Fall Into Me: Fall 2008 Anime Guide

Every season tend to have it’s own flavor and for better or for worse they tend to have a a bunch of show with similar themes and motifs. This is just the way TV works. This fall the in thing is supernatural action. 7(?) of the 17 shows we are doing first impressions of have a supernatural theme to them. I like supernatural themed shows so this is good thing but can be just as bad if not worse than any other genre.

There are always a ton of new shows coming out. Alas there are only so many hours in the day so we have to be selective. We are not reviewing sequels, ongoing shows (yes, of course, we are watching Gundam 00!), or any show we are pretty sure, like 99% sure, we will not like. And be aware we are reviewing these shows after watching just one maybe two episodes, so it is just first impressions.


Tytania is the story of the nasty Tytania clan and their attempts to take over the UNIVERSE! It is set in a space fairing future not unlike the Traveller universe which although humanity has high space technology but with all the stylization of European nobility including dress, titles, and antiquated personal weaponry. We are quickly introduced the major players in the Tytania clan and we see although they do not officially rule the empire they do so in all but name. And boy are they boring so far. But there is hope in the form of Fan Hulic and his rebels from Euria. Fan actually seems likable and someone you want to root for. I really hope the story is about his awesome fight against the Tytania bastards like the ending suggests or this is going to be rather lame. I guess they could also make Tyania more sympathetic and interesting but I think I would rather see Fan’s excellent adventures. I recommend this show to anyone who is running out of Legend of the Galactic Heroes to watch and needs their next space opera fix.

Character designs by Haruhiko Mikimoto who did original Macross, woo-hoo! This is very seriously a show about the biggest jerks in the universe and their pompous, pampered lives. Please for the love of all things mighty, take them down FAN (pictured above)! I was really worried that he was just going to be another conquest but looks like he has some hidden cunning. I really wasn’t interested in the show until I realized he had something up his sleeve. My suspicions are the same as Hisui’s in that this show will be about the rebels taking on the empire so to speak. Which you would never know from the opening sequence. Which by the way sounds like it is an anthem for the Tytania clan.

Hokuto no Ken: Raoh Gaiden – Ten no Haoh

So this episode is about the sensitive musician Raoh. He is trying to cross the world and make it a peaceful place through the sound of music. Or it is about Raoh a man, five times the size of any punk he runs into, who can only walk in a straight line. He also has two minions one who he gives a fist pound to in greeting and one who is almost molested which was surprising because it was only almost. The opening sequence reminds us that what we are watching is pure, awesome, raw power while the ending sequence implies that there is some touching story behind it all. I think we know why we are all here watching this and it has nothing to do with depth. Also since this is just the beginning of Raoh’s journey he has not yet donned the fantastic armor.

Most people might not realize that Raoh from Hokuto no Ken is actually much like Narutaki. They are both the King of Fists and they both live life without regret. Clearly since Narutaki is a real human being it was Roah that was based on him. So does Raoh Gaiden live up to the greatness that is Narutaki’s life? The answer is clearly YES!For those not in the know this is a side story to the original Fist of the North Star series with the big bad guy as the star. Set in a post-apocalyptic world where the strong prey on the weak and the ultimate weapon is martial arts. Roah plans to save the world from its sorry state by conquering it. He and his two lieutenants make their first step towards world domination by taking over some poor saps fortress. For some reason, to minimize the damage to the fortress I suppose they go in disguised as a performing troop. This leads to unintentional hilarity. Roah then proceeds to school this guy and name himself King of Fists. Is the animation super awesome? No. It’s serviceable and a little out dated. Is the plot super deep? Hells no. Why are you going to watch this? Roah at one point is confronted by the random encounter enemies of any post-apocalyptic world, the biker punks. He confronts their leader and punches a whole the size of a cow in him…and the building in the distance, too. If that sells you than welcome aboard this crazy train.


This show really started out very typically with decent action. Dark pasts with some messed up supernatural elements running around the city. But the girl does fight these zombie like things using her motorcycle. Awesome! But I felt the mission didn’t have any suspense. It was all over and wrapped up in the blink on an eye so it didn’t have that edge of the seat spirit. Then they throw you for a loop, like really do. As you sit there with your mouth hanging open you will wonder what just happened. Then fade to black….WHAT? Now I have to see what happens!

Motorcycle-fu is quite a site to behold. Sure the main guy uses, your now standard, double pistol gun-fu but, girls wielding the combat motorcycle skill is still woefully underused. Other than that it starts out with the standard NPC troops getting hosed by monsters so our young team of protagonists have to come in a show them how it’s done. Tooru wants to get revenge on the main baddie who killed someone precious to him, and our combat motorcycle girl is obviously interested in him. You have got the big guy with a scar and tech nerd to round it out. They take on two monsters in rather standard form and then just before the end as every review will surely mention they throw something quite unexpected at you. This is based on a manga but so far it seems to be based in the same world but with a different set of characters.


Ciel Phantomhive is the twelve-year-old head of his family’s toy company. Since his parents have passed away in a as yet unexplained fashion he is in the care of his demonic butler, Sebastian Michaelis. There are also four other servants in his household but they can barely take care of themselves let alone their young master. This series reminded me of Count Cain and it’s continuation God Child. It has that same creepy Victorian setting with an undercurrent of supernatural always in the background. The main problem is Count Cain has a handy formula that Kuroshitsuji has yet to learn. Each story in Count Cain would start with humorous hijinks and slowly as the story actually started would lose the comedy and turn grim until its usually dramatic or grizzly conclusion. When the next story began they would restart the formula so the comedy would refresh the pallet from the darkness that came before it. The director either needs to stick closer to Count Cain formula or learn to switch back and forth between tones a little cleaner.

This series is an odd duck. I am rather a fan of the combination of morbid and comedy. When done right it is hysterical. This series jumped between the two readily. The humor was very funny but sometimes the transitioning between the horror and light-hearted moments was just off. It starts off very dark and creepy and then booms you with hilarity, which is good, but it didn’t totally work for me because the horror seemed like it wanted to be taken seriously. That was a little hard to do when Sebastian is pulling table clothes off like a magician and the hired help being a most clumsy group of people. I think if it could even out the movement between the genres it could be good.


