Archive for the ‘Winter Season’ Category


After watching 7 episodes of ‘Ano Natsu de Matteru’ I’m bound to say that this is a damn fine show considering its genre and the studio. I can’t say that I’m an avid fan of romantic comedies or that I like J.C. STAFF‘s usual output. Actually, the last J.C. STAFF series I’ve watched in its fullness was ‘Toaru Kagaku no Railgun’, which happens to be one of the previous works of Tatsuyuki Nagai, the director of ‘Ano Natsu’. He is one of the few directors who do decent work at J.C. STAFF these days. J.C. STAFF‘s glorious days where Kunihiko Ikuhara, Fumihiko Takayama and Akiyuki Shinbo were active there are long gone, nowadays it’s just the embodiment of the copy-and-paste approach and stagnation in the industry. While ‘Ano Natsu’ doesn’t deviate from the usual J.C. STAFF formula, it’s a surprisingly well-executed and fun show for the most part. Director Tatsuyuki Nagai and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka have already proved several times that they are a good team that knows how to make enjoyable anime, and ‘Ano Natsu’ is no exception. Once again Masayoshi Tanaka‘s excellent animation backs up Nagai‘s skillful directing, and fortunately their work isn’t dragged down by Mari Okada‘s writing this time.


What I particularly enjoy about Nagai‘s directing is his clever visual language. He’s good at getting something across to the viewers with inconspicuous means and at telling the story on a visual level. Sometimes he conveys a lot with just one cut/image or the way he connects different cuts. He pays a lot of attention to the character acting as well by laying the foundation for the characters’ liveliness and the amusing character interplay in his detailed storyboards. One thing I’ve repeatedly found quite conspicuous is Nagai sharing some characteristics regarding his visual language with Mamoru Hosoda or the ‘Ikuhara school‘ as a whole. I think there has definitely been influence on Nagai coming from this direction, with some of his work featuring (visual) traits I usually associate with the ‘Ikuhara school’. By way of illustration, some examples:

Read Full Post »


I guess it’s time for a new post on Studio Ordet since their first TV anime ‘Black Rock Shooter’ is currently airing. Let me say right from the start that I think the TV version of BRS is worse than the OVA in almost every respect, which has mostly to do with some unfortunate changes regarding the main staff. However, since my last write-up on Studio Ordet in 2009, there have been some serious changes within the studio, and unfortunately for the worse. I liked Studio Ordet in its early days for bringing KyoAni‘s vivid animation to non-KyoAni shows and for Yutaka Yamamoto‘s fun directing, too. Just have a look at early Studio Ordet episodes such as Kemeko Deluxe! #2 or Sketchbook ~full color’S~ #11 which you could essentially call subcontract work by Kyoto Animation due ot the high ratio of Ex-KyoAni staff involved. Back then, Studio Ordet‘s usual line-up of animators was fantastic with Shinobu Yoshioka, Satoshi Kadowaki, Yuusuke Matsuo and Gorou Sessha (among some other former KyoAni animators credited with pseudonyms) collaborating.


It’s difficult to figure out who is behind each and every pseudonym used in early Ordet work, but due to the fact that most Ordet-associated people were also close to Yamakan in their KyoAni period, it’s not an impossible undertaking. It isn’t too hard to keep track of the people who leave KyoAni either, or at least of those who did some kind of meaningful work at KyoAni (key animators, background artists, production runners, etc.). For instance, I’m pretty sure that the character designer of ‘Kannagi’ – credited with the pseudonym Mima Kakeru – is Satoshi Kadowaki. Yamakan once said that ‘Mima Kakeru‘ was a joint-pen name for several spirited artists, so it probably depends on the work. In the case of ‘Kannagi’, I’m sure that Satoshi Kadowaki is at least one of the persons behind the pseudonym. And that not only due to the nature of the designs, but for the simple reason that one of Kadowaki‘s art books was even promoted with ‘by the character designer of Kannagi’, so this one is actually a no-brainer. As far as the animation director of Sketchbook #11 is concerned (similarly credited with Mima Kakeru), I’m pretty sure that this one stands for Kadowaki, too. The way the faces are drawn in that episode (with a slightly three-dimensional feel to it) leaves little doubt for me.


The other interesting person who uses an obvious pen name and who frequently participated in Ordet‘s early work is Gorou Sessha. In the past few years he has gotten quite some attention for his nice work on Naruto. I’ve always suspected that Seiji Watanabe might be behind this pen name, who kind of disappeared after leaving KyoAni. He was credited on Kannagi and even on Yutaka Yamamoto‘s live action movie, though. Interesting enough, according to an event report from Yamakan‘s lecture at Kyoto University festival last November, Yamakan apparently mentioned that Gorou Sessha was his junior back in his Kyoto Animation period. In the case of Seiji Watanabe, this would make perfect sense since Watanabe often worked on Yamakan‘s episodes and even helped out as assistant director on episodes like Haruhi #00 and #12. For me, Seiji Watanabe was always one of the most recognizable KyoAni animators due to his vaguely Kanada-like style (extreme poses and exaggerated movement). The best example for this is the ‘anime within anime’ that he animated for AIR #5. He drew 130 sheets of key animation and no inbetweens were used as he mentioned in a comment. And it’s rumored that he not only helped Yamakan processing the concert scene in Haruhi #12, but also animated the most difficult cuts on his own.


