Random Curiosity

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Winter 2015 Preview!

Winter is here, and with it comes another season of anime. This is a light season, with only 31 new series airing. There are some familiar names, including another TV movie-style entry into the Monogatari series, Tsukimonogatari, the speedy return of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure, the second half of the trainwreck fantastic spectacle ALDNOAH.ZERO, and more ghoul horror from Tokyo Ghoul. The wildly popular manga Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is also finally getting its anime, as is the perhaps even more popular ship girl video game, Kancolle. This season even features the long-awaited return of Durarara!! That’s just a taste, so read on for the full scoop.

 

As a quick reminder, most entries are divided into two paragraphs:

  • A brief introduction to the series and its premise, often with the starring cast of characters.
  • The writer’s impressions, expanding on the plot and highlighting specific points of interest.

This season we’ll continue using our Expectation Levels. Remember that these reflect our own subjective excitement level for each show, and do not necessarily reflect how shows will pan out. For more information, check out the Overall Impressions section at the bottom, which includes an expanded explanation of each category and a list of all shows by expectation level.

 

Disclaimer: Back in the ancient era of 2012, previews were done by a single writer, Divine. Unfortunately, none of the current writers are as crazy awesome as him, so we’ve divvied them up among our staff (Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takaii, Zanibas, and Zephyr) in order to maintain the quality of this preview. We will try to point out what appeals to us in each series, in the hope that it will help you determine if it coincides with your tastes.

Disclaimer #2: Please note that this list does not reflect all the series airing this coming season. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible, but omissions have been made for shows that stray from the anime norm or seem to be oriented toward young children. Please check out MOON PHASE for complete listings, syoboi for specific air times, and Fansub DB for a list of potential subbers for each series.

 

Once again, thank you to the entire RandomC staff for helping out with this preview. Also, for anyone looking for a second opinion, feel free to check out LiA’s winter preview, completely written by Enzo himself. Finally, a special thanks to all of you for your continued support of Random Curiosity. We say this every time, but that doesn’t make it any less true. Thank you.


TV Series


Technical Note: The chart below is ordered by the date and time that the shows premiere. The links in the schedule will take you to a series’ corresponding entry and the “Top” links on the right will bring you back. You can also use the back/forward buttons in your browser to jump between links you’ve clicked. All times are given in a 24-hour, relative-day format where times are extended to show which day they belong to. For instance, Friday morning at 1:30AM would become Thursday at 25:30 to show that the episode aired late Thursday night.

Sunday Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday
Absolute Duo
20:30 AT-X (1/4)
Doamaiger D
19:55 KBS (1/5)
Binan Koukou Chikyuboueibu LOVE!
25:40 TX (1/6)
Tsukimonogatari
22:00 MX (12/31)
Tokyo Ghoul √A
24:00 MX (1/8)
THE IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
24:00 MX (1/9)
Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 50-
20:30 AT-X (1/10)
Yoru no Yatterman
22:00 MX (1/11)
Yuri Kuma Arashi
24:30 MX (1/5)
Military!
23:25 AT-X (1/7)
Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
24:50 (CX) (1/8)
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc
24:30 MX (1/9)
Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD
22:00 MX (1/3)
Junketsu no Maria
22:30 MX (1/11)
Kami-sama Hajimemashita ◎
26:05 TX (1/5)
Kantai Collection -KanColle-
25:05 MX (1/7)
Koufuku Graffiti
25:46 TBS (1/8)
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
25:20 AT-X (1/9)
Durarara!!x2 Shou
23:30 MX (1/10)
Seiken Tsukai no World Break
25:05 TX (1/11)
Shinmai Maou no Testament
25:35 MX (1/7)
Juuou Mujin no Fafnir
26:16 TBS (1/8)
Death Parade
25:58 TX (1/9)
ALDNOAH.ZERO 2
24:00 MX (1/10)
Sengoku Musou
25:35 TX (1/11)
Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS
26:19 MBS (1/8)
DOG DAYS”
24:30 MX (1/10)
Ketsuekigata-kun! 2
MX (1/8)
ISUCA
25:35 MX (1/23)
THE ROLLING GIRLS
25:58 MBS (1/10)
Kuroko no Basuke 3
26:58 MBS (1/10)

* Jump to OVA/Movies.

Tsukimonogatari | 憑物語Top
http://www.monogatari-series.com/tsukimonogatari/
Animation: SHAFT Premiere: December 31, 2014
Genre: Supernatural, Romance, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesday at 22:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nisioisin_anime

Preview by Passerby

The Monogatari series likely needs no introduction, but for those who still want one, here’s the rundown: Araragi Koyomi (Kamiya Hiroshi) is a half-vampire, inextricably linked to full-vampire Kiss-shot Acerola-orion Heart-under-blade, aka Oshino Shinobu (Sakamoto Maaya). After spending his high school years solving supernatural problems, battling monsters from Japanese folklore, and generally flirting about, Koyomi has to confront his greatest challenge to date: university entrance exams. In Tsukimonogatari, the events of Koimonogatari have just recently been resolved, and things were supposed to have settled down for good. If only it were ever that easy. Koyomi’s vampirism starts acting up, and he doesn’t know what to do about it. Enter monster hunter Kagenui Yozoru (Shiraishi Ryoko) and her familiar Ononoki Yotsugi (Hayami Saori); old foes though they may be, maybe they can help. Or maybe they can’t. Maybe, this time, nobody can help.

There’s a lot the Monogatari series can be sold on. It’s a relatively mature show brimming with wit, which turns its dialogue-heavy nature into a positive. The visual style—which director Shinbou Akiyuki is now infamous for—is supplementary and abstract, creating a distinct atmosphere. All this is used to deliver a blend of the mystical and mundane that can be philosophical while also being relatable. If you’re new to the franchise and that sounded good to you, you should start with Bakemonogatari, as Tsukimonogatari is the start of the final chapter of the series. It’s the beginning of the end, and like the epilogue-esque Hanamonogatari before it, all the episodes of Tsukimonogatari are going to be broadcast back-to-back to create a movie-like experience. I’m looking forward to Tsukimonogatari, and the focus on the enigmatic Ononoki Yotsugi, strange creature that she is, should prove to be especially interesting. It’s going to be a bit sad knowing that the Monogatari series is ending soon, but one of the marks of a good story is that it knows when to wrap up, and does so with style.

Watching This: Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Tsukimonogatari Promotional Videos ▼

Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD | 探偵歌劇ミルキィホームズTDTop
http://milky-holmes-anime.com/td/
Animation: NOMAD x J.C. Staff Premiere: January 3, 2015
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Mystery Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @milkyholmes

Preview by Samu

The Great Era of Detectives continues into its fourth season, and the girls of the detective team Milky Holmes are back again! With help from the superhuman abilities granted by “Toys,” the famed Opera Koyabashi runs the detective agency Milky Holmes. Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD promises to deliver what the series is known for, led by detectives Sherlock (Mimori Suzuko), Nero (Tokui Sora), Hercule (Sasaki Mikoi), and Cordelia (Kitta Izumi), with new additions Kazumi (Terakawa Aimi) and Alice (Itou Ayasa) returning in supporting roles. The big case this time is the songs being stolen from idols within the Yokohama District, with Amagi Marine’s (Nitta Emi) hit “Kiseki no Uta” among them. It’s up to the Milky Holmes team to crack the mystery that lies ahead!

Milky Holmes is a series that you either get, or you don’t. As of right now I’ve only watched the first season, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It delivered exactly what it promised – it was goofy, genuinely funny, the characters were cute, and it was easy to watch. Sometimes you want to enjoy something and not have to think too much, and Milky Holmes is that kind of show for me. From what I’ve heard, Dai 2 Maku carried on the same way, but Futari wa Milky Holmes went in a different direction, losing the distinct Milky Holmes feel in the process. Futari director Nishikiori Hiroshi is returning as director for this fourth season, so it’s more than likely it will resemble the latest season rather than than the first two. For fans of the series, however you felt about Futari will likely tell you what you need to know about TD.

Watching This: Samu Expectation Level: Established
Show Tantei Kageki Milky Holmes TD Promotional Videos ▼

Absolute Duo | アブソリュート・デュオTop
http://absoluteduo.com/
Animation: 8bit Premiere: January 4, 2015
Genre: Action, Fantasy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 20:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @abso_official or #abso_duo

Preview by Stilts

Based on the light novel of the same name, Absolute Duo is set to premiere this winter. After losing a loved one he couldn’t protect, Kokonoe Tooru (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) enrolls at Kouryou Academy to could obtain the power necessary to seek his revenge. His tools: an injection of nano-machines called Luciful. The injection gives him superhuman strength and agility, and lets him manifest his soul into a weapon known as a “Blaze.” There’s only one problem—Tooru’s Blaze isn’t a weapon at all! Tooru is a rare Irregular, the only Blaze user with a shield. What’s more, thanks to the school’s Duo partner system, he ends up living with Julie Sigtuna (Yamamoto Nozomi), a beautiful silver-haired girl.

This is a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime based on a light novel with a Matsuoka Yoshitsugu main character, so you probably already know if this is your kind of show. I checked out the source material, and it largely hews to genre conventions; it was competently done, but it didn’t have a lot to distinguish itself. Girls flock to Tooru with little provocation, and he doesn’t stand out as a character—he’s a good guy, but he gets flustered by girls and lets events push him around like so many others before him. The girls have their character types, and they stick to them to the limit I read. I laughed a few times, there’s some fanservice, and the action was pretty good, but that’s all par for the course. Animation-wise, it’s being done by 8bit, and it looks like it’ll be in the same vein as their Tokyo Ravens adaptation. I’m reminded of the recent Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance, which was enjoyable but by no means groundbreaking. That’s fine; there’s nothing wrong with telling a good story, even if it’s familiar. But if you’ve seen this kind of story before, I wouldn’t expect to find anything new.

