Thursday, April 02, 2009

:anime: HardDoor's Spring Anime Preview - '09 Edition

<--To Winter 2008-09 Anime Preview

To Summer 2009 Anime Preview-->

Spring's upon us and as is often the case, with it comes a massive influx of new titles. 2009's is no exception and with 18 shows covered in both the main and "of interest" sections, and three in the "theater" section, there is quite an amount of intriguing and potentially good shows set to debut. It took over twice the length of time to prepare this preview, as there were many works that I wrote extensively on (and because there were so many, period!). Though there hasn't been a definite theme among the shows like in past seasons, there is an unusually large number of original stories and new retellings to go along with the requisite adaptations. In all, this spring may prove to be an enjoyable one with the sort of works mentioned ahead.

*Information courtesy of MOON PHASE and Anime News Network, as well as various other sources.


Asura Cryin'

Debut: April 2, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Keizou Kusakawa
Character Design: Atsushi Komori (Original: Nao Watanuki)
Score: Mitsutaka Tajiri
Studio: Seven Arcs
Additional Links: ANN Entry

Synopsis
A schoolboy finds himself being followed by the specter of a girl he once befriended when he was younger...

Personally...
Its premise and first promo picture made it look like a potentially interesting comedy-drama anime, but the picture on its website seems to point to it being a series with a giant robot element to it. Still, it may turn out to be something sweet in the end...


BASQUASH!

Debut: April 2, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Shin Itagaki
Character Designs: Kazuhiro Soeta, SUEZEN, Takahiro Yoshimatsu
Score: Kei Yoshikawa
Studio: Satelight
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
From this collaboration between Escaflowne and Macross creator Shoji Kawamori and Oban Star Racers director and Code Lyoko creator Thomas Romain comes a tale of a robot sport revolved around basketball...

Personally...
Oh boy...it seems like I've been down this road before with another "loose" series of Kawamori's, Aquarion. I only got through eight episodes of that project--an unfortunate waste of top talent, art, and music, and good ideas--and the dreck that it was has made me wary of something like BASQUASH!, which provokes that same sort of feeling. On the other hand, like Aquarion, it does have some interesting visuals and the staff list has some good names attached to it, not to mention that it's a Satelight production. Hopefully, it will not turn into a mishmash of ideas and concepts, both novel and in homage, that either poorly mix together or are too derivative (like Aquarion), as its mecha designs already bear a heavy resemblance to the distinctive designs from the American show Megas XLR (ironically, itself inspired by anime). On the plus side, it's seems quirky and even though the overall concept could bomb badly if poorly executed, it might turn out to be a fun show (based on its trailer) and is still worth a look. There is a fair amount of hype and promotion being placed behind the show (with Nike as a sponsor, of course), so I hope it will all be warranted.


Charady no Joke na Mainichi [Charady's Daily Joke]

Debut: April 1, 2009
Format: TV (365 episodes, presumably)
Director: Ryuji Masuda
Character Designs: Students of Kyoto University of Art and Design - Department of Character Design
Score: Morihiro Iwamoto
Studio: Kyoto University of Art and Design - Department of Character Design [main content; another CGI group will handle Charady portions]
Additional Links: ANN Entry, ANN Article

Synopsis
With a love for all things jokes, San Franciscan and Kyoto University of Arts & Design graduate Charady presents one funny from around the world each day...

Personally...
While the site makes it look a little ecchi, the entire idea itself sounds great. Appropriately starting on April 1, one short will air each day that will revolve around a particular joke, and the students from the real-life university department that the animated character Charady studied in (Department of Character Design) will be directing the shorts. They appear to be CG-animated, with Ryuji Masuda (whose Mr. Stain I haven't been too wild about) set as the executive director. It's an ambitious, but promising, project and a good way for students to apply their trade, and it's one that I hope will be accessible outside of Japan online, as slim a possibility it may be...


Eden of the East

Debut: April 9, 2009
Format: TV (11 episodes)
Director: Kenji Kamiyama
Character Design: Chika Umino
Score: Kenji Kawai
Studio: Production I.G
Additional Links: ANN Entry

Synopsis
In the very near future, a terrorist missile attack occurs on Japanese soil, but does not incur any causalities. A few months following the incident, which has disappeared from the public conscious, a young Japanese tourist is caught throwing something onto the White House lawn, prompting the police to confront her. Her savior is a fellow Japanese--a man who is inexplicably without any clothes and only carrying a gun and a cellular phone loaded with a great deal of money...

