New anime

I am woefully behind on writing up my thoughts on the new anime series that have appeared recently, so I’ll make this short to catch up.

To Heart 2: Bishoujo series, with a high school student being surrounded by slightly younger high school girls. Nothing wrong with that plot, but the females in question lack any sort of personality or distinguishing features, which makes it sleep-inducing or even irritating.

Aria – the Animation: slow-paced anime about a girl who trains to be a gondolier in New Venice, a city on terra-formed Mars! Character designs are attractive, the animation is really good. It promises to become a slow-paced coming-of-age story, which I always love.

Solty Rei: GONZO’s big-budget entry for this season. In the future, some cataclysmic event messed up the ionosphere (Gilgamesh, anyone?). The world has gone cyberpunkish, with advanced in cybernetics allowing people to replace their limbs with cybernetic replacements — which can come in handy when you’re a criminal! Bounty hunters apprehend these criminals, because apparently there is no government law enforcement anymore.
One of these bounty hunters fits all the stereotypes: he looks unkempt, wears long raincoats, smokes and drinks. One day, he is saved by a cyborg falling out of the sky (!) — since then, she follows him around.
Interesting world, and the plot promises to become quite interesting as well. Animation is pretty good.

Noein: Dimension-hopping mysterious people, weird monsters that they have to fight, and some girl wearing the ‘Dragon’s Torc’. Character designs aren’t that detailed, but the animation itself is pretty good. Makes good use of digital effects, too.
We got a distinct RahXephon-vibe from this one. I expect to be unable to make heads or tails from the plot for most of the series.

Ginban Kaleidoscope: Stuck-up Japanese figure skater who isn’t that good gets possessed by the spirit of a Canadian man. That’s all there is to it, really. Instead of comic, the antics of the female lead character are stupid, and we found it hard to fine her sympathetic.

Black Cat: An unstoppable hit-man (hit-boy? Because this is anime, the main character can’t be older than 15!), code-named ‘Black Cat’ takes out a corrupt politician before a police detective (or bounty hunter?) sent after him can make his arrest. The politician’s henchmen and the police detective are way out of their league against Black Cat, but apparently the detective isn’t ready to give up easily!
That’s really all there is to it. You can fill in the blanks yourself.

Shakugan no Shana: Highschool boy gets caught up in a fight between a mysterious sword-wielding girl and a pack of demonic puppets who eat the souls of humans! After the fight, he finds out that he is actually only a shell — his ‘real self’ doesn’t exist anymore!
Very interesting premise, though it takes a bit of time to get past the weirdness. Kick-ass fights with magic and what-not, and some pretty nice character designs to boot.

Sanada Juyushi: Presumably about a red-haired line-dancing ninja (because he is featured prominently in the opening animation), set during the time when Ieyasu Tokugawa warred with the other lords to unify the whole of Japan under his shogunate. We gets lots and lots and lots of info-dumping, with tactical deliberations between men with names that are supposed to ring a bell with us, about places that are undoubtedly of great historical significance to the Japanese but that completely failed to engage us. Really hard to get into.
But I did learn that Ieyasu Tokugawa bit his fingernails. Didn’t know that.