March is said to go out like a lamb, but the next season of anime apparently never got the memo. After several strong showings we are looking at one of the most stacked springs in years, as the hotly anticipated sequels for Shokugeki no Souma and Boku no Hero Academia are accompanied by the return of Tokyo Ghoul, the wildly successful visual novel adaptation Steins;Gate, and incredibly surprising—but no less hyped—continuations of Full Metal Panic, WIXOSS, Amanchu, the ever popular harem High School DxD, and fighting anime’s star Souten no Ken. Not to be outdone are the latest adaptations for Sword Art Online and the Persona series, and even a remake for one of anime’s most influential OVAs in Legend of the Galactic Heroes. Plus, if we weren’t spoiled enough for choice already (hint: we aren’t), there’s a slew of promising newcomers, from the violent magical girl series Mahou Shoujo Site to the psychic comedy Hinamatsuri, the quirky monster family slice of life Jikken-hin Kazoku, and the latest otaku romance in Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii. Spring has never looked stronger, and we are here to tell you all about it. This is the Random Curiosity Spring 2018 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 the Excitement Levels we introduced in Fall 2017. Don’t recall why? Because trying to anticipate how a show is going to turn out is a fool’s errand, but we can definitely tell you how excited we are! Just remember that these levels reflect our own subjective excitement for each show, and do not necessarily reflect how each will pan out. For more information, check out the Overall Impressions section at the bottom, which includes an expanded explanation of each category and a list of all shows by excitement level.
Disclaimer: Back in ye olde year of 2012—which is practically ancient history now—previews were done by a single writer, Divine. Since none of the current writers are superhero enough to take time off of work or school to solo this thing, we’ve divided everything up among our staff (Cherrie, Choya, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Passerby, Stilts, Takaii, Zaiden, 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 a big shout out to the entire Random Curiosity crew for banding together to finish this preview. With work obligations, family plans, school responsibilities, and more than a few epic moves across country (or the world) interfering with things, this was a fun preview to put together, but everyone has persevered and the result couldn’t be better. Thanks as always to Xumbra and Divine for encoding the PVs; Zephyr for doing early prep work; Stilts for editing, people wrangling, and for being a slow bad person; Passerby for proofreading and the shorts section; and of course Cherrie for handling all the formatting, links, pictures, and any other nagging issues. Also, thanks to everyone who wrote previews. You all rock! Sometimes.
Last but not least, thank you to you, dear friends and readers of Random Curiosity. I (Pancakes) have only been here a year and a bit, but the fun of chatting with you in the comments and the use so many get from the weekly ramblings is what keeps me (and the rest) coming back every time. Also we might be closet masochists who get a kick out of unpaid labour, who can say? If it wasn’t for you we wouldn’t be doing this, so once again thank you for being a part of this amazing community, we love you all!
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.
An investigator buries two Ghosts, ghoulish humanoids who were the very last of their kind. He keeps the terrible secret of their existence, out of pity for their plight. But a small and decrepit figure digs its way out of the grave, and makes itself known to the world. That would be Kitarou (Sawashiro Miyuki), the last survivor of the Ghost tribe. Despite being physically deformed, Kitarou has a heart of gold, and tries to help both humans and youkai alike. Fortunately, he is not alone in his endeavours. His father, Medama-Oyaji (Nozawa Masako), reincarnates as an eyeball after dying to an incurable disease, and wanders around looking after his beloved son in spite of his minuscule stature. In facing off against monsters who might threaten the harmony between humans and youkai, they are joined by Nezumi-Otoko (Furukawa Toshio), Neko-Musume (Shouji Umeka), and a few other legendary creatures who might haunt the average Japanese nightmare.
Gegege no Kitarou’s generational influence cannot be understated, given how it essentially revived the popularity of classical folklore in Japanese mainstream media – effects which are still felt within the industry today. The jitters and creeps imparted by these horrors mesh delightfully with some hearty wholesomeness, resulting in a cult classic, complete with well-received reruns. Every decade or so, Toei Animation seems to enjoy busting out a new anime adaptation of Gegege no Kitarou, though this isn’t without reason. Since its original publication from 1960-69, Gegege no Kitarou is a series that has withstood the test of time by remaining truly beloved in Japan, even if it never made any impact in the international market. If you enjoy dark humour and supernatural action, you might be in for a pleasant surprise if you give this series a chance.
