Friday, January 25, 2013

Manga Review: Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu

Taishi Zaou and Eiki Eiki's Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu is a miracle of a series. I say so because its first two chapters are fucking awful, but it's still a long-time favorite of mine- a collection I've re-read a number of times. Admittedly, it holds some sentimental value as one of the earliest yuri collections I enjoyed, but its first two chapters (which I normally skip) aside, I do think it's a great collection.

Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu is about three couples at an all-girls' school- two student couples, and the school doctor and one of the teachers.

The first chapter, "Expressions of Love," is about how new student Akiho and her popular classmate Haruka get together.

The second chapter, "She-Wolf," focuses on how new student Fuyuka and her popular classmate Natsuki... well, they don't get together at this point, thankfully, but they do strike up a tenuous friendship. These two chapters, especially "She-Wolf," are riddled with tropes that make this book arguably the most problematic thing I love me want to light them on fire. It's some kind of miracle of writing that I like these characters as couples in the later chapters focusing on them.

The next arc, "First Kiss" (which ran in three parts in Yuri Hime magazine), shifts focus to the school doctor Reiko and a teacher named Ayano. Reiko and Ayano are best friends and alumnae of the school they work at. They fell in love as classmates and shared their first kiss, but thought, in keeping with the heterosexist assumptions they were ingrained with, that their feelings were a phase. After graduating high school, they swept their feelings under the rug and dated men, each oblivious that the other still carries a torch for her.

Things come to a head when Ayano mentions the possibility of marrying her boyfriend to Reiko, making Reiko despair and accept her boyfriend's proposal. I don't want to spoil too much, but if this story's resolution doesn't turn you into a quivering lump of jello, you have no soul.

At the end of "First Kiss", Reiko gives Fuyuka advice about her feelings for Natsuki- preventing Fuyuka from making the same mistake she and Ayano made.

Taking Reiko's advice to heart in "Little Red Riding Hood Strikes Back" (which ran in two parts in Yuri Hime), Fuyuka pursues Natsuki, showing that she doesn't do anything by halves. Ironically, now that she is interested in Natsuki and being really obvious about it, Fuyuka finds that Natsuki isn't as assertive about her feelings as she assumed.

Natsuki and Haruka (and their respective groupies- remember, this is still an all-girls' school story) can't stand each other, but Fuyuka and Akiho become friends and get along beautifully. Some misunderstandings later, Fuyuka makes it clear to Natsuki that she fully returns her feelings (unlike the sort of-girlfriend Natsuki once had), while Akiho and Haruka remain happily in love. Ayano and Reiko also get one last, nice cameo, giving the two younger couples a subtle helping hand to sort out their drama. In an extra-smile inducing touch, Fuyuka and Natsuki react to their first kiss the same way Ayano and Reiko did theirs. And naturally, Fuyuka has no intention of letting her painstaking research into what it takes to have great lesbian sex (courtesy of some advice books) go to waste.

In "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter", Fuyuka, Natsuki, Akiho and Haruka go on an overnight trip to the beach together. It's a sweet conclusion to this series.

Again, this series holds sentimental value for me, but it became a favorite of mine for good reason. It has two of my hooks- multiple yuri couples (who know about each other), and queer women helping younger queer women have an easier time being who they are. "First Kiss" is emotionally wringing but more than delivers in pay-off, and the more humorous "Little Red Riding Hood Strikes Back" and "Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter" chapters are a lot of fun and quite funny. (And admittedly, when I first read them, had the bonus appeal that the better examples of such stories would hold for a lesbian high schooler who doesn't knowingly know any other girls who like girls.)

This collection also has an amusing bonus, unrelated one-shot titled "Her," about two best friends who have feelings for each other, and are clearly going to learn that their feelings are mutual very soon.

This collection is one of the earliest series serialized in Yuri Hime magazine, but, like Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, it holds up as one of the most moving, enjoyable collections put out by YH.

I'm reviewing the English-language release of this book on JManga. As usual for ALC's releases there, strong translation, no complaints.

Story: B+ overall.
Art: B+
Overall: A-

Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Top 11 Yuri Manga Highlights of 2012

Sorry about the neglect here as of late- I moved from my hometown in Florida to New York City last Thursday. Now that things have settled down, this blog will revert back to regular posting. Sorry again about the dry spell, and thank you for your patience!

