Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Best Pachinko-Based Yuri Series Ever: Sengoku Otome ~Momoiro Paradox~

Earlier this season, I expected to flay this series in my final review of it. But I watched the last episode a little earlier (today's my birthday, btw; I'm 21!), and thought it was a nice ending to a show that became surprisingly watchable.

Hide Yoshino is a clumsy, blonde, odango-haired middle schooler whose friends conveniently nickname her "Hideyoshi" as an ironic jab at how dumb she is. (When I saw the promo art for Sengoku Otome, I thought Hideyoshi would be the scrappy sidekick, a la Koihime Musou's Rin Rin. My face fell when I saw that she was the lead.) When she prays for good grades at a shrine, she trips her way into a portal to an all-female, bikini armor-filled version of the Sengoku era (minus Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Date Masamune), and takes a surprisingly long time (even Miaka took less time to figure it out) to realize that she isn't in modern Japan any more. Hideyoshi becomes the retainer of red-haired Oda Nobunaga, who wants her to help her gather the scattered pieces of the legendary Crimson Armor, which will grant whoever wears it the power to rule Japan. Nobunaga dotes on Hideyoshi enough to inflame the jealousy of her vassal Akechi Mitsuhide, who has it bad for the oblivious Nobunaga and looks like a friend of Hideyoshi's from the "present."

I can't watch this show without thinking about Koihime Musou. They both present a fluffy, de-clawed, all-female fantasy version of a war-torn historical period, and for the most part, I thought of Sengoku Otome as Koihime Musou with a worse lead, less yuri, and less pep. (Even speaking as someone who isn't really a fan of KM.) It even has an Enshou clone. (The "Ohoho!"-ing ojousama-type ruler who makes the leads compete in stupid contests to get something they want- but nothing servicey (as far as I remember), to this show's credit. I'll take human kite-flying over cleavage eel-fishing any day.)

Early on, the characters have several stand-alone adventures, like performing in a play (amusingly titled "Yuri Monogatari"), coming across a group of ghosts in the woods who won't let them leave until they tell a certain amount of scary ghost stories, and settling a harmless rivalry between Uesugi Kenshin and Takeda Shingen. Date Masamune, who looks like Hideyoshi's teacher Date-sensei actually turns out to be Date-sensei (no surprise), and she has her own plans for the armor, which are as stupid as everything else in this show. (She still turned out to be my favorite, partly thanks to Hirata Yuka's surprisingly sexy voice. ^_^;)

A (sort of) plot starts to develop involving Mitsuhide's jealousy and the effects of wearing the Crimson Armor, but this show is too frivolous and good-natured to allow any negative consequences. It's utter crap, but it improves (and it's more watchable than the other spring 2011 yuri-ish offering, A Channel), Hideyoshi becomes likeable by the end, and the ending is, again, pleasant. (Even Shiro, the horribly annoying talking dog character, improves in the finale.)

And the yuri. Along with Mitsuhide and "Yuri Monogatari", another character eventually becomes infatuated with Nobunaga and asks her to be her "Oneesama." But my favorite yuri moment is when Date gives Mitsuhide advice on how to seduce Nobunaga before she leaves. (How would she be able to give advice about that so confidently?)

The final verdict- utterly crappy crap that, still, easily could have been worse, especially since it's based on a pachinko game. Surprisingly nice ending.

Story: C
Art: C
Overall: C

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Tokyo Ramblings

I’m in Tokyo right now. I flew from Miami to New York to Narita Airport last Saturday and Sunday, and took the airport limousine bus to the Metropolitan Tokyo hotel in Ikebukuro. Then I took a taxi to the Kita-Ikebukuro station (I originally planned on walking from the hotel to Ikebukuro station and taking the Tojo Tobu line to Kita-Ikebukuro, but I had a ton of luggage and there was a taxi right there), where I was to be met by the landlord of the share house I was going to live in with three Japanese house mates. Starting tomorrow (erm, technically later today), I’m doing a six week internship with a Japanese company, and then I have the remaining time until August 16 free.

Monday afternoon, I visited Akihabara to get a new computer adapter, since the one I already had isn’t compatible with Japanese outlets.

But mostly, I looked at otaku shops. ^_^ No surprise, there was a ton of Madoka Magica and Nanoha merchandise (for the Nanoha movie and Vivid; I didn’t know Vivid was selling that well; there was almost nothing for Nanoha Force), sometimes displayed side-by-side to cross-promote each other. A lot of K-ON, Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Oreimo, Touhou, Vocaloid, etc; some A Channel, Ano Hana, Angel Beats, Suite and Heartcatch Precure, Suzumiya Haruhi, Black Rock Shooter, Railgun and Index, etc. The stores I visited included Gamers, Animate, Toranoana, and Madarake. (I also went into some smaller, less well-known places with names I forgot.) I kept an eye out for yuri, of course. ^^ 

The most surprising thing was that the women's doujinshi sections of Toranoana and Mandarake both had Madoka Magica yuri doujinshi. (I also noticed some BL doujinshi covers for other series that included some Madoka parody.) I didn't see any other yuri doujinshi. Boo. I especially wanted some for Marimite. (Btw, my reasoning is that the women's doujinshi sections are going to have a much, much smaller yuri selection than the men's, if any, but what they do have is less likely to make my blood curdle.)