This show seems like it has a lot of potential. Ryuji is a very funny, quirky and likable protagonist (and he is kinda cute despite his Yakuza eyes!). The poor boy can’t get from one end of town to the other without people cowering in fear and his obsession with cleaning things is great. As for Taiga, I think she could be a full realized character not just a fetish. She is a delinquent that is for sure, brash and hot-tempered. However, I actually imagine her trying to be quiet, sweet, and nice around the guy she likes rather than her normal self. There is a story behind her attitude and that story and development of her is what could make or break this show. The odd friendship that pops up between these two was nicely done. And while I know they will eventually be something more than friends, I wouldn’t mind watching their hilarious interactions without it.

When Ryuji and the petite “Palmtop Tiger” Taiga find that they have crushes on eachother’s best friends a rather unusual friendship forms between them. Ryuji may seem scary but he is actually a domestic genius and has a fondness of making mix tapes for girls he can never ask out. Taiga is a slovenly, delinquent that hides an inner bashful young maiden. They have an amusing dynamic that will be easily and quickly by labeled as tsundere by the Internet but I feel is more complex than that. Tiaga is voiced by Rie Kugimiya who also voiced Shana from Shakugan no Shana. Your enjoyment of both shows hinges on your liking the main female character. If you enjoy Tiaga like Narutaki and I did then your will be able to follow this show and determine if you ultimately like it. I did enjoy that in the second episode someone clearly expresses their feelings for some one. There is at least no pussyfooting on that front. I have a feeling that ToraDora! could fall into a repetitive cycle of Tiaga being nasty to Ryuji and having it kill the comedic value of their relationship but hopefully it will remain fresh.


Imagine if the first episode of the The Irresponsible Captain Tylor was only Yuriko Star and Makoto Yamamoto. Since they are both the straight man characters it would be sort of boring and only illicit some chuckles at best. It takes Justy Ueki Tylor and the rest of the crew playing off them to truly make them funny. This is the problem with the first half of Hyakko. Ayumi and straitlaced Tatsuki are lost on the humongous campus. They wander about the campus until they finally run into Torako jumping from a second story window followed by her friend Suzume. Things take a turn for the more interesting when the quartet is finally formed because Torako starts to get them into amusing little predicaments as they try to find their homeroom. When they finally arrive we see several other classmates who are sure to be regular characters but so far they have barely been introduced. The show really only works when they are all together. If they can keep up the high energy comedy I think this might be the funniest comedy of the season but they can’t break up the dynamic they they have running.

Thank goodness this show is not the first half of the episode, boring. It really started to pick up speed once all four girls came together and were running around the campus. All of them are distinctly different personality types ranging from shy and quiet to loud and belligerent. And quite frankly if I never learned another about them I wouldn’t be upset. The leader that will surely continue to get them all in explicable situations is Torako who in the first episode jumps out a window, throws a brick threw one, and punches a teacher in the gut. I know that she will surely garner a huge fan-base that will know no limits. All of these characters play off each other so in this case the sum is greater than all its parts. It is still slice of life but bordering on complete hijinx comedy which is the only kind I like.

Skip Beat

Kyoko Mogami kills herself working two full time jobs, living in a apartment much beyond her means, and doing the housework for two people for one reason. It lets her be with her beloved childhood friend and pop idol Sho Fuwa. One day she discovers that he is just using her because he knows that she has a crush on him. You expect her to break down crying. Instead she starts manically laughing and vows to get her revenge. So she makes herself over from Plain Jane to Cool Gal and starts on her road to a grand pay back. The first episode is masterfully set up. We get a likable and sympathetic Kyoko who shifts gears from quiet and meek to her occasional amusing dramatic reaction shots. We get a good insight into why she would fall for Sho and his charming attitude. We also get an equal insight into why he is such an utter buttmonkey that we want her to get him back. I am eagerly waiting to see how Kyoko puts her plan into motion.

Okay, I was very curious about this anime because the Skip Beat manga is pretty good. Well, it would be if it was unnecessarily long (and continues on as we speak). That is where the anime can come in. It can potential have the revenge and the romance at a good, even pace with a wrapped up ending. The first episode did the manga justice as far as I’m concerned. It wasn’t the mostly hilarious adventures of a hard working but slightly insane Kyoko punctuated nicely with moments of drama. It really does a great job a lulling you into thinking this is just standard shojo romance and then WHAM!

Hakushaku to Yousei

This was a series I knew nothing about but was really looking forward to. I love the era and setting (Victorian England) with the added fantasy elements. I think the first episode title says it all, “A Refined Villain.” Indeed that is what the Edgar is. He is ridiculously handsome, much too charming and cunning, sparkles and flowers surround him on occasion, and when he punches someone…well let’s just say it is very dramatic. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE.I am happy to say that there is a plot surrounding all of this and it isn’t out of the blue for Edgar to be trying to seduce our pretty heroine, Lydia. But yes it is over the top, girly, fantasy, romance fun!

Lydia Carlton is a fairy doctor. That means she can see and talk to them unlike most people and help people deal with them. She even has a magical fairy cat named Nico that acts as her companion. While traveling to England from Scotland she find a young man who has just escaped from being tied up asking to help him. Edgar eventually tells her he wants the legendary fairy sword. It is his proof of linage and he needs Lydia’s help to get it. Edgar and Lydia are now being chased by people who want the sword as well. I am curious how much of a bastard Edgar really is. They imply that he murders a man in cold blood. We also see Nico reading an article about how Edgar is wanted for larceny and murder. This is mostly off screen and the paper could be wrong so theoretically he could be a decent villain or he could be stone cold evil. I guess wondering is part of the fun.

Michiko to Hatchin

Michiko and Hatchin starts with Michiko breaking out of a supposedly inescapable prison and then raising some hell in the surrounding town. Then we switch to Hatchin who has been adopted by a horribly nasty priest and is equally nasty family. But eventually Michiko and Hatchin’s lives intersect and it ends with them starting a road trip with the police in pursuit. I really liked Michiko and Hatchin but I’m not going to watch another episode fan-subbed because this show is so clearly going to get licensed; it is not a matter of if but when and by who. With Manglobe Inc. working on it it has that same off beat style of Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo.  So far as I can tell it takes place in an unnamed Hispanic country which is not your normal anime setting. It has a great sense to style and cool so far. Unless this show takes a nose dive later on I am just going to sit back and wait for the DVDs.