In a Taisho era that went on for an extra twenty-five years, the young girl Kuze Tsugumi (Kimura Juri) is in the throes of courtship. Needing to marry a man to save her family’s fortunes, Tsugumi is desperate to make the right choice, but runs headfirst into personal disaster when her younger brother commits suicide. Shocked and confused, with only a book clutched by her dead brother as any clue to the tragedy, Tsugumi’s upheaval worsens when Fukurou, an imperial investigation service, requests her assistance with the case. Tsugumi learns that the book is a Maremono, a special tome capable of exerting significant influence over its readers, and she just happens to have an ability able to decipher the sentiments (called Auras) residing within Maremonos. Wanting answers and with nowhere else to turn, Tsugumi agrees to help Fukurou in their investigation, but as she’ll soon find out, the truth can often be more painful than never knowing why.
Did someone order an otome game adaptation? Because we’ve got the next otome game adaptation right here. Nil Admirari no Tenbin is the latest adaptation from Otomate’s catalogue, and like all others of late harems of pretty boys is the name of the game. Expect plentiful amounts of romance and chivalrous swooning amidst the undeniably unique mystery drama and you won’t leave disappointed. The only concern for otome fans will be the execution. Zero-G is a hit or miss studio at the best of times, and director Takada Masahiro has no prior experience at all with full length shows. Nevertheless, should Nil Admirari no Tenbin faithfully adapt the source game story and keep the rushing to a minimum, it’s certainly capable of being a fun bit of mystery-tinged romance. Considering this one has been in the works for over two years, a little leeway is rightfully deserved.
Special Week (Waki Azumi) is an equine girl who aspires to be an athlete and idol. To follow her dreams, she transfers to Traincent Academy, where other equine girls go to train in racing and singing. Along the way, she becomes acquaintances with colleagues such as Silence Suzuka (Kouno Marika), Toukai Teio (Machico), and Vodka (Ohashi Ayaka), who share her goal of utilizing their talents to become stars. With all of the competition she faces, can Special Week hold a candle to her fellow classmates? Can Special Week withstand the competitive environment that awaits her in Traincent Academy? Find out in Uma Musume: Pretty Derby!
Uma Musume has had quite the journey. It’s supposed to be a mobile game project that Cygames is developing for this year, but has only had promotional material. If you recognize the image of horse girls sprinting on a track-and-field ring like they’re in gym class, it’s because the promotional ONA has been floating around the Internet since 2016 as one of those grand concepts that gaming/anime sites tout as the latest outlandish idea to come from popular anime. In Uma Musume’s case, it combines horse-racing with idol phone games, with your choice of horse idol sprinting across a track to obtain victory and glory. To the series’ credit, they stay true to the spirit of horse racing with all of the funny race-horse names they came up with for the girls. The fact that the girls are only visibly horses by their ears and tails also adds to the moe appeal that could make such a concept seem more normal than people give it credit for. The premise of the show is pretty straight-forward, but P.A. Works’ involvement and the direction of Oikawa Kei does build confidence that we’ll get a competent, well-made project. You’ll know if the idea alone is enough to reel you in, but only time will tell whether you’d want to say “aye” or “neigh” to Uma Musume.
Uno Saki (Ohashi Ayaka) had figured out her life. She’s a fledgling idol. She had formed a unit with her best friend, Mikage Sakuyo (Misawa Sachika). She nursed an innocent crush on said friend’s brother, Mohiro (Toyonaga Toshiyuki). They’re mundane things that a normal 15-year-old girl may be expected to deal with. But one day, Mohiro is kidnapped by demons and there are none who can help him! Saki is offered a chance: ‘Make a contract with me and become a magical girl!’. What choice did she have? She accepts. With the power of love, Saki swoops in, rescues Mohiro, and saves the day! Mohiro swoons for his saviour. Textbook happy ending. But wait—why is her magical girl form a guy (Ishikawa Kaito)? Well, a rather built and handsome guy—wait, why does he still wear the frilly skirt? What on earth is going on? What happened to Saki’s normal, 15-year-old-girl life?