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Absolute Duo Promotional Videos ▼

Doamaiger D | ドアマイガーDTop
http://www.tvk-yokohama.com/doamai/
Animation: ILCA Premiere: January 5, 2015
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 19:55
Episodes: Station: KBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation

Preview by Takaii

Another one of those “Why would you ever make an anime like this?” mashups, Doamaiger D is TV Kanagawa and KBS Kyoto’s attempt to mash together two wildly different ideas—in this case, mechs and traditional Japanese sweets—in an attempt to create something different. The story focuses on Kyougoku Daijirou (Murai Routa), the 15th generation owner of a candy shop in Kyoto who is surprised to find a giant robot, Doamaiger D, in his basement. As chance would have it, giant enemies, or “Mekaijyu” (whose names are a play on mecha and monster) appear, and it seems that Daijirou and Doamaiger D are the only ones who can stop them.

As much as I don’t want to be downer, I don’t have much hope for a show like this. I’m sure anyone reading this has seen at least one show that tries to combine mecha with something else, and while the results may vary, I don’t think traditional Japanese candy making is the winning ingredient. I mean, come on — Doamaiger D in the preview extends candy out to the freaking monster! But as much as I’d love to go on with this rant, there were a few things that stood out to me, and may tip the scale for you. The decision to use a classic style helps the show stand out, even if it may not be for the right reasons. That and the super nostalgic backtrack playing through the preview reminded me of something that would play during the old Sentai Ranger days. That said, even with a few gimmicks trying to play to my nostalgia, I think this is another one of those shows that we’ll all forget about by week four.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate Low
Yuri Kuma Arashi | ユリ熊嵐Top
http://www.yurikuma.jp/
Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: January 5, 2015
Genre: Fantasy, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @yurikuma_anime or #yurikuma

Preview by Samu

Yuri Kuma Arashi is a story of humankind’s struggle against their greatest nemesis: Bears! Some time ago, an asteroid exploded above Earth, creating a meteor shower that brought bears to the world – bears who seek to destroy humanity! The cycle is endless: Bears eat humans, humans shoot bears. That was until the “Wall of Extinction” was built between the two, in order to keep the peace. It’s on one fateful day when Tsubaki Kureha (Yamane Nozomi), a transparent high school girl, friend and lover of Izumino Sumika (Ogura Yui), encounters transfer student Yurishiro Ginko (Arakawa Miho). Ginko is outgoing, cute, and an abnormal person from first impressions. But worst of all, Kureha believes Ginko is not human after all, and is in fact a bear! Are they friends, enemies, soulmates, or something more?

Based off what is available of the source material, Yuri Kuma Arashi knows exactly what type of series it is – cute, wacky, and totally out-there. The whole bears-from-outer-space element is so kooky that it just works, and when you consider this is crafted by famed director Ikuhara Kunihiko (Shoujo Kakumei Utena, Mawaru Penguindrum), you know it’s going to be a big deal. If you’re unfamiliar with Ikuhara’s works, then be prepared for symbolism so heavy you’ll not know what’s real and what’s not. Even from what I’ve familiarized myself with, I’m not sure where to draw the line between what actually happens and what is made up within the minds of his characters. And it’s awesome! If you enjoyed either Utena or Mawaru Penguindrum, chances are this one will deliver a similar feeling – it promises to have the same style, and features the theme of same-sex relationships, similar to Utena. It’s difficult to predict how the story will unfold, but that’s part of the magic of an Ikuhara show – it’s like diving into a kaleidoscope headfirst and being too caught up in the colours to blink. It’s fair to say that Yuri Kumi Arashi promises to be an entertaining watch from start to finish, heralding Ikuhara’s return to seasonal anime.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Passerby, Samu Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Yuri Kuma Arashi Promotional Videos ▼

Kami-sama Hajimemashita ◎ | 神様はじめました◎Top
http://mikagesha.com/
Animation: TMS Entertainment Premiere: January 5, 2015
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 26:05
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @mikagesha or #mikagesha

Preview by Samu

Probably the most surprising sequel of the season, Kamisama Hajimemashita returns despite never quite reaching booming popularity. The first season aired back in 2012, and was one of those under-watched shows that deserved more than it got. It follows the life of the new Earth Deity, Momozono Nanami (Mimori Suzuko), after she ends up alone and homeless. Things go from bad to terrible as Nanami finds herself wrapped up in the world of spirits and the supernatural, with her deity contract sealed by kissing fox spirit Tomoe (Tachibana Shinnosuke). From there, we are introduced to an array of quirky spirits that have a contagious sort of energy to them. All of this provides an entertaining mix of unabashed shoujo bubbles, wacky situations with spirits pretending to be students, and the occasional delve into the past of these deities to see how everything connects with the present. There’s also the prevailing fact that Nanami is falling in love with Tomoe, stepping into the forbidden territory of love between human and spirit!

Kamisama Hajimemashita is a series that does a great job at catering to its demographic. It’s filled with cliches, yet always knows when and how to use them to its advantage. Daichi Akitarou (Fruits Basket) is returning as director, and given how self-aware, well-paced, and consistent the direction of the first season was, him taking charge again can only mean great things. This is a man who knows how to make the best of the source material he is adapting. Even as someone who isn’t a massive shoujo fan, I can vouch for Kamisama Hajimemashita by saying that it’s pure fun. If anyone is interested in this show but hasn’t watched the first season, I’d highly recommend it – it grows on you as each episode passes, until you’re left feeling love for every character. Kamisama Hajimemashita◎ promises to be exactly what set it self up as originally, and that guarantees another enjoyable season fans of this cute little series.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Samu Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Kami-sama Hajimemashita ◎ Promotional Videos ▼

Binan Koukou Chikyuboueibu LOVE! | 美男高校地球防衛部LOVE!Top
http://boueibu.com/
Animation: diomedea Premiere: January 6, 2015
Genre: School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 25:40
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @boueibou or #boueibu

Preview by Stilts

The world-saving magical boy anime you’ve always wanted (maybe) is finally here! Binan Koukou Chikyuboueibu LOVE! is the story of five high school boys in the Binan High School Earth Defense Club, AKA the Do Nothing Club. One day, when club members Yufuin En (Umehara Yuuichirou) and Kinugawa Atsushi (Nishiyama Koutarou) are soaking in a public bath, a mysterious pink creature called Wombat (Mugihito) suddenly appears and asks them to protect the world. Now they and the other three club members—Hakone Yumato (Yamamoto Kazutomi), Naruko Io (Shirai Yuusuke), and Zaou Ryuu (Masuda Toshiki)—have to fight against mysterious creatures from outer space, as well as the Conquest Club (Student Council), as the new “Battle Lovers”.

When I first read about this series, I thought “So, it’s Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru with boys?” Then I realized it was a magical boy anime. Finally, I said “It’s Sailor Moon with dudes!” There’s probably truth in all of those, especially the latter two. This definitely has a Free! feel to it, where the boys are bishie and probably moe, though Yumato is so feminine I thought he was voiced by a woman. (He’s not.) This is an original series, there’s little information available on the plot. The promos do feature the main cast bathing together a lot, and there are magical boy transformations called “Love Making,” so I wouldn’t be surprised to see some serious yaoi vibes, though I’d expect them to follow Free’s lead and keep it as subtext. This strikes me as exactly the same as when a slice-of-life anime has an all girl cast—some producer went “If it’s targeted at women, why not make them all boys? They’ll like looking at boys more.” And so it was! That’s not a bad thing—it’s the way the industry is moving—and if you like magical girls boys and bishounen, it will be a very good thing indeed. Bonus: Director Takamatsu Shinji has done a lot of work, and most of it has been comedic in nature, including Gintama, School Rumble, and Danshi Koukousei no Nichijou, so this could be funny as well.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu Expectation Level: Moderate Low
Show Binan Koukou Chikyuboueibu LOVE! Promotional Videos ▼

Military! | みりたり!Top
http://dreamcreation.co.jp/militari/
Animation: Dream Creation Premiere: January 7, 2015
Genre: Action, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 23:25
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_militari or #みりたり

Preview by Takaii

Take one part slice-of-life, half a cup of harem, add a bunch of guns while gently whisking, and you have Military!. Based on a 4-koma manga by author Mamo Williams, this show takes place during a conflict between two fictitious nations, the Krakozhia Dukedom and the Grania Republic. With each side locked in constant conflict, a wild card for Krakozhia appears as typical high school student Yano Souhei (Yamaya Yoshitaka). Not wanting to take any chances, the country sends First Lieutenant Lutgainikov (Touyama Nao) and Second Lieutenant Haruka (Sakura Ayane) in tanks to protect their ace while Grania also sends a representative, Sergeant Shachirof (Minase Inori), to look into things. Imagine what kind of wackiness could ensue when all of them decide to intrude on Souhei’s everyday life!

As another short show of the season, I don’t know how I feel about Military!. The art style is definitely something different and the preview gives off vibes I haven’t felt since Sabagebu!. I mean, how often do you have girls firing off guns for no reason, or busting through walls with tanks simply for the sake of entertaining us? Another interesting thing about this one is the fledgling studio working on it, Creators in Pack TOKYO. With only a supporting role in another series under their belts, it’ll be fun to see what they manage to put out. Either way, if you can get passed the art style I think this will be a great time killer when you’ve got nothing else to watch.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate Low
Show Military! Promotional Videos ▼

Kantai Collection -KanColle- | 艦隊これくしょん -艦これ-Top
http://kancolle-anime.jp/
Animation: diomedea Premiere: January 7, 2015
Genre: Action, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_KanColle or #艦これ

Preview by Passerby

Anime adaptations of mobile and online games are becoming increasingly common, and Kantai Collection -Kancolle- may be the king of them all, currently reigning in Japan as the most popular anything ever. The plot of the game is relatively thin, so a lot of it will have to be made from whole cloth for the anime. Here’s what they have to start with: In an alternative world, humans have lost control of the seas to an enigmatic menace they call the ‘deep sea fleet’. The only ones who can fight them are the kan-musume, the ‘ship girls’. As their name implies, they are girls who are also ships, somehow possessed by the spirits of World War II vessels. Vessels like the destroyer Fubuki (Uesaka Sumire). A fresh recruit at a naval base, Fubuki must learn to fit in with a fleet comprised entirely of young girls and, eventually, go to war.

