Winter '09 First Impressions

Not a bad season at all, a couple of interesting shows continued[1][2], SHAFT returned with a satire, MADHOUSE with action & plot and then we also got Regios. I must admit though that the show that I anticipated the most was a huge let down. Also there is plenty of fan-service around to fight against boredom ;)

Maria Holic, Ride Back, Regios, Toradora, Index
Shikabane Hime, ZKC, Minami-ke 3, Clannad, Kurokami, Tales of the Abyss, Birdy
Just for the fun-service
Asu no Yoichi, Akikan, Sora wo Kakeru Shoujou, Druaga 2
Kemono no Souja Erin, White Album, Viper's Creed, Munto TV, Genji Monogatari Senneki
... Toradora
Shikabane Hime, Index ... Asu no Yoichi, Druaga no Tou, Clannad, Kurokami
Tales of the Abyss ... Tetsuwan Birdy Decode
... Akikan, Regios
ZKC ... Ride Back, Maria Holic, Minami-ke: Okaeri
... Sora wo Kakeru Shoujou

Maria + Holic

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Studio: SHAFT
Directed by: Miyamoto Yukihiro, Shinbo Akiyuki
Character Designs by: Morioka Hideyuki
Original Manga by: Endo Minari
Series Composition by: Yokotani Masahiro
Sanada Asami (Kanako), Inoue Maria (Matsurika), Kobayashi Yu (Mariya)

SHAFT did it again! Art is excellent and fairly close to the manga, but the direction follows the distinct style of the studio that I adore. The story is also quite interesting, basically ridiculing marimite and its ilk. Finally, I should also make a special note on the characters, from Mariya, the trap; to her insulting maid, Matsurika; to Kanako, who is just not in touch with reality; there is even a 10-year old nekomimi dorm-supervisor, called GOD!?! Certainly, the source is just surreal and this is the right studio to animate it.

Ride Back

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Directed by: Takahashi Atsushi
Character Designs by: Tazaki Satoshi
Original Manga by: Kasahara Tetsuro
Screenplay/Series Composition by: Takayashiki Hideo
VA? (role?), ...?

MADHOUSE finally decided to do a show that actually has a story for change and not just beautiful visuals. Though it might seem shallow at first by the second episode we got more character development then one season of any KyoAni show ;) I should also note that the 3D mecha fit seamlessly with the 2D characters and the background, no more those weird looking action scenes I got fed up with from GONZO and Sunrise.

Koukaku no Regios

aka Chrome Shelled Regios
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Studio: ZEXCS
Directed by: Kawasaki Itsuro
Character Designs by: Hashimoto Hideki
Original Character Designs by: Miyuu
Original Novels by: Amagi Shuusuke
Series Composition by: Ikeda Mamiko
Okamoto Nobuhiko (Lei-Fong Alseif)

The RPG of the season? Hm, three episodes in certainly it gives me strong RPG-vibes, but I rather focus your attention to the character development and the existence of a story, which has become rather rare lately. Aesthetically, it reminds me a lot of The Third, which in turn was heavily influenced by Dune. In any case, animation and art are pretty good, with interesting characters a story to boot.


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Studio: J.C.Staff
Directed by: Nagai Tatsuyuki
Character Designs by: Tanaka Masayoshi
Original Character Designs by: Yasu
Original Manga by: Takemiya Yuyuko
Series Composition by: Okada Mari
Hugimiya Rie (Taiga), Majima Junji (Ryuuji), Kitamura Eri (Ami), Nojima Hirofumi (Kitamura), Horie Yui (Minori)

I don't want to sound like a broken record by repeating the strong points of this show. Though I should complain a little bit that there is during the last story arcs a significant divergence from the novels by toning down Ami's role; and being my personal favorite it somewhat hurts. Still, Toradora is one of the best shows this season with or without Ami.

To aru no Majutsu no Index

aka A Certain Magical Index
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Studio: J.C.Staff
Directed by: Nishikiori Hiroshi
Character Designs by: Tanaka Yuichi
Original Character Designs by: Haimura Kiyotaka
Original Novel by: Kamachi Kazuma
Series Composition/Screenplay by: Akahoshi Masanao
Abe Achushi (Touma), Iguchi Yuka (Index), Satou Rina (Mikoto), Koyama Kimiko (Komoe), Taniyama Kishou (Styil), Noto Mamiko (Aisha), Okamoto Nobuhiko (Accelarator), Arai Satomi (Kumoko), Itou Shizuka (Kaori), Seki Tshihiko (Alister Crowly)

