Posts Tagged ‘nana mizuki’
The summer season of 2009 is interesting on the surface in quite a few different ways. Only a little less than 40 titles will be released from June to August. That number includes specials, OVAs and movies being released which contrasts against at least 30 TV premieres last summer alone.
In terms of content, this is a summer of dreams for fans of manga based stories with up to eight series being adapted from a manga, though that number goes past a dozen when you factor in light, visual and traditional novels as well. Only two series are based off eroge this season but sequels and continuations are alive and well taking up 10 titles of their own.
In terms of studio activity, Madhouse and Studio DEEN are easily the most active of the season with three releases each. On the Madhouse queue are a TV series, a special and a movie while Studio DEEN will be releasing two television series and a series of web shorts. JC Staff and SHAFT aren’t far behind them though with two releases each and a wealth of others filling out the crowd with one each. One studio will even be making their debut their season with GoHands taking a shot at the eroge adaptation ‘Princess Lover‘.
So enough with the introductions, (with apologies to Gia of AnimeVice for adapting her preview style a bit) listed below the cut are as many of the releases that I could find information for. I have tried to make this listing as complete as possible with my resources but I’m not perfect. If you see any missing titles, feel free to drop me a line in the comments and I’ll make sure to get them added.
Titles are listed by premiere dates and will be continuously edited throughout June. Keep checking back for updates as new premiere dates are listed, previews are written and finally to read all the latest reviews as the new series premiere!
For today’s trailer roundup, VAP has posted a new one minute trailer for their upcoming OVA, ‘Saint Seiya: The Lost Canvas’. With animation produced by TMS Entertainment, the first volume of the new series will drop on store shelves later this month (June 24th) and tells a story that starts 250 years before the original series takes place. The newest trailer shows quite a bit of character footage but not much else making this one purely something to get fans excited. Though that was likely already happening due to this being the first new Saint Seiya since last year’s six episode OVA. Well that and the cast list include names like Aya Hirano, Nana Mizuki and Jun Fukuyama.
I haven’t seen this series yet but with this one serving as a prequel of sorts, perhaps it would be a good time to start?
The official website for the upcoming ‘Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha’ movie has been opened for fans to check out. There’s not much there at the moment but if you missed it the first time around, the website does contain the trailer released for the film at TAF earlier this year. Coming in at over 3 minutes long, the trailer spends the first part recapping the history of the franchise before introducing the characters who will be featured in the movie version.
Admittedly I’m not entirely familiar with this series but the animation looks good to start with. It will be fun to watch how fans react to it upon its release later this year. Seven Arcs will be producing the animation for the movie with Nana Mizuki and Yukari Tamura reprising their lead roles.
This literally came in last night just as I was closing down my laptop but manga author Takuya Fujima has announced that her ‘Weiß Survive’ manga will be turned into a series of two and a half minute shorts this summer. Sixteen shorts will air starting in June based on the battle card manga and will run during a program which will teach people how to play the trading card game. Already a few names have been attached to the project besides Fujima including: Nobuhisa Nakamoto (whose only other real credit is as Duo in 2004′s “Legend of Duo”) and Izumi Kitta (Nozomi in the third season of Jigoku Shoujo) playing the lead roles of Takeshi and Michi respectively while Nana Mizuki will be performing the OP theme.
So thanks to real life being there waiting for me right when I got home from the con, it’s taken me a little longer than usual to get back into the swing of things. Consequently, this is going to be a huge trailer roundup as I plan to cover the last few days instead of the last twenty four hours. Good news for you since that means lots of new pretty animation to squee over.
Closing out another series, ‘Witchblade’ leaves more than a few holes but otherwise manages to come to something that resembles a conclusion.
The truth about her impending death is weighing heavily on the mind of Masane. Everyone will eventually learn the truth on this volume starting with Tozawa but followed by Rihoko and everyone else in Masane’s life. No one has time to dwell on this matter though as there is still work to be done. The surge in power coming from the Witchblade has activated 3800 I-Weapons that were traveling by barge and have made them all jump ship and head back for Tokyo. Already crumbling, Masane will have to fight them all off along with a bit of help.
Maria has found her helpers though and is on a mission of her own for more power. With I-Weapons after her as well, she’ll fight through it all in order to get her chance at obtaining the Witchblade for herself.
Good and the Bad
Building up to the conclusion to this series, ‘Witchblade’ does a lot of things right along the way. Episode twenty one completely wiped away my comment from last volume regarding oddly edited intros. The note that this intro leaves off on completely hooked me in and got me ready to connect emotionally with the characters.
