Random Curiosity

Summer 2011 Preview! »« Winter 2011 Preview!

Spring 2011 Preview!

In light of the earthquake and tsunami that Japan is still recovering from, most shows were postponed for a week. As a result, the premiere dates listed in this preview are likely to get pushed out by at least a week. Some series’ homepages have already reported new start dates, which I’ve highlighted below by writing the date in red. You can expect more dates to be updated in the upcoming weeks.

There are 43 new shows airing next season, barring the ones that don’t fall into the usual criteria, which makes it one of the most jam-packed spring seasons I’ve ever seen. As you can probably imagine, there’s a ton of information in this season preview that took over a hundred hours to gather and compile, so I’ve made some subtle changes on how to present it. First off, I made an even more conscious effort to be “informatively concise” by setting a word count cap on each of the entries, as well as a structured format they all adhere to.

Each entry is now divided into two paragraphs as follows:

  • A brief introduction to the series and its premise, often with the starring cast of characters.
  • My impressions, expanding on the plot and highlighting specific aspects that interest me.

Secondly, the overall impressions at the very end have changed. The odds I’ll watch a show don’t work well as recommendations unless you happen to have the same tastes as me, so I’ve categorized all 43 shows in a way that should help you decide. The idea came about to help casual and/or pickier anime fans who can only be bothered to watch the arguably “best” shows each season. It also spares me from having to deal with “bad taste” misunderstandings if I mark down a lighthearted romantic comedy as a guaranteed watch of mine.


Please read: The start of the spring 2011 season marks the one-year anniversary of my tenure heading Random Curiosity. Looking back, it’s been a rather ambitious year that was never short of sleepless nights, so I’d like to believe that I’ve taken things in a positive direction after the site was about to shut down. It definitely hasn’t come without a cost though, as I haven’t taken a proper day off and have even used my vacation days to work on season previews and year-end posts. As such, I’m contemplating taking the entire season off to unwind and recharge. The idea is to take one season off and then ease my way back into things in summer.

Unfortunately, it comes at somewhat of a bad time given how busy this season is, but the other writers will still be covering a handful of shows on a regular basis while I’d be shifting to a more administrative role. I know some people are going to see this as an opportunity to help, so I want to make it clear that I’m not looking for any more writers since I’m happy with the reliable ones I currently have. I’d only make an exception if you’re an avid anime fan with a lot of dedication, good writing skills, insightful input, and fairly fluent Japanese so that you can cover raws on my behalf. If this sounds like you and you’d like to help contribute, please e-mail me.

At the moment, I’m just heavily considering taking a break or risking overworking myself, hence why nothing is marked as a guaranteed blog. If you feel opinionated about it either way, feel free to share your input in the comments. As always, I’ll be reading.


Disclaimer: Regular readers of the site probably already know that my tastes are fairly diverse, but a quick look at MyAnimeList should give everyone else an idea of my sixteen or so years of history with anime. With that in mind, please be aware that I’ll often watch mediocre and even controversial series for the sake of variety, or simply so that I can make an informed judgment at the end. However, I would only recommend such shows if you’ve seen something similar, enjoyed it to a certain degree, and know what you’re getting yourself into. I still have my usual genres, so it’s usually not too difficult for me to decide what to watch based on premise, art style, production, and cast (a big one for me) after going through some source and/or promotional material. For the purpose of this preview, I’ll try to identify what appeals to me about each series, in hopes that it will help you determine if it coincides with your own tastes.

By no means does this list reflect every single anime series that is going to be aired, though it’s meant to be as comprehensive as possible. Shows that stray far from the anime norm or are deemed oriented towards younger children are omitted, so check out MOON PHASE for an entire listing, syoboi’s calendar for specific air times, and Fansub Wiki’s page for who’s tentatively subbing what.


TV Series


Technical Note: The list is ordered by the date and time that the shows premiere. The links in the schedule will take you to a series’ corresponding entry and the “Top” links on the right will bring you back. You can also use the back/forward buttons in your browser to jump between links you’ve clicked. All times are given in a 24-hour, relative-day format where times are extended to show which day they belong to. For instance, Friday morning at 1:30AM would become Thursday at 25:30 to show that the episode aired late Thursday night.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Metal Fight Beyblade 4D
08:30 TVA TX (4/3)
Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi
09:00 AT-X (4/11)
Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji Hakairoku-hen
24:59 NTV (4/5)
30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku
27:00 MX (4/6)
18:00 TVA TX (4/7)
22:00 ANIMAX (4/1)
Jewelpet Sunshine
09:30 TVA TX (4/2)
Bakugan Battle Brawlers Gundalian Invaders
09:00 TVA TX (4/3)
18:00 (4/4)
25:29 NTV (4/12)
Hyouge Mono
23:00 NHK-BS (4/7)
Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san.
23:00 AT-X (4/8)
Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream
10:00 BSJ (4/9)
09:00 CX (4/3)
Fireball Charming
19:28 MX (4/4)
26:05 TVS (4/5)
C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control
24:45 CX (4/14)
Hen Zemi
23:15 AT-X (4/8)
Deadman Wonderland
25:00 tvk (4/16)
Ao no Exorcist
17:00 MBC TBS (4/17)
19:30 (4/11)
Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae…
25:15 CX (4/14)
Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi
25:05 TVS (4/8)
25:35 TVS (4/2)
Ring ni Kakero 1: Sekai Taikai-hen
21:00 ANIMAX (4/10)
Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II
25:30 TX (4/11)
Hidan no Aria
25:25 TBS (4/14)
25:58 MBS (4/2)
Hanasaku Iroha
22:00 MX (4/3)
Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~
26:00 TX (4/4)
25:40 MBS (4/7)
26:20 TVA (4/2)
Showa Monogatari
22:00 KBS (4/3)
Tono to Issho: Gantai no Yabou
26:14 ytv (4/4)
Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
25:55 TBS (4/14)
Astarotte no Omocha!
23:30 CTC (4/10)
Seikon no Qwaser II
26:30 MX (4/11)
Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera
26:10 MBS (4/7)
Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai
24:30 CTC (4/3)
22:55 NHK (4/25, weekdays)
Maria Holic Alive
26:15 TX (4/7)
26:30 MX (4/7)

* Others: Appleseed XIII

X-Men | エックスメン Top
Animation: Madhouse x Marvel Premiere: April 1, 2011
Genre: Action Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 22:00
Episodes: 12 Station: ANIMAX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Madhouse’s third collaboration project with Marvel centers on the most powerful telepath in the world, Professor Xavier (Hori Katunosuke), and his X-Men organization that strives for a peaceful coexistence between humans and mutants. They’ve gone inactive for the past year after the loss of Jean Grey (Hino Yurika), but upon learning that a mutant middle school girl named Ichika Hisako, a.k.a. Armor (Tamura Yukari), has gone missing in northern Japan, Xavier reassembles the team of Cyclops (Morikawa Toshiyuki), Wolverine (Koyama Rikiya), Beast (Tanaka Hideyuki), and Storm (Hisakawa Aya) from across the globe to deal with a new threat — a supremacist cult of humans called the U-Men.

Carrying over from the Wolverine anime, Rikiya and Toshiyuki reprise their roles as Wolverine and Cyclops respectively, but now have a more traditional look to them due to the change in character designer. The plot itself is adapted from the X-Men: Legacy (i.e New X-Men) comics, where the U-Men are radical followers of a “Third Species” religion and believe it’s their right to transplant organs and body parts from mutants to acquire their powers. The thought of mutants getting hacked up puts a dark spin on things, and the X-Men are superheroes I’m more acquainted with, so I’ll likely be watching this. After all, I’ve been enjoying Wolverine a fair bit due to all the gritty action and this title is the natural extension of it.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show X-Men Promotional Videos ▼

Jewelpet Sunshine | ジュエルペット サンシャイン Top
Animation: Studio Comet Premiere: April 2, 2011
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 09:30
Episodes: 52 (?) Station: TVA, TVO, TX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

After back-to-back 52-episode series, Sanrio and Sega press on with a third iteration revolving around their cute magical animals known as Jewel Pets. In this sequel, the mischievous hare Ruby (Saitou Ayaka), along with her friends Rabura (Sawashiro Miyuki), Garnet (Hirano Aya), Sapphy (Nozomi Sasaki), Peridot (Kaida Yuki), Charotte (MAKO), Jasper (KENN), and Sango (Shimizu Ai), find themselves at Jewel Land’s Sunshine Academy, whose third-year Plum class is regarded as a group of dunces. There, a school-life story filled with laughter develops as they try to help the students graduate and pursue their dreams.

Much like in Jewelpet Tinkle, the human characters have been swapped out while the Jewel Pets remain constant since they’re the stars of the show. In Sunshine, Toyosaki Aki will be joining the talented cast as a character named Angela. There hasn’t been a whole lot of other information released, but I gather there doesn’t really need to be considering that this new show will start immediately after Tinkle concludes. Clearly, this franchise is intended for younger female audiences with its cute characters, so that pretty much spells out my thoughts on it. I watched a couple of episodes of the original series for first-hand research purposes and can attest to the cuteness. Beyond the cast, I can’t say there’s much else I’m interested in though.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Animation: Seven Arcs Premiere: April 2, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:35
Episodes: 13 Station: TV Saitama (TVS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The director and writer of the Mahou Shoujo Lyrical Nanoha series is bringing us an original anime about the fantasy world of Fronaldo, where the Lion Domain of Galette led by Princess Leonmichelis (Koshimizu Ami) is constantly trying to invade the Republic of Biscotti. With the losses piling up on her side, Princess Millhiore of Biscotti (Horie Yui) summons a hero from a parallel universe to save her country, and what she gets is a circus action and athletic-loving middle school boy from Japan. After being pulled from his everyday life, Izumi Shinku (Miyano Mamoru) soon finds himself getting accustomed to the Biscotti people and fighting against the Garrett forces.

In addition to Nanoha, director Kusakawa Keizou has SEKIREI and Inukami under his belt, which may explain the Seven Arcs studio, dog-like races, and Horie Yui/Mizuki Nana casting connections. The premise itself reminds me a bit of Escaflowne, but the goofy title and cuter character designs make it hard to tell what we’re in store for. The fact that it’s an original series does pique my interest almost immediately though, as does the support cast that’s absolutely jam-packed with big names such as the aforementioned Nana, Taketatsu Ayana, Koyasu Takehito, Hikasa Youko, Hanazawa Kana, and Wakamoto Norio. While I can’t see this turning out to be an epic tale, I plan to check it out and find out for myself.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show DOG DAYS Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: Sunrise Premiere: April 2, 2011
Genre: Action Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:58
Episodes: 25 Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Sunrise is coming at us with another strange original series of theirs, starring company employees who promote their business by taking up superhero alter egos and doing justice in the city of Sternbild. The superheros donning their company logos are documented in a popular “Hero TV” program where they earn Hero Points for their good deeds that go towards the yearly rankings for the “King of Heroes” title. The veteran hero Wild Tiger, a.k.a. Kaburagi T. Kotetsu (Hirata Hiroaki), has a strong sense of justice and little concern for personal property to that end. He’s suddenly partnered up with the rookie Barnaby Brooks Jr. (Morita Masakazu), who’s more concerned about looking cool and stylish, resulting in the “best of the worst” hero combination Sternbild’s ever seen.

