In a twist on past seasonal rundowns, we present the fall 2007 batch of anime as a top ten list (plus one) of the shows most likely to receive a warm reception by the doujinshi community this winter. Want to know what you’re likely to see out of Comic Market in December? Read on for our impression of the new season, doujin style!

11. Goshuushou-sama Ninomiya-kun
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★☆☆☆
Production: ★★☆☆☆
Designs: ★★☆☆☆
Overall: ★☆☆☆☆

When an elite special forces Japanese high school student is assigned by his hard-nosed older sister to protect a succubus whose uncontrollable pheromones turn all nearby men into zombies and whose dojikko pratfalls threaten to drain him of his very life force, wacky hijinks ensue! Dubbed the pointless fanservice and Girls Bravo knockoff anime of the season, Ninomiya-kun boasts a strangely high frame count relative to its poor character animation, which is consistently off model. Those who enjoy seeing protagonists’ romantic endeavors reach a satisfying conclusion are advised to steer clear, but if you’re looking for oddly animated blatant fanservice this just might be your show.

Doujin Potential: Approaching zero. This show is already a parody of itself; it’s virtually a memetic black hole. Unless it spawns something like Yoake‘s cabbage I doubt we’ll see much based on this appear either online or at events.

10. Taihou Shichauzo! Full Throttle
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★☆☆☆☆
Production: ★☆☆☆☆
Designs: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★☆☆☆☆

If you watch this for the nostalgia factor and the Nakajima Atsuko designs you’re not likely to be disappointed, and die hard You’re Under Arrest fans will be happy to see the return of Miyuki and Natsumi in any incarnation, but it’s hard not to see this series as anything other than the reunion of a band that’s seen one too many live tours. The animation is mediocre and the writing relies way too much on the characters’ established personas to carry the episode; with the character designs looking off model in the second episode preview it’s hard to find much to look forward to. Stil, it’s worth watching at least one episide for the deliciously yuri-tinged Nakajima art under the ending credits, if nothing else.

Doujin Potential: Very, very limited. The franchise has had two TV series, several OVAs and a movie in which to wear out its welcome on the doujin scene, and given the quality presented here I’m not seeing much fodder for future endeavors. Luck and Pluck might go there for old times’ sake, but otherwise I’m not holding my breath.

9. Genshiken 2
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★★★☆
Production: ★★★★☆
Designs: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★★★

The thing that shocked me the most about this was the astoundingly high quality of the animation compared to any previously animated Genshiken. The characters remain on model throughout the episode, for crying out loud – insane! Much more than I hoped for in terms of production value, and story-wise it feels like we’re back where we belong with old friends left behind following the OVA (and the original series).

Those who enjoyed the latter half of the Genshiken manga will have a whole lot to look forward to here, especially if the animation quality is retained throughout – I won’t spoil anything, but this is going to be one of the pure delights of this season. I’m curious about the OP, though, as it’s not played in the first episode… I don’t know if anything can be on par with Manzo’s otaku anthem that accompanied the first season, but here’s hoping.

Doujin Potential: This new series will provide additional material for the dozen or so Genshiken stalwart circles out there, and might revive the scene a bit overall (especially with the increased prominence of Ogiue), but even at its most popular the anime / manga were never more than a blip on the Comiket radar. That said, there is now an official site up for the Genshiken only doujin event happening on May 5th of ’08! Carry the faith, my Ohno and Ogi-loving brethren and sistren…

8. Blue Drop
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★★☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★☆☆☆☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

An antisocial girl is sent away by her maiden aunt to a private school to learn herself some socialization. While bitter about being seemingly discarded as a nuisance she still finds the time to admire a girl she sees surrounded by flying birds on a rocky ocean outcrop en route to school – the girl who ends up as her roommate, and ends up going berserk and trying to strangle her to death the first time they meet (spoilers!).

A mix of yuri school romance and science fiction drama from the creator of Eatman and Ray, after the first episode the premise seems intriguing enough to want to continue for a few more episodes at least. The designs are rather plain and uninspired, so this seems like one to watch for the plot (strangly girl mystery ++, and how did protagonist’s parents die?) more than any visual eye candy.

Doujin Potential: For some reason yuri is not nearly as popular a genre as I keep on telling myself that it ought to be. Blue Drop’s doujin mileage will depend on the extent to which it effectively leverages the yuri content into memorable scenes that make for good parody material; I’m not forseeing much, perhaps a reception of roughly Simoun or Strawberry Panic level. It’s certainly no Marimite, alas.

