Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but the anime is so delightful. Or hopefully it is, which is what we’re here to find out. This season features some strong sequels, including the long-awaited return of the exorcist battle anime Ao no Exorcist, another hilarious adventure with the dysfunctional goofballs of Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!, a new generation in Yowamushi Pedal, and a second season of the universally lauded Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Not to be outdone, there are new adaptations of several promising properties, including the cop/spy/bureaucratic drama ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka, the Seo Kouji 100% certified ragefest adaptation of Fuuka, the classic salesman-transformed-into-magic-loli war story (haven’t we seen that a million times) Youjo Senki, and a period property you’re probably unfamiliar with, but which Japan has been gobbling up for years in Onihei. There are only a few originals airing this season, but standing tall among them are the first full season (finally!) of Little Witch Academia and the spiritual successor (hopefully) to Amagami SS in Seiren. There’s more where those came from, so let’s get on with it so you can figured out what to watch. This is Random Curiosity’s Winter 2017 Preview!

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, these reflect our own subjective excitement level for each show; they do not necessarily reflect how shows will pan out. How could they? We’re not psychics. (We would get paid more if we were, for one.) 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 ye olde year of 2012—which is a joke that’s starting to wear thin, since that was five flippin’ years ago—previews were done by a single writer, Divine. Since none of the current writers are as crazy awesome as he—rumor has it he etched the previews into stone while walking uphill both ways in the snow—we’ve divided them up among our staff (Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Jig, Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takaii, 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 sources for each series.

As always, thanks go to the entire Random Curiosity staff for helping with this preview. Special thanks go to Divine and Xumbra, who encoded all the PV’s; Zephyr, who compiled the OVA/Movie list; Stilts (that’s me!), who managed and edited; Samu, who did the shorts section; Takaii, who checked for errors and helped Cherrie finish her stuff while she was on vacation; and Cherrie, who did formatting, links, pictures, and basically everything else. (Also, all the schlubbs who wrote previews, I guess.) We couldn’t have done it without you all. For an alternate viewpoint, our very own Guardian Enzo has the LiA winter preview where you can find a second opinion on many of these shows.

Lastly, thank you to you, dear reader, for waiting patiently for us to deliver this preview. (Note: if you didn’t wait patiently, I didn’t notice and/or care. So there.) Thanks in particular for waiting the extra few days it took to get this one out, which was my fault; hopefully that won’t be an issue next preview. For now, please enjoy, and know that you’re appreciated. Or to put it another way: You’re Good Enough, You’re Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like You. Or at least we do ❤️

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
22:00 MX (1/8)
Gabriel Dropout
22:30 AT-X (1/9)
ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
23:00 MX (1/10)
Nanbaka 2nd Season
00:00 Docomo (1/4)
Masamune-kun no Revenge
22:30 MX (1/5)
Youjo Senki
22:00 AT-X (1/6)
Spirit Pact
21:00 MX (1/7)
Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season
23:00 MX (1/8)
Chiruran: Nibun no Ichi
25:00 MX (1/9)
Hand Shakers
24:30 MX (1/10)
22:30 AT-X (1/4)
MARGINAL#4 KISS Kara Tsukuru Big Bang
23:30 MX (1/12)
22:00 WOWOW (1/6)
BanG Dream!
22:00 AbemaTV (1/21)
Idol Jihen
23:30 MX (1/8)
Yowamushi Pedal NEW GENERATION
25:35 TX (1/9)
Kemono Friends
25:35 TX (1/10)
Piace ~Watashi no Italian~
22:30 MX (1/11)
23:30 AT-X (1/12)
Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha Bu
24:00 AT-X (1/6)
Rewrite 2nd Season Moon-hen/Terra-hen
23:30 MX (1/14)
Little Witch Academia
24:00 MX (1/8)
26:05 TX (1/9)
23:30 AT-X (1/11)
Kuzu no Honkai
24:55 CX (1/12)
Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel
24:30 MX (1/6)
Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku
24:00 AT-X (1/7)
25:35 TX (1/8)
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
24:00 MX (1/11)
Urara Meirochou
25:58 TBS (1/5)
Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-Hen
25:55 TBS (1/6)
Demi-chan wa Kataritai
24:00 MX (1/7)
Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
25:05 MX (1/11)
26:28 TBS (1/5)
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu ~Sukeroku Futatabi-hen~
26:25 TBS (1/6)
Chain Chronicle ~Hekuseitasu no Hikari~
26:19 ABC (1/7)

* Jump to OVA/Movies or Short Series List.

* Jump to Short Series List.

Nanbaka 2nd Season | ナンバカ 第2期Top
Animation: Satelight Premiere: January 4, 2017
Genre: Action, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdys at 00:00
Episodes: Station: Docomo
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @nanbaka_tv or #nanbaka

Preview by Passerby

Wait, a brand new season of Nanbaka right after the first? Yes, apparently. Here we are, still in Nanba Prison, the premier correctional facility in all of Japan, famed for its foolproof security. The fools in question that will test that claim are the four infamous inmates of block 13: Yuugo (Uemura Yuuto), Uno (Kakihara Tetsuya), Nico (Kobayashi Daiki) and Rock (Shiozaki Ire), nominally kept in line by the much beleaguered but strangely competent Sugoroku Hajime (Seki Tomokazu). Last season, this motley crew mostly just goofed around and enjoyed the luxuries of prison life (…yeah, it’s a comedy), but the more we saw of them—and as they got dragged into prison-wide, tournament-style fights—it started to seem like there’s more to these quirky ne’er-do-wells. Where did they get their unique skills and incredible strength? The professional escape artist Yuugo, especially, is hiding a secret past. He may have lost his memories, but he still remembers that even in prison, there’s something very important he needs to do.

So, what’s up with Nanbaka? Why are we previewing it again? Well, the deal is that this second season of Nanbaka is web-only, available through certain Japanese streaming services, presumably because it lost its TV slot or something. So, technically, not a strict continuation of the first season. But, meh, strict technicalities. For all other intents and purposes, Nanbaka (2017) simply follows 2016, without skipping many beats. Same staff and crew and everything. There may be, however, a gradual increase in seriousness as Nanbaka builds on more of that plot it likes to wave around now and again. Will it ever become a dark satire about society’s treatment of criminals, or a constitutional essay about using the deprivation of liberty as punishment? Somehow, I doubt it; Nanbaka is still a comedy first and foremost, and a few less gags for a bit more action is not going to be a heavy tradeoff. More action will be nice though, especially if it makes use of Nanbaka‘s distinctive, colorful aesthetic. Overall, the main factor on whether this season is for you is whether you enjoyed the first. If so, there’s more of that in this one. Really, nothing to kick up a fuss about here. Continue as you were.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Animation: Gonzo Premiere: January 4, 2017
Genre: Action, Supernatural Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @akibastripanime or #

Preview by Stilts

Akiba’s Trip -The Animation- is an adaptation of a video game series where the player strips clothing to destroy monsters. Yes, really. But wait, there’s more to it than there seems! (Sorta.) Set in the otaku paradise of Akihabara, where masters and n00bs alike are welcomed, the vaunted shopping district has been invaded by creatures known as “Synthisters”—energy vampire-like beings who prey on Akiba’s denizens, feasting on their social energy and their will to live. Which is rude. These enemies can only be stopped by direct exposure to sunlight, thus: ripping off their clothes to defeat them. The anime will follow Denkigai Tamotsu (Ishiya Haruki), who meets three girls who are battling the synthisters and gets pulled into their fight.

We all know how successful video game adaptations usually are (see: not very), but take heart! At least they tend to work better as anime than when Hollywood takes a crack. (Though anyone who doesn’t love the Street Fighter movie for Raul Julia alone is a monster.) Putting aside the, er, worrisome premise—clearly the idea was to provide an excuse for stripping people against their will, which I don’t suggest in real life—my interest was aroused (not that way) by the energy in the promos. As is often the case, where a serious treatment would have been horrifying a silly story could be fun. Akiba’s Trip looks colorful, it’s filled with action, there will be fanservice, and it’s the adaptation of a game that was never released outside of Japan, so fans of the second game, Undead & Undressed, can finally learn what went down in the original. Will it be any good? I mean, probably not—it’s still a video game adaptation—but it’s starring the Earphones girls of Sore ga Seiyuu fame, and the director of the same, so I’ll probably check it out for seiyuu reasons alone. Plus, this is meant to celebrate studio Gonzo’s 25th anniversary, and I have a soft spot for those bakas. Even if it’s stupid, I have a feeling it’ll be fun.

Watching This: Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show AKIBA’S TRIP -THE ANIMATION- Promotional Videos ▼

Masamune-kun no Revenge | 政宗くんのリベンジTop
Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: January 5, 2017
Genre: Romance, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @masamune_tv or #masa_a

Preview by Pancakes

Ah, teenage romance. Between the hard crushes, love letters, and cheesy confessions, there is always someone who draws the short end of the stick. Makabe Masamune (Hanae Natsuki) has the misfortune of being one of those poor suckers. As a pudgy kid, Masamune wound up meeting one Adagaki Aki (Ohashi Akaya), a rich and stupendously beautiful girl who quickly nicknamed Masamune “Piggy” over his appearance. Utterly humiliated and tormented by Aki, Masamune vowed revenge against her, eliciting the help of his grandfather to completely transform himself. Now eight years later and a changed man, Masamune is back in high school, fit, handsome, and ready for vengeance. Utilizing the assistance of Aki’s maid Koiwai Yoshino (Minase Inori), Masamune forges a new relationship with an oblivious Aki, all with the goal of making Aki fall in love with him so he can break her heart at the final moment. It’s a foolproof plan, one that cannot fail. Too bad such ideas never account for feelings having a mind of their own.

I might not be the world’s greatest romantic, but damn does Masamune-kun no Revenge’s story intrigue me. Romantic revenge, and from the guy’s perspective? Revenge machinations as the main plot are already uncommon in romance, and those we get are usually girl on guy (Skip Beat!, Himitsu no Ai-chan); the reverse is a novelty in and of itself. What is particularly catching about this one are the characters themselves. Masamune is your literal Casanova, but becomes hilariously stunned by what his appearance lets him get away with. When combined with Aki’s hatred for men (and a not so secretive obsession with food), the potential for some amazing interactions and character growth certainly exist. Given that SILVER LINK is animating and the show boasts a stacked seiyuu roster, you can be sure this one will be funny and largely faithful to the source material. With the manga still ongoing (and with a noticeable drop in quality over time), however, it’s uncertain where this adaptation will leave off, or if an ambiguous, anime-original ending is in store. If a suitable endpoint exists and sensible source material changes are made, Masamune-kun no Revenge has the potential to turn into a wickedly fun bit of romantic revenge.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Masamune-kun no Revenge Promotional Videos ▼

Urara Meirochou | うらら迷路帖Top
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: January 5, 2017
Genre: Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 25:58
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @urarameiro or #urara

Preview by Stilts

Meirochou is a fortune-telling town, where girls from all over the country live and yearn to become the top diviner—-the “Urara.” One day, a lone girl named Chiya (Harada Sayaka) enters the town. She has a secret purpose, beyond becoming the Urara. Chiya’s days as an apprentice diviner begin as she meets three friends: the earnest Tatsumi Kon (Hondo Kaede), the Western culture-loving Yukimi Koume (Kubo Yurika), and the shy Natsume Nono (Yoshimura Haruka).

As an adaptation of a 4-koma manga, and one of umpteenth anime J.C. Staff is releasing this season, Urara Meirochou probably isn’t the first anime on most people’s to-watch list. If that’s true for you, let me say this: I have nothing to say to dissuade you. Or persuade you, because the manga is yet-untranslated. I’ve keyed into some of the anime industry’s habits, though, and this strikes me as a “talent nurturing” 4-koma adaptation. You know, the kind where the main seiyuu cast is filled with relative newbies, buttressed by one or two veterans in the supporting cast, probably because some producer is hoping this will be their breakout moment and they’ll earn money off the image songs? Which says nothing about how good the story could be, and I’ve got a huge soft spot for 4-koma adaptations personally. With relatively little plot to get in the way, the focus settles fully on the characters, and if they’re cute and lightly funny, this type of show can be a wonderful palette cleanser. The art does indeed look cute, and the staff’s resumes are either respectable or, in the case of series composer Mieno Hitomi, damn impressive, so there’s certainly hope. 4-koma fans, I’d at least give this a shot and see what it has to say.

Watching This: Passerby, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Seiren | セイレンTop
Animation: Axsiz x Studio Gokumi Premiere: January 5, 2017
Genre: Romance, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 26:28
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @anime_seiren or #セイレン

Preview by Stilts

Seiren is a new original series by Studio Gokumi, in collaboration with freelance artist Takayama Kisai, who’s best known for the character designs of Enterbrain’s visual novels, including Kimikiss and Amagami SS. Billed as a “passionate love story with new heroines,” it stars Kamita Shouichi (Tamaru Atsushi), a high school student who believes in helping others, but has trouble when he’s the one in distress. He’s also an avid video gamer and a secret perv, and he has a best friend or something. More importantly is the girls! There are six lovely ladies in this omnibus-style school romance, including three who will be getting arcs: Tsuneki Hikari (Sakura Ayane), a “modern day meddling princess” who loves to eat, is always cheerful, is occasionally stubborn, and was runner-up for last year’s Miss Santa Contest; Miyamae Tooru (Shimoji Shino), a “critical upperclassman” who’s a tournament-level video gamer who loves to make original goods and isn’t good at talking to others; and Touno Kyouko (Kimura Juri) a “childhood friend who acts like a student at a girls’ middle school,” also known as the honor student who loves shoujo manga and can act childish, which is something she has a complex about.