I really have no idea how Sunrise came up with this, but I’m cautiously optimistic about them pulling off something amazing. It feels like they’re trying something radical, much like GAINAX did with Panty & Stocking. Your guess is as good as mine on whether they’ll pull it off, though my impression of the wacky premise did improve the more I read about it. I actually like how each of of the superheros have a single special ability, just to help distinguish them better. The Apollon Media duo is an exception, as both their suits have a “Hundred Power” ability that increases their power a hundred-fold for five minutes. I still can’t shake how they remind me of something straight out of Blassreiter, especially when they’re animated in 3D, but at least all the other superheros look fairly unique. Super idol Blue Rose, a.k.a. Karina Lyle (Kotobuki Minako), should be a character to watch for her high school girl spin on things.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show TIGER & BUNNY Promotional Videos ▼

Nichijou | 日常 Top
Animation: Kyoto Animation Premiere: April 2, 2011
Genre: Comedy, School-Life, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 26:20
Episodes: 26 Station: TV Aichi (TVA)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

There are slice of life options this season, the first of which is about “everyday life” that is everything but normal. At least, that’s what the inclusion of a talking cat named Sakamoto-san (Shiraishi Minoru) and a robotic high school student named Shinonome Nano (Furuya Shizuka) suggests, the latter of whom her nameless creator (Konno Hiromi) loves tinkering with in completely pointless ways. They’re not even the main characters of the story either, as we have the energetic yet idiotic Aioi Yuuko (Honda Mariko) along with her friends Naganohara Mio (Aizawa Mai) and Minakami Mai (Togashi Misuzu) of Tokisadame High for that. Lighthearted laughs are the main appeal once all the characters unique personalities mesh together.

For me, the biggest selling point is Kyoto Animation’s involvement, including the director and screenwriter that have worked on various episodes of the highly successful K-ON. I’m curious whether they’ll be able to propel Nichijou to another unprecedented level of popularity, given that they have 26 episodes to work with. There’s a lot more focus on the gag humor in Nichijou, so it’ll be interesting to see what KyoAni brings to the table by putting their own spin on it. My impression of the manga is that it had a lot of quirky moments that I can picture being really funny onscreen, many of which came from Yuuko’s stupidity and Nano’s desire to be a normal girl. The humor reminded me of Azumanga and Ichigo Mashimaro in a lot of ways, so I’m pretty much set on watching it for that very reason. My only reservation is that the recently released episode 0 OVA wasn’t nearly as funny as I was anticipating.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Nichijou Promotional Videos ▼

Metal Fight Beyblade 4D | メタルファイト ベイブレード 4D Top
Animation: SynergySP Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 08:30
Episodes: 51 (?) Station: TVA, TVO, TX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Despite the name change, Metal Fight Beyblade 4D picks up directly where Beyblade Baku left off with the episode number seamlessly carrying forward from 103. In this continuation of the story involving battling with tops known as Beyblades, Hagane Ginga (Kanada Aki) meets boy-genius astronomer Mizusawa Yuuki (Makiguchi Mayuki), who informs him that the light from Star Fragment meteor responsible for creating the Beyblades is now dwelling within his Anubius Bey. That light is warning him of a great evil trying to revive “Black Sun” and “Nemesis” using its powers, which forces Ginga and his friends to fight again with their newly acquired 4D System Beys. Before long, they find themselves taking part in a tournament called “Ultimate Bladers”.

Outside of how elaborated designed the Beyblade toys are, there isn’t much else that grabs my interest in this long-running series geared towards promoting them. When I was looking into Metal Fight Beyblade ~Baku~ last spring, I did go through a couple of episodes to ascertain that sentiment, which hasn’t chanced since then. The show does appeal to some viewers outside its intended age group, but likely in the same sense that Pokemon does as well. If you’re interested in this battle-type shows and want something different from the summoning variety, then Beyblade is an option.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Bakugan Battle Brawlers Gundalian Invaders Top
爆丸バトルブローラーズ ガンダリアンインベーダーズ
Animation: TMS Entertainment Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 09:00
Episodes: 39 Station: TVA, TX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Another series getting a yearly refresh is Bakugan, where the summoning card battle tale that transcends dimensions is picking up after the events in New Vestroia. Dan Kuso (Kobayashi Yuu), Marucho Marukuro (Hirohashi Ryou), and Shun Kazami (Suzuki Chihiro) learn that Gundalian and Neathian Bakugan are at war with one another and looking to recruit Earthlings for their cause. The evil Gundalian Protectors known as the Twelve Orders lead the invasion into Neathia, springing our heroes into action again. They’re joined by Neathian princess Fabia Sheen, new human friend Jake Vallory, and undercover Gundalian Ren Krawler as they try to prevent the flames of war from spilling onto Earth.

As I mentioned around the same time last year, this is one of the rare cases where an anime has aired overseas before Japan. It never caught on in the land of anime and was deemed a flop, while it proved to be highly successful in North America and other parts of the world. All 39 episodes have already aired in the U.S., whose residents are now watching the Mechtanium Surge sequel that recently started airing. It’s hard to perceive this as a “new” show when it’s just a dubbing into Japanese voices, so if you happen to be a Bakugan fan, the English version is already available. These card game-promoting shows are never my thing given their target audience, but it’s worth mentioning that this is the first time an iteration wasn’t 52 episodes long.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Toriko | トリコ Top
Animation: Toei Animation Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure, Cooking Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 09:00
Episodes: Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Combining cooking with shounen-style action, Toriko is an unusual yet popular manga currently serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump. If you’ve ever seen Dragon Ball episodes where Goku hunts gigantic beasts for food, then you’ll already have a decent idea on what the adventures of Gourmet Hunter Toriko (Okiayu Ryoutarou) and timid five-star chef Komatsu (Paku Romi) entail. In Toriko, there’s an International Gourmet Organization (IGO) that ranks the difficulty of catching wild beasts with capture levels. Gourmet Hunters make a living catching/killing these dangerous beasts and selling them to restaurants at a massive bazaar known as the World Kitchen. Toriko happens to be one of the Four Heavenly Kings, a title bestowed upon four of the greatest hunters in the world.

While most of the story centers on Toriko taking down monstrous beasts with his bare hands and Komatsu freaking out at what he’s witnessing, there is an overarching plot about Toriko’s goal of making the perfect full course menu and an organization seeking to control the world’s food supply. Other key characters get involved as well, such as Heavenly Kings Coco (Sakurai Takahiro) and Sani (Iwata Mitsuo). In the early parts of the manga, I found the immersion into an inhospitable wilderness really enjoyable, and the OVA released last year left me with a good taste of what the anime will be like (albeit with different seiyuu). Since food-related anime is a something I’ve opened up to every since Yakitate!! Japan, I plan to see how much I can get through this series, even though I doubt I’ll be watching it all.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Toriko Promotional Videos ▼

Hanasaku Iroha | 花咲くいろは Top
Animation: P.A. Works Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Drama Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: 26 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

To commemorate their 10th anniversary, P.A.Works is producing an original anime that will be their first to span two-cours. The story centers around 16-year-old Matsumae Ohana (Itou Kanae), who after a sudden confession and farewell, leaves for her grandmother’s Taisho-era hot spring inn Kissuisou because she’s tired of the city life. She begins working as a waitress and meets a difficult to approach and easily misunderstood chef in training, Tsurugi Minko (Omigawa Chiaki), a fellow waitress trying to overcome her shyness in front of people, Oshimizu Nako (Toyosaki Aki), a rumor and spy-loving head waitress, Wajima Tomoe (Noto Mamiko), and the daughter of a rival inn, Wakura Yuina (Tomatsu Haruka), among various others as she strives for a more glimmering lifestyle.

From the premise and the character descriptions alone, it’s a little hard to tell where the story will take us, but the production staff has the go-to screenwriter Okada Mari on board. Among the cast of characters is Ohana’s supportive boyfriend she left behind Tokyo, Tanemura Kouichi (Kaji Yuuki), so there’s always that avenue that can be explored. The promo videos suggest it’ll be a story about self-discovery, as the energetic Ohana is uncertain about what she wants to do in the future. Not exactly something I can foresee warranting 26 episodes, but when it’s P.A. Works and looks as amazing as it does, I’m all for whatever direction this “spring work” anime takes, be it slice-of-life or a lot more.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Hanasaku Iroha Promotional Videos ▼

Showa Monogatari | 昭和物語 Top
Animation: Wao World Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Drama, Family Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: 13 Station: Kyoto Broadcasting (KBS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

In this day and age, the thought of an anime teaching family values is probably preposterous, but that’s one of the goals behind this story about the Yamazaki family in Showa Year 39 (1964), back when Toyko hosted the 18th Summer Olympics. It’s also a throwback for Japan’s aging population, who grew up watching the likes of Astro Boy and haven’t had anything oriented towards them lately. After four years in the making, we have the industry’s first anime that’s primarily targeted to the seniors from the Baby-Boom Generation. The creators claim it’s in defiance to Japan’s Galapagos Syndrome and low birth rates, and hope to bring about new ideas in the industry that has been accommodating nothing but fanatics with its character tropes, fetishes, and manners of speech.