The most interesting store for me was Mandarake, since I didn't visit it last time I was in Japan. I love their used manga selection. They have every type of used manga under the sun from every time period. They even have issues of popular manga magazines from past decades for sale (*swoon*), along with artbooks and other memorabilia.

The men's doujinshi sections all looked the same to me- in retrospect, they've melded together into one bleary image of spurting body fluids.

I didn't visit a maid café, but I want to eventually. (I found a maid café review blog that has some great-sounding recommendations.) I visited a couple last time I was in Japan. One that was forgettable (I don't remember its name) and the main location of @home (I forget which floor), which was fun enough for me to visit twice. @home is one of the cafés where they let you take photos with the maids, for 500 yen each.

For lunch and dinner, I went to the type of restaurant where customers A) put money into a machine that shows different meal options, B) select a meal and receive a ticket from the machine, and C) hand the ticket to the kitchen staff. Then customers sit and serve themselves water, and the kitchen staff hand them their meals when they're ready. It sounds plain and fast food-like, but it's nice for when you want something hearty a.s.a.p. (I got curry rice for lunch and tonkatsu with curry rice for dinner. I looooove tonkatsu.)

I also want to check out a dansou café (where women dress up as butches men) and visit the famous Swallowtail butler café in Ikebukuro, to see what all the fuss is about. (The way they make ice cream sounds incredibly cool.)

I didn't take many photos in Akiba. ^^; Here's the exit from the JR line platform in Akihabara station.

And here's something I thought was cute in Gamers.

Yesterday I went to Otome-dori in Ikebukuro. I went into Animate, Mandarake, and the different K-Books. There was plenty of merchandise from fujoshi fan-favorites, like Hetalia, Hakuouki, Starry Sky, and the Shounen Jump properties. (In the Akihabara Mandarake, the Hetalia characters have their own individually labeled doujinshi sections. Like "America", "England", "Italy", etc. I knew Hetalia was popular, but...whoah.) Ao no Exorcist, Sekai-ichi Hatsukoi, and Durarara are also popular. And of course, more yummy used manga. But contrary to most of the commentary I've seen on Otome-dori, there's a ton of merchandise for non-yaoi-ish series, like K-ON and Madoka Magica, and basically everything else. I like Ikebukuro's Animate more than Akiba's because it has, imho, more variety and less that I find icky.

The Animate in Ikebukuro has the best Yuri Hime selection I've seen in a store so far. (Surprisingly, in the two non-otaku book shops I stopped in, Libro and Sanseido, I didn't see any Yuri Hime besides Yuru Yuri.) They also had a good Tsubomi selection, and copies of Rakuen ~Le Paradis~. (I don't remember seeing Rakuen anywhere else.)

The best find in Ikebukuro's Animate, though, was a Hourou Musuko clear file. (There was only one left.)

Here's the outside of Animate.

Here's Mandarake.

And the first K-Books I came across.

I finally found Marimite doujinshi when I went to my last Otome-dori stop, the K-Books above the Swallowtail café,

 which had a small selection of Madoka Magica on both floors. (The Marimite selection was on the second floor.) The second floor of the K-books above Swallotail has a lot of rare doujinshi displayed behind glass, like collections by Yoshinaga Fumi and Ono Natsume.

Here are the doujinshi I have so far.

Toranoana and the first floor of the K-books above Swallowtail helpfully provide one page samples of their Madoka doujinshi, on the backs of the copies that are at the top of their respective stacks. As seen here, in K-Books.

I chose this Marimite doujinshi because the cover shows Sei hitting on Shimako and Noriko getting jealous. XD

The ghost story theme for this one looked neat. (Definitely different.)

This one has an Alice in Wonderland theme. (Sei as the Mad Hatter = WIN)

The cover art for this one just intrigued me. (Especially the back.)

After Otome-dori, I went to Sunshine City for an udon dinner,

then explored an epic-looking Book-Off.

Then went back to the share house and shared some K-ON manjuu with my house mates, which they got a kick out of.

And that's it for my first two full days in Tokyo. (Today was more of a general "explore Ikebukuro" day. Especially nice, cool Sunshine City.)

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Manga Review: A Certain Scientific Railgun volume 1

Volume 1 of Railgun is as fun as ever in Seven Seas' English-language edition. I've already reviewed this volume and don't have any commentary to add about the story. I'll just cover the English adaptation here. The translation is on par with Seven Seas' usual work- very good, smooth and natural-sounding, retaining the honorifics. (Including "Oneesama", thankfully. I would cringe at Kuroko calling Mikoto "Big Sister", even if it technically would be an accurate translation.)

Even though Railgun doesn't drop any Japanese cultural/pop cultural references (unlike something like, say, Hayate x Blade), a translation page would have been welcome, to explain the honorifics. And even though though "Sparky" makes sense as a translation for "Biri biri"...I guess because of what I'm used to, I would prefer "Biri biri" to be left alone and explained with a translation note. (It wouldn't deter readers. The average English-speaking manga fan loves to learn random bits of series-related, pragmatically useless Japanese vocabulary that they can use to develop inside jokes with other fans.) The character profiles, the one bonus 4-koma, and the end notes by Kogino Chuuya (the illustrator for the Index manga; don't really know why he's commenting in this volume instead of Fuyukawa Motoi) and Kamachi Kazuma are still present, and there's a preview of the Toradora manga in the back.