In anime, girls transform. Boys transform. Sometimes, boys transform into girls. Girls transforming into boys, why not? Well, besides it being stupid, but it’s okay for anime to be stupid. In comedy, it should even be encouraged. You can’t have absurdity without at least partially short-circuiting the frontal cortex, and Mahou Shoujo Ore, based on a digital manga by Moukon Icchokusen, takes that philosophy and runs with it. Why cross-dressing magical girl idols? Because it’s dumb. Why is the mascot character a yakuza gangster? Because it’s dumb. And dumb is funny. And is humour not born of wit, and wit born of insight? Underneath Mahou Shoujo Ore’s giggles about the downstairs plumbing and the confused sexual tension is a cutting commentary about preconceived gender roles imprinted upon us by socio-eco—no, scratch that, it’s stupid. Mahou Shoujo Ore knows it is stupid. It revels in the stupid. Enjoy.
From the manga of the same name, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi tells the story of the university student Tsubaki Aoi (Touyama Nao). Born with the inherited ability to see ayakashi (ghosts), Aoi strives to take care of her supernatural brethren, feeding those in need and ensuring none go without. All of that quickly changes one day, however, when Aoi is snatched away by a demon named Oodana (Konishi Katsuyuki). Claiming Aoi’s deceased grandfather owed him a substantial debt, Oodana states Aoi must pay the collateral, and must do so through marriage—to him. Naturally, Aoi refuses such a vulgar demand, but out of respect for her grandfather she offers to pay Oodana back by working as a cook in his private inn Tenjinya. Now stuck serving up hearty food to all manner of supernatural beings while dealing with the whims of one fierce and cranky demon, Aoi’s simple and pleasant life will never be the same again.
Supernatural and anime, like peanut butter and jam it’s a classic combination, and whether as a serious romp through mature themes or a more gentle meander in slice of life, the shows we get seldom disappoint. Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi won’t be breaking that trend. With a humorous and lighthearted romance plot, this one won’t be lacking in character, and with a noticeable foodie flair spicing things up the show is bound to get more than a few stomachs rumbling. In a way KnY is the supernatural form of Isekai Shokudou, where food becomes the means to explore the various memories and relationships of Tenjinya’s clientele, Aoi and Oodana included. It’s excellent relaxation material, although considering Gonzo misses more than it hits and director Okuda Yoshiko has little experience with such series, it’s a shot in the dark just how good it will be. While it would be a good idea to keep expectations in check, if you have a thing for supernatural romance and food, I’d give KnY a chance. It’s on the right course to be more than a simple tale of wining and dining.
Elementary school student Oozora Tsubasa (Sanpei Yuuko) has a love for soccer that completely encompasses his thoughts and dreams. He started playing at a very young age, and while it was just a fun, recreational sport in his friends’ eyes, it developed into an obsession for Tsubasa. To excel further in his favorite sport, he moves with his mother to Nankatsu City, which is known for its schools with prestigious soccer teams. Although he was the best player in his hometown, Tsubasa has his work cut out for him in Nankatsu, where he will need all of his skills and talents in order to stand out from the tough competition he faces. In Nankatsu, he not only meets new rivals, but also new friends like Nakazawa Sanae (Hara Sayuri) and goalkeeper Wakabayashi Genzo (Suzumura Kenichi), whose shared interest in the same dreams as Tsubasa drives him to help his valuable friend reach his goals. Tsubasa’s ultimate goal is representing Japan at the FIFA World Cup, but it will take more than talent and ambition to live the dream.
To say that Captain Tsubasa is iconic would be an understatement. The manga, which started in 1981, has gone on to inspire professional footballers like Lionel Messi, the film Shaolin Soccer, and was included in the promotional material for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo as a symbol of prosperity in Japanese pop culture and sports. While this reboot is two years shy of the next Olympics, it aligns with the next FIFA World Cup in Russia, and will help to promote Team Japan in their efforts this year. They couldn’t have chosen a better staff to helm such a reboot as David Productions has a track record of doing justice to the source material of older, highly-beloved manga. Director Kato Toshiyuki’s efforts also ensure that the Captain Tsubasa reboot will be in great hands. While many David Productions fans are getting antsy about wanting the Vento Aureo adaptation to just be announced already, there’s no doubt that their take on Captain Tsubasa will create that same spark of magic that readers worldwide have felt when they flipped to the first page of Tsubasa’s story.