Released alongside this high quality production by Wao World was a 100-min theatrical version earlier this year. The first four episodes of the TV series were also pre-aired, some of which I’ve seen. The emphasis is on the everyday lives of the Yamazaki family in Oota, Tokyo, where they work in a factory. To cover all aspects of growing up, there are family members from all age groups, with the main protagonist being fifth grader Kouhei. There isn’t much here for the typical current generation anime fan, but I applaud the creators for taking the medium in a refreshing new direction. I learned a lot of family values from sitcoms growing up, whereas anime was more degenerative than anything else. As such, it’s nice to see Showa Monogatari try to cater to young viewers in that sense as well. I can’t say I’m inclined to watch the rest, but if you’ve lost all faith in anime, then here’s something to suggest otherwise.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Showa Monogatari Promotional Videos ▼

Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai | 俺たちに翼はない Top
Animation: NOMAD Premiere: April 3, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 24:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Chiba TV (CTC)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

In this adaptation of Navel’s 2009 adult romance simulation game, the stories of three main characters take place simultaneously in the city of Yanagihara. First is third-year high school student Haneda Takashi (Shimono Hiro), who harbors an unspeakable secret and spends his days wasting away playing Internet games. Back in first-year, he confessed to school idol Watarai Asuka (Yoshida Mayumi) and she accepted, but only to get other guys off her back. Second is Chitose Shuusuke (Miura Hiroaki), who works various part-time jobs and is a regular customer at the western restaurant Alexander, where he meets high school novelist Tamaizumi Hiyoko (Ono Ryouko) during a waitress’ farewell party and makes a horrible first impression. After the manager offers him a job, he soon finds himself working with Hiyoko. Third is Narita Hayato (Suwabe Junichi), who is a self-proclaimed jack of all trades that Ootori Naru (Gotou Yuuko) asks to help find a red bicycle one night. He refuses at first knowing her brother’s the top brass of a group of delinquents but ends up getting involved.

In the game, each protagonist has their own chapter in pursuit of their heroine, so it’ll be interesting to see how that translates to an anime with all three happening concurrently. There should be a decent amount of overlap given the common Yanagihara setting, plus the numerous support characters. Takashi’s younger sister Kobato (Matayoshi Ai) seems to have a more prominent role than the rest, but beyond that I’m not too sure what to make of this adaptation. I like the idea of three different pairings to side step the harem route, which worked well in Kimikiss. The trade-off is that the focus may dwindle, so I already have some reservations about that on top of how nothing’s really grabbed my attention yet. That doesn’t mean I won’t check it out though, seeing as I can’t ignore romantic dramas.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Ore-tachi ni Tsubasa wa Nai Promotional Videos ▼

Gintama’ | 銀魂’ Top
Animation: Sunrise Premiere: April 4, 2011
Genre: Action, History, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 18:00
Episodes: Station:
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The popular sci-fi/history shounen series featuring aliens and samurais was poised to make a return after its fourth season ended, and now that the manga has made some headway in the past year, Gintama graces television screens once again. For those interested in getting caught up, the story takes place in a fictional alternate reality, where aliens known as Amanto had conquered Earth during the Edo period and Japan has remained in a feudal state. Sakata Gintoki (Sugita Tomokazu) is a samurai who makes his living doing odd jobs, and is joined by teenager named Shimura Shinpachi (Sakaguchi Daisuke) and a powerful alien girl named Kagura (Kugimiya Rie). They get pretty desperate at times and take on whatever crappy jobs they can to pay the rent, yet also wind up with ones that task them to save the world.

I never got into this long-running comedic series when it first aired and haven’t been inclined to do so afterward since I’m apprehensive about shounen adaptations. I did get a sense of the humor from the handful of episodes that I did watch though, which includes poking fun at various other shounen series and the characters’ showing awareness that they’re an anime. The show’s take on the Shinsengumi was amusing as well, simply because I’m familiar from slightly more faithful depictions. However, that doesn’t mean I’m unaware of the series’ popularity. There isn’t much that needs to be said about that, as those who have been waiting for this continuation will already be watching, whereas those who haven’t don’t have any business jumping right into the fifth season.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Gintama Promotional Videos ▼

Fireball Charming | ファイアボール チャーミング Top
Animation: JINNI’s Animation Premiere: April 4, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 19:28
Episodes: 13 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

While it’s arguable whether Disney’s CG shorts are anime, the comedic dialogue between two robots, Duchess Drossel von Flügel (Kawashou Miyuki) and her spider tank-like butler Gedächtnis (Ookawa Tooru), in the distant future deserves some limelight. Drossel is a very childish ruler of her Hyperion race, who are supposedly at war with humans. The actual focus of the show is the idle chatter between her and Gedächtnis in their Tempest Tower, which entails running jokes about how she can’t be bothered to remember his name, striking random poses, and busting out capoeira moves. Drossel hopes to end the strife against mankind, but that’s just a topic for conversation more than anything else.

The first season aired back in 2008 and its thirteen episodes take less than twenty minutes to get through, making it a very easy and enjoyable series to watch. Produced by JINNI’s Animation, the roughly two-minute long episodes are fully-rendered in 3D and quite a visual treat, whereas the random conversations about whatever’s on Drossel’s mind are surprisingly entertaining. She basically drives the show while Gedächtnis respectfully entertains her, as the only other character ever introduced is a mechanical monkey named Schadenfreude. Drossel tends to act like a spoiled princess, but her childish side is very endearing to watch. The show isn’t intended to be overly hilarious since it goes for a dry wit style of humor, but it works well in combination with some impressive 3D animation. This isn’t much of a commitment, so if any of the above sounds appealing, I’d recommend taking a peek.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Fireball Charming Promotional Videos ▼

Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~ | 戦国乙女~桃色パラドックス~ Top
Animation: TMS Entertainment Premiere: April 4, 2011
Genre: Action, History Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:00
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

It seems like adapting pachinko characters is becoming commonplace these days, as the Sengoku Otome line of games featuring female versions of the warriors from the Warring States period is up next. The story goes a step further by having a modern day middle school girl, Hide Yoshino (Hidaka Rina), pulled into this alternate world to take on the role of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, serving Oda Nobunaga (Toyoguchi Megumi) in his quest to unite Japan by collecting the legendary crimson armor. Other prominent daimyo and samurai include Akechi Mitsuhide (Kitamura Eri), Date Masamune (Hirata Yuka), Imagawa Yoshimoto (Mochizuki Rei), Tokugawa Ieyasu (Akesaka Satomi), Takeda Shingen (Kokuryuu Sachi), and Uesugi Kenshin (Ise Mariya).

The premise is strikingly similar to Koihime Musou and silly for that reason, so I can’t imagine many people getting excited about this one when history and literature aren’t very enticing to the typical anime fan these days. I’m probably an exception, as my interest in the Sengoku period has stemmed specifically from anime that center around it. While I’m not expecting much from Sengoku Otome, the cute character designs and cast that includes the likes Megumi, Eri, and Mariya have me curious about how it’ll play out with the gender reversal. At the moment, it’s looking like a guilty pleasure I’ll be delving into for at least a few episodes to see what it’s like in execution. I probably won’t watch it all, but I’ll let the show dictate that.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Sengoku Otomoe ~Momoiro Paradox~ Promotional Videos ▼

Tono to Issho: Gantai no Yabou | 殿といっしょ 眼帯の野望 Top
Animation: Gathering Premiere: April 4, 2011
Genre: Comedy, History Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:14
Episodes: Station: Yomiuri TV (ytv)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Over-the-top eccentric humor involving big historic names from the Sengoku period is popular enough to warrant a sequel, as Gathering returns to produce “With My Lord: The Eyepatch’s Ambition”. The first television series aired back in summer 2010 and primarily revolves around the “One-Eyed Dragon” Date Masamune (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) and his senior retainer Katakura Kagetsuna’s (Ono Daisuke) attempts to keep him in check. Other famous lords and samurai such as Oda Nobunaga (Kuroda Takaya), Takeda Shingen (Nagasako Takashi), Uesugi Kenshin (Gackt), and Chousakabe Motochika (Noto Mamiko) provide their own comedic take on that Warring States period with their heavily exaggerated personalities.

The end result is a gag comedy those familiar with Japanese history will get some good laughs out of, whereas those who aren’t will be left scratching their heads. I mentioned last summer that I enjoyed the OVA even though I’m only partially familiar with the Sengoku period, so a personal interest in gag-type humor is be the ultimate deciding factor for watching this. I never did get into the first season when it aired, so I don’t see myself following this sequel despite its appeal. The promo video alone had me laughing from all the livid outbursts, which are only part of the humor revolving around historic references. Anyone looking for a comedy should give this series the benefit of the doubt. It may surprise you if the type of jokes click right away.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Tono to Issho: Gantai no Yabou Promotional Videos ▼

Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji Hakairoku-hen | 逆境無頼カイジ 破戒録篇 Top
Animation: Madhouse Premiere: April 5, 2011
Genre: Crime, Gambling, Thriller Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 24:59
Episodes: 26 Station: Nippon TV (NTV)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The dark and twisted gambling anime about extremely wealthy individuals who prey on desperate debt-ridden individuals for their personal entertainment is back, this time to animate the manga’s most popular pachinko arc. The main character is Itou Kaiji (Hagiwara Masato), who had a had a huge debt dumped on him and gets caught up in the sinister games of Hyoudou Kazutaka (Tsukayama Masane) to try and rid himself of it. He manages to escape with his life the first time, after learning how utterly corrupt and deceitful humans can be, but is enticed to participate again since he has no alternatives. People dying before his very eyes, body parts getting dismembered, and the wealthy laughing as it happens are nothing new to Kaiji anymore.

In preparation for this preview, I spreed though the first season’s 26 episodes in two days, after getting caught up in the strategy involved in the life-and-death gambling situations. I wasn’t turned away by the unusual character designs (and I highly recommend not to be either), but what I did find irksome was how Kaiji continued to show compassion for the other people who would sell him out in a heartbeat. It helped reiterate that Kaiji had a conscience even when his own life’s at stake, except some situations really didn’t warrant it. There wasn’t a single moment that I felt good about watching this show, as it showed the worst in people on all fronts. More often than not, people are bawling their eyes out and begging for their lives. If you can stomach that, then this is absolutely engrossing series that will keep you on the edge of your seat.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Gyakkyou Burai Kaiji Hakairoku-hen Promotional Videos ▼

Steins;Gate Top
Animation: WHITE FOX Premiere: April 5, 2011
Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 26:05
Episodes: 24 Station: TV Saitama (TVS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

From the creators of CHAOS;HEAD comes another cyber mystery visual novel turned anime. In 5pb and Nitroplus’ Steins;Gate, the setting shifts to Akihabara and the story to self-proclaimed mad scientist Okabe Rintarou (Miyano Mamoru), a.k.a. Hououin Kyouma, who unknowingly creates a microwave with his hacker friend Hashida Itaru (Seki Tomokazu) that can send text messages into the past. He first experiences the phenomenon when he discovers the body of neuroscience prodigy, Makise Kurisu (Imai Asami), sends a text to Hashida about it, and observes a shift in the timeline where Kurisu is still alive. Along with childhood friend Shiina Mayuri (Hanazawa Kana), Kurisu and various others get involved, and after a lot of experimentation, Rintarou learns he’s the only one that can observe these shifts, as explained to him by the supposed time traveler John Titor. Before long, they learn that nuclear research organization SERN (based on CERN) is after them and their microwave.