Same grades as when I first reviewed this volume.
Art: B
Story: B
Overall: B

This is my first review of a manga that I originally reviewed in Japanese. (Hopefully I'll be able to do a lot more! ^__^)

I'm not going to review volume 6 of Railgun on its own. Because of how sparse Kuroko's role is in it, I'll wait to review it together with volume 7.

Monday, June 13, 2011

A Blast From The Past (But New For Me): Battle Athletes Victory, episodes 1-13

How did I go for so long without watching this series? I kept forgetting to watch it, but finally got around to it this past week. It's a yuri sci-fi classic from the 90's, with a goofy sense humor that pleasantly reminds me of the 90's sci-fi comedies I watched a lot in the early aughts, like Tenchi and Saber Marionette J. (I must add it to my next yuri panel.)

Battle Athletes Victory takes place way in the future, when the biggest athletic event is the interplanetary Cosmo Beauty contest, held to determine who the strongest athlete is. (It has nothing to do with beauty.) Only three women can be chosen from each planet and sent to the University Satellite in space to compete for the Cosmo Beauty title. Aspiring contestants from Earth have to attend a training academy in Antarctica, where they compete in different events. (When BAV takes place on Earth, many of the competitions are "this could only work in anime" versions of exercises like swimming, biking, and running.

After the setting switches to space, BAV ups the ante with activities like zero-gravity dodgeball. At one point, the main character's group has to convince a famous coach to train them by passing each other a ball while surfing waves in an indoor pool that has a shark and missiles that shoot out of the pool wall.)

In the Earth arc at the beginning, we meet Kanzaki Akari, the daughter of the greatest Cosmo Beauty ever, the now-deceased Midou Tomoe. Unlike her mom, Akari is the lowest ranked student at the Earth training academy, and she's a dumb, klutzy crybaby. (When she feels bad, she hides in a cardboard box labeled "Akari House.") Her best friend, the stereotypical brash, rough-necked Osakan Ichino (voiced by Hisakawa Aya), is one of the highest ranked students and constantly pushes Akari to do better. The rest of the characters are broad, stupid stereotypes of the places they're from also: Lin Pha, the sneaky Chinese ojousama who's really good at biking; the genki, wild African Tanya; the obstinate, hyper-perfectionistic American Jessie (who sounds like Marimite's Sachiko because she's voiced by Itou Miki; in one amusing scene, a lovestruck Japanese girl asks Jessie to be her "onee-sama", and Jessie's like "Whuh???"); and Ayla, the icy Russian who was raised by her government solely for the purpose of winning and has a Cold War-like rivalry against Jessie.

BAV loses the Hetalia schtick (and, sadly, the Jessie x Ayla dynamic) when, after much drama and utterly-unrealistic powering up by Akari through sheer will (and Ichino calling her name at the finish line for the final competition), she wins the chance to compete at the University Satellite with Tanya and Jessie. Thus ends what yuri fans would consider the Akari x Ichino arc (Ichino, who couldn't compete in the final competition because of a broken leg, promises Akari that she'll see her at the University Satellite in the next year, when she expects Akari to be the Cosmo Beauty; throughout this set of episodes, there's some nice subtext between them, but it's strong enough towards the end that even Ichino's little brother comments on it) and begins the Akari x Kris arc.

On the way to the shuttle taking her to the University Satellite, Akari runs into a contestant from the moon, Kris Christopher (voiced by the wonderful late Kawakami Tomoko, who would later play Utena), who inexplicably finds Akari hot. When the least threatening terrorists ever high-jack the shuttle, Kris becomes cool and competent, and Akari is saved partly thanks to her and some of the other students, partly thanks to the University Satellite's Headmaster's ability to stop a hurtling spacecraft with his bare hands.

At the University Satellite, the students are assigned to compete in teams of three. (Each team shares a room also.) Akari's group includes Kris (yay!) and Anna, who nobody cares about. You'd think they would just let the three girls from each planet stay together, but hey, it means Akari and Kris are on the same team.

By the end of episode 13, Akari's group has lost eleven competitions in a row. Things look bleak for them, but Akari's the main character, so....

Yup. It's fun; it's stupid; it has a great concept and a mostly good execution. Akari isn't much of a heroine (although she improves a bit...I've heard that the Battle Athletes manga ups just about everything that's good in the anime version and tones down everything that's bad, like Akari's crybaby tendencies) and Anna has the personality of a rock (although she's funny when she offers to sexile herself for Kris and Akari), but most of the characters are interesting to watch and full of the insane drive and "GUTS!" expected from a show like this. My one qualm is that even though the Earth characters are intentionally written as dumb stereotypes, Lin Pha and Tanya's characterizations still made me uneasy.

The art is obviously dated (which doesn't matter to me), but the animation is very good for a show from the 90's. Even though the characters wear leotards most of the the time, the service is minimal, thankfully.

No grades until I review the second half.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Yuriyu-ra-ra-ra-ra-yuruyuri, yuriyu-ra-ra-ra-ra-yuruyuri, yuriyu-ra-ra-ra-ra-yuruyuri

The promo for Yuruyuri is streaming here. The refrain's probably going to be stuck in my head for the rest of the day. *shakes fist in futility*

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Anime Review: Hidamari Sketch


I thought this would be a fitting follow-up to my Madoka Magica review, because...

