Category “Anime News”

Coluboccoro Kickstarter Campaign is Live

Wednesday, 1 April, 2015

Despite my belief that Santa Company turned out to be a highly compromised work, Coluboccoro still looks promising enough that I committed to a $100 donation.

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Monty Oum Has Passed Away

Tuesday, 3 February, 2015

Monty Oum

33-year-old CG animator Monty Oum, creator of the RWBY web-animation series, passed away yesterday afternoon at 4:34 PM. Ten days ago Monty suffered a severe allergic reaction during a simple medical procedure that left him in a coma. Monty is survived by his wife Sheena, his father Mony, his brothers Woody, Sey, Chivy and Neat, and his sisters Thea and Theary, as well as a countless number of fans and friends.

AnimeNation extends our sincere condolences.

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Asking Fans to Cover the Cost of Publishing Alabaster

Thursday, 29 January, 2015

Publish Osamu Tezuka's Alabaster

Digital Manga just launched its new Kickstarter campaign seeking 29K to translate & publish the two-volume Tezuka manga mini-series Alabaster. I have a tough time envisioning how licensing, translating, and publishing only two books can possibly cost $29,200. It’s significantly more than the Kickstarter amounts required to publish DMP’s previous two-volume Tezuka manga titles Ludwig B, Captain Ken, and Triton. Furthermore, I’m even more reluctant to contribute to such a substantial publication cost when the initial supporters actually pay 38% more than full SRP to acquire print copies of the two books, and then, after initial supporters have shouldered the entire cost of getting the books to market, DMP can proceed to collect profit from the ongoing sales of the books. Part of me wants to say, “Approach the publishing effort the way any traditional publisher would. Fund it yourself, and I’ll buy it when you release it.” Then again, likely the only way this manga is ever going to see official English language publication is if obsessive fans aggressively volunteer to pay more than cover price to get these two books printed.

I’ve contributed healthily to DMP’s Triton, Unico, Atomcat, and Captain Ken publishing drives. Since Alabaster is a title that I’m actually interested in, I may decide to allow my enthusiasm to overrule my rational skepticism and contribute toward this project too.

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Under the Dog Gets Unleashed

Thursday, 22 January, 2015

Creative Intelligence Arts (CIA) CEO and founder Hiroaki Yura has announced that his company is recusing itself from involvement in the production of the Under the Dog OVA. CIA and animation studio Kinema Citrus jointly conceived the project and launched its 2014 Kickstarter campaign that became Kickstarter’s most successful crowd-funded animation project ever. Yura has announced that the continued development of the original anime OVA will henceforth be handled exclusively by Kinema Citrus with Kouji Morimoto brought on board to produce the project. Morimoto, not to be confused with Studio 4°C co-founder, has produced sci-fi/action anime including Avenger (2003), .hack//Roots (2006), and CANAAN (2009).

According to Hiroaki Yura, “In order to comply with certain requests from members of the UTD creative team, and to deliver an unhindered product to our backers, CIA is hereby removing itself from the UTD project… It is a testament to the enthusiasm the UTD team has that they wished to take over the production and directly handle it themselves.”

I respect and applaud the announcement because it represents an inexperienced producer stepping back, out of the way, handing over creative control directly to the animators who are making the OVA. The transfer shifts creative control from from CIA, which has no experience in anime production, to studio Kinema Citrus, which has successfully produced anime including Code:Breaker (2012), Yuyushiki (2013), Black Bullet (2014), and Barakamon (2014). My expectation is that fewer cooks in the kitchen, and putting the development directly into the hands of experienced artists, will result in a stronger, less adulterated product.

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Ask John: What Were the Most & Least Interesting Anime of 2014?

Thursday, 1 January, 2015

Wonder-Momo-kick

Over the past ten years I’ve annually compiled a list of the annual new anime TV and web anime productions that I considered the finest of the year. Regrettably, I’m unable to do the exact same thing this year because I don’t feel knowledgable enough about some of the year’s most popular titles to critique them. So rather than compile a “best of” list, I’ll provide a list of the year’s most interesting new anime, along with my picks for worst new anime of 2014.


