Let's be real about the past anime season—winter hasn't been kind to the casual fan. The number of animated shows usually decrease for the winter, probably due to the crowded television schedules in the beginning of the year, and 2011 has been no different. In addition, the number of quality shows have also fallen, mostly due to the lack of new shows running.
However, the warmer weather brings rejuvenation and revitalization. According to the count by The Cartdriver and Moonphase, over 40 new shows are debuting this new season on TV alone! Seriously?
I don't think I'm going to be able to have enough hours of the day to follow all of these, but here's a preview of the new shows to take a look at. Each is listed under its debut date with their full Japanese names and a digestible plot synopsis.
The title may sound clunky (What if the Female Manager of the High-School Baseball Team Read Drucker's "Management"?), but the story of how a baseball team was straightened out by a spunky female manager and the works of social management theorist Peter Drucker is actually a sincere cult hit in Japan.
The third title for the anime line developed by Marvel and Madhouse, this story of the X-Men pits them in Japan against the U-Men as they try to rescue Hisako Ichiki, known as "Armor" in the comics.
The third series for the Jewelpet franchise, another magical girl will come to Jewel Land to try to collect cute, lovable
Happy Meal toys Jewelpets.
The Pretty Rhythm dancing/idol game gets an anime makeover before Vocaloid does. Three middle-school girls strive for stardom as a musical ice-skating unit.
Sink Izumi, a kid from Earth, is transported to the Republic of Biscotti, a world of dog-eared humans, in order to help Princess Millhiore protect the country from Galette rebels. (An answer to Asobi ni Ikuyo?)
Everyday Life (Nichijô 日常)
After a year-long hiatus, Kyoto Animation returns with a gag story about everyday life interrupted by things you normally wouldn't see everyday. Perhaps a "What's Wrong With This Picture?" picture show?
You're Being Summoned, Azazel (よんでますよ、アザゼルさん。)
Akutabe, a detective and summoner of demons, contacts Azazel, an unprofessional devil, to be used for a particular case, but things naturally get out of hand.
Abnormal Physiology Seminar (Hen Zemi 変ゼミ)
Take one normal college student, Nanako Matsutaka, and put her in a course where the professor teaches nothing but sexual deviancy. Guess what happens.
The popular game that pits spinning tops in battle returns for a sixth season.
The stuffed critters from "Suzy's Zoo", a line of greeting cards produced by Suzy Spafford, get their own series of animated shorts.
Hanasaku Iroha (花咲くいろは)
When Tokyo-ite Matsumae moves out to the country to help her grandmother with her hot-spring inn, she meets new friends and learns to understand the simpler life.
We Don't Have Wings ~ Under the Innocent Sky (Oretachi ni Tsubasa ga Nai 俺たちに翼はない)
Based on the visual novel produced by Navel. The story of teenagers from the town of Yanagihara and how their lives cross in dramatic ways. (Read: Yosuga no Sora without the incest.)
Bridge to the Starry Skies (Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi 星空へ架かる橋)
Do we need to say anything more than "harem"? Okay. Young male Kazuma moves to a new town and...yeah, we really don't need to say anything more.
Gintama' (2nd Season)
The absurd "odd-jobs" career of samurai Gintoki with his associates Shinpachi and Kagura resumes after a year-long hiatus.
Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox (戦国乙女～桃色パラドックス～)
Another anime converted from a pachinko game. If you couldn't guess, the historical figures of Japan's "Warring States" period have once again been converted into buxom ladies. "But, wait, didn't you actually like Hyakka Ryo..." *punch*
Gambling Apocalypse Kaiji Season 2 (Tobaku Mokushiroku Kaiji 賭博黙示録カイジ)
Our main character Kaiji, a man eternally in debt, disappears from society after managing to succeed in risky games of chance. So what does this have to do with Endô, his land shark?
So this group of Akihabara friends have been sending messages into the past through their souped-up microwave. Sounds innocent enough, but a shadowy organization is looking to stop them at all costs.
Kid loves fashion accessories and animals. Kid finds a nice rock she can use for an accessory. Kid finds out the rock is a fashion accessory AND an animal prince. Life is good.
Health & Phys Ed for 30-Year-Olds (30-sai no Hoken Taiiku 30歳の保健体育)
A 30-year-old male virgin meets a 30-year-old female virgin. Who is to show them how to make whoopie? Why, the Gods of Sex, that's who!
New Shônen Jump show #1. The "Campus Support Group" is here to improve the quality of high-school life! So what if Bossun, Himeko, and Switch are hardly the spitting image of perfection themselves...
Tea for Universe, Tea for Life (Hyouge Mono へうげもの)
Set in the "Warring States" period, Hyouge Mono covers the path of enrichment through tea chosen by Sasuke Furuta, a vassal under the great Nobunaga Oda.
Aria the Scarlet Ammo (Hidan no Aria 緋弾のアリア)
Having entered a Tokyo high school that specializes in detective studies and armed combat, Kinji meets its most powerful student, H. Aria Kanzaki, during a bombing attempt.
Middle-school student Asuna wants her team to aim for the National Soft-Tennis Championship, but the club itself isn't so serious about aiming for the top...
Stop me if you've heard this one. Pretty nondescript show based on a yon-koma about high school girls. (Now, why didn't you stop me?)
Electromagnetic Wave Girl and Adolescent Boy (Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko 電波女と青春男)
Second-year high-school student Makoto, meet your estranged cousin Erio. She's been gone a while and thinks she's an alien. You two should get along well while she lives in your apartment.
The classic Go Nagai manga and 1973 anime adaption gets a remake. Lead character Enma leads the "Yôkai Patrol" to the world of humans in order to capture rogue demons.
The love-hate relationship between Kanako, a girl with a romantic infatuation over other girls, and Mariya, a cross-dressing boy with a sadistic character, finally returns for a second season.
