There's a host of new releases already announced for 2013, so we've picked out ten titles to keep an eye on this year.  We have limited ourselves to choosing only from the anime officially announced for release this year, so likely releases such as From Up On Poppy Hill and Neon Genesis Evangelion 3.0: You Can (Not) Re-Do, and rumoured titles like One Piece and Dragon Ball Z Kai are not considered, but these are the ones that have most piqued our interest from those titles we're pretty certain are on their way!


Distributor: Kazé
Release Date: To Be Confirmed

Despite coming from the creative team behind the international hit Death Note, this slice of life series has had a bit of a difficult time in the West.  US distributor Media Blasters released just 7 episodes of the first series before discontinuing it, citing poor sales.  However, the manga has sold well for VIZ Media, and the series is a smash hit in Japan.  Kazé had already picked up the UK license when it was cancelled, and with the English dub being worked on in America scrapped, look like they will release it subtitle-only here.  The story follows a pair of school friends who aspire to become a manga artist and writer duo, and after making a promise to a friend who wants to be a voice actress, they strive to overcome the obstacles between them and their dream.  Slice-of-life series are still not that common in the UK anime catalogue, so a 

series like Bakuman intrigues us, especially considering how much of a departure it is from the decidedly dark Death NoteKazé have apparently licensed the first two series, amounting to 50 episodes, and with the US release in limbo this is one we may get before America!


Black Rock Shooter

Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: 13th May 2013

Black Rock Shooter is a series with a really bizarre genesis, starting life as an illustration which inspired a Vocaloid song by the group Supercell.  The artist joined the group and produced more eyecatching illustrations for the song's music video, which in turn led to a 50-minute video animation that kicked off a multi-media phenomenon boasting computer games, merchandise, manga and eventually an eight episode anime series.  The story follows a group of schoolgirls whose lives are inexorably linked to a parallel world where supernatural fighters battle for supremacy.  Their friendships, rivalries and emotional state influence and are influenced by the actions of the fighters in the other world, and this connection could have dire consequences for all of them.  Black Rock Shooter is a visually arresting franchise and the series

- although short - looks really interesting.  The plot is similar to the earlier video animation but has a larger cast and seems more involved, whilst the stylised visuals of the other world promise to evoke the illustrations that launched the franchise.  We really like the character designs and visual style of the series and are really hoping the expanded story lives up to it.


Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: to be confirmed

The short film Blood, The Last Vampire has spawned quite an impressive franchise which has so far boasted a 50 episode anime series, several spin-off manga series and novels, a live-action film and a computer game, but only the film and some of the manga has been released here.  All that will change with Blood-C, a new 12-episode series that moves the action to the near future.  The story focuses on Saya, a mysterious woman who uses her unnatural strength and a sword to combat demonic creatures.  However, unlike earlier franchise leads this Saya is a cheerful young woman who leads a seemingly normal life outside her demon hunting exploits, but events may conspire that will change all that.  While it may seem weird that the UK seems to be skipping over the longer anime series in favour of this more recent one, the truth is that the

various anime incarnations are connected by little more than basic premise.  This new series intrigues us mostly as it is a co-production between anime powerhouse Production I.G. and leading manga collective CLAMP, with the former providing the animation and the latter the style and story.  It will be interesting to see how CLAMP handle the franchise.

Bodacious Space Pirates

Distributor: MVM
Release Date: 4th February 2013

MVM have made a habit of releasing interesting series that the other UK distributors have bypassed, and after picking up the likes of Rosario & Vampire and Welcome to the NHK they've grabbed another intriguing title in Bodacious Space Pirates.  On the surface it looks a lot like a comedy, with a story about a schoolgirl who inherits her late father's position as captain of group of space pirates evoking classic comedy series like Irresponsible Captain Tylor.  However, it seems to be more of an adventure series packed with action and drama, and the story sounds far more involved than we were expecting.  Fittingly the director is a veteran of the classic sci-fi series Martian Successor Nadesico, and the series seems to share some of its elements.  MVM have a great track record of releasing quality series under the radar, and

Bodacious Space Pirates looks like another one in this tradition.  We're certainly glad that they seem to be licensing more anime again and we'll be keeping an eye on their releases over the next 12 months.

Cowboy Bebop

Distributor: Anime Limited
Release Date: to be confirmed

With two new anime distributors entering the market this year could see a lot of classic anime re-released, and a lot of it on Blu-Ray.  So far Manga have confirmed Blu-Ray releases for Hellsing Ultimate, Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Code Geass, three titles that have been available on DVD for some time, but we are most interested by Anime Limited's release of Cowboy Bebop.  One of the most stylish anime series released in the UK, Cowboy Bebop has been out of print since Beez closed down and critically its reissue shows that distributors are looking at some of the older series that have fallen out of license.  The series focuses on a disparate team of bounty hunters working from meal to meal in the new frontiers of space, trying to eke a living and deal with their complex pasts.  It's a space western that pre-dates

Joss Whedon's similarly themed Firefly, an effortlessly cool series that boasts a strong story, great characters and possibly the best soundtrack to have graced an anime series.  With the entire series remastered a few years back and an HD print produced from high quality sources, we really can't wait for this one.

