Anime Preview Fall 2011 Part 2 of 2: Movies, OVAs and Specials

Fall 2011 Anime Preview
Part 2 of 2: Movies, OVAs and Specials

As promised, here is the second part of my preview of the Fall 2011 Season…arriving a mere day before the season is over (I define the Fall Season as everything between September 22nd and December 21st). So for the vast majority of people reading this, it’s more of a “review” than a “preview” — hooray for chronically being late! But since I have intentionally avoided any news or information about the fall shows to this point, it’s all “new” to me. Plus, for many of my friends who do not keep current with the hottest-newest-recent releases from Japan (us old-timers are so picky about that sort of thing), it’s all good. I posted Part One of the Fall 2011 Anime Season about a week ago, which covered all of the episodic television series. This second part covers everything else: OVAs (Original Video Animation), OADs (Original Animation Video Discs), ONAs (Original Net Animations), Movies (both theatrical and televised), and assorted other specials or odds-and-ends. For OVAs and specials, this is only intended to include shows that debut with a first or special episode during the Fall season; shows that debuted earlier (for example Princess Resurrection, Yozakura Quartet) are not covered.

Rather than repeat everything I wrote about what these previews are all about, if you’re interested visit part one for additional details on what these previews actually entail, and what they don’t.

Also, if you want previous previews, you can find coverage of OVAs/Movies/Specials for the Summer 2011 Season here, and the Spring 2011 Season here.

One thing I will note, however, is that I am somewhat disappointed at the almost complete lack of coverage on anything that is not a weekly television series in the world of anime. There’s a whole raft of people who do preview posts on the television shows; There is exactly *one* blogger who I have been able to find that does a decent amount of preview coverage on movies and OVAs, the inestimable Star Crossed Anime Blog, which is always worth checking out (plus a few others that do spotty coverage). Gotta keep in mind that if you’re only focusing on the television shows, you’re missing half of the anime shows out there — so I go out of my way to try and give my impressions on the movies, OVAs and specials. There’s lots of good stuff out there that goes largely unnoticed.

But like last season, it seems that the movies and OVAs are somewhat lacking in terms of quality when compared to the television offerings. Only a handful of interesting prospects, and lots of drek.

The previews will be divided into five sections.

  • Shows that caught my eye, as in those that appear to be the most interesting.
  • Shows that may have potential, might be worth watching or perhaps everyone else is saying it’s worth checking out.
  • Shows that are not entirely hopeless, as in there’s an outside chance one or two of them might break out of the sludge.
  • Shows that are guaranteed crap, those that have no hope whatsoever.
  • Unknowns and question marks, where there’s just not enough to make a judgment.

1. Shows That Caught My Eye

To Aru Hikuushi e no Tsuioku – Feature-length film. “Recollection of a Certain Airship Pilot” came out in theaters in October (which probably means we won’t see a subtitled version until sometime in mid-2012). The story centers around a mercenary pilot of a twin-seater plane who is given the mission of flying 12,000 kilometers over enemy territory to protect a beautiful young woman, the next in line for the empire’s throne. A two minute trailer is available online, and you can catch the first twelve minutes (unsubtitled) online for a preview, though.

Lupin the 3rd: Blood Seal – Eternal Mermaid – Feature-length televised film. Lupin III is one of those fixtures in the world of anime, and required knowledge for even the most basic of anime fans. He’s been around in animated format than I have been alive (just barely, 1969), with countless episodes, specials, movies and whatnot. When it was broadcast in Japan earlier this month, it earned an impressive 14.0% market share. Do I think this latest movie will be wonderful beyond belief? Nah, like the last movie I watched, “The Last Job” that came out in 2010 and I graded a solid “B”, it will probably be quite decent and entertaining and nostalgic. You can catch the four minute opening sequence online, hee-hee!

2. Shows That Have Potential

Eiyuu Densetsu: Sora no Kiseki – Two-part OVA. “Legend of Heroes: Trails in the Sky” is based on a popular video role-playing game. Not that I know anything about it, but based on the preview it looks to be a fairly decently-produced fantasy adventure.

Un-Go Episode 00: Inga-ron – One-part OVA. The Un-Go anime series started in October (and I’ve already watched the first episode), but there’s so much back-story about the main characters that are unknown. This 45-minute special that came out in November is meant to explain what happened when Shinjuuro met boy/albino/trap Inga for the first time.

Kyousougiga – One-part Original Net Animation. A 25-minute collaboration between between Toei and Banpresto, and I can’t make heads nor tails about what it’s supposed to be about, but based on the online preview it looks quite awesome. I suspect it’s going to be a real head-trip.

K-On: The Movie – Feature-length film. HATERS GONNA HATE! And nothing brings out the hatred than the mere mention of K-On, which has polarized the anime fandom like no other show in the past couple of years. Apparently you are either a hopeless weeaboo if you like it, or a grumpy elitist if you don’t. But I am one of those rare people that fall in the middle. No, I don’t hate K-On, nor do I fawn over it. The very first K-On series was actually lightly entertaining and interesting (I gave it a B-something grade); the second series had its moments, but really started to drag and was nothing new, and was not worth watching unless you were already a hardcore fanboy.