I loved Amagami SS, and Seiren gives a lot of reasons to be optimistic. Same character designer, for one, which is a shot straight to the nostalgia centers. The omnibus format is another, which I love the idea of, though it raised the specter of getting Photo Kano‘d again with a too-short adaptation that tried to do too much—but no! Though there are six girls, only three arcs are planned, and that’s the same pace as Amagami SS. Phew! Director Kobayashi Tomoki is an experienced director with a good résumé, so I’m hopeful that his team at Studio Gokumi can deliver a solid school romance. There’s even a chance for a second season if the first goes well, since we have three potential heroines in the wings! Or maybe I’m getting ahead of myself. Most of my immediate concerns were quickly quelled, so it’s all down to execution. If this truly belongs to Amagami SS’s genre, expect three stories of a (hopefully likeable) protagonist wooing/being wooed by three different girls with plenty of quirks, providing a nice burst of romance that will actually come to fruition—a rarity in a world of orphaned adaptations. Though originals can always go sour, I’m pretty excited about this one.

Watching This: Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Seiren Promotional Videos ▼

Youjo Senki | 幼女戦記Top
Animation: Studio NuT Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @youjosenki or #youjosenki

Preview by Pancakes

It just wouldn’t be a proper season now without a “trapped in another world” show, would it? Checking off the prerequisite this time is Youjo Senki. Based on the light novel of the same name, Youjo Senki is all about Japan’s greatest salesman. Yes, the greatest. A stickler for efficiency and never hesitant to “restructure” underperforming/superfluous employees, our salesman is all about logic, rationality, and science. Sadly, this lifestyle cannot stop his face getting restructured by the front of a speeding train. Winding up before God, the salesman—believing God to be a false figment of his imagination—ends up irritating the divine creator, who as punishment does something unorthodox: Japan’s greatest salesman is reincarnated as a little girl into a world of war and magic. Reborn as Tanya Degurechaff (Yuuki Aoi), our salesman-turned-loli finds himself in the midst of an industrialized world only knowing war, and himself stuck firmly in the centre of it.

Youjo Senki is a strange beast. It mixes the likes of Re:Zero with Alderamin, and supplements with a Strike Witches-esque magic system and a fictional Europe eerily similar to Shuumatsu no Izetta. That’s before touching the novel case of gender (and age) bending, which is something akin to Kokoro Connect’s first arc, but without the romantic overtones. You’d imagine this jumbled collection is a recipe for disaster, but from what I’ve read, it surprisingly works. The key component is the salesman Tanya, who retains the vicious combination of career pursuit and workplace efficiency even as a magic-wielding girl. It might be my inner sadist, but it’s amusing watching a preteen blondie fully embrace opportunistic careerism for the sole sake of obtaining a comfy rear line position. Youjo Senki’s story is dense, emphasizing military tactics and throwing around philosophical material like hot cakes; anyone with a thing for intellectual quips will likely enjoy this one. Although Studio NUT is new, they feature several ex-MADHOUSE and Gainax staff, which hints toward decent production values, especially if the promotional material is anything to go by. With Ajin’s Kenta Ihara on scriptwriter duty, you can be sure Youjo Senki will focus on the serious side of war, particularly the cynical, grimdark vibe subtly pervading much of the source. Provided the story doesn’t fly too far off the adaptation rails, Youjo Senki could easily become a good fantasy-war show to start off the year.

Watching This: Pancakes, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Youjo Senki Promotional Videos ▼

Fuuka | 風夏Top
Animation: Diomedea Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Drama, Music, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: WOWOW
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @fuuka_anime or #fuuka

Preview by Samu

Seo Kouji’s latest title gets its awaited anime adaptation, and it’s one you should all pay attention to, if only for the ragefest experience. It follows Haruna Yuu (Kobayashi Yuusuke), a high schooler who has just moved to Tokyo, lives with his three sisters, and loves Twitter; he posts about his life on a nearly minutely basis. But when he encounters Akitsuki Fuuka (Lynn) on the rooftop one fateful day, he lifts his head from his screen and gets slapped in the face after being accused of taking panty shots. It’s the most cliché of beginnings, but the meeting of Yuu and Fuuka evolves into a story about the passion of musicians, young love, and plenty of personal drama. Add in Yuu’s childhood friend and popular idol, Hinashi Koyuki (Hayami Saori)—who confesses her love for him live on national television—and you’ve got the foundations of a wild and “entertaining” music-driven romcom.

Buckle your seat belts. Sit back. Seo Kouji is the driver. Now, enjoy the ride, because you’re in for one hell of a trip. As someone who has read the manga, I want to give as little away as possible. If there’s one show I think everyone should watch this season, it would be Fuuka. Not because it’s great or anything, but because it’s something we should experience together—cheers and tears and screams and all. If you’re not familiar with the author, then you can expect the beginning to be that of a typical anime romcom before the drama gets out of hand and you’re left cursing that you were ever led into that false sense of security. It’s worth nothing that even though this is technically a sequel to his earlier series, Suzuka, you don’t have to have read or watched that to jump into this series. Fuuka does feel like a classic 00s ecchi show with its panty shots and aesthetic, but once you get past that rude introduction there’s so much more to discuss here—some parts surprisingly thoughtful in how it tackles the ambitions of young musicians, others a train wreck beyond description. I can’t wait!

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Samu, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Fuuka Promotional Videos ▼

Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha Bu | 南鎌倉高校女子自転車部Top
Animation: ACGT x J.C. Staff Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Sports, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @minakama_anime or #minakama

Preview by Pancakes

Hailing from the manga of the same name, Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-bu tells the adventures of Maiharu Hiromi (Ueda Reina). A clumsy, excited girl with a fascination for the sea, Hiromi has recently moved to Kamakura and is eager to start her new school life. With fun memories of a childhood bike riding, Hiromi is determined to cycle to and from class, but has forgotten one crucial detail: she has only ever used training wheels! Thankfully Akitsuki Tomoe of the school’s girls cycling club finds Hiromi struggling to (re)learn, and with Tomoe’s friendly help, Hiromi overcomes the challenges of riding a bike. With Tomoe’s guidance, Hiromi soon discovers a passion for cycling, leading her to join the cycling club and all the experiences it offers. New trials and tribulations await our cycling convert as she enters a brand new world of competitive cycling.

Given the huge success of Yowamushi Pedal, it’s not surprising cycling has become a hearty staple for sports anime. When you combine the sport with moe, you’re looking at a largely untapped theme for slice-of-life stories. Just this year we have already seen two series (Bakuon!! and Long Riders!) featuring cute girls riding bikes, with MinaKama now rounding out the collection. Judging from the source material, MinaKama continues the slice-of-life format of its spiritual predecessors, complete with all the expected character types, except its focus leans more toward the sport of cycling than comedy or “cute girls doing cute things on bikes” moments. Although unclear whether MinaKama’s adaptation will offer an improvement over similar series, Sunayama Kurasumi of Yowamushi Pedal fame is penning the script, and J.C. Staff have produced some good slice-of-life works of late. Emphasis on the challenges of cycling and some heartfelt struggle is likely, particularly given director Kudou Susumu’s work with more serious stories (i.e. Mardock Scramble). Provided MinaKama can properly balance the slice of life with cycling, this show has the potential to become something special in a field of like-minded alternatives.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel | スクールガールストライカーズ Animation ChannelTop
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Action, School-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @sgs_anime or #sgs_anime

Preview by Stilts

Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel is an adaptation of Square Enix’s “light novel-style RPG” smartphone game, which . . . isn’t exactly what you’re thinking. Set in the near future at the newly established girls’ private school Goryoukan Academy, this popular school has a hidden side. It organizes and trains a special unit, known as Fifth Force, which protects humanity from invisible supernatural entities known as “Oburi” that are devouring the world. A team of five is selected from the student body to battle the Oburi. These five are Miyama Tsubame (Ishihara Kaori), Sumihara Satoka (Hidaka Rina), Yaginuma Io (Sawashiro Miyuki), Sajima Yuumi (Hanazawa Kana), and Namori Mana (Ogura Yui).

When I said this isn’t what you’re thinking, it’s because “light novel-style RPG” instantly conjures to mind another magical-fantasy-action-harem story, but I haven’t heard hide nor hair about any male protagonist. Unless they’re burying the lede, it seems that the five girls are the stars here, and no one else. So, I’m not sure what to think about this one now. The premise isn’t terribly interesting, the animation is workman-like but fine, director Nishikiori Hiroshi is prolific—albeit mostly in shows I haven’t seen—while series composer Tanaka Yuuichi has one hell of a résumé. All I can say for sure is that the seiyuu cast is full of pros. I wish I could tell you more, dear reader, but all I can lean on is that video game adaptations tend to underwhelm, and if they do end up introducing a male protagonist who they haven’t even bothered to name yet, he’s liable to be a flat audience insert, and thus utterly boring. That’s not a sure thing, we really don’t know at this point, but it’s all we’ve got to go on.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show Schoolgirl Strikers Animation Channel Promotional Videos ▼

Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-Hen | 青の祓魔師 京都不浄王編Top
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Action, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 25:55
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @aoex_anime or #aoex

Preview by Zephyr

Five years after its initial debut, A-1 Pictures’ Ao no Exorcist returns with its second season in Kyoto Fujouou-Hen. With the exception of its director (GANGSTA’s Koichi Hatsumi will take over) and two cast members in Fujiwara Keiji and Inagaki Takashi—both of whom are undergoing medical treatment—the series will retain the cast and staff of the original. Following a series whose second half deviated greatly from the manga, Kyoto Fujouou-hen will revert to adapting from the source material, with a focus on the attempted resurrection of Fujou-ou, the Impure King. With one eye already stolen from the Exorcists’ True Cross Academy, Suguro Ryuuji’s (Nakai Kazuya) family—tasked with the mission of protecting Fujou-ou’s second eye from falling into the wrong hands—find themselves as the last line of defense against the revival of a demon who killed tens of thousands over a hundred years prior. Having successfully become an exwire in the first season, Okumura Rin (Okamoto Nobuhiko) is deployed to Kyoto to assist the cause, all while training to become a full-fledged Exorcist so that he can kill Satan, his biological father and ruler of Gehenna.

Given the influx of sequel announcements and the popularity of the series, it wasn’t a matter of if, but when Ao no Exorcist would receive another adaptation. The question was whether it’d resume from the manga or continue with original material, and many fans likely breathed a sigh of relief when it was revealed that it was the former, even if the filler arcs were relatively well received (especially by newcomers to the franchise). Given the series’ spectacular mix of action and fantasy, it’d be easy to put this as one of the winter’s most promising series, but there’s reason to be concerned here, and whether the series reaches its potential will depend on how they decide to explain (or not explain) the changes they made with the anime-original second half. The fact that Koichi Hatsumi has only directed a handful of series also makes you wonder how things will go: if he’s able to emulate how he did with GANGSTA. and Gundam Unicorn (Episode 6), we’re likely in for a treat. The problem is if it ends up closer to his adaptation of Deadman Wonderland, although that seems unlikely (thankfully) given that was his first time directing, the strength of Ao no Exorcist’s source material, and the fact he’s working with essentially the same staff as the original.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu ~Sukeroku Futatabi-hen~ | 昭和元禄落語心中~助六再び篇~Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 6, 2017
Genre: Drama, History Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 26:25
Episodes: Station: TBS
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @rakugoshinju or #落語心中

Preview by Samu

There are plenty of sequels this season, but none more deserving or essential than Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. The first season followed the life of Yuurakutei Yakumo (Ishida Akira) from his disabled childhood to being an old master of a dying art form. We chronicled his loves and losses, and witnessed all the key moments that shaped his life, to the point where he seemed less like a character and more like a fully-realised person. Now, a generation later, we’re focusing on Yakumo’s apprentice, Yotaro (Seki Tomokazu), and Sukeroku’s daughter, Konatsu (Kobayashi Yuu). If the first season was about the decline of this traditional Japanese entertainment, this second season is likely to be more hopeful, placing the future of rakugo—a traditional Japanese form of comedic storytelling—on the shoulders of these two unlikely youngsters.

