The Schwarzesmarken anime has been officially announced. (As I mentioned before, the previous news was a kind of “pre-announcement”.) As predicted, it will air in January, just a month after the first game is released. The official website is here, and the official Twitter account is here.
For the past few days, a teaser site has been up, which leaked info little by little. It was designed so that at first even the title was hidden – a true “teaser” – which doesn’t really work when your company name is in the URL and your company only makes one thing. But, oh well.
Here’s the staff/cast listing:
Original Work: Kouki Yoshimune
Original Scenario: Hiroki Uchida
Character Concept: Carnelian
Director: Tetsuya Watanabe
Story Editor: Tatsuto Higuchi
Character Design: Shuuichi Hara
Sound Director: Satoshi Motoyama
Music Producer: Evan Call
Music Production: Elements Garden
Animation Production: Ixtl x Liden Films
Theodor Eberbach – Kenichi Suzumura
Irisdina Bernhard – Nozomi Yamamoto
Katia Waldheim – Minami Tanaka
Lise Hohenstein – Yoshino Nanjou
Gretel Jeckeln – Kiyono Yasuno
Anett Hosenfeld – Chika Anzai
Sylvia Kschessinska – Michiyo Murase
Pham Thi-Rang – Emiri Katou
Walther Kruger – Kenta Miyake
Beatrix Brehme – Yukari Tamura
Heinz Axmann – Ken Narita
Kirce Steinhoff – Manami Numakura
The director is the big news here, in my eyes. It’s Tetsuya Watanabe, the director of the original Kimi ga Nozomu Eien TV anime and followup Akane Maniax OVA. He did an amazing job on these, at a time when anime based on erogames were rare and of generally poor quality. Before these, he directed the Zone of the Enders anime, and after these, he did Soukou no Strain, both of which were solid mecha shows that dared to wander off the beaten path a bit. He hasn’t directed anything major since then, sadly, but he’s continued to get steady work as a storyboarder.
Way back when, the final episode of Akane Maniax ended with a handover from the KimiNozo to the Muv-Luv cast. Yoshimune has confirmed that this was exactly what it looked like – a teaser for the Muv-Luv anime that was in the planning stages. Unfortunately, as we all know, the project fell through and the sponsors scattered like the wind, never to return. But if the stars had aligned, I think it’s very likely that Watanabe, with his experience directing ZOE and storyboarding numerous Sunrise mecha shows, would have been first in line for that job. It’s great to see him get the job he should have had, albeit in a very different form, over 10 years later.
I have always held the KimiNozo anime up as an example of how great anime can be when its staff is dedicated to telling a good story, without feeling excessively bound by the original work. The tides have shifted since then, and I doubt he will have the same freedom here. Hardcore fans no longer tolerate the kind of major changes that he made to KimiNozo. But it’s still reassuring to know that somebody with his sensibilities is in the driver’s seat. And who knows, the Total Eclipse anime still featured several major changes that I applauded, so maybe he’ll get freer reign than I think.
The story editor is Tatsuto Higuchi, who leaves behind a string of failed Sunrise shows (Sora Kake Girl, Cross Ange) in his wake. Luckily, this is an adaptation, not an original show, so he’s not going to be asked to do much, other than copy what’s in the novels and make changes according to what Watanabe tells him. He’s the weak link here, but I trust Watanabe much more than I distrust this guy.
The music is being done by Evan Call, a recent addition to Elements Garden. Like with Total Eclipse, the music for the anime and games are being developed together. They’ve shown a few clips of the game with music included, and it sounds great. FripSide (whose lead singer Yoshino Nanjou is also playing Lise) is doing the theme to the first game; they haven’t announced who’s doing the songs for the anime yet, but given how closely the anime and games are being developed, I think it’s likely they’ll also work on the anime.
The animation will be done by Liden Films, with Sanzigen on CG. This is pretty much as expected. Ixtl and Sanzigen are literally next-door neighbors in the same building, and Sanzigen actually helped out a little on the Total Eclipse game. As for Liden Films, I believe the head of Sanzigen helped found that company, and they also work in the same building as Sanzigen and Ixtl. Liden Films worked on shows like Terra Formers and Yamada-kun and the 7 Witches, while Sanzigen is probably most famous for Arpeggio of Blue Steel. But, as expected for two companies with such close ties, they also work together quite often, currently on The Heroic Legend of Arslan. They do good work, but I have zero interest in art so I can’t say just how good they are.
As for the cast, this is the first Muv-Luv franchise to be cast with “modern” actors. It’s hard not to notice just how much younger and inexperienced they are compared to the other franchises. For example, Nozomi Yamamoto and Minami Tanaka, the two female leads, hadn’t even started in the industry when Schwarzesmarken started up. Age cast both Total Eclipse and Duty -Lost Arcadia- themselves, grabbing big-name veteran actors that they were familiar with. Schwarzesmarken has very clearly been cast by the anime producers, drawing on current popular names and trends. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but they’ve released clips of all the actors and the difference is very noticeable. Luckily, they’ll be anchored by the male actors, all veterans, and by the great Yukari Tamura, playing one of the lead bad guys.
(People have humorously noted that the leads for the three major Muv-Luv franchises are now headed by the leads for the three Gundam Seed anime franchises – Souichirou Hoshi (Kira in Seed) as Takeru, Daisuke Ono (Sven in Stargazer) as Yuuya, and Kenichi Suzumura (Shinn in Destiny) as Theodor.)
Animate has some brief comments from the leads:
Kenichi Suzumura (Theodor): I had heard a long time ago that they were hoping to make this work into an anime. I’m very happy that this anime is finally happening. We are recording the show while being overwhelmed by its constant foreshadowing and profound worldview, but I still want to do all I can to breathe life into this work. Please give us your support!
Minami Tanaka (Katia): I remember that when I first read this story, I thought that Katia was the one I connected with the most! I think Katia is like an oasis in the middle of this serious story. I want people to pay attention to how the Company and the others around her change as they get involved with Katia. I’ve never had to do this kind of acting before so I’m very nervous while recording, but I’m surrounded by more experienced people in the studio, so I hope I can grow along with Katia as the story progresses. And I hope people look forward to seeing how Theodor changes as Katia keeps sticking to him. I’m looking forward to all the recording sessions ahead of me!
Nozomi Yamamoto (Irisdina): Irisdina is the commander of the 666th TSF Company even though she’s a woman, so she’s more than a little unreachable to me. That’s why I’m going to try to face her even in my everyday life by trial and error. Schwarzesmarken will expand into many places like games and anime so I hope you will enjoy them all. Please give us your passionate support.
Yoshino Nanjou (Lise): Even though we have the concept of fighting the enemy, this is a very interesting ensemble play portraying an era in which you can’t trust others, even your own relatives. Please watch with me together to see how Lise can live in such an era. There are a lot of difficult words and serious moments so it’s a very tense recording studio, but it’s a very friendly place during breaks (laughs). Please look forward to the broadcast!
As I did with Total Eclipse, I will translate any interviews I find interesting, and I’ll post up episode reviews when the show starts up in January. In preparation, I should probably start rereading the novels . . .