Unlike 2013, which was a particularly good year for new anime, 2014 was the weakest year for new anime since 2010. The ten most highly regarded debuts of 2014 included three sequels (Psycho-Pass, Sword Art Online II, Log Horizon), a remake of a relaunch (Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works), and an adaptation of a 26-year-old manga (Kiseiju: Sei no Kakuritsu), suggesting that creativity was not a strength of 2014. Anime News Network compiled a list of 155 new anime that premiered in 2014. My own list is more comprehensive, including 211 premieres last year. Out of those 211 new TV shows, TV specials, and web anime, I watched at least one full episode of 206 of them. I deliberately excluded Nano Invaders because the show isn’t Japanese animation.

Witch Craft Works & No Game, No Life both earn credit for being the most sheer fun harem farce TV shows since 1992’s Tenchi Muyo. Both series featured unexpectedly attractive art design and unusually smooth animation quality. Witch Craft Works was a pleasant change of pace because it didn’t include any obvious bumbling idiot characters. Certainly the KMM-dan fills the role, but the girls themselves aren’t actually inept; they’re just prone to bad luck. Co-protagonist Ayaka Kagari’s no-nonsense chivalry is a refreshing and gratifying role-reversal, and Takamiya’s efforts to be worthy of Kagari’s devotion are admirable. Shows like 2014’s Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin demonstrate the difficulty of effectively mixing slapstick humor with serious, threatening danger; Witch Craft Works consistently got the balance perfect. No Game, No Life ostensibly seems like a story that shouldn’t work as well as it does. Borrowing its concept from Sword Art Online & Mondaiji-tachi ga Isekai Kara Kuru Sou Desu yo? and adding in a heavy emphasis on otaku behavior seems like a recipe for bland, pandering cliché. However, the narrative twist of forcing the protagonists to rely on intelligence and wit to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds gave the show a spark of creativity and unpredictability. The show wisely placed viewers into conference with the protagonists, keeping the viewers guessing about forthcoming plot twists just as much as the characters. The protagonist siblings’ self-deprecating yet unflappable confidence is also relatively uncharacteristic of modern anime, making them instantly empathetic characters that viewers like and want to cheer for.

I’m embedding the Witch Craft Works ending instead of the opening because I love the KMM-dan song and because the ending is tonally a better representation of the show than the opening animation is.

Shirobako is still ongoing, having reached only its mid-point by year’s end. However, the show’s first half alone is sufficient to qualify it as one of the year’s most interesting anime. 2001’s Animation Runner Kuromi OVA series pioneered the concept of anime about the daily life of a studio production assistant, but Shirobako earns credit for being so much more detailed and extensive. Viewers uninterested in slice-of-life employment anime like Servant x Service, Salaryman Kintaro, and Hataraki Man probably won’t find much to enjoy in Shirobako, but viewers that appreciate a geeky insider’s view of exactly how anime gets produced already love the show. In addition to providing rare insight into the scheduling and division of labor behind the scenes of anime production, the show is also filled with subtle in-jokes referencing anime titles, studios, and professionals including Mushi Productions, Toei Animation, Rocky Chuck Monogatari, Kantai Collection, Doraemon, Minky Momo, Otoko Do Aho! Koshien, Space Runaway Ideon, Evangelion and Hideaki Anno.

Director Shinichiro Watanabe’s first return to helming a space adventure anime in 16 years turned out to defy everyone’s expectations. Space Dandy was not an eccentric noir like Cowboy Bebop, nor was it a straightforward space opera like Outlaw Star. The show’s nearest sibling is actually Katsuhito Ishii’s obscure 2003 OVA series Trava: Fist Planet. Space Dandy turned out to be an animator’s sandbox: a crazy, irreverent absurdist slapstick filled with everything its animators liked, including boobies, food, spaceships, weird aliens, zombies, giant monsters, ray guns, superheroes, drag racing, rock & roll, kung-fu, baseball, and pro-wrestling. As a linear narrative, the show is rather weak. As a pure spotlight for unbridled giddy anime exuberance, both in content and animation quality, the show is difficult to top.