There’s no safer bet than Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu this season. Not only was it one of the best shows of 2016, it’s one of my personal favorite anime ever. It’s landed in my top 5 list for a hundred reasons that I’ve already listed in my in-depth posts. I was repeatedly blown away by the care put into the storytelling, and impressed that director Omata Shinichi managed to make a niche Japanese art form seem so exciting on-screen. The rakugo performances were brimming with life, to the point where I went out and watched my first rakugo performance in real life this summer, and I loved it. After last season’s backwards setup, now we’re in uncharted territory for these characters as rakugo has to make its stay in a modernizing world. I’ve been spoiled for some details that I’d rather not have learned, but at least I know there’s a real chance this could be even greater than what we’ve seen so far. This second cour is going to adapt the remainder of the manga, so expect a fully realized story that’s sure to overshadow everything else airing this winter season.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu ~Sukeroku Futatabi-hen~ Promotional Videos ▼

Spirit Pact | スピリットパクトTop
Animation: Emon Premiere: January 7, 2017
Genre: Romance, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 21:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @spiritpact or #spiritpact

Preview by Pancakes

China has become a good source of anime material of late, and joining that group this season is Spirit Pact. Based off of the Chinese manhua Soul Contract, Spirit Pact follows the poor and broken Keika You (Iguchi Yuuichi). Desperate to make ends meet, You struggles along as a fortune teller and basic computer repairman out on the streets. The important thing about You, however, is that he also descends from an important and famous family of exorcists. One night in a local junkyard, You comes face to face with the mysterious Ki Tanmoko (Takeuchi Shunsuke) as he battles an evil spirit from beyond the grave. For You, this encounter turns into a fated meeting as Tanmoko reveals something critical: You is actually dead. See, You was actually hit by a car and became a ghost, and his meeting with Tanmoko was entirely planned as a means to convince You to partner with Tanmoko in order to fight evil spirits. Not an easy realization to come to terms with, and You, left with no other option, joins up with Tanmoko for a life uncertain and dark.

Let’s get the obvious out of the way: Spirit Pact is a Boy’s Love (shounen-ai) series. For those who enjoy the genre, there’s a lot to like about this one. For starters, it’s a proper Boy’s Love series with an actual plot behind the romance. This isn’t your relaxed Super LoversSpirit Pact is a full-fledged fantasy show with a plot and a definitive master-servant theme going on. The relationship of You and Tanmoko is central, but guided by the distinctive fantasy theme of spirit hunting and protecting the material world. The series has technically already been adapted in ONA format during the summer, but like Hitori no Shita, is now being converted into proper one-cour format. Given studio Emon’s work on Hitori no Shita and the more recent Bloodivores, I wouldn’t expect high quality animation, but decent artwork and presentation to accompany the story is not out of the question. Given the lack of similar series of late, this will likely prove a hit with anyone interested in the genre. If you like Boy’s Love and desire a proper story to go with the romance, Spirit Pact is a good one to pay attention to.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Reikenzan: Eichi e no Shikaku | 霊剣山 叡智への資格Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 7, 2017
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @reikenzan or #霊剣山

Preview by Pancakes

Probably the first notable foray by anime into Chinese material, Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage is based off the popular Chinese Xianxia webnovel Cong Qian You Zuo Ling Jian Shan (Once Upon a Time There Was a Spirit-Sword Mountain). Originally airing back in winter 2016, the series now returns a full year later with a second season. Reikenzan tells the tale of Ouriku (Yonaga Tsubasa), a boy born amidst a calamity brought about by a falling comet. His soul touched and his body possessing special powers, Ouriku decides to take the God’s Assembly entrance exam—a test held by a prominent family of the Reiken clan to find strong and talented individuals fit for sagely work, particularly the one who was touched by the comet. While determined to become a sage, Ouriku remains blissfully ignorant to the actual power he possesses and the destiny which awaits him. For Ouriku, it’s uncertain just what the entrance exam and its challenges will reveal.

With two Chinese series recently having recently received cross-national collaborations (Hitori no Shita, Bloodivores), it’s easy to forget that Reikenzan largely paved the way. A dual production between Studio DEEN and Chinese firm Tencent, Reikenzan offered a glimpse into Chinese fantasy and its potential. Sadly, Reikenzan’s first season largely fell through the cracks, remaining untouched by the likes of Crunchyroll and Funimation and mostly forgotten by others. Although possessing a promising premise, Reikenzan’s story also stumbled from excessive use of gags, and could be confusing at times given several intertwining plots and the very Chinese nature of the setting and dialogue. How this new season improves over the first will be the main question, especially knowing the series will pick up several years later with Ouriku now a grown man in search of his past. Should Reikenzan receive proper subbing, it may be worthwhile just to see what this Chinese fantasy has left in store.

Watching This: Pancakes Expectation Level: Moderately Low
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Demi-chan wa Kataritai | 亜人ちゃんは語りたいTop
Animation: A-1 Pictures Premiere: January 7, 2017
Genre: School-Life, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @demichan_anime or #亜人ちゃん

Preview by Takaii

Demi-chan wa Kataritai, or Interviews with Monster Girls, is a quirky school-life / slice-of-life comedy that tackles some of the problems of people who are a little different from the norm. Except in Demi-chan’s world, a little different could mean you’re a Demi-human (e.g. a vampire), a dullahan (e.g. Celty from Durarara!!), or possibly a yuki-onna (literally “snow woman,” and is every bit what you’re thinking of!). To top it off, less than 1% of the population are Demis, and it was only recently that the public perception of them has improved. At the center of Demi-chan’s story is Takahashi Tetsuo (Suwabe Junichi), a high school biology teacher who’s always wanted to meet a Demi in-person. With no ulterior motives and a genuine curiosity about how they live, he’s suddenly graced with not one, not two—no, not even three—but four Demis unexpectedly appearing at the school he teaches at.

To start off: I absolutely love the manga source material. Everything about it oozes with what I love about this genre, such as putting small twists on your typical character personalities and not shying away from the heavy hitting emotional stuff with regards to characters’ insecurities, while simultaneously not giving any ground when it comes to addressing more serious material. Be it dealing with relationships or handling emotions, I appreciate how Demi-chan disregards its normally happy-go-lucky feeling when it’s time to drop heavy topics like segregation without batting an eye. But even the best of stories can’t stand up on their own, and the characters in Demi-chan are another big reason I kept coming back for more. There’s just something about watching a group of teens overcome their struggles with a little assistance from their senseis (one of whom is the prime definition of a big lovable oaf). Overall, even though this show isn’t really breaking new ground, everything that makes a great slice-of-life is here and is done quite well. Hopefully all of this holds up in the manga’s transition to anime, but with A-1 handling the adaptation, I’m not all that afraid. Check it out!

Watching This: Cherrie, Pancakes, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Demi-chan wa Kataritai Promotional Videos ▼

Chain Chronicle ~Hekuseitasu no Hikari~ | チェインクロニクル ~ヘクセイタスの閃~Top
Animation: Graphinica x Telecom Animation Film Premiere: January 7, 2017
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Fridays at 26:19
Episodes: Station: ABC
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @chroanime or #アニメチェンクロ

Preview by Pancakes

Never in my wildest dreams would I imagine a tower defense game being adapted to anime, but here we are. Chain Chronicle: Haecceitas no Hikari is based off of Chain Chronicle, a SEGA produced RPG/tower defense mobile game which, funnily enough, closed down back in February. The story focuses on the land of Yuguto, a vast region divided into several independent kingdoms. Amidst the occasional border spat, roundtable meetings between kings helped maintain peace and stability. That is, until the mysterious Black Army emerged. Although bravely fighting back, the kingdoms’ forces were soon overrun, with the Holy King—the strongest of all kings—killed and his capital seized by the Black King, head of the Black Army. Hope was not lost, however, when one courageous man named Hero (Ishida Akira) decided to fight back. Forming the Volunteer Army, Hero now fights to rid Yuguto of the Black Army and bring peace back to the land.

Chain Chronicle is a funny one. It’s a game adaptation, but also an adaptation of an accompanying movie trilogy which will have (barring the final movie) graced theaters by the time of TV airing. The plot is your ubiquitous high fantasy “save the world” adventure, but is built off the back of a novel tower defense game foundation. Compared to similar adaptations, it’s hard imagining how these game mechanics could be properly incorporated into Chain Chronicle’s story given the relative simplicity of tower defense games. The one positive regarding Chain Chronicle is how good the production is looking. Both Telecom Animation Film (orange ) and Graphinica (Lupin III) are working together, with their promotional material showing off artwork above and beyond typical expectations. In particular the 7-minute teaser video showcases stunning animation and incredibly well-integrated CGI—to say there’s money behind this would be an understatement. Furthermore is Bleach’s Kudou Masashi in the director’s chair, which suggests a good chance of excellently choreographed battles. It’s always good hedging bets on these types of shows, but the potential for something amazing is arguably here. Provided Chain Chronicle’s story meets the expectations of that art and animation (and actually realizes the art/animation quality), this one might just be Shingeki no Bahamut’s first worthy successor.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guadian Enzo, Pancakes, Paserby, Samu Expectation Level: Moderate
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élDLIVE | エルドライブTop
Animation: Stduio Pierrot Premiere: January 8, 2017
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @eldlive_tv or #eldlive

Preview by Passerby

Kokonose Chuuta (Murase Ayumu) is not your typical shounen manga protagonist. Sure, he is a high school student. Sure, his parents are dead. And sure, he does have a crush on a girl who’s probably going to turn out to be the female lead (Hayami Saori). But he’s also crazy. As in he’s absolutely, clinically insane. There’s a voice in Chuuta’s head. Only he can hear it. It talks to him. Sometimes, he talks back. Somehow, Chuuta has avoided the psych ward so far and has lived a normal life as just the weird kid who mutters to himself, but one day he is abducted by aliens. Seriously! He swears it’s true! No probing though; instead, Chuuta is taken to a space station belonging to an organization styling itself as—ahem—SPACE POLICE, ēlDLIVE! Apparently, Chuuta has hidden aptitude for policing space, and has been chosen to take the ēlDLIVE admission test. While not enthusiastic at first, Chuuta eventually agrees to participate. What choice did he have? The voice in his head told him to do it.

Wouldn’t ēlDLIVE be a rather interesting story if it actually was about a schizophrenic who occasionally hallucinates bouts of heroism? Alas, that’s not going to be the direction it will go; despite my best efforts to portray otherwise, our protagonist is disappointingly lucid. Instead, it cleaves more towards the familiar coming-of-age story of a boy struggling to find worth in himself and a place in the world. This one has police IN SPACE, so there’s potentially a fun romp to be had. The crew of the ēlDLIVE space station are of the Mos Eisley Cantina casting agency and feature a wide variety of colorful aliens, and apparently space policing ends up being a lot like Men in Black. This is the kind of show that can really work well if done well, but I can’t give a full guarantee on the staff quite yet. Director Furuta Takeshi and series composer Takeuchi Toshimitsu have worked together before, which is good, but otherwise only have moderate résumés—much in the spirit of the PV, which is technically functional but doesn’t quite have the wow factor. However, Studio Pierrot does have a recent habit of making good shows, so ēlDLIVE is still worth checking out. Last bit of trivia: it’s being adapted from a manga by the character designer of PSYCHO-PASS. No other relation, but if the cast looks oddly familiar and you have this subconscious assumption that they’re a lot crazier than they actually are, now you know why.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Samu, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show élDLIVE Promotional Videos ▼

Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season | テイルズ オブ ゼスティリア ザ クロス 第2期Top
Animation: ufotable Premiere: January 8, 2017
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @tozthex or #tozx

Preview by Pancakes

Back after a cour-long break, Tales of Zestiria the X continues the journey of Sorey (Kimura Ryouhei), a human who grew up among magical beings called seraphim. After previously inheriting the powers of the legendary Shepard—a figure believed to arise in times of calamity—in the human capital of Ladylake and coming face to face with the Lord of Calamity himself, Sorey is now thoroughly committed to seeing his mission of defeating the Lord of Calamity through. Joined by his seraphim companions and the newly minted squire Alisha (Kayano Ai), Sorey returns to his quest, determined to uncover the mysteries of the past needed to defeat the Lord of Calamity. As before, the ever reliable ufotable will be producing this season, with Sotozaki Haruo returning as director and the rest of the first season cast and crew reprising their roles.

The first season of Zestiria the X was exceptionally lauded for an adaptation, with a well-paced story that remained largely faithful (barring some minor changes) to the original game. For a game adaptation this was no small feat, given how time constraints and game-specific material (i.e. battle systems) can often throw a wrench into properly telling these stories. Although Zestiria’s adaptation often lacked depth, stuck with relatively simple character development (particularly regarding Sorey and Alisha) and featured a strangely placed mini-arc promotion for Tales of Berseria, the show rarely stumbled, offering up a straightforward and fun fantasy story. There’s little reason to expect any serious changes to the adaptation this time, given cast and crew remain unchanged and enough game story is left to adapt to produce another well-paced, action-packed season. Ufotable will likely provide some fantastic art design and 3D animation again, given how well they replicated Zestiria’s different environments and overall setting last season, with few noticeable drops in quality. Those already in love with the series will likely be watching, but anyone else with a passing taste in fantasy (and no time to invest in a 40-hour game) should give this one a shot. In a season filled with several fantasy offerings, Zestiria is likely to be one of the best.

