Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Spring/Summer 2010 - The WHEN?! Award

Marketing in the Japanese anime industry is a wonder to behold. So many handouts are passed out during conventions, but the weight put on each show is not equivalent. For every Naruto series and Detective Conan movie out there that is hyped up the ying-yang, there are a few shows that don't quite live up to expectations, if they even have much in terms of expectations in the first place.

However, there were some good shows out there that manage to still impress people without the marketing push. It's those shows that have left us asking...

When?! - Not necessarily meant for the best show of the half-year, this award is for the show with the least amount of hype that was so surprisingly good it left us wanting to know the time of its next arrival.
Here are the candidates for the WHEN?! Award, the pleasant surprises from the Spring and Summer 2010 seasons that have us wanting a little bit more from Japan, whether it be in the form of sequels, revisions, or in the case of one position, an American tour.

3. THE CHERRY COKE$ / G・P・S (Giant Killing)

Call it the soccer hooligan in me, but not only was Giant Killing surprisingly good when compared to the likes of other soccer-based anime shows (Captain Tsubasa, Whistle!), it really captured the game-day feeling through the addition of two bands for their music.

The opening theme "My Story" was performed by the group THE CHERRY COKE$, a band with influences that stretch from punk to Irish folk (the group is known to rock the tin flute, accordion, and banjo). They have played with the likes of Rancid and the Pogues in Japan and opened up for Flogging Molly during their 2007 American tour.

The ending theme "Get Tough!" from G・P・S is just as good a listen. While there isn't much information on this band, I think a tour with both THE CHERRY COKE$ and G・P・S opening for an Irish punk band would be a nice thing to have in the US, especially if it brought them together with the Dropkick Murphys (THE CHERRY COKE$ were supposed to open for them in Japan, but Ken Casey's illness canceled the tour).

2. Saraiya Goyô (House of Five Leaves)

Looking at the "watch" count on Funimation's Youtube channel might indicate that this show underperformed. The show didn't quite interest common viewers in comparison to the likes of Hetalia and Black Butler II, both shows garnering five-digit responses versus clicks in the thousands for House of Five Leaves (even though the first episode got an impressive debut as one of the first to be provided for Youtube consumption).

However, the show did garner some good feedback and a run on Viz Media's IKKI online manga website, and the art itself really did give the show a different feeling for a samurai drama. It would be good to see the show go through a live-action run, even if the manga's style would be sacrificed in the process.

1. Ôkami-san to Shichinin no Nakamatachi (Ôkami and her Seven Acquaintances)

Sometimes shows that get too episodic tend to require a little more time for the ending to fall into place, and that's a reason that I hope Ôkami-san gets green-lit for a second season. Back when the Tokyo International Anime Fair was in full swing, there really wasn't much buzz surrounding the show from Geneon Universal's booth, as shows like Mayoi Neko Overrun!, Kaichô wa Maid-Sama!, Hakuôki, and Fate/stay night were the shows garnering top attention in their pamphlets.

However, on the whole, Ôkami-san managed to keep my attention the entire season with its creative depiction of well-known characters and their interaction in overlapped fairy-tale spoofs. Considering the lack of hype surrounding the show, it was an enjoyable watch—even the old narrator's cumbersome voice, as interfering at it may have been with the story itself at first, turned out to be better than first encountered. A second season may be impossible to get, due to the finite limit to the number of shows one can spoof, but hopefully things lead to a dubbed version in the US.

Next time: we wonder what show fell off the map with our WHERE?! Award!

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