Anthropomorphism is so common to Japanese media that ‘mecha musume’ may as well be its own genre by now. Even moe warships aren’t new; before Kantai Collection -Kancolle- we had Aoki Hagene no Arpeggio, which was more or less the same thing with more sci-fi. Being based on a collectible card game, Kancolle distinguishes itself with huge array of seaworthy females. From the previews, Kancolle also seems to carry a World War II air to it, so war buffs will get a kick out of that in the same way they got a kick out of Girls und Panzer. Unlike Girls und Panzer, though, it seems that only Japanese war machines feature as protagonists; hopefully there won’t be some awkward Axis vs Allies subtext here. Also potentially awkward may be the use of CGI in action sequences, though we do have Kusakawa Keizo, best known as the Nanoha director, on board, and he should have plenty of experience pushing cute girls through over-the-top fight scenes. Kancolle is worth a look, if only to see what all the fuss is about.

Watching This: Passerby, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Kantai Collection -KanColle- Promotional Videos ▼

Shinmai Maou no Testament | 新妹魔王の契約者Top
http://anime-shinmaimaou.com/
Animation: Production IMS Premiere: January 7, 2015
Genre: Action, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @shinmaimaou or #shinmaimaou

Preview by Stilts

“Hey, you said you wanted a little sister, right?” That’s what Toujou Basara (Nakamura Yuuichi) was asked before his father got remarried and departed overseas, leaving Basara with two beautiful step-sisters, Naruse Mio (Asai Ayaka) and Naruse Maria (Fukuhara Kaori). But Mio and Maria’s true forms are that of the future Demon Lord and her succubus protector, respectively. Basara almost gets sucked into a master-and-servant contract with Mio as a means to control him, but it gets reversed, and now Basara is the master. This “rather risque battle action story” begins, as Basara is hit by one ecchi situation after another while Mio’s life is in constant danger, from both hardliners among the demon tribes and the warriors of the hero tribes.

This is a magical-fantasy-action-harem ecchi anime based on a light novel, so you probably already know if this is your kind of show. (I seem to be saying that in a lot this season.) The thing is, the story here is actually somewhat compelling. It feels a lot like High School DxD with a dash of Ore no Imouto ga Konnani Kawaii Wake ga Nai, though since the sisters are step-sisters, they’re free game, right? But the thing about them being a family is a lie—Maria mind controls their way into the house because they need a base of operations, and Basara and his father aren’t regular humans either. There’s plenty of fanservice, and the main imouto, Mio, is stacked, so big-breasted tsundere lovers are in luck. High School DxD really is the best comparison, because while the ecchi is strong, and is the main selling point, the actual plot is showing early signs of being above par, and maybe even legitimately good. What’s more, the scripts are being written by Yoshioka Takao, who did the scripts for DxD, as well as plenty of other ecchi-action series besides. Even with its ecchi bonafides, which say “low brow” to most people, I’m bullish on this show. You’ve got to like ecchi if you’re going to watch, but it could be one of the better ones if it’s done right.

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Shinmai Maou no Testament Promotional Videos ▼

Tokyo Ghoul √A | 東京喰種√ATop
http://www.marv.jp/special/tokyoghoul/
Animation: Studio Pierrot Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: Horror, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @tkg_anime or #tkg_anime

Preview by Samu

One of the most talked about anime of 2014, for better or worse, is on its way back. Tokyo Ghoul is the story of Kaneki Ken (Hanae Natsuki), a book-loving boy who encounters a human-eating ghoul. He survives the attempt on his life, but part of the ghoul’s body is transferred into his, and he’s never the same again. What followed was a string of devastating encounters with enemies from both sides – ghouls who want to eat, use, and abuse Kaneki for his difference, as well as humans who seek to eradicate any ghoulish life forms they can find. What we last saw was a psychological shift so drastic to Kaneki’s character, that everyone was left wondering: just what is going to happen next?

If I were to summarize my feelings on Tokyo Ghoul, I’d say: what a mess. An enjoyable mess, but a mess nonetheless. While its positives lie in its great production quality, its engrossing story of survival, and its interesting cast of characters, there were always problems. Many complain about the censorship, but there was also the breakneck pacing, which adapted story arcs in an episode or two like it was nothing. The whole thing felt like a rush to the finish line. We never really got to digest what was happening; instead they just threw one thing after another until we came to a stop. However, it’s difficult to predict how Tokyo Ghoul √A will turn out. It’s not confirmed as one-cour yet, which would be even more of tight fit to finish to the story. Another is that the mangaka Ishida Sui is working on the storyboards this time around, in order to tell a story that wasn’t told in the manga. Some reports suggest it’s going to abandon the source material and instead go completely anime-original. That would be worrying, but when done by the original author, it calls for attention to see how it will play out. But as a fan of the manga, I do hope we get to see what is left adapted. There are some really fantastic, gritty events that take place, and if they make it into √A, then I’ll be a happy bunny (or should I say, Rabbit?).

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Kairi, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Tokyo Ghoul √A Promotional Videos ▼

Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata | 冴えない彼女の育てかたTop
http://www.saenai.tv/
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: Romance, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:50
Episodes: Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @saenai_heroine or #saekano

Preview by Passerby

Aki Tomoya (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) is an otaku, the kind of nerd that anime fans should be thankful for, because it’s their religious BD purchases that keep the industry afloat. Hardcore geek that he is, Tomoya has little interest outside of purchasing merchandise and working to pay for them, until one day he literally runs into the beautiful Katou Megumi (Yasuno Kiyono), and inexplicably falls in love. Henceforth he is touched by a muse and attains a calling: to produce a galge starring a heroine modeled after Megumi. He ropes in superficially foreign childhood friend Sawarumi Spencer Eriri (Oonishi Saori) and resident genius Kasumigaoka Utaha (Kayano Ai) to form a coterie for the express purpose of creating this amateur visual novel. It’s going to be daunting task, though. Katou Megumi is a girl completely void of personality. How does one write a compelling heroine from that?

For those of you who enjoyed autumn’s Shirobako, the anime about making anime, here’s an anime about making a visual novel, with an even more meta bent. Not only is Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata (How to Train an Ordinary Girl to Be an Heroine) an anime light novel adaptation about making a visual novel, it’s an anime light novel adaptation about making a visual novel about itself. Try and wrap your head around that. It’s notable that Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata airs in the noitaminA slot, and that it has produced some interesting fare in the past (but also, admittedly, some duds). On the staff side, we have Kamei Kanta in the director’s chair, who also directed Usagi Drop, which was quite the touching human drama. Those who worry about adaptation faithfulness will be pleased to know that original author Maruto Fumiaki (Whie Album 2) himself is penning the script. What exactly will come of that is hard to say. Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata is obviously self-aware, but whether it becomes fully deconstructive remains to be seen. All indications point to it knowing what it’s doing, and those who already have some knowledge of anime and visual novel tropes may find Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata to be an interesting take on a usually formulaic industry.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata Promotional Videos ▼

Koufuku Graffiti | 幸腹グラフィティTop
http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/koufuku_g/
Animation: SHAFT Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: School-Life, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:46
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @koufuku_g or #koufukug

Preview by Takaii

SHAFT makes its return this winter with a slice-of-life that focuses on good food and friendships. Going by the name Koufuku Graffiti, it’s based off of a 4-koma manga that’s serialized in Manga Time Kirara, which has also given us masterpieces such as K-ON! and Acchi Kocchi. This show follows the life of Machiko Ryou (Satou Rina), along with her friends Morino Kirin (Oogame Asuka) and Shiina (Komatsu Mikako), as they live their lives while eating a lot of delicious-looking food.

While there isn’t much to say about this show since it’ll be hit-or-miss like many slice-of-life shows are, I did want to point out a few things I noticed about Koufuku Graffiti. The first being that I didn’t really get the “cute girls doing cute things” vibe from the manga, but rather I got the impression that you’ll get something substantial from it. The characters seem for the most part to be down to earth, and the story likes to focus on serious things every now and then, like the importance of “family,” just as much as it likes to show hyper-sexualized versions of Ryou chowing down on food. Second, this is SHAFT! Seeing how the last thing they did was the complex story of MEKAKUCITY ACTORS a whole season ago, it’s nice to see them picking up a simple show like this. Toss in their trademark head tilts and unique style of storytelling, and maybe they’ll do something amazing with this one.

Watching This: Cherrie, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Koufuku Graffiti Promotional Videos ▼

Juuou Mujin no Fafnir | 銃皇無尽のファフニールTop
http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/fafnir/
Animation: diomedea Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: Action, Fantasy, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:16
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @fafnir_anime or #fafnir_a

Preview by Stilts

With the sudden appearance of the monsters known as Dragons, the world has completely changed. Before long, supernatural girls called “D” were born with the power of the dragons. Supernatural girls … and one boy. The only male “D”, Mononobe Yuu (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), was thrown into Midgar, a school where the “D” girls are gathered, and he immediately saw his classmate Freyja Iris (Hidaka Rina) naked. He was even reunited with his long-lost sister, Mononobe Mitsuki (Numakura Manami). This school battle action story, about a boy who is supposed to become the strongest assassin and an incompetent girl, unfolds.

