Thanks, Anime

It’s an interesting time in anime, and there’s plenty of stuff to be grateful for.

Thanks, Anime, for providing affordable DVDS of series loved by all types of otaku, from Gurren-Lagann to Ouran High School Host Club to Aria and beyond.

Thanks, Anime, for making strides to becoming more accessible. Strike Witches isn’t what I’d call a show I’d recommend to others, but I commend GONZO for putting itself out there. And while some of you may have made a few missteps, like Sony with your super-expensive PS3 episodes of Xam’d, I’ll still be there to buy the DVDs.

Thanks, Anime, for having an incredible season this year with something for everyone, with fine work in practically every genre and sub-genre. With this, I have no regrets.

Thanks, Anime, for your plans to give us an Ultimate Crossover Pretty Cure Movie that we’ve been waiting for since Max Heart ended. I look forward to the 11-girl Ultimate Crossover Pretty Cure Finisher. It’s also thanks to this image that I realize that the more athletic Precure girls have tanner skin. You learn something everyday.

Thanks, Anime, for slating a Professor Layton Animated Movie scheduled for 2010. I’m not even kidding.

And finally, Thank You for an incredible year of Ogiue, JAM Project, good friends, good opportunities, and so much more.

頭文字 Impressions Fall 2008

The new season is finally under full swing, and I’ve been looking forward to it for quite a while. As of now, it really doesn’t disappoint.

The new Hokuto no Ken anime tv series, the first in about two decades not counting Souten no Ken, is Raoh Gaiden: Ten no Haoh. The series is a prequel to the Hokuto no Ken anime showing a younger Raoh and his rise to power along with those two characters they introduced in the new movies, one of which is a woman who is not Completely Useless but still is clearly not there to be the main character.

The entire episode is spent with anticipation, just waiting for that moment where the calm Raoh encounters a bunch of thugs who think they own the post-apocalyptic place, and having Raoh deliver a king-sized fist to their face worthy of a fist king. And in this regard the first episode delivers. But unlike Kenshiro, Raoh has little mercy for anyone, though he’s not as quite as big of an asshole as when he first appeared in the manga. The originally manga slowly retconned Raoh from just a Jerk who Conquers to Guy Who is Trying to Save the World By Taking it Over, and this new anime reflects the latter concept.

Toradora! focuses on the relationship between Ryuuji, a guy who much to his own chagrin has inherited his puppy-killing facial features from his departed Yakuza father, and Taiga, a tiny girl whose small size belies her fierce and eccentric personality. Hence the name Tora (tiger = taiga) Dora (doragon = dragon = ryuuji). It sounds typical, but the first episode took me by surprise, and this is from someone who’s read the first novel. A lot of other bloggers will talk about how good the voice acting is and how different (and better) Kugimiya Rie is in this role versus her previous tsundere characters, but the real star of this show isn’t the voices, as good as they may be, but the pacing and atmosphere.

Whereas most shows with a similar premise would try to be more frenetic, more extreme, Toradora is surprisingly slow and subtle, even during gag scenes. The pacing actually reminds me a bit of Cosmic Baton Girl Comet-San, which I had reviewed previously.

The trailer alone made me a fan of Casshern SINS, and the first episode does not disappoint. This is Casshern for a new era, with a style darker and very different from the 70s or even 90s version, and Casshern is much more of a bishounen than in the past, but not in the way the disappointing live action movie turned out. The first episode looks like a marriage between Tatsunoko Pro and Studio Madhouse, which it is, and that’s all I really need to say.

Casshern is voiced by Furuya Tohru, so with this and Gundam 00 we’re getting double the dose of Amuro Ray.