Category Archives: Initial Impressions

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED] Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 Satoru Fujinuma is a struggling manga artist and pizza delivery man who has the ability to turn back time and prevent deaths.  ~ANN

Animation Production: A-1 Pictures

Director: Tomohiko Ito ( Director on Sword Art Online / Episode Director on DEATH NOTE episodes 2, 7, 14 and 17 / Storyboards and Episode Director on Michiko e Hatchin episodes 4, 12 and 19)

Series Composition: Taku Kishimoto ( Series Script Writer on Gin no Saji / Series Script Writer on Haikyuu!! / Script Writer on Prince of Stride: Alternative episode 2)

Character Designer:  Keigo Sasaki ( Key Animator on Le Chevalier D’Eon episodes 3, 8, 11 and 22 / Key Animator on Shingeki no Kyojin episode 1 / Character Designer on Ao no Exorcist and Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda)

Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi ( Music Composer on Ah! My Goddess TV and film / Music Composer on Galilei Donna / Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor on Final Fantasy VII Advent Children / Music Composer on Shirobako / Music Composer on Tari Tari)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Tomohiko Ito

Storyboards: Tomohiko Ito

Script: Taku Kishimoto


 

The new season is finally here and with it another Noitamina series.  I’ve been very un-interested in a lot of what this season has to offer but from the announcement of what was going to be airing there were three that had my attention.  Josei series Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, science fiction action series Dimension W and this. Adapting a Kei Sanbe manga was the right choice for 2016.  It’s about time we get one of his works.  He’s known for writing enthralling characters and putting them into situations that evolve their characters to great heights.  I was actually quite surprised this would be the series to receive an anime adaptation before some of his earlier works in the 2000’s. After seeing this premiere however, my mind has changed on this.  Boku Machi takes a college-aged student, gives him an extraordinary ability to time travel and throws dreadful situations at him one after the other.  This is by far one of the top premieres this season–stunning visuals, tense atmosphere not to mention fast-pacing.  Tomohiko Ito compiled an entire volume in just 25 minutes!

Even better is the fact that we’ve got two extremely famous Japanese actors voicing 29-year old and 10-year old Satoru Fujinuma.  Only other time this has happened, If I remember right, is Michiko e Hatchin.  I give props to them for handling this entire episode wonderfully.  The narrative warrants Boku Machi as the “stand-out” show of this season.  I really like how real Satoru’s personality is influenced by his power. He’s well aware of Katagiri liking him but doesn’t want to get closer to her probably because of what he’s seen with his time traveling.  His relationship with his 52-year old mother is very much real–the conversation they have about Katagiri being marriage potential was one of the more subtle scenes that explores his family relationship very strongly.  I’m sure when we see his childhood scenes its very different–lot less respectful.  His mother, Sachiko clued in on the incident that happened when Satoru was a child and what a great way to foreshadow the ending by using serial murderer Jun Shiratori as the red herring.

An aspect that keeps me coming back to watching a variety of anime is how an episode is storyboarded.  This episode used a ton of distance shots to capture this theme of time really well.  The composition is ridiculously good for a television series.  Great framing on the characters to build up the tense atmosphere surround Satoru’s ability and I really love the shot where it pans around Sachiko’s keen sense of another abduction attempt.  There both just standing there–Satoru is trying to figure out with his time traveling ability what’s out of place and his mom definitely knows something isn’t right and figures it right out!  Given how we’re left with a cliffhanger I wonder how this will pan out since the director announced he was going to be following the manga’s ending and it hasn’t even ended yet! There’s sure to be a lot of material cut.

At first the narration had me a bit worried.  There’s a lot.  However, it works in that Tomohiko Ito was able to keep the momentum going while trimming down from the source material.  If there’s more manga parts left from the anime I really hope the execution of this series stays true because if that’s the case this might be the best anime to air this season!

The sound effects were very strong.  Coming from Another’s and PSYCHO-PASS‘s sound director Yoshikazu Iwanami this was pretty impressive for its first episode.

My club just recently had our after holiday anime party. This was one of the episodes shown including holiday-themed episodes from Nisekoi and Ranma.  Feature film was Tokyo Godfathers.  Boku Machi received a huge applause after it was shown.  Really good to see Noitamina’s picked up a gem.  Next one they should do is Omoide Emanon.  Gorgeous artwork in that manga and a fascinating story!

 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Haruchika: Haruto to Chika wa Seishun Suru Episode 1 (Initial Impressions)

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Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it. ~ANN

Animation Production: P.A. Works ( Angel Beats!CANAANHanasaku IrohaShirobakoTrue TearsTari TariNagi no Asukara)

Director: Masakazu Hashimoto ( Episode Director on Hanasaku Iroha episode 13 / Episode Director on Immortal Grand Prix 2 episodes 4, 8, 10, 15, 17, 19, 22 and 24 / Director on Soul Eater NOT!)

Series Composition: Reiko Yoshida ( Screenplay Writer on Aria the Avyenire OAV / Script Writer on Ao No Exorcist The Movie / Series Composition on Chu-Bra!! / Script Writer on Genshiken episode 2)

Character Designer:  Asako Nishida ( Character Designer on Active Raid / Character Designer on Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko / Animation Director on Fate/Stay Night (2005) / Character Designer on Moryo no Hako / Character Designer and Chief Animation Director on Simoun)

Music: Shiroh Hamaguchi ( Music Composer on Ah! My Goddess TV and film / Music Composer on Galilei Donna / Music Composer and Orchestra Conductor on Final Fantasy VII Advent Children / Music Composer on Shirobako / Music Composer on Tari Tari)

Episode 1 Production Details

Episode Director: Atsuko Ishizuka

Storyboards: Atsuko Ishizuka

Script: Taku Kishimoto


We’ve seen school-based mystery and music themed series before. Both of which were a part of Kyoto Animation’s works– Hibike! Euphonium and Hyouka.  I enjoyed Hyouka and am still getting through Hibike but I have to say I get the feeling this won’t be a great show.  Coming from the same director of Tari Tari no less it would surprise me if this turns out to be anything spectacular.  Take Chika Homura for example, she’s a kawaii tenth grader eager to join the school band club.  Her character is very annoying.  From the get-go I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this show being animated by P.A. Works simply because this is supposed to be a deep mystery series and in this first episode we’re getting  a girl trying her hardest to be cute for her teacher.  The first half was your typical backstory–Chika has always wanted to be in concert band and it did develop her character but from the moment the teacher stepped into the picture its as if the writer forgot about her development.

I really can’t quite grasp why P.A. Works couldn’t step out of their element here and do something different.  Be a bit more faithful to the novels.  The artwork in those were incredible and I can’t see why Asako Nishida couldn’t design characters that looked older.  The only good part from this guy’s career was his designs on Moryo no Hako.  This show needs to step it up.  This entire episode screams impressionism.  Similar to Kyoto Animation, P.A. Works is another studio that you can tell from the first scene that it’s their work.  Brightly lit backgrounds, beautiful childlike characters (even some of the adults in the series that should be 50-something look 18 to 30).

The only part of this that breaks the norm is the other lead Haruta Kamijo is gay and also in love with the band teacher.

I was really hoping for blood with those music notes not paint and an entire episode dedicated to the two leads confessing their love.

Please, just let Studio MAPPA take over now.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 2/10

DROPPED

 

Winter 2016 Anime Series Preview

I am so behind on my posts. Still need to work on around 10 shows that’s not including series from the Summer and Fall season.  For one of my New Years resolutions I’m making it a priority to cover this new season on a regular basis. At least I’m going to try to.  Without further ado here is the list of series.


Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Production IMS
  • CHIEF DIRECTOR: Goro Taniguchi
  • DIRECTOR: Noriaki Akitaya
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Original Work
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Naruhisa Arakawa
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Asako Nishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shun Saeki
  • MUSIC: Kotaro Nakagawa

PLOT: An original anime set in a part of Tokyo that has descended into a quagmire, the story follows Unit 8 of the 5th Special Public Security Section’s 3rd Mobile Assault Division — popularly called “The Eighth” — who don powered armor “Willware” exoskeletons to counter the rise in crime.


