I submitted my Anime UK News Summer 2014 Preview last night and it’s awaiting a second pass in the validation queue from an editor. I wrote about 45 new shows airing on Japanese television and provided background and info and trailers on them. It might not look pretty but it gives info on what you might want to watch.
For the first time in a few seasons, I felt pretty light-hearted about writing up most of these shows and that’s mostly because of the diversity of shows.
Previous seasons would see a deluge of titles where the females are depicted in rather questionable ways – subjects of a siscon’s desire, moe, loli, meganeko – to satisfy various fetishes that are found in the male target audience.
This season featured fewer shows where girls act silly in pointless clubs, no incest, fewer moe girls than ever before and less light novel adaptations (a source of some of the most overrated and awful shows in recent years) and less reasons for people to cry foul about how anime is being ruined by fan-service and sexual objectification.
The upcoming summer 2014 season features more shows aimed at fujoshi. There are more shounen-ai titles, there is a broader range of themes in the shows and some aimed at adults, and there are more women in the lead creative roles like writer and director. Perhaps that last point as made the biggest difference this season what with the increase in shows aimed at women. Two of my favourite shows from last year were written and/or directed by women (My Youth Rom-Com, Kyousogiga) so I’m happy. The trend continues probably because companies sense that the fujoshi market are willing to blow money on junk. I expect the next few years to see the anime world overwhelmed by ikemen shows and shounen-ai and for male bloggers to cry foul.
I don’t claim to be an expert (nope, I do that with films :P), I just write about this stuff I have watched since the late 80’s and I know what I like. This selection is what I like the look of.
Chief Director: Shinichiro Watanabe,Directors: Shingo Natsume, Eunyoung Choi, Hiroshi Shimizu,Scripts: Dai Sato, Keiko Nobumoto, Kimiko Ueno, Character Designer: Yoshiyuki Ito,
Voice Actors and Characters
Junichi Suwabe as Dandy, Uki Satake as QT, Hiroyuki Yoshino as Meow, Maasaki Yajima as Narrator,
Dandy is an alien-hunter who earns rewards by tracking down new species of aliens that have never been seen before. With the aid of a robot named QT and an alien cat from the Betelgeuse star named Meow, he journeys across the universe discovering weird and wonderful things and getting into all sorts of crazy adventures. When not hunting for aliens, the gang go to “Boobies,” a restaurant full of voluptuous waitresses.
Shinichiro Watanabe has two anime running this year which is something to be pleased about. Space Dandy was billed as a comedy and the first 13 episode of the 26 episode run proved to be comedy gold as it mixed high-concept sci-fi with low-brow comedy thanks to a bunch of loveable characters.
Despite a weak start, as the series progressed the direction and writing rapidly improved as the creative team assembled and orchestrated by Watanabe were allowed to have fun with the fact that each story could be a standalone story where characters could go on the strangest adventure, die and then come back in the next episode seemingly unaffected. One person’s fun might not appeal to others and it seems that for some people over the internet, the Dandy magic wasn’t quite working thanks to the lack of character development, an overarching narrative and what some on Tumblr and Twitter saw as the sexual objectification of women. Those complaints were overblown, in my opinion, and I expect the second half of the season to explain why the stories were unconnected to each other. Even if it doesn’t I don’t care since loved the set-up of the series.
I believe that it could be the anime of the year but Watanabe has another, grander looking anime waiting in the wings.
Chief Director: Katsuyuki Motohiro, Director: Naoyoshi Shiotani, Series Composition: Gen Urobuchi,
Voice Actors and Characters
Tomokazu Seki as Shinya Kougami, Kana Hanzawa as Akane Tsunemori, Kenji Nojima as Nobuchika Ginoza, Akira Ishida as Shuusei Kagari, Shizuka Itou as Yayoi Kuizuka, Noriko Hidaka as Dominator,
Studio: Production I.G.
In the future, the police have guns named Dominators. What makes them special is that they can detect a suspect’s “crime factor” by measuring their state of mind and personality. This technique is termed “Psycho-Pass” and if the suspect’s crime factor is above a certain limit, the gun will fire. One of the enforcement officers is Shinya Kougami and he finds himself drawn into a deadly conspiracy.
I’m all for a second round of this. This is an edited version of the original 2012 series which is prepping for the next series which is due to air in the autumn. Essentially the show has been re-cut into 11 one-hour episodes with some new footage created and edits made. Alongside this new version of the first season there will be a manga, novel and movie.
Psycho-Pass was one of the break-out anime of the last few years where it, alongside Madoka Magica, Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online, managed to appeal to go beyond the core anime audience and appeal to an international one. This is thanks to the storyline which is adult, intelligent hard sci-fi coupled coming from Gen Urobuchi, a new voice in anime with a range of titles under his belt that includes Madoka Magica and the next anime.