I don’t think it is surprising that this series has style. From the animation to the characters designs to the music. And the opening animation was quite cool. A nice blend of action and comedy and two lead characters that couldn’t be more different. The story is unconventional and I think that looks attractive in general but it also made me incredibly curious. I in no way have any idea where this show is going. Michiko is a very unpredictable woman if the first episode is any idication. Perhaps, just like Hatchin, I am just along for this crazy ride.

Shikabane Hime Aka

Ouri is an orphan at a Buddhist orphanage who is finally moving out on his own. It turns out that the head of the orphanage secretly uses a corpse princess named Makina to fight other nastier forms of undead. While the series is not bad I can’t say that it hooked me either. The premise is interesting and has potential but is executed in a extremely average fashion. There are a lot of unanswered questions. How do people become undead? Why is she working with Buddhist monks to fight monsters? What role will Ouri play in all of this? Who is this talking cat that keeps showing up whenever Ouri is near? The fact that she fights with duel machine guns sounds cooler than it actually is in execution. Maikina fighting style seems to be charge straight at whatever she is fighting with guns-a-blazin’. Since she is undead she seems not to even try to dodge with leads to rather straight forward fight scenes. Maybe when Ouri gets involved this will change. This is a series I will let the rest of the Internet finish and then determine if it’s worth my money.

I just have to say I am in awe of GAINAX’s recent non-fan-service. All the opportunities were there but they ignored them! The show had an overall even tone mixing comedy and action. Though in just this first episode no one, or should I say our main characters, have not come together yet. They have met but we really don’t know what their involvement with each other is going to be. I think that bears a lot on what kind of a show this is and whether or not it will be worth watching. I felt the action scene at the end was sloppy and not very gripping.

Linebarrels of Iron

I think I did not hate Linebarrels of Iron unlike most reviewers mostly because of lowered expectations. Not that it is a good show. It’s rather bland but I did not hate it. I think the main reason people hate on this show so much is its main character, Hayase Kouichi. He goes from wimpy chump who is resentful of his friends who protect him to power-crazed jerk seinen douche-bag all in one episode. Hayase is running an errand. On the way back a giant mecha and a naked girl land on him. He then befriends said naked girl and uses the mecha to fight the evil mecha than come for her and her mecha. The problem is that he goes crazy with power and become a right jerk when he is is behind the controls of his new toy.  While I feel that such a repressed person might very understandably go a little dark when he is finally given power that does not make him likebale. The plot is totally standard and the protagonist is very hard to like which is going to lead most people to skip this show. Oh mad points to anyone who combines the last line of this episode with Kenshiro.

Mouryou no Hako

I…I…uhm…nope…I got nothing. The animation was very nice. Good music choices. It was really creepy! But since the show is supposed to revolve around four investigators and they didn’t really appear much in the episode, it is a little hard for me to judge this one. I would need a second of third episode to full grip it. But maybe it is a good sign that I am atleast interested enough to see the next episode.

Kohaku will watch this show if for nothing else CLAMP does the character designs. That fact aside this is a creepy show. We start with a young man going to visit relatives by train who then wakes up to a strange man showing him a living girl’s head in a box of flowers. And then we get into the weird stuff. It is sort of a hard show to determine if I should recommend it or not. The first episode is set in the 1950 as we see two girls developing a strange friendship that quickly develops into a bizarre codependent relationship. Kanako Yuzukithe more intellectual of the two girls begins to talk about how they are reincarnations of each other and when they die they will become the other one. Yoriko Kusumoto the more passive girl cuts her self off from her mother as she seemingly become more and more draw into her partners madness. Then as both girls plan to take a trip in the middle of the night tragedy strikes. The first episode draws you in with unsettling but beautiful animation and intriguing plots but it turns out that the first episode barley even introduces most of our main characters or the main murder mystery. I am 99% these two girls story in related to the main mystery but how it is related has yet to even been hinted at. I can’t say if I like this show or not but I know I want to see more if for nothing else to try and figure out what is going on.


Does your anime need sex and gritty samurai violence but you don’t want to watch Ninja Scroll again? Well, step right up Kurozuka. Kuro is on the run in a Monk’s garb while being pursued by assassins sent by his brother. After nearly dying in a fight due to a fever he and his retainer seek shelter in the house a beautiful woman named Kuromitsu. While Kuro is waiting he finds him self increasingly attracted to Kuromitsu. Soon more assassins come and break the peace. Kurozuka is a good action show that has the potential to have some deeper themes and ideas of the plot goes in the right direction. Even if it never decides to take the higher ground of philosophy the cool action sell the show enough already.

I did just recently watch Ninja Scroll actually and I’ll admit that I was really excited about the prospect of something like that stepping out this season. Kurozuka did just that in its first episode. The fights were nicely choreographed, bloody, and took up most of the episode. It was also nice to see them not cutting away or resorting to extreme amounts of flashes during the fights. And when those dudes forearms got sliced off, NICE! Hopefully that will continue. The world is a bit mysterious, definitely a supernatural slant and it almost seemed post-apocalyptic. It was an intriguing first episode and probably one of my favorites overall. Also seems a likely license by Manga Entertainment.

To Aru Majutsu no Index

Kamijo is a student in Academy City which seems to be a city of schools. Apparently people regularly run around with psychic powers in Academy City to the point where there is a ranking system. Toma’s psychic power is that he can cancel out other people’s powers with his right hand. After earning himself a self proclaimed rival he goes home to find a strange girl lying on his balcony. Her name is Index and she is from the church being chased by mages who want the magic spell books locked in her brain Johnny Mnemonic style. Although Toma thinks Index is crazy he takes a liking to her and invites her back any time if she is in trouble. This of course means that their destinies are quickly intertwined. I think Narutaki was spot on in calling that people will cosplay the daylights out of To Aru Majutsu no Index if they cosplay the heck out of anything coming out of this season. I liked the little twist on the standard formula of a guy saving a girl from punks in the beginning. I also thought Index was cute even if she has a mega-lame name. Toma seems likable enough and I enjoyed his rival. Apparently so did Japan because she got her own spin off light novel series and manga. If this show shows up in Yen Plus don’t be surprised.