The chief director is the same director of Code Geass. I’m glad to see we’ve got the Bakuman director helming this project under Taniguchi.  Hopefully there will be a mix of creative influence here.  Having the Spice & Wolf may help with the pacing of this series.  However, knowing it’s the same script writer of Upotte!! has me very worried that this is going to be just another mecha series filled with fan service.  Premise sounds interesting though especially the quagmire as the backdrop.  I just hope they’ve done their research for this show.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 65%


 

Ajin

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: POLYGON PICTURES
  • CHIEF DIRECTOR: Hiroyuki Seshita
  • DIRECTOR: Hiroaki Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Gamon Sakurai
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Hiroshi Seko
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yuki Moriyama
  • MUSIC: Yuugo Kanno

PLOT: 17 years ago, immortals first appeared on the battlefields of Africa. Later, rare, unknown new immortal lifeforms began appearing among humans, and they became known as “Ajin” (demi-humans). Just before summer vacation, a Japanese high school student is instantly killed in a traffic accident on his way home from school. However, he is revived, and a price is placed on his head. Thus begins a boy’s life on the run from all of humankind.


Coming back from the film the entire staff returns for the television adaptation.  POLYGON PICTURES uses a 3D technique that not very many companies use.  Their known for this and it really works, it’s very different from most anime that air alongside it. It’s also the team that did the Sidonia no Kishi series and film. I’m looking forward to this since it’s a horror series and music composer Yuugo Kanno did a nice job with the first season of Psycho-Pass’ soundtrack. What has me really sold is the script writer one of my favorites from 2015.  Hiroshi Seko.  Amazing writer that took on the best episode of Kill la Kill, episode 5.  Plus a few episodes of Zankyou no Terror.  I haven’t read the manga but I’ve heard nothing but stellar things about it. I’m looking forward to this one.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 75%


 

Akagami no Shirayukihime Season 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: BONES
  • DIRECTOR: Masahiro Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sorata Akizuki
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Deko Akao
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kumiko Takahashi
  • MUSIC: Michiru Oshima

PLOT: A follow up to the first season’s story. Shirayuki was born with extremely rare and beautiful red hair. When the Prince of her home country asks her to become his concubine, she decides to run away from her home. While making her escape through a forest, Shirayuki has an encounter with a boy named Zen, the Prince of a neighboring country. Shirayuki decides to join Zen in his country, in the pursuit of a better life, respect, and romance.


 

I absolutely loved the first season.  I’m still working on reviewing it. Michiru Oshima is one of my favorite composers of 2015. Her compositions are absolutely compelling and for a classic tale like this one it’s not doubt she can’t deliver another top notch score to this second season!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 100%


 

Assassination Classroom Season 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: LERCHE
  • DIRECTOR: Seiji Kishi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yusei Matsui
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Makoto Uezu
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kazuaki Morita
  • MUSIC: Naoki Sato

PLOT: Class 3E is about to begin their second semester. And while some things have changed, the class assignment is still the same: kill their teacher before the end of the year. Easier said than done since Koro Sensei’s made it clear he won’t go down without a fight.


Boring story.  I tried to watch this series when it initially aired last spring and it was just awful.  Which is a surprise because I’ve enjoyed Seiji Kasha’s works before.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 0%


 

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: GONZO
  • DIRECTOR: Fumitoshi Oizaki
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Nacho Kio
    • Ryoichi Watanabe
    • Ryusuke Mutsu
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Reiko Yoshida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: 
    • Itsuka Yuki
    • Suzumori
  • MUSIC: Elements Garden

PLOT: In a world where flying is as simple as riding a bicycle, there is a popular sport called “Flying Circus” (dogfight race). The protagonist who once hoped for a future in this sport suffered a setback due to an overwhelming defeat, and withdrew from the sport for this and some other reason. However, he met the transfer student Asuka Kurashina, and in teaching her to fly the skies, the old passion returned. He takes part in the Flying Circus again.


Another eroge visual novel turned anime series.  Judging by the trailers the animation doesn’t look too bad.  It’s got a strange 3D look on the character designs that almost looks as if they did finishing touches with CG animation. The worrisome part about this is the original PC visual novel was written by Fruit of Grisaia‘s Nacho Kio and Kururu‘s Ryoichi Watanabe.  Both are known for doing extreme ecchi scenes and having an animated work in their hands just oozes sexually suggestive scenes everywhere.  I don’t really know much about the score production other than that its done by Fruit of Grisaia’s team–heavy on the synthesizer stringed melodies.  The story sounds generic too.  Curious about the setting though.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 10%

 


 

Boku Dake ga Inai Machi [ERASED]

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Tomohiko Ito
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kei Sanbe
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Keigo Sasaki
  • MUSIC: Yuki Kaijura

PLOT: Follows Satoru, a struggling manga artist who has an ability that forces him back in time to prevent deaths. When his mother is killed he’s sent back in time to solve the mystery, but ends up back in elementary school, just before the disappearance of his classmate Kayo.


Asian Kung Fu Generation is performing the opening song! Yes!! What’s even cooler is that they’re redoing a song from 2004, Re:Re.  Nice way to tie in the show’s themes of time travel! I could not have asked for a better team to handle this anime adaptation! I’ve been reading the manga and it’s absolutely wonderful! Gin no Saji‘s Tomohiko Ito will do a nice job getting the slow pacing down. Taku Kishimoto will nail down the characterization wonderfully!  The voice cast has me ever more intrigued. They went with authenticity by having lead character Satoru Fujinuma [29 years old] be voiced by popular J-Drama actor Shinnosuke Mitsushima! Plus, the voice of Satoru Fujinuma [10 years old] will be voiced by J-Drama actress Tao Tsuchiya from popular film series Rurouni Kenshin! This will be the first time these two will be lending their talents to an animated work! If I remember correctly, Michiko e Hatchin has been the only other series to have it’s two starring roles be cast by big name Japanese actresses! This is going to be very good! The music already sounds dark and carries a heavy presence to the series themes of death and supernatural time traveling. Yuki Kaijura will do wonders for this anime! Great addition to the Noitamina lineup!

LIKELY TO BLOG: 110% [I felt going above 100 was appropriate for this series]


 

Bubuki Buranki

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: SANZIGEN
  • DIRECTOR: Daizen Komatsuda
  • ORIGINAL WORK
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Jirou Ishii
    • Yukinori Kitajima
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yuusuke Kozaki
  • MUSIC: Maseru Yokoyama

PLOT: Returning to Japan after having been away for 10 years, Azuma Kazuki finds himself attacked and captured by armed strangers. What saved him was his childhood friend, the girl Kogane Asabuki, and the Bubuki that had become her right hand.


Commemorating the studio’s 10th anniversary. Really?  Let’s hope they don’t mess this up like they did with Arslan Senki‘s animation.  I think what strikes a positive in my book for seeing the first few episodes is Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso‘s composer Masaru Yokohama doing the music for this series.  Arakawa Under the Bridge soundtrack was amazing too. Great to see this guy being used for more stuff! What worries me a bit is that Hamatora was a mess of series and we’ve got the creator of that working on the scripts to this.  The animation is strikingly different than a lot of series I saw last year.  It’s like a cross between God Eater‘s cell-shaded style with designs straight out of Black Rock Shooter not sure if I’m glad about this. 3D animation always has the habit of being too shaky.  Sometimes it works like with Sidonia no Kishi but that’s because that series had a strong narrative to tell.  That being said, Bubuki Buranki is by the illustrator of Speed Grapher.  Character designs in that show were fantastic for its time.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 55%


 

Dagashi Kashi

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Feel
  • DIRECTOR: Shigehito Takayanagi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Kotoyama
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Shigehito Takayanagi
    • Yasuko Kamo
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kanetoshi Kamimoto
  • MUSIC: 
    • Pony Canyon [producer]
    • Satoshi Motoyama [sound director]

PLOT: Kokonotsu “Coconuts” Shikada dreams of becoming a famous manga artist. The only problem—he’s terrible. His real talent is selling the complex and delicious snacks in his father’s “dagashi” shop. He never thought much about the family business until the trendy, eccentric Hotaru showed up. As a lover of “dagashi,” she can’t let his talent go to waste and decides she won’t stop ‘til she’s sold him on sweets.


