The worst thing about fall is not waking up to the smell of dead leaves. The worst thing about fall is not having to wear socks indoors, finding out that your boots do not fit anymore, or turning the heater back on to find out that it does not work anymore. The worst thing about fall is not cleaning out leaves from your garden, being force-fed chocolate milk, arriving home soaking wet, or having your perfect autumn leaves photograph ruined by the low sun. The worst thing about fall is that it recalls death. The death of nature as leaves start dropping like snowflakes. The death of that relaxed feeling you have if you can go outside without having to put on four more layers of clothing. The death of happiness as school starts up again and forces you to drag yourself halfway through the country on a daily basis. The best thing about fall, however, is the anime.
Fall is generally considered to be the most important anime season of the year, and it looks like the upcoming season will only strengthen this belief. Almost everything Japan will give us this fall looks appealing to some degree… with a few exceptions, of course. Busou Shinki, produced by studio 8bit (Infinite Stratos) even goes as far as to warn viewers in its summary that they should not expect a World War III or anything of the sort; just a normal, near future in which the titular Shinki, pint-sized female androids voiced by the likes of Kana Asumi and Megumi Nakajima, exist to both serve and entertain their masters. …No, not that kind of entertainment. Judging by the premise and the whopping one show it took 8bit to completely plummet its reputation, I have literally no hopes for this strange bastard child of Chobits and Pokémon. I hope you do neither.
Equally disturbing looks Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne~, which –in case you haven’t stopped reading by now- roughly translates to “As Long As There’s Love, It Doesn’t Matter That He’s My Brother!” Indeed, the obligatory incest anime of the season is back in full force and this time starring – I kid you not – fraternal twins that are not related by blood. I’ll let that sink in for a while. Signing up for this disaster is Silver Link, the association of rejected Shaft imitators also known from such anime as Baka and Test: Summon The Beasts and currently airing cult favourite Kokoro Connect. Yes, they are the ones with the asshole producer who bullies voice actors. If you feel like boycotting their latest project, my all means, please do.
No anime season is complete without an anime about idols, and this season will be no exception to that. Aikatsu is a Sunrise adaptation of an arcade card game about managing idols and I sure hope it is okay with being nothing more than a shoulder to cry on for iDOLM@STER fans in search of something to still their hunger for a second season. Monaca, the composer of the OP for Nyarko-san: Another Crawling Chaos and the Star Driver insert songs has been charged with bringing in the money. Get these coins rolling, fellow consumers!
In the category of “How the heck did they think of this?” comes Girls Und
Pantsu Panzer, a five-girl-ensemble cast about… girls piloting tanks. Being the So-Ra-No-Wo-To apologist that I am, I have to put on my pink shades here, but the premise of a high school club that considers driving tanks to be an art is entirely beyond me. The promo video promises lesbian subtext, a lot of talking, a distinct lack of battle and the occasionally highly detailed, based on real life tank. Well, I guess that niche of otaku deserve their pander fodder too.
What is immediately striking about this season is the abundance of traditional shounen and shoujo anime, two genres that have been in a desperate need of a breath of fresh air. Don’t expect Sukitte Ii Ya No! (Say You Love Me!) to deliver just that, though. Sukkitte tells the story of Mei Tachibana, an asocial girl without any real friends. One day, she accidentally kicks Yamato, the prettiest guy in school in the face, though later that day, he saves her from a stalker by kissing her. Mei realizes that other people may not be as scary as she thinks, but what is this tingling feeling the things Yamato does to her make her f-oh, God, I can’t finish this. What Sukitte gives us is not much more than a combination of the two most obnoxiously generic shoujo plotlines ever, and the result is a smutty soap opera featuring a lot of angsting, questionable seduction tactics and sixteen-year-olds talking about how much sex they’re having. And I thought girls had better taste than guys.
In the wholly more interesting corner of the shoujo department is Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun (The Monster Next Door), a quirky romance anime produced by studio Brain’s Base. Shizuku Mizutani, our main character, is an uptight, studious girl who cares for little other than her grades. One day, she makes the mistake of handing notes to the biggest troublemaker in school. She immediately regrets it, but he is dedicated to becoming her best friend. Somehow, a chicken, cowboys, baseball and samurai are all involved. With the director of Kimi ni Todoke and the series composition guy of Durarara!! and Baccano! at the helm and Haruka Tomatsu behind the mic, this show is something to look out for.