Yup. (For anyone who can't read that, the screencaps are pointing out the Aoki Ume/Shinbo Akiyuki connection between the two series.)

Even though I gripe about Yuruyuri every time I mention it, I like this series. Go figure. Like Yuruyuri, Hidamari is a slice-of-life (I almost said "4-koma", even though Yuruyuri isn't a 4-koma; it feels like it should be) about a group of girls who hang out- in this case, Yuno, a cheerful, hardworking first-year art student living in the Hidamari Apartments with three other art students who attend the same high school: her nutty best friend Miyako (my favorite) and two second-years, motherly Hiro, who worries about her weight even though she's slim, and butchy Sae, who writes light novels under a pen name. You also have Yuno and Miyako's cosplay-loving homeroom teacher Yoshinoya-sensei, the Principal, who checks Yoshinoya-sensei's antics even though he's kind of a weirdo too, and Hidamari's laid-back, chain-smoking landlady.

The characters play off each other well, but what distinguishes Hidamari from the gajillion other series with a similar premise is how each episode takes place on a different day of the year, not in chronological order (the first episode takes place on January 11, the second on August 21, then June 17, May 18, February 13, etc; the last episode takes place on December 25, before the events of the first episode), and the quirky SHAFT/Shinbo art and animation, which will sell the series for some people and drive other people batty. I like it.

As for the yuri, there are some "hints" about Sae and Hiro in the series proper, but...in the second of the two OVA specials included in Sentai's release of the first season, Hiro receives a love letter in her locker. Sae just about has a nervous breakdown over the possibility of Hiro dating the person who sent the letter (when Yuno and Miyako hear that Hiro got a love letter, they first assume that Sae sent it), but after Hiro turns the sender down, Sae's on cloud nine. There's really no way not to see yuri there. 

Unfortunately, Sentai's DVD release is bare bones on extras, unless you count a clean OP and ED. (It's also streaming on the Anime Network.) Apparently, it still sold well enough for them to license not only the second season, but the third one also.

Hidamari won't keep you riveted to the edge-of-your seat, but it's a good choice for a gentle comedy to relax with.

Story: B
Art: B+
Overall: B

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Anime Review: Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Kaname Madoka is an ordinary, cheerful 14 year-old who spends her free time with her friends Sayaka and Hitomi. A new student, the cool, dark-haired, seemingly perfect Homura, transfers into their class and warns Madoka to not try to be anything other than what she is. Of course, Madoka doesn't know what she's talking about, and Sayaka and Hitomi dismiss Homura as a weirdo. When Madoka and Sayaka are shopping at the mall, Madoka hears a voice calling for help and follows it (followed later by Sayaka), where it turns out to be an injured, fluffy mascot creature that jumps into her arms. It's being pursued by Homura, now transformed into a magical girl, who is thwarted by a magical girl named Mami. The mascot, Kyuubey, invites Madoka and Sayaka to become magical girls like Mami. All they need to do is make a wish, which Kyuubey will grant no matter what.

I used to think the direction this series takes after episode 3 was already widely known among anime fans, but then I had this conversation with a friend who had only seen two episodes.

Me: So...do you trust that little white...thing? (Imagined response: "Haha, no!" "Right?")
Friend: Am I...not supposed to?
Me: ...
Friend: Kathy!
Me: Crap. I'm sorry! But its face doesn't move! Didn't you think that was creepy?
Friend: I thought it was unintentionally creepy!
Me: Everything in this series is intentional.

By sharing this conversation, I'm sure I've spoiled that plot point for someone else, but there's so much more to the story (and the question of exactly how and why Kyuubey isn't really trustworthy), that I felt fine with sharing it. But trust me if you haven't started or finished Madoka; it's definitely worthwhile. Great art, great pacing, great story- although the characterization isn't on the same level as the story. (As much as I like Homura.)

The rest of this review is for people who have watched all of Madoka, rather than those who are considering it.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Summer 2011 Anime Season Preview

The spring season has been kind of weak compared to this past winter (although I'm still interested in Hanasaku Iroha and Ano Hana, and getting through Sengoku Otome), but there are some promising shows lined up for the summer.

This time, I'm organizing the preview differently. (Shows with premiere dates specified. -> Shows simply described as premiering in "July." -> Shows premiering in "Summer 2011.") As always, I hope it's helpful! ^_^

Appleseed XIII:
The latest adaptation of Shirou Masamune's Appleseed manga, which takes place in a futuristic war torn world. Former LAPD SWAT member Deunan Knotts and her cyborg partner Briaeros are brought to the seemingly peaceful, prosperous city of Olympus, but after joining the city's police force, they find out about the underground conflict that's taking place there.
I'll pass on this, since I'm not into the CG look. (Especially compared to the original art.) The production company backing this project recently filed for bankruptcy, but there's still a trailer on the show's website saying that it will premiere on June 13. According to the site, all 13 episodes will stream online rather than air on TV.
Noteworthy seiyuu:
Sakamoto Maaya (CANAAN's Alphard, Ouran's Haruhi, Escaflowne's Hitomi) as Deunan
Yamadera Kouichi (Cowboy Bebop's Spike, Ghost In The Shell: SAC's Togusa, Evangelion's Kaji) as Briaeros

Madhouse's latest Marvel adaptation. Unfortunately, no trailers or promo art have been released.
Update: Not anymore.
None again.