Time travel is one of my favorite sci-fi plot devices, so Steins;Gate is a shoo-in. My impression of its manga counterpart is that the characters maintain a lighthearted and unassuming air in most situations, but there’s a lot of impact when something time-related happens. One of the most interesting aspect is how the story builds up the “real” John Titor as a prominent character, along with the IBM 5100 computer he was in search of. There are also everyone’s attempts to change the past after SERN appears, and adherence to the many-worlds interpretation that really opens up the possibilities. While I inadvertently read more than I should have about the story (i.e. the ending), that actually got me more excited about this 24-episode adaptation.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Steins;Gate Promotional Videos ▼

30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku | 30歳の保健体育 Top
Animation: Gathering Premiere: April 6, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesday at 27:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

“Health and Phys. Ed. for 30-Year-Olds” is based on a how-to guidebook for men in their thirties who haven’t had any sexual relations with women yet. A manga was subsequently released, which is aimed to be educational with a bit of an ecchi twist. To that end, we have 30-year-old virgin Imagawa Hayao (Shimono Hiro), an earnest man of science who encounters a love spirit named Daigorou (Okiayu Ryoutarou) and his younger brother Macaron (Watanabe Yui). Daigorou forcibly guides Hayao into adulthood and an innocent love story unfolds between him and 30-year-old Andou Natsu (Nazuka Kaori). She too is being helped into adulthood, by the twin spirits Pi-chan and Ku-chan (Kitamura Eri).

It’s easy to poke fun at 30-year-old virgins, except the reality is that it’s becoming a lot more common in places like Japan where people are more timid and career-oriented. While I can’t vouch for the educational aspect of this anime, the premise does remind me a lot of B Gata H Kei, where the characters had inner sex gods instead of cupids. Replacing the sex-crazed teenagers is a pair of late bloomers, whom I imagine will provide a similar form of entertainment. The mere thought of Hiro/Koari playing shy virgins and Ryoutarou/Eri whipping them into shape already makes me believe it will, and since Gathering studio is no stranger to comedy from their work in Tono ni Issho, there’s a good chance it’ll be an enjoyable adult-themed romantic comedy.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show 30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: Tatsunoko Production Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Drama, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 18:00
Episodes: Station: TVA, TX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Tatsunoko is taking on a long-running Weekly Shounen Jump series this season, the title of which is play on the name of the “Suketto-dan” helper brigade that the story revolves around. Led by highly eccentric Fujisaki Yusuke, a.k.a. Bossun (Yoshino Hiroyuki), and accompanied by the brash Onizuka Hime (Shiraishi Ryouko) and the intellectual Usui Kazuyoshi (Sugita Tomokazu), the Sket Dan club spends its time helping other student with their problems, but is generally looked down upon due to the meaningless jobs they undertake. As a result, they’re unable to recruit any more members and often find themselves at odds with the student council.

Judging from the manga, the highlight of the series is the characters themselves and humor that comes from their interactions. The requests they undertake are usually short and self-contained, and primarily serve as a means to promote those interactions. From an anime standpoint, I’m wary about how that seems to suggest an episodic type of progression, even though that does change over time with more profound developments concerning the main trio. It is worth noting that the manga won the Shogakukan Manga Award in the shounen category back in 2009 though. Still, it’s not anime that I intend to get into, since I prefer shorter ones with a more defined scope. Those looking for high school shounen series should give it a try.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show SKET DANCE Promotional Videos ▼

Hyouge Mono | へうげもの Top
Animation: Bee Train Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: Adventure, History Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 23:00
Episodes: 39 Station: NHK-BS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The award-winning manga about a samurai and celebrated master of Japanese tea ceremony named Furuta Sasuke (a.k.a. Furuta Shigenari) is getting a 39-episode anime care of Bee Train. Taking place during the Sengoku period, Sasuke (Ookura Kouji) serves as a retainer for Oda Nobunaga (Koyama Rikiya) but is more interested in the ways of art and values materialistic possessions such as tea bowls more the path of a warrior. In his pursuit of status in the world, he learns from Nobunaga’s tea master Sen no Soueki, a.k.a. Sen no Rikyuu (Tanaka Nobuo), and makes a name for himself following the Japanese Way of Tea.

As an NHK show, this is sadly one of those titles that will go heavily underappreciated. Hyouge Mono takes a more realistic yet mildly comedic approach in its depiction of the Warring States period, telling it from Sasuke’s perspective, and breaks away from the typical anime formula that a lot of self-proclaimed anime connoisseurs call for. Unfortunately, those same people won’t even consider such offerings when they’re available, suggesting that the problem lies with them than the industry itself. Personally, I can always get on board when the samurai theme is involved, and I quite enjoyed the early parts of the manga that emphasize Sasuke’s precarious position serving under Nobunaga with his art-minded aspirations. Those who enjoyed Sarai-ya Goyou like myself should feel at home with Hyouge Mono.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Hyouge Mono Promotional Videos ▼

A-Channel | Aチャンネル Top
Animation: Studio Gokumi Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: Comedy, School-Life, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:40
Episodes: 12 Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Slice of life four-panel comic strip style gets an adaptation of the simplistic kind, where all the quirky humor comes from four ordinary girls with not so ordinary personalities. Three are second-year high school students — the air-headed Run (Fukuhara Kaori), the tall, curvaceous, and easily scared Yuuko (Kotobuki Minako), and the level-headed Nagi (Uchiyama Yumi). They’re joined by Run’s younger childhood friend Tooru (Yuuki Aoi), who’s very petite and highly protective of Run. She even has a grudge against Yuuko, after seeing her in a precarious position with Run when they first met. True to the slice-of-life genre, all the humor revolves around their everyday school lives, which tends to lead to some pretty hilarious moments.

In comparison to Nichijou, I actually enjoyed the A-Channel manga a lot more, which had me thinking KyoAni should’ve picked this series up instead. Much to my pleasant surprise, that thought quickly dwindled upon seeing the promo material by Studio Gokumi, a relatively new studio that is comprised of former members of Gonzo’s Studio 5 staff. Their previous works include Strike Witches and Saki, two series that I felt were upturns for the struggling studio. In comparison, their work in A-Channel is already looking a noticeable step above and has me looking forward to this even more. Kaori’s playing another ditsy role like she had in Lucky Star, Aoi’s using yet another new voice, and Minako’s busting out her Kansai accent. Do want!

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show A-Channel Promotional Videos ▼

Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera | Dororon えん魔くん メ〜ラめら Top
Animation: Brain’s Base Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: Action, Comedy, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:10
Episodes: 12 Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

A comedic horror anime from well before my time is getting a renewal project almost 38 years later. It’s one of Nagai Gou’s most famous works, even though he’s more renowned worldwide for creating Cutie Honey, Mazinger Z, and Getter Robo, among various other super robot anime. The original TV series ran for 25 episodes and spanned numerous manga, depicting a story about a demon patrol from hell that captures spirits who have escaped to the human world. The trio is comprised of the hot-headed and perverted Enma-kun (Yamaguchi Kappei), the bossy snow princess Yukikohime (Noto Mamiko), and the half kappa/half water sprite Kapaeru (Koyasu Takehito). This remake intends to follow the original story as a basis, including the 1970 time frame, but adds in the fashionably-naked, female spin-off character Enpi-chan to the mix.

Naturally, the cast has been refreshed along with the updated visuals, modernizing an old classic. I feel like I should be watching this to truly get a feel for anime’s roots and would be a “bad fan” if I just scoffed it off, seeing as it far predates anything I’ve seen. The cast of Kappei, Mamiko, and Takehito makes it pretty easy for me to dive right in, as do the modern yet retro character designs by Brain’s Base. Their projects also tend to be provide something a little different from the usual stuff, whereas their animation work is generally something to look forward to. I’ve already got a bit of a soft spot for Yukiko from the promo video, so I think I’m going to follow this because that’s what an anime blogger should do when faced with a series of this stature.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Dororon Enma-kun Meeramera Promotional Videos ▼

Maria Holic Alive | まりあ†ほりっく あらいぶ Top
Animation: SHAFT Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:15
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The lesbian and cross-dressing anime is alive again, as the tall and slightly perverted Miyamae Kanako (Sanada Asami) resumes for her search for her ideal soul mate at the all-girls school Ame no Kisaki, while continuing to endure the abusive treatment from the school idol who’s secretly a boy, Shindou Mariya (Kobayashi Yuu). Kanako is blackmailed into keeping Mariya’s secret and always under the watchful eye of his maid, Shinouji Matsurika (Inoue Marina). She’s also helplessly stricken by Mariya’s female appearance, even though she’s afraid of men and breaks out in hives upon touching them. It turns out Mariya is doing this out of some unorthodox respect to his late grandmother, and competing against his twin sister Shizu (Hirano Aya) to that end, who’s cross-dressing at an all-boys school.

Maria Holic’s premise is ridiculous by all stretches of the imagination, but extremely amusing because of it. Both Mariya and Matsurika never fail to verbally abuse Kanako, who can’t really refute their claims when her nose bleeds uncontrollably from her wild lesbian delusions. Some of the most humorous aspects are Kanako’s rapid train of thought and her attempts to lash out at Mariya which almost always fail. It’s a somewhat crude form of comedy yet unbelievably hilarious when the other female characters get involved. I felt SHAFT did an impeccable job with the first season, so it’s great to see them back for another. From Kanako and Mariya’s heated exchanges to Matsurika’s deadpan humor, it was nothing but good times all around.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Maria Holic Alive Promotional Videos ▼

Softenni | そふてにっ Top
Animation: XEBEC Premiere: April 7, 2011
Genre: School-Life, Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

It’s definitely no Prince of Tennis, as the girls of Shiratama Middle School play Japan’s variation of the sport, soft tennis. In this sports-themed adaptation, we follow five members of the soft tennis club towards their goal — the nationals. Spearheading the group is Harukaze Asuka (Itou Kanae), a second-year girl who tends to fantasize about perverted stuff. She’s joined by the hot-blooded karate girl Sawanatsu Kotone (Kitamura Eri), their gluttonous club leader Akiyama Chitose (Itou Shizuka), the mysteriously lucky Fuyukawa Kurusu (Akesaka Satomi), and the British exchange student Elizabeth Warren (Yahagi Sayuri). They’re guided by their 28-year-old advisor, Mishimagi You (Matsumoto Shinobu), a three-time national champion and influential person in the sport.