After the first two underwhelming story arcs (Index[ep.1-6] & Himegami[ep.7-9]) we moved to the action-packed biri-biri cloning story, which was as expected quite good. But nothing compared to the insanity of the current arc (beginning from ep.15); which begun quite innocently as beach episode and by its end everyone swarmed the forums trying to figure out what had just happened ;)

Shikabane Hime: Kuro
屍姫 玄

aka Corpse Princess: Black
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Studio: feel. & GAINAX
Directed by: Murata Masahiko
Character Designs by: Kubota Chikashi, Sadakata Kikuto
Original Managa by: Akahito Yoshiichi
Screenplay/Script by: Aikawa Shou
Akiyama Nana (Makina), Hosome Tatsuya (Ouri)

VAs are slowly improving, but the story got a serious downgrade in quality. Not to mention the insane amount of fan-service during this season. Also the absence of GAINAX is evident in the reduction of animated action. I just hope with the current arc (ep.4+) they will get back on track.

Zettai Karen Children

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Studio: Synergy
Directed by: Kawaguchi Keichiiro
Character Designs by: Kagami Takahiro
Original Manga by: Shiina Takashi
Series Composition by: Noshizono Satoru
Tomatsu Haruka (Shiho), Shiraishi Ryoko (Aoi), Hirano Aya (Kaoru), Nakamura Yuuichi (Minamoto)

I don't really have a lot to say on this show; with the exception of a couple of atrocious episodes (which had GONZO's stench all over them) this show is solid, if not mindless, entertainment.

Minami-ke Okaeri
みなみけ おかえり

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Studio: asread
Directed by: Oikawa Kei
Character Designs by: Tanaka Seiki
Original Manga by: Sakuraba Coharu
Series Composition by: ???
Inoue Marina (Kana), Chihara Minori (Chiaki), Satou Rina (Haruka)

Art and animation are significantly better then the 2nd season, but still the studio can not reach the standard that Doumu set with the first season. Also the humor after two seasons seems to me somewhat dry.

Clannad ~After Story~
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Studio: KyoAni
Directed by: Ishihara Tatsuya
Character Designs by: Ikeda Kazumi
Original Character Designs by: Hinoue Itaru
Original Game by: Key
Series Composition/Script by: Shimo Fumihiko
Nakamura Yuuichi (Tomoya), Nakahara Mai (Nagisa), Kawashima Houko (Tomoyo), Mamiko Noto (Kotomi), Hirohashi Ryou (Kyou), Kanda Akemi (Ryou), Tamura Yukari (Mei)

Since we moved to the adult life of Toyama & Nagisa, the show is becoming somewhat more interesting; but don't get your hopes up ... IMHO this can not go much further then the old Key/KyoAni recipe.

Kurokami: The Animation

aka Black God
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Studio: Sunrise, Preview
Directed by: Kobayashi Tsuneo
Character Designs by: Nishimura Hiroyuki
Original Character Designs by: Sang-Woo Park
Original Manga by: Dall-Young Lim
Series Composition by: Yoshida Reiko
Shitaya Noriko (Kuro), Namikawa Daisuke (Keita)

This was such a let down. Keita turned into an emo-high-schooler, Akane into a stupid chick and we got a lot of new characters without any background just to die in a couple of episodes! What happened to my beloved manga? How could they just remove every funny panel and replace it with a kid angsting over his dead mother?

Complains aside, the action scenes are very well animated, you get the chance to watch a hilarious dubbing with the usual failures of american actors (airs only hours after the japanese version) and at least you can see Akane's rack gainaxing. Really sad replacement for one of my favorite manga, which turned from seinen to shounen.

Tales of the Abyss
テイルズ オブジ アビス

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Studio: Sunrise
Directed by: Kodama Kenji
Character Designs by: Hishinuma Yoshihito
Original Character Designs by: Fujishima Kousuke
Original Game by: NAMCO
Series Composition by: Omode Akemi
Suzuki Chihiro (Luke), Yukana (Tear)

This show just moves from endless exposition to techno-bubble ... enough, at least during the first episodes we got some nicely animated 2D action, which is now replaced with 3D-vehicles and continents moving around! At least Luke cut his hair and stopped being a stupid brat, though on the other hand he passed the stupidity to Tear, which has voiced some of the most ridiculous lines in RPG history.

Tetsuwan Birdy DECODE:D
鉄腕バーディ DECODE:2

aka Birdy the Mighty DECODE:D
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Studio: ???
Directed by: Kazuki Akane
Character Designs by: Sawa Ryousuke
Original Manga by: Masami Yuuki
Series Composition by: Ounogi Hiroshi, Minakami Seishi
Chiba Saeko (Birdy), Irino Miyo (Senkawa Tsutomu)

Arita Shion is back, the emo chick that ruined the 2nd half of the first season permantly away and done with and a childhood friend appears to stir Birdy's heart ... sounds stupid, right? Well, it is, but hopefully also funny.