I’m sold on the plot alone because it’s strange.  The focus on sweets should give anyone that’s a fan of Shokugeki no Soma a try for this series.  I checked out a bit of the manga and while it’s decent at best it does carry a lot of anime tropes that are often overused.  A comedy series with no substantial dramatic plot.  Just a strong emphasis on gag jokes with female Hotaru teasing Shikada left and right.  In manga format it’s ok because there is a pacing to it that balances between that and the side girl character that’s in love with Shikada.  Hopefully this show won’t be heavy on the fan service.  Given by this studio’s track record it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest that it would be anything more than just that.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 60%


 

Dimension W

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: 
    • Studio 3Hz
    • Orange
    • Funimation [part of the production committee]
  • DIRECTOR: Kanta Kamei
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Yuji Iwahara
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Shotaro Suga
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Tokuyuki Matsutake
  • MUSIC: Shiina Go

PLOT: Humanity harnessed a new inexhaustible energy from inventions called “Coils” in 2051. In 2072, a skilled recovery specialist named Kyōma Mabuchi encounters a mysterious, beautiful woman right in the middle of a certain job. It is a fateful encounter that opens the door to the new dimension “W.”


The animation looks very stylish for a series that is extremely action-packed and is sci-fi heavy.  I’m glad to see the Dark Than Black and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex writer working on this.  He’s got a knack for science fiction and as beautiful as the characters look I’m sure this one is going to be pretty good.  My big issue with this is Kanta Kamei.  He did a nice job on Saekano earlier this year and Usagi Drop from 2011 was a great Noitamina series but when it comes to action series he overlooks the importance of characterization and how to get that on the screen.  I’ve got faith that Shotaro Suga will point him in the right direction, not to mention Funimation providing some backbone will definitely make the first few episodes come together quite nicely.  It’ll be interesting to see how the English dub will be handled considering they’ve got their hands in this show even way before it airs.

Looking forward to this one. What’s also great is where the original source material came from–Yuji Iwahara, the creator of King of Thorn!  He also designed the characters to Darker than Black!  When I saw this trailer I immediately got Darker than Black vibes from it.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 90%


 

Divine Gate

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Pierrot
  • DIRECTOR: Noriyuki Abe
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based on GungHo’s iOS and Android app
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Natsuko Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Ichiro Uno
  • MUSIC: Takumi Ozawa

PLOT: No one knows when, where, or how “the gate” was created; furthermore, no one can see, touch, or access it. However, when “the gate” is opened, realms of mortals, fairies, and daemons collide, destroying world orders. While leaders of three realms try to restore orders, some talented and capable mortals begin to approach the gate, now known as “Divine Gate.” Yet no one has reached the Gate and returned, however.


You know I’m not sure why this series’ writer Natsuko Takahashi is even doing this show.  It’s just a rehash of Gate from 2015.  The animation doesn’t even look that good even for Pierrot’s standards.  Takahashi could do so much better. I mean look he wrote the script for the animated version of Gankutsuou: The Count of Monte Cristo the series that single handedly had one of the best episodes I’ve ever seen in an anime!  Dare I even mention Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, fantastic character study! What’s even weirder is that the studio is using former Madhouse employee Ichiro Uno to design the characters, the same animator that worked on the amazing Metropolis film by Osamu Tezuka!  The anime industry is really grasping at straws these past few season aren’t they?  Gone are the days of 13 series per season.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 20%


 

Durarara!!x2 Ketsu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Shuka
  • DIRECTOR: Takahiro Omori
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Ryogo Narita
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Noboru Takagi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takahiro Kishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Suzuhito Yasuda
  • MUSIC: Makoto Yoshimori

PLOT: Ikebukuro is engulfed in a spiral of confusion. A group of individuals, each carrying the weight of their own past, gathers at Shinra’s apartment, while in the city the Dollars, Yellow Scarves, and Saika contend for power. However, the situation takes a turn that no one could expect when Celty’s head is revealed to the public, as this tale approaches its conclusion.


I’m really glad to see that nothing has changed between x2 Shou x2 Ten and now this part.  The staff and seiyuu remain the same and I was quite impressed with Studio Shuka’s animation on these previous seasons.  Not as detailed with designs but they do have a different style that’s still very engaging.  I’m sure I will be following this one once I do a full season review of x2 Ten rather than episode-by-episode in order to catch up.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 85%


 

Fairy Tail Zero

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: 
    • A-1 Pictures
    • Bridge
  • DIRECTOR: TBA
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hiro Mashima
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: TBA
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: TBA
  • MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

PLOT: Many years ago, Mavis Vermilion was a servant on Sirius Island, mistreated by a guild master and his daughter, Zera. But Mavis stayed positive, because her mother once told her that fairies never visit people who cry about their problems. When the guild came under attack, Mavis pulled Zera from the wreckage into the forest. Seven years went by, and the powerful wizards Warrod Sequen, Precht, and Yuri Dreyer arrived on the island, seeking a powerful jade gemstone. This journey would change the course of magical history.


Not much is really known about the anime adaptation of this other than the music is done by the same composer of the ongoing Fairy Tail series. I’ll be honest, I never actually seen Fairy Tail past episode 75.  I stopped because it was getting too repetitive.  I feel this won’t be any different than the mainstream series.

LIKELY TO BLOG: 30%


 

Ganbare! Lulu Lolo [3rd Season]

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Fanworks
  • DIRECTOR: Yuji Umoto
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Hiroyuki Aihara (story)
    • Nami Adachi (art)
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: 
    • Hiroyuki Aihara
    • Masako Imai
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: TBA
  • MUSIC: Yasuharu Takanashi

PLOT: The anime centers around the daily life of two twin bear sisters: the orange-colored Lulu and the yellow-colored Lolo. The two take on new jobs and, despite the occasional failure and tears, give their best efforts.


I’ve actually never heard of this.  It’s apparently on its third season and is a children’s series. I have absolutely no interest in this show whatsoever. It’s based on the best-selling Kuma no Gekko picture books that inspired the other two tv anime and feature length film.  If they had Kunihiko Ikuhara direct this I would definitely watch this!

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Gate: Jietai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakeri 2

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Takahiko Kyogoku
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takumi Yanai
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuhiko Urahata
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Jun Nakai
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Daisuke Izuka
  • MUSIC: Yoshiaki Fujisawa

PLOT: A gate appears in Tokyo’s Ginza district sometime in the 21st century. From the gate pours out monsters, knights from middle-age Europe, and other fantasy-like beings, and they kill many of the citizens of Tokyo. This event is known as the Ginza Incident. The government sends a small group of soldiers from the Japanese Self-Defense Forces to the alternate world beyond the gate. Led by otaku soldier Yōji, they find that the villages in the world are being attacked by a dragon. An elf girl who is a survivor from the dragon’s rampage joins the group in their travels across the dangerous new world.


A-1 Pictures is doing a ton of stuff this season. Four series including one of my top picks, Boku Machi.  Plus they’re working on shonen ai film DoukyuuseiGlass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai and Persona 3 The Movie 4: Winter of Rebirth. That’s a lot of budget to use and animators.  Hopefully this season won’t run them dry for awhile. The staff returns for the second half of Gate. Yay. [You may insert sarcasm here]

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Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: A-1 Pictures
  • DIRECTOR: Ryosuke Nakamura
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Ao Jumonji
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Ryosuke Nakamura
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mieko Hosoi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Eiri Shirai
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: When Haruhito awakens, he’s in the dark. He doesn’t know where he is, why is he here, and where he came from. Around him there are several men and women who have the same circumstances. Haruhito and his companions find themselves in a “game-like world” called Grimgar and must form a party, cooperate, and learn new skills to survive the harsh environment together.