From there the emotional roller coaster continued without fail. ’Witchblade’ really excels here by giving Masane time with the other characters. Most major characters in this series are going to get some time with Masane to deal with the loss. This really creates a great connection with the audience as opposed to if the series had just let everyone deal with the death of Masane all at the same time. I actually found myself quite surprised at how emotional these scenes came across.
Beyond this however, ‘Witchblade’ manages to slowly regress to the things that slowed them down before until we’re left with a conclusion that really can only be called that for name sake. Once the characters are allowed to have their good bye time with Masane, the story really has no idea on where to go. No character really has any real grand purpose to head towards at the end and so the last couple of episodes just kind of tie together the loose ends as best as possible.
Maria spends this entire volume searching for the Witchblade because she wants power. In the final episode though, the staff completely telegraph what the big problem is with her story: what does she want the power for? She doesn’t know and neither does the staff apparently. Maria does get her cursory send off in the end but in the end, her entire involvement almost feels like a waste.
Masane’s end comes about just as fans have been told it is going to. No big swerve that leads to a happy ending. Unfortunately it leaves a lot of questions in its wake. I won’t go into details about how the ending actually comes about but on the close of it, I found myself with many questions. What happens to many of these characters? Rihoko and Takayama? Tozawa? What happened to the Witchblade? How were Takayama and Rihoko able to stay so close to the event sight without issue? Did Masane just absorb everyone after having her epiphany?
There are some wonderful pieces of music attached to these episodes which serves as a saving grace of points. In episode twenty two, there is a beautiful female solo with a tribal feel to it. You could almost say that the theme is out of place in a series like this especially since tribal themes haven’t exactly been long established as part of the musical score but if you look past that you have a great theme to listen to. Later on the final episode continues the usual harsh guitar tracks for the final battles. The riffs really play strongly to the scene and create a nice atmosphere.
Closing out the series is a soft rock theme sung by PSYCHIC LOVER titled ‘kodou ~get closer~’. The theme has a very gentle sound to it akin to a softer track from the Goo Goo Dolls (how out of touch am I that the first band I thought of as an example was them?).
Dub vs. Sub
While it’s hard to actually point out anyone who was consistently great throughout this entire volume, there were some great shining moments for some members of the cast. In episode twenty two, Masaya Matsukaze sounds absolutely great as Tozawa. When Tozawa first finds out about what is awaiting Masane, the performance and dialogue sounds absolutely wonderful and very powerful.
Beyond that though, only one other character really stepped forward and made herself stand out as sounding different and that would be Asagi. In a series filled with characters, which are always about being overdramatic or evil, Asagi stands out on this volume for just being. She’s sarcastic and flat and it’s amazing how well it works when contrasted against everyone else. Both Akeno Watanabe and Clarine Harp do such an excellent job with the character. Now I wish that she had been a major player in the second half, who knows how many ways this series could have been improved with her having a larger role playing off the leads.
Along with the standard clean animations, the final interview segment of the series is with Nana Mizuki (Maria). In about nine and a half minutes, Mizuki will field a question from her “father” Shinji Ogami as he creepily admits to checking out her legs during recording sessions before moving onto her thoughts on the series, her character and more.
Once again, I’m finding myself staring at an action series that had good to great momentum throughout almost the entire series before sputtering a little at the finish. With the conclusion of ‘Witchblade’, we have a little less than a half dozen storylines looking for a solid conclusion and only getting tied up in something that resembles a bow. Taking the series as a whole however, the less than perfect ending doesn’t detract from the fact that this was still a better than average action series. It may have tried to tell a story that was a little too deep for them to pull off but it’s close enough to make it worth a view.
Ending on the same high note it started on, Hell Girl’s finale leaves audiences satisfied and wanting more.
In the final four episodes of Hell Girl’s first season, the stories will all start to come together. Tsugumi will have her thoughts and notions challenged right away when Ai has to ferry a nurse that everyone loves to Hell. Faced with this new reality and Ai herself, Tsugumi and Hajime are led to a small village.
While they are there all of the truths will come out. Ai’s past will be revealed, what her connection to Hajime and Tsugumi are and Tsugumi will be put to the ultimate test as Ai seeks to consign her final grievance to hell.
Good and the Bad
Besides the overall story arcs, these final four episodes mark the first time that Hell Girl has attempted to sustain an actual story arc. The opening to the arc also marks for the series revealing just how twisted the staff can be. The opening story with the nurse that everyone loves moves in fantastically twisted layers. This episode also provides an incredibly real way for Tsugumi’s eyes to be opened. The twist in this episode will really catch the audience off guard and leave them with an uncomfortable feeling as Tsugumi is left searching for answers.