This fall will also see the adaptation of the critically-acclaimed shoujo comedy fantasy manga Kamisama Kiss. Akitaro Daichi, the director of Fruits Basket teams up with old-skool budget saving experts TMS Entertainment, known for the latest Lupin III anime and the Bakugan Battle Brawlers franchise, of all things. Kamisama Kiss tells the action-packed and allegedly hilarious tale of Nanami, who accidentally inherits a shrine and becomes the land god of her hometown. No land god without familiars, of course, so Nanami soon finds out that Tomoe, the bad-tempered familiar of the former land god would much rather have his old master return than having to deal with this dirt-poor high school student. Expect snarking, sparkles, flowers and a whole spoonful of belligerent sexual tension.
Of course, no season is complete without some popular shounen adaptations. Code:Breaker, based on the popular Weekly Shounen Magazine manga, will see “cold-hearted” supernatural assassins face off with an innocent girl dragged into the mayhem and probably reduced to a piece of furniture after 10 episodes. Adaptation is in the hands of the director of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and studio Kinema Circus, best known for handling all outsourced chores for studio Bones. I will sit this one out and keep wondering how shounen anime adaptations like this one manage to convey action in a less exciting manner than their manga counterparts.
One of the hottest things on the horizon for next season seems to be Magi, an A-1 Productions-produced fantasy anime set in the wonderful world of Thousand-And-One-Night. Its creative setting is the biggest plus on Magi’s curriculum vitae, but will it be able to tell more than just a generic story with it? I am not getting up my hopes too high, given that the guy behind the writing table will be Hiroyuki Yoshino, known for such train wrecks as The Quazer of Stigmata and Guilty Crown. The summary proves promising at the very least. Magi tells the story of a boy named Aladdin (yes, that Aladdin), who finds a mysterious lamp with a djinn in it. The djinn tells him he is destined to become a Magi, a magician who has the power to appoint kings. Somehow this story also involves a chained-up slave girl punching a tiger in the face. At first glance, Magi seems to recall traditional shounen anime à la Dragon Ball, with its kid hero, tough girl sidekick and magic battles. With A-1 Productions’ enormous budget, the Arabic fairytale lore and the director of Read or Die by its side, can Magi become the next big thing in anime land?
If you are allergic to all that Arabic jazz and prefer your anime a bit more, well, anime, Ixion Saga DT is the generic anime for you next season. In a blatant attempt to put out the most generic anime in anime history, Brain’s Base goes for the gold with a generic Capcom MMORPG adaptation about a generic looking guy with a generic sword finding himself stranded in a generic-looking fantasy world inhabited by generic-looking spikey-haired lady boys and generic-looking big-eyed, big-breasted ladies with ambiguous sexual orientations and generic magical powers. Fabulous. For some reason, Shinji Takamatsu, the director of very un-generic shows such as Gintama, Daily Lives of High School Girls and School Rumble deemed this project interesting enough to get in the director’s chair for, though the chances of Capcom allowing him to make fun of the medium like only he can will be slim.
People who have watched their fair share of anime probably know what chunibyo, or “second-year sickness” is. People who suffer from this rather odd –but recognizable- spin on puberty are often out of touch with reality, act older than their age and believe themselves to be special snowflakes indulging themselves in over-imaginative delusions. In other words, they’re emo kids. Examples from popular anime would include Kobato Hasegawa from Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai or Kuroneko from Oreimo. Slice-of-life wondersmiths Kyoto Animation take on the tale of an ex-emo kid befriending someone who is still deep into the darkness in next season’s Chunibyo Demo Koi ga Shitai! (She’s Delusional, But I Want To Love Her!) an adaptation of the light novel receiving an honourable mention in the very first Kyoto Animation award program. As always with Kyoto Animation, expect beautiful art and animation, splendid direction (courtesy of Tatsuya Ishihara, director of The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya and Clannad) and a boatload of down-to-earth heart heating. Super Sentai fans might be excited to hear that the role of the female heroine, Rikka, will be played by Maaya Uchida, better known as ace scientist and secret legendary voice actress Hiroyo Hakase in the magnificent Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger. Looks like the delusion is still strong as ever in her.