Director: Ei Aoki, Original Creator: Gen Urobuchi, Screenplay: Katsuhiko Takayama, Character Designer: Takako Shimura
Voice Actors and Characters
Kensho Ono as Slaine Troyard, Sora Amamiya as Asseylum Vers Allusia, Natsuki Hanae as Inaho Kaiduka, Yuka Otsubo asAi,
In 1972, a hypergate was discovered on the surface of the moon but then, humankind came into contact with beings from Mars, and a war between humanity and the aliens began…
This is an original idea from Gen Urobuchi and a sign of his growing influence in the industry. As mentioned previously, he is extremely genre-savvy and does those post-modern twists on familiar concepts. This is his second macha anime after the so-so Gargantia (which he didn’t write the majority of) and I like the look of the alternate history concept. I’m enjoying Knights of Sidonia so more dark mecha anime suits me.
Director: Shinichiro Watanabe, Character Designer: Kazuto Nakazawa, Music: Yoko Kanno, Main Theme: Yuuki Ozaki,
Voice Actors: Soma Saito as Twelve/Touji Hisami, Kaito Ishikawa as Nine/Arata Kokonoe, Atsumi Tanezaki as Lisa Mishima,
On a quiet summer day Tokyo was rocked by a massive terrorist bombing which struck out of nowhere. Nobody knows who did it and a video uploaded to the internet is the only clue. The culprits were two high school boys who go under the codenames Nine and Twelve. They became known as “Sphinx” and started to play a deadly game with a nation that was once complacent but now lives in terror of them… One girl, mercilessly bullied by classmates, finds herself becoming close to them.
I like to apply auteur theory to everything. Films, anime, baking cakes. Shinichiro Watanabe makes auteur theory easy since his works have cool concepts and characters and are high quality. Other directors usually fall off at some point (Seiji Kishi, I’m looking at you) but Watanabe hasn’t. Indeed, I think I like his newest works more than Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo. This one looks truly special.
Watanabe skips a fantasy/sci-fi adventure setting and makes a foray into contemporary Japan with a tale of terrorism in a thriller that seems set to examine some dark psychological corners of real people. Okay, I’m probably overhyping this a bit but the trailer, with its shocking images, awesome musical mix and excellent character designs make s this the summer 2014 anime that has me most intrigued. Joining Watanabe is the magnificent Yoko Kanno who will be composing the music. Kazuto Nakazawa is acting as character designer and he has worked on old school shows I like such as El Hazard, New Dominion Tank Police, and Roujin Z.
Director: Shuhei Morita, Original Creator: Sui Ishida, Series Composition: Chuuji Mikasano, Character Designer: Kazuhiro Miwa,
Voice Actorsand Characters
Natsuki Hanae as Ken Kaneki, Kana Hanazawa as Rize Kamishiro, Sora Amamiya as Touka Kirishima, Mamoru Miyano as Shuu Tsukiyama, Takahiro Sakurai as Uta, Sumire Morohoshi as Hinami Fueguchi,
Reports have it that “Ghouls” roam the streets of Tokyo and are devouring humans. Nobody has seen these things and lived until a college student named Kaneki encounters a girl named Rize who is obsessed with them. From that very moment his life takes a ghoulish turn…
In my Anime UK News preview I talked this up as H.P. Lovecraft’s Pickman’s Model set in contemporary Japan because of all of the ghouls and the human devouring and what not. There’s at least one ghoulish show in every season and this is it. I have not read Sui Ishida’s fantasy manga but I’m game for anything with horror in it. The director is Suhei Morita, famous for engaging in cool projects like the omnibus movie Short Peace and Freedom.
Director: Masaki Tachibana, Original Creator: Satsuki Yoshino, Scripts: Pierre Sugiura, Art Director: Hiroshi Kato, Character Designer: Majiro, Calligraphy: Ungai Hara, Music: Kenji Kawai,
Daisuke Ono as Seishuu Handa, Suzuko Hara as Naru Kotoishi, Fumihiko Tachiki as Vice Principal, Junichi Suwabe as Takasei Kawafuji, Rumi Ookubo as Tamako Arai,
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Seishuu Handa is a 23-year-old handsome calligrapher who has been forced to move to the remote Gotou Islands off the western coast of Kyushu after punching a famous colleague. He now has to deal with rustic people who drive tractors on roads, barge into his house and they all have strange local customs. Worse is to come as Seishuu’s house becomes the place the local kids use his home as a playground.
The final anime I’m going to pick is a slice-of-life about a sophisticated handsome urban male who practices calligraphy and he’s stuck in rural Japan. The selling-point for many is that the guy is an ikemen (handsome dude) and he gets into funny situations. I have seen it compared to Yotsuba& and I love that manga series. It is based on Satsuki Yoshino’s manga and it is being adapted by director Masaki Tachibana who handled Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, a series which I thought was pretty gripping. Another thing that sells this to me is that Kenji Kawai is composing the music and I loe his work at Production I.G with Patlabor and Ghost in the Shell.