Oh my goodness. This sounds promising.  For one it’s another A-1 Pictures production.  The director of the amazing and horrifying Moryou no Hako!  It’s really good he’s writing adapting this too because he sure knows how to tell a story without too much fluff. However, this is coming from a light novel so we don’t know how far this anime could get too.  Hopefully it won’t end up like what I’ve been hearing Rokka turned out to be. Still need to finish that series.  Also peaking my interest for this one is Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju character designer Mieko Hosoi.  Since its A-1 Pictures and Mieko they both know how to illustrate and get the animation to really move well.

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Haruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: P.A. Works
  • DIRECTOR: Masakazu Hashimoto
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Sei Hatsuno
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Reiko Yoshida
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Asako Nishida
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Namaniku ATK of Nitro+
  • MUSIC: Shiroh Hamaguchi

PLOT: Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it.


When I heard this was receiving an anime adaptation I was ecstatic.  Sei Hatsuno is a very talented suspense writer.  I don’t know know decided it was a good idea to make this a P.A. Works series but I want to slap them. A tame music composer that’s worked on a lot of shonen and slice of life series.  This doesn’t work at all! The story is about the only thing that has my interest.  If anything they should have had MAPPA animate this with Nobuteru Yuki in charge of designing the characters.  The cover art just screams lots of potential from this guy.  It’s too bad Haruchika is receiving a very different style.  As much as I enjoy this story I will at least check out the first episode and make more judgments then.

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Koukaku no Pandora

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio Gokumi
  • DIRECTOR: Muneori Nawa
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Kyushu Rikudou
    • Masamune Shirow
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuya Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takuya Tani
  • MUSIC: TECHNOBOYS PULCRAFT GREEN-FUND

PLOT: In an age when large-scale natural disasters frequently happen all over the world, when cyborgs and autonomous robots are beginning to appear on the market in technologically advanced nations, and major world powers compete for technology and resources, the divide between rich and poor grows and the future for the poor looks bleak. In this transitional stage, everyone wanders around in a self-indulgent daze and the way out isn’t clear… This is the story of how two cybernetically enhanced girls meet.


I love Masamune Shirow’s works and this has a very interesting sci-fi story. I’m too sure about this one. Character designs look decent and it has Shirow’s complex story written all over this.  Cyberpunk setting, artwork looks excellent and the soundtrack sounds promising. TECHNOBOYS landed a very good ending song for Sakurako this past season.  From the trailer the music reminds me of Conisch.  I’m just not sold on the plot but I’ll at least give it a try.  Masamune Shirow’s been given the chance to departfrom his usual gritty technique in storytelling and artistic talent with Pandora.  I’m curious how this will turn out because it also has the creator of wacky, hyper-tension comedy series Excel Saga.

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Luck & Logic

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Dogakobo
  • DIRECTOR: 
    • Koichi Chigara
    • Takashi Naoya
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Kyushu Rikudou
    • Masamune Shirow
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuya Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: 
    • Rei Aoi
    • Katsuhiro Kumagai
    • Kenji Andou (monster design)
    • Makoto Kobayashi (mechanical design)
  • MUSIC: Tatsuya Katou

PLOT: In L.C. 922, people faced a sudden crisis. In Tetra Heaven, the land of legend, a hundred years of war had come to a close. The gods who lost the war searched for a new place to live, and found it in Septpia, the human world, which they proceeded to attack. The Logicalists attached to ALCA, a special police agency whose duty it was to protect cities from assaults by foreigners (angels), were compelled to act in defense of cities, whether they wished to or not. Depending on their ability, Logicalists could initiate trance with goddesses from the other world, and stand a fighting chance on the battlefield. A civilian named Yoshichika Tsurugi, who lacked “Logic” and lived happily with his family, was caught up in an attack, and took shelter along with many people. He meets a beautiful goddess named Athena. In her hands, she had the “Logic” that Yoshichika lacked. Now both Yoshichika and Athena head to their destiny.


Another anime being produced alongside a card game based off of it. There seems to be a ton of these lately.  Bandai Visual, Bushiroad, Lantis, Nitro+ and Yui Iodo.  So many companies are under committee for this series!  Animation is very bright and has an extreme sense of “computer drawn style” to it.  I like the illustrations for the card game however for anime format it doesn’t look as good.  Story doesn’t even sound good–it’s fall under “boy meets girl” trope.  I’ll at least check out the first episode because Studio Dogakobo is a mixed bag.  GJ-bu was horribly animated while Natsuyuki Rendezvous was one of the most gorgeous series of 2012! I’m not going to build up high expectations for this one.

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Mahou Tsukai Precure!

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Toei Animation
  • DIRECTOR: Masato Mitsuka
  • ORIGINAL WORK
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Isao Murayama
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Emiko Miyamoto
  • MUSIC: Tatsuya Katou

PLOT: Mirai Asahina, a 13-year-old girl who’s going into her second year of middle school, witnesses a mysterious object fall in to the park. Excitedly, she brings her stuffed bear Mofurun with her to see what it was. When she gets there she sees a girl named Riko flying on a broom. Mirai has a lot of questions, and Riko explains that she’s searching for something. The two of them are wearing similar pendants. Then Batti, an ally of the dark magic user Dokurokushi, appears before them and demands the “Link Stone Emerald.” Batti creates a monster called a “Yokobaru” and drives them into a corner. Mirai, Riko, and Mofurun join hands and speak the magic words “Cure-Up Rapapa,” their pendants glow, and they become the legendary Precure.


Toei Animation on another Precure! project.  Judging by the other series in Precure! I’m not counting on anything large with this one.  Isao Murayama works on mainly children’s series so it’s nice to know the production is being handled by staff that’s worked on Precure! before.  This is a series that sells extremely well and why mess with a good thing. Unless you get Masaaki Yuasa to make his own Precure! concept. That’s something I’d for sure watch!

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Musaigen no Phantom World

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Kyoto Animation
  • DIRECTOR: Tatsuya Ishihara
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Soichiro Hatano
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Fumihiko Shimo
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kazumi Ikeda
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shirabi
  • MUSIC: EFFY

PLOT: In the near future, in a world born of human imagination, what humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called “phantoms.” Haruhiko Ichijō, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability “Spirit of Five Elements,” Reina Izumi, who has the ability “Phantom Eater,” and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world.


Kyoto Animation’s big work of the season.  Based on a light novel series with loads of fan service.  This looks like a cross between two of Kyoto’s earlier works Kyoukai no Kanata and Amagami Brilliant Park.  It’s weird.  Supernatural elements without slice of life mixed in between?  Chuunibyou was also based on a light novel series and I feel that this series will follow suit only using the source material as a recommendation instead of faithfully adapting it.  Looks like the entire team that gave us Kyoto’s works of the last 5 to 10 years are working on this.  I will say this.  The animation is stunning and these animators know how to pencil out characters that really know how to flow; however outside of that there’s not much.  Everything about this series is all in-house down to the art director and background animation studios.  This must be cheaper for them rather than outsourcing to another animation studio’s pool of illustrators.

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Norn9: Norn + Nonet

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Kinema Citrus
  • DIRECTOR: Takao Abo
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based on Otomate’s Norn9 PSP otome video game
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Natsuko Takahashi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Yukari Takeuchi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Teita
  • MUSIC: 

PLOT: The era where great powers of the world have all ventured overseas. Revolution and liberalism spread all over the world. Right when souls and earth are ill, a glowing sphere appeared in the sky, and removed the borders of the world. Three girls and nine young men depart together with a flying ship.


CG looks awful.  Stereotypical bishonen series with an overuse of filtering between blurry bright backgrounds and the animation on the characters looks very loose.  The protagonist is like she’s straight out of the otome series Amnesia.  Another horribly written anime and video game. She’s ashamed that she has abilities just like the guys in this series.  Something seriously needs to be done to change the pattern of these adaptations from otome games.  These are targeted towards a female audience but perhaps there should be more depth to the story instead of too much flair.  Here’s an idea try doing something like STAR DRIVER or Captain Earth and give some dynamic characters and add in a story with heart.