Tying the other stories together in the final three episodes, the staff does a great job of finding just about every loose end and bringing them logically together. While there is always the fear that a series that has been this consistent will drop it in the end, the staff really ties it off well here. The staff for this series has always been very meticulous about making sure that all of the stories that interweaved made sense. The final end game here really shows the audience how far back some of these events were first being planted.
The finale to the series is really satisfying for the audience. All of the characters will come out of this story changed in one way or another. The changes will be real and tangible from the moment they appear on the screen and the emotional impact is intense. To listen to Tsugumi’s speech near the end of the series and not feel the power delivered by the dialogue is a difficult thing to do indeed. The anguish that these characters are going through as they deal with the darkest parts of their lives is delivered with such force that it’s impossible to ignore.
The animation in these final episodes looked absolutely gorgeous. The colors were bright and crisp. The only small thing that stuck out while viewing is how Ai has a much more natural skin color. In all her previous lightings and scenes, her skin has been much paler. It was an odd change to see but not really a negative to the series.
The pacing throughout the story arc remains consistently fast the entire way. The four episodes fly by and each episode flows seamlessly into each other. This keeps the story moving fluidly throughout. Rarely was there a gap in the story movement. It seemed as though every second was written so precisely to keep something happening at all times.
The music in the final episode of this series is some of the best heard from the series. The string and piano music that plays as Tsugumi is alone in her apartment, face to face to Ai is riveting. Without that music, this scene would have been very difficult to pull your eyes away from. With this music playing, I couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen.
Dub vs. Sub
Both vocal casts had their work cut out for them in these episodes. The emotional range that Brina Palencia and Mamiko Noto as Ai have to go through is very sharp. The same goes for Luci Christian and Nana Mizuki as Tsugumi. Both casts deliver sharp performances that pull their audiences in. Nana Mizuki delivering Tsugumi’s speech at the end is voice acting gold.
For this final volume, the extra included besides the clean animations is titled ‘Office Kitchenette of Hell’. In this eleven minute extra, director Takahiro Oomori, series organizer Kenichi Kanemaki, producer Ai Abe and Character Designer Mariko Oka will talk about the series. As you may have guessed already by the title, they have decided to film this eleven minute ‘casual chat’ as I suppose it is supposed to look like in the production office’s kitchenette. Though I’m sure it’s a very evil kitchenette. Points for innovation I suppose though perhaps someone can explain to me what’s wrong with just doing a round table discussion?
The interview itself is interesting if you’re the type who likes to know about the inside scoop on things. The staff will reveal some interesting tidbits about who didn’t want to be on the series initially and who didn’t even realize they were directing the entire series.
This is how a series should be produced. From start to finish, Hell Girl has focused on telling a solid story. With compelling characters to push along a mesmerizing story, the finale delivers a great ending that wraps up the story. No loose ends or plot hooks are left dangling to compel audience members to watch the second season. Instead I’m left wanting to watch second season because I want to watch it, not because I am left feeling like I have to. This is easily going to end up on my top ten list this year.
Final Grade: A
It’s not an entirely satisfactory ending but Simoun manages to wrap things up with enough to keep the audience happy.
In the final five episodes of Simoun, the war has grown to be more than anyone can handle. The alliance between Plumbum and the highlands has grown too strong. After the Arcus Niger is shot down, there is no choice but to sign a peace treaty filled with conditions that no one wants to deal with including the disbandment of Chor Tempest.
As the girls are forced to deal with the reality of no longer being sibylla and being forced into visiting the spring, all of them will find new directions. Yun will find her direction after she visits with Onasia, Aer and Neviril will finally face their feelings and make a decision about the Emerald Ri Majon and the rest of the girls will face their decisions about gender and their lives.
Good and the Bad
In an odd twist, Simoun starts this volume going back to the primary story of the war. With volume four ending so solidly on Aer and Neviril being approached to complete the Emerald Ri Majon, as an audience member, I had an assumption that this is where the series would pick back up on this volume and not doing so felt like a mistake. Even later in the volume as Aer and Neviril continue to explore their feelings, Simoun rarely gives this part of the story the attention that it deserves robbing it of a large amount of emotional impact.
Most of this will be apparent in the build up to the decision to do the Emerald Ri Majon or not between the two characters. While Simoun has always done a great job of teasing the relationship between Aer and Neviril, that’s precisely what it’s always felt like: teasing. Now that the series is over, it’s hard to remember really key scenes in which the audience could believe one way or the other that Aer and Neviril were about to get together or part permanently (though one probably predicted it about four volumes ago).