Horizon in the Middle of Nowhere

Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: 1st July 2013

At first glance this series, its cast packed with buxom anime girls in skin-tight outfits, looks like a typical pervy action series in the style of Freezing.  However, the story sounds quite intriguing and this looks like a case of not judging a book by its cover.  The series is set in a future where Japan which has been left as the only habitable country on Earth, and has ended up housing the entire planetary population.  The country has been split into fiefdoms complete with pocket dimensions for each nation, but the Japanese themselves have been expelled and live on a city ship that travels around the islands.  With the world society following the laws of a holy book, and paralysed by portents of the apocalypse, the Japanese hope to catch them cold and reclaim their country.  The story seems to have a lot more depth than its cast of top-

heavy anime girls may suggest, and with a premise which blends the religious hysteria of feudal Europe with anime style and sci-fi battles it looks like it could be one to watch.

Journey to Agartha

Distributor: Kazé
Release Date: 28th January 2013

Makoto Shinkai has been something of a shining star for modern anime, exploding on to the scene with his entirely self-produced and animated sci-fi film Voices of a Distant Star in 2002.  His limited debut gave way to the flawed but ambitious Places Promised in Our Early Days and most recently the superb 5 Centimetres Per Second, and Journey to Agartha (originally titled Children Who Chase Lost Voices from Deep Below) is his latest film.  This time round he seems to be taking his cues from the acclaimed Studio Ghibli with a normal schoolgirl in rural Japan encountering strange creatures and a boy from another world, before embarking on an adventure.  The lush visuals and escapist story promises to be underpinned by real emotional development and some strong drama, and it looks to be one of the more

exciting releases of the year.  Shinkai has got better and better with each film and if he can top the high watermark set by the masterful 5 Centimetres Per Second, Journey to Agartha could be something very special.

Kids on the Slope

Distributor: MVM
Release Date: to be confirmed

Another slice-of-life title for 2013, this time from MVM, who have got a bit of a coup with a series that reunites Cowboy Bebop's director Shinichiro Watanabe with its composer Yoko Kanno.  This coming of age tale focuses on a group of high school students in 1960's Japan who find a direction in life when they start playing Jazz music.  The soundtrack is resplendent with classic jazz and blues numbers alongside Kanno's work, and the story - which details their life up to graduation - promises to blend slice-of-life drama and comedy with plenty of character development.  After previous music-themed anime series such as Beck and the enjoyable K-ON! failed to set the UK anime market on fire it's great to see a company having another stab at the genre, especially when it comes with such good pedigree.  This kind of

coming of age anime has traditionally not been too successful in the UK (at least not when giant robots aren't involved), but it's a genre that has a lot to offer and with Watanabe and Kanno involved this should be well worth watching.

King of Thorn

Distributor: Manga Entertainment
Release Date: to be confirmed

King of Thorn is becoming a bit like an anime version of the Guns N Roses album Chinese Democracy - despite being screened at the Sci-Fi London Anime Allnighter in 2009, and Manga announcing the license a few months later, it still has not been released three years later.  However, Manga revealed at the October MCM London Expo that it should be released in 2013 following numerous issues with licensing, so we have our fingers crossed.  We saw the film at the Anime Allnighter three years (!) ago, and the story, which follows a group of people who awake from cryogenic stasis to a world overrun by mutated monsters and must try and survive long enough to find out what happened, made for a truly claustrophobic horror film which is quite rare in anime.  We did find the film got confusing as it progressed but finding how much of 

that was down to the fog of our sleep deprivation is one of the reasons we really want to see it again!  Whatever else it is King of Thorn is a big-budget sci-fi film that really evokes the post-apocalyptic drama popular in the 1980's, and we certainly can't wait to see it again.

The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki

Distributor: Kazé
Release Date: to be confirmed

Like Makoto Shinkai, Mamoru Hosoda has become a huge star over the last few years.  He may have directed Digimon and One Piece films in the past but he's now reached a point where he - rather than the franchise - is the star, and with excellent films like The Girl Who Leapt Through Time and Summer Wars under his belt we can't wait to see his next film.  Hopefully we won't have to wait long.  His latest film follows a young mother whose two children were fathered by a wolf man, and moves to the country to raise them after he is killed in an accident.  Another story with a very Studio Ghibli feel, The Wolf Children Ame and Yuki boasts some stunning visuals and character designs from Neon Genesis Evangelion artist Yoshiyuki Sadamoto, as well as an intriguing fantasy storyline which juxtaposes a mythical premise

with the modern problems suffered by a young single mum trying to raise two difficult children. The questions this raises about how she keeps their wolfish traits secret (the promotional art gives them tails and ears, which would be hard to hide) is what really intrigues us.  Hosoda hasn't put a step wrong recently and we really want to see this film.