Wednesday, April 24, 2013

:anime: HardDoor's Seasonal Anime Preview 2013 Special:: noitaminA (Spring, Summer)

Normally, each season of noitaminA either has an original series or one based on preexisting material, with the occasional sequel or the even rarer short (Thermae Romae being the sole example). However, this stint of Fuji TV's venerable block is quite different from the past, as for the first time ever, a previously-broadcasted anime will be reran in it. . This show, now "retroactively" a noitaminA series, will be Katanagatari, an adaptation of NisiOisin's novel series (unrelated to his mega-hit Monogatari Series) that first aired in 2010 on Fuji TV. Even more unusual is that due to the hour-long runtime of each of its twelve episodes (one for each of the 12 volumes in the series), it will take up the allotted hour-long timeslot of the block for spring, meaning it will be the only title shown for the season.

So what will be of the summer session? It looks to be a return to normalcy (from the outset, at least) with an adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist creator Hiromu Arakawa's runaway smash Silver Spoon.

©NISIOISIN, Kodansha / Katanagatari Committee


Debut:  April 11, 2013 (Original Date: January 25, 2010)
Director: Keitaro Motonaga
Links: Official Site, NIS America Site, ANN Entry, MAL Entry

Synopsis: A master swordsman that uses no sword aids a government strategist in her quest to collect 12 particular blades masterfully crafted by a famed blacksmith, out of fears of a rebellion by the nation's leader.

Personal Take: So you may be asking yourself: why? Why exactly would Fuji TV air not only a rerun in noitaminA, but one of a show that never even aired in the block when it first aired? The broadcaster never has given an explanation, but there are a few likely reasons why they did so. In spite of producing one of their biggest successes in AnoHana and string of well-received, good selling series of recent (Bunny/Usagi Drop, Thermae Romae, PSYCHO-PASS (at least, for a dark, mature show…)), they have undoubtedly hit some rough patches with underperforming series such as Robotics;Notes, Natsuyuki Rendezvous, and 2011's winter tandem of Fractale and Hourou Musoko/Wandering Son (well-reviewed as it was), which did exceptionally poor (personally, I would also throw in the much-hyped GUILTY CROWN, which garnered decent sales, but could have gotten much more if not for the mixed reactions).

Bad apples aside, most of noitaminA's title of late, receiving good marks on average, have garnered only relatively decent sales. It still remains to be seen if the producers' change in strategy from "different" and more experimental/challenging anime to titles front-loaded with popular talent or attached to well-known properties that could entice more viewers and sales, yet still retaining the block's signature edge and goal will be successful, which only kicked up in earnest around the time I first began covering the block here in Spring 2011 (though it could be traced a little further back with Fractale). The results since have been somewhat mixed, so thus, Katanagatari serves two purposes.

One, it gives Fuji TV a break from having to finance a whole new production (with unknown fruit to yield), and perhaps gives a breather creatively, as well. Second, Katanagatari is itself well-received and--more importantly--carries the lauded/lucrative name of "NisiOisin" with it. Retroactively adding a series of his makes for good notoriety for noitaminA and its profile, further bolstering their current "big name" initiative. And, well, there is also the fact that the series is being re-released on Blu-ray in a complete box at the end of the month, too, so make your connections there…

Is it cheap of Fuji TV to air a rerun of a near three year-old series and bandwagon on the name of its source's hot author all to avoid producing new shows for the season and milk some money with an upcoming re-release. Sort of, but you can't totally blame them for doing so. It's smart from a financial stand point and after some of the lacking moneymakers and series of late, a seasonal break with fiscal benefits isn't too bad, so long as it isn't a frequent occurrence. There will even be all-new opening and ending themes by supercell and Piko, too, and besides, they have a good shot at making some good money on their next, all-new, show for the summer season…

Goody Stuff…: While there isn't much in terms of downloadables on the current form of the official site, its former 2010 version is still available, and there, wallpaper (well, one, at least) and twelve sets of Twitter icons can be found, as well as select screenshots and trailers from the nifty-looking series (spoilerific ones, though…)

©Hiromu Arakawa, Shogakukan / Ezono Festival Committee

Silver Spoon
Alt. Title: Gin no Saji

Debut:  July 2013
Director: Tomohiko Ito
Studio: A-1 Pictures, Inc.
Links: Official Site, ANN Entry, MAL Entry
Video: Crunchyroll, Hulu

Synopsis: A young man bypasses a normal high school life for agriculture school after being unable to get into the school of his choice. While he expects to coast through--despite having no career interest in the field--he soon finds out things will not be quite as easy he originally thought…

Personal Take: Given what was previously discussed above and with Silver Spoon being a major hit--and the latest title from Fullmetal Alchemist's mangaka--it was no-brainer that it would receive an anime adaptation (though perhaps it is a slight surprise that BONES, who animated FMA and many noitaminA titles lately, isn't handling this one). As mentioned a few times before, I have never been a fan of Hiromu Arakawa's most famous work, nor of her character designs. That said, this is a very different story from her fantasy titles and it has the added bonus of being based on her being raised on a dairy farm, which should give it a nice personal and introspective touch. And despite it sounding somewhat similar in scope to another noitaminA series in Moyashimon (sans super-deformed microbes), it still appears enticing enough to give it a watch. I'm also a bit anxious to see how a non-fantasy tale from Arakawa will turn out and the staff--featuring scripts by Taku Kishimoto (the great Bunny/Usagi Drop) and character designs/chief animation direction from personal fav Jun Nakai (Mardock Scramble movies, K, Tokyo Majin)--looks pretty respectable, too. My, am I actually looking forward to an Arakawa anime (not by Akiyuki Shinbo/SHAFT)?

Goody Stuff…: So far, at the time of this posting, wallpaper of the above image is available.

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