Tuesday, April 19, 2011

:anime: HardDoor's Seasonal Anime Preview 2011 Special:: noitaminA (Spring, Summer)

Fuji TV's noitaminA block has produced a fine number of great titles over the years. Their slate for the spring and summer cours, however, looks particularly strong, enough so to warrant this special installment of HD's seasonal anime preview. While full-fledged ones of old are currently on hiatus due to time constraints, I thought it would still be worthwhile to churn out an edition for something like noitaminA. I have had my eye on these series since they have been announced, and hope they turn out as good as they appear to be. And knowing noitaminA's track record, their chances seem high…

© "C" Committee

Alt. Titles: [C] – Control – The Money and Soul of Possibility; CONTROL

Debut:  April 14, 2011
Director: Kenji Nakamura
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Links: Official Site, noitaminA English Site, ANN Entry, ANN Interview w/ Cast
Video [Free]: FUNimation Videos, Hulu, YouTube
Picture Source: Edited from Official Site ("No Flash" image)

Synopsis: In present-day, cash-strapped Japan, an ordinary, unambitious economics major soon finds himself caught in a confluence of otherworldly fighting and finances after an encounter with a bizarre bank representative. The man offers to fund his present endeavours--in exchange for his future ones…

Personal Take: C has nearly anything I could ask for in a show: a visual eccentric in Nakamura (Ayakashi, Mononoke, Welcome to Irabu's office :) ), character designs by one of my favorites in mebae (link NSFW), score by Taku Iwasaki (Gurren Lagann, Now and Then, Here and There), animation by Tatsunoko (no stranger to high quality and eclectic productions in The SoulTaker and Karas), and script and series composition by Noboru Tagaki (Baccano!, Durarara!!). The promos look good and with the director being a noitaminA darling and growing in recognition, C appears to be one of the most anticipated shows of the season. While I certainly fall into that camp, the "otherworldly fighting & finance" aspect does sound like an odd-fitting mix and the plot seems to hew a little close to the recent Eden of the East--also a noitaminA work. However, it's hard to forget the forces at work behind C, and despite its oddity, I am into odd stuff like that (demon-looking girls, not so much)…

Goody Stuff…: The "special contents" section linked on the main page leads to some sort of quiz. I'm not fluent in Japanese, so I have little idea of what it is all about, but clicking on the right choices appears to lead to some particular content, also in Japanese (most likely pertaining to the production or in-show items). Not whole lot of downloadable content, though you can find a sketch at the bottom here and a healthy amount of trailers at the "demo movie" link.


Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai.
Alt. Title: AnoHana

Debut: April 14, 2011
Director: Tatsuyuki Nagai
Studio: A-1 Pictures, Inc.
Links: Official Site, ANN Entry
Picture SourceEdited from Official Site (wallpaper)

Synopsis: A boy seeks to reunite with his estranged childhood friends to fulfill a wish by one of them, who has physically stayed the same since they were younger.

Personal Take: The team behind the hit Toradora! anime reunites again (director Nagai, screenwriter Mari Okada, and character designer Masayoshi Tanaka), and while I missed the boat on that show, I am eagerly awaiting this one. One of the main reasons, besides the intriguing and potentially insightful story, is Tanaka's design work and animation direction, which I have become a big fan of after Highschool of the Dead. The trailer footage looks solid, so I hope we get an overall solid effort out of A-1 Pictures, who has been shaky of late after bombing badly with togainu no chi and with the giant discrepancies between conceptual and animation designs with Fractale, which the studio just finished as their first noitaminA title (it, too, did not garner spectacular ratings, though it did get better reviews). The same goes for Okada, who had some difficulty wrapping up the show's lofty storyline within noitaminA's usual 11-eps. allotment (and I say that as a big fan of Fractale).

Goody Stuff…: AnoHana's official site features a hefty "Special" section, with a plethora of trailers, ZIP files containing Twitter icons and Japanese-style business cards (or whichever they are, if going by Google Translate), and two wallpapers.

© Atsuko Asano / Kodansha / NO.6 Production Committee


Debut: July 7, 2011
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Studio: BONES
Links: Official Site, ANN Entry
Video [Free]: Crunchyroll
Picture Source: As is from Official Site (top image)

Synopsis: A young boy living in an elitist, futuristic society rescues another boy on the run from the city's security force, but his act will have life-changing consequences…

Personal Take: By synopsis alone, NO.6 sounds rather generic, but the show's sharp look and, yes, the inherent mystery of exactly why the boy's life would affected helps propel my interest in the series (which has nothing to do with GONZO's earlier work, Blue Submarine No. 6). OK, and I like toi8's design style…

Goody Stuff…: At the official site, in the "Special" section, is a very neat feature entitled "Original Wallpaper". With the show's stylish logo and tagline emblazoned on it, you really can create your very own "original" wallpaper by clicking on the top black bar (with the color palette symbol) to change the color of the logo and font and clicking on the bottom black bar to change the background's color. When you are satisfied with your choices, click on the center black bar at the bottom, which will automatically read your monitor's resolution and let you save the wallpaper at the correct dimensions (though you have to put ".jpg" at the end of the file name so it will save as a JPEG file). The color combinations are virtually endless (and I've included a few I made below so you can get a good idea of how they can turn out) and the whole look of it can be quite stunning depending on your picks. It would be nice to see more show sites doing something like this. (There is also an iPhone/iPod touch version of the site, but you can only download a set of pre-made colored wallpaper from its "Special" section. Though on the bright side, they have a nice cloth texture look not found with the main site's template.)

Default color scheme

No, this has nothing to do with BS6…nothing at all…

Just messing around some more. Something a little bolder and out there.

Prior to its renewal, I would have also recommended the website itself and its unique "slate" layout. But as often the case with sites in pre-production, it was only temporary, as the site was revamped with a more traditional design once they had footage to show off. Though some of its slick looks remain and isn't too bad, the previous design was a very cool thing to behold. Too bad…

© 2011 Yumi Unita / Shodensha / "Usagi Drop" Animation Production Committee

Usagi Drop
Alt. Title: Bunny Drop

Debut: July 7, 2011
Director: Kanta Kamei
Studio: Production I.G
Links: Official SitenoitaminA English Site, Manga Site, ANN Entry
Video [Free]: Crunchyroll
Picture Source: Compiled from Official Site's background image and character forefront image. See below for additional information.

Synopsis: A single, 30-year-old man becomes the caretaker of his aunt…that is, the illegitimate and shunned 6-year-old daughter of his late grandfather.

Personal Take: Usagi/Bunny Drop is one of the hottest and most well-received properties in Japan, with its source manga doing very well and spawning both this anime series and an upcoming live-action film. The premise seems like the stuff of slapstick, but it appears to be a more serious, heartwarming story. As such, I've found myself looking forward to the series more than I thought I would.

Goody Stuff…: Nothing much at this time, but the manga site does have a few pictures to give you a sense of what the characters (beyond the pair) will look like.

Picture Source (cont.):  As separate images, I had to combine the two to achieve an image similar to that conveyed on the Official Site. The characters in the picture are centered, rather than to the left in the original layout. I did this for presentation purposes, but it wasn't until after I did all of the pictures that I noticed that the leaves were grooved in a way to allow the figures to fit in place (^^;;). So for those looking for a picture a little more accurate to the one at the site, here it is.

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