This show was able to surprise me and make me in laugh in just a few minutes. Kamijo seems to be a capable and fun protagonist which makes him a pleasure to watch. His interactions with everyone are fun to watch. His power could be really interesting since it is more of a defensive technique though he uses it aggressively! Oh, I call every girl in the opening to falling in love with him. Index, who gets props for worst name, is funny and energetic though a bit ditzy. Their first meeting is really funny, in fact Kamijo isn’t incredibly serious most of the time. I found it to be a good time and probably the best straight shonen action show out of the bunch.

All in all I liked this season. Nothing really stood out for me as my next favorite show but nothing was horrible as well. If I had to pick a favorite of the season…Michiko and Hatchin although Tora Dora, Kurozuka, and To Aru Majutsu no Index were all very good. I think Linebarrels of Iron was the weakest show that I watched. Oh, Narutaki and I wanted to watch Tentai Senshi Sunred, Bihada Ichizoku, and the J-drama Bloody Monday but due to both of our Internet connections going out this weekend we could not review those three. I am sure we will try to review them in Ongoing Investigations when we get the chance.

Top 5 Recent Shojo Manga I’d Like to See Animated
5. Monkey High
4. Yamamoto Zenjirou to Moushimasu
3. Chocolate Cosmos
2. Penguin Revolution
1. Nosatsu Junkie


Summer Heats Up: Summer 2008 Anime Guide

It seems like an interesting summer season. I am looking forward to a few familiar faces and I am intrigued by some of the shows coming out. I am curious to see what little gems are coming out what no one has been taking about. There are a ton of new shows coming out so we only have so much time to watch what we can so we have to be selective. We are not reviewing sequels, ongoing shows, or any show we are 99% sure we will not like. And be aware we are reviewing these shows after watching just one or two episodes, so it is just first impressions.

Birdy the Mighty Decode
birdy, mighty, decode, patlabor, aliens, Tsutomu

I have to say I was shocked to see Birdy the Mighty getting any sort of continuation. I remember the original OVA fondly though I would like to watch it again since that was ages ago. However, you don’t need to see that since this show starts at the beginning. Birdy is a butt-kicking agent for the Space Federation but when she comes to Earth she accidentally kills a human, Tsutomu. The only way to keep him alive is by combining their bodies. Tsutomu is calm and quite and Birdy is loud and out of control. The show is light space action, hinting at an overall plot, and comedy. It doesn’t seem overly perverted (which is very easily where a show like this could go) so I hope it stays that way. It is a fun show and entertaining but not by any stretch of the imagination an amazing new show.

The original Birdy the Mighty is a curiosity to me. I never saw it but it seemed like one of those shows that was always for rent at any video store with an anime section in it. So I have always been aware of the series but I have oddly enough never seen it. If nothing else this show is very 90s in it’s style. The animation is clearly modern but I feel the direction and the story is more a throw back to the 90s. I think this show is best for fans of the original or anyone who likes that time periods style of action anime. It’s definitely a fun show and I will continue to watch it is as a fun and light 90s action show with a slight nod to modern style aesthetics.

Yakushiji Ryoko no Kaiki Jikenbo
Ryoko, mystery, detective, sexy, supernatural

I did not realize that this was a supernatural detective series until I looked up the translation of the title shortly before I watched the anime. It seems like a police drama where the two detectives solve cases with a supernatural twist. Apparently Ryoko is the person to go to in the police department when you want a case solved that deals with the unexplainable. Ryoko and her partner Izumi seem to have master servant relationship with Ryoko clearly being in charge but I am glad to see that they both seem equally competent in detective work and being able to protect themselves. She also seems to have a rival on the force with a similar relationship to her partner. I think this is the show this season for people who want a more adult mystery anime.

This show melds detective with a mature, sexy woman. While I thought it had some pacing issues, it overall kept a quick transition. I liked how we are dropped into the story knowing that our duo have been working supernatural cases for a while. It does seem that the unknown is combined with hard evidence. Ryouko’s eccentricities are cause for humor and awe as she drags her faithful assistant around the city in search of clues and shopping!

Here is Greenwood (Live Action)
greenwood, ikemen, high school, crossdressing, dorm

If you don’t love Here is Greenwood, then you haven’t haven’t read the manga or watched the OVA! And here it is in a new form, live action. I think this is a show that you will love if you already know the show, but I would recommend jumping in with the earlier renditions if you’ve never experienced it before. It has the antics and comedy prevalent in Greenwood. The show establishes the personalities of our four main guys quickly and efficiently. It also has a dorm full of cute guys! And this particular time slot in Japan touts half hour episodes.

I remember Here is Greenwood fondly for several reasons. Most important being it’s the first shojo anime I ever saw. This seems a particularly accurate and faithful live action adaptation of the manga. They have a good deal of the scenes that stand out in my mind including the first time with meet the motorcycle otaku carrying around his bike, or when we first meet Kazuya’s sister-in-law, or when we discover Shun’s secret. Speaking of Shun’s secret I know that it is hard to find a guy who can act and still pass for a woman when cross dressing and I think they do a satisfactory but flawed job in their casting. The actor they got was decent but it some scenes and looks like a girl but in other scenes he is quite obviously a man in drag. I am curious to see which storylines from the manga they adapt, to see how funny “Here is Devilwood” is, and to see the last story line’s adaptation.

Antique Bakery
yaoi, BL, antique, bakery, cake, pastry

Antique Bakery is a slice of life show about four men running a bakery. This show is a healing anime with a gay character in it but many people feel that this is very light BL show. I don’t think that just because a BL author writes something with a gay character in it’s not automatically BL. Gay characters are valid characters in shows outside of BL. Antique Bakery reminds me of The Bartender with a pastry shop instead of a bar. The basic formula seems to be that a customer comes into the shop and through interacting with the employees comes to solve some problem in their life. These types of shows are made for people who want to come home after a hard day of work and see an uplifting, calm tale with some pastry porn on the side. There seems to be an overarching plot about the owner’s kidnapping as a child but it is mainly meant to be an episodic show.

I really loved the way the opening was done, just something fun and different. It has an easy pace, could be very sitcom like. But overall it just didn’t grab me in any way. There is nothing innately wrong with it but it certainly doesn’t have a hook like normal shows. Everything seems to move in a subdued manner, but that seems to be the idea.