Personally...
Kenji Kamiyama has perhaps been Production I.G's strongest asset in recent years, helming two of the studio's best and most revered titles, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and Moribito: Guardian of the Spirt. In only his fourth stint as director (first for the chibi Patlabor shorts, Mini Pato), Eden of the East marks the first time that Kamiyama has created a story himself (the name is a play-on-words of John Steinbeck's classic East of Eden, though unrelated--to my knowledge--in terms of story). While it sounds somewhat interesting, I do hope that Kamiyama doesn't delve too deeply into "hero worship" territory, which he has done too often in his two previous projects (especially with female characters, wearing thin an otherwise laudable act). It would also be good to see the story not progress too slowly or embroil itself in anti-American government sentiment (something touched upon in a few recent I.G shows, both thinly-veiled and sometimes laughable in approach).

All of that said, the trailer does make it look more palatable, projecting a dramatic story with some lighthearted overtones. Along with the usual high-quality visuals one has come to expect from a Kamiyama production (with a sort of look reminiscent of Madhouse's Dennou Coil), Eden of the East may turn out better than I expect. Of interest is the inclusion of an Oasis-sung OP, straight from their newest album. This wouldn't be the first time that a band outside of Japan supplied anime theme songs, as Franz Ferdinand did for Paradise Kiss' ED ("Do You Want To"), Radiohead for Ergo Proxy's ("Paranoid Android"), and Duran Duran for Speed Grapher's OP ("Girls on Film", which was infamously replaced in the U.S. with a BGM piece due to licensing issues). There will also be a film version of the series slated for theaters later in the year.


Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Yasuhiro Irie
Character Design: Hiroki Kanno
Score: Akira Senju
Studio: BONES
Additional Links: ANN Entry, FUNimation Videos, Hulu
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
In this second BONES reincarnation of the popular Fullmetal Alchemist manga, set to follow more closely to the source material, two young brothers--one having two artificial limbs of metal and the other having only a body of armor, due to a botched alchemic experiment in trying to resurrect their dead mother--search the land for the legendary Philosopher's Stone in hopes of reversing the effects of their accident.

Personally...
Anyone who is familiar with the "Decade's Best" series here knows that I'm not exactly FMA's biggest fan. That being said, I'm very surprised to find myself looking forward to its restart. It's not due so much to the story, which I didn't care too much for during either of the 2003
anime's apparently-faithful first half or original second half (much less the characters), but because of the names attached to it. I enjoyed what I was able to see of Irie's Kurau Phantom Memory and appreciated both Kanno's and series compositor Hiroshi Ohnogi's work on RahXephon (though the latter has penned more than a few series I didn't like), but perhaps the person that I'm most excited about is Akira Senju, one of my favorites, providing the score (Victory Gundam, Red Garden, Princess Arete, The Snow Queen). Ironically though, in spite of my enthusiasm over the staff and the intrigue for fidelity, one glimpse of its trailer quickly reminded me of why I didn't like the first series in the first place...


Guin Saga

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Atsushi Wakabayashi
Character Design: Toshiharu Murata
Score: Nobuo Uematsu
Studio: Satelight
Additional Links: ANN Entry

Synopsis
Celebrating the 30th anniversary of the bestselling Japanese novel series--the longest continuing novel series, at 124 volumes--the adaptation opens with the tale of Guin, an amnesic, leopard-masked warrior who crosses paths with two orphaned twin royals as they flee from menacing invading forces...

Personally...
I faintly remember seeing the name of this title a few times before, and its Satelight-animated adaptation may turn out to be a good fantasy romp. However, the most noteworthy aspect of it (aside from the story's length) is the contribution of Nobuo Uematsu (Final Fantasy series, Blue Dragon) for the score. It's quite rare for the famed video game composer to be stepping into anime and this will be his first time creating an original score for one, so it should definitely be a treat to hear the end results...


Hanasakeru Seishounen

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Chiaki Kon
Character Design: Yuko Kusumoto
Score: Tetsuya Saito
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Additional Links: ANN Entry, AniDB Entry, Crunchyroll
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
Based on a long-running manga from the late '80s, a half-Japanese girl set to inherit her father's business empire is whisked away to the U.S. to pick a husband from among a small select group of individuals, with a political and power struggle unfolding in the background.