Based on a light novel series starring Subaru, a first-year high school student who plays on his school's basketball team. The team is disbanded when the coach is suspected of being a pedophile, and Subaru "somehow ends up as a coach of an elementary school's basketball team with five girls."
A cheesy live-action "trailer", featuring the seiyuu pretending to be a group of high friends, has been released.
Update: Premiere date added.
Update 2: Trailer added.

Kaji Yuuki (Kuroshitsuji's Finny, Hanasaku Iroha's Kou) as Hasegawa Subaru
Hanazawa Kana (Bungaku Shoujo's Touka, Kuragehime's Tsukimi, Black Rock Shooter's Mato) as Minato Tomoka
Iguchi Yuka (To Aru Majutsu no Index's Index) as Misawa Maho
Hikasa Youko (K-ON!'s Mio) as Nagatsuka Saki
Itou Shizuka (Rei in Marimite, El Cazador's Nadie, Saki's Hisa) as Takamura Mihoshi

Kami-sama no Memo-chou:
An adaptation of a light novel series starring a NEET detective girl named Alice and the high school boy who serves as her sidekick, Narumi.
No trailers, and I'm really not crazy about the, "Aww, look at the widdle detective girl surrounded by teddy bears, isn't she sho moe?" advertising. Pass.
Update: Premiere date added.
Update 2: Trailer streaming here.
Kayano Ai (Ano Hana's Menma) as Shinozaki Ayaka
Ono Daisuke (Kuroshitsuji's Sebastian, Durarara!!'s Shizuo, Suzumiya Haruhi's Itsuki) as Yondaime
Nabatame Hitomi (Strawberry Panic!'s Shizuma, Marimite's Eriko) as Min-san
Sakurai Takahiro (Code Geass' Suzaku, Ano Hana's Yukiatsu) as Hiro

Sunrise's project, about super-powered teens who fight monsters and use body armor. I haven't seen more detail about the story than that. Trailer here.
Nakajima Megumi (Macross Frontier's Ranka, Kämpfer's Sakura) as Aiba Ruri
Itou Kanae (Hanasaku Iroha's Ohana, Taishou Yakyuu Musume's Koume, Railgun's Saten) as Itou Wakana
Okamoto Nobuhiko (Ao no Exorcist's Rin, To Aru Majutsu no Index's Accelerator) as Terushima Night


In the late 19th century, a little girl named Yune accompanies an elderly gentleman named Oscar on his trip back to France. She convinces Oscar and his nephew Claude to let her work at their ironwork shop in Paris, and the series follows their day-to-day lives.
Satou Junichi is doing the series composition, although he isn't directing. Incidentally, the trailer has a nice Aria-like feel to it. ^_^ I'm definitely trying it.
Yuuki Aoi (Madoka in Madoka Magica, Noël in Sora no Woto) as Alice

Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyou:
The second season adapting Shiibashi Hiroshi's Nurarihyon no Mago manga (licensed as Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan), which runs in Weekly Shounen Jump. I've heard that it's painfully rote, so I haven't tried it.
It stars Nura Rikuo, a boy who is a quarter youkai and destined to rule the Nura youkai clan. Not only does he dislike his youkai heritage, many others oppose his inheritance of the leadership position. But he eventually embraces his role.
Update: Premiere date added, and PV streaming here. (Click "Movie.")

Hirano Aya (Suzumiya Haruhi, Lucky Star's Konata, Kimi ni Todoke's Kurumi) as Ienaga Kana
Fukuyama Jun (Code Geass's Lelouch, Spice and Wolf's Lawrence) as Nura Rikuo
Ishida Akira (Mai-Hime's Nagi, Mnemosyne's Apos, NANA's Shinichi) as Tamazuki
Koshimizu Ami (Marimite's Kanoko, Saki's Nodoka, Suite Precure's Hibiki) as Sasami
Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuuno) as Maki Saori

Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel ~Kyun Kyun☆Tokimeki Paradise!!~:
An adaptation of a magical girl pachinko slot game.
Does anyone honestly think that this will be good?
Update: Premiere date added.
Noto Mamiko (Marimite's Shimako, Kimi ni Todoke's Sawako, Menmosyne's Rin) as Blue Angel/Kannazuki Aoi
Kugimiya Rie (Saki's Yuuki, Toradora's Taiga) as White Angel/Hazuki Kurumi
Tamura Yukari (Nanoha, Kashimashi's Tomari, Mai Hime's Midori) using her Nanoha voice as Red Angel/Minazuki Haruka
Horie Yui (Aoi Hana's Kyouko, Hourou Musuko's Anna, Kashimashi's Yasuna) as Twin Phantom/Tesla Violet
Asano Masumi (Ikki Tousen's Hakufu, Kashimashi's Ayuki) as Tomochi Nyan and Kondou Satsuki
Hiyama Nobuyuki (Marimite's Kashiwagi, Yuu Yuu Hakusho's Hiei, Genshiken's Madarame) as Kaitou Misty Night/Kisaragi Yuito
Asakawa Yuu (Azumanga Daioh's Sasaki) as Black Carrier/Ms. Saijou