Being on the topic of slice of-life shows (and delusions) gives me the opportunity to smoothly segue into the stupid harem show of this season, with the rather creepy title Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo (Literally, “The Pet-like Girl of Sakura Dorm”). Animated by J.C. Staff (Run to the hills!) and penned by melodrama queen Mari Okada (Run for your life!), the woman who loves to write about emotions without ever having experienced any real human emotions – just like all hentai authors writing about ‘sex’ – Sakurasou tells the story of an art student who gets kicked out of his dorm for keeping a cat and is forced to move to a dorm rumoured to house the biggest wierdos on campus. If this sounds familiar to you, that’s because the author somehow managed to rip off the entire premise of Hidamari Sketch. Anyways, the poor dude ends up having to take care of his clumsy waif of a classmate, who is allegedly so moe she can’t take care of herself. In short, it’s Clannad pushed to such an extreme it becomes a complete joke. But hey, it’s funny, you know? The summary just loves to point at how hilarious~ this is by referring to the girl as a ‘pet’. Yes, girls are pets, Japan. Keep it up.
Aside from the melodrama, another typical trait of Mari Okada is that if she shows up, she will show up a lot. Her second
victim project of the season is Zakuen No Tempest, an apocalyptic action series about an ordinary guy and his mysterious friend who makes a contract with a witch to avenge his parents. I’m just going to call it Puella Magi Batman Magica. Anyways, from what I have read, the manga Tempest will be based upon is a very divisive little creature. Some people think it iss atrocious, while others claim it to be the best thing since sliced bread. 90% of the latter are probably yaoi fangirls. As a final nail in the coffin, Tempest’s manga is still running. If I tell you that the adaptation is in the once capable hands of Bones, you should know that you should be very, very afraid. Bones and original endings is the anime industry’s Mentos and Coke.
If Tempest reminds you of No.6, the abomination that nearly killed the renowned noitaminA timeslot, you’re not the only one. Thankfully, noitaminA has graduated from fujoshi bait for now and dashes headfirst into the new season with two highly anticipated sci-fi shows. Robotics;Notes, based on a visual novel by 5pb and the spiritual successor to the brilliant Steins;Gate, will have to do with a distinct lack of time travel and grey filters, but makes up for this with a whole junkyard worth of robots. Despite the rather generic-looking trailers and key visuals, Robotics;Notes’ story of a headstrong girl trying to build an actual giant robot and accidentally unveiling some sort of secret looks promising. For those wondering if happy-go-lucky engineering is all Robotics;Notes has to offer, I can happily assure you that time dilation, augmented reality and social networking all play a role in the story. Directing is Kazuya Nomura, director of Sengoku Basara and adaptation duties remain unchanged from Steins;Gate, if anything. Fuhahaha!
The other noitaminA show however, Psycho-Pass, has long remained a mystery. For months, all we were given was the image of a futuristic-looking gun. Then came two words that catapulted this upcoming original project to the top of many an anime fan’s anticipation list: Gen Urobuchi. The Urobutcher, made (in)famous by the absolutely stunning Puella Magi Madoka Magica, returns to pen an original sci-fi police noir series for noitaminA. The titular Psycho-Pass is employed by law enforcement in the near future to immediately capture an individual’s psychological condition in a virtual file. Tomokazu Seki and Kana Hanazawa star as two cops charged with managing crime in this world. That’s all there is to know about Psycho-Pass for now, but frankly… It’s all you need to know.
Now that we are talking mysterious original anime projects anyways, coming fall season will also feature the premiere of K, an ambitious project that sees the entire staff behind Mardock Scramble teaming up with a mysterious group of writers named GoRa. Speculation that the ringleader of this shadowy ensemble may be none other than Durarara!!’s Ryogo Narita has been going around 2ch for a while now, and it’s hard not to see where they’re coming from. The first trailer introduces us to the large city setting and equally humongous cast of oddball characters, who seem to become engrossed in a large, city-wide conflict from different sides. What is more noticeable than that, though, is the enormous budget this show seems to have access to. With its gloriously fluid action scenes, extreme camera angles, energetic soundtrack and all-star voice cast, including Daisuke Namikawa, Tomokazu Sugita, Mamoru Miyano, Yui Horie, Miyuki Sawashiro, Yuuichi Nakamura, Jun Fukuyama and Satomi Satou, K seems to be a guaranteed lust for the eyes and ears already. And it knows that. For the past months, K has been releasing a key visual every day and it will continue to do so until the premiere. An English-language Facebook page has been online for a while now and recently, Animax Asia proudly announced that they would air K simultaneously with the Japanese broadcast. No matter how good or bad K ends up being, its ambition is a step in the right direction on all fronts.
