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As you can probably imagine, I constantly have a lot of anime waiting to be watched. Some of it is brand new recently broadcast shows, others entire series from years ago that I’m still trying to catch up with. However, cursed as I am with a job and a life, decisions have to be made as to which shows I follow and review, and which I just reject straight away. Usually watching one or two episodes is enough to tell, but occasionally shows come along that although they don’t earn my full attention, I can see they may still have something to offer to viewers. So, in the first of a regular series, I present a round up of first episodes you might want to check out.

Soul Eater (2008)

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Based on a manga published by Final Fantasy RPG video game giants Square-Enix, Soul Eater is about children at a school for ‘weapon masters’ set in a the fantasy world of Death City. it’s largely pure shonen fare, that is to say it’s aimed at teenage boys, and is much in the mold of stuff like Dragonball Z. In other words its not really my cup of tea – but I will say it does look pretty – if a little simplistic at times – especially in HD. Fans of Gorillaz will probably enjoy the character designs, for a start. It’s loud, brash, and probably worth watching before you take your daily Ritalin hit. If that’s your kind of vibe, then enjoy.

Kurozuka (2008)

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Any Madhouse production usually gets my full attention, so I was looking forward to Kurozuka when I first head news of it. Based on the popular seinen novels and manga by Baku Yumemakura, it kicks of in 12th century Japan and deals with Highlander style immortal warriors, including a siren like women that lures traveling ronin to their gruesome deaths. Apparently at some point it fast-forwards to the future, but sadly I didn’t get that far. As a seinen work it is aimed at a more mature audience, but what that mainly seems to mean here is a lot of gore and misery. If you like anime about demonic rituals, graphic violence and stylish dismemberment then this may be for you, but sadly that sort of thing leaves me cold these days.

To Aru Majutsu no Index (2008)

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To Aru Majutsu no Index is a magical girlfriend anime based on a series of light novels by Kazuma Kamachi and Kiyotaka Haimura. Set in the future in Academy City – a kind of urban Hogwarts for scientifically enhanced super-powered teenagers (and near Shibuya, according to some visual clues) – it’s main protagonist is Tōma Kamijo, who has the ability to negate others’ powers, who one day a young girl hanging on his balcony railing. She turns out to be a nun from the Church of England, obviously. Although a little too shonen for my tastes, it did do a few things that grabbed my interest. For a start it plays around quite knowingly with the conventions of the magical girlfriend genre, and is genuinely very funny. Also, it makes enough references to the occult, Aleister Crowley and Christianity to really upset that particular breed of Christian fundamentalists that get upset by children’s fantasy, and that’s never a bad thing. Animation is quite nice too, if the character design is a little too moe in places. Give it a go if you’re looking for something a little more light-hearted and colourful.

Nodame Cantabile (2007)

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An ongoing shōjo manga by Tomoko Ninomiya, Nodame Cantabile has spawned a huge and successful franchise, with various live action TV shows and movies in various states of production, along with two already completed anime series and a third on the way in 2009. While shōjo material usually fails to appeal greatly to my personal tastes, NC seems to be one of the finest examples of the genre. The romance and drama driven story of two highly talented but very different music students, is well written and again frequently very funny. Worth watching if you love classical music and well paced soap opera, and if that was more my cup of tea I’d be watching the whole first run. As it is, I’ll just have to see what else, if anything, demands my time.

Think I’ve missed the point of one of these? Got it completely wrong? Tell me I’m mental in the comments section below.