The Top 11 titles below all came out in tankoubon format in Japan in 2012. Following them, I've listed a few series I really look forward to seeing as tankoubon and, last but not least, a summary of the goodies English-speaking yuri fans saw published in 2012. (In that respect, we have a lot more than we did after 2011 and 2010.)

Aoi Hana by Shimura Takako (7 volumes, ongoing):
Because like many of you, I love Fumi and Akira and am waiting with bated breath to see what becomes of them. I have more to say about their current relationship and its possible final outcomes, but will save that for my review of volume 7. Also- not in volume 7, but I love the increased focus Hinako and Orie got in recent chapters.

Collectors by Nishi Uko (1 volume, ongoing):
Collectors is that rarest of yuri delights- a series about two women who are already in love and well past "Does she like me back?" Takako's hobby is collecting fashionable clothes while Shinobu's is collecting books. Despite their very different interests, they clearly belong together. Nishi Uko has been drawing realistic yuri doujinshi as one half of a circle called UKOZ for years (some of which I own; you can read some of her earlier work in English in the Yuri Monogatari 5 and 6 anthologies), so it's great to see her going pro with this series, which is running in the josei magazine Rakuen Le Paradis.

Girl's Ride by Isomoto Tsuyoshi (1 volume, complete):
Wow, does this series make me grin. Simple premise- Sei is a new student at Nan's school, Nan befriends Sei, Nan picks up motorcycle riding because of Sei, and Sei and Nan go riding to different places- often out of town- together. This series has a bit of an old school seinen vibe, it isn't servicey (not even the beach chapter), and its characters are incredibly charming. And, well, it's part of a yuri imprint, so... ^^

Gunjo by Nakamura Ching (3 volumes, complete):
Volume 2 of this series was, as noted in my Yuri Manga Highlights of 2011 list, an emotionally gut-punching book. Volume three's resolution is... haha, I wont tell you. I'm not just being an asshole here- you really should read it without being spoiled. If someone had spoiled it for me prior to my reading it, I would feel like punching them in the face. On that heartwarming note, if you're following this series but haven't read its ending, I hope you get to asap. By far the most likely licensor for this title is Viz (because of its Sig Ikki line; Gunjo ran in Ikki magazine), but I could also see it fitting in, say, Vertical or Dark Horse's catalogues. (Basically, publishers that have shown interest in dark, offbeat seinen titles.)

Hatsukoi Kouzoushiki by Amano Shuninta (1 volume, complete): 
I've become such a big Amano Shuninta fangirl. This collection is a goodie bag of everything she does well- goofiness, sweetness, realism, weirdness, and, yes, sexiness. (She is one of the special few mangaka whose PWP work I find hot. See why this list is so subjective?) My favorite in this collection is one of the non-PWP stories, though- the one about a woman who decides to counter how boring and stuck-in-a-rut she's becoming by ordering a mega-spicy bowl of ramen and eating the entire thing before, eyes watering and lips swollen as an unintended side effect of the ramen, confessing to the co-worker she's in love with. It's utterly adorable, and I love its message.

Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo by Morinaga Milk (2 volumes, complete): 
Specifically, the Kuchibiru reboot, for giving Nana and Hitomi a more conclusive Happily Ever After, and their own place! ^_^ Morinaga has wanted to finish Nana and Hitomi's story for a long time, and Futabasha finally gave her the chance to do so. She did a wonderful job, and while I would be thrilled to see more of Nana and Hitomi, I'm happy with where they are at the end of this series.

Pie wo Agemasho, Anata ni Pie wo ne by Sakamoto Mano (1 volume):
For, quite simply, excellent execution of a variety of premises, featuring characters who feel like people I could know and make me want to see what will happen to them. My favorite in this collection is the one about an actress (a lesbian, happily in love with her girlfriend) moving on from how the idol duo she was once a part of broke up. I don't want to spoil too much, but it's a really lovely, poignant story. As with Nishi UKO, Nakamura Ching, Amano Shuninta, Goto Hayako and Morishima Akiko's work on this list, this collection's focus on adult characters is refreshing.