According to Gundam Build Divers, the Gundam franchise hasn’t even begun to peak! At least, not until the near future, when the popularity of Gundam and Gunpla has skyrocketed to such incredible heights that it inspires a new Virtual Reality Massive Multiplayer Online (VRMMO) Game called “Gunpla Battle Nexus Online”. In GBN Online, players can upload themselves and their Gunpla to the internet and battle with players from across the world. The player assumes the role of a Gunpla Diver, and with their chosen Gunpla model, they can take part in the annual Gunpla Force Battle Tournament to test their strength with other Divers and determine who’s the best. Our main protagonist, Mikami Riku (Kobayashi Yuusuke), is a junior high school student and an admirer of famous Gunpla Diver Kujo Kyoya (Kasama Jun). He and his friends Yukio (Fujiwara Natsuki) and Momoka (Hieda Nene) love Gunpla and play GBN together. However, his life is turned upside down when he meets a mysterious Gunpla Diver named Sara (Terui Haruka). As strange events unfold, Riku is guided by his new allies as he forms his first Gunpla Diver group, embarks on epic adventures with his friends and a ferret, dives further into GBA to face off against other Divers, and seeks to become the very best, like no one ever was.
With the success of the Gundam Build Fighters series, Divers has large shoes to fill, and faces questions such as whether it will be better than recent Gundam shows or whether there will be an attractive mom character. Rather than try to continue where the originals left off, this foray into online gaming is a good way of going about it. It lends itself to the conversation on how digital media has overtaken the old ways as the crafting of Gunpla for combat is overtaken by the talent it takes to handle a controller. It does look like it is shamefully capitalizing on the popularity of virtual game anime that are as plentiful as ever in this day and age, but it also looks like a ton of fun and offers a lot for fans of Gundam and Gunpla fans who want more of their Gundam Build fix. Models from Turn A, ZZ, 00, and Age round out our main cast as they go forth and use their mechs to become number one, and it might just be as much of a fun, exciting breath of fresh air as Gundam Build Fighters was when it came out.
A long time in the future, in a galaxy quite the same, two rival interstellar powers—the absolutist Galactic Empire and democratic Free Planets Alliance—battle over the right to rule all of humanity. Locked in a stalemate for over 150 years, both states continuously seek ways to overcome the other, but it’s only when a new group of leaders emerge that the board is finally wiped clean. While the intensely ambitious Reinhard von Müsel (Miyano Mamoru) ascends through the ranks of the Empire’s decadent Goldenbaum dynasty to rescue his sister-made-concubine, the lazy and reserved historian Yang Wenli (Suzumura Kenichi) finds himself thrust into an Alliance wartime command he very much could do without. Winding up leaders in the only conflict they have ever known, Yang and Reinhard will soon find themselves fighting not only each other, but their own sides as the desires of each man run headfirst into the harsh reality of interstellar politics.
At some point every anime fan will have heard of Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu, i.e. Legend of the Galactic Heroes. This is a series with no equal, adapted from a set of novels by the famed Tanaka Yoshiki into the longest ever OVA series featuring the largest ever assembled voice acting cast. More than Space Battleship Yamato or Gundam, LotGH defined modern Japanese space opera, arguably creating the closest version of Star Wars to date with political and philosophical intrigue that left every competitor in the dust. Any sort of remake was always going to have problems living up to LotGH’s larger than life image, and so far all the signs do little to ease concerns. Besides only one confirmed cour (and three follow-up movies) leaving little chance of getting through all the material, all original character designs have been completely (and controversially) altered, and Kuroko no Basket’s flamboyant Tada Shunsuke has been left in charge of directing. There’s nothing to say the new LotGH cannot live up to the hype, but it’s just as likely to morph into promotional pandering as much as proper (re)adaptation. Much like with Star Wars’ recent return, truly anything is possible here, so until we can see the results in action, keeping those expectations in check is firmly advised.
Hidden in the shadows of Tokyo are man-eating beings known as ghouls. Indistinguishable from humans, they blend in to society, hunting humans for food. In response, the Commission of Counter Ghoul (CCG) is formed to investigate and exterminate ghouls. After being involved in a certain incident, previous protagonist Kaneki Ken finds himself implanted with Ghoul parts, turning him into a half-human, half-ghoul hybrid. As he struggles to maintain his psychological balance and to find a place for himself, CCG launches a raid on Anteiku, Kaneki’s former workplace and a cafe rumored to be the hiding place of a legendary ghoul called the “One Eyed Owl”. Taking place two years after the Anteiku raid, Tokyo Ghoul:re is a sequel to the original series. The fight between CCG and a group of ghouls calling themselves Aogiri Tree continues, with many of the raid’s participants now missing or confirmed dead. To turn the tide, a special Quinx Squad is created composed of members capable of using ghoul abilities. They are led by a half-human, half-ghoul named Sasaki Haise (Hanae Natsuki), who is tasked with managing a squad filled with difficult personalities while grappling with his own powers and lost memories. Pierrot will reprise its role, with Mikasano Chuuji returning for series composition, and Watanabe Odahiro in his second directorial role.