Personally...
The story, in all of its shoujo and reverse harem glory, sounds pretty interesting and could make for some compelling viewing. Based on the visual of the lone promotional image alone, it certainly looks like a sumptuous production if its pretty characters were any indication (though in reality and from experience, it shouldn't be an absolute given)...


Hatsukoi Limited (First Love Limited)

Debut: April 11, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa
Character Design: Tomoyuki Shitaya
Score: Nijine
Studio: J.C.STAFF
Additional Links: ANN Entry

Synopsis
A big, strong high-school boy tries to rescue the middle-school-faring object of his affection from his enemies, only to find out that she can more than handle herself on her own--just one tale among the lives of eight schoolgirls...

Personally...
The basic plot slightly reminds me of a twist on School Rumble, which featured a slew of interconnecting relationships and situations, anchored by the main story of a brooding tough-guy with a mega-crush on a sweet (and equally clueless) girl in his class (who is enamored with a different boy). This story isn't quite the same, but it sounds like the basis for a very good one if handled and exploited well. The artwork of the manga looks quite nice and the animation rendition of the characters look good, as well. One caveat may be that it looks ripe for some ecchi content...


K-ON!

Debut: April 4, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Hisako Yamada
Character Design: Yukiko Horiguchi
Score: Haijime Hyakkoku
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
Four girls in high-school try to save their light music club from being dissolved--despite all of them lacking in any musical skill.

Personally...
Kyoto Animation has had an odd last year, from the sudden cancellation of a planned anime (Tonari no 801-chan) to the "this is not the sequel" renew/relaunch/rerun of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and the debut of its two "not the sequel, either" ONA parodies. On top of that, there are still plenty of fans asking about/demanding sequels to that series and Full Metal Panic (I'll just take the former...). K-ON may not be either of those things (or a Visual Art's/Key adaptation), but it does look like another top-notch series from the talented studio. The premise is the byproduct of a four-panel manga of the same name, and like Azumanga Daioh and their own Lucky Star, it can be the foundation of a very funny, off-kilter show. Such an adaptation can be tricky to do and extract a workable, episodic show from, and the style of the end result, while often successful, can be alienating to some tastes. Even so, the concept sounds swell and will most likely draw a large number of fans, regardless.


Lupin III vs. Detective Conan

Debut: March 27, 2009
Format: TV (special)
Director: Haijime Kamegaki
Character Designs: Satoshi Hirayama, Masatomo Sudou
Score: Yuji Ohno, Katsuo Ono
Studio: Tokyo Movie
Additional Links: ANN Entry, ANN Article

Synopsis
The world's greatest thief and the world's greatest detective lock it up in search of treasure.

Personally...
The main character from one of my favorite shows and the lead from one of my least favorite shows do battle in a television special that might turn out to be either a poorly conceived, forced mess or an enjoyable match-up between two polar opposites. Normally when two characters or stories from different franchises, no matter how similar, come together in any medium or genre, it's usually the latter and excruciating to watch. Usually, it begins with a by-chance meeting or fight between the two forces, who are brought together due a common goal or enemy, who then come to an eventual understanding and team up to either accomplish said goal and/or beat their mutual source of contention. However, the job is bungled with well-intentioned events that are often forced and clich├ęd (partially due to how routine so many crossovers are), which cheapens the whole matter and dilutes what is supposed to be reasonably (and naturally) good idea. The sense of excitement is lost due not only to this, but to the staff's duty of trying to stay true to each character/story and please both, which can make things disjointed and rough, further wasting the project's potential.

Such pairings would most likely work better if an entirely new story separate from their continuities was crafted from scratch that incorporated both into it from start. CLAMP's Tsubasa: RESERVior CHRoNiCLE is a comparable example of this, which features characters from several of the manga group's works in a completely original story that incorporates them smoothly and works well. The convergence feels more natural and enjoyable this way--which is how it should feel and what others have tried to accomplish, unsuccessfully. The '90s Giant Robo OVA also worked well in that it was a wide-ranging homage to creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama's life work, featuring numerous characters and influences from his stories, that worked in the context of a new, original plot that still centered around the titular series. I'm not trying to make this special sound like a serious work of art, but even lighthearted fare can be a pain to watch. It's said to be an "original story", though to what extent remains to be seen. Granted, I'm no fan of Detective Conan (Case Closed in the States, and eyerollingly Americanized), but a match of wits with Lupin III sounds like the makings of a fun time...if done right.


Natsu no Arashi!