Poor Poor Lips by Goto Hayako (4 volumes, complete):
Ahhhhhhh! I don't want to spoil how this series resolves either. I will let you know that volume 4 ends happily, and that there is a completely unexpected plot twist in it. I'm so, so happy to see Ren and Nako get a happy ending, though. Those two had me rocking in a fetal position in a corner, hyperventilating, after the events of volume 3.

Renai Joshi File by Morishima Akiko (1 volume, sort of complete):
As long as Morishima Akiko continues putting out at least one yuri tankoubon a year, she'll always have a spot on these "Top Yuri Manga of Such-and-Such Year" lists. This entire collection was great, but it included two things I especially like- seeing a character who lost in a love triangle in another series find her own love, and a long-term, adult lesbian couple acting as role models for a younger lesbian couple finding their footing. I hope it's a long, long, long, long time before Morishima Akiko retires.

Sasameki Koto by Ikeda Takashi (9 volumes, complete):
Sasameki Koto's final chapter came out late in 2011, but its final tankoubon came out in early 2012. As you can see from volume 9's cover, our two lovebirds Sumi and Ushio finally graduate high school. The ending they got made me tear up, in a good way- particularly when I read the chalkboard message from their classmates.

Series That Haven't Been Published as Tankoubon Yet:
Cirque Arachne by Saida Nika:
This series' last chapter ran in the last issue of Yuri Hime to come out in 2012, but its tankoubon hasn't been published yet. It's due to (finally!) come out on February 18. Anyway, want to read something different- as in a yuri manga with an unusual setting? Check, this series is about two women who perform in a Cirque du Soleil-like troupe called Cirque Arachne. What's that, you want to know if the actual story is good? Yes, it's very sweet.  And have I seen Kaliedo Star? Yes, I enjoyed it quite a bit. If you liked it, you should like this series.

Kazuma Kowo's one-shots in Yuri Hime:
Count me as a Kazuma Kowo fangirl also. I've enjoyed Junsui Adolescence and Sayonara Folklore, her two other Yuri Hime collections (and Dear Tear, her het romance from Rakuen Le Paradis), but her one-shots are my favorite part of her body of work so far. I'm also glad she continued the couple from "Recalculation"'s story, since I liked them (especially Kisaragi) quite a bit in their original one-shot. Oh, but all of them are squee-worthy. ^.^

Hayashiya Shizuru's one-shots in Rakuen Le Paradis:
It's no secret that Hayashiya Shizuru's Strawberry Shake Sweet is one of my all-time most beloved series. As great as Hayate x Blade might be as a yuri-flavored action-comedy, I'm very glad to see Hayashiya also doing more romance-centric work in Rakuen Le Paradis. ^^

Under One Roof by Fujio:
I will probably die of old age before this series comes out in a collected volume (it being only 6 or so pages in each issue of Hirari), but man, this is such a delightful little series. Miho, a recent college graduate, decides to move out of her parents' house, so she tours a sharehouse where the only resident is a woman around her age named Fuuka. Fuuka and Miho get along swimmingly, and Fuuka tells Miho right off the bat that she's gay, just to be sure Miho's cool with it. Miho is, and they become housemates. What happens when Miho and Fuuka fall for each other? ^^ (Hint: Squeeee!)

Goodies English-speaking yuri fans got last year:

Cardcaptor Sakura omnibi 3 and 4 by CLAMP (release by Dark Horse):
Yeah, sucks for Tomoyo that she didn't get the girl, but she's still one of yuri's most iconic classic characters, and CCS is a great story all-around.

Girl Friends omnibus 1 by Morinaga Milk (release by Seven Seas): And omnibus 2, now that it's out. Want a realistic coming-of-age yuri romance? Girl Friends is just the ticket. Not only was having this series published in English an utterly delightful surprise, so was its selling well enough to make the New York Times best-selling graphic novel list, AND Seven Seas licensing Morinaga's Kuchibiru Tameiki Sakurairo, which they will publish this summer.

Rica'tte Kanji!?: Tokyo Love by Takashima Rica:
This wonderful yuri classic about a lesbian college student named Rica- her moving from her hometown to Tokyo to attend a college and finally meet other women in the lesbian community, before getting together with her girlfriend, Miho- is now in electronic format, with the addition of Takashima's Rica chapters from the Yuri Monogatari anthologies, a cracktastic original doujinshi by Takashima, and some snazzy all-new content. This 2.0 version of Rica'tte Kanji!? is going to come out (hurr) in print at some point- but for now, it's available as a DRM-free downloadable e-book and can be read for free on ALC's website, which I think is quite neat.