Following the reference to :re at the end of Tokyo Ghoul √A, many of us expected a sequel to arrive eventually. What we didn’t expect was that it’d take three years. Since then, we’ve gotten an English dub of the anime, a live-action adaptation, and even an official English release of the manga! Thankfully the wait is over, and given how well :re answers the original series’ questions while building on its foundations with new characters, the expectations are high. The problem is that Watanabe Odahiro doesn’t have significant experience as a director, and his resume—while lengthy—is filled with key animator or episode director roles that rarely go past a few episodes. We also don’t know if they’ll just adapt :re as is, or alter it based on what happened in the adaptation’s second season, which shuffled and omitted events in an attempt to reach the original series’ ending in a single cour. The expectations based on the source material are there, but I’m hesitant to say that they’ll give the series the adaptation it deserves, especially if (given the ending of √A) they extend this to multiple cours in future seasons.
Natsuno Hanabi (Tsuda Minami) is moving back to her hometown for high school, assuming that she would return to a wonderful life back where she came from. However, she didn’t know what she signed up for when she chose to live in Tachibana-kan, a dormitory close by. What she thought would be an easy dorm for her to settle into and make her commute much simpler turned out to be much more chaotic than she expected. With a crew of unruly roommates, each with their own personality and quirks, Natsuno’s dorm life is about to be crazy, adventurous, and perhaps a little spicy.
The story that Tachibana-kan to Lie Angle is looking to tell is in the tradition of a multitude of fun dorm-ready anime. Which is a good reason to look forward to it, as it centers on life among a cast of hilarious characters who all have to find a way to cope with living with each other, differences and all. One fascinating thing to note about this anime are the list of genres that it falls under. It’s a shoujo-ai comedy, but also associates itself with ecchi and harem as well. It will be nice to see some comedy from the yuri genre given that the recent surge of yuri shows have been all about the spectacle of relationship drama. It has potential to fall into that dramatic territory with director Hirasawa Hisayoshi, but hopefully it’ll steer more toward a fun route by emphasizing the eccentricities of Natsuno’s roommates. With all the toxic relationships that have stemmed from recent netorare-inspired yuri stories, Tachibana-kan to Lie Angle has the opportunity to brighten up the genre with some humor, quirkiness, and even a little fanservice along the way.
Back in 2015, the venerable swashbuckling adventure Lupin III finally got a new anime series. Now, after a much shorter two-year-and-change wait, here’s more! After a stint capering around Italy, the titular thief Lupin (Kurita Kanichi) and his trusty partners, the crack shot Jigen Daisuke (Kobayashi Kiyoshi) and stoic swordsman Ishikawa Goemon XIII (Namikawa Daisuke), are now going to be traipsing around France. That’s exciting, since the original Lupin III manga by Monkey Punch is loosely based on Maurice Leblanc’s French novels about the gentleman-thief, Arsène Lupin, with Lupin III being, as one may guess by the numbering, the legendary heister’s grandson. So what to make of the new rival, Alber d’Andrezy (Tsuda Kenjiro), who shares the family name of the mother of Arsène Lupin I? In France there will be both history and homeland, and a past that Lupin may not care to face.
While the Lupin III franchise has had a long run, with the manga debuting all the way back in 1967, it was usually fine to jump into the anime whenever one wanted. It was mostly a series of episodic escapades and self-contained stories, with Lupin himself being a something of a timeless creature, a free spirit who always lived in the present and stayed true to his adventurous whims. Lupin III is a constant that has stood the test of time, so why change it? For this 2018 edition, though, I hesitate to offer that same advice. Lupin III (2015) actually had a semblance of continuity, and this new season may be building on that. Lupin is still wearing his blue coat, and the entire anime staff more or less returns in full for production. This includes the voice cast, who are all reprising their roles. So if you’re new to Lupin III I would suggest you at least watch the 2015 series first to get yourself up to speed. If you’re a returning fan, you already know what’s up. It’s Lupin. Even if there may be a bit more narrative this season, it’s still going to be everything we know and love about anime’s most famous thief.