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Shin Oonuma
Character Design: Kazuhiro Ota
Score: Ken Sato
Studio: SHAFT
Additional Links: ANN Entry, Crunchyroll
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
Adapted from the supernatural romance manga by Jin Kobayashi (School Rumble), Natsu no Arashi! is centered around a young teen boy who, one summer, befriends an older female high-schooler working in a coffee shop. There is far more to the girl than he's aware of, if her powers and seemingly agelessness were any indication...

Personally...
The show looks like a very good one, both from a story and visual standpoint (well, if one can believe the sole promo pic and the character designs on the site). Speak of, it looks quite different from the art style used for the manga, though still nice. SHAFT have amassed a following among anime fans for their distinctive style and referencing, and along with Kobayashi's fame/infamy for School Rumble, it's almost a guarantee to attraction some attention when it debuts.


Psalms of Planets Eureka seveN: Pocket Full of Rainbows (Good night, Sleep tight, Young lovers.)

Debut: April 25, 2009
Format: Film
Director: Tomoki Kyoda
Character Design: Kenichi Yoshida
Score: Naoki Sato
Studio: BONES
Additional Links: ANN Entry, ANN Article

Synopsis
[Though not a whole lot of information is available of the film, it looks to be an alternate retelling of the series.]

Personally...
I was greatly intrigued by the prospects of a surfing mecha show when I first happened across the announcement for Eureka Seven in 2005. While it was a little rough around the edges at first, everything began to add up and click together into what became instant, and at the time underappreciated, masterpiece by the still young BONES studio. Since then, it has gained more recognition and accolades, and has even been featured at #9 on Decade's Best. And yet, I met news of its movie adaptation with both wonderment and skepticism given how RahXephon's half-reimagination, half-compliation movie turned out (also directed, ironically, by Eureka Seven helmer Tomoki Kyoda). In some pictures, the main characters from the show, Eureka and Renton, had been shown as children instead of teens, and along with the presence of a Scab Coral-like creature tagging alongside them in a few and a still-teen Dominic in others, things have been quite interesting in terms of what the staff has in mind and how much of the original story has been changed. The trailer found on the site's main page seems to indicate an alternative take on it more in the vein of the RahXephon movie, featuring select major events pertaining to the two leads, including the appearance of particular ones that occur latter on. It looks terrific from an artistic and potential plot standpoint, and Bandai Ent. is sure to license it in the very near future (they and Bandai-corporate produced the TV series, after all).


Queen's Blade -Rurou no Senshi-

Debut: April 2, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Kinji Yoshimoto
Character Design: Rin Shin
Score:
Studio: ARMS
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
Inspired by the popular video-game-spinoff artbook series featuring scantly-clad female fighters in action poses, the TV incarnation focuses on an all-out tournament taking place every four years to decide who will rule as queen of the land.

Personally...
I don't know what I'm supposed to be more surprised at: the number of name voice actresses attached or the top quality artwork for such a show. No shock that it actually got animated or that it will pretty much be nothing more than a good-looking ecchi-fest (the staff and studio have far more ecchi and hentai credits than anything else). The plot is the perfect device for transitioning the books to the screen and still retaining its "purpose", though I wouldn't expect much beyond that. This is from some of the same bunch behind the Ikkitousen sequels (the screenwriter for the entire series is also handling duties for Queen's Blade), so there might be some idea to gather about how it will play out, good or bad. Ikkitousen had its detractors (me included) but it certainly had its fans (mainly for the service...). I really don't care for ecchi stuff, but the odd combination of talented VAs, good artwork (for an ecchi show) that looked like some money went into it, and the staff's cheeky credentials will probably warrant a look at at least its first episode.


Saki

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Manabu Ono
Character Design: Masakatsu Sasaki
Score:
Studio: GONZO
Additional Links: ANN Entry, ANN Article, Crunchyroll
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
Saki, a shy girl with little care for the traditional game of mahjong (thanks to her family forcing her to play all the time), finds her interests piquing when a fellow high-school freshman introduces her to the school's club and opens her eyes to the game she's always shunned...

Personally...
I'm curious to see this turns out under the new slimmer GONZO, including with the lighter workload the studio now has (only four titles scheduled for the year, half that of the last two or three years and closer to the number of their earlier years). Saki is shaping up to be another "un-GONZO" series, one that doesn't seem to adhere to its usual style, isn't as action-centric, or sprinkled as much with CGI and fanservice, such as Welcome to the N.H.K.!, Red Garden, and Gankutsuou. That isn't to say that aren't any of those things in this show, as its first trailer indicated (it even has a little bit of that old "GONZO shine" and feel to it), though something based on mahjong, even in a fantastical sense, is not something really up GONZO's alley.