The 10-episode Minarai Diva TV show slipped by with barely any notice by international fans, largely for justifiable reason. Like other ad-libbed-dialogue shows such as GDGD Fairies, X-Maiden, Chokkyuu Hyoudai Robot Anime, and Tesague! Bukatsu-mono, Minarai Diva isn’t exciting and isn’t much to look at. But behind the scenes the show is a landmark in anime history because it’s the first and only anime broadcast live. The CG animation was literally rendered and broadcast on the fly, and Japanese viewers participated in the show in real-time via Twitter. Possibly the most fascinating aspect of the show was watching the voice actresses spontaneously respond to technical glitches including the CG animation freezing. The show isn’t as interesting as scripted or edited productions, but it is the first anime of its kind and an example of fascinating cutting-edge technology.

Reactions to Hoozuki no Reitetsu are polarized between viewers that don’t like or don’t understand its dry humor and viewers that appreciate the show’s uniqueness. I’ll concede that the series isn’t flawless. But its moments of spot-on cynical, satirical humor outnumber its flops. The show’s pitch black humor wickedly skewers Buddhist and Christian religion, Japanese social conventions, Japanese history and traditions, and contemporary anime tropes and conventions. Enma-Daioh has appeared in numerous prior anime, including Akuma-kun, Dororon Enma-kun, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Dragon Ball, but he’s never been as pitiable and defamed as he appears in Hoozuki no Reitetsu. Perhaps the show’s strongest asset is its perspective. Since the show stars demons and occurs in Hell, it undermines and rejects all of the values and traditions of the human world while satirically revealing that certain rules and moral vices are universal, even among demons. The show’s eagerness to depict ruthlessly indelicate behavior disguised with faux tact gives the series a devilish charm and humor.

Viewers born during the 1990s or more recently probably won’t get the appeal of Hi☆sCoool! SeHa Girl. However, older viewers that fondly recollect the 8-bit era are likely to embrace the show’s nostalgic humor. Today’s younger viewers probably aren’t familiar with Golden Axe, Altered Beast, Space Harrier, Puyo Puyo, and Space Channel 5, or gags about a 56k modems, 3:4 aspect ratios, or Segata Sanshiro. But references to such obscure and forgotten games as Fighting Vipers, Dynamite Deka, and Roommania #203 and gags involving Dreamcast headbutting a giant beetle from Mushiking, Yamato the dog only befriending American ninja, lazy palatte swaps, Virtua Fighter polygon counts, gaijin baseball players with short careers, useless healing spells, and mother-in-law swords all exemplify the show’s goofy gags. Plus hearing Saturn and Dreamcast refer to MegaDrive as “MegaDora-san” is awfully cute.

I don’t like calling out poor anime for the sake of being cynical or spiteful, but fans that want to know about anime ought to know as much about the bad as the good.

The broadcast version of Wizard Barristers episode 11 may be the single worst anime episode of the year. The episode was broadcast with roughly a third of its animation incomplete or missing. But the complete show narrowly avoided being a complete disaster.

Studio P.A. Works has crafted some very sweet slice-of-life dramatic anime, including Hanasaku Iroha and Tari Tari. However, Glasslip was a misstep. Creating a slice-of-life story about self-absorbed, unlikeable characters that don’t do anything isn’t a formula for success. I stopped watching the show after its first episode. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who watched more of it and didn’t regret doing so.

Glasslip

I’m tempted to reference Nobunaga Concerto, but evidently it’s a rather divisive title. The show’s stiff, awkward-looking CG character designs are ugly, and the show’s animation is a bit stiff and stilted. Likewise, character reactions didn’t quite seem natural or believable. However, fans of historical fiction seem to appreciate the show.

Nobunaga_Concerto

Now, eleven months after it premiered, I still can’t determine whether the Wonder Momo web anime series was supposed to be satirically bad or if it was just a natural disaster. The miniseries appears to be debut voice actress Yuka Fujiwara’s only anime role. Thankfully. For as heavily promoted as this production was, one would assume that its short episodes would be graced with a sufficient budget. Evidently they weren’t because the art design and animation quality, especially on the first episode, were terrible. Instead of being witty or satirical, the parody felt uninspired and even insipid. Granted, the episodes do get better after the first one, but going from “awful” to “bad” isn’t much of an improvement.

wonder-momo

The following is my list of 2014’s debut TV & web anime. The six highlighted titles are the ones that I wasn’t able to watch any of.