Anyway, before I stray too far from the topic indicated by the heading of this post, let’s return to the current state of Studio Ordet. As I said above, Ordet has very much changed during the past two years. It has never been an ordinary anime studio in the first place (at least until now), but more of a free union of artists. Yamakan said so himself in the recent discussion with SANZIGENs Hiroaki Matsuura and Trigger‘s Masahiko Otsuka featured in Newtype 03/2012 (supposing that the transcripts on 2ch are correct). According to what Yamakan said, Ordet is now in middle of the transformation from a free artist group to a full-fledged anime studio. Unfortunately, this goes hand in hand with some serious changes within the studio. Meanwhile, most of the people who made Ordet‘s early work shine have left the studio. Satoshi Kadowaki seems to have moved on to Production I.G. with working on Guilty Crown and the Sengoku Basara Movie. The likes of Gorou Sessha and Yuusuke Matsuo have always had quite a loose connection to Ordet to begin with. Even BRS director Shinobu Yoshioka is apparently not a Ordet member (anymore?), or at least he distanced himself from Ordet when somebody asked him on Twitter last year whether Touko Takao was a member of Studio Ordet. From the early Ordet regulars, only Emi Kesamaru, Ryouichi Nakano and former KyoAni production runner Ryouko Tomii seem to remain for now. To compensate for the persons leaving and probably to set a foundation for further growth as well, Ordet has hired some freelancers in the recent past. Judging by recent Ordet work ([C] #6, Idolmaster #11 and Working!! #7), current regulars are as follows:


♦ Yosuke Yamamoto [山本陽介] – Production Runner
♦ Kazuya Sako [佐古一哉] – Key Animator
♦ Ryouichi Nakano [中野良一] – Key Animator
♦ Maimu Matsushima [松嶌舞夢] – Key Animator, Inbetweener
♦ Sachika Choumei [長命幸佳] – Inbetweener, Inbetween Check
♦ Mamiko Sekiya [関谷麻美子] – Inbetweener, Inbetween Check
♦ Ritsuko Shiina [椎名律子] – Inbetweener
♦ Arina Inaba [稲葉麻莉奈] – Inbetweener
♦ Masayo Tamaki [玉置雅代] – Inbetweener


Their current core staff is nothing to speak of if you ask me. And I’m still wondering why Ordet is credited for Black Rock Shooter’s ‘(2D) animation production’ instead of Trigger. If you have a look at the credits of BRS TV, you might notice that Trigger was credited in the first three episodes with ‘production cooperation’ and that many key animators are (former) Gainax regulars (so probably now with Trigger). The other studio credited for cooperation is ‘Raiden Film‘, which apparently was also brought up in afore-mentioned Newtype feature as a new studio joining ‘Ultra Super Pictures‘. Ryouichi Nakano and Kazuya Sako are the only key animators in the first three episodes that I would associate with Ordet. So why didn’t they credit ‘Ultra Super Pictures‘ to begin with? Sure, not all ‘members’ of USP are involved in BRS, but still…


Post-‘Fractale’ Ordet work:
♦ [C] – The Money and Soul of Possibility [TV]: Production Cooperation #6
♦ Doraemon (2011) [TV]: Inbetween Animation #429
♦ Dantalian no Shoka [TV]: Inbetween Animation #9 #10 #11
♦ THE IDOLM@STER [TV]: Production Cooperation #11
♦ Working!! [TV]: Production Cooperation #7
♦ Black Rock Shooter [TV]: Animation Production

Read Full Post »


So after neglecting this blog for two months due to being incredibly busy, I guess it’s already time for a next season preview again, even though I’m a bit late this time. Anyway, below you can find my expectations and preliminary thoughts on the upcoming series. As usual, stuff I’m not interested in and sequels are excluded.

Read Full Post »


Compared to the last few winter seasons the number of new anime has noticeably gone back and, sadly, more than half of them seem to be the usual cheap cookie-cutter stuff that dominates modern anime, though there are still a few promising series in the lineup.

High Expectations


It’s basically the same constellation of people who created the outstanding Baccano!, strictly speaking it’s based on a light novel series written by Narita Ryougo with the well-attuned team of Noboru Takagi (series composition) and Takahiro Omori (director) handling its adaption into animation. The animation is once more produced by studio Brains Base, but Omori‘s projects attract all kind of artists so I’m sure we’ll see some talents doing great work like in Baccano!. Takahiro Kishida, who is also a regular on Omori‘s works, created the wonderful character designs, haven’t seen anything better for a while. I’m pretty sure that Durarara!! will be the highlight of the upcoming season (which isn’t that difficult to speak the truth), can’t wait to see what Omori intends to do with this one, his imaginative and intense directing style that reaches out into every aspect of the production promises some enjoyable time.