7. Dragonaut: The Resonance
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★☆☆☆
Production: ★★★★☆
Designs: ★★★★★
Overall: ★★☆☆☆

I can’t really think of this as anything other than “the Uno Makoto show” of the season, despite its cast cloned from Haruhi; after two episodes the plot is as nonsensical and full of holes as a Swiss cheese on ‘shrooms, but man, is it pretty. Other than the somewhat spandexy color picking job I’m really enjoying the visual stylings of the show, from the extreme hairdos (and extreme bust measurements) to the fluid combat animation. Despite having a lot of the plot elements that I thoroughly despise in a show this is one I’ll be watching for awhile – seeing Kaneko Hiraku’s name (the creator of Katorea and animator of some of the best scenes ever) in the keyframe credits sealed the deal.

Doujin Potential: Some doujin presence based on the show is assured given its marquee production status and fetishistic Uno Makoto designs, but how much will depend on whether the right artists end up being inspired by its actual content. At this point I’m predicting a response very similar to that recieved by Witchblade; a few dozen books here and there but nothing too substantial. A shame to waste Uno’s designs on such a poorly written show…

6. Night Wizard
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★☆☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

Perhaps the first show ever created based directly on a TRPG (“table-talk role playing game”, go go Japanese acronyms) as opposed to a novelization of such, Night Wizard joins a long line of fantasy anime that includes Lodoss, Slayers, Rune Soldier Louie, and Majutsushi Orphen. After the first couple of episodes it seems the show is a bit more of a Louie than a Lodoss, complete with sneaker-clad mikos and a sword-wielding seifuku-wearing protagonist whose main goal in life is to attend school instead of being constantly snatched away to an alternate dimension to fight the Legions of Evil (TM).

This is a show that I’d classify firmly in the “dumb but harmless” category, a fun and brainless watch good for some easy entertainment but not something that is going to mess with your head or leave much of a lasting impression. Character designs from Shimotani Tomoyuki.

Doujin Potential: Night Wizard draws doujin potential both from the anime and the successful RPG on which it’s based, meaning that in addition to character-driven parody books we could see an increase in rulebook supplements and fan-written adventures at doujin events over the coming year. This seems like the sort of show that will produce a good bit of non-ero material in addition to a (likely modest) crop of adult fare.

5. Rental Magica
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★☆☆☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

The second fantasy anime of the season after Night Wizard. The thing that sticks in my memory most about this is quad-drill and doubletsun, an excellent combo that may make the thing worth watching despite the rather bland protagonist. The idea of a magic society that rents out its services to the highest (or only) bidder isn’t new (Yume Tsukai, etc.), but it’s certainly diverting enough to drive a show if done well; animation is decent and designs are good, but overly fast pacing and mediocre writing jam a wrench in the gears that brings the entirety down to merely adequate. Worth watching a bit more of, but I’m not too committed to this.

Doujin Potential: The distinctive designs carry the show to what will almost certainly be a tidy crop of ero offerings over the coming months. The characters’ relationships and magical powers have plenty of hooks for story gimmicks leading to sex, so I’d say we’re looking at a modest but solid contender for at least a few decent books come Comiket.

4. Minami-ke
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★★☆☆
Production: ★★★★☆
Designs: ★★★★☆
Overall: ★★★★☆

The story of three sisters and their daily life in a parentless household, Minami-ke gives off very Azumanga Daioh-ish and/or Ichimashi-ish vibes (in a good way). The original manga isn’t 4-koma, but the narrative flow feels that way as the story skips around between short vignettes in a seemingly random fashion, with only a loose plot thread stringing them together. The animation is top notch for this type of show, and the designs are great – Ochi Shinji (越智信次) is responsible, who also did design work for Tonagura, DearS, and the Hoihoi-san OVA.

This is a 100% character-driven show, and the character at the center is Kana, the >:3 -faced hyper genki middle sister whose misguided antics drive most of the plot (such as it is). Chiaki, the younger sister, plays the deadpan midget role admirably (you know the type…), and the eldest, Haruka, is there to pull them apart and be generally responsible.

What the show lacks in brilliant writing it makes up for with pure adrenaline, snappy editing and direction, and unexpectedly wacky sound effects; I’ll keep watching as long as the budget stays at the level of this first episode.

Doujin Potential: Strong, in both ero and non-ero fields. Neta (memes, gimmicks) abound throughout the show, from the aggressively lined serious expression face faults and triangular mouths to the characters’ personality quirks and relationships. The chance that the show will generate a durable net meme or two in its lifetime is high, which would in turn reflect itself in doujin output. This is one to keep an eye on.