Chocolate Underground
chocolate, underground, bootleg, Alex Shearer

Wow, so these episodes are short but not definite lengths, some were around 3 minutes while another was almost 5. But they have been able to make me curious is that short span. These two kids live in a crazy place where chocolate had been outlawed (along with anything else that is bad for you). But rumor has it there are chocolate bootleggers with secret stores of chocolate. That certainly peaked their interests and they set off to find it. I love the sense of adventure and mystery found in young adult literature! This series felt serious and fun at the same time. And look at those two boys. Aren’t they adorable? And their shared crush on the girl at the bakery is very cute, too. I will be watching.

Chocolate Underground is based on the British novel Bootleg by Alex Shearer. Chocolate Underground is an ONA that means it is an anime primarily released on the Internet. It’s not the first ONA but it is the first I have watched. Overall it’s rather cute. The episodes are rather well paced fro being so short. Each one feels like a chapter from a book. Which might actually be the case. I feel opening scene with the special forces team with the armored mech to bust a couple eating chocolate in their home is rather extreme. The whole chocolate ban is a deft social commentary in a rather sweet coating.

Slayers Revolution
slayers, lina, gourry, zelgadis, amelia, revolution

This had to be the biggest surprise of the year! New Slayers? Don’t lie to me.I couldn’t believe it. Though I think there is a whole generation of fans that have not watched Slayers, so I wonder what their reaction to the series will be. The relationships between characters is already established so it could throw off first timers. However, I was delighted, everything was harkening back to the original. Even the way the title of the episode was introduced.

Look. It’s very simple. Give me more Zelgadis and Amelia in generous amounts and I am generally sold on your show. I’m sure that otaku are happy for the return of Megumi Hayashibara as Lina if nothing else. And I think that old school Slayers fans will be happy. This was not made for new viewers. There is little to no effort made to get people up to speed. You are assumed to know and love these characters and are just waiting to see what trouble they are going to find themselves in next. Overall it’s an excellent return to the Slayers formula. There is the trademark humor in full force and a decent amount of action as well. Everyone is in perfect form. As long as they don’t mess up like they did with the end of Slayers Try this should be fun.

Natsume Yuujinchou
natsume, yuujinchou, ayakashi, lucky cat

The one line pitch for Natsume Yuujinchou would be XXXholic meets Mushishi. We have a young man who can see spirits but does not want to who is takes up the mantle of dealing with the wide variety of local spirits. Natsume’s relationship with his spirit cat friend seems slightly odd but interesting enough that I want to see how it develops. So far the spirits presented have not been too dangerous but there have been hints that this will not always be the case. The cat spirit has a powerful form reminiscent of Amaterasu from Oakmi so I assume he will be the muscle. I am curious if Natsume will ever get any combat power or will he continue to use his wits to solve his problems. Natsume’s grandmother reminds me of Tohru Honda’s mom which means she is the selling point for this series. ;-)

It seems like every season there is one show that emotionally hooks me in the first episode. This time around it was Natsume Yuujinchou. Sometimes I can’t quite put my finger on how they did it. All I know is that I was really sad to hear the story of that Ayakashi. I am curious to see how all the names made it into the book. And I also laughed a whole lot, the cat is too funny! And I love his voice. Enjoyable first episode and I will be getting the next as soon as possible.

Blade of the Immortal
blade, manji, ren, anotsu, immortal, samurai

It is dangerous to have high hopes sometimes. I have been a BotI fan since it first started coming out in English, I never thought it would ever become an anime. Hiroki Samura’s art style is very complex and sketchy so I wasn’t sure how it was going to translate on screen. But lo and behold everyone looks like themselves just super smooth. The first episode is basically faithful to the first chapter with the addition of showing a little of Ren and oddly adding in Hyakurin who doesn’t show up till much later. But I can appreciate them trying to get all the major players established considering the time restraints. The fight at the end was not anything special unfortunately, though I think it still serves the purpose of showing Maji is a crazy bad-ass. But I thought this could be a moment to shine and really show this series is full of messed up stuff and people getting chopped in two. They did have, what becomes sort of iconic in the manga, Manji carrying around his lost limbs though. The opening was also really adult and intense, very nice. That what the show needs to be. I think I’ll have to watch a few more to really decide if it is going in a good direction.

The manga of Blade of the Immortal has a very distinct art style. So much in fact that the rumor was that the author never let the series be animated before this because he never felt anyone could capture the unique artistry of his manga. The character designs are simplified from the manga but I don’t think that you could ever get the budget to animate Blade of the Immortal’s original character designs on a TV budget. They even go out of their way to reproduce the elaborate death portraits important characters get when they die from the original manga. It looks like they are going out of their way to capture the mature feeling of the manga which will definitely help sell this in the American market. Kagimura Habaki and Kagehisa Anotsu also appear earlier than they appear in the manga as well. It is an odd choice to have certain characters show up so early but I can’t really I really fault them for it. The choice that perplexed me the most was the random modern city imagery in the opening, closing, and eyes catches quite bizarre since the story takes place around 1782. I know people are going to take this show to town because it’s animated by Bee Train but other than the Bee Train signature of having an extremely in your face back background music score everything seems fine. I will reserve my final judgment for a few more episodes but so far it gets my thumbs up.

Shibatora (Live Action)
shibatora, koike, teppei, police, shinigami, detective

I was originally looking into this show because Koike Teppei is the star! If you have seen the Lovely Complex movie, you might recognize him. Anyway, I think he is a very cute and playful actor. This show is based on a manga by the same name, it combines comedy with drama and a bit of a sentimental element. Shibatora is working to be a detective but he has a naive and innocent face and sports some mad Kendo skills. It has a long list of wacky characters that add to Shibatora’s mostly serious personality. The show overall was fun and pulled me into the characters. Though there are moments that seemed off pace. Like during the dramatic climax there is a comedic moment but it was not seemlessly done, in fact I was laughing from it’s odd placement. And also Shibatora’s ability to sense when death is near seems frivolous and pointless, luckily this doesn’t come up too often. Lastly, the theme is done by Every Little Thing which is totally awesome!

Shibatora seems like a fun show in which the editor made the author throw in the supernatural part for no particular reason. It seems to be there to get him involved with the characters but he already has a reason to be trying to help people. He is a cop. It might be a good hook if Shibatora was not a detective but it just seems tacked on. I might also call it lazy story telling but Shibatora always has to do detective work after he gets a psychic insight. It’s never simply a case of deus ex machina. Other than that it is a fun Japanese cop drama. Shibatora and his friends at the clothing shop have a fun dynamic and Shibatora is a cute likeable character. I also really loved that his boss has a office in the middle of the basement. I want a secret base in the police department, too. They seem to really like to beat up poor Shibatora because he gets quite a bit of damage done to him during this episode.