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Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Tatsunoko Productions
  • DIRECTOR: Keiichiro Kawaguchi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based off Tatsuo Yoshida’s original series Nurse Witch Komugi
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Momoko Murakami
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takao Sano
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Akio Watanabe
  • MUSIC: Kousuke Yamashita

PLOT: Komugi Yoshida is a somewhat clumsy second-year middle-school student whose strong point is her spiritedness. She performs as an idol like Kokona Saionji (her classmate and close friend) and Tsukasa Kisaragi (an idol who dresses in male clothing). However, unlike Kokona whose popularity is skyrocketing and Tsukasa with her charisma in male attire, Komugi’s only gigs are low-end ones like those at the local shopping district. Still, Komugi has her “dream” as she lives her dual lives as a idol and a middle school girl. One day, a mysterious injured creature named Usa-P appears before Komugi and asks if she wants to be a Legendary Girl who can use magical powers. She reluctantly becomes Magical Nurse and fights waves of masked figures. Meanwhile, a Magical Maid and a Magical Sister also show up.


A tried and true Mahou Shojo series.  I was hoping for another Gakkou Gurashi or Madoka but since this is a spin-off from the original Komugi-chan series then I know that’s not going to happen.  One of the best Mahou Shojo series I’ve ever seen was Mahou Shoujotai.  Amazing work and if anyone ever gets a chance to seeing it I highly recommend it!

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Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Telecom Animation Film
  • DIRECTOR: Keiichiro Kawaguchi
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: based off SEGA’s hit video game series
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Mitsutaka Hirota
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Minoko Takasu
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: Itsuki Tachibana is a student of Seiga Academy, a co-ed boarding high school with excellent reputation, located in a suburb outside the city center. On a day of second semester, he was summoned by Rina Izumi, the most esteemed and praised chairperson, to the student council room, without knowing what awaits him.


Wow. This looks terrible.  Animation is flat and very little motion to the characters. CG is some of the worst I have ever seen!  The weirdest thing about this is that the director is working on this and mahou shoujo series Nurse Witch Komugi R. I wonder which series will turn out stronger?  Kawaguchi has mostly worked on slice of life series and a lot of them including Psychic Squad and Sket Dance were absolutely horrid.  Not much to expect from this one.

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Prince of Stride: Alternative

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: MADHOUSE
  • DIRECTOR: Atsuko Ishizuka
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: 
    • Shuji Sogabe (conceptual design)
    • Tomoyuki Uchikoga (graphic design)
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Taku Kishimoto
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kokunen Ou
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Kanako Nono
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: “Stride,” is an extreme sport that involves six people on one team who run relay races through towns. Hōnan Academy and other schools compete to win eastern Japan’s top Stride competition, “End of Summer.” However, Hōnan’s team has shut down. First-year high school students Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai attempt to restart the club, but they must recruit six members for the team. They ask Riku Yagami to join, but he turns them down by saying that Stride is the one thing he doesn’t want to do.


This is the biggest surprise this season.  MADHOUSE adapting an otome game!? What? If there is any show similar to this series narrative it would have to be Air Gear.  That’s the kind of vibe I get with this. A slice-of-life director that worked on a handful of episodes of NANA and Aoi Bungaku is helming this? Again…what?  I already know this series story is going to hold a lot of promise.  Same series writer as Gin no SajiUsagi Drop and this season’s fantastic Boku Machi!  Otome style mixed with FreeRunning sport with a solid director and series writing not to mention from the trailer the animation looks stunning! I will give this one a try!

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Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Iku Suzuki
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Guo Wang Bi Xia
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: TBA
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Makoto Iino
  • MUSIC: 
    • Kazuya Tanaka (sound director)
    • Half HP Studio (sound production)
    • Roy Kawasaki (soundtrack composer)

PLOT: A comet falling will bring about a great calamity, and in order to choose a child fated by the falling comet, the family of the “Reiken” clan with a long storied history is once again resuming its entrance examination process to find disciples. The protagonist Lu Wang, who possesses a special soul that is only available once in a thousand years, decides to take the exam, and he starts down the path toward becoming an exceptional sage.


My favorite sound director. Kazuya Tanaka handled the sound work on Mushishi and Aku no Hana (Flowers of Evil).  I wish that another studio was in charge of production, Studio DEEN hasn’t had the greatest track record lately.  I’ll give this one a try since its based on a Chinese online novel.  Details are scarce on how this show is going to look. I’m really curious.  If there’s anything Japan should animate from China it’s the manwha March Story.  Freaking amazing work.

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Rilu Rilu Fairilu: Yousei no Door

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Sakura Gojo
  • ORIGINAL WORK: Developed by Sega Toys and SANRIO
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Aya Matsui
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Jinshichi Yamaguchi
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: “Fairilu” are fairies of flowers, insects, mermaids, or other entities that are born from “Farilu Seeds.” All Fairilu are born with their own key, and they must search to find and open the door that fits only their key. Once the Fairilu pass through the doors, they mature. The doors are also related to the human world.


Another Studio DEEN project this season and another children’s series for that matter.  Directorial debut for Sakura Gojo and coming from the Marmalade Boy script writer I’m not excited about this one.

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Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Lerche
  • DIRECTOR: Masaomi Ando
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Senri Akatsuki
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuuko Kakihara
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Keiko Kurosawa
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Ayumu Kasuga
  • MUSIC: Akito Matsuda

PLOT: Lux is a former prince of an empire named Arcadia that was overthrown via a rebellion five years earlier. Lux accidentally trespasses in a female dormitory’s bathing area, sees the kingdom’s new princess Lisesharte naked, and incurs her wrath. Lisesharte then challenges Lux to a Drag-Ride duel. Drag-Rides are ancient armored mechanical weapons that have been excavated from ruins all around the world. Lux used to be called the strongest Drag-Knight, but now he’s known as the “undefeated weakest” Drag-Knight because he will absolutely not attack in battle. After his duel with Lisesharte, Lux ends up attending the female-only academy that trains royals to be Drag-Knights.


I’m a fan of Yuuko Kakihara. Hopefully the show will carry the grace and balance that Chihayafuru‘s second season had. The director of Gakkou Gurashi will be able to provide a solid direction to the cast in this show, hopefully. As much as I hated Glasslip it had a decent musical score.  Akito Matsuda’s work on Sound! Euphonium is probably his best work to date.  I’ll give this one a look at.

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Schwarzesmarken

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: LIDENFILMS
  • DIRECTOR: Tetsuya Watanabe
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Hirohiko Yoshida
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Tatsuto Higuchi
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Shuichi Hara
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Carnelian
  • MUSIC: Elements Garden

PLOT: Germany was divided into East and West after WWII, where citizens of either treated the other side as enemies. In the midst of Cold War, however, the Earth was invaded by an alien life form landed on Kashgar, Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, known as “Beta.” Now, ten years after the first contact, East Germany, formally German Democratic Republic, has become the front line.


The spin-off to Muv-Luv and another hentai visual novel series.  This doesn’t have much promise.  I wasn’t a fan of Muv Luv. The weirdest part about this is the director went from doing Zone of the Enders and directing episodes of incredible series like MONSTER and Neon Genesis Evangelion to tons of ecchi series, White AlbumTestament of Sister New Devil. What happened to him?  It doesn’t help that Cross Ange‘s writing is adapting the series.

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Shoujo-tachi wa Konya wo Mezasu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Project No. 9
  • DIRECTOR: Takuya Sato
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Takahiro
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Yuniko Ayana
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Takayuki Noguchi
  • ORIGINAL CHARACTER DESIGNER: Matsuryu
  • MUSIC: TBA

PLOT: Buntarō is a student who wants to be something, but doesn’t know what. One day his female classmate Sayuki announces she is working on a bishōjo (pretty girl) game. Sayuki scouted him because he wrote a good script for drama club, but Buntarō doesn’t know anything about bishōjo games.


Steins;Gate director is about the only redeeming quality here.  Everything else Sato has worked on was horrible.  Once again we’ve got anime series based on a visual novel.  From the preview the music sounds terrible and is it just me or is Project No. 9 trying to copy Saekano?  The premise even down to the camera angles look reminiscent of that anime.  Designs aren’t even that good.