World's First Love (Sekaiichi Hatsukoi 世界一初恋)
(Boys Love, Romance, Comedy)
Ritsu enters a publishing company that works on shôjo love manga, a difficult task for one who has vowed never to fall in love again, but the strict chief editor turns out to be his first love!
Blue Exorcist (Ao no Ekusoshisuto 青の祓魔師)
Rin and Yukio were both born to be receptacles of Satan, but only Rin had the strength to be occupied by the Demon Lord for his conquest of the human world. However, when Satan kills Rin's foster father, Rin plans to become an Exorcist to defeat Satan.
Put It All In The Ring 1: World Tournament Chapter (Ringu ni Kakero 1: Sekai Taikai-hen リングにかけろ１：世界大会編)
Team Golden Japan Jr. joins the ranks of the World Junior Boxing Championship in order to challenge powerhouse Team Greece and bring the title home.
Astarotte's Toy! (Asutarotte no Omocha アスタロッテのおもちゃ!)
Astarotte is a young succubus who absolutely hates males, but succubi naturally need male...um...essence to live. Thus, she has to put up with Naoya, the first male inducted into her harem.
In the distant future, card battles are still all the rage, but the cycle continues, as Yûma Tsukumo must deal with the ghostly Astral to return his memories to him.
The World God Only Knows II (Kami Nomi Zo Shiru Sekai II 神のみぞ知るセカイII)
Keima and Elsie return again to try to capture (the demon spirits in) the hearts of young girls, all for the sake of the demon world.
Those who know the series know it. Those who don't? "Behold...the power...of breast milk."
Ganta Igarashi wants to find the "Red Man" who killed his entire middle-school class and framed him for the murders, but first he must get out of the prison known as "Deadman Wonderland".
Slated for April
New Shônen Jump show #2. Toriko wanders the land as a Super-Sayajin-like "Gourmet Hunter" in search of the choicest foods and ingredients for some of the world's superb dishes.
Wild Tiger is the "King of Heroes" in a city filled with them, but how is he going to be able to team up with Barnaby Brooks Jr., someone who treats being a hero totally differently?
Ano Hana: We Still Don't Know The Name of That Flower We Saw That Day (Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae o Boku-tachi wa Mada Shiranai あの日見た花の名前を僕達はまだ知らない。)
The first noitaminA title of the season, Jintan, a shut-in who has only been able to befriend his high-school classmate Menma, must find his other four high-school friends as a promise to fulfill Menma's wish.
[C] (The Money of Soul And Possibility Control)
(Drama, Science Fiction)
While Kimimaro and most of Japan has been rescued from financial disaster by the "Sovereign Waelth Fund", he still needs cash. He'll be able to pay off his loan if he can survive a location known as "The Financial District".
Showa Story (Shōwa Monogatari 昭和物語)
An animated version of the successful live-action series and movie that chronicles the story of the Yamazaki family during the 39th year of Shôwa, 1964, the year the Olympics came to Tokyo.
A sequel to the Fireball 3D shorts produced through Japan's Disney Channel.
Tono to Issho, 2nd Season
You've seen the shorts before. The historical figure gag comedy returns for more.
(Appleseed XIII was announced for Spring 2011, but will premiere June 13th.)
Air Gear, Amagami SS, Asobi ni Ikuyo!, Baka to Test, Beelzebub, Black Lagoon, Blessing of the Campanella, Fairy Tail, Highschool of the Dead, Kämpfer für die Liebe, Koe de Oshigoto!, Maid-Sama!, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Morita-kun wa Mukuchi, Nana and Kaoru, Norageki, Princess Resurrection, Queen's Blade, Seitokai Yakuindomo, Sex Pistols, Spelunker-Sensei, Valkyria Chronicles, xxxHolic, Yozakura Quartet.
First thoughts? It'll be hard to scarf down all of these shows to pick out the prime cuts, but if history has served its purpose well, the sequels (Gintama', Maria Holic Alive, The World God Only Knows II) should feel the need for those starving for niche titles. Of the truly new stuff, Shônen Jump's Sket Dance and Toriko could actually provide a resurgence for the magic-maker anthology, especially during a point when Shônen Sunday and Shônen Magazine are relatively quiet. The two noitaminA titles, [C] and Ano Hana should also likely do well, considering how well the block has performed the past year.
However, I see three titles performing solidly based on past reputation and current trailers.
- Everyone's pretty much been salivating for more KyoAni, so Nichijô should gather tons of fans while K-On! incubates for another series (you mean, you haven't heard about the two new manga titles from kakifly this spring?).
- I also see Blue Exorcist performing well, especially with storyboard director Tensai Okamura (Kikaider, Wolf's Rain) taking charge of direction with A-1 Pictures (Kannagi, Occult Academy, Fractale) as the animation studio.
- After a bit of a production delay, Deadman Wonderland should also hit it big. For some reason, I feel that delays often increase the palpability of a show and make it all the more an anxious watch.
Definite passes? There are a few.
- The two visual novel shows (Oretachi ni Tsubasa ga Nai, Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi) feel interchangeable. Really nothing between the two that would pull me towards watching them, especially the car wrecks we've had in the past two seasons. Seems they all like to look to the sky for inspiration, too (Starry Sky, Yosuga no Sora).
- No breaks for the sex parodies this season, either. While Hen Zemi looks like the pain could be minor, Health & Phys Ed for 30-Year-Olds sounds like it could be the next Rio Rainbow Gate.
- There's no doubt that Qwaser no Stigmata II will overindulge us with icky sexual gratuity, but can Astarotte's Toy! sound any creepier? A loli succubus who, I'm told, is around ten-years-old and hunting for sex? And you wonder why candy corporation Lotte might have had a beef with the original name?