In the final episode of this series, the staff gives the audience most of what they want though. With all of Chor Tempest making their way out into the world, the episode will constantly move back and forth between the present and future while highlighting various members.
To show most of the Chor Tempest members grown up is a great touch. To see some of the younger members grown up and to see other members as males for the first time proves to be a great way to give the audience closure. What the series doesn’t manage to do however is provide closure on one of the biggest plot points of the series purposely excluding Aer and Neviril from the scenes. While it’s great to see everyone else, to not give the audience the chance to see where Neviril and Aer end up and if they’re happy there after twenty six episodes of waiting patiently is annoying beyond belief.
For this volume, the pacing retains its consistently slow rate. While the story and episodes always move at a steady pace, it’s still a very slow steady pace. Even with the final episodes winding down, it remains hard to get all five episodes in one sitting and without any sort of break since all of them are dialogue driven instead of action driven.
The dialogue in these episodes is well written with many strong scenes to carry them through the end. In particular, the characters spend a lot of time talking about Aer and Neviril and what role they played within the lives of each of their lives. While the two girls will never get their real send off from the series, having all of the other characters tribute them in this way is as close as the audience is going to get making the lines that much more important.
The music in this volume is quite strong despite the track record that Simoun has created for itself in the music department (see some of my earlier reviews). In particular there are absolutely beautiful themes that play throughout especially in episodes twenty four and twenty six. At the very beginning of episode twenty four, the opening theme is arranged into a solo piano piece and does an absolutely wonderful job of capturing the sad emotion of the scene. While this series has never choked me up before, these early scenes came close with the heart break that the girls were suffering.
Then again in the final episode of the series, there is a string arrangement that plays repeatedly throughout the episode. The theme is a very soft piece that really stays in the background but if you hear it you’ll know it instantly. The song is a wonderfully composed and placed piece that does a great job of bringing the audience in for a landing.
Dub vs. Sub
The staff behind the voice cast made some very interesting decisions when it came to these episodes. In particular, all of the characters that come in from another country after the peace treaty are presented as invaders and nothing else. What I mean by this is that none of their dialogue is ever translated and instead just appears as ‘Foreign’ when subtitled. Secondly is that these characters are never given their own language. Instead the characters are all speaking Japanese played backwards. This really does a great job of presenting the characters are complete outsiders with no redeeming value. They are strangers who look and talk oddly and almost always kept in shadows, nothing more.
Observant audience members are also going to notice instances of bad audio sync, particularly in episode twenty four. In the second half, you can clearly see Onasia’s mouth moving a full half second before her dialogue began and again later when the Captain is speaking. I didn’t notice any other errors of this kind in the other episodes however.
The vocal cast does a good job with the closing dialogue. All of the characters are given their screen time and in particular I was quite impressed with Kaori Nazuka as Yun and Sakiko Tamagawa as Onasia. The scene that these two share is one of the most powerful of the series and the two seiyuu do an absolutely wonderful job of carrying it through to the end.
For the final set of extras, this volume features another ‘Monthly ADR Bulletin’ featuring Nana Mizuki (Morinas) and Fumie Mizusawa (Waporif). In the seven minute extra, the two will talk about their characters (including the revelation that Morinas was always meant to sound ‘erotically cool’ which is a phrase that I now want to steal), answer a question about the series and shill some more merchandise.
While the extra itself is fun and entertaining to watch, the aspect ratio of the feature is shifted giving the entire thing an odd stretched out look on my screen. The subtitles were also very oddly distributed in each line making the extra look even worse.
In the second extra, director Junji Nishimura and character designer/art director Asako Nishida will sit down to talk about the series some in a new segment. In the eighteen minute segment, the two staff members will sit down and talk about various characters while providing commentary on episode twenty one (I believe). The commentary comes across well with some interesting information being floated out by Nishimura and Nishida though giving fans enough to enjoy the commentary.
Finally the extras are closed out with clean animations.
While initially the series presented itself with some great innovative ideas to push it past the ‘just another yuri series’ hump, the staff failed to reach the point where this series could be sold to a general audience. Simoun succeeds in telling a story from start to finish that will give different audience members different things. What they never quite fail to deliver on is a strong story in a believable world. For a yuri series, Simoun is a series that is much better than anyone thought it would be. For a drama, romance or sci-fi series however, Simoun never found a way to tap into its inner potential. While I’m not sad to see the series end, I don’t regret watching it.
While the payoff is greatly disproportionate to what amount of time it took to get there, the series could be worth a single run through for those who are looking for an above average yuri series. But the odds of it getting a replay or making it into my personal collection are slim.
Final Grade: C+