Still, I really like it when a studio steps out of its usual zone of material to do something different, and Saki has me excited for it. It looks like a really fun show, and a pretty one at that (then again, I thought the same thing about LINEBARRELS OF GUNDOH...err...IRON when I saw its promo), and the cast and director, who did Dragonaut (whom I'm one of the eight fans in the world of), also make it promising. Sure, there is a fanservice-magnet character and it's unknown how GONZO's current state will affect its quality, but Saki still looks like a potentially enjoyable show (and the latter part does at a layer of intrigue in how it will turn out...). It's one that I will certainly be looking forward to once it starts its broadcast in April, along with another GONZO series...


Shangri-La

Debut: April 5, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Makoto Bessho
Character Design: Kumi Ishii (Original: Range Murata)
Score: Hitomi Kuroishi
Studio: GONZO
Additional Links: English Site, ANN Entry, ANN Article, Crunchyroll
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
In a global warming-ravaged future is the forested city of Atlas, formerly known as Tokyo. Due to the over-humid tropical climate that had developed there, it was seen as a vital move to reform the metropolis in an attempt to cool it down. However, it is yet to be very hospitable, and there are those who do not take kindly to its transformation...

Personally...
Shangri-La is probably the show that I'm looking forward to the most this season. The staff alone has me anticipating it: Range Murata (Blue Submarine No. 6, Last Exile) providing "original" (more on that later) character designs (whenever Murata and GONZO get together, very good things tend to come about), Kumi Ishii (Red Garden, Kure-nai) doing the animation character designs, Hiroshi Ohnogi (RahXephon, Noein, Macross) handling the series composition, Shingo Takeba (designer for Wolf's Rain, Eureka Seven, RahXephon) lending "creative supervision", and featured design work by Takuhito Kusanagi (Blue Submarine No. 6) and Umanosuke Iida (Tide-Line Blue, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team).

Speaking of designs, I had unknowingly come across the actual original artwork and character designs to Shangri-La on Kenichi Yoshida's website a few years ago. My interests in Eureka Seven had led me to his website, where I came across sections dedicated to E7, Overman King Gainer, and one project that I was unfamiliar with. This story, apparently revolving around a boomerang-toting girl in a tropical, post-apocalyptic world, seemed really interesting and was something that I initially thought was an original picture-only tale by Yoshida (or an E7-related/-inspired story), though I could never find any further information on it. In the present, I had seen the conceptual pictures for the anime, including some of a girl with a boomerang, and never connected the two until only a week ago, when someone posted Yoshida's artwork (ironically, the poster never mentioned who the artist was).

Range Murata's "new original" and Kumi Ishii's animation renditions look quite pleasing, but it's odd that GONZO didn't use Kenichi Yoshida's pre-existing versions, which were perfectly fine in their own right. I suppose he may have been too busy with the Eureka Seven movie at the time Shangri-La started production, though I gather that the studio may have simply wanted to use a different style for it and turned to perennial collaborator Murata and Ishii for their respective tasks. Both are superb at their craft and two of my favorites, but as much of a dream situation it is to see the latter adapt the former's designs for animation, they both have a few similarities but ultimately different styles. That said, the first promotional picture shown in Newtype of the aforementioned girl (named "Kuniko", who appears much younger than Yoshida's original and her 18 years-of-age) looked a little awkward, but the animation stills on the show's blog eased my concerns, as she and two other characters seemed to turn out very nicely (and slightly reminiscent of Yoshida's style). The story sounds like the foundation of a very interesting and unique one, buoyed by its uncommon aesthetics, and I'm absolutely anticipating its debuts, along with the above Saki (having May'n, of Macross Frontier fame, singing the OP is a big plus, too).


Shin Mazinger Shougeki! Z-Hen

Debut: April 4, 2009
Format: TV (26 episodes)
Director: Yasuhiro Imagawa
Character Design: Shinji Takeuchi
Score: Akira Miyagawa
Studios: Bee Media, CODE
Additional Links: ANN Entry
Review: Ep. 1

Synopsis
[This is an odd one. It was once reported to be based on the manga Z Mazinger, a retelling of the landmark Mazinger Z with Greek mythology overtones, but now the vibe from the staff is that it is a "separate work" from Mazinger Z. While that would be more inline with Z Mazinger, they didn't mention it was an adaptation of that story, either, nor is the title of the anime any indication of that. It sounds more like a wholly new story of Mazinger Z, in the vein of perhaps Getter Robo Armageddon, though probably not nearly as extreme.]