This is a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime based on a light novel with a Matsuoka Yoshitsugu main character, so you probably already know if this is your kind of show. (That’s the third time I’ve said that this preview, yeesh.) I wasn’t able to get a hold of the source material, but this appears to be another show that isn’t doing a lot to distinguish itself. The premise is full of jargon, but it boils down to another Infinite Stratos or Seirei Tsukai no Blade Dance-style setup, i.e. an excuse to toss one guy into a school full of girls, with a side of magical combat. Then it has some Norse mythological jargon … Fafnir, Midgar[d] … aaaand. Yeah, that’s about it. This is one of four series Diomedéa is putting out this season, though this one is helmed by Kusakawa Keizo, who has a decent track record. But other crucial staff positions are held by comparative newcomers, so without the source material, I have no idea what to expect. Fans of the magical-fantasy-action-harem genre have plenty of choices this season, and while this one is low on my personal list, that’s out of ignorance as much as anything. For everyone else, you probably figured out if you were interested in this show from the first sentence of this paragraph, so now I’m just talking to myself.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS | 蒼穹のファフナー EXODUSTop
http://fafner-exodus.jp/
Animation: Xebec Zwei Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:19
Episodes: Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @fafnerproject or #fafner

Preview by Takaii

In a world that’s been ravaged by aliens known as Festum, there lies a small island called Tatsumiyajima that’s managed to avoid most of the aliens’ aggression. Without falling to their attacks like other major cities, the island’s citizens live out their everyday lives in peace thanks to a sophisticated cloaking shield. However, this all changes when a Festum stumbles upon the lone island and begins assimilating anyone and anything that attempt to strike back. With everything on the line, the island’s defense group AVIS launches a counterattack that literally transforms the island into a battle station, and in turn unleashes their trump card — the mechas known as Fafner. As the battle wages on, an unlikely hero in the form of Makabe Kazuki (Ishii Makoto) appears to pilot the first Fafner, as his childhood friend Minashiro Soushi (Kiyasu Kohei) guides him from mission control.

Another show that I unfortunately haven’t had the time to watch, Soukyuu no Fafner is apparently one of the better mecha series out there. Having already gone through a full 2-cour season and then followed up with a movie, Exodus continues the story after the Heaven and Earth movie. While it’s hard for a non-mecha fan like myself to comment on the premise or the characters, I can say that I was genuinely interested in what the series had to offer. With a huge cast of characters that all seem to fill their niche, amazing attention to detail on the Fafner designs, and the choice to use death as a way to create a enriching wartime story, there wasn’t much I didn’t like. For the returning viewers, XEBEC is still handling the production, with director Habara Nobuyoshi and writer Ubukata Tow reprising their roles. All in all, this sequel seems like a nice present for veteran viewers, but for those just discovering the series it might be a bit difficult to catch up with all the previous material.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS Promotional Videos ▼

Ketsuekigata-kun! 2 | 血液型くん!2Top
http://ketsuekigatakun.com/
Animation:Assez Finaud Fabric x feel. Premiere: January 8, 2015
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @ketsuekigatakun or #血液型くん

Preview by Zephyr

Another series receiving a sequel is Ketsuekigata-kun!, which returns after a two year break. As with the first season, Ketsuekigata-kun! 2 is based on the manga by “Real Crazy Man,” and revolves around the anthropomorphization of different blood types based on their expected characteristics—Type A corresponds to reliability, Type B with passion, Type O with independence, and Type AB with capriciousness. Taking the roles of the respective blood types are Fukuyama Jun, Nakamura Yuuichi, Ishida Akira, and Kakihara Tetsuya, all of whom actually have the blood type they represent. They are reprising the roles they had previously.

As with my preview of the first season, I will say that I don’t personally believe in a link between blood types and personality, but have heard much about how Japan (and many East Asian countries) seem to believe in a correlation between the two. As such, the series did get me interested early on because of the cultural difference involved, but the actual execution ended up being more of a miss. There’s only so much relying on the same correlations can get you, and there’s not much going for the show aside from its short length and well-known seiyuu. That’s not to say you can’t find enjoyment here, but you probably shouldn’t expect much from this series.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
THE IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls | アイドルマスター シンデレラガールズTop
http://imas-cinderella.com/
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 9, 2015
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @imas_anime or #imas_cg

Preview by Passerby

THE IDOLM@STER is one of the most renowned game franchises in Japan, and few can match the amount of derivative work it has spawned. If you count the spinoff Xenoglossia—and no one will blame you if you choose not to—winter 2015 will mark its third full anime series. Cinderella Girls is adapted from a mobile game, of the social networking, collectible card game type that seems to be all the rage these days, and by all accounts it was a real money spinner. The premise of the anime, though, seems to be similar to that of its predecessor: a bunch of young girls have their sights set on being pop music idols (which is framed as a burgeoning Japanese industry), and must overcome various trials and tribulations on their way to become big stars. We’ll be following Shibuya Rin (Fukuhara Ayaka), Shimamura Uzuki (Oohashi Ayaka) and Honda Mio (Hara Sayuri) as they and their colleagues at their production agency go through the daily struggles of the aspiring idol. It won’t be an easy road, but no doubt the power of friendship and irrepressible idealism will win the day.

It’s notable that THE IDOLM@STER of 2011 managed to claim the title of Divine’s top slice-of-life of the year, because before it aired nobody would have expected it. It could easily have phoned it in as a vapid promotional piece drawn out of the merchandise budget, but instead it ended up as a series with a lot of heart. As a slice-of-life, THE IDOLM@STER invested in developing a cast of likable characters, then capitalised with some surprisingly effective drama. Cinderalla Girls may well choose to follow this successful formula. There has been a staff shuffle since the previous series—note the different designs, and Nishigori Atsushi no longer directing—but Cinderalla Girls seems to have roughly the same outlines as its predecessor, albeit with an even larger cast. There probably won’t be time to showcase all of them and the focus will likely be on a handful of main faces, but there’ll still be enough characters for everyone to find someone they like. At that point, it won’t matter if the show is about idols or whatever; it’ll just be a solid slice-of-life series that’s easy to enjoy.

Watching This: Passerby Expectation Level: Moderate
Show THE IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls Promotional Videos ▼

Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc | ジョジョの奇妙な冒険 スターダストクルセイダース エジプト編Top
http://jojo-animation.com/
Animation: David Production Premiere: January 9, 2015
Genre: Action, Adventure, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_jojo or #jojo_anime

Preview by Zephyr

Jojo and Co. are back after a one cour break, and it’s a welcome return to a franchise that has spawned countless iterations. Continuing from last season, Stardust Crusaders Egypt-hen will conclude David Production’s adaptation of the series’ third major arc. With it comes the end of our heroes’ 50-day world tour, and a confrontation with their mortal enemy, Dio Brando (Koyasu Takehito), possessor of multiple Stand powers, a legion of Stand minions, and the body of Jonathan Joestar. Ono Daisuke, Ishizuka Unshou, Hirakawa Daisuke, and Komatsu Fuminori will reprise their roles as JoJo, Joutaro, Kakyoin, and Polnareff respectively, and return along with the rest of the original staff, led by directors Tsuda Naokatsu and Suzuki Kenichi. Joining them is Fukuen Misato, the voice behind the newest member of the main cast, Iggy.

Considering that David Production and a majority of the staff have worked together for 50 episodes now, I think it’s safe to say we know what to expect from this series: over the top action, an epic supernatural adventure, and entertainment value unrivaled by many. Given the series’ lengthy run and the consistency behind it, there’s not much to say other than it’s been a pleasure watching this franchise every step of the way (it’s a perennial AOTY front runner for me personally, in various categories), and that’s a notion that’s unlikely to change with this season. The fact that there’s more Jojo (at least two cours worth in 2015 alone) is always a good thing, provided you don’t enter this series without having watched the previous seasons.

Watching This: Samu, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc Promotional Videos ▼

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu | 暗殺教室Top
http://www.ansatsu-anime.com/main.php
Animation: Lerche Premiere: January 9, 2015
Genre: Action, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:20
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @ansatsu_anime or #暗殺教室

Preview by Samu

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is a strange one. The manga is already a massive hit, and has been since its debut. It ranked as the 10th best selling manga of 2014, one of the very few series to achieve such a feat without an anime to boost its sales. In short, its popularity is already through the roof. But what makes it so special? If you’ve ever fantasized about killing your teacher, you’ll probably love it, and that might by why Japanese middle schoolers relate to it so well. One thing is different though, as this teacher is Koro-sensei (Fukuyama Jun), an alien that destroyed the moon and threatens to do the same to Earth, unless his students can kill him. Shiota Nagisa (Fuchigami Mai) is one of those students, and he and his classmates are trained in the art of assassination with the help of the government, in order to take down their teacher and save planet Earth.

Ansatsu Kyoushitsu is wish fulfillment for many, and it’ll be interesting to see how many more are caught up by its premise. It’s popularity is undeniable, and there is certainly reason behind that. One factor is a good balance between comedic and serious moments. It relies on gags, situational humour, and smirk-worthy references to tell its story. Sometimes episodic, sometimes plot-heavy arcs, the story can be anything from the daily attempts on their teacher’s life, wars with other classrooms with superiority complexes, and field trips with deadly twists. Koro-sensei is the undeniable star of the series, and within minutes you’re guaranteed to love him. He’s difficult, dangerous, and caring – he wants to destroy the world, but he’s like a proud parent to all the students who constantly try to take his life, which makes for lots of charming relationships. I’ve been reading the manga from the beginning, and I’ve always felt that it would be more suited to an anime, so I’m looking forward to seeing how the director, Kishi Seiji (Angel Beats!, DANGANRONPA, Jinrui wa Suitai Shimashita) translates this story to the screen. Definitely one to watch out for, if only for how massively popular it is.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Ansatsu Kyoushitsu Promotional Videos ▼

Death Parade | デス・パレードTop
http://www.deathparade.jp
Animation: Madhouse Premiere: January 9, 2015
Genre: Psychological, Horror Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:58
Episodes: Station: Tokyo TV (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @dp_anime or #dp_anime

Preview by Zanibas

Groups of people unwittingly find themselves in a bar called Queen Dekim from time to time, hosted by the polite bartender, Decim (Maeno Tomoaki). Unknown to them, this bar acts as a type of judgement in the afterlife, where bar games such as billiards or darts determine their fate, while also revealing the true side of each participant. These people—unaware they have died together—are sorted in a grand scheme of many bars, each with their own arbiter-bartender, each with a specific purpose. It takes a lot of people to manage an operation like this, such as general manager Nona (Ookubo Rumi), elevator attendant Clavice (Uchiyama Kouki), and the overseer Oculus (Genda Tesshou) making sure that every passing soul is properly exposed and judged before their ultimate fate is delivered. Prepare for a psychological and philosophical ride through the depths of the dead.