Sailor Moon volumes 6 through 8 by Takeuchi Naoko (release by Kodansha): Haruka and Michiru. Enough said.

Lots of yuri on JManga, most of it published in partnership with ALC Publishing:
Thanks to the influx of yuri on JManga, I got to see some favorites licensed and released this past year (like Sweet Blue Flowers a.k.a. Aoi Hana, Hanjuku Joshi, Haru Natsu Aki Fuyu, and Poor Poor Lips) and check out titles I hadn't read (for the love of god, if you haven't read Tears of Thorn, READ IT). I'm glad Ameiro Kouchakan Kandan is on there as of today, and look forward to seeing what else comes next. ^_^

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Winter 2013 Anime Season

Hmm, not terribly excited about this season. I am looking forward to watching AKB0048's second season after finishing its first, and I'm hopeful that Tamako Market will be nice for something light. Otherwise... eh. I would normally be like, "Maybe there will be a pleasant surprise!" but... well, you'll see below. For now, I'm predicting that my definite shows for this season will be the second half of Psycho-Pass and AKB0048 season 2, and a very possible maybe is Tamako Market. But, different strokes for different folks. Maybe you'll find something else here that appeals.

Boku no Imouto ha Osaka Okan:
An adaptation of Chukei Shuppan's Osaka Okan Rule and Osaka Rule books, which are tongue-in-cheek guides to interacting with Osakans. In this series, Kyousuke reunites with his little sister Nanika, who he hasn't seen in ten years, and finds she isn't anything like he remembers. Each episode will be a few minutes long.

Well... Its first episode is on Crunchyroll now. I don't trust anything with "imouto" in its title at this point, so I'll pass. ^^;

Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuno)
Shiraishi Ryoko (Saki's Mako)
Iguchi Yuka (Symphogear's Miku)

Puchimas! Petite Idol Master:
A series of shorts airing online, featuring chibi versions of the Idolm@ster characters.

Tried Idolm@ster after hearing it wasn't awful. It actually wasn't, but wasn't good either, so I dropped it. So... yup. Pass on this.

Kugimiya Rie (Marimite's Touko, a million tsunderes)
Hirata Hiromi (R.O.D. the TV's Maggie)

Yama no Susume:
Another series composed of shorts. Aoi, a cheerful loner with a fear of heights, and her friend Hinata, who loves mountains, meet for the first time since grade school on their first day of high school and decide to climb a mountain to see the sunrise from its peak, like they did when they were kids.

Crunchyroll's streaming this one too. The first episode is cute. No service, pleasant enough. It covers the story's set-up- Aoi and Hinata meeting again, Hinata convincing Aoi to climb with her, and a couple flashbacks to why Aoi has a fear of heights and what her and Hinata's friendship was like when they were younger. That's actually quite a bit for three and a half minutes, but it doesn't feel rushed. I'll probably forget about this series by the time the next episode airs, but it's fine if you're looking for something light and low-key.

Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuno)
Iguchi Yuka (Symphogear's Miku)
Hikasa Youko (K-ON!'s Mio)

Another series composed of episodes that are a few minutes each. This one follows "Japan's cutest manga editors" as they try to create the #1 bestselling manga magazine even though they have no experience editing manga.

Crunchyroll has the first episode of this one up too. I like the idea of a series that takes one behind the scenes of manga publishing (not counting doujinshi publishing here), but our options for that in anime that I know of are... well, Bakuman (which is dripping with contempt for women), Sekaiichi Hatsukoi (a romantic comedy starring a lead couple with consent issues), and this (a comedy that isn't offensive, just... not funny). If you want a good yuri example of a manga with a manga publishing theme, you should check out Kodama Naoko's Renai Manga, which is about a stylish shoujo editor who gets assigned to her favorite mangaka- who she always envisioned being a chic person living a romantic, exciting life like the characters in her manga, but turns out to be a shy recluse who doesn't care about fashion.