And now for something completely different. The anime fandom is divided in two groups: those who love Key’s dramatic stories to death, and those who think them to be pathetic, angsty, melodramatic loose cannons starring anthropomorphic fish beating up idiot protagonists on an episodic basis. Ever since Kyoto Animation’s version of Air premiered, this rift has existed, with little to no middle ground. Anno, 2012, the Key fandom is in an awkward state though. Should we still be hyped for a Little Busters! anime? Little Busters! introduces us to the titular Busters, a group of friends that took in our protagonist Riki to save him from the grief caused by the death of his parents, and is often considered to be Key’s best visual novel to date. Though, with Kyoto Animation out of the picture, will we be foolish enough to think J.C. Staff and the director of Kill Me Baby! can treat the Key fandom’s most cherished treasure with respect? The inevitable conclusion to this dilemma is that for now, there is really no conclusion to draw at all. Sure, J.C. Staff is synonymous with screwing up, but they did make Toradora!, which is the closest thing to Little Busters! on their resume. Sure, Yoshiki Yamakawa directed Kill me Baby!, but he also made the spectacular Hell’s Angels movie. Little Busters! will have a lot to prove, not just for people who already read the visual novel, but also for newcomers, and I sincerely hope it will succeed. Especially because I will have to deal with all the whining fans if it does not.
Then again, I’ve been told that I do not understand how big a deal visual novels are before. I would rather read a real novel, though. Shin Sekai Yori (From The New World) is the adaptation of an award-winning young adult sci-fi novel — as in actual book — predicting a bleak future. In the unspecified year 201X, certain people awaken to psychic abilities to gruesome results. One thousand years later, these espers have taken their power abuse to such great lengths that they rule the world. Our five protagonists, Saki, Satoru, Maria, Mamoru and Shun have lived in a sheltered town for their entire lives, but one day, they are rudely awakened from their seemingly perfect dream by a tragic incident that reveals to them the true nature of the world they live in. Determined to save their friends, they slip on funky colour-coded outfits and set out to protect a world on the brink of collapse. Directing is helmed by Masashi Ishihama, a jack-of-all-trades who once designed the characters for Eiken of all things. Nowadays, however, he is better known for directing some very stylish opening sequences, such as Speed Grapher, Night Raid 1931, Occult Academy and A-Channel, and serving as a key animator for some of Gainax’ most beloved series.
As usual, this season will feature a good lot of beloved (and not so beloved) franchises returning. For starters, he six football-faced tenants of the Hidamari apartment block return in Hidamari Sketch x Honeycomb. Aside from that, otome game adaptation Hiiro No Kakera, tits-in-a-box anime Medaka Box and the worst anime based on the best manga, Bakuman, return to fill up three timeslots that could have housed something better as well. For the not so innocent, To-LOVE-ru Darkness, (in)famous for falling victim to the notorious Tokyo Youth Health Development Council, is expected to take what initially started out as a shounen romance even further down the spiral of debauchery. Also present will be Seitokai No Ichizon – not to be confused with the equally boring Seitokai Yakuindomo – which switches studios and character designers for its second season. Last but not least, Jormungand still cannot resist being as similar to Black Lagoon as possible and, just like its spiritual predecessor, returns for a second half after a season-long break. Too bad there won’t be any incestuous killer vampire children in this one.
Aside from good old sequels, this season will also feature some new adaptations/interpretations/ways to squeeze money out of classic and beloved franchises. Techno-blasting, CGI-abusing racing anime Initial D gets 12 new episodes on pay-per-view, Hayate The Combat Butler stars in a completely new original anime project, written by the author of the actual manga and the much-anticipated remake of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure will za-warudo its way to the little screen this fall as well.
That quick summary finally brings an end to this hefty post. I hope you enjoyed this post and that it helped you decide on what to watch next season. So what will it be? Make sure to let me know in the comments section. Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ll go enjoy what is left of summer.