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Third week of April. The final batch of new spring anime shows have aired, and so here is the final batch of first looks.

SKET (Support, Kindness, Encouragement, Troubleshoot) Brigade. No actual dancing.

SKET Dance (streaming at Crunchyroll) is a pretty entertaining show about a group of high school students who are… well, basically they’re handymen. They take on jobs that no one else wants to do. I guess you could call it sort of a detective-themed show, with a case or two per week. This was actually from the first week, but got buried. It airs in prime time for kids (6 PM JST on Thursdays), so no naughty stuff and not much violence.

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It’s the second week of April, and the new season is rolling along. I introduced a few of the new shows last week. Before I get too far behind, I figured I’d throw out a few whole slew more.

Akechi Mitsuhide, Date Masamune, Oda Nobunaga, and Toyotomi Hideyoshi. Historic Japanese figures, all of them. Look it up.

Sengoku Otome: Momoiro Paradox (streaming on Crunchyroll as “Battle Girls – Time Paradox“) knows its audience: People who know their history and are into cute girls portraying versions of the historical figures, much like Samurai Girls or Battle Vixens. Sengoku Otome is not (yet) as blatant as those two. It’s based on a series of characters from pachinko games instead of a manga or novel, so I’m not expecting much from the storyline.

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Have you guys gone and watched Nichijou/My Ordinary Life yet? I haven’t! But I recently noticed the credits for its opening song, “Hyadain no ka-ka-kata*omoi” (“Hyadain’s un-un-unrequited*love”). Maeyamada Ken’ichi, also known as Hyadain, has been one of my favorite remixers for years, and it was a big surprise to see his music featured in an anime.

From this quirky op, you can see lots of Hyadain’s musical trademarks – chiptune sensibilities, and a whole lot of backing himself up with falsetto. Check after the jump for more of his work, from cute and harmless Dragon Quest remixes to slightly risque love songs to Mega Man.

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It’s April, and the new anime season has begun. (Although, due to the continuing effects of the earthquake, several shows from the last season have not yet aired their conclusions.) Since there are so many new shows starting up this month, I decided to break up the “first looks” post into pieces. So here we go.

Boy meets girl... er, princess... er, dog?

Dog Days kicked off the season with a bang. Tsuzuki Masaki (writer), Kusakawa Keizou (director), and Seven Arcs (animation production) from the Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha series and movie teamed up with a first-rate voice cast for this highly-anticipated show. The opening song is done by one of Dom’s favorite singers, the character designs and art are strong, and all the pieces look to be in place. It remains to be seen if Tsuzuki and Kusakawa can tell a compelling story or if this just becomes an eye candy fluff piece.

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Akazukin Chacha, which ran in the shoujo manga magazine Ribbon for almost 8 years (October 1992 to August 2000) and as an anime for a year and a half (January 1994 to June 1995), is coming back as a one-shot revival.

Chacha and the gang are getting back together.

The one-shot, by original manga artist Ayahana Min, will run in the April issue of the shoujo magazine Cookie, which goes on sale March 26.

“Media Mix” is an entertainment industry buzzword for having a property – in this case, let’s say THE IDOLM@STER – span various different types of media in its quest to conquer the universe. So it starts off in its original form (for Im@s, a game) then branches out to other forms (anime, manga, radio shows, live performances, whatever else you can think of).

Idolm@ster 2 - Sleeping Beauty

Chihaya wants you to buy her manga, "Idolmaster 2 - Sleeping Beauty".

The strategy is to increase awareness and to get more overall sales by having a bunch of products available for people to buy. It works, too, because although not everyone can afford $60-80 for a game or a Blu-Ray disk, it’s much easier on the budget to buy a manga magazine or a light novel for $4-5.

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Stolen from her blog. I liked that one.

This isn't the most appealing picture of her, but I like it anyway.

This is Takagaki Ayahi. She got her first starring role in 2007’s Venus Versus Virus and after a few well-received roles (like Isurugi Noe in True Tears, a personal favorite), her career really took off after she joined the seiyuu idol group Sphere in 2009. Along with young stars Tomatsu Haruka (Kannagi), Toyosaki Aki (Yui, K-On!) and Kotobuki Minako (Tsumugi, K-On!), the four of them have gotten pretty popular as seiyuu and singers. You may have heard Sphere’s music while watching recent shows like Sora no Manimani, Ichiban Ushiro no Daimaou, or Asobi ni Ikuyo.