Yuuki Aoi (Madoka Magica's Madoka)
Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Taketatsu Ayana (K-ON!'s Azusa)
Kitamura Eri (Madoka Magica's Sayaka)

Ai Mai Mi:
Yet another mini-episode series. Ai, Mai, Mi and Ponoka-sempai, members of their school's manga club, fight alien invaders, face rivals in tournaments and do other random things.

Crunchyroll has the first episode of this one up too. It was better than I expected- the fanfiction gag was funny. And I liked the visual reference to Morita-san ha Mukuchi. And it isn't servicey. But that one gag aside, its jokes didn't do much for me.

Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Ootsubo Yuuka (Yuru Yuri's Kyouko)

Cuticle Tantei Inaba:
An adaption of a manga running in GFantasy. Inaba Hiroshi is a private detective who was genetically engineered to be part wolf. He solves cases with his cross-dressing secretary Yuuta and a teenager named Kei. Inaba, Yuuta and Kei try to arrest Don Valentino, an evil anthropomorphic goat who likes eating money. PV streaming here.

Well... umm... okay. Batshit though the evil anthropomorphic money-eating goat being arrested by a half-wolf detective thing sounds, I think I'll pass.

Suwabe Junichi (Fate/stay night's Archer)
Ookawa Tohru (Shiki's Ozaki)
Asami Seto (Hourou Musuko's Takatsuki)
Saiga Mitsuki (Mai Hime and Mai Otome's Chie)
Sugita Tomokazu (Suzumiya Haruhi's Kyon)
Hikasa Youko (K-ON!'s Mio)

Maoyuu Maou Yuusha:
An adaptation of a light novel with unusual origins- it started on a 2 channel forum.

Maou ("Demon Queen") and Yuusha ("Hero") live in a world in which humans and demons are at war. When Yuusha confronts Maou over the war having started because demons declared war against humans, she explains that the point was to prevent humans from going to war with each other by giving them all a common enemy. Yuusha allies with her so they can come up with a way to bring peace to humans and demons alike.

This series's premise has potential- but going by the PVs, its protagonist is a bland audience stand-in and the Demon Queen... well, the PVs are pretty obsessed with her boobs.

Koshimizu Ami (Saki's Nodoka, Marimite's Kanako)
Fukuyama Jun (Code Geass's Lelouch)
Saito Chiwa (Madoka Magica's Homura)
Tomatsu Haruka (Mouretsu Pirates's Gruier)
Kamiya Hiroshi (Zetsubou-sensei)
Sawashiro Miyuki (CANAAN's Canaan, Blue Drop's Hagino, Psycho-Pass's Shion)
Tooyama Nao (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon's Margot)
Fukuen Misato (Hidamari Sketch's Natsume)
Itou Shizuka (Marimite's Rei, El Cazador de la Bruja's Nadie, Psycho-Pass's Yayoi)

D.C. III ~Da Capo III~:
An adaptation of the D.C. III ~Da Capo III~ visual novel. Which haremette will the protagonist ch...zzzzzzzz. I watched an episode of the first Da Capo anime years ago. One of the dullest things I have ever watched. I don't have high hopes for this series. PV here.

Noteworthy Seiyuu:
Nitta Emi (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon's Malga)

Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shuraba Sugiru:
An adaptation of a light novel series. Eita, a high schooler, aims to get into medical school and, because of that and his parents' divorce, wants nothing to do with romance. A cool-headed beauty named Masuzu decides to make him her "fake boyfriend" to ward off unwanted attention. Eita's childhood friend Chiwa, who is "like a little sister" to him, gets jealous. Masuzu and Chiwa start fighting over him.

Well, this looks promising. Here are the trailers.

Tamura Yukari (Nanoha)
Akasaki Chinatsu (Mouretsu Pirates's Maki)
Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Kanemoto Hisako (Mouretsu's Pirates's Grunhilde)
Nazuka Kaori (Simoun's Yun)
Tooyama Nao (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon's Margot)

AKB0048 Second Stage:
AKB0048's second season. At the beginning of the twenty first century, humanity fled Earth as a result of interplanetary war. In their new society, music and art are forbidden. Forty eight years after this ban started, AKB48 was resurrected as a guerilla group called AKB0048 that fights (often literally) to bring music to the people.

