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First Impressions 2

So, here we are again: round 2 of my rundown of the first episodes of the newly aired TV anime this fall season. I haven’t watched all of them, but the few that I did were a mixed bag of pleasant viewing and prettified boredom. Anyway, I just watched ep 1 of Naoto Hosoda’s latest TV series Mirai Nikki (produced by asread), an adaptation of a manga of the same name, and I found it to be surprisingly engaging despite my reservations concerning the material and everything else. I have no idea who or what kind of director/animator Naoto Hosoda is (though I did watch the first Koe de Oshigoto OVA, which was reasonably fun enough), but I saw in Mirai Nikki ep 1 that he was a capable director who knew how to evoke mood and control the pacing of whatever it is he’s working on to make the piece quite interesting and entertaining. The episode was brisk and crisp, getting straight into the nitty-gritty, seemingly without any wasted scenes, and the art/animation worked well enough to bring about some definite sense of suspense and dread during the particularly darker parts of the ep. I was also delighted to see that the character designs weren’t cheaply realized, but were rather pretty and elaborate enough to really seem like a step-up from their manga counterparts and to function effectively in animation–both in stills and in motion. I didn’t like how they resorted to rendering the Deus ex Machina character and his world in CGI, though, but since this is a TV anime and animating them normally would have been too much of a pain for the studio, I guess I can’t complain too much. Director Naoto Hosoda was in charge of storyboards/direction for episode 1.

 

 

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The Three Episode Rule 2

It appears I was right. The third episodes of the respective winter noitaminA anime have been strong, with one of the said shows kicking into high gear. I’m sure you already know which show I am talking about, so let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. All I’m going to say at this point is that it surely made the biggest splash this week, in terms of content and graphical presentation. Now, enough about that. Recently, I just caught a trailer of the newest noitaminA show set for spring, and I thought I would talk about it a little first.

 

[C] Control: The Money of Soul and Possibility Control (Tatsunoko Pro, Kenji Nakamura)

After two years, Kenji Nakamura is back with a new original anime project since Trapeze. Big news for Nakamura fans, the fans of his Toei shows (Mononoke, Trapeze), and just noitaminA fans in general. His shows have always been a pleasure to watch; his off-the-wall directing combined with well-placed CGI backgrounds provided a real spectacle, almost approaching the psychedelic. 2007’s Mononoke showed his technique at its best, expertly dividing limited quality of animation with occasional bursts of pure energy in animated form. On the other hand, 2009’s Trapeze was more experimental, fusing together live-action frames and actors with textured colorful backgrounds. Frankly Nakamura’s effort on that show was hit-or-miss, but I respect what he tried to accomplish stylistically. If anything, that show was a needed and highly refreshing change of pace. The show itself showed flashes of brilliance when it did hit the right notes.

Anyway, judging from the trailer for his new anime C (I still don’t know why they chose that terrible title), it looks like a departure from his past efforts. There doesn’t seem to be the layered backdrops with the trademark artsy texture common to his past shows, but it appears to have a more fluid and grounded look, with just enough Nakamura inflection. It looks to be more streamlined than his past shows. The show itself was said to have a lot of focus on action, which is itself another difference. I’m looking forward to how Kenji Nakamura juggles this seemingly new smooth approach, with his trademark loud and flashy presentation. His effective and informed approach to storytelling and directing plus this show’s socially sensitive topic should be a very interesting combination. Early on, I am hopeful for this show–it probably won’t be able to stop noitaminA’s recent ratings slump that’s been going on for some years now–but as a Nakamura fan, I’m happy (curiously enough, Mononoke was one of the highest-rated and best-selling noitaminA anime in the slot’s run).

[C] Staff:

Director: Kenji Nakamura (Ayakashi: Bakeneko arc, Mononoke, Trapeze)

Series Composition: Noboru Takagi (Baccano!, DRRR!!)

Original Character Design: mebae (Tailenders)

Animation Character Design: Takashi Hashimoto (Mononoke, Trapeze)

Chief Animation Director/s: Takashi Hashimoto, Akira Takada (Haibane Renmei, DRRR!!)

The show drops on Fuji TV’s noitaminA slot this April.

 

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