Abarenbou Kishi!! Matsutarou
Ai · Tenchi Muyo!
Ai Mai Mii Mousou Catastrophie
Akame ga Kill
Akatsuki no Yona
Akuma no Riddle
Aldnoah Zero
Amagi Brilliant Park
Ao Haru Ride
Baby Steps
Bakumatsu Rock
Barakamon
Bishoujo Senshi Sailor Moon Crystal
Black Bullet
Blade & Soul
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Bonjour Koiaji Patisserie
Break Blade
Buddy Complex
Buddy Complex: Kanketsu-hen – Ano Sora ni Kaeru Mirai de
Calimero 3rd series
Captain Earth
Cardfight!! Vanguard G
Cardfight!! Vanguard Legion Mate Hen
Carino Coni
Chika Sugi Idol Akae-chan [web anime]
Choubakuretsu Ijigen Menko Battle: Gigant Shooter Tsukasa
Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai! Ren
Cross Ange: Tenshi to Ryuu no Rondo
Daitoshokan no Hitsujikai
Danna ga Nani o Itteiru ka Wakaranai Ken
Date a Live II
Denki-Gai no Honya-san
D-Fragments
Disc Wars: Avengers
Donten ni Warau
Dragon Ball Kai: Majin Buu Hen
Dragon Collection
DRAMAcial Murder
Duel Masters Versus
Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsushi
Fairy Tail
Fate/kaleid liner Prisma Illya 2wei!
Fate/stay night Unlimited Blade Works
Francesca ~ Girls Be Ambitious
Free! -Eternal Summer-
Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yattemita
Future Card Buddyfight
Fuusen Inu Tinny
Fuuun Ishin Dai Shogun
Gaist Crusher: God Hen
Ganbare! Lulu Lolo 2nd Season
Garo: Honoo no Kokuin
Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun
Gin no Saji second season
Girlfriend (Kari)
Glasslip
Go Go Tamagotchi!
Go! Go! 575
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
Gokukoku no Brynhildr
Grisaia no Kajitsu
Gugure! Kokkuri-san
Gundam Build Fighters Try
Gundam: G no Reconguista
Gundam-san
Haikyuu
Hamatora
Hanayamata
Happiness Charge Precure
Hero Bank
Hi?sCoool! SeHa Girl
Himegoto
Hitsugi no Chaika
Hitsugi no Chaika: Avenging Battle
Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Inari, Konkon, Koiiroha
Initial D: Final Stage
Inou Battle wa Nichijou-kei no Naka de
Inu Neko Hour
Inugami-san to Nekoyama-san
Isshuukan Friends.
Jinsei
JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Stardust Crusaders
Kaitou Joker
Kamigami no Asobi
Kanojo ga Flag wo Oraretara
Kantoku Fuyukitodoki
Karen Senki
Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
Keroro
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R
Kiniro no Corda: Blue Sky
Kiseijuu: Sei no Kakuritsu
Kokaku Kidotai Nyumon Arise
Kuma Seijin to Boku
Kuroshitsuji: Book of Circus
KutsuDaru
Lady Jewelpet
Log Horizon 2nd Season
Love Live 2nd season
LOVE STAGE!!
M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane
Madan no Ou to Vanadis
Magic Kaito 1412
Maho Senso
Mahou Shoujo Taisen
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Maido! Urayasu Tekkin Kazoku
Majimoji Rurumo
Majin Bone
Maken-ki Two
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
Medamayaki no Kimi Itsu Tsubusu?
Meitantei Rascal
Mekaku City Actors
Meshimase Lodoss-tou Senki: Sorette Oishii no?
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei
Minarai Diva
Minna Atsumare! Falcom Gakuen
Momo Kyun Sword
Mushishi Tokubetsu-hen: Hihamukage
Mushishi Zoku Shou
Nanatsu no Taizai
Nandaka Veronica
Narihero www
Neko no Dayan
Nisekoi
No Game No Life
Nobunaga Concerto
Nobunaga the Fool
Nobunagun
Noragami
No-rin
Nyanpuku Nyaruma
Ohenro ~Hachi Hachi Aruki~ [web anime]
Oneechan ga Kita
Ookami Shoujo to Kuro Ouji
Ore, Twintails ni Narimasu.
Oreca Battle
Orenchi no Furo Jijou
Oshiri Kajiri Mushi 3
Persona 4 the Golden
Ping Pong
Pretty Rhythm: All Star Selection
Pripara
Psycho-Pass 2
PSYCHO-PASS Shinpen Shuu Han
Puchim@s!! Petit Idolm@ster
pupa
RAIL WARS!
Re: Hamatora
Robot Girls Z
Rokujouma no Shinryakusha
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
Sabagebu!
Saikin, Imouto no Yousu ga Chotto Okashiinda ga
Saki Zenkoku-hen
Sakura Trick
Sanzoku no Musume Ronja
Seikoku no Dragonar
Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance
Seitokai Yakuindomo*
Sekai Seifuku: Bouryaku no Zvezda
selector infected WIXOSS
selector spread WIXOSS
Sengoku Basara Judge End
Sengoku Muso Special: Sanada no Shou
Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso
Shijo Saikyo no Deshi Kenichi: Yami no Shugeki
Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis
SHIROBAKO
Shirogane no Ishi Argevollen
Shounen Hollywood
Sidonia no Kishi
Sin Strange+
SoniAni -Super Sonico the Animation-
Sora no Method
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Soul Eater Not!
Space Dandy
Strange Plus
Sword Art Online II
Tenkai Knight
Terra Formars
Tesague! Bukatsu-mono Encore
Toaru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
Tokyo ESP
Tokyo Ghoul
Tonari no Seki-kun
Tribe Cool Crew
Trinity Seven: 7-nin no Masho Tsukai
Ushinawareta Mirai wo Motomete
Wake Up! Girls Zoo [web anime]
Wake Up, Girls!
Wasimo
Witch Craft Works
Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
Wonder Momo [web anime]
Wooser no Sono Higurashi: Kakusei-hen
World Trigger
X Maiden [web anime]
Yama no Susume Second Season
Yami Shibai second season
Yokai Watch
Yowamushi Pedal: Grande Road
Yu-Gi-Oh Arc-V
Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru
Z/X IGNITION
Zankyou no Terror