I recently started watching this series and have enjoyed what I've seen so far. I don't care about AKB48, so I wrote this series off when it was airing, assuming that it would be crap that would only really appeal to AKB48/idol fans. But then certain people told me that the AKB48 aspect is just branding- that this show has honest-to-goodness good characters and a fun story, courtesy of Macross's Kawamori Shouji helming it. From what I have seen, it is indeed a fun series with likeable lead characters- and the AKB48 aspect really is just branding. And it isn't servicey. I look forward to watching this season after finishing season one.

PV streaming here, but its first episode has already been released anyway. Sadly, no legal streaming sites have it.

AKB48 members Satou Amina, Ishida Haruka, Iwata Karen, Watanabe Mayu, Nakaya Sayaka, and Satou Sumire.
SKE48 members Yagami Kumi and Hata Sawako.
NMB48 member Mita Mao.
Kawasumi Ayako (Chikane, Saber)
Ueda Kana (Marimite's Yumi, Saki's Saki)
Nakahara Mai (Strawberry Panic!'s Nagisa)
Noto Mamiko (Marimite's Shimako)
Sawashiro Miyuki (CANAAN's Canaan, Blue Drop's Hagino, Psycho-Pass's Shion)
Shiraishi Ryoko (Saki's Mako)
Horie Yui (Hourou Musuko's Anna, Aoi Hana's Kyouko)
Tamura Yukari (Nanoha)

Minami-ke Tadaima:
The fourth season of a slice-of-life series focusing on a household composed of three sisters. PV streaming here. Just click the orange button that says "PVを見る."

I tried Minami-ke a while ago. Thought it was okay, but never finished it... so needlessly to say, I won't be watching this season. ^^;

Inoue Marina (Toshokan Sensou's Iku)
Satou Rina (Mouretsu Pirates's Jenny, Marimite's Tsutako)
Chihara Minori (Saki's Touka)
Toyosaki Aki (K-ON!'s Yui)
Ono Daisuke (Kuroshitsuji's Sebastian)
Kitamura Eri (Madoka Magica's Sayaka)
Mizuki Nana (Nanoha's Fate, Heartcatch's Precure's Tsubomi, Symphogear's Tsubasa)
Chiba Saeko (Mai Hime and Mai Otome's Natsuki)
Nanjou Yoshino (CANAAN's Maria)

Hakkenden: Touhou Hakken Ibun:
An adaptation of a manga series that ran in Ciel Tres Tres. It's basically a supernatural reimagining of Nasou Satomi Hakkenden, a 19th century novel about eight samurai half-brothers and their adventures.

Going by the trailer, this is a very loose adaptation of Hakkenden set in modern times. Doesn't look that interesting, so pass.

Takagaki Ayahi (Sasameki Koto's Sumi)
Kamiya Hiroshi (Zetsubou-sensei)

Senran Kagura:
Girls with big boobs fight. They're supposed to be ninjas. Oh, and the blonde's signature gag seems to be groping other women's boobs- so, some yuri-flavored service. I'm not biting for that, though.
PVs here.

Imai Asami (Steins;Gate's Kurisu)
Harada Hitomi (Sasameki Koto's Tomoe)
Mizuhashi Kaori (Madoka Magica's Mami)
Kobayashi Yuu (Saki's Yumi, Negima's Setsuna)
Iguchi Yuka (Symphogear's Miku)
Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Kitamura Eri (Madoka Magica's Sayaka)
Toyoguchi Megumi (Marimite's Sei)
Shiraishi Ryoko (Saki's Mako)

Love Live! School Idol Project:
Like Strawberry Panic!, Love Live! School Idol Project started as a "user-participation project" in Dengeki G's magazine, in which readers voted on the future of the characters. (In SP!'s case, readers voted on favorite pairings. Nagisa/Tamao won again and again, so thankfully clearly, those polls didn't ultimately hold much influence.) Online mobile phone polls also allowed folks to vote on the characters' hairstyles and costumes. Several music videos have been released starring these characters, and now they're getting an anime. In the anime, the characters attend a school that is in danger of being closed, so they become idols to save it.

Doesn't interest me. PVs found here.

Nitta Emi (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon's Malga)
Suzuko Mimori (Yuru Yuri's Himawari)
Nanjou Yoshino (CANAAN's Maria)

Ishida to Asakura:
Another gag comedy series being doled out in extra-short episodes. (Two minutes in this case.) It focuses on two best friends in high school- Asakura, who wants to become a teacher at an all-girls' school, and Ishida, who wants to become a florist with Asakura.