Natsume Yuujin-chou San:
The 3rd season adapting Midorikawa Yuuki's Natsume Yuujin-chou (released in English as Natsume's Book of Friends), about a boy who has always been able to see spirits and youkai and moves to his late grandmother's town, where he finds out that she had similar abilities. Since his grandmother enslaved youkai by recording their names in a book, he has to deal with the "loose ends" she left behind.
I've heard good things about Natsume and the youkai aspect sounds interesting, but I haven't watched or read any of it. ^_^; (I keep forgetting about it.)
Kamiya Hiroshi (Zetsubou-sensei, Bakemonogatari's Araragi, Honey and Clover's Takemoto) as Natsume Takashi.
Inoue Kazuhiko (Naruto's Kakashi, Detective Conan's Inspector Shiratori, Gravitation's Yuuki) as Nyanko-sensei.
Ishida Akira (Mai-Hime's Nagi, Mnemosyne's Apos, NANA's Shinichi) as Natori Shuuichi.
Kimura Ryohei (Higashi no Eden's Akira, Angel Beats!'s Hinata) as Nishimura Satoru.
Kobayashi Sanae (Baccano!'s Ennis, Elfen Lied's Lucy/Nyuu, Glass Mask (2005)'s Maya) as Natsume Reiko.
Suwabe Junichi (Fate/stay Night's Archer, Kuragehime's Shuu, High School of the Dead's Takashi) as Matoba.

The first (and hopefully not last) Yuri Hime manga adaptation, about four girls who use their school's tea ceremony room for their amusement club meetings. I'm not in love with the manga (or even in like), but my desire for a Yuri Hime title to succeed as an anime supersedes my opinion of it.
Character designs for all of the characters are up on the official website.
Yuruyuri's director, Ohta Masahiko, has directed Yoake Mae Yori Ruri Iro Na -Crescent Love-, Minami-ke, Mitsudomoe, and Mitsudomoe Zouryouchuu!
UPDATE: Yuruyuri promo streaming here.
Update 2: Another trailer.
Tsuda Minami (Fractale's Phryne) as Funami Yui
Ookubo Rumi (Freezing's Kaho, Happy Kappy's Suguri) as Yoshikawa Chinatsu
Mikami Shiori (one of the girls who stole Nodoka's penguin in Saki, the newspaper club girl in Kämpfer) as Akaza Akari
Ootsubo Yuka (no previous roles) as Toshinou Kyouko
Toyosaki Aki (K-ON!'s Yui, Hanasaku Iroha's Nako, Railgun's Uiharu) as Ikeda Chitose
Taketatsu Ayana (K-ON!'s Azusa, Tamayura's Fuu) as Majokko Mirakurun
Katou Emiri (Sasameki Koto's Kiyori, Lucky Star's Kagami, Madoka Magica's Kyuubey) as Oomuro Sakurako
Fujita Saki (Houkago no Pleiades' Nanako, Working!!'s Inami) as Sugiura Ayano
Mimori Suzuko (Tantei Opera Milky Holmes' Sherlock) as Furutani Himawari

Kamisama Dolls:
Kyouhei, a university student, finds a recently killed body in an elevator after moving to Tokyo from the country. His little sister Utao, who can control a super-powered "Kamisama Doll", travels to Tokyo and tells him that his old friend Aki committed the crime with his Kamisama Doll. Aki suddenly shows up in Kyouhei's apartment.
Based on the promo art alone, I didn't think much of this show, but it sounds (and looks) interesting enough to check out.
Okamoto Nobuhiko (Ao no Exorcist's Rin, To Aru Majutsu no Index's Accelerator) as Kuga Kyouhei
Fukuen Misato (Hidamari Sketch's Natsume, To Aru Majutsu no Index's Maika) as Kuga Utao
Kayano Ai (Ano Hana's Menma) as Shiba Hibin
Sawashiro Miyuki (Canaan, Kimi ni Todoke's Ayane, High School of the Dead's Saeko) as Karahari Kuuko
Kimura Ryouhei (Higashi no Eden's Akira, Angel Beats!'s Hinata) as Kuga Aki

Morita-san ha Mukuchi:
Based on a 4-koma about the daily life of Morita, a quiet, introverted high school girl.
I saw the OVA adaptation. It was fine, but it didn't blow me away. I've heard good things about the manga (and it sounds like it has some yuri ^_^), so I'm still looking forward to this TV adaptation. (Maybe it'll be better?)
Update: Premiere date added.
Update 2: Trailer.
Hanazawa Kana (Bungaku Shoujo's Touka, Kuragehime's Tsukimi, Black Rock Shooter's Mato) as Morita Mayu
Tomatsu Haruka (Ano Hana's Anaru, Hanasaku Iroha's Yuina, CANAAN's Yunyun) as Murakoshi Miki
Hayami Saori (Higashi no Eden's Saki, Ano Hana's Tsuruko) as Miura Chihiro
Nanjou Yoshino (CANAAN's Maria, Hourou Musuko's Sasa) as Matsuzaka Hana