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Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

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  • ANIMATION STUDIO: Studio DEEN
  • DIRECTOR: Mamoru Hatakeyama
  • ORIGINAL CREATOR: Haruko Kumota
  • SERIES COMPOSITION: Jun Kumagai
  • CHARACTER DESIGNER: Mieko Hosoi
  • MUSIC: Kana Shibue

PLOT: The year was 1970s. Fascinated by the performance of rakugo master Yakumo the 8th at a philanthropic show in a prison, delinquent Kyōji visited Yakumo immediately after serving his term, begging Yakumo to take him in as an apprentice. To his surprise, master Yakumo agreed without much hesitation, yet things progressed not quite as Kyōji expected.


Yes!!! Finally a josei series and a historical one at that! The OAD’s were amazing and probably the best acting of 2015 out of any animated work from Japan!  The setting is unique and follows an intriguing genre–rakugo!  Quite the unconventional choice on Studio DEEN’s part but this is what made that studio so fantastic in the first place!  There’s nothing generic about this anime at all!  A character drama driven by Japanese customs!  The entire staff from the OAD’s return to adapt the manga into TV format.  If this is anything like those it’s going to be one of the best if not the greatest series to air this season! The soundtrack from the OAD’s were incredible.  Featuring a collection of smooth jazz songs!

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There we have it. The list of everything airing this season.

 

Akagami no Shirayukihime Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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Shirayuki is a beautiful girl working as a medicine woman with red hair, a color that is considered very rare. When she is proposed and chased after by the prince of her country, she cuts her hair and runs away, only to meet Zen, the prince of a neighboring country. Finding respect for the young man, she decides to serve at his side as his court doctor. ~ANN


If I had to describe my initial thoughts on this episode in one word I’d have to say I was charmed.  It’s about time that we see more light-hearted shojo series!  Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii last year was a very solid story about an arranged marriage between a princess and a Prince both from very different kingdoms and traditions.  Akagami is a Japanese shojo manga by Sorata Akizuki.  She’s fairly new to the business starting out in the early 2000’s with a collection of short stories and one-shots including Akagami.  This is her breakout hit as it is still ongoing with around 66 chapters out so far.  More than enough for three seasons worth of material!

The story of Akagami is a take on Snow White.  I grew up on Disney films (one of my favorites being Lion King) and like many children I found the magic of it all very fascinating.  The romance were always uplifting, inspirational where these stories always had a lesson or two to teach.  Contrary to a lot of belief regarding the classic tale of Snow White it is not a creation of Disney but a Brother’s Grimm fairytale based loosely on the life of 16-year old Margaretha of Waldeck.  Waldeck was threatened by her stepmother and poisoned by Spanish authorities because they saw the inevitable marriage between Waldeck and the Prince.  The history behind the story of Snow White is very dark and over time has received many interpretations and Akagami chooses the Disney path with this anime series.  A nudge to Disney’s vision with many changes that involve more of an Eastern style.

Shirayuki is known as the beautiful girl with red hair all across the country and is chased after by Prince Raji.  Raji is the stereotypical Disney villain–he’s made out to be this beautiful person on the outside and sinister on the inside.  He desires Shirayuki because of her rare red hair and Zen says it best when he describes Prince Raji as when he wants something he already counts it as his.  At first I thought Zen would be the representation of the well-known dwarf characters that are features so heavily in Disney’s version however this is not the case.  He is Shirayuki’s love interest.  The interactions between the two of them are fantastic–quick conversations that spark right after Shirayuki proves she’s an herbalist by injuring her own arm!  I really like how their relationship tosses most romance comedy series out the window as Zen plays off as in-between from dark prince and knight and shining armor.  He’s charistmatic, a genuinely nice guy and acts very realistic especially in the second half of this episode after he’s taken a bite of the apple and realizes it  is poisoned.  He’s a great balance to Shirayuki.

She’s not stubborn nor does she have a ditsy personality.  She’s strong-willed, is able to hold her own when she’s in trouble which is a nice step away from the damsel-in-distress that many shojo series hold on to.  This show does dive into that form quite a bit but it quickly saves itself from being too generic by giving her realistic courage.  A very refreshing female protagonist!  If this were any other kind of series I’d say this doesn’t work at all but since this handles classical storytelling it excels in re-introducing us the magical story with the author Akizuki’s nods to Snow White.  The poisonous apple, mirror-mirror on the wall are but a few that were mentioned in this episode!

The production itself is amazing.  Stellar visuals between wonderfully drawn backgrounds by three animators in the industry from animation company Studio Easter.  The studio that did the background designs for 2011’s horror series, Another.  Akiko Manabe, Yoko Atsumi and Yoko Kamiyama are all under the cooperation of Akagami‘s art director and another employee of Studio Easter, Erika Okazaki.  What sort of budget did BONES have for this particular episode?  This was stunning in the design department!

So far, Akagami is my favorite introductory episode to air this season–it reigns in so much talent from Sword of the StrangerZetsuen no Tempest and the original Full Metal Alchemist series director Masahiro Ando to Michiru Oshima’s emotionally moving classical score in an attempt to breathe life into the popular shojo manga!  Oshima’s soundtrack for Akagami is the best this season has to offer.  I really enjoyed Tsutchie’s work on GANGSTA but this was incredibly moving and lifted each scene to great heights!

Would also like to point out the pun in Shirayuki’s name.  Shira’s  literal translation is “white” and the second half of her name “yuki” means “snow”.


OP: “Yasashii Kibō” (やさしい希望;Gentle Hope) by Saori Hayami

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This is the official opening to the show and acts as the ending for this first episode. I really like the visuals including its transitions on this.  Overseen and storyboarded by series’ director Masahiro Ando the animation is fluid and gives us a good view of its main cast!  The art is headed by Ouran Highschool Host Club‘s character designer Kumiko Takahashi.  Wonderfully drawn with tons of talented key animators that include Hiroki Harada (Sasami-san@Garanbarai‘s character designer), Ayaka Hata, Takahiro Kimura, and Masahiro Sato!  However, I feel the instrumentals in the music is way too fluffy for this series’ soundtrack.  It works in bringing the world of Japanese anime to the screen of a classic story but doesn’t have that charm the overall score has.   Perhaps Michiru Oshima should have written the score to this because Saori Hayami overwhelms the song!  I think this would have been awesome to hear Oshima’s style with a set of chorus vocals in the background!  I wonder if Kokia could do a light-hearted Oshima score?  Maybe this will grow on me over time.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Rokka no Yūsha Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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When the Majin awoke from the depths of darkness, the deity of fate chose six heroes and bequeathed them with the power to save the world. Adlet, a boy who proclaims himself the strongest on Earth, has been selected among the Rokka no Yuusha (Heroes of the Six Flowers), and he goes to the rendezvous point — but seven have gathered there. The heroes suspect that someone among the seven is the enemy, and the initial suspicion falls on Adlet. ~taken from ANN


Rokka is from the Tatakau Shisho author Ishio Yamagata whose one of the more reliable fantasy writers because he’s able to write very engrossing characters you learn to love and hate.  The staff on this animated work looks really promising!  The director, Takeo Takahashi of Spice & Wolf fame handles this first episode quite nicely.  I know he’s more than capable of handling adapting from a light novel.  A lot of shows tend to pull an information dump for the sake of clearing the audience of any confusion, this show isn’t any different in that it has content that is very solid.  Rokka touches on the history of the Six Braves and the really intriguing history behind the Saints that are chosen, the power behind them and their failures 300 and 700 years ago.  This first episode succeeds in establishing a backstory by building up a wonderful setting without tossing its characters for the sake of screen-time!  There’s so much creativity in the history behind the Six Braves that I feel like I could see more than 1-cour (12 episodes)!

Adlet Mayer considers himself the strongest man in the world and those fights during the ceremony that visually declare his determination to become one of the Six Braves establishes this extremely well!  Such fluid animation!  I’m impressed because this comes from the animation studio Passione that gave us Rail Wars! last year–not a series for me that was memorable.  Lack of any coherent story that focused heavily on fan service.  Passione was started in 2012 and I feel a fantasy show is right up their alley–given how pretty most of this first episode was.  I feel that we’ve got a strong contender for anime of the season with Rokka.  The story packs a punch and the animation justifies this in a very beautiful way.