*shrug* Don't think I'll be following this one either.

Noteworthy Seiyuu:

An adaptation of an otome game, about a girl who wakes up with, surprise, amnesia. A boy who introduces himself as a spirit named Orion appears before her, offering to help her regain her memories. She gets a phone call from her boyfriend, but it being a phone call, she can't see what he looks like. Some super-powered villains are after her also. PV streaming here.

Not really interested in this one. It does sound kind of neat that in the game, apparently, one has a variety of personalities one can create for the protagonist, depending the route one chooses.

Nazuka Kaori (Simoun's Yun)
Ishida Akira (Mai Hime's Nagi)

Line Offline Salaryman:
Another series of shorts, this time based on the mascot characters from NHN's voice chat/messaging app. Line Offline Salaryman is a workplace gag comedy, taking place in a corporate office setting.

Not interested in this one either.

No seiyuu cast yet.

THE UNLIMITED: Hyoubu Kyousuke:
By the creator of Zettai Karen children, which I have not seen, a series about an "esper outlaw" who was betrayed by humans way back in his past. Looks like he fights some dude with heterochromatic eyes, and has adopted a psychic orphan. PV found here.

Doesn't seem like my cup of tea either.

Tooyama Nao (Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon's Margot)
Kugimiya Rie (Marimite's Touko, a million tsunderes)
Oohara Sayaka (Fate/Zero's Irisviel, Aria's Alicia)
Nakamura Yuuichi (Clannad's Tomoya)

Bakumatsu Gijinden Roman:
An adaptation of a pachinko game that has character designs by Monkey Punch- woe be to any Lupin III fans who are like, "Sweet, this looks like Lupin! It must be based on another series by the same guy!" The game stars Roman, a "phantom thief" living in the Genroku era (1688-1704) who steals back items that were unfairly taken from their original owners. The anime will be set during the Bakumatsu era, the years when Japan transferred from the Tokugawa shogunate of the Edo period to the Meiji government. PVs here and here.

I like Monkey Punch's character designs and the old school atmosphere the PVs are going for, but... well, the story is what's most important and this is a pachinko game adaptation. Those tend to be mediocre at best.

Nakai Kazuya (One Piece's Zoro)
Kitamura Eri (Madoka Magica's Sayaka)

Jigoku Youchien:
Another series of shorts, whose premise is self-explanatory. (Jigoku Youchien translates as Hell Kindergarten.)

Passing on this one too.

Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuno)
Ookubo Rumi (Yuru Yuri's Chinatsu)

A Jump Square manga adaptation. Demons invade a fantasy world, so its king declares that the demons must be fought by the descendants of "the hero." Seventy five people qualify. One of them teams up with a warrior from the palace to fight the demons.

Color me awestruck, this one has extra-short episodes too. There really are more series like that than usual this season. Pass, anyway.

Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Nakamura Yuuichi (Clannad's Tomoya)
Nakata Jouji (Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate's Alucard)

Tamako Market:
From Kyoto Animation and Yamada Naoko, the person who directed both seasons of K-ON (which I enjoyed), comes an original series about a girl named Tamako, whose family runs a mochi shop, and the other people who live and work in the Usagiyama shopping district.

This could be an enjoyable light series. At the least, it'll look really good (especially the lovingly rendered mochi) and won't be servicey. Will definitely be trying it.

Yukino Satsuki (R.O.D. the TV's Nenene)
Ono Daisuke (Kuroshitsuji's Sebastian)
Hikasa Youko (K-ON!'s Mio)

An adapation of a "4-koma novel", a light novel consisting of four page short stories. This one focuses on a boy named Kyouya and his four female classmates, who are in the Good Job Club. PV found here.


Suzuko Mimori (Yuru Yuri's Himawari)

gdgd Fairies season 2:
Each episode of this series will be fifteen minutes long. This completely cgi series focuses on three fairies with weak powers who live in the creatively named Fairy Forest.