Personally...
I'm a huge fan of Go Nagai's mecha stories (and Cutie Honey), so another go-around on the anime front with Mazinger Z was something I was greatly anticipating when I first heard about it last summer. Hearing Giant Robo maestro Yasuhiro Imagawa's name attached to it as writer and director only made the news that much sweeter, and it would mark his first time visiting Nagai's robot world since leaving Getter Robo Armageddon three episodes in due to differences with the staff. As potentially great and epic this new tale could be, there is the major caveat of...Imagawa. Giant Robo may have been a classic, but that success didn't necessarily carry over into later works like G Gundam and Tetsujin 28th. The former had its flashes of true greatness with its blend of super robot action and Gundams, but far, far too often did it extract the worst of the conventions and stereotypes of the super robot genre that it was trying to extract the best from, essentially playing itself down to its level.

I've heard similar statements made about T-28th, his most recent directorial work, and it's something that I hope he avoids with ("so not") Mazinger Z. He's absolutely capable of making top-level masterwork, if some of those few non-mediocre episodes of G Gundam were any indication, so it would be great if more than a mere handful of the 26 slated were near there. On another note, it's good to see the series retain the same "old-school"/retro character designs that have been the norm in nearly every modern Go Nagai anime--and in this case, they very closely match his manga designs.


Valkyria Chronicles

Debut: April 4, 2009
Format: TV
Director: Yasutaka Yamamoto
Character Design: Atsuko Watanabe
Score: Hitoshi Sakimoto
Studio: A-1 Pictures Inc.
Additional Links: Game Site, ANN Entry

Synopsis
As two superpowers in alternate history 1930s Europe do battle in the neutral territory of Gallia, a young officer must guide his troops with unconventional tactics against the invading forces, as well as the mysterious race of "Valkyria" among them, in this adaptation of the well-received 2008 video game.

Personally...
Only less than four years old, A-1 Pictures is quickly becoming one of my favorite studios, given the all-around quality job they did on Kannagi: Crazy Shrine Maidens and their work on Birdy the Mighty Decode and others. It should come as no surprise that they, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Sony's Aniplex production company, would be tapped to adapt the highly-rated, cel-shaded PS3 game. The watercolored, anime-esque look of the game was also touted, though that doesn't appear to have carried over to the actual animated effort. Surprisingly, the anime was announced only a few months after the game's release (perhaps pre-destined, beforehand), though it appears that the same Japanese voice actors will be reprising their roles from it.

Notable, however, is the singer of the OP, HIMEKA--who, in actuality, is Canadian Catherine St. Onge, winner of the 2nd All-Japan Anison Grand Prix (ah, the irony...). As a reward, the top finalist is given the opportunity to sing the theme song to a new show on contest broadcaster Aniplex, and thus, St. Onge (or by her trade name, "HIMEKA") was given the chance to sing Valkyria Chronicles' opening. Having heard her sing once, she actually sounds pretty good for a non-native speaker, so I am looking forward to hearing how well she does here. I never played the game, but I have seen a review on it and the source material could make for a good show if handled right. Decent video game adaptations, even half-way good ones, are hard to come by, but A-1 Pictures might be able pull this one off well enough. On a final note, keep a close watch on the characters on the show's website... ;D


Yurumeitsu (Yurumates)

Debut: April 24, 2009
Format: OVA
Director:
Character Design:
Score:
Studio: indeprox
Additional Links: ANN Entry, ANN Article

Synopsis
18 year-old high-school grad Yurume has yet to be accepted to a university, so she decides to move to the Tokyo area to prep for entrance exams. Too bad she's shacked up with a group of high-school graduates who have been in her position for years, and have no real ambition in seeking a higher education...

Personally...
Seems like the makings of a very funny show, and its original 4koma beginnings should make for a good basis a comedy with its kind of plot. Hopefully it will all turn out well, as this is the first work by fledging studio indeprox...