Asu no Yoichi!

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Studio: AIC
Directed by: Kujo Rion
Character Designs by: ???
Original Manga by: Minato You
Screenplay by: Kurata Hideyuki
Okamoto Nobuhiko (Yoichi), Satou Rina (Ibuki)

Shameless harem X martial arts! Though this time it's not completely mindless fan-service, given the constrains of the genre. Though from what I hear from the manga readers the ecchi-ness is very toned downed in the animated version.


aka Empty Can
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Studio: Brains Base
Directed by: Himaki Yuji
Character Designs by: Tanaka Ryo
Original Character Designs by: Suzuhira Hiro
Original Manga by: Ranjo Riku
Series Composition by: Koyasu Hideaki
Fukuyama Jun (Daichi), Narita Sayaka (Meron)

If Yoichi is not utterly mindless, Akikan is! And as if that was not enough art and animation are simply atrocious! The only reason I stick with this is that it is so bad it actually becomes funny.

Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo

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Studio: Sunrise
Directed by: Obara Masakazu
Character Designs by: Kobashima Yousuke
Original Character Designs by: Yoshizumi Kazuyuki
Original ??? by: Yatate Hajime
Series Composition by: Hanada Jukki
Endo Aya (Itsuki), Mako (Akiha), Makino Yui (Honoka)

I am absolutely certain that this show is just a sarcastic self-reference to the storytelling atrocities this studio has committed with Code Geass. However you look at it the story is the same, a spoiled brat (in this case Lelouch has turned into an AI) gathers a harem in order to rule the world! Even the protagonist's VA is the same!

Druaga no Tou: Sword of Uruk
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Studio: GONZO
Directed by: Chigira Koichi
Character Designs by: Hakua Ugetsu
Screenplay/Series Composition by: Gatou Shoji
VA (role), VA (role)

Another proof of the studio's dire financial status. How can we get the sales up? Why not put a cute loli stuff a spoon up to Fatina's a*s? What could be more interesting I wonder?

Kemono no Souja Erin
獣の奏者 エリン

aka Beast-master Erin
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Studio: Production I.G, TransArts
Directed by: Hamana Takayuki
Character Designs by: Goto Takayuki
Original Manga by: Uehashi Nahoko
Series Composition by: Fujisaku Jun'ichi
Hoshii Nanase (Erin)

My high expectations from the writter of Moribito went down the drain when I realized that the target audience this time is ... elementary school kids.

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Studio: Seven Arcs
Directed by: Sato Hiroaki
Character Designs by: Yoshinori Kou
Original Character Designs by: Kawata Hisashi
Original Game by: AquaPlus
Series Composition by: ???
Hirono Aya (Yuki), Mizuki Nana (Rina)

80s pop-idols and love polygons are just not my kind of thing!

Viper's Creed

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Studio: AIC Spirits
Directed by: Aramaki Shinki
Character Designs by: ???
Series Composition by: Akahoshi Masanao
Toyoguchi Megumi (Sakurako), Kuroda Takaya (Saiki)

The story revolves around the members of a private military company (PMC), and the uneasy tension between them and the regular military after a war that caused massive environmental destruction.

I found Appleseed horrible, so this one too!

Sora o Miageru Shoujo no Hitomi ni Utsuru Sekai
aka Munto 2

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Studio: KyoAni
Directed by: Kigami Yoshiji
Character Designs by: Aratani Tomoe
Series Composition by: Kigami Yoshiji
Ono Daisuke (Munto), Aizawa Mai (Hidaka)

The first original work from the studio, ended up being an extensive summary of their own outdated OVA, with next to zero rework on the visuals and dialogue. I know begin to wonder if I still want them to work in a new season of Haruhi ... however unlikely that may be.

Genji Monogatari Sennenki

aka Tale of Genji
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Studio: Tezuka Productions, Tokyo Movie
Directed by: Dezaki Osamu
Character Designs by: Sugino Akio
Series Composition by: Konparu Tomoko
Endo Aya (Murasaki), Tamagawa Sakiko (Fujitsubo), Sakurai Takahiro (Hikaru)

Androgynous nobles in ancient Japan!? Why did I hope that they would focus on the struggle between the Genji and Taira, instead of their deviating sexuality. Maybe the fact that it occupied the Noitamina slot should have given me a clue.

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