I’m in love with the soundtrack.  It’s done by one of the best classical anime composers of the past five years–Michiru Oshima.  She did Zetsuen no Tempest back in 2012 (which was her last full-fledged work on a television series and the more recent feature film Patema Inverted.  I ended up screening that a few months ago at my anime club and had such positive feedback from my friends about it.  This season we’ve got something special–she’s working on Rokka and Akagami no Shirayukihime.  Two series in one season!  It’s strange but makes these two shows extremely captivating to watch!


OP: “Cry for the Truth” by Michi

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Very upbeat JPOP song.  Michi’s vocals aren’t toned down and not as heavy as I would have expected.  The instrumentals though I feel are a bit too rocky–reminds me of Sword Art Online‘s opening sequences.  I’m on the fence with this one because the visuals are beautifully animated and the transitions come off smoothly.

ED: “Secret Sky” by Michi

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Fantastic!  The classical style that sounds very Celtic in the instrumentals captures the fantasy genre really well!  Really like Michi’s vocals–she sounds enchanting in this ending! The visuals give a very painted look to the characters!  Wonderful work on this one.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

GATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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This has been done to death.  A fantasy series that forces an otaku to encounter the very harem he’s always wanted.  How many series are following the harem story model this season?  Monster Musume, Jitsu wa Watashi wa, Kuusen Madoushi Kouhosei no KyoukanTo Love-ru Darkness 2ndFate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya 2wei Herz.  To many this season and some of which will be longer than 1-cour, unfortunately.

Modern day Ginza, Tokyo experiences a mysterious portal that sends out monsters and soldiers wreaking havoc on the city.  Youji Itami a 33-year old otaku suddenly becomes a JSDF officer out of his heroic efforts in rescuing many Ginza citizens from the terrorizing fantasy world.

This is a wonderful example of how not to write a first episode.  It doesn’t jump around in its content but focuses on Itami’s reliable yet ridiculous success in video-games to win at real life scenarios.  The military appoints him to lead the army into the gateway and travel through the mysterious fantasy world all in one episode.  Way too light-hearted for a series that dabbles in a crossover sci-fi fantasy war.  What worries me is that the series writer Tatsuhiko Urahata is also working on Rokka I really hope this show doesn’t take precedence over that one.  That anime has so much more potential than this junk.

Strange that Urahata is writing this adaptation because he had some really strong works between the early and mid-2000’s with Monster and NANA.  In recent years he’s done some pretty stale series that have fallen short [thinking of Black Bullet].  He’s got good ideas and a solid flow of telling a story it’s a shame to see him craft this together.  I’d really like to see this writer make a comeback with an original anime alongside Ryota Yamaguchi so he can really learn how to write a fantasy series if that’s what he wants to do with this show.

This is probably one of the worst series Yoshiaki Fujisawa could have ever composed music for.  His best work comes from Uchōten Kazoku!  This was just plain bad!

Director Takahiko Kyogoku should stick with idol series not action shows.

The company that produces this is GENCO with A-1 Pictures in charge of animation production.  GENCO should have presented Yanai Takumi’s novel Hyoufuu no Kolkka: Yuki no Yousei to Shiroi Shinigami instead of this manga.  At least that one’s finished publishing and GATE is still ongoing.  They should have gotten TROYCA to do the CG designs with this episode don’t let a studio that’s really solid in character art that’s never done a lot of CG animation before handle all of it.


OP: “GATE ~Sore wa Akatsuki no Yō ni” (GATE~それは暁のように~) by Kishida Kyōdan & the Akeboshi Rockets

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Remember Highschool of the Dead‘s opening well this is by the same performers.  Akeboshi Rockets usually do hard rock but this is really J-POP boring.  It’s light-hearted just like the series is and the visuals aren’t that impressive.  It puts a large emphasis on both timelines being in the same world.  For some reason I’m reminded of Argevollen with the montage of soldiers.

ED: “Prism Communicate” (ぷりずむコミュニケート) by Nao Tōyama & Risa Taneda

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Ok the text wavering is about the only neat thing about this opening.  Seeing a military vehicle driving through the city shimmering with various colored petals around it is really lame.  Who in the heck directed this because the CG is awful.  The song is generic duo J-POP with a electronic drum beat that doesn’t really match the song at all.  Again, really bad.

I won’t be covering this show.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 1/10

Show by Rock!! Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: Metropolis of music, MIDICITY. A kitty girl wearing gothic lolita clothing named Cyan is scouted by Maple Arisugawa, the president of a music agency. From there, she meets Chuchu (a pun off of the sound that rabbits make) the honor student rabbit girl, a net geek dog girl named Retoree (from “Retriever”), and an alien sheep (?) girl named Moa. Together, they form the band named “Plasmagica,” and aim for the top of the world.
However, the path there is long and tough, and keeping in high spirits is important. By battling against other strange bands, Plasmagica slowly grows toward a top-grade band. In the end, they’ll be a band that becomes the driving force of MIDICITY’s music industry… Maybe?

Gonna be a music millionaire!


Here is BONES second work of the season alongside Kekkai Sensen.  This studio is impressing me a lot–  they must have a large budget to work with considering they weren’t producing much of anything last season aside from small cooperation agreements in key animations on a few series here and there.  It certainly paid off in their premiere with Kekkai Sensen and now this!  We’ve got a beautiful mix of animation and some of the best CG I’ve seen of a televised series in recent memory.  Japanese company Sanrio most known for the creation of Hello Kitty that focuses on the kawaii side of japanese culture developed a mobile game in 2011 and this is what we’ve got here.  What’s more interesting to take note is that this is the first anime Sanrio has helped produced that is on a late-night programming block.  Now I can see why the creators can have the monster designs the way they do and I will be curious to see how much exactly as this series will be moving forward will handle censorship through decisions by Sanrio.

We’ve got quite an ingenious story–  a girl gets trapped in a world of music from her cellphone game.  Ozma was a fairly solid ova sci-fi series about sand pirates–  Leiji Matsumoto created the script well over 20 years ago.  Director Takahiro Ikezoe took note of the acclaim Matsumoto has received over the years and actually made a good story.  With Show by Rock!! Ikezoe is trying something different–  a kid’s series on a late-night timeslot.    Now I won’t say this series doesn’t have it’s stereotypes–  the shy blue-haired girl trope especially.  This however works extremely out flushing out Cyan Hijirikawa from an introvert into a mahou shojo with a voice.  The CG effects where she is playing the guitar fending off the monster is jaw-dropping and I like how she gets herself noticed by the boy band Shingan Crimsonz as a result from this.  Destiny is pulled in for her that develops a music contract with an all-girl band by the end and it’s a light-hearted series with an very interesting transition style from traditional animation to CG that will take some getting used to.

Since this series focuses on music I wouldn’t be surprised if we have multiple ending sequences and possibly opening animations as well.  Speaking of the soundtrack Yasuharu Takahashi [Shiki, Gantz composer]  wrote the score for this.  It has his usual chorus and string style however its not as dark as his usual works.  With as many insert songs this episode has I hope it doesn’t overshadow Takahashi’s hand in this.


OP: “Seishun wa Non-Stop! Cyan ver.” (青春はNon-Stop!シアンver.;Youth is Non-Stop!) by Plasmagica

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Generic J-Pop song that highlights Cyan’s voice–  what I like about the animation is how she is singing through a music video and is interrupted when she realizes she is in her school.  Really funny.

ED: “Have a nice MUSIC!!” by Plasmagica

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Another normal J-Pop sound that focuses on more of the band in its entirety.  After seeing this I can tell the creators are trying to make this as kid-friendly as possible.  Somehow though the late-night programming block might change things.  As for this ending it isn’t something that stands out for me.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 6/10

Re-Kan! Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: Amami Hibiki is a girl who can see ghosts and other supernatural phenomena in her surroundings. The stories follow her daily life with both her friends and the otherworldly.


This wasn’t exactly a great premiere by any stretch.  Studio Pierrot animated this horribly and this story isn’t much to write home about either–  a character designer from Artland being put into the director’s role?  Masashi Kudo should stick with animation.  I’m not sure what was up with the background art but that is some of the worst CG I think I’ve ever seen.