World Destruction
world, destruction, RPG, furries, video, game

This is an anime based on a video game (or rather they are both coming out at once) and therefore it stinks and therefore I am going to be snarky for the rest of this preview. Sufficed to say it’s not worth your time unless you are a furry. A furry with no taste. In a world where adorable looking beastmen rule over humans one boy heroically dons cheap cosplay cat ears to find work. In a world where one crazy psycho girl wants to destroy everyone and seems to have an all too easy time convincing other people to commit mass suicide with her and take along everyone else while they are at it. In a world where they attempt to make the love child of Snake Pliskin and Teddy Ruxpin a bad ass and noble hero. This is the world of World Destruction. I say they can’t destroy this world quick enough.

This show tried to cram every type of character we have seen in a RPG into one show and it was a big mess. It was obviously supposed to combine humor and drama but it seemed to not hit either. The funniest thing about the show was everything that was wrong with it, from the poor animation (this is the first episode people! We shouldn’t see the C team come in yet) to the badly thoughtout story. The dramatic scene that was supposed to bring us on board, to have the two characters start to understand each other, to get us intrigued…fell flat. In my opinion, nothing went right in this show. Oh, wait, I did like the closing song but maybe that was because I was so glad it was over.

Telepathy Shoujo Ran
shoujo, telepathy, ran, psychic, girls, magical

Why are these people using their psychic powers will-nilly in school? This series was not very stimulating. I am having a hard time putting words to it. It was just there, it wasn’t bad, it wasn’t anything. I feel as though I will forget I have even watched it just as I kept forgetting the name of it the other day.

While it was certainly not my favorite show of the season, I think I certainly liked this one more than Narutaki. It sort of a standard magical girl show. Ran does not transform but she has broad array of psychic powers including telepathy. There is a transfer student who has the same powers she does and keeps trying to get her to use her power and convince her that they are monsters who no one else will accept. Midori, the transfer student seems like she will go from be an antagonist to an ally in the great shonen tradition despite the fact that this is a shoujo show. There also seems to be a greater band of evil people with psychic powers to be the big bad guys.

Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu
nogizaka, haruka, otaku, moe, secret

Sometimes it takes a hero to jump on a live grenade to save the rest of the platoon. Other times it just takes a fool. Well, I jumped only to find out it was a dud. Narutaki and I were assuming this show was going to be deathly bad and I secretly hoped that it might be good. It turns out it’s really just plain. Yuto, an average guy finds out that Haruka, the most popular girl in school, is secretly an otaku. This leads to them becoming friends. If Yuto or Haruka were really interesting it might have sold me on this show but they are both very average. Yuto seems to have some fight in him to complain out loud but not enough to stop anyone from tormenting him. Haruka is just a princess girl that happens to like anime. She is hardly moe enough to dislike but not cool enough to love. I guess I was secretly hoping for a Nagi-like character. The only thing that stuck out that would be really bad is that he lives with his sister and one of his teachers from school. When Yuto is at home they bully him into serving them snacks and booze. They are clearly there for A. fan-service shots; B. “jokes”; and C. to make problems and misunderstandings between Yuto and Haruka later on.

Yasuko to Kenji (Live Action)
yasuko, kenji, manga-ka, gangs, shojo

This show is a well done combo of comedy mixed with a sentimental first romance and family issues. Kenji is a ex-gang leader trying to raise his little sister, Yasuko, who is now in high school. The best way he found to do this was his talent for writing shojo manga! Kenji is now a well established manga-ka. His actual identity is a secret. If this isn’t a perfect combination for comedy gold, well then nothing is. This show is over the top funny as Yasuko butts heads with Kenji, who is super overprotective, and also starts to live out a bit of shojo manga herself with the new guy at school. Of course the show wouldn’t be complete with out some sort of gang fight!

This is the one live action show I truly regret not being able to watch subtitled. I’m sure this already hysterical show would be even better with me being able to fully understand the dialog. Kenji’s bad ass demeanor mixed with the scenes of him writing his ultra flowery shojo comics is just priceless. I also like Kenji and Yasuko’s back and forth battles for who is in charge of her life. I know that his two assistants were former members of his gang but I’m curious how they wound up working for him. I liked Yasuko’s love interest, Tsubaki, but his family is even better. Also the fight scenes were so manga styled. It was a nice adaptation. For some reason they really like to have poor Yasuko fall on her face. I’m not saying it’s not funny but you have to feel bad for the poor girl. I think I’m going to try to tract down the original manga because this looks like a winner but no one seems to be scanlating it. Hopefully a American manga company will pick this one up.

I would like to make two observations about Japanese live actions shows before we go. The first is cake is everywhere. In all the live action shows we watched someone always got cake whenever they went over to someone’s house. No wonder Tachibana went into the pastry business. According to Japanese drama people in Japan eat cake like three times a day. That and it seems to me that the background music is very noticeable in Japanese dramas. Is it just me or do any other our readers notice the same thing?

The cake industry in Japan must be booming! Any how, this is a rare season where I actually knew things about the upcoming shows (weather I’ve read the manga, know the actors, or know the previous series) and I had different expectations. This season is also full of surprises with series I never thought I would see made. It is quite exciting! And of course minus all the stuff I knew about, there are some great gems that I had no inkling what they were. Such is the great thing about plopping down and watching a whole ton of shows.


Spring Falls Out: Spring 2008 Anime Guide

April showers bring May flowers and new anime series. There is no way that Narutaki and I can watch every new anime series coming out this season but we will try to hit up whatever looks interesting and report back to you our loyal readers on what is worth watching this spring. Plus, I think we are going to skip all the horrible ohwhenwillthehurtingend shows. Speaking of which it does seem this spring the moe choice is shows with fox spirit girls. I guess since Kamen no Maid Guy came out no one else dared make a maid anime.

Since they have taken my Gundam 00 away and my Hayate I am looking for all new shows to start watching! This is an exciting and sometimes tedious task. I don’t want to go too much into what the shows are actually about, those things are easily looked up. We are just going to be giving our gut reactions to a whole slue of stuff and beware that we have only watched the first episode of most of this.