Various other characters are encountered along the way, most of whom are students from other schools they compete against, which is reminiscent of Bamboo Blade’s take on kendo with its team of five girls. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Softenni intends to provide something similar with its all-star female cast, as suggested by both XEBEC’s involvement and the fan-service-oriented promo video. I’m not too fond of how all the series that XEBEC adapts conforms to the same type of character designs either, regardless of who the character designer is, making me feel like I should coin the term “XEBEC’d” to describe it. I can’t say I’m expecting too much from this title, but it’s something I can see myself enjoying on the side due to the seiyuu involved. Kanae in lead roles never hurts, especially when she’s alongside Eri, Shizuka, and Sayuri.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Softenni Promotional Videos ▼

Yondemasu yo, Azazel-san. | よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。 Top
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: April 8, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 23:00
Episodes: 13 Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

For a mash-up of supernatural and comedic genres, “He’s Calling For You Azazel” takes things in a different direction with detective Akutabe (Namikawa Daisuke) summoning demons to help solve cases. When he receives a request to break up a husband and his mistress, he calls upon a lowly demon named Azazel (Onosaka Masaya) and threatens the denizen of hell into helping. As only a figment of himself in the human world due to an anti-demon barrier, Azazel resigns to being ordered around by Akutabe and his assistant Sakuma Rinko (Satou Rina), a college student who’s also been coerced into her job. Other demons get involved, namely Moloch (Genda Tesshou), Beelzebub (Kamiya Hiroshi), Salamander (Nakai Kuzuya), and Undine (Kobayashi Yuu), and hilarity ensues from the tables being turned on who the demon really is.

Even with the demon premise, it’s hard to take this series seriously when they’re all mini versions of themselves at Akutabe’s mercy. However, therein lie the beauty of it, as the livid outbursts from the demons complaining about the sacrifices prepared for their summoning and wanting to see Akutabe dead remind me of the deadpan humor seen in LEVEL E, which Namikawa Daisuke also stars in. All it really took was the short OVA released last year to give me a good idea for what’s in store with this gag comedy. The character personalities are the highlight and I can already picture how much of a riot Hiroshi, Kazuya, and Yuu will be in their respective roles. Having Production I.G in charge of the animation just makes it all the better.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Hen Zemi | 変ゼミ Top
Animation: XEBEC Premiere: April 8, 2011
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 23:15
Episodes: 13 Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

If you’ve been looking for a very unusual comedy, then look no further than this show about a university student Matsutaka Nanako (Hanazawa Kana) and her time in the Abnormal Physiology Seminar, a.k.a. Hen Zemi, a research group full of a bunch of weirdos. She joins because of the guy she likes, Musashi Komugi (Ishida Akira), but winds up writing reports about extremely perverse and obscene subject matter that professor Meshiya Kenji (Matsuyama Takashi) won’t hesitate to ridicule her about if she makes light of it. Throw in a bunch of other members (females too) who exude kinky interests in underwear theft, consumption of urine/semen/feces, masochism, gang bang, rape fantasies, cuckold, nudism, and of course 2D preferences, and you have a messed up anime unlike anything out there.

A lot of the humor comes from the fact that Nanako is completely normal, but it only works if you can stomach all the fetishes that Komugi, Mizukoshi Miwako (Takaguchi Yukiko), Yesterday Taguchi (Shiraishi Minoru), and the others talk about with completely straight faces. It’s basically Seitokai Yakuindomo, except they’ll openly take part in casual sex, masturbation, and much worse all in the name of science. Older audiences with a sullied mind will probably find some enjoyment from this, but it’ll likely disgust and corrupt the minds of everyone else. In the OAD, I did find it funny when they used Nanako’s normal reactions as part of their research, whereas other stuff just grossed me out. Still, I’ll leaning towards watching it for some twisted laughs and to see more awkward moments between Nanako and Komugi.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Hen Zemi Promotional Videos ▼

Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi | 世界一初恋 Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: April 8, 2011
Genre: Drama, Romance, Yaoi Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:05
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Saitama (TVS)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

From the creator of Junjou Romantica comes another “boys love” title. Targeted towards female audience with the inexplicable desire to see pretty boys engage in a forbidden love, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi follows 25-year-old Onodera Ritsu (Kondou Takashi) after he leaves his father’s publishing company, intent on proving to everyone that he’s an editor who can make it on his own. Where he ends up is Marukawa Shoten’s Emerald department, whose specialization in shoujo manga is the furthest thing from his literature preference. To make matters worse, the highly regarded 27-year-old chief editor Takano Masamune (Konishi Katsuyuki) turns out to be Saga Masamune from back in high school, whom Ritsu confessed to and went out with, but broke up with because he mistakenly believed Masamune was just toying around with him.

For the sake of being as impartial as possible, I bit the bullet and did some first-hand research into the manga. What I found is a genre that I probably had no business delving into, as Masamune was quick to use Ritsu as a kissing model for one of his female authors. In contrast, the humor from the other editors slaving away to meet deadlines was fetish-neutral and pretty easy to enjoy. Ritsu’s misunderstanding from ten years ago serves as a good pretext for the romance as well, except I can’t quite get into it when we have two guy involved. In case there’s any doubt, the older Masamune is the “seme” (giver), making the younger Ritsu the “uke” (taker). Junjou Romantica fans should be happy about this adaptation though, seeing as the same production staff at Studio DEEN is behind it.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi Promotional Videos ▼

Pretty Rhythm Aurora Dream | プリティーリズム オーロラドリーム Top
Animation: Tatsunoko Production Premiere: April 9, 2011
Genre: Fashion, Music, Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 10:00
Episodes: Station: BSJ, TVA, TVO, TX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Based on Takara Tomy’s arcade game targeted towards female audiences, we have an anime combining dance, skating, fashion, and singing in a program known as the Prism Show. The story follows a stylish yet introverted middle school girl named Harune Aira (Asumi Kana), who unexpectedly gets caught up in the show and meets the athletic yet less fashionably sensible Amamiya Rizumu (Hara Sayuri). Together, they chase after their dream of becoming the top super idol, a.k.a. Prism Queen, and encounter a reader model who seems to have all the skills, Takamine Mion (Kataoka Azusa).

At first glance, this gives me Ginban Kaleidoscope vibes due to the skating aspect, whereas a closer look at the cast makes it seem like an opportunity to promote seiyuu group LISP. Given the premise, it’s not exactly something I can see myself getting into unless I’m really short on shows to watch. There is mention of periodic fights and talk about guys, but without a leading male character, I foresee the same type of enjoyment I got from Ginban. However, it is worth noting that this is the first of three productions by Tatsunoko this season, who’s been pretty quiet as an animation studio as of late. Just keep in mind that the target audience is adolescent girls.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Ring ni Kakero 1: Sekai Taikai-hen | リングにかけろ1 世界大会編 Top
Animation: Toei Animation Premiere: April 10, 2011
Genre: Action, Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 21:00
Episodes: Station: ANIMAX
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Picking up where the Shadow chapter left off, Saint Seiya creator Kurumada Masami‘s manga, “Put It All in the Ring”, finds young boxer Takane Ryuuji (Morita Masakazu), his rival and teammate Kenzaki Jun (Okiayu Ryoutarou), his older sister/coach Kiku (Tanaka Rie), and the rest of Team Japan at the Junior World Tournament. There, they have to face against the world’s best for a shot at the current reigning champions, the god-like Team Greece. This marks the third sequel (fourth overall) anime of the 25-volume manga that completed its run over 30 years ago, where there’s no shortage of flashy boxing techniques befitting of a shounen series.

Much like I stated in last year’s spring preview, I never got into the Ring ni Kakero shows since I tend to approach sports-related anime rather hesitantly. I don’t see that changing specifically for this series either, though I do like its over-the-top depiction of boxing. The characters pull out special moves known as finishing blows, such as Ryuuji’s Boomerang Hook and Jun’s Galactica Magnum, which take the fights to a Punch-Out video game type of level. It works well in combination with the unusual opponents that they face, some of whom have shady backgrounds and connections to organized crime. If any of that sounds interesting to you, then it’s probably worth checking out the adaptations in order. They’re only 12 episodes each, with the Shadow chapter only having six.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Astarotte no Omocha! | アスタロッテのおもちゃ! Top
Animation: Diomedea Premiere: April 10, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Chiba TV (CTC)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

My excitement over another production by the same studio behind Ika Musume was met with uncertainty after learning that “Astarotte’s Toy” follows 10-year-old succubus princess, Astarotte Ygvar (Kugimiya Rie), and the creation of her harem as part of her coming to age. As a succubus, she needs to consume the semen of men to survive, so she’s pressured by her head of staff Judit Snorrevik (Nabatame Hitomi) to start gathering men. Disgusted, Astarotte tries to get out of it by saying her first harem candidate has to be human, under the assumption that the Yddrasil Tree linking their world of Alfheimr to Midgard (Earth) has lost its powers. However, Judit soon returns with 23-year-old Touhara Naoya (Satou Rina) to get things going.

The vulgar premise seems to be a joke in itself, since the story quickly sidesteps the underage landmine and changes into a more innocent romantic comedy. Naoya turns out to be a respectable individual — single father with a 10-year-old daughter named Asuha (Tamura Yukari) — and is only interested in working as a butler for “Lotte”. His kindness makes her open up to being around men, whom she’s hated ever since a traumatic experience with her mother. If the manga is any indication, the emphasis is on the humor once Lotte’s bodyguard Griselda (Fujimura Ayumi) and head maid Elfleda (Horie Yui) join the mix. From a broader perspective, the whole series down to the cast and characters is similar to Zero no Tsukaima. Good for some lighthearted laughs with the occasional fan-service, and maybe the twist that comes from Naoya’s past encounter with Lotte’s mother Mercelida (Minaguchi Yuuko). Your mileage will vary.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Lotte no Omocha Promotional Videos ▼

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi | 星空へ架かる橋 Top
Animation: Dogakobo Premiere: April 11, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 09:00
Episodes: 12 Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Another one of feng’s (pronounced fon) adult romantic sims is getting an anime, which will hopefully turn out better than Akane-iro ni Somaru Saka. In Hoshikaka, we have a story about Hoshino Kazuma (Asanuma Shintarou), who moves to the country side with his younger brother Ayumu out of best interest to the latter’s health. On route to their father’s friend’s inn, Yorozuyo, Kazuma gets lost and finds himself in the mountains after a bit of trouble, but luckily runs into a naive and innocent girl named Nakatsugawa Ui (Nakamura Eriko) who attends the same school he’s transferring to. While being guided, Kazuma ends up tripping, pushing Ui over and inadvertently kissing her, which Ui’s close friend Hinata Ibuki (Aoba Ringo) catches sight of.