Death Parade has its origins in the original OVA Death Billiards, which was produced under the Anime Mirai 2013 banner. Now a full-fledged series, Death Parade will explore human nature through a series of judgments each episode. In a way, it’s similar to Mushi-shi or Kino no Tabi, where each episode is dedicated to exposing a part of human nature. However, Death Parade’s own messages will likely be more morbid, given its subject matter. As a product of Anime Mirai, it will be interesting to see what kind of direction new players in the industry can bring to the table, as this is Tachikawa Yuzuru’s first full directorial work. With Madhouse behind the wheel, I am confident this’ll turn out to be an excellent anime, providing much needed life for the small yet powerful philosophical genre.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Death Parade Promotional Videos ▼

Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 50- | 少年ハリウッド-HOLLY STAGE FOR 50-Top
http://www.starchild.co.jp/special/shonen-hollywood-anime/
Animation: Zexcs Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Music, Drama Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 20:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @shohari_anime or #shohari

Preview by Samu

Shounen Hollywood returns not long after its first season in the summer 2014, and the holly stage has been upgraded from 49 to 50! Amaki Ikuma (Kakihara Tetsuya), Kazami Kakeru (Osaka Ryouta), Maiyama Shun (Ono Kensho), Saeki Kira (Yamashita Daiki), and Tomii Daiki (Aoi Shouta) all return to the fictional theatre of Hollywood Tokyo to continue their idol work from where they left off after their very first live concert. But their goal to become the second generation idols of Shounen Hollywood is only just beginning.

Going by the first season, there was certainly a mixed reaction to Shounen Hollywood. There were those who enjoyed it for what it is – another male idol show with focus on the characters, their hardships, and their charm – as well as viewers who were disappointed in what was given, how the delivery fell flat in its inconsistent animation quality, and was tied with episodes that bordered on filler. It would be fair to say that Shounen Hollywood bears more resemblance to the likes of Wake Up Girls! in how it approaches the idol genre, as apposed to the over-the-top campness of Uta no Prince-sama. While the first season built from the ground up (choreography, speeches, catchphrases, talk show appearances), this time Shounen Hollywood -HOLLY STAGE FOR 50- may show that effort being put to a greater stage, which I’m sure fans of the series would very much appreciate.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Durarara!!x2 Shou | デュラララ!!×2 承Top
http://www.durarara.com/
Animation: Shuka Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Action, Drama, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @drrr_anime or #drrr_anime

Preview by Passerby

The original run of Durarara!! aired way back in 2010, and now a full five years later it finally has a sequel, albeit now animated by the newcomer studio shuka. An adaptation of a light novel by Narita Ryougo, who also wrote Baccano! (which sadly has no sequel), Durarara!! is an anime hard to summarise by virtue of how much it has going on. For those new to the franchise, I’ll try to give a quick blurb: the Ikebukuro district of modern Tokyo may seem like another Japanese urban centre, but beneath the surface it is a melting pot of the weird and wonderful. Headless horsemen do delivery. The Incredible Hulk tends bars. Puppet masters manipulate rival factions into states of virtual civil war. So, it’s basically like every other metropolis. Ryuugamine Mikado (Toyonaga Toshiyuki) is just a country boy; how’s he going to survive in the big city? It’s a good thing that, in Ikebukuro, even plain-looking high school students are not all that they seem.

I may only have mentioned one character by name, but, like Baccano! before it, Durarara!! has a humongous cast that defies the scope of two paragraphs of preview. A wide array of colourful characters is the main strength of Durarara!!, and it wields it with gusto. That’s all a great show needs, really; just design a bunch of quirky personalities with unique capabilities, throw them into a blender, and something interesting will come out. To support this character-centric approach, Durarara!! stars a veteran voice cast, with plenty of names you’ll have heard of before, like Ono Daisuke, Hanazawa Kana, and Sawashiro Miyuki, just to pull a few out of a hat. Durarara! has a very loose definition of ‘main character’, and tends to jump between many perspectives. The story may be a bit chaotic, but there’s never a dull moment. With Durarara!!x2 Shou being only the first of three planned sequel seasons (x2 Ten airs in July, and x2 Ketsu next year), they’re bound to have big things planned. If you have never watched the original Durarara!!, go check it out; it’s great fun. If you enjoyed the previous installment, then Durarara!!x2 Shou is an easy pick for Winter 2015.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Durarara!!x2 Shou Promotional Videos ▼

ALDNOAH.ZERO 2 | アルドノア・ゼロ 第2期 Top
http://www.aldnoahzero.com/
Animation: A-1 Pictures x TROYCA Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @aldnoahzero or #aldnoahzero

Preview by Zephyr

After a one-cour break, one of the most hyped series of 2014 is back. The original brain child of Urobuchi Gen, and since taken over by Takayama Katsuhiko and Aoki Ei after the first three episodes, ALDNOAH.ZERO’s first season saw the start of fresh hostilities between the VERS Empire on Mars and the United Forces of Earth. Started initially by the destruction of a Hyper Gate on the Moon 15 years ago, the newest conflict centered around the attempted assassination VERS Princess Asseylum Vers Allusia (Amamiya Sora), and ended with a successful last stand on part of the Earth Forces. ALDNOAH.ZERO’s second season will serve as a direct sequel, and although not much is known about its contents aside from rumors of time-travel and the survival of key characters, it has been noted that all members of the original cast and staff (minus UroGen) will return for its newest iteration.

As one of the most hyped series of 2014 (and this season as well), there’s a measure of polarization in the expectations. With the staff remaining the same, one shouldn’t expect the second season to be any different from its first—an immensely enjoyable, over-the-top action/mecha hybrid rife with suffering, “death,” “Slain-e” jokes, and music from the always great Sawano Hiroyuki. The big question is what path they will choose with this sequel, as the first season’s finale brought with it a bloodbath that could make or break the series depending on who survives. It’ll likely end up being a fun ride regardless, but there’s a lot of room for controversial developments that some fans of the first season may not like, and that’s just par for the course. Gen may no longer be involved, but one can definitely see the mark he’s left, and it’s one that carries through even now. This is a series that will likely be one of the most talked about this year.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show ALDNOAH.ZERO 2 Promotional Videos ▼

DOG DAYS”Top
http://www.dogdays.tv/
Animation: Seven Arcs Pictures Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @dogdays_anime or #dogdays

Preview by Stilts

Once upon the time, the Republic of Biscotti faced a predicament in the form of an invasion by the Galette Leo Knights. In order to save the country, Princess Millhiore (Horie Yui) summoned a hero from another world. Izumi Cinque (Miyano Mamoru), a junior high school boy living on Earth, was chosen as that hero. After two anime seasons worth of adventures in Flonyard, Cinque and his friends are back for a third season of fun! Rumor has it that, though Cinque and his team will show up every episode, the other characters will change every week, and a few more main characters may join the cast.

This is one of the series that our old writer Moomba has been telling me to watch for a while, and after checking out the first few episodes of the first season, I can see why. It looks like High Fantasy with a kemonomimi fetish, but it has a delightful lightness of tone that’s unlike any fighting anime I’ve seen. They’re fighting wars, but the battles aren’t bloody—they’re more of fitness challenges! Defeated soldiers turn into beast balls instead of dying, and everyone takes part enthusiastically. In a way it reminds me of Girls und Panzer, where the excitement of battle is combined with the wholehearted striving of a sports anime, though in Dog Days the contests are all martial arts, acrobatics, and magical attacks. The hero Cinque is the epitome of a lovable idiot, emphasis on the lovable (and idiot). The kemonomimi fetish cannot be denied—there’s fanservice to be had, and few options in this setting outside of kemonomimi characters—but it’s the show’s light tone that attracted my attention. Veterans of this series will know more than me, so I can’t speak to what may happen, save to say that the original creator and the director of season two are back, and that it sounds like this season will be more focused on world building, so it may not be the right season for a newbie to start. As an excuse to go back and watch the other ones, though, it does the job. I for one am finding it hard to write these other previews, because I want to go watch more Dog Days!

Watching This: Stilts Expectation Level: Moderate
Show DOG DAYS'' Promotional Videos ▼

THE ROLLING GIRLSTop
http://rollinggirls.com/
Animation: Wit Studio Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Adventure, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:58
Episodes: Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @therollinggirls or #rollinggirls

Preview by Stilts

Ten years after the Great Tokyo War, each prefecture in Japan has split up into an independent nation. Each is ruled by a prophet called “Mosa” and an army called “Mob,” and they are competing to take over the other countries. Four Mob girls from the Saitama clan, Moritomo Nozomi (Ozawa Ari), Kosaka Yukina (Hidaka Rina), Hibiki Ai (Taneda Risa), and Misono Chiaya (Hanamori Yumiri), are ordered by their Mosa to travel around Japan on their motorcycles to mediate battles between other nations and clans.