Watching This: Cherrie, Pancakes, Samu, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
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Idol Jihen | アイドル事変Top
Animation: MAPPA x Studio Voln Premiere: January 8, 2017
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @idol_jihen or #アイドル事変

Preview by Stilts

In a world of rising income inequality, environmental degradation, childcare issues being decided without input from those concerned, and persistent political corruption, the government can no longer do anything to combat today’s problems. It’s in this situation where Japan’s idols rise up to save the day! The Heroine Party, Sunlight Party, Starlight Party, Bishoujo Party, Wakaba Party, Subculture New Party, and SOS Party—from these seven idol political parties, the idols who have become Diet members from each prefecture will smash through the stagnation throttling Japan using the power of song and dance! They’ll bring a smile to everyone in the country as they wrap Japan in a glittering aura!

This might be the most brilliant mixed media project I’ve ever previewed. Someone really tapped into the zeitgeist with this one, albeit probably inadvertently, since Japan has been dealing with persistent political crises/economic stagnation for over two decades. (Unless they fixed it when I wasn’t paying attention, but I doubt it.) Idol politicians is simultaneously the most Japanese and the most 2016/2017 thing I’ve ever heard. I can’t imagine it being any good, but hell, I’ve been wrong about most things with regards to politics for the past year, so why not? Though, the staff is light on experience, and this is a mixed media project, so maybe my first instinct was correct. It does have some good character designers, from CUTEG among others, and thus some cute characters, even if the animation itself isn’t stellar. It’ll probably be bad, but at least the synopsis gave me a good laugh, and I’m tempted to try it out for that reason alone. Idol politicians might even be better than some of the actual politicians we’ve got now. Viva la idol revolución!

Watching This: Passerby Expectation Level: Moderately Low
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Little Witch Academia | リトルウィッチアカデミアTop
Animation: Trigger Premiere: January 8, 2017
Genre: Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Sundays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @lwa_jp or #lwa_jp

Preview by Takaii

Little Witch Academia has an interesting history. Originally a product of the 2013 Anime Mirai initiative that also gave us a well-known short called Death Billiards, a lesser known studio called Trigger created Little Witch Academia and garnered modest success. Focusing on the life of Akko (Han Megumi) and the trials she faced as she tried to become a witch after being inspired by one as a young girl, the OVA left the door open with a vague ending. Seeing excitement growing for a sequel, Studio Trigger announced its plans to create a bigger OVA through a Kickstarter campaign during Anime Expo 2013. Despite a few delays due to the huge success of Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia 2 premiered during Anime Expo 2015 (and a few days earlier for Kickstarter backers) to a crowd of roughly 4,000 fans, this time focusing more on Akko’s friends and the world they all live in. Now, after one long year, Little Witch Academia is returning to our screens as a TV series to show us just how big the world of Little Witch Academia is!

Seeing how the first OVA handled introducing the main cast of characters and the second focused more on giving depth to those characters, I can’t wait to see what Trigger comes up when they have an entire season to work with. Even though Trigger is keeping their lips sealed about details, let me give you my take on what may happen. When it comes to what we’ve seen from the past two OVAs, it’s clear that Little Witch Academia takes a more conservative approach to dealing with magic. By placing limitations on magic, be it through the use of special devices like the Shiny Rod or by physically limiting just where magic can work, the story instead focuses on the characters and how they come together to utilize magic in creative ways to solve their problems. Which in-turn leads to some pretty spectacular moments when someone actually uses “magic” since its so rarely seen—something that really made this show feel unique compared to all the other recent magic shows. Hopefully that sense translates into a full-length anime, since without it you’re left with another typical slice-of-life that just happens to have magic. Seeing how a majority of the staff from the first two OVAs are coming back, I don’t think we’ll have much to worry about. So, if you’re looking for a show to fill up that “Mahou Shoujo” void in your heart and are looking for something on the more restrained side that still rewards you with a big payoff, give Little Witch Academia a shot!

Watching This: Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
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Gintama | 銀魂Top
Animation: Premiere: January 8, 2017
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi 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

Gintama’s premise is a pretty simple one, but who says simple can’t be the foundation for something amazing? Based in an alternate universe during Japan’s feudal era where aliens have taken over and have all but outlawed swords and swordsmen, the story follows Sakata Gintoki (Sugita Tomokazu) as he tries to live his life as a former master swordsman. But with a love of sweets and a rather carefree attitude, you’d never guess that. To make a living, he works various odd jobs through his shop “Yorozuya,” with the help of his friends Shimura Shinpachi, Kagura, and their gigantic but adorable dog Sadaharu. However, these odd jobs tend to never be as easy as they seem, as Gintoki and his crew frequently end up running into the police, rebels, and even assassins.

When it comes to this new season of Gintama, it looks like things are picking up right where the show left off last March. With Gintama’s creator Sorachi keeping his lips shut about any specifics, most of the speculation is that the anime will integrate the final arc that the manga is currently going through. In any case, I’m sure this is a great Christmas surprise for any Gintama fans out there, and with most of the staff behind the scenes staying the same, it looks like we’re on track for another great run.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Established
Gabriel Dropout | ガヴリールドロップアウトTop
Animation: Doga Kobo Premiere: January 9, 2017
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @gabdroanime or #gabdro

Preview by Pancakes

Angels are idyllic creatures, the peaceful messengers of God who possess exemplary virtue and admirable conduct. Too bad Gabriel Temna White (Tomita Miyu) fails in all those categories. The top of her angel class, Gabriel was sent to Earth for a brief practicum in a human high school, but rather than learn about humans and how to better provide for them, our cute little angel was corrupted to the core. Gone is the idealistic valedictorian, replaced by a thoroughly lazy slob wholly addicted to the charms of human entertainment. Perform acts of good, help the unfortunate, care for the environment? Got no time for that when video games are calling. Even the threat of expulsion for failure to uphold the angelic virtues isn’t enough to dissuade Gabriel from her slow, slothful descent from grace. Thankfully Gabriel is looked after by the responsible and helpful devil Vignette April Tsukinose (Oonishi Saori), who against her own demonic nature ensures Gabriel is kept somewhat on track. Joined by fellow dimwitted devil Satanichia McDowell Kurumizawa (Oozora Naomi) and sadistic stalker angel Raphiel Ainsworth Shiraha (Hanazawa Kana), Gabriel Dropout is all about the ridiculous adventures our Earthly angels and demons get up to.

At first glance Gabriel Dropout certainly doesn’t seem special. A comedic slice of life with angels and demons? Been plenty like that, from the outrageous Dokuro-chan to the more romantic Ah! My Goddess. Heck, even Gabriel’s theme of hikkikomori slob is also a common wellspring for likeminded series. What makes this one so great? For starters, the source material is pretty damn funny, with Gabriel and Vignette having some side achingly ridiculous interactions centered around Gabriel’s snarky, horrible worldview punctuated by moments of clarity. That doesn’t even get into the other characters either, with Satanichia especially in the running for best girl given her lovably petty tricks typically ending in hilarious failure. The true positive for Gabriel Dropout is that slice-of-life master Doga Kobo is producing alongside several reunited Himouto! Umaru-chan staff, including Himouto’s Oota Masahiko who’s back in the director’s chair. With a good amount of comedic gags and ridiculous character interactions to adapt, Gabriel Dropout certainly won’t be lacking laughs. If you’ve got a thing for cute girls or are just in need of some funny, therapeutic slice of life, this will be one to watch.

Watching This: Pancakes, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
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Chiruran: Nibun no Ichi | ちるらん にぶんの壱Top
Animation: LandQ Studio Premiere: January 9, 2017
Genre: Action, Slice-of-Life Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 25:00
Episodes: 12 Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @chiruran_anime

Preview by Takaii

Have you been waiting for a show to satisfy that Shinsengumi itch you’ve been trying to scratch? Unfortunately, Chiruran: Nibun no Ichi probably won’t be that show, unless you were hoping for something more along the lines of Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru. Nibun no Ichi is based off a manga of the same name and revolves around the daily lives of members in the Shinsengumi, except it’s actually a spin-off of a more serious manga titled Chiruran: Shinsengumi Chinkon-ka. In essence, Nibun no Ichi is stripping out all the blood and tears and is replacing it with a lighter look at the lives of some prominent members of the Shinsengumi and how they handle their responsibilities.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been actually turned off by a show, but this one may have done it. Even when I try to find the positives of making a show like this, it’s constantly outweighed by an equal number of negative or even cynical reasons. On the one hand, we have an anime that’s based off of a spin-off that changes everything to a super chibi-deformed style both in terms of the character design and the story—which is a little unusual when you’re talking about the Shinsengumi. On the other, I can’t help but wonder why a spin-off is getting green lit when the original is sitting right there. Sure, I get that there’s probably an audience for this, and the lighter nature of the show probably widens the audience, but it just gets me down when I see shows like this. I suppose it all makes sense when you consider the studio and director handling this are all new to the scene, and if anything, without the shackles of expectations, maybe this greenhorn studio will be able to turn this into something amazing? We’ll see…

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Animation: TMS Entertainment Premiere: January 9, 2017
Genre: Sports Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @yowapeda_anime or #yp_anime

Preview by Guardian Enzo

One Ikebukuro favorite is ending (for now) in Haikyuu, but Yowamushi Pedal is here to pick up the slack. Yowapeda is not as polished as that volleyball series in Production I.G.’s hands, but I find it to be more emotionally involving. While Haikyuu has mastered the difficult art of being slick while seeming innocent, I think that innocence is just who Yowapeda is. Anyone who knows mangaka Watanabe Wataru knows he basically is Onoda Sakamichi (Yamashita Daiki) . Yowapeda is Watanabe’s self-insert love letter to cycling, and we’re the lucky beneficiaries.

One key difference between the two series is that while the third-years continue to push their way into the limelight with Haikyuu, Watanabe has gracefully slid them side-stage as we enter the third season. I think that’s healthy – Yowapeda will see a fresh dynamic with a new makeup of the Sohoku Six, and the old-timers (especially Makishima) will still have their role to play. Yowapeda took a very unusual step in having its heroes achieve their big goal on their first try—virtually unknown in sports shounen—so the rest of the way is sort of the undiscovered country. There’s a reason authors tend to avoid this, and it’s going to pose significant challenges for the series going forward. It promises to be an interesting ride.

Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Samu Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Yowamushi Pedal NEW GENERATION Promotional Videos ▼

Onihei | 鬼平Top
Animation: M2 Premiere: January 9, 2017
Genre: History Airtime (GMT+9): Mondays 26:05
Episodes: 13 Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @onihei_anime or #鬼平

Preview by Pancakes

Onihei is an unfamiliar name to most anime viewers, but this series actually goes back a long way. Based on a 1967 novel by Ikenami Shoutarou, Onihei is a period piece set during the latter half of the Tokugawa Shogunate. In 1783, chartered libertine Hasegawa Heizou (Horiuchi Kenyuu) succeeds his father to become the head of Edo’s special police, a force tasked exclusively with solving the myriad of arson-robberies throughout the region. Aided by a band of samurai-police and reformed criminal informers, Heizou focuses on difficult cases which he successfully solves to such a degree that he routs out most crime and dissuades numerous would-be criminals. Heizou’s performance soon earns him the nickname Onihei (Heizou the demon) for the fear and respect he commands in the underworld of Tokugawa-era Edo. A devil among men, Onihei tells the story of Heizou and many different crimes he encounters and solves.

It’s not often we receive historical works in anime, especially Japanese-specific series venturing outside the realm of Nobunaga and Japanese unification. Yeah there might be Joker Game or 91Days, but these series are few and far between in a world of light novel and manga adaptations. What Onihei offers is a Japanese equivalent to Sherlock Holmes, a tried and true detective serial (not unlike Detective Conan) which has seen prevalent TV adaptation (over 137 stories adapted into TV dramas) alongside numerous theatre productions. This series is synonymous with modern Japanese television, and possesses the literary chops to support such a claim. What really propels this adaptation is the involvement of Maruyama Masou, who has seen involvement as producer in damn near everything big from Monster to Death Note. Although director Shigeyuki Miya has more limited experience constrained mostly to Blood Lad and Lupin III, there’s no question some serious skill is being poured into Onihei, especially given that Maruyama supposedly created Studio M2 for the explicit purpose of producing this series. Onihei will be one show to pay attention to for anyone with an interest in mysteries and/or period pieces, particularly those curious about Japanese literature.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Passerby, Samu Expectation Level: Moderately High
ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka | ACCA13区監察課Top
Animation: Madhouse Premiere: January 10, 2017
Genre: Mystery, Drama Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 23:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @acca_anime or #acca_anime

Preview by Passerby

Meet Jean Otis (Shimono Hiro). He is a smoker. This would normally be an unremarkable factoid unless we were pulmonologists, but Jean lives in the future and in the kingdom of Dowa, where cigarettes are a prohibitively expensive, luxury good. Yet, Jean somehow manages to maintain a steady supply of deathsticks. Maybe it’s because he’s the deputy-chief of ACCA, the central government organisation overseeing the entirety of the bloated bureaucracy that stretches across the 13 feudal states of Dowa. The position brings Jean friends in high places, but also enemies, and perhaps some more ambiguous, shadier connections. As Jean makes his rounds across the country to inspect the multitude of agencies that fall under the all-encompassing umbrella of ACCA, there are both those who vie to curry his favour, and those who work to destroy him. Despite facing conspiracy, intrigue, and betrayal at every turn, Jean doesn’t intend to let any of that phase him. As long as he has his cigarettes.