Bus Gamer
I downloaded this because the short reviews I saw said it was about bad dudes, doing bad things with awesome fights. Okay, what were those people watching? It couldn’t have been the first episode of this seriously poor anime. The fight that happens at the end, I wouldn’t have even called a fight! It was like random thugs and the dude just came up behind them and hit them with a pipe. That is not a fight!! Also they spent way too much time trying to develope these three guys and the plot. No action occurs till the last 10 minutes! And considering this show is only 3 episodes long, they need to be moving at a much faster pace.

You forgot to mention that the blond guy was super annoying and might have well be the stereotypical swooning and shrieking useless girl character except for the fact that he has a penis (or at least I am assuming he does). I did not dislike it as much as Narutaki but this show totally did not hook me with anything. The characters seem rather standard stock types. I might have been willing to wait and see if the characters were more but it’s too short of a series to give them any more time to develop. I might have also overlooked the fact that the characters are bland if the action was awesome but the action scenes were certainly pedestrian and horrifically one-sided.

Special A
This is by and large a typical shojo romance comedy. I like the character designs, I have also heard good things about the manga. But really it seemed very average to me. Not rolling on thefloor funny and not over the top romantic shojo. It was just walking straight down the middle. And it has wacky side character disease, those people were the most interesting and they will probably never be developed.

Maybe by old timer blood is finally maturing to make me a cranky old Brainwasher Detective but Special A seems so standard that I can’t get worked up to care. Hikari and Kei just seem rather boring to me. Shojo manga lives and dies on how much I like the main characters. Awesome side characters are just a bonus. I found that Hikari seems like she has potential but the fact that Kei is just the uber awesome guy who beats her every time seems like it will get old very fast. I keep expecting him to beat her at being able to kiss boys better at some point in the series. I also thought that the side characters were just there. Megumi Yamamoto having to write everything down to talk because her voice is practically a weapon was used for good effect but nobody else sold me enough to ignore the main characters.

Allison to Lillia
This show has the most potential out of everything I have seen and read about thus far. It has a plot, having to do with the country being split in two (constant warring) and how they can reconcile it. It has good characters, Allison is spunky, funny, and strong-willed and she drags her good friend (love?) Wil along for a journey that could change the future of their world. It had suspense, adventure, humor, friendship, and drama all in a beautiful looking fully realized world akin to the 1920’s. This is what all first episodes should be. And the second did not disappoint. I am betting on this being one of the best shows this season as well as the most overlooked.

I’m not sure how you can like this sexist anime that sets back the women’s movement for decades. Oh wait . . . maybe being slightly apologetic does not make you a doormat. Considering the characters designs, a plot centering around a spunky female pilot, and an anti-war message you might easily mistake this a Hayao Miyazaki story. I will go out on a limb and risk looking like a total idiot when I state this might be almost as good as such. I think it has a family friendly feeling while still be entertaining for adults. I did some digging and I found out this anime is an adaptation of the first two parts of a trilogy of light novels. We have not seen any of the Lillia parts of the series but if it is a good as the Allison part I’m sure I will be happy. We both got the feeling that this show is going to be the buried treasure of the season.

The Tower of Druaga
This show started out as a hilarious, rip-roaring, parody of all things RPG has moved into semi-serious mode (episode 2 recently came out). Even with this abrupt change, I am still interested in what is to come. It atleast has the makings for a decent fantasy story which is rare in anime. Let’s hope it doesn’t flounder in the 10 episodes it has left.

It feels like the Tower of Druaga has turned into a serious fantasy adventure with a quirky sense of humor disbursed between action and intrigue much like Scrapped Princess. There is so little good fantasy anime that I will take whatever fix I can. The show has definite potential to fall apart but so far it seems decent. I’m sure some people are going to be thrown off by the non-canon theme first episode but I think it lends the show a certain charm much like The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya.

Blassreiter is junk. It’s true. I couldn’t even gleam enjoyment from it being so bad and blase. The dialogue was lame, the character designs are poor, and they tell you how to feel instead of making you feel it. I felt nothing for the main character and his tragedy, it happened three minutes in, how am I supposed to be connected? And my biggest complaint has to be that the dude on the posters for it appears for all of 5 seconds and he doesn’t even do anything. Although, even with that he still seems like the most interesting character in the series.

Blassreiter seems like a show for people who want to watch a series like the Guyver but wanted an older protagonist. I also feel no real need to go out and watch anymore of this show. Some people might enjoy the dark action and the slightly more mature plots that come with a slightly more mature cast. Actually it’s more of that fake mature like Speed Grapher. A show that thinks it’s mature because it’s dark and deals with issues like sex and violence but is really just a shallow attempt at being mature.

Kamen no Maid Guy
This show clearly says ecchi when you go to the description but I just couldn’t resist after seeing the picture of it on ANN. It deserved to be watched just for that. Kogarashi is just one of the most hilarious looking dudes ever. Of course our very buxom young female lead bounces everywhere for anything and quite often loses her shirt or is in the shower. While this was a little much for me, the episode was hilariously amusing while our maid guy attempts to keep her safe and also clean!

Kamen no Maid Guy is basically what happens when you replace the romance and otaku humor from Hayate the Combat Butler with perverted jokes and boob shots. It does certainly seem like fun if you can tolerate with high levels of ecchi content. The fact that it looks like you took a Fist of the North Star villain and made him the ultimate bodyguard french maid has a certain hilarity built into it. I will continue to watch this guy but I’m not going out of my way to check every night if a new episode has come out.

Amatsuki has potential, I’m atleast interested in seeing some more of it. While the story is semi-basic, at least we haven’t been told that the main guy is the key to this, the king of that, or the only one who can save something. The brief fight was good, so hopefully there will be more of that in the future. The character personalities were broad enough to also make me curious. But then again I really have no idea of what the plot is at this point.

I have to agree with Narutaki. The main character seems to amazingly easily accept the fact that he has been transported back in time and there are monsters all around him. It seems he is in an odd state of ataraxia. It is certainly odd but it’s better than him be a whiny wet blanket like so many characters in the same situation. It is safe to assume that the main theme is about what are dreams and what is reality but they have yet to develop the main plot. It seems like the stereotypical story of a high school student transported to a monster filled past but it so far it seems to be well done. I like the characters and then seem to have potential so I think I will keep watching this one and see how it develops. It could be interesting or it could be generic but so far it at least seems to be well done.