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Reboot or Rewriting Yatterman History?

Thursday, 25 December, 2014

On the heels of the success of Tatsunoko’s reboot of its 1972 Kagaku Ninjatai Gatchaman franchise as Gatchaman Crowds, the studio is evidently now producing a reboot of its 1977 Yatterman franchise as “Yoru no Yatterman.” Criticizing the show before it airs may be unfair, and I’ll concede that I don’t know yet exactly how the reboot will develop. But the advance promotion bothers me a bit because it feels like an attempt to whitewash and rewrite the established Yatterman concept and history. Gatchaman Crowds certainly rewrote continuity, but at least it remained faithful to the core concept and thematic focus of the Gatchaman franchise. I’m not certain that Yoru no Yatterman is doing the same.


Yoru no Yatterman appears to depict Dorombos as second-class citizens discriminated against by privileged and inflexible Yattermen. One of the new series’ protagonists is a teen boy who aligns himself with the Dorombos and has a “strong sense of justice.” Certainly the forces of authority and righteousness may seem discriminatory and unfair in the eyes of villains and criminals. After all, the function of heroes is to oppose villains. But Yoru no Yatterman feels as if it’s taking that opposition to an extreme degree and depicting the heroes that defend justice as dictators. Traditionally the Doronjo gang has been more popular among viewers than the Yatterman duo Gan & Ai, but only because the Doronjo gang has a multi-faceted personality compared to the perpetually cheerful Yatterman couple. Throughout the 108-episode 1977 television series, the 60-episode 2008 television series, the 2009 anime movie, and the 2009 live-action movie, the Doronjo gang are villains. They’re self-absorbed criminals with no hesitation to take advantage of and victimize innocent bystanders and do anything they think they can get away with. The Doronjo gang is anime’s equivalent to Dick Dastardly and Muttley; they’re beloved because they’re unrepentant bumbling evildoers. They’re not misunderstood, persecuted innocents.