*shrug again*

Mizuhara Kaoru (Ga -Rei- Zero's Yomi)
Suzuko Mimori (Yuru Yuri's Himawari)

Studio's SHAFT's offering for this season- an adaptation of a light novel series about a hikikomori named Sasami, who won't do so much as change clothes or eat without her older brother's help. (Let me know when there's a series in which an able-bodied boy needs a girl's help to carry out basic life functions.) She views the outside world through a "Brother Surveillance Tool" on her computer. Thus, she witnesses the "relationships worthy of a romantic comedy" that her brother has with three sisters.

Yeah, pass.

Nonaka Ai (Madoka Magica's Kyouko, Negima's Konoka)
Saito Chiwa (Madoka Magica's Homura)
Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuno)
Hanazawa Kana (Mouretsu Pirates's Chiaki, Black Rock Shooter's Mato)

Vivired Operation:
From the director of the utterly gross Strike Witches, a series about a 14 year-old girl who protects the Earth from alien invaders with her color-coordinated friends. There will be many ass and crotch shots.

Ootsubo Yuuka (Yuru Yuri's Kyouko)

Boku ha Tomodachi ga Sukunai NEXT (a.k.a. Haganai NEXT):
The second season of a series about a boy who has trouble making friends because people assume he's a delinquent because of his blonde hair and "fierce-looking" eyes. (Contrary to people's assumptions, he didn't dye his hair to look rebellious. It's naturally blonde because he's half-British.) He befriends a girl who has trouble making friends also, and they form a club for people in their school who have trouble making friends. PV here.

The premise isn't bad, but in practice, it looks like it's just an excuse to surround the lead with moe girls. Never tried the first season, so I won't be sampling this one.

Itou Kanae (Taisho Yakyuu Musume's Koume)
Inoue Marina (Toshokan Sensou's Iku)
Kimura Ryouhei (Penguindrum's Shouma)
Hanazawa Kana (Mouretsu Pirates's Chiaki, Black Rock Shooter's Mato)
Fukuen Misato (Hidamari Sketch's Natsume)
Iguchi Yuka (Symphogear's Miku)

An adaptation of a 4-koma manga running online. Kotoura Haruka is a new transfer student. She can read people's minds, so she joins the ESP club. Her clubmate Yoshihisa becomes her love interest. PV here.

This one looks lame too.

Hanazawa Kana (Mouretsu Pirates's Chiaki, Black Rock Shooter's Mato)
Kanemoto Hisako (Mouretsu's Pirates's Grunhilde)

Mondai-Ji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru sou Desu yo?:
A light novel adaptation, about a boy named Izayoi who is transported to an alternate world. He finds that two other "problem children" have been transported there, a girl named You and a girl named Asuka. A buxom bunny girl named Kuro Usagi ("Black Rabbit") tells them she summoned them there to overthrow the Devil.

Surprise, the trailer looks shitty.

Nakajima Megumi (Macross Frontier's Ranka)

Chihayafuru season 2:
The second season of that rarest of beasts, a josei manga adaptation. Chihayafuru is about a girl named Chihaya, her two childhood friends (and love interests) Arata and Taichi and several other friends, who all play in competitive karuta.

Have you ever started a series that you think is good and feel like you should love and faithfully watch week after week, but end up dropping it? That's what happened with me and season 1 of this series. It is a well-written show, I just... ended up dropping it. I'm glad for the fans who are looking forward to this season, though. Surprisingly, there isn't a PV out for it yet.

Asami Seto (Hourou Musuko's Takatsuki)
Kayano Ai (Mouretsu Pirates's Ai)
Miyano Mamoru (Ouran's Tamaki)

Hetalia: The Beautiful World:
Hetalia's fifth season- and the only show that can claim the fame of allowing BL fans to slash different countries. You should already know if you're going to be watching this gag comedy that anthropomorphizes different nations or not. No PV yet.

Onosaka Masaya (Trigun's Vash)
Noriaki Sugiyama (Naruto's Sasuke)
Konishi Katsuyuki (Gurren Lagann's Kamina)
Kaida Yuki (Prince of Tennis's Shusuke)
Takahashi Hiroki (Prince of Tennis's Eiji)

And, that's it!

Whoops, I forgot about Doki Doki! Precure. So... I guess I'll try it, since I've given every Precure series a shot.
PV here.

Nabatame Hitomi (Strawberry Panic!'s Shizuma, Marimite's Eriko)
Kotobuki Minako (K-ON!'s Mugi)