Nabari no Ou
Nabari no Ou, ninjas! Pretty good fights, too. The characters however aren’t very engaging, at least not right off the bat. I may have to give this two of three more episodes.

I guess the easiest way to sum up this show is modern day Nate the Ninja. In fact Nabari no Ou has some easily identified counterparts in Naruto. That being said I think that the show has sort of its own groove that makes it different enough to be enjoyable. The sheer apathy of the main character makes for some funny scenes but it also makes him somewhat of a bland character at times. Along with Souleater I am predicting this show will be the other show people talk about this season. It is different enough from Naruto that people who want a ninja shonen fighting show might get into it but is good enough to win over a good number of Naruto fans that want more ninja action.

Souleater is the show everyone is going to love and be the runaway hit of the season. For me it probably won’t be those things. Maybe it was that “glowing” review I read or maybe it was the fact that I have read some of the manga, but I wasn’t really looking forward to this show. In fact, I wasn’t even going to watch it. But here I get reeled in by what people are saying. The visuals are pretty nice, it has a playful gothic feel that gives the scenery a nice punch. However, I find the actual characters mostly dull looking, especially Mara our heroine. This manga also falls in the ecchi category and really I’m just not in the moody for annoying titty witches clogging up my anime watching experience.

Well anyone who claims that a show does Tim Burton better than Tim Burton better be reviewing an amazingly good show to back up that up. I’m pretty sure that Souleater does not live up to that lofty claim. I do agree that this show looks like it has the potential to be the breakout big hit of the season. In fact much of this show seemed like what would happen if mixed together Bleach and D.Gray-man and threw in a liberal helping of fan service. I’m pretty sure that the cloying titty witch made sure neither of us can get into this show despite the insistence that it has awesome fight scenes. I will admit thought the fact that Mara seems to be the main fighter and Soul is the more passive weapon is somewhat unusual and interesting for a shonen show.

Zettai Kareshi (Live Action)
Zettai Kareshi (Absolute Boyfriend) I watched this raw so this is just my general impression of it. However, I have read the manga so that gives me some insight. But really the story is just a romance comedy, I don’t really need to know everything being said to be able to laugh and understand what is going on. The series has high quality production, like some of the effects used to show Night as a robot. Both male leads are very good looking, always a plus. And Riko our main girl is silly and charming. This series is nothing amazing but its a fun watch for females for sure.

Golgo 13
Golgo 13 is a show for Daryl Surat and anyone else who is a big seinen manga fan. It does everything a Golgo 13 anime needs to do to make Golgo 13 fans happy. Golgo gets a mission, has detached sex with a woman who needs him more than life itself, kills some thugs, and then makes a nearly impossible hit on his target and then goes of to do it again. I assume that each episode will follow the same basic formula in different places throughout the world with slight variations in the formula. It’s not like they made Golgo 13 throw out action movie one liners with a huge smile on his face or gave him a moe loli companion girl. He is the killing machine Golgo 13. The world conflicts he is involved with may differ but Golgo 13 never changes.

This series is very beautiful right off the bat but in a retro way that may turn some people off. It has a mystical, fairy-tale like feeling from the moment it starts. We are immediately thrust into an unknown world where our main character is just waking up. He certainly doesn’t seem to know what is going on around him either. But others seem to know things about him based on a strange hole he has in his chest, the locket around his neck, and an odd symbol on his abdomen. It certainly remind me of many sci-fi stories from the 70’s. It captured the imagination right off and I’m curious to see where it all leads.

This is probably the closest you are going to be to an art house anime. I think no matter how good the story or the animation, the Osamu Tezuka style character designs dooms this show to obscurity. I can see the old guard anime fans getting into this show. Since Narutaki watched the show raw and I watched it subtitled we are kicking around the idea that Narutaki watch the whole show raw and do absolutely no research into the show. Narutaki then gives a report of what she thought it was about and then I talk about what the show was actually about from watching the show with subs.

Macross Frontier
For the 25th anniversary of the original The Super Dimension Fortress Macross we get the third TV series in the Macross universe entitled Macross Frontier. So far Frontier is much more the spiritual successor to the original Macross than the lol-fest that was Macross 7. We have all the classic features: a battleship with almost no outside support attacked by a mysterious enemy; transformable Valkyrie fighters; and a love triangle involving a pilot and a singer. This show looks beautiful and so far has been rather entertaining. Good actions scenes and lively characters make this show a joy to watch. American Macross fans might be able to finally forgive Japan for Macross 7 after this show. I think science fiction fans and mecha fans new to the franchise might also get hooked on this lusciously animated show.

I am having a blast following Macross Frontier! The character designs are good and the 3D animation is actually nicely done. Also supreme fighting sequences complete with pop music. Though I am not that impressed with the music. I did notice I liked the opening song a bit better the second time through, so I am hoping to see it grow on me.

Niju-Menso no Musume
Niju-Menso no Musume, was a show I was looking forward to this season because I am a sucker for a good thief. This series seems rather over the top. I think everything that has ever happened in a mystery show happened in the first episode. But it satisfies something in me and I was entertained. Something about the mastermind thief that is just one step ahead is always fun. I also really like the relationships developing between characters. This show is a lot of fun, nothing more nothing less, full of danger, mystery, and a whole lot of adventure.

Vampire Knight
I learned from Anime World Order that apparently Vampire Knight is one of the best selling manga in the United States which took me slightly by surprise. I think that Vampire Knight definitely has the two main of the draws of vampire stories: angst filled boys and drinking blood as a sexual metaphor. The humor and the drama are pretty well balanced. This is a super shojo vampire story set at a school for what it’s worth. Since nerd girls in general love vampires I’m sure this show will be right up their alley. If girls bought more shojo anime I’m sure this show could be one of the best sellers from this season. According to Kohaku they change the pace of certain of revelations so they might be trying to give us a complete story in 26 episodes of a 8+ book series. This can lead to some awful anime produced ending but since I have not read the manga I can’t tell how much better or worse the changes make the story as compared to the original manga.

This season looks to be pretty good! I think that is typical though. Pleanty of goodies to keep your eye on, can’t wait to see how they turn out. It is always interesting to go back and see if your initial impressions are true. Just how good is our intuition? Stay tuned to find out!