Let’s not beat around the brush: ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (ACCA: The 13 Wards Inspection Division) is going to be great. This is pretty much assured considering the names behind it. For starters, the original manga’s by Ono Natsume, who also did the rather excellent House of Five Leaves. For the adaptation, we have MADHOUSE and the One-Punch Man tag-team of director Shingo Natsume and screenwriter Suzuki Tomohiro, which already has the makings of a promising team and flawless animation. There’s enough reason to watch based on pedigree alone. While Internal Affairs: The Anime isn’t the kind of thing that immediately jumps out at some viewers, if you think of it as something of a cross between a cop drama and a spy drama, that’s more the ticket. And although the premise may sound like it has the potential to get overly dark, it’s balanced by an underlying spirit of optimism carried by ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka‘s strong and colorful cast. In short, everything is good. Make sure to keep an eye on this one in winter 2017.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka Promotional Videos ▼

Hand Shakers | ハンドシェイカーTop
Animation: GoHands Premiere: January 10, 2017
Genre: Action, Sci-Fi Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 24:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @hs_p_info or #ハンドシェイカー

Preview by Passerby

Osaka, year 20XX. No, the world hasn’t been destroyed. Rather, nothing much seems to have changed in the near future of Hand Shakers, except that there now exists a number of individuals who possess a supernatural ability. Normally they look identical to everyday folk like you and I, but when a pair of them join hands and their wonder twin powers activate, they can summon “Nimrodes”, weapons born from the depths of their psyche. These duos are known as ‘Hand Shakers’, and Koyori (Morohoshi Sumire) and Tazuna (Saitou Souma) are one of them. Why do they have this power? Nobody is quite sure. What they do know is that they must fight and defeat other Hand Shakers if they want their wish granted. For the duo who stands at the top will be able to challenge even God.

Before we go any further, pop down a bit and watch the PV for Hand Shakers. Had a gander? Does Hand Shakers not look like K‘s illegitimate love child? That’s probably because it’s being made by basically the same people. The studio at hand for Hand Shakers is—wait for it—GoHands, with Suzuki Shingo and Kanazawa Hiromichi returning to sit in the director and series composer chairs respectively. If you enjoyed K, especially aesthetically, then this is likely good news for you. Have a look at the PV again though. Is it just me, or does the animation feel a bit awkward to you? This is likely the result of the curious mix of 2D and 3D animation that Hand Shakers employs. Your tolerance for that will vary, and may be a deal breaker since we don’t have much else to judge this series on right now, with plot details still under wraps (and let’s be honest, a ‘Hand Shaker’ is the guy who gives you your degree at a graduation). Still, an original series that looks somewhat different is worth checking out, if only to see what anime’s doing with itself these days, especially if you wanted more K but less blue.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Passerby, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Hand Shakers Promotional Videos ▼

Kemono Friends | けものフレンズTop
Animation: Yaoyorozu Premiere: January 10, 2017
Genre: Adventure, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Tuesdays at 25:35
Episodes: Station: TV Tokyo (TX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @kemo_anime or #けもフレ

Preview by Takaii

Based on the mobile game that shares the same name, Kemono Friends’ story revolves around the animals that live in Japari Park—a park that, through some unique circumstances and the power of something called the “sand star,” contains animals that have gained human-like features (sort of like what the human-human / hito-hito fruit in One Piece did) and are called Animal Girls. Becoming something like a national landmark, Japari Park is a popular tourist destination for people all around the world. In the anime, the story revolves around a young child who happens to get lost while visiting the park, and it’s up to the Animal Girls to help the child find their way back home.

Honestly, it’s really tough to talk about a show like this. Going as far as downloading the actual game from the Japanese iOS store and spending a good hour trying it out, I was left less than impressed. Seeing how it’s published by Nexon, I was expecting a half decent game that at the least would have appealing visuals. Instead I was greeted by a game that you could have found 10+ years ago on Newgrounds. Not willing to give up just yet, I pushed forward hoping the mechanics would be its saving grace. Unfortunately, the game revolves around your Kemono Friends automatically walking toward the enemy as they auto-attacked, leaving you with the option to occasionally use skills or turn your Kemono Friends around to avoid attacks. Needless to say, I uninstalled the game pretty quickly and didn’t get too deep into the story. That said, I can see where an anime based on the game could stand on its own two feet. With a lot of different Kemono Friends to pick from and the ability to have the story turn into a grand adventure, there’s a slim possibility Kemono Friends could become a fun show. But even with all that enthusiasm and hope, it’s hard not to think of this show as another big corporate attempt to milk as much money as possible from a somewhat successful brand. In any case, I’d give this one a hesitant and reserved maybe-check-out-one-episode recommendation.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Low
Show Kemono Friends Promotional Videos ▼

Piace ~Watashi no Italian~ | ピアシェ~私のイタリアン~Top
Animation: Zero-G Premiere: January 11, 2017
Genre: Slife-of-Life, Comedy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 22:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @piace_anime or #ピアシェ

Preview by Takaii

Piace: Watashi no Italian is a quirky show that revolves around high schooler Nanase Morina (Senbongi Sayaka) after she gets a job at Trattoria Fiesta, an Italian (duh) restaurant. During her first day she quickly realizes that the cast of characters who work at Trattoria Fiesta are a colorful bunch, and tries to fit in as best as she can. Unknown to Morina as she tries her best to fit in with her new coworkers, she unexpectedly ends up embarking on a journey that not only helps her grow as a worker but as a person.

I’d liken the vibe of Piace: Watashi no Italian to a strange combination of WORKING and Ikoku Meiro no Croisee. The source material never misses an opportunity to remind us that we’re dealing with a “fancy” Italian restaurant that only serves the best Italian food and then quickly disregards all of that when the humor kicks in. While it often feels like the writers are trying a little too hard to squeeze out some laughs, when everything lines up and feels natural, there are definitely strong moments that keep you drawn to the page as you follow along with the story. Still, I’m not quite sure how I feel about this one. If it manages to streamline some of the humor while tightening the overall story, I feel like we’d have an enjoyable show on our hands. If it doesn’t, I can easily see this turning into a train wreck pretty quickly. On the plus side, it looks like the director has a ton of experience with comedic slice-of-life shows and the manga author will be handling the character designs, so there’s hope that the production team can bring something really fantastic to life.

Watching This: Cherrie, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Show Piace ~Watashi no Italian~ Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: SILVER LINK. Premiere: January 11, 2017
Genre: Sci-Fi, Mystery, Psychological Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @chaoch_anime or #chaoschild

Preview by Zephyr

Eight years after the anime debut of its predecessor in Chaos;Head, Chaos;Child becomes the latest Science Adventure visual novel—a series created by 5pb. and Nitroplus which includes Robotics;Notes and Steins;Gate (Occultic;Nine from last season is not part of the SciAdv series)—to receive an anime adaptation. Set in Shibuya after Chaos;Head, the series follows survivors of the “New Gen” murders and the subsequent earthquake that leveled most of the city and killed thousands. After the sudden deaths of multiple people on live video streams, Miyashiro Takuru (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) finds himself investigating the incident as part of Hekihou Academy’s newspaper club. Realizing that the first “New Gen” murders happened on the same days six years prior, Takuru aims to prove the deaths are anything but a coincidence. It is now September 29th, the day of the third “New Gen” murder. The ringing of his phone starts a murder mystery that puts Takuru and his friends in the center the latest bizarre incident to hit Shibuya. Produced by Silver Link, the series will be directed by Jinbo Masato of recent Fate/kaleid liner Prisma☆Illya!! fame.

Given the superb reception of the source material and the Science Adventure visual novel series in general, it’s always news when a new entry receives an adaptation, and Chaos;Child is no exception. The problem is that its previous iteration in Chaos;Head received one of the worst adaptations possible—it was unfaithful to the source and cut out many important details—and it’s hard to tell whether or not Chaos;Child will be able to avoid the same fate given the visual novel’s lengthy run (>50 hours) and reliance on bizarre deaths that may not make it past any potential censorship. Thankfully, a new studio and cast means a fresh start for the franchise, and while it didn’t sell as much as its prequel, Chaos;Child was well received by those who played it. Given the lack of translations, this could also end up being the only way for some to experience the series, and it could be worth watching if the adaptation is anywhere near faithful to its source. The fact that it can be watched without prior knowledge of Chaos;Head and other related visual novels lowers the entry barrier, though it’s certainly better to have some, with playing the Chaos;Head visual novel being my recommendation. I’d keep an eye out to see how the first few episodes turn out.

Watching This: Pancakes, Passerby, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderate
Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon | 小林さんちのメイドラゴンTop
Animation: Kyoto Animation Premiere: January 11, 2017
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 24:00
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @maidragon_anime or #maidragon

Preview by Takaii

Before I even start, don’t be like me and disregard this show because of its cover image or what you’ve heard about it on the Internet. You might end up missing a really quirky slice-of-life with a fun premise, lots of deadpan humor, and just enough “feels” to make you fall in love with the characters. Jumping right into it, Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon revolves around the life of Kobayashi (Tamura Mutsumi), an office lady (OL) at a programming company who’s essentially a shut-in outside of work, but who has scholarly levels of maid knowledge that emerge when she’s drunk. After a long, hard day at work, she decides to party it up with her coworker Takiya Makoto (Nakamura Yuuichi) by drinking way too much and raving on and on about the charm of maids. Leaving completely plastered, Kobayashi misses her train stop and ends up wandering through a forest outside of town, where she unexpectedly meets a huge dragon. Thinking it’s a dream, she completely disregards the threat of a huge beast ripping her limb from limb and instead sits down and talks up a storm while sharing sake with it. Laughing and crying about life’s problems, the last thing Kobayashi remembers before her alarm clock wakes her up is offering the dragon a place to stay since she’s new to the area. Without giving it any more thought since she’s late to work, she swings open her front door only to find the face of a gigantic dragon staring right at her.

If you’ve watched any of the promotional material, I can understand your skepticism with this one. However, the source material paints a different picture, delivering a great comedic slice-of-life. The combination of the shut-in Kobayashi and the always cheerful dragon Tooru (Kuwahara Yuuki), plus all the other characters you meet along the way, make for some of the best comedic combos I’ve seen. Between all the laughs are also stories of characters who are trying to overcome their own personal struggles, which are depicted in a fashion that doesn’t drag on for too long. Then tack on the simple fact that Kyoto Animation is handling the adaptation, and we have the recipe for something that should bring to life to all the elements that made the manga a fantastic read. As a side note, Ono Daisuke is voicing the edgiest tsundere I’ve ever seen, and from my super scientific findings, any Kyoani show that involves Ono Daisuke using his edgy voice ends up being great (source: me). In any case, see if you can get past the barrier of entry and give this show a shot. It’s source material has me super excited to see it come to life.

Watching This: Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon Promotional Videos ▼

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 | この素晴らしい世界に祝福を! 2Top
Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 11, 2017
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy Airtime (GMT+9): Wednesdays at 25:05
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @konosubaanime or #このすば

Preview by Stilts

Season two of the laugh-out-loud alternate world fantasy full of horrible people is finally here! KonoSuba follows the story of Kazuma Satou (Fukushima Jun), a hikikomori NEET who died while selflessly saving a stranger from a slow-moving tractor. Also, he peed himself. After dying, he went to heaven, where he met a goddess named Aqua (Amamiya Sora) and accepted her shifty bargain: be reincarnated into a video game-like fantasy world on the condition that he defeat the Demon King. With the useless goddess Aqua herself along for the ride as his “bonus item,” Kazuma assembles a party that includes Megumin (Takahashi Rie), an Arch Wizard with a fetish for explosions, and Darkness (Kayano Ai), a Crusader with a (literal) fetish for getting hit and/or being abused (preferably both). After a season full of crippling debt, menial labor, dysfunctional allies, and exasperated enemies, join Kazuma’s party as they try to get themselves out of the trouble last season’s finale got them into.

I had a good feeling about KonoSuba ahead of its original winter 2016 season, and it exceeded all of my expectations. By far. Alternate world fantasy adventures are in vogue, but KonoSuba does two things the others can’t match: it focuses first and always on its characters, and it’s screamingly hilarious. The simple math of a group of dysfunctional characters making life difficult for each other is a potent weapon, but that author Akatsuki Natsume and the staff at Studio DEEN were able to make them likeable too, even though they’re manifestly horrible people (snarky, spiteful, idiotic, useless)? That’s a trick few can replicate. Add onto that the comedic beats, which are just on, and it’s a super enjoyable show, with the caveat that comedy is always subjective. My favorite character is undoubtedly Megumin, though Kazuma’s snarking and perversion is really what makes the show, and life is always better with more Wiz in it. I’ve covered a lot of sequels, and no small portion of them ended up being markedly worse than their predecessors, so maybe season two will be where the magic ends. I wouldn’t bet on it, though. Watch this show!