3. Bamboo Blade
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★★☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★★★★☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

Tama-chan~! Bamboo Blade is the story of a destitute teacher who makes a wager that the kendo club he supervises will be able to beat the club of his betting partner and fellow teacher from another school. In his quest to win a year’s worth of free meals he must first recruit club members, setting his sights on the introverted Tamaki as his star player. It’s a gag show based on a gag manga, with some decent production values and fetching designs from rookie designer Namiyanagi Yukichi; the writing quality isn’t the best, but it has moments of pure moe (Tama-chan~!) that will make it worth the watch for some. I haven’t found any deal-breakers in the show yet (though the teacher protagonist is a worthless bum), so I’ll probably keep watching for a little while at least. Tama-chan~!

Doujin Potential: With its cast of competently designed bishoujo characters Bamboo Blade is a shoe-in for at least some doujin representation, but Tama-chan is what really clinches the show in third place for the season. If her sheer adorableness continues to amplify as it did through the first two episodes I expect we’ll see her gracing the covers of quite a few doujin volumes come December (not to mention the inherent phallic possibilities in the show’s title and premise…).

2. Kimikiss pure rouge
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★☆☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★★★☆☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

Based on Enterbrain’s popular Kimikiss PS2 bishoujo game from 2006, along with Haruhi it was last year’s most popular subject for doujinshi. The anime conversion was highly aniticpated by fans, but seems to have spawned an equal measure of controversy; instead of sticking to a single scenario or a higurashi-esque series of alternate retellings of the story, the producers decided to split the protagonist into several male characters and pair them off with each of the heroines.

This has fans in an uproar. They apparently don’t want to see their beloved characters stolen away from generic protagonist-kun, a sentiment I do not understand at all as generic protagonist-kuns usually suck, and limit the breadth and pacing of a show. Variety in romance shows is the spice of life as far as I’m concerned (see Boys Be for an example of how this can be done well).

Whether Kimikiss will live up to its potential in this regard is hard to say at this point; the male protagonists are utterly uninteresting (and the guy who Mao is doomed to fall for just seems like a dick), but I’ll keep watching for a little while at least to see where things go. I don’t know how likely it is, but I’ll never stop wishing for an “XRATED” PC version of Kimikiss at some point down the road… Original game designs are from Takayama Pisai, with anime designs from Iwakura Kazunori.

Doujin Potential: Kimikiss doujinshi never really stopped coming out since the game was released in the spring of 2006, and despite the controversy over the anime it’s likely to provide more fuel for the fires of moe inspired by virtually every member of the cast. If Enterbrain is smart they’ll do something like announce a PC version of the game as the anime is winding down (come on guys, you know you want to) and keep the doujin juices flowing even longer… It’s hard to say what precise effect the anime will have on doujin volume over the coming months, but the franchise is so popular that it’s bound to continue regardless.

1. Kodomo no Jikan
Official Site | Wikipedia

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Story: ★★★☆☆
Production: ★★★☆☆
Designs: ★★☆☆☆
Overall: ★★★☆☆

Kono lolicon domome—!!! >:O The story of an elementary school teacher and the unrequited love of his student, Kojika caused considerable controversy before it even aired and is likely to continue stirring the passions of those on both sides of the lolicon debate as it rolls out over the airwaves (albeit in heavily censored form). Without taking a side on the issue, as someone with experience working in the Japanese elementary school system it’s interesting to see how the show is both similar to and wildly different from the reality of elementary education (big-breasted third graders are definitely an otaku myth).

After cutting through the scandal, titillation, and morbid curiosity enveloping the show, is there much left content-wise? I’m not so sure; the characters and the situation itself seem the sort that can only lead to frustration and a lack of catharsis at the end. The animation is decent, though nothing to write home about; the character designs from Ishikawa Masakazu are interesting, though the adults (male characters especially) don’t get much attention compared to the girls, and the details of their design are largely drawn from the original manga.

Doujin Potential: Already the most-discussed show of the season thanks to the drama over its broadcast cancellation, a steady trickle of Kojika books in the past couple of months have paved the way for what is sure to be a veritable explosion now that the anime is available to a nationwide audience (online, if not via TV signal). The original manga (and now the anime) are notorious for treading the line of sexual innuendo, a line which doujinka have proven more than happy to cross for decades and will no doubt find this the perfect excuse to do so yet again. Ahh, if only all that creative energy could be poured into Dragonaut and Genshiken books instead…

Comedy “Zero” Option: Gundam 00
Official Site | Wikipedia

Heisei Democracy Fall 2007 Anime Roundup

Doujin Potential: Infinite. The ratio of female to male Comiket attendees is 2:1, and I can’t be the only one who noticed this in the ending credits, right?

Gundam. Anal.

Apologies for the omission of Clannad, ef, Shana II, and etc. There are limits to the amount of anime I can cram into my head at any one time…