren Lagann’. ‘Pansuto’ feels like it’s way closer to his directorial debut ‘DEAD LEAVES’ with its extremely cartoony designs and the same sense of grotesque humour. There is going to be lots of ‘dirty’ comedy both in the sense of sexual innuendoes and poop humour, and Imaishi seems to be aware that this doesn’t go well with some of the audience. At the ‘REDLINE’ Anime Style Event last weekend he reportedly said that he expected to lose the female audience he had won over with ‘Gurren Lagann’ and he was very sorry to disappoint the enthusiastic female fans who had promised him with sparkling eyes at Comiket to also support his next work. Reading the reactions on the PV on forums and blogs, it seems to be indeed a ‘love or hate’ thing and difficult to appreciate for many anime fans, and certainly not only due to the risque humour. ‘Pansuto’ doesn’t embody the narrow image many fans have of anime as it’s strongly inspired by Western cartoons and thus for some of no interest right from the beginning, but there was still a lot of positive feedback, too. As far as the staff is concerned, the only major difference to ‘Gurren Lagann’ is that Kazuki Nakashima isn’t doing the series composition, yet I suspect that he might be involved as episode scriptwriter. The scripts seem to be written by all sorts of people, from Imaishi himself to the producer, so expect some fun ideas and a good deal of variety throughout the series. On the animation side of things, I think it goes without saying that ‘Pansuto’ has a lot to offer with people like Hiroyuki Imaishi, You Yoshinari, Sushio, Tadashi Hiramatsu and Akira Amemiya involved.
An adaptation of the same-named manga by director Takahiro Omori, writer Jukki Hanada and studio Brains Base, it airs in Fuji TV‘s famous ‘noitaminA‘ programming block at that. Due to the hilarious premise and ever-relieable Takahiro Omori directing, I can’t imagine how this show couldn’t be entertaining. Furthermore, Kenji Hayama‘s character designs certainly appeal to me and go well with the assumedly light-hearted tone of the series.
I read the first volume of the manga a while ago and thought it was enjoyable yet nothing really outstanding. I’m willing to give the anime a chance since I have faith in Kenichi Kasai‘s skills as director, but as with the manga, I don’t expect it to become a masterpiece. It’s produced by J.C. Staff after all, which means a ‘by the book’ production without anything particularly new or imaginative. For all that, Takeshi Obata‘s design style strikes a chord with me (as usual), so maybe I can look over some of the shortcomings this way.
♦ Soredemo Machi wa Mawatteiru
This season’s new Shinbo/Shaft series based on a manga by Masakazu Ishiguro. I’m not as enthusiastic about Shinbo anymore as I used to be back in the day (i.e. at the time of ‘Petite Cossette’) since he just churns out one new show after another these days. Shaft‘s latest series were mostly let-downs (with the exception of ‘Bakemonogatari’) and I usually couldn’t summon enough motivation to watch more than the first two episodes. The trailer somewhat gets my hopes up as it seems to be livelier than your average Shaft show thanks to the good animation, but whether the finished product will feature this quality is another question. Studio Pastoral‘s Hiroki Yamamura is in charge of character design (for the first time) and overall animation direction, so I guess said studio will be heavily involved in this. There’s some hope that Shinbo brings his connections into action for once, at least the opening is storyboarded by Yasuomi Umetsu who said that some Ex-Ghibli animators worked on it. Maybe they’ll be involved in the actual show, too?
♦ Shinryaku! Ika Musume
I only found out recently that Tsutomu Mizushima is directing this anime, which entices me to check out the first episode at the very least. Also, this seems to be the kind of material that goes well with Mizushima‘s style, could be a fun watch even it looks pretty standard at first sight.
♦ Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai
I’m not totally sold on the plot premise, but I’ve enjoyed Hideyuki Kurata‘s writing in a good number of anime so I’m going to give it a shot. I’m not too familiar with neither the director nor character designer Hiroyuki Oda (alias Hiro Kanzaki, hence both original character design and animation character design are from the same person), but I know that producer Atsuhiro Iwakami has good connections to all sort of industry people, thus it wouldn’t be surprising if some renowned directors and animators helped out. Production values seem to be above usual AIC standards, too.
♦ Kami Nomi zo Shiru Sekai
Another series with Hideyuki Kurata in charge of series composition, but this one is produced by studio Manglobe. Yeah, even Manglobe does anime like this these days. As with ‘OreImo’, I’m inclined to think that it could be decently interesting due to Kurata‘s writing. However, since they have Shigehito Takayanagi as director on board, it’s probably better to expect not too much.
♦ Iron Man
This sure isn’t the ‘Iron Man’ anymore that everyone looked forward to after Takeshi Koike‘s mind-blowing pilot, but that was to be expected. Nonetheless, I didn’t think that the actual series would look that disappointing. The new trailers make it look like a typical cheap outsourced Madhouse show, just look at that bad CG animation and boring character designs. At least they got Yuzo Sato of ‘Kaiji’ fame as director who probably prevents it from being a total let-down, but it’s still nothing I look forward to.
♦ Super Robot Taisen OG: The Inspector
Director Masami Obari and his staff seem to be pretty enthusiastic about this series. Nevertheless, I think one shouldn’t expect anything more than some nice action from it, otherwise it seems to be a rather bland mecha show.
♦ Tantei Opera Milky Holmes
Actually, I wouldn’t even mention it here if it wasn’t for the fact that no one less than Seiya Numata is the character designer. I don’t think that Makoto Morikawa‘s directing will do much for me, let alone the story or characters who are obviously just pandering to ‘moe’ otaku taste. Since Numata isn’t even animation director on the first episode, I suppose he won’t be much involved in most of the other episodes either. And without any decent animation to uphold my interest, this might be utterly unwatchable in view of J.C. Staff‘s typical trite art direction and bad photography.