Watching This: Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Takkai, Zephyr Expectation Level: High
Show Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2 Promotional Videos ▼

MARGINAL#4 KISS Kara Tsukuru Big Bang | MARGINAL#4 KISSから創造るBig BangTop
Animation: J.C. Staff Premiere: January 12, 2017
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: Tokyo MX (MX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @marginal4_anime or #mg4_anime

Preview by Takaii

Oh boy, another male idol show! With the likes of Utapri, Ensemble Stars, and IDOLISH7 all vying for our attention, can we really handle another show coming into the ring? Luckily in Marginal#4 Kiss Kara Tsukuru Big Bang’s case, I think it has the manpower and directive spirit to help it succeed in such a crowded genre. Judging from the staff behind the production (since there’s been no supplemental story information), I’m getting really positive vibes. While it remains to be seen if a greenhorn director can handle the possible incoming fandom, Marginal#4 has powerhouse writer Yokotani Masahiro handling the series composition—which is good, because as we all know, once you make it past the draw of an idol show, be it the characters or the music, there needs to be a decent story behind all the sparkles to bring it together. More specifically, a story with comedic slice-of-life elements and a splash of shoujo flavor to really spice it up. Seeing how Yokotani has handled shows ranging from Hataraku Maou-Sama! to FREE! and K-ON!!, I’m actually really excited to see how this turns out. As an added bonus we have J.C. Staff handing the production, and it feels like this type of show is right up their alley.

If you were going to ask me if I’m going to watch Marginal#4, I’d probably give you a discreet nod as I quietly closed my door and put my headphones on. Because from everything I’ve read and what little I’ve seen and heard from the promotional material, I’m happily hoping for a good idol show to hold me off until Aqours’ eventual return. (I don’t actually know if they’re coming back anytime soon, but god help me if they don’t).

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Show MARGINAL#4 KISS Kara Tsukuru Big Bang Promotional Videos ▼

Animation: Studio DEEN Premiere: January 12, 2017
Genre: Drama, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 23:30
Episodes: Station: AT-X
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @superloversinfo or #スパラヴァ

Preview by Cherrie

SUPER LOVERS gets a second season after just completing their first run back in spring 2016. For context, SUPER LOVERS is a yaoi series focused on Kaidou Haru (Maeno Tomoaki), who runs a coffee shop, and Kaidou Ren (Minagawa Junko), who is a high school student. You also read that right, folks – they have the same last name because they are adopted brothers, with the same mother, Haruko Dieckmann (Tanaka Atsuko). In the first season, you see the development of Haru and Ren’s relationship from their first meeting 5 years ago to their lives in Tokyo now. The finale of the first season left off with a cliffhanger, which the second season picks up from immediately. Haruko purposes to take Ren back to Switzerland and this upsets both Ren and Haru who already have difficulties coming to terms with their relationship and feelings towards each other.

As cliché as it seems, SUPER LOVERS delivers exactly what you’d expect from a romantic comedy. You get the same butterflies in your stomach when you see how Ren and Haru deal with their feelings while living with their other brothers (and dealing with their mother). With some comedy mixed in, the second season will test Ren and Haru’s relationship further, plus address the looming question of whether or not Ren will leave Haru. New characters are introduced as well, including the Kaidou siblings’ cousin, Shiba Natsuo (Satou Takuya), who will add some more complexity to the household dynamics. If you enjoyed the first season, the second season will surely deliver more of the same boys’ love. And if you haven’t tried yaoi before, SUPER LOVERS is a great entry into the genre.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderate
Kuzu no Honkai | クズの本懐Top
Animation: Lerche Premiere: January 12, 2017
Genre: Drama, Romance Airtime (GMT+9): Thursdays at 24:55
Episodes: Station: Fuji TV (CX)
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @kuzunohonkai_tv or #クズの本懐

Preview by Passerby

Yasuaroka Hanabi (Anzai Chika) and Awaya Mugi (Shimazaki Nobunaga) are the ideal couple. They’re both popular with the opposite sex. They have complementary tastes. They’ve even been featured together in teen magazines as the model romance. Everyone at their high school is jealous of their relationship. There’s only one hiccup: they’re not actually attracted to each other. Both have an unrequited love for somebody else. Hanabi has a crush on one of her school teachers, who has been a close family friend since she was young. Mugi pines for a different teacher, one who used to be his home tutor. The two teachers are actually seeing each other. Hanabi and Mugi’s loves are not meant to be. And so the two date, knowingly using each other as physical substitutes for the emotional emptiness in their hearts. But perhaps trying to soothe the pain in this way only makes it hurt all the more.

Although Yokoyari Mengo‘s Kuzu no Honkai (Scum’s Desire) is a seinen manga, I originally thought it had the potential to be a straightforward romcom. Main leads are crushing on different people. They date each other instead. They get closer. The lie becomes truth. Happy ending. Oh, how wrong I was. Kuzu no Honkai doesn’t shy away from emotional rawness. Every character seems to have an unrequited love. Every character is flawed. Every character ends up hurting. Somehow, the healthiest relationship seems to be the protagonists’ (y’know, the fake one), which is saying something. Kuzu no Honkai is filled with potential for a strong drama, further reinforced by the adaptation staff. We have the seasoned and versatile Uezo Makoto on both script and series composition, and the noteworthy Andou Masaomi, whose cinematography work includes Gakkou Gurashi!! and, more relevantly, WHITE ALBUM 2, in the director’s chair. Furthermore, the consistently excellent Yokoyama Masaru is scoring the show, so we’re not just in for great drama, but great melodrama. That is good news all around. There’s been a dearth of straight romance anime lately, and while I hesitate to actually call Kuzu no Hana a pure romance, perhaps relationship drama can be a worthy substitute.

Watching This: Cherrie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Passerby, Samu, Stilts, Zephyr Expectation Level: Moderately High
Show Kuzu no Honkai Promotional Videos ▼

Rewrite 2nd Season Moon-hen/Terra-hen | Rewrite 2nd シーズン Moon編/Terra編Top
Animation: 8bit Premiere: January 14, 2017
Genre: 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 @rewrite_tv or #rewrite_tv

Preview by Passerby

Last time, on Rewrite: the world ended. Whoops. Unbeknownst to most, two secret organizations were engaged in an underground war in the sleepy Japanese city of Kazamatzuri. Gaia were the eco-terrorists with nature-themed demonology powers that wanted to expunge humanity from the planet in order to save it. Guardian was the vigilante organization of superhumans that wanted to stop Gaia. Long story short: nothing much went well for anyone. One person can set things right: our protagonist, Tennouji Kotarou (Morita Masakazu), a self-professed normal high-school student who actually has both a secret past and a secret power. But perhaps it’s not any power of his that will make a difference, but his relationship with the enigmatic Kagari (Hanazawa Kana). Will she be the key to rewriting the doom of the world, or will she be the herald of the Apocalypse?

I expressed my general thoughts about the first season of Rewrite in its last two episodes here and here, and to summarize, I found the adaptation to be rather, er, bad. While the original Key visual novel had its own set of flaws and the anime does try to address those in a way, the end product was awfully lacking. 8bit and director Tanaka Motoki have a record of frightful mediocrity, and unfortunately Rewrite failed to break that trend with its unimpressive visuals and writing. Still, there is some hope. One of the biggest weaknesses of the first season was that they crammed far too much material into a single cour. This time, Moon and Terra can fit much better into that timeframe, requiring less of those messy cuts. Moon and Terra are also the “pay-off” portions of the story—both more linear, making for an easier adaptation, and more climactic, making for a better watch. If the first season of Rewrite hooked you in any way, then this second one is worth it just to see the story come together. Still, if you’re looking for a definitive adaptation of the visual novel, I’m afraid this anime will likely be remembered only as a shadow of what could have been. The second season will undoubtedly be better, but the question is whether it will be good enough.

Watching This: Passerby Expectation Level: Moderate
BanG Dream!Top
Animation: Issen x Xebec Premiere: January 21, 2017
Genre: Music Airtime (GMT+9): Saturdays at 22:00
Episodes: Station: AbemaTV
Information Links: AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Join the conversation @bang_dream_info or #バンドリ

Preview by Stilts

In a world of mixed media projects trying to distinguish themselves, BanG Dream! is trying to succeed where most others have failed: combining anime, manga, song releases, animated music videos, and live musical events. Only they might succeed, because the main seiyuu cast will perform as a real band called Poppin’Party, playing the same instruments as their characters. Speaking of those characters, BanG Dream! stars Kasumi Toyama (Terakawa Aimi), a high school student who feels a rush of excitement after she comes across a star-shaped guitar in an old pawn shop. Together with four other girls, she forms a rock band named Poppin’Party (where have I heard that before…) and starts down her path to music legend.

I wasn’t too excited about this one initially, even though the formula of cute girls + music is a license to print money. (I may have supported such anime a few times in the past.) That the main five girls are also in a real life band with the same name as their in-story band is . . . well, it’s novel, at least. I certainly sat up at that, though I can’t say it totally won me over. I have a feeling that the worst likely result with this show, at least for those who are fans of cute-girls-doing-band-things music, won’t be all that bad; it’s not that hard to make anime-style music catchy, and this has the added bonus of being rock music instead of the same ‘ol peppy pop. (So, pop rock. Hey, it’s something!) The story’s whatever man, it’ll probably be serviceable if uninspired, it all comes down to the music to me. If it’s good, I might watch just to get context on those juicy, delicious songs. I’m feeding the anime musical industrial complex, and it feels so good.

Watching This: No one yet Expectation Level: Moderately Low
Show BanG Dream! Promotional Videos ▼

Short Series List


Technical Note: As of the Fall 2016 Preview onward, short one-cour series that are being broadcast with irregular duration times (under the 24 minute per episode norm) have been separated from the main preview into their own section. This is to account for the increasing number of short series and to allow for ease of viewing for those who have a preference for one type of series over another. While the list should be complete, there are short series that have been announced very close to the start of a season, in which case they may not have made it onto the list. If you notice an anything missing, incomplete, or incorrect, please feel free to point it out in the comments or e-mail Zephyr directly.

Air Date Title Series Synopsis
Dec 5th Nananin no Ayakashi: Chimi Chimi Mouryou!! Gendai Monogatari
ななにんのあやかし-ちみちみ魍魎!! 現代物語-
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
DLE animates a show whose characters are essentially mascots created by and for the seven seiyuu who star on the variety show Seiyū Danshi desu ga…?. With a title that long, it’s sure to be a sign of true quality!
Jan 2nd Chou Shounen Tanteidan Neo | 超・少年探偵団NEO
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
The colourful short follows a descendent of the lead character Kobayashi from Edogawa Ranpo’s famous series of detective novels.
Jan 3rd Ai Mai Mii ~Surgical Friends~
あいまいみー~Surgical Friends~
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
The 3rd season of the bizarre short about three high schoolers – Ai, Mai, and Mii – who are part of manga club that has to fight off monsters invading Earth, and other ridiculous entails.
Jan 8th Nyanko Days | にゃんこデイズ
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
A seinen 4-koma adaptation that follows Konagai Tomoko and her three talking cats, brought to you by studio EMT².
Jan 9th Sentai Heroes Sukiyaki Force: Gunma no Heiwa o Negau Season
戦隊ヒーロー スキヤキフォース
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
Here we have another story dedicated to a prefecture; this time it’s the Gunma prefecture in this surreal comedy featuring ingredient-inspired mascots. Expect maximum silliness.
Jan 11th One Room
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
A series of shorts about three sisters who all live within the one room. It may have a limited run-time but the cute character designs will make up for it.

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 Zephyr directly.

Release Date Title Notes
12/02 Garo Movie: Divine Flame | 劇場版 牙狼〈GARO〉‐DIVINE FLAME‐
BD/DVD Release.
12/02 To LOVE-Ru Darkness 2nd OVA | To LOVEる -とらぶる- ダークネス2nd
Bundled w/ manga Vol. 17.
12/06 Baki | 刃牙
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 14.
12/07 Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka OVA
ダンジョンに出会いを求めるのは間違っているだろうか OVA
Bundled w/ LE BD/DVD Vol. 9.
12/20 Bakuon!! OVA | ばくおん!!OVA
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 9. Episode 2 of 2.
12/20 Akatsuki no Yona OVA | 暁のヨナ OVA
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 22. Episode 3 of 3.
12/21 Kizumonogatari Part 2: Nekketsu | 傷物語
BD/DVD Release.
12/21 Strike the Blood II | ストライク・ザ・ブラッドⅡ
Episode 3/4 of 8.
12/22 Trick or Alice OVA | トリック・オア・アリス
12/28 Ajin Movie Trilogy | 劇場3部作 亜人
BD/DVD Box Set Release.
12/28 Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregoto Tsukai
クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い
Episode 3 of 8.
BD/DVD Release.
12/31 Fate/Grand Order -First Order-
Dec 2016 Saber Marionette J: Last Story | セイバーマリオネットJ・ラスト ストーリー
01/01 Super Lovers OVA | スーパーラヴァーズ OVA
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 10.
01/18 Ginga Kikoutai Majestic Prince Movie: Kakusei no Idenshi
劇場版 銀河機攻隊 マジェスティックプリンス 覚醒の遺伝子
BD/DVD Release.
01/25 Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregoto Tsukai
クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い
Episode 4 of 8.
02/02 Aikatsu Stars! Movie | 劇場版 アイカツ スターズ!
BD/DVD Release.
02/03 Sword Art Online the Movie -Ordinal Scale-
劇場版 ソードアート・オンライン -オーディナル・スケール-
BD/DVD Release.
02/07 Hatsukoi Monster OVA | 初恋モンスター OVA
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 8.
02/22 Gantz:O Movie
BD/DVD Release.
02/22 Kubikiri Cycle: Aoiro Savant to Zaregoto Tsukai
クビキリサイクル 青色サヴァンと戯言遣い
Episode 5 of 8.
02/22 orange: Mirai | orange -未来-
BD/DVD Release.
02/24 Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito | planetarian~星の人~
BD/DVD Release.
02/25 Landreaall
Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 29.
Feb 2017 The Dragon Dentist
Japan Animator Expo Entry.
03/08 Yu☆Gi☆Oh!: The Dark Side of Dimensions
BD/DVD Release.