This was not on my radar initially, but after a little research, my interest has been thoroughly piqued. The promos felt like a mixture of Kill la Kill and Kyousogiga, though the actual imagery is far more in the latter camp. The premise has a Warring States feeling, though bloodshed and war don’t seem to be anywhere in evidence, opting instead for the colorful (and dare I say, cartoonish) combat epitomized by Kill la Kill and Kyousougiga. The director is Deai Kotomi, who has been an episode director on a lot of shows I respect, and sat in the director’s chair for Gin no Saji 2nd Season, which I absolutely loved. This is the first original series by Wit Studio, of Shingeki no Kyojin fame, though it gave me more of a Trigger feeling. The critical question is about the story, because while the fundamentals look good, a mediocre story could easily derail it all, and that’s the one thing we can’t know until it airs. I suggest everyone watch the promo videos below, and see if this looks like something you might life. It could be great, it could be bad—we don’t know! But it looks good, and there’s charm in the animation, so if they can combine that with a solid script, this could be a winner.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show THE ROLLING GIRLS Promotional Videos ▼

Kuroko no Basuke 3 | 黒子のバスケ 第3期Top
http://www.kurobas.com/
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: January 10, 2015
Genre: Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 26:58
Episodes: Station: MBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @kurobasanime or #kurobas

Preview by Takaii

Another show that needs almost no introduction, Kuroko no Basuke is one of those sports-based shows that just does it right. Following the protagonist Kuroko Tetsuya (Ono Kensho) and his fellow teammate Kagami Taiga (Ono Yuuki), the story focuses around Kuroko’s unique style of play combined with Kagami’s latent talent. Instead of Kuroko being the all-star player that you’d expect from a protagonist, he’s the embodiment of a gentleman who lacks any presence both on and off the court. But with such a unique trait, Kuroko is able to manipulate the ball and the players in ways that allow him to break through even the toughest defense and set up insane plays for his hotheaded powerhouse forward, Kagami. Toss in a bunch of other unique characters — like a coach who can analyze her players simply by looking at their bodies, and a senpai who’s a foul-mouthed but charismatic leader — and you have a sports show that’s fun for all fans alike.

While I’m a ashamed to admit that I haven’t actually watched the entire series, the few episodes I saw left such a good impression on me that I’m about to go and catch up with all of it after I finish writing this (Update: I’m almost through season one and it’s only been one day ;_;). What I can tell you is that with Production I.G’s team still behind the reins since season one, I can’t find any reason for veteran viewers to be concerned. It would make sense for new viewers to catch up on seasons one and two if you already haven’t, since there seems to be a big fuss about something special happening in this third season. This show gives off some nice vibes, and for anyone like me who watched Haikyuu!! but not this, and has been looking for something to fill the hole it left, this just might do it for you.

Watching This: Takaii Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Kuroko no Basuke 3 Promotional Videos ▼

Yoru no Yatterman | 夜ノヤッターマンTop
http://yatterman.jp/
Animation: Tatsunoko Production Premiere: January 11, 2015
Genre: Adventure Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation

Preview by Passerby

The original Yatterman aired in 1977, as the spiritual sequel of the Time Bokan series. Growing even larger than its venerable predecessor, it got a remake in 2008, and finally a new series in Yoru no Yatterman coming this winter. In the original Yatterman, a trio of ne’er-do-wells known as the Doronbo Gang search for mythical stones scattered around the planet that will lead them to gold and riches, and the only ones that can stop them are a pair of masked heroes, the Yattermen. In Yoru no Yatterman, the situation is somewhat reversed. A bunch of folks called the Yattermen run an elitist utopia, and the Doronbo stand against them. The leader of this band of literal anti-heroes is a woman names Doronjo (Kitamura Eri), and together with her lackeys Tonzler (Miyake Kenta) and Boyacky (Hiroaki Hirata), they are eventually driven from the Yatterman kingdom for their rebellion. But thieves are anti-establishment at heart, and the resistance continues.

Not a lot of information has been released about Yoru no Yatterman, and what we do know can be downright confusing at times, so sometimes it’s hard to pin down what the plot is actually about. The thing to keep in mind, though, is that the original Yatterman never took itself very seriously. It was, for the most part, parody, and treated most subject matter with a certain level of tongue-in-cheek levity. Whether Yoru no Yatterman follows that philosophy remains to be seen, but it does seem to be aware that masked heroes romping around with their robot dog is something from a bygone era. So it’s a bit revamped, a bit edgier. It’s still probably going to be Yatterman, though. I do recommend those thinking of picking it up for the winter, but have no background knowledge of Yatterman, to at least check out the 2008 remake if they haven’t already. Time Bokan is an old franchise, with plenty of self-referential potential. I doubt they’ll try too hard to alienate the new fan, but it may be best to bring yourself up to speed to maximise your enjoyment.

Watching This: Samu Expectation Level: Moderate
Junketsu no Maria | 純潔のマリアTop
http://junketsu-maria.tv/
Animation: Production I.G Premiere: January 11, 2015
Genre: History, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @JunketsuMariaTV or #maria_anime

Preview by Passerby

The era: the Hundred Years War. The heroine: a witch. In particular, a witch named Maria (Kanemoto Hisako) who despises war and violence, and tries to intervene between battles as much as possible. Maria uses her familiars, the succubus Artemis (Hikasa Yoko) and incubus Priapos (Komatsu Mikako) to influence enemy commanders (in exactly the way you imagine), and her own prodigious powers to maintain an uneasy peace in northern France. But her magical meddling attracts the attention of the powers that be, and the judgment of the archangel Michael (Inoue Kikuko). The archangel thus decrees: should the witch Maria ever lose her virginity, so too shall she lose her sorcerous powers. The angel Ezekiel (Hanazawa Kana) is sent to watch over Maria and ensure that she ceases flaunting her magic. Maria isn’t the type to listen, though. She still intervenes with magic. She just needs to avoid being caught.

The Hundred Years War, France, and witches may remind you of Joan of Arc, and I think that’s what Junketsu no Maria is going for. It does have some of the trappings of middle-English literature; it’s a bit crude, it’s a bit raunchy, and it launches into faux-theology whenever it pleases. It also comes with the modern critiques that you’d commonly find in less historical fantasy, like war is bad, church is bad, and feudalism is bad. Together with the anachronistic Maria, that keeps Junketsu no Maria from being a straight period piece. Not that it ever intended to be, even without the fantasy elements; Junketsu no Maria is, at times, rather liberal with the historical details and delicate geopolitics of the era. That may be disappointing for history buffs, but we get relatively few medieval anime, let alone one based on history in any remote way. Junketsu no Maria is already quite the standout, especially with director Taniguchi Gorou (of CODE GEASS fame) at the helm. Europe has a rich history; it can suffer being played with a bit and still produce something interesting.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Samu Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Junketsu no Maria Promotional Videos ▼

Seiken Tsukai no World Break | 聖剣使いの禁呪詠唱Top
http://warubure-anime.com/
Animation: diomedea Premiere: January 11, 2015
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @Jwarubureanime or #ワルブレ

Preview by Stilts

This “campus sword & sorcery” light novel adaptation is set to premiere this winter. Seiken Tsukai no World Break is set in a private high school that brings together Saviors, youths with awakened memories from past lives. Some are Shirogane, who fight enemies with weapons and techniques gleaned from the Puraana in their bodies. Others are Kuroma, who wipe out enemies with magic that surpasses physics by manipulating their Maana powers. A boy named Haimura Moroha (Ishikawa Kaito) enrolls in this school. He’s the first person in history who’s both a Shirogane and Kuroma.

This is a magical-fantasy-action-harem anime based on a light novel, so you probably already know if this is your kind of show. (That’s the fourth time I’ve said that this preview. I’ll stop saying it when it stops being true, anime industry.) Get past all the jargon, and the setup here is fairly simple: They all have heroic past lives. Some of them are swordfighters. Others are spellcasters. The main character is both. Action harem antics ensue. I got a Tokyo Ravens vibe from the mix of old-plus-new—something which was only reinforced by having Harutora’s seiyuu voicing Moroha—but what I read of the manga adaptation didn’t blow me away. He immediately gains a pettanko tsundere imouto (from a past life), Ranjou Satsuki (Taketatsu Ayana), and an odd big-breasted witch (from the other past life), Urushibara Shizuno (Yuuki Aoi). It’s nice that they had an excuse for the girls to immediately fawn all over him, but it’s still abrupt, and the girls are still stereotypes so far. Maybe I’m just growing tired of the endless repetition within the genre, but I can’t get excited, especially not when this is one of four series Diomedéa is putting out this season, and one staffed by staff who all have short (though decent) resumes. Fans of the genre, give this one a shot. Everyone else, I’d keep your ear to the ground and wait to see if it surprises like Tokyo Ravens did, or if it’s just one more magical-fantasy-action-harem anime in a season full of them.

Watching This: Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Seiken Tsukai no World Break Promotional Videos ▼

Sengoku Musou | 戦国無双Top
http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/anime/sengokumusou/
Animation: NAS Premiere: January 11, 2015
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation

Preview by Takaii

Another game-turned-anime, Sengoku Musou is an adaptation of KOEI’s hack-and-slash game of the same name. It also happens to be a spinoff of the ever so popular Dynasty Warrior series! Based loosely around the Sengoku Jidai, or the Warring States period, the game’s story draws its inspiration from a time in Japan where unification was used as a means for clashing powers to fight bloody wars in order to reign supreme. Basically, bloodshed and death were an everyday thing. In this adaptation, the story will focus on Toyotomi Hideyoshi’s last conquest before bringing the era to an end — The Siege of Odawara Castle against the infamous Hojo clan.

I personally love anything involving the Sengoku Jidai, and have ever since I read Dale Furutani’s three part series about a ronin and the mystery he unravels as he tries to find and save the daughter of his late lord. Seeing how this is based on one of the best hack-and-slash games that have ever been made (subjective, I know, but who’s going to say it wasn’t fun?) that also draws from an infamous period in Japan’s history, I have high hopes that this will end up being at worst a fun show to watch. While it doesn’t hurt that there are a lot of big name seiyuu reprising their roles from the video game (Sugita Tomokazu, Ono Daisuke, and Nakata Jouji, to name a few), all I’m really hoping for is a show that manages to tell us an entertaining story while incorporating all the cool and flashy stylizing choices that the games are known for. Because honestly, as much as purists will claim that shows like this ruin history, this is anime, not a history class!

