Jun 26 2009

An Errant Furball’s Picks for Summer 2009 TV


The Summer 2009 TV season is just starting, so let’s see what stands out among the prospects. There isn’t a clear trend among the summer series, like the memory loss plot device that was popular in Kaiba, Casshern Sins, and Eden of the East from the recent past seasons. There’s also the usual variety of sources ranging from 4-koma manga, light novels, and visual novels, but video game adaptations like Tears to Tiara and Battlefield Valkyria: Gallian Chronicles from the spring have gone missing this summer. What does this mean? I think the anime industry is still playing it safe for the summer. Agree or disagree, let me know what you think.


Spice and Wolf II: Amber Melancholy(Brains Base) will finally premiere in July 2009 after the Act 00 OAD whetted our appetite for more Lawrence and Horo. The economics is somewhat interesting (and good to know if you ever get roped into a medieval role-playing campaign), but the core of the series to me is the interaction between the main characters.


Zan Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei (SHAFT) is the third sequel featuring our favorite pessimist and his eccentric class. If it’s more of the same quirky satire from previous series, I won’t complain. Director Akiyuki Shinbou and SHAFT have managed to avoid over-repeating themselves so far.


Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 (BONES/Kinema Citrus) examines what would happen if a big earthquake finally hits Tokyo. The story traces the steps of middle schooler Mirai as she and her brother Yutaka try to find their way home after being caught out on a summer vacation trip during the quake. Since BONES is involved, we’ll hopefully get a strong plot without the cheesy melodrama that infuses American natural disaster movies like NBC’s 10.5.


CANAAN (P.A. Works) is based upon a scenario for a Nintendo Wii visual novel involving the TV series’ titular assassin. In the visual novel, a group of characters must solve a mystery before something terrible happens in Shibuya. The catch?  None of the characters are aware of each other, yet the key to solving the mystery lies in their interaction. I’m not sure how Canaan is involved because she’s not one of the main characters in the visual novel. P.A. Works’ previous series True Tears received nods from fans for having a competent story and outstanding animation, but the all-star cast headed by Miyuki Sawashiro and Maaya Sakamoto has some fans hyped about CANAAN.


Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou (Nomad) takes place in a world of modern magic where spells are cast with the aid of computers. This combination of occult and technology alone has my rapt attention, but the description of the main character Koyomi Morishita as a clumsy high schooler who’s often mistaken for a grade schooler because of her height has me worried that the series will focus more on Koyomi’s cuteness and clumsiness than explore how her world arrived at its current state. Still, the character designs are attractive, and I did like director Yasuhiro Kuroda and writer Makoto Koga’s previous work Kyouran Kazoku Nikki, even if it did disappoint me in the end.


Sora no Manimani (Comet) is based upon the manga by Mami Kashiwabara currently serialized in Kodansha’s Comic Afternoon. I’ve read chapters of this manga here and there, and it’s largely a slice-of-life story about a teenage boy named Saku who returns to his hometown and reunites with a childhood acquaintance named Mihoshi who drafts Saku into her high school astronomy club. There’s a strong romantic tension between Saku and Mihoshi, but since Saku is the only male student in the astronomy club, the social dynamics ventures dangerously through harem territory. I only know of Comet Studio from their work on the original School Rumble series, which I loved (but I never saw any of the sequels which I heard were disappointing), so I have high expectations for this show.


Umi Monogatari (ZEXCS) is based upon a unique source: a pachinko game. The story follows two sisters Marin and Urin who find a ring and try to return it, only to discover that the ring’s owner Kanon intentionally threw the ring into the sea. ZEXCS is a capable studio, and I really liked their work on Rental Magica, Wagaya no Oinari-sama, and Happy World. But what really catches my attention is director Junichi Sato, who also directed Sergeant Keroro and ARIA. Time and time again, Sato takes material that would be trite in other directors’ hands and makes it entertaining, so I look forward what magic he will create with Umi Monogatari.


Bakemonogatari (SHAFT) is based upon Ishin Nishio’s light novels. The title is a pun that overlaps bakemono (monster) and monogatari (story) together, and puns are apparently Nishio’s specialty which hints that this series will be light-natured despite its supernatural premise. The main character, Koyomi Araragi, is almost human again after being a vampire, and that condition especially intrigues me since I grew up with the notion that “Once a vampire, always a vampire.” Akiyuki Shinbou is listed as director, but I think he’ll be busy with Zan Zetsubou Sensei, so I think series director Tatsuya Oishi will be calling the shots.


Umineko no Naku Koro Ni (Studio DEEN) comes from the same people who brought us Higurashi no Naku Koro Ni. I admit that I never watched Higurashi, but I followed enough blogging on the series to know the “Uso da” meme. What interests me about Umineko is that it resembles the plot cliches mentioned in the Haruhi “Remote Island Syndrome” episodes with Phoenix Wright poses included.


Kuruneko (Studio DEEN/Dax) may not look like much, but it’s a series directed by Daichi Akitaro (Fruits Basket and Ima, Sokoni Iru Boku: Now and Then, Here and There), which makes it a must-see in my book. Based upon a popular manga blog, Kuruneko retells comedic stories about a sake obsessed woman and her many cats.


GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class (AICPLUS+) comes from a 4-koma manga by Satoko Kiyuzuki about five girls in a high school art class. My gut feeling about this series says that it’s not strong enough to recommend to other people, but my artistic aspirations will probably sucker me into watching this like it did for Honey & Clover and Sketchbook ~full color’S~.


And then there are the new episodes of Haruhi by Kyoto Animation that are being inserted in chronological order during the rebroadcast of the original Haruhi series. It’s hard for me to acknowledge the new episodes as a new season with the way it being broadcast, which is very odd given that I accepted the original broadcast order without question. Maybe after all the episodes have been broadcast I’ll sort it out, but for now I’m really enjoying the new material like the return of an old friend.

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