This anime is based off a 4-koma adaptation and I can really see a lack in ingenuity– Amami can see ghosts and while the first two gags are cute the rest falls short of being nothing but mundane only to fill up time.  The main cast being sincere and sweet is a good balance to the cat being a pervert but it isn’t anything memorable.

What also doesn’t work here is that series writer Takashi Aoshima has mostly written fantasy romance harems–  where is the heart to this show?  It’s just a collection of short stories that intertwine though humor reels without strengthening its characters first and foremost!


OP: “Colorful Story” (カラフルストーリー) by every♥ing!

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Generic song with animation that is poorly drawn–  there are some scenes that looked as if Studio Pierrot hadn’t finished in time for broadcast.

ED: “Kesaran Pasaran” (ケサランパサラン) by every♥ing!

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What am I watching with this?  Chibi style that mostly features the cat and Inoue’s dissatisfaction with spirits.  The song just like the OP is the same band backed up behind a slightly different techno beat.  More of a chromatic style and it doesn’t work here at all!


 

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 2/10

Arslan Senki Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

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PLOT: In the prosperous kingdom of Pars lies the Royal Capital of Ecbatana, a city of splendor and wonder, ruled by the undefeated and fearsome King Andragoras. Arslan is the young and curious prince of Pars who, despite his best efforts, doesn’t seem to have what it takes to be a proper king like his father.

At the age of 14, Arslan goes to his first battle and loses everything as the blood-soaked mist of war gives way to scorching flames, bringing him to face the demise of his once glorious kingdom. However, it is Arslan’s destiny to be a ruler, and despite the trials that face him, he must now embark on a journey to reclaim his fallen kingdom.


When author Yoshiki Tanaka began his fantasy series Arslan he started it around 1986.  I want to point out that this is the second time in the last year that we’ve had a manga from the 80’s be adapted into a televised animated work.  Hope to see more in the future–  perhaps Urasawa’s Pluto?  Would love to see that animated by MADHOUSE!

Arslan is lengthy and from what I’ve followed up on it’s still ongoing.  Most of Tanaka’s works have been adapted into an animated format of sorts Tytania which was decently executed is one of his more recent works in the industry to be adapted.  His popularity though stems from the Legend of Galactic Heroes series– around 162 episodes and three feature films!  Tanaka knows very well how to write solid and at the time unrivaled stories using methods that are complex and inventive.  As good as this writer is I’d like to see him direct an original work–  it would be interesting to see his fresh ideas on screen.  I have no doubt in my mind Arslan will be awesome. There are around 14 volumes so far!  According to history the origin of the story about Amir Arsalan dates back to a much older time and quickly evolved into a story of narrative legend during the 19th century that involves a merchant child discovering he is actually the heir to the throne of Persia.  In the early 90’s there have been several Japanese renditions of this known as the Heroic Legends of Arslan.  An animated feature film in 1991, a sequel in 1993 and ova’s in-between ’93 and 95 were animated by the largest retailer in Japan–  Animate.  With of course the help from studios Aubec [a company that isn’t around anymore], MADHOUSE, Production I.G. and J.C. Staff.  A manga by Full Metal Alchemist author Hiromu Arakawa began in 2013 which is what this anime adaptation will follow.

Noriyuki Abe the director of BLEACH and GTO helms this version and with what I’ve seen of the first episode could be one of his more stronger works.  I think what really blew me away about this episode was the music.  Dog of Flanders composer Taro Iwashiro writes music throughout this that reminds me a lot of Michiru Oshima’s resonating orchestra movements with a mix of Kousuke Yamashita’s temperamental tracks.  Well-balanced and has an inspiring tone to them that builds on the situation young Prince Arslan is placed in this episode.

Venturing out into the capital city his naivety of the world turns upside down when he sees his father Andragoras III returning after a favorable battle against the nation of Lusitania.  Killing for their own religious ideals speaks a lot about how this show will handle this sepration between the adults in authority to the children that live in poverty.  The three young kids picking a fight with the Lusitania boy fuels Arslan’s journey towards becoming a boy in a very influential way.  Prince Arslan gets kidnapped by the boy and they both get a taste of perspective.  The boy sees how the Pars Kingdom handles its slaves and its not pretty;  the Prince witnesses the harsh reality that the Lusitania boy arrives at while they are escaping soldiers but that doesn’t falter his own identity at all!  I loved the part where Arslan saves the boy from slipping on the giraffe–  really portrays youth with such authenticity.

Daryun as little as we saw of him will play a vital role in teaching Arslan the ways of the world and like we saw with this incredible ending Arslan will be showing him a thing or two about saving a life.  The narration gives us a solid follow-through on what to expect and how we are going to see Arslan start his journey onto the battlefield.

Moving back to this idea of harsh reality it’s neat to see how the parents of the troubling kids are handled–  they beg for forgiveness and only place blame on themselves out of the love they have for their children and respect for the King.  Arslan freeing them enhances this idea that he is still just a boy without any aggression.  A timid prince that I’m sure will change as this epic fantasy series evolves!  Best premiere of any show I’ve seen this season so far with some really strong characterization!

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 10/10

Owari no Seraph Episode 1 [Initial Impressions]

 

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 PLOT:  Suddenly one day, the world was destroyed by an unknown virus. The children that survived, were taken away by vampires who appeared from the abyss. 4 years later. Yuichiro and Mikaela are living in “Sanguinem”, the city of vampires with the family of the “Hyakuya Orphanage”.


Hiroyuki Sawano’s is well-known after his break out soundtracks from Guilty CrownShingeki no Kyojin and last season’s Aldnoah.Zero and Nanatsu no TaizaiSeraph will be a great step forward for him in looking at other styles of music to explore.  Takafumi Wada [Higschool of The Dead and Rideback‘s soundtracks] writes scores that are slow moving without any sort of intensity like Sawano often does.  We get a group of shared inspiration from one prolific anime composer to a live-action drama music artist.  This should be good for both of them especially when considering the content that this show will be:  humans and how they struggle with surviving under vampire rule.  I enjoyed this episode quite a bit.  It has good visuals especially with those background designs looking like paintings.  Reminds me a lot of Aku no Hana  Animation Studio Pablo really brings this show to life with the contrast between Satoshi Kadowaki’s character designs!    The story sets itself up nicely to be very similar in the way 2006’s Kozuki Akane’s Noein had been–  kids at the forefront without any special abilities.  The manga basically narrates everything in the beginning while this adaptation unfolds through some stunning visuals and a powerful music score.

As the kids they try to live an ordinary life but here is where unnatural circumstances come into play that makes investing time into this series well worth it.  Yuichiro Hyakuya holds a hatred for the vampires that have taken their happiness away from them.  The very beginning portrays this human extinction card wonderfully however it is foreshadowed that nothing good can come of living in a confined city with a community reigning over you with a thirst for blood.  The first half of this episode shows the daily struggle these kids from Hyakuya orphanage go through–  their lives are turned upside down and Akane the cook of the family tries to make the best of these hard times in any way possible.  Mikaela Hyakuya if I hadn’t been spoiled in the trailers would have imagined he died by Ferid Bathory considering how this ends with a slaughter.

A good beginning to a harsh life for Yuichiro, his arrival on the outskirts of the Sanguinem and his fated encounter with Colonel of the Vampire Extermination Unity of the Japanese Imperial Demon Army should be the driving force to make this a solid dark fantasy drama series.  Let’s hope it doesn’t ruin it with too much flakey fan service:  the women in this show look surprisingly bright for such a grim anime.

So many anime suffer from information dumping the story to its viewers that this is illustrating Seraph‘s plot and its characters is much more eye-catching and out-of-standards than what even I would have expected.  Smart move on what to omit from the manga for the sake of runtime.

Daisuke Tokudo [episode director: Shingeki no Kyojin ep. 17, 25 and Tokyo Magnitude 8.0‘s ep. 2, 5] is having his first run in the director’s seat with Seraph and I expect great things from him.  Let’s just hope we don’t get a generic shonen series with this adaptation.

OVERALL IMPRESSION: 7/10