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Sengoku Musou Promotional Videos ▼

ISUCATop
http://isuca.net/
Animation: Arms Premiere: January 23, 2015
Genre: Supernatural, School-Life, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @isuca_official or #ISUCA

Preview by Takaii

ISUCA focuses on the life of Asano Shinichirou (Koumoto Keisuke), a typical high school male who lives on his own because his parents are traveling around Europe on some wacky adventure. Cursed with a type of OCD that would make a clean freak look like a slob, he ends up finding a part-time job as a housekeeper for his classmate Shimazu Sakuya (Kido Ibuki) to make ends meet. Sakuya is a girl who seems normal at school, but is actually part of a powerful clan of exorcists who try to maintain balance between the world and the spirits that try to invade it. Together they form a pretty potent duo that leads Shinichirou down a path toward a world he never thought existed.

While that intro might be a little bland, I absolutely loved the source material for this show. Giving off vibes that I haven’t felt since Shakugan no Shana or Zero no Tsukaima, this is definitely a show that puts the magic stuff on the side and focuses on the relationships among the main characters. Basically, it places a male lead into fantastic positions where he can foster and grow his harem without even lifting a finger — and I’m okay with this! While I could do without all the blatant nudity, all the characters in this show have such contrasting personalities that at times it’s tough to figure out who you want to root for. From the adorable cat spirit Tamako (Sadohara Kaori) to the level-headed but super lewd Suseri (Ichimichi Mao), everyone bounces off of each other nicely. Toss in the main-pair of Shinichirou and Sakuya who could give Shana and and Yuuji a run for their money, and you have all the ingredients for a show that’s bound to be fun. As an added bonus, the story itself isn’t too bad, and through the fifteen or so chapters I got through, I was never once worried about getting bored. If Isuca wasn’t already on your list of shows, why not give it a chance to win you over?

Watching This: Stilts, Takaii, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate

OVA / Movie


 

Technical Note: OVAs are sorted by the date they are released. For series that have multiple episodes coming out over the course of the season, please refer to the Notes column for additional dates. More information on each OVA can be found on their respective websites, including promotional videos in some cases. Movie premiere dates are not included since they don’t mean a whole lot to viewers outside of Japan. DVD/BD movie releases are, however. This list is likely incomplete and will be updated as more titles surface. If you notice anything missing or incorrect, please feel free to point it out in the comments or e-mail one of us directly (Stilts, Zephyr).

Release Date Title Notes
12/09 Date A Live: Encore OVA | デート・ア・ライブ アンコール
http://store.kadokawa.co.jp/preorder/888800000003/
Bundled with Encore LN vol. 3.
12/09 Shingeki no Kyojin: Kuinaki Sentaku | 進撃の巨人 悔いなき選択
http://shingeki.net/#!/page/comics_15_16ltd
Episode 1 of 2.
12/10 Persona 4 The Golden Animation: Thank you Mr. Accomplice | ペルソナ4 ザ・ゴールデンアニメーション Thank you Mr. Accomplice
http://www.animate.tv/news/details.php?id=1409330831
Alternate ending.
12/10 Rakuen Tsuihou: Expelled from Paradise | 楽園追放 -Expelled From Paradise-
http://rakuen-tsuiho.com/
BD/DVD Release.
12/12 Ao Haru Ride OVA | アオハライド OVA
http://aoha-anime.com/
Episode 13.
12/12 Strike Witches Operation Victory Arrow Vol. 1: St. Trond no Raimei
ストライクウィッチーズ Operation Victory Arrow Vol.1 サン・トロンの雷鳴
http://w-witch.jp/
BD/DVD Release. Part 1 of 3.
12/17 Akuma no Riddle: Shousha wa Dare? Nukiuchi Test | 悪魔のリドル 勝者はだれ?(抜き打ちテスト)
http://www.akuma-riddle.com/bddvd/bddvd_07.php
BD/DVD Release. Episode 13.
12/17 Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo OVA | 山田くんと7人の魔女 OVA
http://www.yamajo-anime.com/
Episode 1 of 2.
12/17 Yoamushi Pedal Re:RIDE | 弱虫ペダル Re:RIDE
http://yowapeda.com/reride/
BD/DVD Release.
12/18 Magi: Sinbad no Bouken | マギ シンドバッドの冒険
http://www.project-magi.com/sinbad/
Episode 3 of 3.
12/19 Brothers Conflict OVA
http://www.bc-anime.com/news/hp0001/index00810000.html
Episode 1 of 2.
12/19 Hyakka Ryouran Samurai After OVA | 百花繚乱 サムライアフター OVA
http://hyakka-ryoran.net/news/news.php
Episode 1 of 2.
12/24 DRAMAtical Murder OVA: Data_xx_Transitory | ドラマティカル マーダー OVA「Data_xx_Transitory」
http://dmmd-anime.com/
BD/DVD Release.
12/24 Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – Heaven and Earth | 蒼穹のファフナー Dead Aggressor ~Heaven and Earth~
http://fafner.jp/h-and-e/
BD/DVD Release.
12/25 Shin Tennis no Ouji-sama OVA vs Genius10 | 新テニスの王子様 OVA vs Genius10
http://tenipuri.jp/
BD/DVD Release. Episodes 3/4 of 5.
12/26 Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou Special | 僕らはみんな河合荘 初めての
http://www.tbs.co.jp/anime/kawaisou/
Bundled with BD/DVD vol. 7.
12/26 Edogawa Conan Shissou Jiken: Shijou Saiaku no Futsukakan | 名探偵コナン 江戸川コナン失踪事件~史上最悪の二日間~
http://www.conan-portal.com/
20th Anniversary Special.
12/26 Shin Gekijouban Initial D: Legend 1 – Kakusei | 新劇場版 頭文字D Legend1-覚醒-
http://initiald-movie.com/
BD/DVD Release.
12/30 Tales of Zestiria: Doushi no Yoake | テイルズ オブ ゼスティリア ~導師の夜明け~
http://toz.tales-ch.jp/special/tvspecial.php
01/07 Witch Craft Works OVA | ウィッチクラフトワークス OVA
http://www.witch-cw-anime.jp/
Bundled with manga vol. 8.
01/16 Joujuu Senjin!! Mushibugyou OVA | ムシブギョー 虫奉行 OVA
http://mushibugyo.jp/
01/28 Kuroshitsuji: Book of Murder OVA | 黒執事 Book of Murder OVA
http://www.kuroshitsuji.tv/bom/
BD/DVD Release. Episode 1 of 2.
01/30 Kaitou Tenshi Twin Angel: Kyun Kyun☆Tokimeki Paradise!! OVA | 快盗天使ツインエンジェル キュンキュン☆ときめきパラダイス!! OVA
http://twin-angel.com/
Episode 1 of 2.
02/04 Nisekoi OVA | ニセコイ OVA
http://www.nisekoi.jp/
Episode 2 of 2.
02/11 Brothers Conflict OVA
http://www.bc-anime.com/news/hp0001/index01010000.html
Episode 2 of 2.
02/16 Imawa no Kuni no Alice
http://websunday.net/rensai/alice/
Episode 3 of 3.
02/17 Seitokai Yakuindomo* OVA | 生徒s会役員* OVA
http://www.starchild.co.jp/special/seitokai/
Bundled with manga LE vol. 11. Episode 3 of 3.
02/18 Appleseed Alpha | アップルシード アルファ
http://appleseedalpha.jp/
BD/DVD Release.
02/18 Nozo x Kimi OVA | ノゾ×キミ OVA
http://websunday.net/rensai/nozokimi/
Episode 3 of 3.
02/20 Shin Tennis no Ouji-sama OVA vs Genius10 | 新テニスの王子様 OVA vs Genius10
http://tenipuri.jp/
BD/DVD Release. Episode 5 of 5.
02/23 Hozuki no Reitetsu ova | 鬼灯の冷徹 OVA
WEBSITE
Bundled with manga vol. 19. Episode 3 of 3.
02/25 Kuroshitsuji: Book of Murder OVA | 黒執事 Book of Murder OVA
http://www.kuroshitsuji.tv/bom/
BD/DVD Release. Episode 2 of 2.
02/26 Diabolik Lovers OVA
http://www.otomate.jp/dialover/df/
Bundled with PS Vita game.
02/27 Slayers | スレイヤーズ
http://www.tv-tokyo.co.jp/contents/slayers/slayers/story.html
BD Remaster.
02/28 Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin I – Aoi Hitomi no Casval
機動戦士ガンダムTHE ORIGIN I 青い瞳のキャスバル
http://www.gundam-the-origin.net/
Episode 1 of 4.
03/06 Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu OVA | 昭和元禄落語心中 与太郎放浪篇 OVA
http://www.rakugo-shinju-anime.jp/
Bundled with LE manga Vol. 7.
03/10 Hitsugi no Chaika OVA | 棺姫のチャイカ OAD
http://chaika-anime.jp/
Bundled with LE novel Vol. 12.
03/10 High School DxD New OVA: Oppai, Tsutsumimasu! | ハイスクールD×D New OVA
http://www.haremking.tv/
Episode 13. Bundled with DX.1 light novel.
03/10 Yamada-kun to 7-nin no Majo OVA | 山田くんと7人の魔女 OVA
http://www.yamajo-anime.com/
Episode 2 of 2.
03/11 PERSONA3 THE MOVIE #2: Midsummer Knight’s Dream
劇場版ペルソナ3 #2 Midsummer Knight’s Dream
http://www.p3m.jp/
BD/DVD Release.
03/13 Dragon Ball Z: Kami to Kami | ドラゴンボールZ: 神と神
http://www.dragonball2013.com/
BD/DVD Release.
03/13 Strike Witches Operation Victory Arrow Vol. 2: Aegean Umi no Megami
Operation Victory Arrow vol.2 エーゲ海の女神 限定版
http://w-witch.jp/
BD/DVD Release. Part 2 of 3.
03/18 Free! Eternal Summer OVA
http://iwatobi-sc.com/
Bundled with BD/DVD Vol. 7.
03/18 Shingeki no Kyojin Movie 1: Guren no Yumiya
劇場版「進撃の巨人」前編~紅蓮の弓矢~
http://shingeki.tv/movie/
BD/DVD Release.