The rural countryside setting feels all too familiar, except Kazuma starts off with a misunderstanding that Ibuki holds against him even though Ui doesn’t mind. Building on that rocky start is a cast of junior and senior classmates, each with their own distinct personalities and all of them a potential love interest for Kazuma. The downside is that I can’t really see the romance side taking a serious turn with Dogakobo in charge of the production. The promo video seems to suggest that we’re in store for a more lighthearted romantic comedy, so I’m already anticipating an open-ended conclusion where Kazuma doesn’t end up with any of the girls. There isn’t much on the production side of things to suggest otherwise, so in conjunction with the fairly generic feel I’m already getting, I may only check out the first couple of episodes.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Decent Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi Promotional Videos ▼

Yu-Gi-Oh ZEXAL | 遊☆戯☆王ZEXAL Top
Animation: GALLOP Premiere: April 11, 2011
Genre: Action, Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 19:30
Episodes: Station:
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The next iteration of the Yu-Gi-Oh franchise is television bound, along with a new cast of characters and story to coincide with the new Exceed Monsters in the trading card game. This time around, we have a boy named Tsukumo Yuuma (Hatanaka Tasuku) who’s into the monster summoning AR Duels that are all the craze, but is only a beginner who’s suffered nothing but defeats. An incident forces him into a showdown against the number one delinquent at school, Kamishiro Ryouga (Masuda Toshiki), during which a mysterious being seen in Yuuma’s dreams suddenly appears from another dimension. Known as Astral (Irino Miyu), he turns out to be a duelist prodigy and enlists Yuuma’s help to recover his memories by retrieving 99 Number Cards.

I’ll be quick to admit that trading card adaptations have never been my thing, seeing as they generally target younger audiences that are into the games themselves. I’ve only ever caught bits and pieces of Yu-Gi-Oh episodes aired on television, and while I could see the entertainment value to kids, it’s just not my type of anime. That’s not a knock on the franchise itself, as I share the same sentiment when it comes to Pokemon, Beyblade, Bakugan, and various other merchandise-promoting series. I simply don’t fall into the targeted age group of these shows.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Yu-Gi-Oh ZEXAL Promotional Videos ▼

Kami nomi zo Shiru Sekai II | 神のみぞ知るセカイII Top
Animation: Manglobe Premiere: April 11, 2011
Genre: Comedy, Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 25:30
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Under a life-threatening contract with the denizens of hell, Katsuragi Keima (Shimono Hiro) continues working out of his 2D comfort zone by making real girls fall for him. Aided by the adorable demon girl Elsie (Itou Kanae), he surprisingly manages to do so with his adept knowledge of gal game scenarios, forcing out the escaped spirits from Hell that are hiding in the girls’ hearts. In addition to fellow demon girl Haqua (Hayami Saori) joining the cast, three new girls become the object of his affection in this continuation — martial artist Kasuga Kusunoki (Koshimizu Ami), Ayumi’s “mob character” friend Kosaka Chihiro (Asumi Kana), and 21-year-old student teacher Nagase Jun (Toyosaki Aki).

Three heroines may be a step back from the five in season one, but I’m hoping it means some more episodes will be devoted to Elsie and Haqua. Elsie is one of the biggest appeals to me, given how her optimistic personality clashes heavily with Keima’s no-nonsense elitist one. That almost always leads to hilarious moments, but the best part is how well the romance aspect is depicted alongside it. The so-called “thrill of the chase” is the focus since the girls don’t remember falling for Keima afterward, which to me, is arguably the most captivating and “meaty” part of romance shows. Together with the emotions portrayed, I tend to enjoy Keima’s systematic approach the most, so I’m eager to hear Ami, Kana, and Aki as their characters are won over by the God of Conquest. Romance with multiple girls and not in a harem. That’s “The World God Only Knows”.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Seikon no Qwaser II | 聖痕のクェイサーII Top
Animation: Hoods Entertainment Premiere: April 11, 2011
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:30
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The anime with the controversial depiction of breastfeeding is getting a sequel, and is likely something most people won’t hear me out about past what I just said. The use of “Soma” as a religious power source is actually in reference to Virgin Mary breastfeeding an infant Jesus, which itself is a legendary icon in the storyline known as the Theotokos of Tsarytsin. The first season saw iron Qwaser Sasha (Sanpei Yuuko) thwarting the Twelve Adepts religious sect from claiming the power of God, when he was accompanied by St. Mihailov Academy students Oribe Mafuyu (Fujimura Ayumi) and Yamanobe Tomo (Toyosaki Aki), as well as the copper Qwaser Katja (Hirano Aya) and her masochistic plaything Katsuragi Hana (Hikasa Youko). In this continuation, Sasha goes undercover to the all-girls Roman Curia Suirei Academy with Hana as his “Maria”, in search of a High Ancient Circuit known as the Magdala of Thunder.

Most people can’t look past the obvious to notice, but there’s probably enough action and religious terminology in this series to rival To Aru Majutsu no Index. It has the same sort of appeal too, since the element-based abilities are all about science. Unfortunately, the creators’ decision to use breastfeeding as a plot device worked against them, even though the risque fan-service is one of the show’s defining aspects. If you’re able to view it along the same lines as a nude scene in a movie, then you should know that Seikon no Qwaser has a lot more to offer than people give it credit for. I have no qualms if someone is simply put off by such scenes, but I do if they ignorantly denounce the entire series for that sole reason. (Too narrow-minded for me.) I enjoyed the first season well beyond “the boobs”, so I’m looking forward to the three new Suirei students slated to be introduced — Amano Tsubasa (Nanjou Yoshino), Seta Miyuki (Sakurai Harumi), and Satsuki Ayame (Tatsumi Yuiko). Yoshino from fripSide, Harumi from Angel Beats, Yuiko from kiss x sis. AT-X is a must, due to excessive censoring on other channels.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Seikon no Qwaser II Promotional Videos ▼

Yuruani? | ユルアニ?Top
Animation: DLE Premiere: April 12, 2011
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 25:29
Episodes: 12 Station: Nippon TV (NTV)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Yuruani is short for “loose anime”, an unusual venture project by Nippon TV and studio DLE, the latter of which specializes in Flash-based animation as seen in their recently produced Haiyoru! Nyanruani Original Net Animation (ONA). It’s touted as a “anime variety” program and will feature five different manga produced by Japan’s largest publisher Kodansha — Shima Kousaku, Rinshi!! Ecoda-chan, Honto ni Atta! Reibai-Sensei, Hata no Oyome-san, Poo Neko — and also a collaboration with the “NEWS ZERO” news program. DLE is best known for its freestyle creativity, which will likely come into play with these mini adaptations.

Most of the original works are comedic already, so it seems like the intention is to just have fun with it. That’s what the pilot for Shima Kousaku indicates anyway, as the manga about a fictional salary man of the same name is one of the few that’s more serious. I’m not too sure what to make of this other than the original works being used as a basis for some light humor, which isn’t as dumb as it may sound considering how variety shows fill up prime time television hours in Japan. See the promo video with a gigantic Shima Kousaku to get an idea for what’s in store.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Poor Odds I’ll Blog This: Poor
Show Yuruani Promotional Videos ▼

C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control Top
Animation: Tatsunoko Production Premiere: April 14, 2011
Genre: Business, Drama, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:45
Episodes: 11 Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

The first of two new original noitaminA shows is Tatsunoko’s third production of the season and simply titled “C”, short for Control. In this sci-fi business anime, Japan’s economy has been bailed out from the brink of collapse by the government’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, but financial reforms haven’t shown any signs of improvement. Due to unemployment among youths and corporate downsizing, marriage and birth rates are down, while suicides and indiscriminate murders are commonplace. Surrounded by despair, Yogi Kimimaro (Uchiyama Kouki) lived with his aunt after father disappeared and his mother passed away, and now studies economics at university using his scholarship and part-time job money. One day, he encounters a mysterious man named Masakaki (Sakurai Takahiro), who invites him to the Financial District and gives him limitless amounts of money. In exchange, he asks for Kimimaro’s future as collateral.

It’s an unusual premise with a sinister feel, since the Financial District is described as a “parallel world” that operates alongside the “real world”. It’s there that Kimimaro meets a beautiful girl named Msyu (Tomatsu Haruka), an “Asset” who helps him with his business transactions. He soon encounters and works with Mikuni Souichirou (Hosomi Daisuke), a genius who graduated Harvard at the age of seventeen and possesses multiple Ph.Ds and an MBA, and is currently the CEO of the Sovereign Wealth Fund. Souichirou also leads the “Starling Guild” and is accompanied by Q (Gotou Saori), who’s been said to be the most powerful Asset. Amidst all that, there’s Kimimaro’s crush Ikuta Hanabi (Makino Yui) too. Where this series is headed is anyone’s guess, but I sure am interested in finding out after reading about the premise and the characters. The script is by the screenwriter who adapted Baccano and Durarara, so that’s always a plus given those series’ unique storytelling.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control Promotional Videos ▼

Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai. Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: April 14, 2011
Genre: Drama, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:15
Episodes: 11 Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

In the second new noitaminA show, we have another original story by Okada Mari that centers around a girl named Honma Meiko, a.k.a. Menma (Kayano Ai), and her five childhood friends whom she affectionately calls Jintan (Irino Miyu), Anaru (Tomatsu Haruka), Yukiatsu (Sakurai Takahiro), Tsuruko (Hayami Saori), and Poppo (Kondou Takayuki). Since entering high school, everyone’s changed but Menma. Jintan’s a shut-in, Anaru only hangs out with her girlfriends, Yukiatsu and Tsuruko simply attend classes, and Poppo skips so he can travel. One day, Menma asks Jintan to grant her wish, which requires him to reunite the six like they were before.

Much like Hanasaku Iroha, Mari’s premises aren’t the most exciting things to grace this season, yet when I see the promo videos for both series, I get the feeling that we’re in store for an emotion-filled drama that I’m always looking for in anime. Tear-jerkers are only a special case of that genre, as a moving story that gets me wrapped up in the characters and makes appreciate the little things in life is always just as good. While I do feel that Menma is being a little childish about how people grow apart as they get older, I’m always willing to give a show in the noitaminA programming block the benefit of the doubt on changing that initial impression. In additional to directing To Aru Kagaku no Railgun, Nagai Tatsuyuki worked on Honey and Clover II, which Anohana sort of reminds me of. I’ll watch it for Ai, Haruka, and Saori’s cover of ZONE’s “secret base” as the ED theme alone, but the second PV really grabbed my attention by hinting at how Menma may have died and is now interacting with Jintan as a ghost. I’m sold.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai Promotional Videos ▼

Hidan no Aria | 緋弾のアリア Top
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: April 14, 2011
Genre: Action, Comedy, Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:25
Episodes: 12 Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Taking over Infinite Stratos’ time slot is another action romantic high school comedy, starring the Toradora duo, Majima Junji and Kugimiya Rie. In “Aria the Scarlet Ammo”, an armed detective high school has been established in Tokyo to deal with the increasing number of heinous crimes, where main protagonist Tooyama Kinji (Junji) is enrolled in the investigation department. After an incident, he decides to leave for a normal school, only to wind up targeted by a bombing and subsequently saved by a beautiful girl toting dual Colt Government pistols. She turns out to be Kanzaki H. Aria (Rie), the top S-rank “Butei” in the assault department.