Nyanpire The Animation:
The newly revived (bad pun intended) Gonzo will be animating this series, based on a popular doujinshi (The Gothic World of Nyanpire) that spawned a series of character goods. It's about a cat who was abandoned, but saved from dying of starvation by a vampire giving it blood. Now it lives in a house with a human girl.
*watches trailer* *head explodes from cuteness*
Update: Premiere date added.
Koshimizu Ami (Marimite's Kanoko, Saki's Nodoka, Suite Precure's Hibiki) as Nyanpire
Fukuyama Jun (Code Geass's Lelouch, Spice and Wolf's Lawrence) as Nyantenshi
Sugiyama Noriaki (Naruto's Sasuke, Bleach's Uryuu) as Dokuganryuu Masamunya
Goto Yuuko (Suzumiya Haruhi's Mikuru, Hidamari Sketch's Hiro) as Chachamaru

The newest reboot of the Blood franchise, with story and (great-looking) character designs by CLAMP. The promo art looks incredibly bad ass, so I'm excited about it. (I liked the Blood movie, but never really got into Blood+.)
The director, Mizushima Tsutomu, also directed Genshiken and Ookiku Furikabutte.
Update: PV streaming here.
Mizuki Nana (Nanoha's Fate, Heartcatch Precure!'s Tsubomi, Hourou Musuko's Maho) as Saya
Asano Masumi (Ikki Tousen's Hakufu, Kashimashi's Ayuki) as Amino Yuuka
Fukuen Misato (Hidamari Sketch's Natsume, To Aru Majutsu no Index's Maika) as Motoe Nene and Motoe Nono

Mayo Chiki!:
A "romantic comedy" starring high school boy Kinjirou, who discovers that his classmate Kanade's butler Subaru is really a girl.
Update: Premiere date added.
Kitamura Eri (Madoka Magica's Sayaka, Simoun's Amuria, Toradora!'s Ami) as Suzutsuki Kanade
Asumi Kana (Hidamari Sketch's Yuuno) as Narumi Nakuru
Hanazawa Kana (Bungaku Shoujo's Touka, Kuragehime's Tsukimi, Black Rock Shooter's Mato) as Sakamichi Kureha

No. 6:
One of the two new Noitamina shows premiering (which means I'll definitely try it; fingers crossed that it isn't another Fractale), based on a series of novels by Asano Atsuko.
Shion lives in the elite area of No. 6, a "future model city", in 2013. On the night of his 12th birthday, he rescues Nezumi, a boy who escaped from No. 6's Special Security Area.
Update: Promos streaming here.
Kaji Yuuki (Kuroshitsuji's Finny, Hanasaku Iroha's Kou) as Shion.
Hosoya Yoshimasa (Level E's Yukitaka) as Nezumi

The Idolm@ster:
An adaptation of the Idolm@ster raising sim game, in which the player works as a producer who needs to select ten prospective idols.This game has already been adapted into an anime in which the characters double as fighting mech pilots. (A lot of the same staff who worked on Mai Hime and Mai Otome worked on it.) This new series seems to be going for a more faithful adaptation of the game, about the girls just striving to be idols. It looks like it could be fun. (For the longer trailers, skip past the talking CG girls, and you'll see art and animation from the show.)
Hirata Hiromi (R.O.D.'s Maggie, Shin Koihime Musou: Otome Tairan's Gien) as Kikuchi Makoto
Kugimiya Rie (Saki's Yuuki, Toradora's Taiga) as Minase Iori

Usagi Drop:
Another Noitamina show, and one of two that I'm 100% certain will be good this season. It's based on an excellent manga by Unita Yumi, published as Bunny Drop in English.
30 year-old Daikichi attends his grandfather's funeral, where he finds out his grandfather has a 6 year-old daughter nobody knew about. Irritated by how his relatives don't want to take responsibility for her, he impulsively takes her in and raises her as a single parent. This series is incredibly sweet (without being cloying- really), and I'm really glad that it's getting an anime and live movie adaptation.
Update: Promo streaming here.
Ueda Kana (Marimite's Yumi, Saki in Saki, Kashimashi's Hazumu) as Maeda Haruko
Sakamoto Maaya (CANAAN's Alphard, Ouran's Haruhi, Escaflowne's Hitomi) as Yoshii Masako
Ohara Sayaka (Aria's Alicia, Kaliedo Star's Layla, Honey and Clover's Rika) as Kouki's mom


Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi:
High school student Kurogane Taito is given a "poison" by a vampire girl, "thus changing his life."
The trailers look terrible.
Takamoto Megumi (Sasameki Koto's Ushio, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood's Winry) as Saito Himea
Fukuyama Jun (Code Geass's Lelouch, Spice and Wolf's Lawrence) as Kurenai Hinata
Nakamura Yuuichi (Clannad's Tomoya, Macross Frontier's Alto) as Kurenai Gekkou

