Spring 2009: Change We Can Believe In

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After many weeks of neglecting my blog, I make my triumphant return to the internet. Spring is a time a change, and the anime industry is no exception. With the Winter 2009 season ending this week, everything next season will be new with the exception of Sora wo Kakeru Shoujo. It’s a bit sad since I have fond memories of watching ToraDora and Gundam 00 over the past half year. But we must move on to bigger and hopefully beter things. On the subject of change, next season has a fair number of reboots. Sure, there are only 4 (one of which is debatable), but it’s still unusual to see. So without further ado, here are my picks for next season. Feel free to click the image above to expand it and follow along.

Fullmetal Alchemist: The first reboot on the list, and possibly the most interesting as it chooses to take the story down the path of the manga, which is completely different, but still really good. For those who only watched the anime and didn’t read the manga, the plot starts to deviate really early on. The hommunculi are completely different (Sloth’s personality and abilities make more sense than the one in the anime), the evil mastermind is much more twisted than Dante, and there are alchemy ninjas. You read that right. there are ninjas that can do alchemy. They’re really badass too. The previews for this season have been really vague, so it’s unknown how long and how loyal to the manga this series will be. While the manga feels like it’s starting to wrap up, it will almost definitely not be finished before the anime, so I’m curious if this will start to deviate too, leading to an eventual third series of FMA. I have faith in BONES, so either way, this will be an entertaining series.

K-ON!: It’s KyoAni. And it has a cute girl with a Gibson Les Paul. Nuff said.

Saki: I was a fan of the manga long before the anime was ever announced, so hearing that this series would be animated came as a pleasant surprise. To make things better, it’s got a stellar cast backing it up including Kugimiya Rie, Fukuyama Jun, and Itou Shizuka. The story is pretty simple, and the rules of mahjong are never explained in much detail, so the success of this show really hinges on how good it looks. GONZO’s animation quality has been rather hit and miss over the past couple years, so it may not be as good as I expect, although the promo images look promising. Like K-ON! I don’t expect it to be anything more than an entertaining way to pass the time.

Hayate no Gotoku 2: Of the 4 reboots I mentioned above, this one is the questionable one. I call it a reboot just because so much has changed. While the entire vocal cast is the same, the studio, director, and writer are all completely different. The only remnants from the original crew are those in charge of music. I was a big fan of the original series and the manga. When the announcement of a second season popped after the credits of the first series finale, I was ecstatic. So a year later, we are treated to an OVA to get fans excited for the upcoming season. However, I feel like the main point was the get viewers accustomed to the changes, some of which are major. First is a stylistic one. Everything looks glossy and shiny, especially the hair. The color pallate chosen is also brighter, and some of the designs, especially the faces have been changed subtly. It’s a bit disorienting at first, but shouldn’t prove to be too big an issue. The next major difference is the humor. Part of the fun of the first HnG series was its reference humor. The writers really knew their target audience well, and they went to great lengths to make their references as deep as they could without breaking copyright laws. For example, the evil butler battles from about episodes 27-39 were genius as theywere all blatantly copying shounen shows like Yu-Gi-Oh or GaoGaiGar. To top it off, they got the original voice actors for the show they were parodying, and based the designs off of other characters they played. These multilevel jokes were genius, and my favorite part of the show. On the other hand, the OVA had few if any references, and focused more on fanservice. I enjoy fanservice as much as the next guy, but I’m just worried that the writing will not live up to that of the first season. Finally, there’s the plot. The OVA featured two characters who play minor roles in the manga, and possibly cameos in the first season. The first is the nun, who plays a major role in an arc of the manga that the anime completely skipped. This at least hints to what we can expect to see. The other is Nagi’s cat Shiranui. While even less important than the nun, the way the cat comes completely out of the blue. The only way to know how Nagi got this cat is if you read the manga. Another strong point of the first season was that it wasn’t necessary to read the manga, but it made a good supplement. There were certain character backstories that were hinted at, such as Maria’s, but never expanded upon. It was subtle enough that you could ignore it and still enjoy the series, but obvious enough that those scenes would come to mind when reading the manga. Based on the OVA, there seems to be no continuity between the seasons, and reading the manga may be more of a necessity. I read the manga, so I don’t expect this to bother me. I’m just worried that HnG2 won’t be as funny as the first one.

Natsu no Arashi: I’m a big fan of the mangaka’s previous work, School Rumble, so I expect good things from this. SHAFT is also making this, so I’m curious as to how their low budget look will treat this series. Based on the little bit I read of the manga, the story looks interesting, although it has got a completely different feel than School Rumble.

I’ll leave this post at that before it gets too long. There are a couple OVAs I want to check out as well. Lupin III vs Detective Conan should be interesting even if I haven’t seen very much of either. I’m also going to check out the Spice and Wolf OVA since I really enjoyed the first season. The last show that might interest me is the Haruhi Suzumiya rebroadcast. It seems too random to be just a regular rebroadcast. This may be just wishful thinking though. I just finished ToraDora earlier this afternoon, so expect a series review some time later today or tomorrow. Feels good to be back.

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