-Other Shows of Interest-
There is certainly a great deal of notable anime debuting this season in the top section alone, so it might come as little surprise to see so many other shows of interest here (the same amount, to be exact--18!). The following titles consist of other notables, cute little shows that could only be churned out from Japan (or more specifically, Sanrio), and works that show some slight interests or promise. The fact that these anime are listed here does not denote that they are lesser, per se, less interesting, but with an overall list this size, things would have been unwieldy (and time-consuming) if everything below was written out as before.

Before Green Gables (04.05.09 - Nippon Animation adapts the 2008 celebratory prequel novel to Lucy Maud Montgomery’s 100 year-old classic, Anne of Green Gables, which they themselves created a classic anime of in 1979, for the next installment of NHK's World Masterpiece Theater.)

Cobra The Animation: Time Drive (04.24.09 - A continuation of Cobra's anniversary revival from last year...)

Cookin' Idol Ai! Mai! Main! (03.30.09 - An interesting educational anime aimed at teaching children how to cook--in cute anime fashion…)

Cross Game (04.05.09 - Sounds like a good baseball anime story that leans more heavily on the serious than comedic side.)

DOGS: Stray dogs howling in the dark (05.19.09 - Only the second production from new studio David Production, this OVA adaptation of the well-liked manga about a group of four assassins, former and current, and their lives in a seedy, futuristic European city not only sounds like quite an enjoyable series, but also features designs by one of my favorites, Kumi Ishii (this spring's Shangri-La, Red Garden).)

Gokujou!! Mecha Mote Iinchou Shoujo (04.04.09 - I don't believe this cute-looking shoujo show has anything to do with "mecha", exactly, but does involve an aspiring, good-natured student council president who has a crush on one of the boys who tease her...)

Hayate the Combat Butler (OVA) (03.06.09 - One of the few anime sequels to consist of just a single beach episode...)

Higepiyo (04.03.09 - An adaptation of a 4koma manga by Ebichu creator Risa Itou revolving around a mustached bird? Sounds like bizarre, crude fun!)

Isekai no Seikishi Monogatari (03.20.09 - I'm certainly no fan of the Tenchi Muyo! franchise, but this spinoff of a 2003 carnation doesn't look half-bad...)

Pandora Hearts (04.02.09 - Interesting riches-to-rags fantasy premise, with a Yuki Kajiura-composed Xebec production to sweeten the pot...)

Phantom ~Requiem for the Phantom~ (04.02.09 - Very intriguing story, this being the second adaptation of it, about a man unwittingly turned into an assassin after witnessing the identity of a secret organization's top killer...)

Ristorante Paradiso (04.08.09 - Sounds like a slice-of-life tale about a girl who apprentices under her new chef stepfather in Rome after her mother runs out on her, which would be David Production's very first project, along with May's DOGS. Now up for view at Crunchyroll.)
Review: Ep. 1

Slap Up Party -Arad Senki- (04.03.09 - The third of GONZO's slated four anime for the year (Saki and Shangri-La being the other two, also debuting this spring), it is a comedic adaptation of a Korean MMORPG that might actually turn out pretty good if done well, considering the studio's track record with comedies...)

Sugar Bunnies Fleur (04.07.09 - It probably won't be on anyone's radar, but this Sanrio-produced sequel looks like a "creature collection"-esque show...and those bunnies just look too darn cute!!)

Tayutama -Kiss on my Deity- (04.05.09 - Doesn't look like anything beyond your standard eroge-based harem adaptation, though the music from the trailer didn't sound too bad (the large-eyed character designs, on the other hand...))

ToHeart2 adplus (04.24.09 - Part of me would like to wish that this was something like the original ToHeart OVA, but that may go unfulfilled considering its unfamiliar and ecchi (given its eroge roots) follow-ups, though the small group of screenshots may point to it being otherwise...)

Tsubasa: Shunraiki (03.15.09 - A continuation of Tsubasa: RESERVior CHRoNiCLE saga, handled by Bee Train's parent studio, Production I.G, and a different director...)


-In Theaters-

Chou Gekijouban Keroro Gunso 4 (03.07.09 - Another year, another movie starring the Gunpla-obsessed frog invader...)

Last War of Heavenloids and Akutoloids (04.18.09 - A theatrical, "director's cut" version of the finale to Kyoto Animation's Munto 2 remake, essentially making it the partial remake of a remake of a sequel of an original work...)

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann: Ragan-hen (04.25.09 - A continuation of GAINAX's movie retelling of their modern classic Gurren Lagann debuts, along with a few wholly new scenes, as seen here.)

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