Okay, here is a brief list of anime you should be on the lookout for. Obviously, the batch of anime coming out this year far exceeds this, and my personal list is much longer. But if I listed everything that caught my attention, I would be writing about the Tokyo Anime Fair for weeks to come. And I just don’t have that kind of time.
So, here is a simple list of anime whose content and artwork represent not just the expected, but also chase the slippery beast that is originality and re-invention. Trailers are easy to find across the web.
Giant Killing: Based on the manga and animated by Studio DEEN, East Tokyo’s football (soccer) team has bottomed out. After suffering loss after loss, low team morale, and a dwindling fan base, this club is slated for early retirement. But the coach, who is entirely blamed for the team’s woes, still believes this rag-tag ensemble can beat the nations biggest club.
Sport’s action done right, always scores a win.
Rainbow: Another manga adaptation, Rainbow follows six post-World War II delinquents who are sentenced to a reform school in Tokyo. From their time in detention to the years following their release, this dramatic series is the stuff of war narratives and so-called “classic” war cinema.
Trigun The Movie: It’s hard to be a bounty hunter with a bounty on your head. Let’s just say, it makes each job problematic. Take Vash the Stampede as a prime example. Everywhere he goes bullets follow and places end up destroyed. So, how does he stay in business? You send two insurance agents to minimize the damage! But when these agents find Vash, they’re a little confused. The legendary gunman is a skinny pacifist with an aversion to blood and tendencies toward geekness. Let the comic action begin!
Based on the popular manga, the press has kept on eye on this movie since last year. Well, more trailers are streaming across the net, and the film recently made its premiere at Sakura-Con. From what I’ve seen, this cyber western should be well received by anime enthusiasts and otaku everywhere.
Karigurashi: Based on the novel, The Borrowers, by Mary Norton, in which tiny beings in 1950’s England barrow things from everyday people, Studio Ghibli offers a new vision. Set in modern day Tokyo, the story now follows 14-year-old Arrietty and her family. They too construct a home and a life from the “borrowed” items from a nearby house. But when a human boy discovers Arrietty, everything changes.
Directed by Hiromasa Yonebayashi (an animator on Howl’s Moving Castle, Ponyo, and Spirited Away), and written by Hayao Miyazaki, this movie bears that familiar, magical fingerprint of Studio Ghibli. Due out this summer, I expect this film to mesmerize audiences like all past Ghibli projects.
Colorful: Keiichi Hara and Sunrise bring Eto Mori’s spiritual novel to the big screen. Trapped outside the circle of life and death, a man wins a lottery in the angel world and is sent back to the world of the living. However, instead of being born again, he receives the body of a 14-year-old boy who just committed suicide.
This lighthearted comic novel was well received, and was previously given both a manga and anime series. Content such as this may be the norm in Japan and for anime connoisseur’s world wide, but here in the US (these days), this is truly anime as film.
King of Thorn: After a long cryogenic sleep, Kasumi and a handful of humans awake to find a forsaken landscape inhabited by heinous creatures. A mysterious apocalypse must now be unraveled. And for Kasumi, she desperately wants to know what happened to her twin sister Shizuku. Unfortunately, Shizuku was not chosen for cryogenic sleep, and she, along with the rest of humanity, was forced to suffer under a growing virus dubbed Medusa.
This work would easily be the next big anime, sci-fi epic. Let’s hope it’s as good as what we’ve seen so far.
Loups Garous: Originally a virtual reality werewolf novel, this story is set in a future society dominated by non-physical interaction. Communication is almost solely handled though computer monitors. School children, however, are the exception, as they are allowed brief interaction on school grounds. But when a killer begins slaughtering children, this tightly wound society gets even tighter. The means of communication are placed under further scrutiny. And it’s soon discovered that the latest victims all came into contact with three girls: Mio Tsuzki, Hatsuki Matsuno, and Ayumi Kono. After being thrown under an intense spotlight, these girls make a startling revelation about those running the monitors.
The plot line alone gets an A+. Yet, adaptations of virtual novels usually blow. I hope to be surprised here.
Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei: This series follows a nameless senior who starts looking back on his college years and his adventures with a particular group. Directed by Masaaki Yuasa under Studio Madhouse, and based on a novel, dramatic and thoughtful life pervades every scene.
The trailer and artwork alone have me hooked. Even if it turns out to be overdosed with melancholy, I’ll still probably enjoy it.