When we made a countdown podcast hyping the upcoming season, we offhandedly decided not to note that our three top series were coming out on the same day, joining an excellent pair of sports series in what has classically been the first or second most stacked day of the week. Straight dope, the past 24 hours had the potential to be pretty great. The keyword there is always “potential”; rarely does the entire slate of shows with upside pan out, and even those with very favorable preseason outlooks can disappoint. However, this time, things went on a bit different bent than usual. Seitokai Yakuindomo Confirmed Using Steroids got straight-up obnoxious with Suzu’s head. Robot Girls Z was twice as long as we previously thought. And Ian Sinclair was, in fact, Space Dandy. Which is now a 2-cour project. Since Arpeggio’s v1 sales numbers neatly edged out 10k, I’ve got an unbreakable three-way tie for favorite news of the weekend. Let’s break it down.
Aside from perhaps the hair episode of Yami Shibai, the 5-minute preview for Go Nagai’s Robot Girls Z was the most impressive, repeatable five minutes of animation I watched last month. If you haven’t seen it yet, it’s over here. Short version: it’s a 5-minute comedy which, but for the more modern cutesy character designs, could totally have been written by Go Nagai. Its style of humor, featuring excessive violence and heroes doing more damage than the monsters they fight, is what he’s always been all about.
Being that I was excited about the project (this was only the 0th episode), I flew over to ann to check the profiles of the freaks involved. As it turns out, the director, Hiroshi Ikehata, has only ever handled one TV series before (Ring ni Kakero), which isn’t a very good sample size to judge a director on. But he has held the position of episode director numerous times, on all manner of series (from A-Channel to Yuyushiki).
There are no less than 8 new directors making their debut in this Summer 2013 season with similar information about their early careers available.* One of them is Hiroko Utsumi, the director of Free! Others run the quality gamut, from C3-Bu’s Masayoshi Kawajiri to Neptunia’s Masahiro Mukai. And, lest I forget, Shishiou Igarashi made a smashing debut with The Unlimited this winter. It’s definitely possible for first-timers to post veteran-esque performances, but far from guaranteed.
This observation led me to a question; what, if anything, can we glean from a first-time director’s experience in the bullpen? If it that experience is important, what part of it is? Is it better to have worked as an understudy to a great creator on a memorable show, or to build up tons of experience grinding out lots of support roles? To attempt to answer these questions, I pulled up resumes for the 11 directors who first got their hands on a serial anime project in 2012 and combed them over to see if anything in particular was a good indicator of their respective performances. This article outlines a number of the potential performance I examined, some better than others.