Overall Impressions


Winter is traditionally the weakest season of anime, and let’s not mince words—this one doesn’t appear to be bucking that trend. Not that there won’t be good shows, as there always are, but I know I’m planning to watch a record low number of shows, and that’s even with the bullshit ones I throw in because I tell myself I’ll watch the previous season eventually, but secretly know I never will. With only a few originals to speak of, it’s all down to adaptations and sequels, and while there are some good ones, there aren’t as many as usual. Think of it like this, though—all this skepticism helps temper your expectations, which might make you enjoy the season we get even more! So there’s that. You’re welcome, dear reader. I take payments in cash or good beer.

Onto the levels. 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 understand which shows to try first, based on our preliminary examination of each show’s staff, seiyuu, and source material. Failing that, it’ll give you another reason to call us trash people when we invariably peg one or two wrong.

We arrived at these levels by convening our regular (and reliably shady) “anticipation council,” which still consists of Passerby, Zephyr, and yours truly, Stilts. While we’ve gone to great lengths to be as objective as possible, perfect objectivity isn’t a real thing 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.


  1. Thanks for all the hard work guys!

    Definite Watches:
    *Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu ~Sukeroku Futatabi-hen
    *Little Witch Academia (How this didn’t get put under Expectations: High I will never know)
    *Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2

    Will Check Out:
    *ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (The token show I picked up reading this preview)
    *Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon (Mostly because it’s KyoAni)

    Wait and See/Let Others Canary It First:
    *Masamune-kun no Revenge
    *Youjo Senki
    *Demi-chan wa Kataritai
    *Kuzu no Honkai

    Though, just like last season I will be taking a class and with work on top of that odds are I will not be seeing as many of these as I planned. I still need to catch up on Euphonium and Magical Girl Raising Project from this season and marathoned Yuri on Ice from Wednesday until yesterday when i finished it. At least I know the core show I want to follow no matter what.

  2. Well this could be interesting with so many shows that could be good or a total crapfest still we should give a chance to these ones atleast:

    Masamune-kun no Revenge
    Little Witch Academia
    Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
    Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! 2
    ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka
    Kuzu no Honkai

  3. I guess I’ll be watching :
    Konosuba : IT’S BACK! Season 2 means more fun, more explosions, more ‘Kazuma desu‘, more Schrodinger panties, and more saggy tits.
    Masamune-kun : No, this is not a harem anime, or is it? I can see there will be waifu war, winter 2017 edition.
    Maid Dragon : Kyoto Animation. It can be as good as Nichijou or as bad as Phantom World.

    One Pinch Man
    1. Masamune-kun could be considered a harem given the number of potential love interests, but it never really veers off in that direction. The story is all about Masamune getting even with Aki. It does offer a good bit of speculative waifu battling though 😛

    2. Let me be clear, Phantom World is the kind of show that was made so that heterosexual homo sapien males can empty their mass-produced stores of pregnancy fluid. A crude descriptor, but then again, all crude things receive crude treatment in the end. I can’t even begin to describe the metal container loads worth of Amagi Brilliant Park porn that I witnessed firsthand at Comiket. What a sight to behold- well at least not for me.

      Nishizawa Mihashi
  4. Kind of surprised Attack on Titan S2 not there… People keeps talking abot it so I though it’s in this season…
    Will watch:
    Little Witch Academia
    Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-Hen
    Yowamushi Pedal NEW GENERATION
    ACCA: 13-ku Kansatsu-ka (ACCA: The 13 Wards Inspection Division)
    Youjo Senki
    Chain Chronicle ~Hekuseitasu no Hikari~

    1. People are probably talking about it because Funimation have pre licensed it and seem to be promoting it beforehand. That and the show was like the biggest series of the year when it first came out.

      1. It probably is in Japan, but here in North America SnK is definitely bigger. I’ve seen people with SnK backpacks, jackets, and stickers in every conceivable setting throughout the past year, and that’s before the sequel date was announced. The series is quickly becoming something transcending the infamous “anime” label, much like Pokemon and Dragon Ball did before.

  5. I will watch 18 series, not bad, but there is not enough high expectation anime this season imo. Half of the shows are like only loli anime, at least we got gintama and ao no exorcist. I’ve read manga, so I can promise that you wont be disappointed ( although ao no exorcist started to be kind of boring after that arc, when author started to slow pace manga ).

  6. Normally I watch anime (season+movie)15-40 titles per year but In 2016 I watched only 5-10 titles which is too low. I hope 2017 will had more anime that trigger my interest. For Winter 2017 2 titles that I surely watch are Seiren, Fuuka and hope to watch more titles.

    Anyway Merry X’mas and Happy Newyear guys.

  7. The Granblue Fantasy anime’s been delayed to Spring 2017 from its original Winter schedule.

    ACCA, Shouwa Genroku and Kuzu no Honkai will fully adapt their source mangas. Masamune-kun’s anime may cover everything, since its manga is scheduled to enter its “climax” in its next chapter.

  8. Konosuba is a must-watch
    ACCA looks like interesting tale of fascist-style beaurecracy inner workings
    Youjo Senki liiks like strike witches x battlefield 1? and with cynical antihero as lead? I’m in!
    I love the omnibus format so the Seiren ius my doe of romance
    and possibly Masamune-kun’s revengew for interesting concept of love revenge, from unpopular guy, not less…
    chaos:the sequel looks like something that might pick my interest;depending on how well it goes

    1. Nah, the character designer is just nostalgic for an Amagami-like series, hence the creation of Seiren. I’ve really like the designs of the Amagami girls. Too bad that best girl wasn’t even an option for the MC, bah humbug!

      Nishizawa Mihashi
      1. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

        Well, whatdya’ think?

        Also about Ai’s lil bro, didn’t know he was gonna be in it. If that’s the case then it looks like we’re revisiting the fictional setting of Amagami then. It’d be nice if there are references. I might jump on board and watch Seiren if you’re gonna raid the RandomC comments section for Seiren once it begins. wwwwwwwww

        Oh btw, I think that ‘Seiren’ comes from ‘Seishun’ and ‘Ren’, which means ‘Youthful Love’. Heh, lovely ( ^◡^)

        I wonder why it’s released in the winter though, oh wait, it’s all about who can become the next Miss Santa RIIIIIIIIIGHHHHHHHT

        Nishizawa Mihashi
      2. Just confirming if you were on the “Hibiki IS BEST GIRL”-ship. Haha. Well, I am watching Seiren, but I do hope it’s not too much of an Amagami clone (I want to chars to shine as themselves, not as just expies of the Amagami cast. I mean, Ayane Sakura’s character feels like she’s trying to imitate Morishima Haruka too much) XD

      3. Yeah man, I totally get you bruh. What is love if you fall in love with some cardboard everyone? Everything about love is based on that little special something someone has. I really hope that isn’t the case with the very first character they’re focusing on. In fact, I think that’s exactly the case for the one that acts childish from time to time according to whatever descriptions that were revealed. But on the other hand the most unique one so far happens to be the one wearing the grey sweater. Gamer girl apparently (・∀・)

        Also hint: //UGC// //Sasaki Akira// ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

        Nishizawa Mihashi
      4. I recognize that doujin artist. I have all his scanslated works featuring Hibiki (except the 1st one in the series which I cannot find despite calling on the powers of the saucemeister) XD

        I do hope the Seiren protag doesn’t start like Junichi did, being ditched by his would be date on Christmas eve. Let’s see if they can portray gamer girl realistically – since I know a lot of gamers who are in stable relationships. XD

      5. Yeah man, I tried finding the first one but no love. ( ; _ ; ) I also remember about the final one where you get to see the epilogue but I don’t know the title or where I found it even. Sigh, should’ve saved. Memories bruh, wwwww

        Anyways yeah, I hope they’re not reusing the getting dumped plot line this time around, though from what I’ve read it doesn’t seem like they’re gonna do that. Anime’s got plenty of gamer girls before but I don’t know how the creators are gonna handle this particular one cuz most gamer girl portrayals are found in moe shows and such. Stable relationships… That’s hopeful and positive.

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  9. I usually have short watch list(thanks to limited internet quota and real life), but let’s see how it will turn out.

    Definitely watch:
    Kuzu no Honkai
    Demi-chan wa Kataritai

    Probably will watch:
    Youjo Senki (Re:zero and Alderamin? I’m interested)
    OniHei (seems like a proven plot)
    KonoSuba 2 (Bc I haven’t watch season 1)
    Little witch academia (haven’t watch the ova tho, if the ova is a must, I’ll pass this)
    One Room
    Masamune-kun no Revenge

    Want-to-watch-but-maybe-I-won’t list:
    Kobayashi-san chi no maid dragon

  10. Fate Grand Order hype!!!!!! Some of these titles are looking great and hopefully will draw me in more than the shows this season did. Because honestly….I found myself starting some shows but only actually finishing 2.
    But for Eldrive I would say a better comparison would be that its from the same creator of Hitman Reborn (a continuation anime is a pipedream at this point…) rather than just mentioning the character designer of Psycho-Pass; It leaves a better impression of what to expect.
    Though is “Bi ibe tet” an actual person or just a typo when it was put under SuperLovers?

    1. technically speaking its an OAV (television feature length they said so it’s most likely 40some minutes long), and OAV’s don’t get season previews here (meaning they don’t get featured on this list, but they still do have the chance of someone talking about it when it airs) Well a series of OAV’s since they said they’re working on the New Orleans Arc now. I honestly hope they do the entire story since the 1st arc just finished…..*sniffs* Dr. Roman.

  11. Konosuba Season 2 looks like 10 episodes to me, I’m not seeing anymore than five BD/DVD volumes, and the runtimes seem to indicate 2 episodes per volume. Yep, I’m looking at the listing for Vol 5 that says it contains Episodes 9 and 10.

  12. Takaii! How could you not mention that Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon is by the same author who brought us Danna ga Nani o Itte Iru ka Wakaranai Ken, and Komori-san wa Kotowarenai? This is vital information! I have seen many people who were not interested in the series suddenly change their minds upon learning that.

  13. Sequels
    Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
    Tales of Zesteria
    Little Witch Academia

    Definitely interested
    Urara Meirochou
    Kuzu no Honai
    Minami Kamakura Koukou Joshi Jitensha-Bu
    Gabriel Dropout (The manga is currently one of my favorites)
    ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

    Somewhat interested
    Maid Dragon
    Masamune-kun no Revenge

    What the hell, I’ll give it an episode
    Akiba’s Trip
    Youjo Senki

  14. After a season in which I honestly didn’t fully warm up to a single show, there are several treats for me in winter.

    Big big recommendation, especially with the right people animating the show: Kuzu no Honkai. I was literally shocked to see _this_ title animated (I thought it couldn’t be done, at least not on public TV), but I’m fully invested in this one. Do NOT watch this if you’re of faint heart, or if you can’t stand shows with broken characters. It will make you want to strangle kittens. But as character studies and an extremely unusual and original storyline, it’s fantastic for fans of character-driven stories that operate out of the box. The title tells it all: “Trash’s desire” indeed. Be warned. I really really hope that someone will blog this, because this show has some great potential for post-episode discussions.

    Less serious, but still quite respectable: Masamune-kun no Revenge. This is a romcom/drama mix, chock full with romcom tropes, but with a clever mix. And most of all: The storyline is remarkably logical overall, with some big unexpected twists. Unless they really mess things up, this will be some good quality fun.

    With Konosuba S2 and all the other shows, I’ll finally be able to get back into anime watching. Yay 🙂

    1. When you mentioned this, I had to go back and check the list again. Huh, so there’s going to be an OVA. I loved the show as a kid, so I’ll bite. I’m curious to know what else they have to offer.

  15. WELP.

    This is the first time since I joined RC that I saw NOTHING of (my own) interest for a new season from the preview.

    …Maybe I can find something once the new season starts.

    OTOH, I still have Gundam:IBO to fall back to (and it had one heck of a battle for the mid season finale).

  16. after a terrible fall season (IMO) where I didn’t watch/follow a single series, even this supposedly ‘weak’ winter season is much welcome.

    as per usual, thanks for your efforts the RC team.