This title is based on a light novel later turned manga, and is quite detailed about the Butei specializations. The initial attack on Kinji serves as a good starting plot device, as is his encounter with Aria given that he’s a lowly ranked E Butei in comparison. What I’m looking forward to the most is the romantic comedy coinciding with the action, as we have a childhood friend/model student in Hotogi Shirayuki (Takahashi Mikako), a “big-busted loli” otaku in Mine Riko (Ise Mariya), an emotionless sniper in Reki (Ishihara Kaori), plus two of Kinji’s male friends, the unpopular Mutou Gouki (Kondou Takayuki) and good-looking Shiranui Ryou (Eguchi Takuya). It’s pretty easy to picture some love rivalries with those character descriptions. The director of Shakugan no Shana and screenwriter of Yumekui Merry are in charge of this project too, which is good or bad depending on how you perceive those J.C. Staff productions. (Good for me.)

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Hidan no Aria Promotional Videos ▼

Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko | 電波女と青春男 Top
Animation: SHAFT Premiere: April 14, 2011
Genre: Comedy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:55
Episodes: 12 Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

An unusual story that’s right up SHAFT’s alley would be this one about a delusional girl named Touwa Erio (Oogame Asuka), who believes the Earth’s being targeted by aliens, claims she’s part alien herself after being abducted, and tends to wrap a futon around her upper body. Niwa Makoto (Irino Miyu) moves in with his aunt Touwa Meme (Nonaka Ai) because of his parents’ work, and soon discovers that Erio is his cousin. It turns out Meme’s kept her a secret all this time because she doesn’t know who the father is, but the real mystery goes back to a year ago, when Erio went missing for six months and was later discovered floating in the ocean with no memories of that time. Throw in an energetic air-head, Mifune Ryuuko (Katou Emiri), and a model-like cosplayer, Maekawa-san (Fuchigami Mai), and we have the makings of a strange yet intriguing story… wild delusional style!

A girl who believes she’s an alien and SHAFT. It seems oddly familiar to Arakawa Under the Bridge, except Erio’s mysterious disappearance and her claims make me wonder if they’re truly all made up. The anime is based on a sci-fi light novel, so it’s likely going to make viewers second guess themselves (in a good way). Makoto serves as the window into it all, given that Meme is a very childish and carefree mother. I’m looking forward to seeing how he deals with Erio, since he’s a normal high school boy who’s trying to enjoy his youth as much as he can. Erio of course is the highlight of the story with that inexplicable charm of hers. I have a soft spot for “denpa” girls after Kotone from Nyan Koi and Ame from Denpa teki na Kanajo. Miyu in a leading male role is always a big plus too.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Deadman Wonderland | デッドマン・ワンダーランド Top
Animation: Manglobe Premiere: April 16, 2011
Genre: Action, Crime, Sci-Fi, Thriller Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:00
Episodes: 12 Station: TV Kanagawa (tvk)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Sci-Fi action thriller. Deadman Wonderland delivers that genre mash-up by depicting a dark and twisted story that takes place at an amusement park prison. It starts off with the life of middle school boy Igarashi Ganta (Paku Romi) turning completely upside-down when his class is suddenly massacred by a mysterious “Red Man”. He survives after getting a crimson shard shot into him, but is sentenced to death row. Upon admittance to Deadman Wonderland, he’s fitted with an irremovable collar that slowly seeps poison into this body and will kill him in three days unless he continually takes antidotal candy. His only glimmer of hope is a mysterious and cheerful albino girl named Shiro (Hanazawa Kana); however, he soon finds out that the assistant warden framed him for the crime and that the Red Man is in the prison. What’s more, he’s forced to take part in a sick game where prisoners who can manipulate their blood are pitted against one another.

The manipulation of blood is where most of the actions stems from, as prisoners like Ganta who exhibit such an ability are used as a lucrative form of entertainment where the loser gets a body part randomly extracted from them if they survive. Ganta has no choice but to compete since the prison operates on Cast Point currency that can be used to purchase both luxuries and the antidotal candy he needs to live. There are more facets to the plot though, such as the guards and other prisoners, some whom help Ganta and others who make his life more difficult. Then there’s the mystery surrounding Shiro and her true identity. I found the manga riveting and gruesomely unsettling; the action was intense and the prison downright creepy, which has me believing this will be the rare gem of the season. I just hope Manglobe can make some decent progress about the Red Man with only 12 episodes. It’ll be tough. Second season please…?

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Deadman Wonderland Promotional Videos ▼

Ao no Exorcist | 青の祓魔師 Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: April 17, 2011
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 17:00
Episodes: 25 Station: CBC, MBS, TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

It’s been promoted during STAR DRIVER’s broadcast for months now, so it’s no surprise that Ao no Exorcist will be taking over the highly sought after Sunday 5pm time slot this spring. The series seems deserving of the honors with its blend of demonic action and multifaceted storytelling in a setting with human and demon worlds that are reflections of one another. 15-year-old Okumura Rin (Okamoto Nobuhiko) is oblivious to this, until his guardian — a powerful exorcist named Father Fujimoto Shirou (Fujiwara Keiji) — is forced to reveal that Rin is the son of Satan born from a human woman and a vessel for the lord of hell to invade the human world. After the sudden death of Fujimoto, other exorcists come to kill Rin and remove the threat, but he decides to become an exorcist himself and begins training at a secret academy to become one.

The ongoing manga starts off on a very strong note due to Rin and Shirou’s early encounter with Satan, then really opens up the story to the exorcist world. This includes Rin’s younger twin brother Yukio (Fukuyama Jun), who didn’t inherit any of Satan’s demonic powers but has been training as an exorcist for some time now. They get off to a rocky start following the loss of Shirou, causing Yukio to feel Rin should just die, yet soon become a brotherly combo. There are also numerous characters at the academy with differing specialties, who are led by the chairman Mephisto Pheles (Kamiya Hiroshi) and provide more dimension to the plot. In a lot of ways, the early chapters reminded me of how Fullmetal Alchemist unfolded, becoming increasingly better as it progressed. Definitely worth keeping an eye on this season.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Good
Show Ao no Exorcist Promotional Videos ▼

Moshidora | もしドラ Top
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: April 25, 2011
Genre: Drama, Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Weekdays at 22:55
Episodes: 10 Station: NHK
Information Links: ANN Encyclopedia, AniDB, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

Japan’s 2010 best-selling novel with over two million copies sold is getting both a live-action movie and an anime. Moshidora, short for “If the female manager of a high school baseball team read Drucker’s Management”, is about second-year Kawashima Minami’s (Hikasa Youko) struggles as the manager of her school’s boys baseball team. She’s a cheerful girl who tends to jump to conclusions, but has a knack for overcoming adversity and seeing things through until the end. When her childhood friend Miyata Yuuki (Hanazawa Kana) has to take time off due to health reasons, Minami fills in as the team’s manager with the ambitious goal of Koshien, the stadium where nationals are held. She’s unaware how weak Hodokubo High School’s club is at first, but later comes across Peter Drucker’s “Management: Tasks, Responsibilities, Practices” book and starts applying its business principles to turn the team around.

Author Iwasaki Natsumi has stated that the idea actually came to him when he was playing Final Fantasy XII and couldn’t figure out an effective team composition to defeat certain monsters, after which he read another player mentioning Drucker in a blog. Upon reading the book, he found the concepts so transformative they moved him to tears and inspired him to write his novel. With that kind of background and nationwide reception, this anime adaptation by Production I.G may very well be the surprise hit of the season. The premise itself reminds me a lot of GIANT KILLING since it applies seemingly unorthodox strategies that really aren’t that unorthodox at all in practice. All the same elements seem to be here, including players who aren’t receptive to Minami at the beginning, making this a drama I see myself really enjoying. Iwatsuki’s a producer who’s worked with theater/idol group AKB48, which explains Nakaya Sayaka’s support role as honor student/fellow manager Houjou Ayano, and Maeda Atsuko’s leading role as Minami in the film due out in June. Educational and inspirational. That works for me.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Guaranteed Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Moshidora Promotional Videos ▼

Appleseed XIII | アップルシード XIII Top
Animation: JINNI’s Animation x Production I.G Premiere: June 13, 2011
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9):
Episodes: 13 Station: Internet
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia

After the lawsuit and counter-lawsuit debacle over Appleseed Genesis back in 2008, Jinni’s Animation and Production I.G have taken up the CG retelling of Ghost in the Shell creator Masamune Shirow’s first major work. Unlike the two CG movies released in 2004 and 2007, Appleseed XIII adapts the original story about the city-nation Olympus in a futuristic world where half the population was killed in the Third World War. It’s a utopia governed by an artificial intelligence known as Gaia and administrated by genetically engineered humans known as Bioroids. In this seemingly perfect world, Deunan Knute (Sakamoto Maaya) and her cyborg partner Briareos (Yamadera Kouichi) are members of the elite ESWAT team, and maintain the peace when racial, religious, and politics conflicts begin surfacing.

The thirteen in the title makes it seem appropriate having Maaya play Deunan, given her leading role in Final Fantasy XIII. What’s more interesting is the plan to simultaneously release the first of two theatrical versions of this revival project on June 13th. Attendees of the premiere will be privy to limited edition copies of the first Blu-ray volume as well, while the first episode will be streamed for everyone else. For a manga that’s over 35 years old, it’s kind of hard to imagine that this is its first “TV” series. I’ve seen the 1988 OVA as well as the CG movies, so I’m somewhat familiar with the intricate Masamune-style storyline we have here. Fans of GitS will have a good idea on what to expect, as I too find myself “quietly” looking forward to this. The cel-shaded animation isn’t as impressive as Jinni’s full-on CG work in Fireball Charming, but that isn’t deterring me from following a classic sci-fi series.

Odds I’ll Watch This: Good Odds I’ll Blog This: Decent
Show Appleseed XIII Promotional Videos ▼

OVA / Movie


Technical Note: OVAs are sorted by the date they are released. For series that have multiple episodes coming out over the course of the season, please refer to the Notes column for additional dates. More information on each OVA can be found on their respective websites, including promotional videos in some cases. Movie premiere dates are not included as they don’t mean a whole lot to viewers outside of Japan. DVD/BD releases of movies are however. This list is likely incomplete and will be updated as more titles surface.