But given the merchandising powerhouse K-On has become, it became one of the most anticipated movies of the year, earning a truly impressive 316 million yen in the first two days it was on the movie screens earlier this month. Not only that, the total merchandise haul on K-On adds up to a gobsmacking 15 billion yen (yes, with a “b”), or about $190 million dollars. Hate K-On all you want, but its the money earned from shows like this that allow companies to experiment with other quality shows that may or may not make a profit. The movie itself does not appear to be anything special, just the girls going overseas on a vacation and doing all the silly, stupid stuff they always do as seen in the video trailer, it will probably be no different from the episodes, only with higher production values.

Rurouni Kenshin: Meiji Kenkaku Romantan – Shin Kyoto Hen – Two-part OVA. It’s a “new” Rurouni Kenshin story based on one of the stories from the manga. I must admit I know very little about Rurouni Kenshin itself, which I have avoided because of my innate dislike of samurai-based shows. But it’s always been incredibly popular, with tons of manga and anime produced over the years, and I’m sure the fanboys are squeeing over it as we speak (it just came out in theaters this past week, I believe). There’s a brief online preview, and this should be a good chance for me to give Rurouni Kenshin a try.

Toradora Special – One-part OVA. Released as part of a special ultra-expensive boxed set, this is an extra, totally new episode of Toradora. And, it comes out in Japan TOMORROW. I know some fairly hardcore Toradora fans who are going to go absofuckinglutely nuts over this. Some pictures here.

3. Shows That Are Not Totally Hopeless

Hal no Fue – Feature-length movie. “Hal’s Flute”, it’s a kiddie movie about a tanuki (raccoon-like creature) that raises a young boy. Looks lightly entertaining.

Scryed: Alteration – Two-part OVA. Or, if you prefer, “s-CRY-ed-oh!” It’s been ten years since the animated series came out, and this is a two-part recap compilation, I guess to bring everyone up to speed with what Scryed is all about (similar to the Fate Stay/Night TV Reproduction). I recall watching several episodes many years ago, I don’t recall much but it seemed like pretty standard action/fighting anime fare, this will be a good opportunity to give Scryed a serious reexamination. Not that I’m expecting much. Preview trailer here.

Tales of Symphonia: United World – Two-part OVA. This is a sequel (finale) to the previous Tethe’alla-hen OVA series, so I assume it picks up where the story left off. I watched the first Tethe’alla episode and was mildly unimpressed, just a corny swords-and-sorcery adventure. Again, not expecting much. Video preview here.

Major: World Series – Two-part OVA. It’s the baseball series THAT WOULD NOT DIE! There have been at least six seasons of Major, and it has a very loyal, very dedicated fanbase. Since I don’t care about baseball, and care about baseball-related shows even less, I really don’t care. But I did watch the last special, “Major: Message”, and it was…okay. Perhaps when limited in scope (one or two episode stories) it is palatable, I dunno. In any case, this is *supposed* to be the last of Major. I’ll believe it when I see it.

One Piece 3D: Gekisou Trap Coaster! – 12-minute special. Sigh, just another One Piece special. I know that One Piece is the single most popular anime in Japan, and has been for several years, but I don’t really care for it. I’m sure this will be decent enough, especially for the fans.

Friends: Mononoke Shima no Naki – Feature-length movie. It’s a kiddie movie, all done up in computer animation about a group of monsters that raise a small baby. I guess for an American comparison, think Monsters Inc. or Ice Age. Dub it in English and I’m sure it would do just fine with the pre-teen set. Video preview here.

The Peeping Life: The Perfect Extension – Ten-part OVA. First came the Perfect Edition, then the Perfect Emotion, then the Perfect Evolution, and now 2011 rolls around and we have a new Peeping Life DVD of ten short episodes poking fun at daily Japanese life and routines. Popular enough in Japan, but as far as I can tell only the first series has been subtitled into English. Chances are slim that this sequel-of-a-sequel-of-a-sequel will ever see the light of day, but perhaps I really ought to go back and check out the original someday.

Ao no Exorcist: Kuro no Iede – One-part OVA. It’s just a single episode special side-story about the demon cat Kuro who runs away from home after feeling slighted. I did watch the first few episodes of Blue Exorcist, but got disgusted when it turned away from the action and into a Let’s-all-go-to-Hogwart’s comedy and routine shonen show. Why would this episode be any different?

4. Shows That Are Guaranteed Crap

Hidamari Sketch x SP -Two-part OVA. Sigh. Just a few more pointless stories set in the Hidamari Sketch universe. For those counting, the *seventh* series. I fairly strongly disliked what I have sampled of it already, and this will probably be more of the same. If they really wanted to do something interesting and break boundaries, they would get some totally incompatible directors to make a couple of short episodes (like action, or horror, or shoujo or the like) with their alternate take on the characters, completely shake things up. The fans would hate it, but it would certainly catch my attention.

Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai – One-part OVA. Just a prequel to the “I Don’t Have Many Friends” television series. I haven’t watched any episodes yet, but given the stupefying description, I have low expectations.

Eiga Suite Precure: Torimodose Kokoro Tsunagu Kiseki no Melody – Feature-length movie. It’s yet another movie in the very long running magical girl franchise. Imagine if someone took decided to eat a box of crayons and then threw up all over the screen, and you get an idea of the eye-searing melange of color. I have nothing particularly against the Precure series itself, but these movies seem to want to include every possible character under the sun, and I recall the last one I watched a year or so ago has somewhere along the lines of a three dozen squealing, color-coded girls in their magical outfits on the screen. It’s just too much by an order of magnitude.

Queen’s Blade Visual Book – Two-part OVA. So…you like-a the scantily-clad fighting girls, eh? Well, never fear, Queen’s Blade has you covered! Just a couple new episodes of more of the same Queen’s Blade sword-girl crap for the drooling Forever Alone-boys out there.

Ikkitousen: Shuugaku Toushi Keppuu-roku – Original Video Animation. And speaking of scantily-clad fighting girls, let’s have an Ikkitousen encore! Doesn’t anyone ever get tired of this crap?

Mayo Elle OtokoNoKo – Original Video Animation. DON’T LOOK, IT’S A TRAP! It’s all about cute boys in drag…and that’s all I need to know. Goodbye.

Infinite Stratos Encore: Koi ni Kogareru Rokujuusou – One-part OVA. It’s just another extra episode for the Infinite Stratos series. Because you can’t get enough harem/mecha action.

R-15 – One-part OVA. An extra episode of one of the most godawful shows within the past year. Oh, the pain, the pain…

Hoshizora e Kakaru Hashi – One-part OVA. Just like the two shows listed above, this is also an extra episode for an ultra-crappy series. ’nuff said.

King of the Pigs – Feature-length movie. It’s a Korean movie about the cruelty of human nature. I don’t particularly like the art style, and I am especially put off by the subject matter. It’s supposed to be sublimely introspective, looking at a part of ourselves we don’t want to see. But I just found it repulsive. Video preview here.

5. The Unknowns

Magical Halloween: Miracle Quartet – Apparently some video shorts based on some pachinko game.

Kimezou no Kimarimonku ja Kimaranee – Animated shorts based on a popular businessman’s manga series.

Tobidase Dokan-kun – Flash-based comedy shorts from “Frogman”. Wut.

Kiss Dum Special – An extra special released as part of a boxed set from some series from 2007 that I have never heard of before.

And that’s it for the Fall 2011 season! There are several shows that may have appeared on other peoples’ lists that are not included here. A few of them:

  • Deadman Wonderland Special – Extra episode of existing series
  • Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi Special – Unaired 13th extra episode
  • Princess Resurrection – 3rd episode (already gave the first two a thumbs-down)
  • Rio Rainbow Gate Special – Unaired extra episode
  • Vitamin X Addiction – 3rd episode of existing series
  • Carnival Phantasm – 5th, 6th, etc episodes of existing series
  • Hakuouki Hekketsuroku – Toudou chapter, 4th episode of existing series
  • Yozakura Quartet – 3rd episode of existing series (and I’m gonna review it, too)
  • Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn – 4th episode of existing series (and I’m going review this one, too)
  • Higurashi no Naku ni Kira – 3rd episode of existing series
  • Saiyuki Gaiden – Houga Chapter, 3rd episode of existing series
  • Kiss x Sis – 6th episode of existing OVA series
  • Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei – Extra episode of existing series
  • Hidan no Aria – Extra episode of existing craptacular series
  • Magic Tree House – Not coming out until 2012.
  • Yuri Seijin Naoko-san – New series in 2012?
  • Minor Scramble – pushed back to 2012
  • Gyo – pushed back to 2012
  • Holy Knight – pushed back to 2012
  • .hack//Movie – Not coming out until 2012
  • Berzerk the Movie – Not coming out until 2012
  • Daily Lives of High School Boys – Not coming out until 2012
  • Saint Seiya Movie – Not coming out until 2012
  • Kono danshi Uchuujin to Tatakaemase – Yaoi?

So, time to move forward and actually get crackin’ with the reviews! I’m just about finished up with the Winter 2011 Season (a handful of reviews left to go), and I’m currently in the middle of Spring 2011 Season (watching episode 6 of eight remaining shows), and still early in the Summer 2011 Season (only on the second episodes of ten remaining shows). And now it’s time to start on the Fall 2011 Season (five first episodes watched and reviewed, many more to go). Still many miles to go before I get everything finished up, but I’m plugging away at it!

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