Medium Expectations


This is the first anime of the so-called “Anime no Chikara” project which is a collaboration of TV Tokyo and Aniplex to create original anime with talented creators. Mamoru Kanbe is directing it so I expect a half-way decent result, and besides it’s rare these days that a scenario sounds as interesting as this one (even if there’s a bunch of assumedly stereotypical bishoujo’s involved). It’s an A-1 Pictures production which commonly means averaging quality if there aren’t the right people involved, but Toshifumi Akai‘s participation as chief animation director (who aquired some renown through his work on Kannagi, or more specifically his animation supervision of #10 and key animation on several episodes) makes me hope that the animation could turn out pretty good. The eye-catching resemblance of Akai‘s character designs to K-ON! respectively Yukiko Horiguchi‘s style is of course no coincidence as he obviously likes K-ON! (like he wrote on his blog) and Horiguchi‘s work. The PV reveals some convincing animation which even comes close to Horiguchi‘s lively and rich animation at times, though I suspect that they can’t keep it up… anyways, I’m curious if Ordet will be participating too since the designs are of their lineage in some way.


Hanamaru Kindergarten

Gainax and Seiji Mizushima do indeed sound great, but despite the reputable director I doubt that Hanamaru Kindergarten is a high-priority project for them. That said, I’m glad to see a new comedy series by Gainax and the trailer certainly caught my interest through the usual overdone Gainax humour. If anyone can make something really worthwile out of this source material, then it’s without doubt Gainax.



After Shaft x Shinbou‘s Bakemonogatari, Katanagatari is the second anime adaptation of NisiOisin‘s work, this time by White Fox and Keitaro Motonaga (School Days, Akasaka, etc.). It’s interesting that the anime will air over a period of a whole year with one 60 minutes episode per month (so one for each novel volume), this should allow for some additional polishing of their animation work. I really liked the style shown in the PVs and the animation wasn’t that bad either, but hardly surprising as there are some talented people attached to White Fox (like Naoto Hosoda, I’m sure he’ll do some work on Katanagatari). Since it’s based on novels by NisiOisin, it’s probably not on the low standard of most other light novel adaptations, but let’s wait and see what the director (whose former works weren’t particularly creative) does with the material.

Low Expectations


I’ve wanted to see a Ryukishi07 work adapted into anime by another studio than Deen for quite a while as his stuff is actually interesting and entertaining and deserves something better than such an awful mixture of still-images and trite directing, but this combination (Nobuhiro Takamoto and AIC) isn’t too promising either. I fear that it won’t be anything more than standard fare with some decently interesting storyline, though quality-wise probably a notch better than the extremely bad Deen stuff. If the first two episodes manage to catch my interest, then I’ll watch some more of it for the sake of Ryukishi07‘s original scenario. The setting is certainly reminiscent of Higurashi, and Ōkamikakushi seems to be the same twisting and blending of various genres and concepts that make the “When they cry” franchise so remarkable.


Dance in the Vampire Bund

This season’s new Shaft x Shinbou anime, apparently presented in a more violent and darker fashion reminiscent of Petite Cossette and Soul Taker. It’s Shinbou so I expect a halfway decent result even with this generic sounding source material.


Seikon no Qwaser

While the content seems to be nothing more than an extremely fanservice-y version of the usual fantasy/school stuff, it could surprise on the technical side of things since some interesting staff is involved. Director Hiraku Kaneko is a good choice for this kind of anime as his (nice) work as animator is equally coined by fanservice, the same goes for Hiroya Iijima (chief animation director) who did a lot of work on adult animation, though he concentrated more on TV anime in the last few years. Remarkable are also the two relatively new companies Taki Corporation and Hoods Entertainment that handle the (animation) production, latter is another offspring of Gonzo, to be exact mostly of the section which worked on Linebarrels of Iron. The promo shows some decent animation quality, though if the scenario is as ridiculous as I heard from various sources, then I won’t bother with it.


Baka to Test to Shōkanjū

So Shinbou‘s protégé (Shin Oonuma) is directing a series at Silver Link? They recently worked on some Shaft shows so it’s far from being a surprise, but it won’t be anything too outstanding even with Oonuma directing, it just doesn’t strike me as interesting at all, much less as something meaningful like ef ~ a tale of memories.


I left out all the unbearable and insignificant cookie-cutter stuff as well as the sequels like Nodame Cantabile Finale, Hidamari Sketch and Gag Manga Biyori+, even if some those follow-up series probably rank among the better anime this season.

Read Full Post »