But in my mind, Sphere isn’t long for this world, because Takagaki Ayahi is due to bust out and leave her less-talented group members in the dust. Why do I think this?

I’m glad you asked.

Amusingly, Seiya has pointed out that this isn’t just any version of “Oh Happy Day” – it’s the exact version that appeared in Whoopi Goldberg’s immortal hit, Sister Act 2. Don’t believe me? Check it out for yourself.

More of her music after the jump, along with my favorite game, “spot the anchor”!

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The cover for the first manga volume of the popular anime series “Puella Magi Madoka Magica” was released recently, and it features a quote, in English, from perhaps an unusual cultural source: Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Magical girls and MLK.

The quote is: “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.” Seems appropriate, doesn’t it?

The first manga volume will hit stores in Japan on February 12. No word as yet on an official English license for either the manga or the anime. (There are also two other manga series running, “Kazumi Magica” and “Oriko Magica”, which feature side stories in the same universe.)

Hi there! I’m Seiya, pinch-hitting for Dom.

Japanese TV is divided into quarterly seasons, and this January brought us a new one. Kicking off with Rio Rainbow Gate on the 4th, to the most recent Fractale on the 14th, at least 17 new anime shows have premiered so far this month.

Magical girls with guns

If you got one wish, what would you wish for?

 

So, what are you watching?

Through the first three weeks, not including today, here are my impressions on the new shows (in the order of the premiere date):

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woooooooooooooo

A week has gone by since the last time I updated my thoughts on the fall anime series, and while my general opinion is still unchanged – “This is the best season in years” – there’s a lot to be said about what’s going on. With most series having two episodes under their belts, let’s jump into it.

I’m Hooked

To Aru Majutsu no Index II – This is mostly based on my love of the books, which admittedly have their flaws, but have kept me reading for months. The new opening song gets special props for making me giggle whenever I think Kawada Mami is singing “No paaaaants!”

The World God Only Knows – Captures the feel of the manga quite well, with the addition of some excellent production quality on the part of Manglobe and the staff. Elcea is like 20 times cuter in the anime than she is in the manga, though I’m still not fully convinced by Shimono Hiro’s portrayal of Keima.

Star Driver – I wish I had maids who sparkled at me when I took my shirt off. It’s from the “Don’t think about it too hard” school of fun, and I’m still in.

MM! – Still a guilty pleasure.

OreImo – It’s a very well-researched look at the social dynamics of otaku, and I appreciate that. Saori “Bajeena” also amuses me, since I know some people like that.

Gave it a chance, and…

Squid Girl – This show made me laugh a few times, but I don’t see myself sticking with it for very long because I’ll get tired of the humor fairly quickly.

Iron Man – Dropped until it airs on G4. I want to see it in English.

Super Robot Wars: The Inspector – Worth sticking to. I may be biased though, since I started playing Alpha 3 recently and have become weak to cheesy robot fun (see: Star Driver).

Otome Youkai Zakuro – Better than I expected, but still not really up my alley. Some old Sakura Taisen fans are clinging to it, though, so maybe after a few more episodes I’ll pick it back up.

No Sir

Soredemo Machi ha Mawatteiru – This one’s actually pretty funny, but I absolutely can’t stand Omigawa Chiaki’s acting. She belches and whines her way through scenes, and it’s just not fun to listen to. Sakurai Takahiro as the old woman deserves props, but I want to take a chopstick to my eardrums every time Omigawa’s character opens her mouth.

Bakuman – Slow. Dull. No.

Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt – Some people took a look at this image of Panty and went “God, that’s hawt.” I went “Holy crap, what happened to her left eye?” I will not mock you for liking it, since it’s massive parody in action, but I don’t like it myself.

Motto ToLoveRu + Samurai Girls – Lumped into the same category of “My quality meter is not controlled by my hormonal urges.” I didn’t watch Seikon no Qwaser, I didn’t watch High School of the Dead all the way through, and I won’t watch these for more than a few minutes.

How’re you guys doing with the new season?