Anime has a tradition of transforming villains into heroes. Dragon Ball characters including Piccolo and Vegeta started out as antagonists. Fairy Tail’s Juvia & Gajeel were initially enemies. Pretty Cure’s Cure Passion and Cure Beat both started out as villains. But characters changing their principles and abandoning their villainous mindsets is different from the perspective of the entire series overturning and becoming sympathetic to the villains in opposition to the forces of good. Last year’s Sekai Seifuku ~ Bouryaku no Zvezda seemingly sympathized with the villains, but the show eventually revealed that the “villains” were actually fair and independent within a corrupt status quo. I suppose I’ll have to wait until next month to see whether Yoru no Yatterman actually inverts its traditional allegiances and turns the Yattermen into an overbearing dictatorial regime or whether the series is surreptitiously trying to suggest that self-serving evil is actually just misunderstood personal pride.

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Ninja Slay Me

Friday, 12 December, 2014

Don’t know what the hell studio Trigger is trying to do with the Ninja Slayer anime. The trailer suggests that the studio is trying to adapt the novels as a bad retro action anime. The logo at 3 seconds in is reminiscent of anime like Microman and even Aku Daisakusen Srungle. The two halves of the mask that slide into frame at 12 seconds, the purple-haired gal at 29 seconds – her exceptionally angled face and uneven hair, even the 4:3 framing and the coloring all shout “80s anime.” It’s like deliberate throwback to anime like Tobikage and Ninja Ryukenden, but, for God knows why, the animation is stiffly mechanical and the color exaggerated in a way that suggests that Trigger is trying to create Shockwave Flash animation without actually using Flash. Perhaps the studio realizes that the novels are kind of trashy and are trying to evoke the same sort of ridiculous vibe with the animation.

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Ninja Slay Me

Friday, 12 December, 2014

Don’t know what the hell studio Trigger is trying to do with the Ninja Slayer anime. The trailer suggests that the studio is trying to adapt the novels as a bad retro action anime. The logo at 3 seconds in is reminiscent of anime like Microman and even Aku Daisakusen Srungle. The two halves of the mask that slide into frame at 12 seconds, the purple-haired gal at 29 seconds – her exceptionally angled face and uneven hair, even the 4:3 framing and the coloring all shout “80s anime.” It’s like deliberate throwback to anime like Tobikage and Ninja Ryukenden, but, for God knows why, the animation is stiffly mechanical and the color exaggerated in a way that suggests that Trigger is trying to create Shockwave Flash animation without actually using Flash. Perhaps the studio realizes that the novels are kind of trashy and are trying to evoke the same sort of ridiculous vibe with the animation.

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Swang Song to my Spares

Thursday, 16 October, 2014

I’ve been swamped this month; unusually busy, so my apologies for the lack of updates.

Unexpectedly, a friend offered me nearly $4,000 for practically all of the duplicates from my anime collection. I’m pained to see any of my beloved collection go, but when even my spare copies have spare copies, I suppose it’s best for everybody if I finally relocate some of them to new homes.

Dupe_Books

Good Lord! I actually have a collection copy and five spare copies of the Megazone 23 graffiti album mook!

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Sword Gai TV Anime Announced

Thursday, 2 October, 2014

bnr_swordgai-anime

Shogakuan has revealed word that Flash anime studio DLE is developing an anime TV series based on writer Toshiki Inoue & illustrator Osamu Kine’s dark fantasy/action manga series Swordgai. The manga revolves around a swordsman whose artificial right arm is composed of a demonic sword. The anime is tentatively scheduled for a spring 2016 premiere.

Studio Digital Frontier produced a short CG Swordgai promotional video last year:

Source: Anime News Network

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