Overall Impressions


 

Though winter and summer are considered to be the weaker seasons, I’m usually a bastion of optimism. I even used to joke that winter and summer were Stilts’ seasons! But I’d be lying to you if I feigned optimism this time. It’s looking pretty grim. There are a few standout series, a few potential dark horses, and a few solid sequels, and then so much sadness. I look at this lineup, and I come away with the thought “Well, this will be a good chance to catch up on some old series.” Which I appreciate, but I wish it were happening for a better reason. Don’t let that stop you from enjoying what the winter has to offer, though, because there are potential rockstars throughout, even if they’re a bit thinner on the ground than we’d prefer.

Onto the rundown. Our rubric remains the same, with the five main expectation levels ranging from High to Low, plus Niche and Established for special cases. Hopefully this guide will help those of you with limited time know which shows to try first, based on our preliminary examination of the show’s staff, seiyuu, and source material.

We arrived at these levels by convening our regular (and reliably shady) “anticipation council,” which consists of Zanibas, Zephyr, and yours truly, Stilts. While we’ve gone to great lengths to be as objective as possible, we’re all fallible human beings, and even the most well-considered predictions can prove themselves wrong in a hurry. Take these with a grain of salt.

Note: Lists are sorted in alphabetical order.

 

The Rundown:

High expectation shows give us reason to believe they have the makings of a very good series that should appeal to the widest audience in their given genres. If you consider yourself a “casual” fan who only gets your toes wet every season by watching the “best” shows (i.e. popular ones that generate the most buzz), then these are the ones we feel you should keep an eye out for. We’re also expecting good things from these shows, so if they fall short, disappointment is understandable.

Moderately High expectation shows are ones that came close to joining the High expectation crowd, but missed out due to one or two elements that gave us concern. The series underpinnings are generally strong, but there is just something that keeps us from putting all our hopes and dreams on these shows. They still have most of the makings of very strong series, so if you watch only the “best” shows but want more than what the High category provides, keep an eye out for these as well.

Moderate expectation shows, also known as “True Moderate”, don’t provide any immediate indication that they’ll be amazing in retrospect. This is often the case with shows that fall into one of anime’s overused plot devices, which most people, particularly self-proclaimed critics, will perceive as mediocre at best. However, in many of our experiences these shows still provide a great deal of entertainment and may turn out a lot better than they appear. They’re good for “regular” fans who are aware of all these tropes and don’t mind seeing them used in different settings. Personal tastes come heavily into play, so your mileage will vary.

Moderately Low expectation shows don’t seem to be aspiring to much, but it’s hard to call them bad exactly. They might focus on senseless humor or fanservice, but there’s often at least one element that elevates them above other members of their genre. Once again, personal taste comes heavily into play with these shows, because if they’re part of one of your favored genres then chances are you’ll enjoy them no matter what. Just don’t expect them to break the bank with originality.

Low expectation shows don’t seem to be striving for much and choose to focus on more frivolous aspects such as senseless humor and fanservice. That doesn’t mean they’re the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t get any consideration, but simply that you need to keep in mind what kind of show it is. Generally only “avid” fans will be interested in seeing what these have to offer, because they’re already watching all the better shows.

Niche shows break away from the norm by being slower-paced, extremely dark/grotesque, or even controversial. In most cases these shows are oriented towards older audiences or those who feel that anime has become far too repetitive and want something different. Shows of this category tend to be highly under-appreciated, but can turn out to be hidden gems for that very reason. Includes some works oriented toward younger audiences.

  • Niche: N/A

Established shows are generally long-running manga/anime series, geared towards younger viewers who are already fans of them. A commonality is that they all air early morning on weekends or well before midnight on weekdays so that “normal” people can watch them. They aren’t very dependent on expectations, but a love for never-ending shows and a willingness to get into all the material that’s out if they’re completely new to you. Shounen series fall into this category, hence why we treat them differently.

December 23, 2014 at 12:00 am
190 comments »
  • December 29, 2014 at 6:54 amAnal Devastator

    Assclass, Drrr, Jojo and monotari.

    This is the first time since the creation of randomc that ALL High expectations anime is also my must watch.

    40 seasons of anime and our taste have finally became one eh?

    • December 31, 2014 at 8:35 pm1

      Jesus fuck, just how much bland haremshit is there this season?

      Literally nothing to watch aside from new Monogatari iteration, nice going japs.

      • January 8, 2015 at 11:51 pm2

        racist much?

  • December 30, 2014 at 10:05 amdrzero7

    Usually, Winter season usually SUCKS, but this year isn’t so bad.

    What I’m going to watch

    High expectation

    Tsukimonogatari
    Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders Egypt Arc
    Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
    Durarara!!x2 Shou
    ALDNOAH.ZERO Season 2

    Going to try it out/know the series enough that it’ll probably/maybe be good.

    Tokyo Ghoul √A
    Absolute Duo
    Shinmai Maou no Testament
    Koufuku Graffiti |
    Kantai Collection -KanColle
    Juuou Mujin no Fafnir
    Shoukyuu no Fafner EXODUS
    THE IDOLM@STER: Cinderella Girls
    Kuroko no Basuke Season 3
    Seiken Tsukai no World Break

  • December 30, 2014 at 10:12 amKongou.

    Kongou.

  • January 1, 2015 at 11:56 pmshin-angel

    I’m so excited for this season

  • January 2, 2015 at 8:38 pmJY

    Kuroko no Basuke is not a Sports anime!!!! its a battle shounen…..

  • January 10, 2015 at 2:29 pmWorldwideDepp

    @Blogers

    there will be a little bit Aldonah.Zero Rage incoming. So be prepared

  • January 10, 2015 at 4:11 pmPhantomAtheist

    Does anyone know a website similar to this one that will review Kuroko Season 3? Or will someone review Kuroko?

  • January 10, 2015 at 9:44 pmherpderp

    I really wish Urobochi had kept full control over Alnoah Zero. It could have easily been the best anime of 2014 if he had. The setup and plot was great, but the execution was lackluster. It’s disappointing to see that he’ll have no involvement in the second season.

  • January 11, 2015 at 5:44 amWorldwideDepp

    Soukyuu no Fafner EXODUS

    Looks promising for the First Episode. I would give it a 8/10 of my best 3 episodes run

    • January 15, 2015 at 1:11 pmWorldwideDepp

      Episode 2:

      i give it again an 8/10 because of the Action

      • January 15, 2015 at 1:11 pmWorldwideDepp

        but, hey. Do you really need the “English Commands” for their Mechas?

    • February 12, 2015 at 12:49 pmWorldwideDepp

      Ep 06:

      Strange, we are on the 6th Episode in this Show. But i can not let go of this feeling “The Stage is Set, now the Main Action begins!” aside..

  • January 16, 2015 at 1:27 amduck

    In the end all there is to watch are:

    Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata
    Ansatsu Kyoushitsu
    Death Parade
    Durarara!!x2 Shou
    (Tsukimonogatari already gone)

    Not to bad since usually most of the seasons there are only 1 or 2 watchable series per season.

  • February 26, 2015 at 1:49 pmWorldwideDepp

    Exodus 08:

    Yes, thats what i like. they could keep the tension Level up. even it nothing really happen here. But the tension of the person and their Level of Speaking, help a lot to create this Atmosphere

    Exodus is 8/10 from me this Episode. as i said, they could keep the tension high

    p.s. Sorry, for post here and there. But there is no really an Exodus Entry on this Site

  • March 5, 2015 at 12:42 pmWorldwideDepp

    Exodus 09:

    i give it an 10/10

    Action Baby!!… I had an Actiongasums

    For someone not knowing the Previous Anime, this Episode was “So Geil!”, Awesome. In Action no others shows can teach them a lesson, they are on the Top

  • March 12, 2015 at 1:00 pmWorldwideDepp

    Exodus 10:

    i give it an 8/10

    But you know what, this Show remember me of something. Old WW2 Veterans protection the Hope of Tomorrow Children

    Old Soldiers used for War in the Past, are now needed to Protect the Future of their Childrens

    i think i know how the Traitor is.

  • March 19, 2015 at 12:37 pmWorldwideDepp

    Ep 11:

    The Price they must Pay, when using this Power. It is this all about in this Episode. I am talking about the New Generation of Pilots

  • March 20, 2015 at 1:20 pmelbs

    hi

    are you going to do a preview for “Spring 2015″ anime

  • March 22, 2015 at 3:46 amWorldwideDepp

    @Admin & Writers:
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/121.jpg
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/122.jpg
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/123.jpg
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/124.jpg

    @Fans:
    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/174.jpg
    I Wish i could ride that. i bet this was a Simulator where Tin-can played the Autopilot (Flying on Rails) to avoid motion Sickness, and they was on some Sightseeing

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/304.jpg
    Some kind of Siri? Only for Your Phone and AnimeGirl?

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/425.jpg
    Look closely.. What you see? Yes. Aldnoha Mechs (from left: EDF Mech, Orange Traning Mech, and Slaine’s VERS Mech without colors)

    http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/thumbnails/fit650x650/cms/feature/86218/401.jpg
    !!!!!!!*HURRAY* But.. it surly will not have an English Part :(

  • March 26, 2015 at 3:15 pmWorldwideDepp

    Exodus Ep 12:

    Exodus is running on low steam. Even if there are some fights, but these are not real fights, thats just placeholder with Enemy as Prays.

    Exodus is cocking on low flame in Story-mode. But animation and such is still good. i can not deny that

  • April 2, 2015 at 2:15 pmWorldwideDepp

    Ep 13:

    Somehow the Magic as if something will appear, is gone. But the Show is still entertainment. Seems like they are saving resources for a 2nd Battle packed Episode. They are cooking on medium flame

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