  17. Interested in Youjo Senki and pretty sure that I’ll enjoy the 2nd season of Zestiria.

    Konosuba was kind of a sleeper hit for me, since I expected a harmless cute girls doing cute things anime, but after reading all the praise in Stilt’s blog posts and the comments section I quickly caught up and it reminded me so much of “Kore wa Zombie Desu ka?”.

  18. First, thanks to RC staff for the preview. Seriously, it helps. 😀

    Other than KonaSuba S2 (\O/) and Fate/Grand Order (was hoping that would be a 2-cour TV series, but better than nothing), anything else is on the “3 Episode Rule”/will try list. A few random show in no particular order:

    Ao no Exorcist: Kyoto Fujouou-Hen: Somewhat interested in this, BUT do I need to watch the first season? I’m getting that impression.

    Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon: Read some positive comments a couple months ago so checked it out. Have to say the manga was better than I expected. Quite funny at times (IMO), and even a little endearing. Still, adaptation = adaptation risks. Character designs look fine, but can’t say the PV does much to entice one. :/ Hopefully the adaptation will be a good.

    Little Witch Academia: The original OVA was a fun, stylish watch. Given that, this is probably more on the “will watch list” than trial basis for me since there shouldn’t (in theory) be any significant adaptation issues… right?

    Tales of Zestiria the X 2nd Season: Watched, about 3/4(?) of the first season & dropped. Just never got into it = SKIP season 2. If this was Tales of Berseria, I’d check it out.

    Onihei: This looks good. 😀

    Youjo Senki: Eh, IDK here. Military so right in my genre, but super salary man turned into cut-throat grade-schooler (summary says “little girl”)? O.o That setup screams “comedy” to me a lot more than “serious and/or grim-dark” war drama. Meh, not thrilled about that part. Have a feeling that this will be both good & bad like Drifters, but not sure if it will still net out “good” like Drifters did. For me, much depends upon the MC. How much of an ass-hat is he/her? Getting a pretty serious/grim-dark vibe here so thinking pretty ruthless & lots of ass-hat = am I really going to want this guy/girl to succeed? I’ll give it a shot, but have reservations.

    Demi-chan wa Kataritai: Like Kobayashi-san, saw some comments so checked it out. JMO and all, but it was… OK (sorry Takaii). It does have a bit of depth beyond comedy hijinks and I didn’t hate it, but still net result was very much “just there”. I’ll check it out, but TBH, would not surprise me at all if iI didn’t stick with it the entire season.

    Urara Meirochou: Short version – what Stilts wrote.


    @Stilts: “…this has the added bonus of being rock music instead of the same ‘ol peppy pop…I’m feeding the anime musical industrial complex, and it feels so good.”

    FYI – If you like Japanese female rock bands, you might want to check out Band Maid. Don’t let the maido outfits fool you – real band (all perform their own instruments/vocals and quite well at that), and have a few good songs IMO (Alone – in the link, one of their best IMO).

    1. Tanya/MC comes off more as an ultimate corporate executive/human resources manger than as a salesman (think Smarmy TOP OCP executive from RObocop style). THen gets thrown in to that world’s version of WW1 all with the industrialized killing vs American civil war/napoleon tactics/thinking except you add magic to the mix.

      MC’s main advantage is his past self has remained intact and he’s more than willing to leverage his loli appearance to get what he wants and crushes any opposition to his carrer goals as ruthlessly and as efficiently as possible.

      The Studio Nut part having former gainax staff finally explains why Visha (the Moe eyed brown haired girl in the PV) looks like she’s from Kill la Kill.

      Am still hyped for this and konosuba XD

      1. @Devastator001: Honestly, your description is pretty much what I figured. Just saying that the “turns into grade-school girl” may be visually jarring (at least for me) with total serious/grim-dark. May. Not saying it can’t work. On the other hand… I still question WHY the author wanted to throw such circumstances into this kind of story – particularly age. Maybe that’s explained, but still – what is he/she? 11? 12? Younger? Why?

        “… he’s more than willing to leverage his loli appearance to get what he wants and crushes any opposition to his career goals as ruthlessly and as efficiently as possible.”

        Again, what I suspected from the summary/previews I’ve read which why personally I wonder how I’ll take to the MC/protagonist. Might work out, might not. As for “leveraging his loli appearance”, I hope that doesn’t mean seduction, but wouldn’t surprise me if that’s the case. Anyway, I’ll check out the show. If it works for me – great. If not, I’ll move on. Still got KonaSuba (looking forward to that as well), LWA and potentially some others this season.

      2. Well some moderate Spoilers

        Show Spoiler ▼

        As for his leveraging his loli-apperance

        Show Spoiler ▼

    2. @daikama, on music:

      I’ll check that out. Though, I’m a bit odd with music—it’s not actually the music I like in most music. I vibe off of the narrative, which is why I like anime music so much (because I can link the music to the story, and even if I didn’t like the story all that much, that narrative link will help me get into it). That without the narrative is actually worse than English-language music, since I can’t derive narrative from the words.

      That said, i absolutely love music videos because I can derive narrative from them, even if I don’t understand the words. So, I’ll still check out dem meido \o/

      1. So it seems that you rely primarily on lyrics do derive some kind of stimulation from music. It’s a little different in my case as I can feel narratives and visual scenes within my head through the music and not just enjoy the aural aesthetics of instrumentation. I feel free~~~

        Nishizawa Mihashi
      2. @Stilts: Got it. FWIW, opposite for me – music is first and foremost. Even if I don’t understand the lyrics, there’s still vocals as an “instrument” if you will. I do like the band and recommend anyone who likes that genre to check out their music, but in your case their videos are band performance type (i.e. them playing /singing) and not much narrative concept. Not sure whether that still works for you or not.

      3. Oh, the lyrics don’t matter at all. What matters is if I can link a narrative to it. If that’s through the lyrics, that’s cool; often for me, though, it’s because I heard it in relation to another thing. I don’t always understand the lyrics of an anime OP/ED, but I can link them to the story (and the visuals). Same with music played in hollywood flicks. Being able to understand the lyrics sometimes gets in the way, tbh, haha

    3. I’ve been so hyped over a new Fate anime for months, imagine the disappointment when I today learned that Fate/Grand Order is only going to be a single OVA episode. WHY couldn’t they have made it a 1-2 cour series? 🙁

      1. Say whuuuuuuut, but I thought they were making a full series like they announced before. Hah, bummer. You’d think that with such popularity of ridiculous proportions, they’d have all the Yen to deduct from their savings accounts but I guess not…

        Nishizawa Mihashi
      2. @JayDrink @Nishizawa Mihashi: That was disappointing to learn for me as well. Was psyched for a full season (or two even if split cour) of Fate. Not sure why they went this route. From what I know, Fate Grand Order is pretty popular and they definitely have the money for a full series. Better than nothing I guess.

      3. Oh well 😛 Folks where I live have been grinding and paying non-stop on it just trying to get their favorite servants. And there were quite the amount of cosplays in the last event which was just a little over a week ago

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  19. Hah, this all we got? No matter, for I have grand schemes. But it shall take time yes, but it will happen nonetheless.

    Alright so anyways…

    For this time around I’ll be watching a few shows compared to last season’s ONE, which was just insane. I mean like seriously, ONE!? ONLY ONE!? Man ya gotta be kiddin me.

    As to what those shows actually are though, they are:

    1) Youjo Senki
    2) Zestiria Part 2
    3) ACCA
    4) Onihei
    5) Gintama (Binge watch the whole of Gintama next year= 2017 life goals)

    But yeah that’s pretty much it boys… By this point in time, you don’t wanna wait on your own fat ass for awesometacular stuff to pop, you instead develop platinum-encrusted balls of fortune to propel you towards actually making those awesometacular stuff yourself. And I’ve got tons of ideas but not the resources. No matter however, as I shall make that dream come to life, for I will not live life and be put down and instead I shall become an ubermensch and turn everything upside down.

    One day, you shall see my name in the credits of something, one day. It may not be now, it may not be next year, but it will happen. I will show you that my bark has the sonic boom to break the cycle! It’s time to school some n00bs! MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH!!!!!!!!!!!

    Nishizawa Mihashi
    1. Just one? What one? You got me curious!

      Also I don’t know if you know about KonoSuba and it’s just not your thing, but just in case you’ve happened to miss it I really recommend it. Never does a full episode pass you by without you feeling fully content and all laughed out.

      1. It seems that I’ve forgotten to mention Konosuba, hahahah. But worry not, as it’s time once again for me to sleep in laughter. Just a few more days, just a few more days… Mwahahaahahahha #DarknessBestGirl

        As for that one show, I’d like to mention that it’s Drifters. Everything else either got barred from entry at my mental immigration department, or got mercilessly shot down by my SAM network lol. Trust me JayDavis, there will come a point in time where one can no longer be satisfied sitting by the wayside watching things on the projector screen when one can just simply make things become reality. As to how patrons will react to one’s work that is something we may not know, but at the very least one can control some aspects that lead to favorable reactions before one’s creations are finally disseminated. In any case, there’s not much time left. Global domination waits for no one. Chop, chop~~~

        Nishizawa Mihashi
  20. Damn, and I still have awesomeness withdrawal from watching the last episode of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable… It’s not easy to find something from this season that will tide me over until the Vento Aureo anime gets announced… (Or Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova Cadenza finally gets that limited release in my neck of the woods–because the only English subtitles currently available are too half-a**ed and cringy to read… *sighs*)

    Will definitely watch:
    Seiren – This show has at least one continuity nod to Amagami. Show Spoiler ▼

    Let’s see if this will be just as enjoyable as Amagami SS
    Masamune-kun no Revenge – One boy–embarrassed and rejected by a girl he had a crush on as a child–now seeks revenge after taking a few levels in handsomeness… Should be interesting to see.

    Decided to pick up thanks to this preview:
    Demi-chan wa Kataritai – Looks like a more wholesome(?) Monster Musume no Iru Nichijou.

    Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans season 2 – Show Spoiler ▼

  21. I will watch Konosuba 2 and Youjo Senki. I just finished reading the first six chapters of the Youjo Senki manga, and I have to say I’m impressed. I just hope the anime adaptation can live up to my expectations.

  22. The only show that looked interesting to me this season are all Rom-Coms. Then I saw Season 2 of Konosuba and I got excited again.

    So Seiren is basically Amagami SS with different characters? I might check that out.

  23. “Zestiria the X” and “well paced” does not belong in the same sentence.

    And yay, this season has zero anime that piques my interest instead of last season’s one. What a promising year to look forward to.

  24. i didn’t decide to finish the first season of Rakugou because i found out it wasn’t a complete adaptation but now that the second season is gonna be just that i’d better get back on that train asap

    Onihei also looks really intriguing given my fascination with Japanese history as well as the staff behind it so also count me in for that one

    Imma check Kuzu no Honkai for my seasonal dose of soap-operaish anime, if it’s anywhere as crazy as The Affair it will be great

    and imma keep an eye out for the little witch academia series

  25. Welp, I can check tableflipping and other rage-induced reactions early off my 2017 list with Fuuka (Why do I keep hopping on Seo Kouji’s ride…). Should be a lot of fun down in the comments, though anyone who hasn’t read the manga should probably be careful. After all, you can’t get the full Seo Kouji experience (good and/or bad) without going in blind.

    The first season of Rewrite‘s adaptation was bad, but hopefully they can make some improvements for Moon and Terra. The linearity of these routes provides some hope they’ll turn out better, or at least, more cohesive than that earlier mess.

    Didn’t watch Konosuba until well after it finished airing, but now I can’t wait to keep up with the new season.

    Seiren definitely looks like Amagami, and hopefully it takes advantage of the omnibus format that its spiritual predecessor did well.

    I’ll also check out Masamune-kun, Chaos;Child, Kuzu no Honkai, and Kobayashi-san.

  26. Thanks, Without these posts I would be lost every season. Love you guys <3

    This season looks quite interesting, I'd say…

    Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu
    Tales of Zestiria the X
    Little Witch Academia

    Masamune-kun no Revenge
    Youjo Senki
    Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
    Kuzu no Honkai

  27. élDLIVE

    Why in the world would they have an official romanization that is pretty much guaranteed to be misread in half the fonts out there? Anyone wondering how it’s pronounced, just look at the Twitter handle and smh with me…

    As for the season, LWA and KonoSuba are givens (AotY candidate already for the latter, if only for what storyline it should be covering), and I’ll see if I can get back into Zestiria enough to watch the second season (still need to finish the first).

  28. I kept thinking Fuuka seemed familiar, and it was giving me a headache. You solved the mystery about it being a sequel in a sense, since I read Suzuka ages ago, and she’s Fuuka’s mom.

  29. Well, looks like i found my Animes this Season

    They are (in no special order)
    Tales of Zesteria the X (for me “Directors Cut” version. Story is way better and bonds)
    Chain Chronicle (looks adult)
    Little Witch Academia (i love the Trigger DNA of “Harry Potter” Slice of life + action)
    Gabriel Dropout (for the humor, lesser then the inverted roles.. the Devil are more Angels and opposite)
    Maid Dragon (Also the Humor)


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