Nekogami Yaoyorozu:
An adaptation of a comedy manga about Mayu, a chibi cat goddess who lives in an antique shop and hangs out with other chibi gods.
It looks like Binchou-tan on a sugar high. Not really interested.
Update: Premiere date added, and PVs here, here, and here.
Tomatsu Haruka (Ano Hana's Anaru, Hanasaku Iroha's Yuina, CANAAN's Yunyun) as Mayu
Horie Yui (Aoi Hana's Kyouko, Hourou Musuko's Anna, Kashimashi's Yasuna) as Komiya Yuzu
Kayano Ai (Ano Hana's Menma) as Shousouin Sasana
Toyosaki Aki (K-ON!'s Yui, Hanasaku Iroha's Nako, Railgun's Uiharu) as Shamo
Taketatsu Ayana (K-ON!'s Azusa, Tamayura's Fuu) as Meiko
Sanpei Yuuko (Kimi ni Todoke's Chizuru, Daa! Daa! Daa!'s Kanata) as Gonta

Taketo, a high school student who moonlights as a porn novelist, enrolls in a school for geniuses where "risque trouble" ensues.
Blech. No trailers are available, but the official website has brief videos of each of the seiyuu who play the characters.
Update: Premiere date added.
Update 2: PV here.

Noteworthy Seiyuu:
Surprisingly, no.


Manyuu Hikenchou:
In a fantasy version of the Edo period, female warriors fight each other, gaining bigger boobs the more fights they win.
In case you haven't gotten the point, this show's official website's url is http://oppaidaisuki.jp/ and its Twitter feed is http://twitter.com/#!/large_breasts. I'm sure we'll see Manyuu Hikenchou: Gyokuza wo Tsugumono green-lit at some point.
Update: Premiere date and trailer added.
Toyosaki Aki (K-ON!'s Yui, Hanasaku Iroha's Nako, Railgun's Uiharu) as Kaede
Mizuhara Kaoru (Ga Rei Zero's Yomi) as Manyuu Kagefusa
Noto Mamiko (Marimite's Shimako, Kimi ni Todoke's Sawako, Menmosyne's Rin) as Sayama Ouka
Kotobuki Minako (K-ON!'s Mugi) as Manyuu Chibusa


Dantalian no Shoka:
In the basement of the mansion he inherited from his grandfather, Hugh Anthony Disward meets a girl named Dalian, who controls the gateway to the prohibited books of demonic wisdom.
I'll probably try it since it's by Gainax.
As an extra nice touch, the Alice and the Pirates line of the Lolita fashion chain Baby, The Stars Shine Bright, is in charge of this show's costume design.
Update: Premiere date added.
Update 2: PV added.

Sawashiro Miyuki (Canaan, Blue Drop's Hagino, Kimi ni Todoke's Ayane, Tegami Bachi's Lag Seeing, High School of the Dead's Saeko) as Dalian
Ono Daisuke (Kuroshitsuji's Sebastian, Durarara!!'s Shizuo, Suzumiya Haruhi's Itsuki) as Hugh


Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu season 2:
The second season of a comedy about a group of students who attend a school where the different classes (A to F) have varying levels of facility quality, and students compete to be in the A class using fighting avatars.
I haven't seen the first season. I've heard some good things about it, but I'm not interested.
Taketatsu Ayana (K-ON!'s Azusa, Tamayura's Fuu) as Shimizu Miharu
Katou Emiri (Sasameki Koto's Kiyori, Lucky Star's Kagami, Madoka Magica's Kyuubey) as Kinoshita Hideyoshi and Kinoshita Yuuko
Mizuhashi Kaori (Hidamari Sketch's Miyako, Nanoha's Yuuno and Vivio, Madoka Magica's Mami) as Shimada Minami

Premiere Date in July, specific day not yet specified:

Mawaru PenguinDrum:
Easily the most anticipated show this season- Ikuhara Kunihiko-sama's first time helming a show since Utena. All that's known at this point is that it will star three siblings (Takakura Kanba, Shouma, and Himari), be 24 episodes long, have character designs by Hoshino Lily, and be animated by Brains Base.
Maddeningly/tantalizingly cryptic trailers streaming here and here.  
Update: New trailer here! (Thanks to angelx03 for finding it.)
Update 2: Two more trailers! (The second one finally has animation!)
Update 3: Another trailer!
Himari is being played by Arakawa Miho, who hasn't played any other roles. No other seiyuu have been announced yet.
Update 2 part 2:  Shouma is being played by Kimura Ryouhei, Kanba is being played by Kimura Subaru, and another character named Oginome Ringo is being played by Miyake Marie. Here's a promo pic of Himari, Kanba, and Shouma, found here.
Thanks to Anonymous for tipping me off about more info on this show being available.

Premiere date still only specified as "Summer 2011":

Uta no ☆ Prince-sama ♪ Maji Love 1000%:
An adaptation of an otome romance game, in which a girl attends a school for the performing arts filled with boys who want to be idols.
This season's pretty big on idol shows. No trailers have been released.
Update: Trailer.
Suwabe Junichi (Fate/stay Night's Archer, Kuragehime's Shuu, High School of the Dead's Takashi) as Jinguuji Ren
Miyano Mamoru (Ouran's Tamaki, Death Note's Light, Star Driver's Takuto) as Ichinose Tokiya
Nakamura Yuuichi (Clannad's Tomoya, Macross Frontier's Alto) as Tsukimiya Ringo
Imai Yuka (Utena's Wakaba, Fruits Basket's Arisa) as Shibuya Tomochika
Kaji Yuuki (Kuroshitsuji's Finny, Hanasaku Iroha's Kou) as Kurusu Kaoru