Release Date Title Notes
04/07 Kampfer fur die Liebe | けんぷファー fur die Liebe
2 episodes total.
04/08 Yozakura Quartet ~Hoshi no Umi~ Ep. 2 | 夜桜四重奏 ~ホシノウミ~ 第2弾
Bundled with manga vol. 10.
04/15 Seitokai Yakuindomo OAD | 生徒会役員共OAD
Bundled with manga vol. 5.
04/15 Special Edition FAIRY TAIL Vol. 26 | 特装版 FAIRY TAIL 26巻
Bundled with manga vol. 26.
04/26 Gakuen Mokushiroku HIGHSCHOOL OF THE DEAD OAD
Bundled with manga vol. 7.
04/26 SEX PISTOLS Vol. 2
04/27 Naruto Shipuuden: The Lost Tower | 劇場版NARUTO-ナルト-疾風伝 ザ・ロストタワー
DVD/BD movie release.
04/29 Amagami SS OVA – Tachibana Miya Chapter | アマガミSS OVA 橘美也編
Part of DVD/BD vol. 13.
04/29 Koe de Oshigoto! take.2 | こえでおしごと!take.2
05/11 Kaichou wa Maid-sama! OVA | 会長はメイド様! OVA
Part of DVD/BD vol. 10.
05/25 Katte ni Kaizou First Volume | かってに改蔵 上巻
05/25 Shiki OVA 1 | 屍鬼 OVA 1
Part of DVD/BD vol. 8.
06/22: OVA 2, DVD/BD vol. 9.
05/27 Break Blade 5 – Shisen no Hate | 劇場版 ブレイクブレイド 第五章 死線ノ涯
DVD/BD movie release.
05/– Eiyuu Densetsu Sora no Kiseki Special Set | 英雄伝説 空の軌跡 スペシャルセット
Produced by SHAFT.
06/22: Middle volume.
06/03 Kore wa Zombie Desu ka? Anime DVD Special Edition
これはゾンビですか? アニメDVD付き特装版
Bundled with light novel vol. 8. Unaired ep. 13.
06/15 Asobi ni Iku yo! OVA Asobikinimashita!!
06/15 Baby Princess 3D Paradise 0 [Love] | ベイビー・プリンセス 3Dぱらだいす0[ラブ]
06/17 Air Gear Kuro no Hane to Nemuri no Mori -Break on the sky- Trick3
エア・ギア 黒の羽と眠りの森 -Break on the sky- Trick3
Bundled with manga vol. 32.
06/17 Special Edition FAIRY TAIL Vol. 27 | 特装版 FAIRY TAIL 27巻
Bundled with manga vol. 27.
06/22 Katte ni Kaizou Middle Chapter | かってに改蔵 中巻
06/22 kiss x sis OAD Ep. 5
Bundled with manga vol. 8.
06/22 BLACK LAGOON Roberta’s Blood Trail 005
06/22 Saint Seiya THE LOST CANVAS Meion Shinwa 2 Vol.5
聖闘士星矢 THE LOST CANVAS 冥王神話 第2章 VOL.5
06/24 Saiyuki Gaiden Vol. 2 Sange Chapter | 最遊記外伝 第弐巻 散華の章
06/24 Yurumeitsu wa? | ゆるめいつ は?
06/29 Senjou Valkyria 3 Tagatame no Juusou First Volume
戦場のヴァルキュリア3 誰がための銃瘡 前編
Produced by A-1 Pictures & Bridge.
2 episodes total.
07/27 Hellsing VIII | ヘルシングVIII

Overall Impressions


Rather than attempting to sum up the 43 new shows airing this spring, I’ve decided to present them in a different manner using my personal approach for watching anime. I’m a firm believer that one’s personal enjoyment is directly correlated to their expectations coming in (…for anything), so I use that same mindset when it comes to anime. Looking at a show for what it is and being able to appreciate what it does within the confines of that goes a long way in being able to enjoy a wide range of shows.

I’ve used this analogy before for final impressions, so I’ll use it again as some food for thought:

If you go into a fast food place expecting a gourmet meal, there’s a very good chance you’ll be disappointed. However, if you go in there expecting greasy yet tasty food, you may just find that fast food has never tasted so good before.

With that in mind, I’m going to categorize this seasons shows according to my expectations, having done all the first-hand research that went into this preview, in hopes of making it easier to shortlist the type of shows you’re personally interested in.


First up are the shows I have HIGH expectations for. This means I have reason to believe they have the makings of a very good series and should appeal to the widest audience in their given genres. If you consider yourself a “casual” fan who only gets your toes wet every season by watching the “best” shows (i.e. popular ones that generate the most buzz), then these are the ones I feel you should keep an eye out for. I’m also expecting good things from these shows, so if they fall short, disappointment is understandable. Note: The lists are in alphabetical order.

Second are the shows I have MODERATE expectations for. This means there isn’t any immediate indication that they’ll be amazing in retrospect. This is often the case with shows that fall into one of anime’s overused plot devices, which most people, particularly self-proclaimed critics, will perceive as mediocre at best. From my experience, these shows still provide a great deal of entertainment and may turn out a lot better than they appear. They’re good for “regular” fans who are aware of all these tropes and don’t mind seeing them used in different settings. I like sifting through these since romantic comedies are among them. Personal tastes come heavily into play, so your mileage will vary.

Third are the shows I have LOW expectations for. A better way of putting it is that I have no expectations either way. That doesn’t imply they’re the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t get any consideration, but simply that they don’t seem to be striving for much and choose to focus on more frivolous aspects such as senseless humor and fan-service, which is fine if that’s what you happen to be looking for. Generally, only “avid” fans will be interested in seeing what these have to offer, because they’re already watching all the better shows.

Fourth (what there’s a fourth!?) are shows that don’t really align with any sort of expectations since they’re rather niche. This means they break away from the norm by being slower-paced, extremely dark/grotesque, or even controversial. In most cases, these shows are oriented towards older audiences or those who feel that anime has become far too repetitive and want something different. Shows of this category tend to be highly underappreciated but can turn out to be hidden gems for that very reason.

Fifth are shows that are established long-running manga/anime series, generally geared towards younger viewers who are already fans of them. A commonality is that they all air early morning on weekends or well before midnight on weekdays so that “normal” people can actually watch them. They aren’t very dependent on expectations but a love for never-ending shows and a willingness to get into all the material that’s out if they’re completely new to you. Shounen series fall into this category, hence why I treat them differently.

Last but definitely not least are the original series that I’m not sure what to make heads or tails of yet. Expectation-wise, they fall somewhere between moderate to high due to that unknown factor and are potential surprise hits of the season. If their premises sound interesting to you, I’d say they’re worth checking out.


So with that, I leave it to you to figure out the rest for yourself. After all, I’m only here to inform, provide an unbiased opinion (…possibly some insight), and most of all, share a mutual interest in anime.

March 18, 2011 at 3:20 pm
  • March 28, 2011 at 1:09 amichigo_daisuki

    I’m not even sure if I will be able to watch any anime.
    On another note, it would be nice if you took a break, Divine.

  • March 28, 2011 at 1:40 amZwei

    some anime clips for Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko found in the official site


    OH the art, it’s so gorgeous, hope SHAFT becomes consistent with it (i really really hope so)
    oh, and Erio is so cute and beautiful ♥, come my “denpa”, now i really miss Ochibana Ame ^^

  • March 29, 2011 at 10:19 amZwei


    and the new trailer for Steins;Gate is out

    it’s so fucking awesome, I’m totally excited for this, it’s next week ^^

  • March 31, 2011 at 10:02 amZwei

    deadman wonderland trailer
    finally ^^


  • April 1, 2011 at 12:10 pmanon

    I’ll watch Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi
    30-Sai no Hoken Taiiku
    Deadman Wonderland :P

  • April 1, 2011 at 4:32 pmOmega

    Just wanna share this with everyone:



  • April 1, 2011 at 9:41 pmBlakwingz89

    Feels like a weak season. Get sum shut eye Divine.

  • April 5, 2011 at 11:35 amMC

    There’s too many good shows this season… and I especially love all the sci-fi stuff. I’m also looking forward to some great sequels – Gintama, TWGOK, and Maria Holic. Looks like a good season to me.

  • April 5, 2011 at 3:15 pmmarklar

    … just watched the C: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control pv and it looks like they are going yu-gi-oh style i tought it would be a deep and quality show but yeah another crapy anime so yeah…

    • April 5, 2011 at 4:36 pmDivine

      That’s a pretty bold (and ignorant) statement based on a video alone with no real understanding of anything else about the series.

      • April 7, 2011 at 4:08 ammarklar

        I have my instinct and i am right most of the time like now i watched SKET DANCE and the 1st episode is a disappointment if you dont agree tell me what we havent seen already and that hasnt been done already same like in hundrads of anime before. I think the originality was killed long ago in anime history and only SHAFT is beeing crative and they go outside of the box that is the anime industry complex.

      • April 10, 2011 at 1:41 pmmarklar

        Hanasaku Iroha
        Maria Holic Alive
        These above are the only good series till now i got some hopes for:
        Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai
        Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko
        Deadman Wonderland
        Ao no Exorcist
        And the rest is just garbage or you need to be just plain stupid to watch them.

  • April 6, 2011 at 1:19 amTorrigan

    The art in Ano Hi mita looks stunningly similar to that in Toradora

  • April 6, 2011 at 5:51 pmShirt

    Wow, they really are goin’ crazy with the schoolgirl outfits. Anything to do with that ban later on this year?

  • April 12, 2011 at 7:06 pmRaneem

    no more shugo chara D:????

  • May 5, 2011 at 11:45 amhellsingfan

    why is hellsing ova 8 not on the ova list for 6/22/2011

  • June 1, 2011 at 4:47 amTriangle MAN

    Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai the Anime to watch this season everything else is just BS or average.

  • June 5, 2011 at 1:43 amFIBUKO

    Hi. When will you make a Summer 2011 preview.


    :D :D :D

  • June 10, 2011 at 12:13 pmElsu

    Is it only me or are animes getting worse and worse? I’m having trouble finding interesting animes to watch. I remember not having that problem back in 06,07, 08.

    There are some solid shows, but no really really good ones like Death Note, GTO, Code Geass, Macross Frontier, BECK, Black Lagoon, Haruhi (the second season sucked though). Except Mitsudomoe, both seasons were awesome.

    • June 13, 2011 at 8:53 pmDivine

      I think it’s just you. :P

      Maybe try giving more shows the benefit of the doubt…?

  • July 11, 2011 at 11:42 amthenewhorde

    I just finished reading Moshidora (a few minutes ago), took me one day to buy the book and read through the whole thing.

    I looked it up and found out there’s an anime. And now it was actually on RandomC before but I never took noticed of it, how big of an idiot was I to judge an anime by its art, to judge a book by its cover.

  • « Older Comments