Nothing much caught my attention for the Spring 2011 season, except for Dog Days. Who knows, I may end up hearing something good about another show and end up picking that up, but at the moment my only Spring 2011 show is Dog Days.
Dog Days is set in a fantasy world where wars are fought in a very unconventional way - obsticale courses. No one dies and the result is respected by both sides. Currently, the nations of Biscotti and Galette are at war with each other, and Biscotti are loosing. Therefore, Biscotti's princess, Millhiore, summons a hero to come and fight.
My first impression is that this is quite a fun, if a bit silly, show. It seems to be a bit of a cross between Utawarerumono (due to wars and animal-people), Nanoha (use of excessive magic) and Takeshi's Castle (obstacle courses). As I enjoy all three, hopefully Dog Days will be a good watch!
The opening introduces the main cast of characters and shows most of them in battle. The song is Scarlet Night, as sung by the famous Nana Mizuki, who has sung the openings for many other anime series. The song is really good and fits the opening animation well, but I can't help but think that the opening sequence itself could have tried something different rather than just showing battle scenes and short clips of each character.
Of the Winter 2011 season, Fractale is the show i'm looking forward to the most. It is set in the future where a system known as the Fractale System has been implemented to make life easier for everyone. Indeed, there are no wars now and people are able to relax. However, one day our protagonist Clain comes across a girl (Phryne) who is being perused by unknown attackers. He hides her and is given a pendant from her before she disappears. Later on, he is able to unlock the pendant and another girl appears. Clain sets out with the girl to find Phryne and discover the secrets of the Fractale System.
As I mentioned in my Winter 2011 preview, this is perhaps not the most riveting description of an anime i've written but I am intrigued by the sense of mystery behind the Fractale System, how was it established, what does it do and why is it about to collapse?
The opening song is ハリネズミ (Harinezumi, Hedgehog) and is sung by 吾妻仁美 (Azuma Hitomi). I've not come across this singer before but the vocals and backing track fit the SciFi theming of the anime well. The opening animation consists of various fractals, unsurprising considering the title of the anime but I think that something more visually appealing and interesting could have been done.
Asobi ni Iku yo! (あそびにいくヨ! / Lets go and play!) is the anime adaptation of a light novel of the same name. One day 16 year old high school student Kio is introduced to Eris, a self proclaimed alien. However, Eris isn't an alien in the traditional sense - she's got cat eats (), a tail and is fluent in Japanese! However, her status as an alien quickly attracts the attention of many factions and organisations who seek to capture her - it's up to Kio to help protect her. The animation is quite impressive and does a good job of showing off the beautiful island of Okinawa.
The opening song is Now loading..SKY!! by Sphere. The opening itself is pretty standard, showing off most of the main characters and the music fits this. In other words, it's nothing special but it will suffice.
Clannad (クラナド) is the anime adaptation of a visual novel of the same name. The story follows Tomoya, a 3rd year high school student who is bored with life. One day, he meets a girl called Nagisa during lunch and starts to get to know her. Tomoya agrees to help Nagisa restart the Drama Club and also starts interacting more with the general student population.
The storyline was written by Key (who have written many other visual novel titles and most recently wrote the storyline for Angel Beats!). Therefore, we can expect to have an outstanding storyline which will bounce us between happy and sad moments. Based on the initial storyline i'm not expecting much action, so this should be a nice relaxing series to watch.
The song used in the opening is メグメル ～cuckool mix 2007～ (megumeru ～cuckool mix 2007～) by eufonius. It starts off slowly, but soon builds up a nice speed and overall, is quite a nice song. The opening itself starts by showing a snowy scene, followed by a quick preview of each of the main characters (with the exception of Tomoya). The animation is both detailed and fluid, I hope this quality of animation continues through into the series itself.
I learn Japanese as an extra alongside my degree at university, if you're a student and fancy learning the language yourself it might be work checking if your university offers language options either as part of your degree or as an extra.
At the time of writing, i've just completed my first year of Japanese. As I take it as an extra, the amount we learn is relatively low compared to what a student doing a pure Japanese degree might learn. At the end of the first year, we are expected to be proficient at reading and writing hiragana and katakana - the two phonetic alphabets. We also know how to introduce ourselves, buy stuff, talk about plans, dates, times and basic verbs and adjectives. Kanji is only introduced in year 2.
The point of this new category is for me to share little things that are perhaps not obvious or could be helpful to those who are learning Japanese. I'm not going to perform a lesson-by-lesson summary of what i've learned, if you want that then take a class yourself!
For those that are curious, the course textbook is Japanese for Busy People 1 (Kana Version). It does a good job of explaining things and is quite effective. For next year's kanji lessons, we also use Basic Kanji Book: Volume 1. I've taken this out from the library over the summer to get a bit of a head start and like our main text book this book is also very effective. It starts by giving a brief overview of Kanji and how exactly they are formed and used. For each Kanji that you learn from the book, it shows you the proper stoke order, on/kun readings and also examples of how this kanji is used in combination with others. If you're going to be teaching yourself, i'd recommend getting these two books. Neither will help you with reading or writing hiragana or katakana but there are plenty of resources online that can help - this is one thing you will really need to master, don't start kanji until you've mastered hiragana and katakana! If you're taking a taught course, it's probably best to buy whatever book your teacher recommends.
Good luck to all of those who are currently studying Japanese, it can be quite difficult and confusing at times but keep at it.