The subject specimen, Tsuitsui Hikari (Uenishi Teppei), is a reclusive otaku. Itou Yuuto (Aoi Shouta) is his sole companion, a fellow otaku cast from a similar mould. Both are social outcasts due to their nerdy interests, laughed at by popular girls who dismiss their otaku hobbies as being ‘uncool’, which causes them to develop an aversion towards womenkind. But fortunately, things don’t stay this way in a romance series. One day, Tsuitsui is made to clean up a dirty swimming pool with Igarashi Iroha (Serizawa Yuu), a girl who seems to epitomise all the things he hates in the opposite gender. She skips school, comes across as bitchy, and is rumoured to constantly hang out with guys in a promiscuous fashion. However, after spending some time with her, he comes to realise that not all the things said about her were true. Behind her blunt and beautiful exterior, she’s a person who has complex reasons for her behaviour. Above all, she chooses not to judge Tsuitsui for his hobbies, and even defends him from his tormentors. Can a social misfit like Tsuitsui, who has a deep distrust of women, fall in love? Or is he going to become a mere plaything to satisfy someone’s momentary whim?
Having read the manga, I can tell you that 3D Kanojo has a character-driven story that distinguishes itself from your run of the mill shoujo series. Common archetypes are generally avoided, and each character is substantially fleshed out through the chapters. You may also find it easy to relate to Tsuitsui’s struggles, since he is bullied for having a keen interest in anime. I suspect some of us can relate. Feelings are also dealt with in a mature way and come across as quite realistic, which is successfully maintained even through periods of melodrama. I can’t guarantee an exceptional adaptation though, because with only twelve episodes to work with, either the anime will be incomplete or cuts will be made across the board. I’d prefer the former, because I hope a studio wouldn’t attempt to adapt a single volume per episode. What I can guarantee is that 3D Kanojo is a unique and refreshing story about friendship and love, that also tackles the topics of prejudice and acceptance within a high school setting.
Not to be outdone by last year’s imouto-based rabble, the spring season graces us with Alice or Alice. So how does one do the unthinkable? Quick math tells me that 1 + 1 = 2, so logic dictates that we must have two sisters instead of one. Older Brother (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), an aptly named protagonist, leads a truly blessed life. Everyday, he looks after his beloved twin sisters, Airi (Hidaka Rina) and Rise (Sakura Ayane). It certainly helps that he harbours a huge sister complex. What’s more, his sisters certainly love him back in their own way. Prepare for trouble, and make it double, as our eccentric family and friends entertain us with their daily antics!
A year on from Eromanga-sensei, an unassuming newcomer is determined to take the spring by storm through the power of incest! Making the step up to a full directorial role, Kobayashi Kousuke seems intent on tackling the taboo from the offset. Fortunately he has capable seiyuu in the main three roles, including the voice of Masamune Izumi from Eromanga-sensei and the Hidaka Rina/Sakura Ayane pair, both of whom have played the little sister role many times. Reading the source material, it would seem that the degeneracy runs particularly deep this time around. While this older brother does the household chores, and smiles all the time, don’t be fooled! He actually dotes a little too much on his younger sisters, to the point where you would consider him to be a creepy pervert. This is mostly played for laughs, so take it as you will, but I understand it can be off-putting for many. However, for those who enjoy a nice bit of incest or moe, this will probably become your weekly source of guilty pleasures.
The Singularity is here. Biological humans have been made obsolete. This happened by neither design nor serendipity, but disaster. In the year 2031, the Quantum Reactor, a revolutionary new power source meant to solve the world’s energy problems, suddenly explodes. The fallout reaches across the world with bizarre side effects. Animals start mutating spontaneously and rapidly. Machines merge with the wildlife. New hybrid lifeforms rise in dominance and wage a war on humanity that drives them almost to the brink of extinction. But when faced with monster threats mankind always has one fall-back: giant mecha. In the city of Neo Xianlong, one of the last bastions of humanity, maverick scientist Leon Lau (Maeno Tomoaki) and his sister Chloe (Touyama Nao) continue to devise new weaponry and countermeasures, but their efforts may be for naught. How can technology that requires human progress compete with technology that can progress itself?
Every once in a while, Kawamori Shoji decides to make a mecha anime. And out pops something Macross or Aquarion or … Basquash. That’s the great thing about being the executive director of an anime studio, you can make what you want. It’s not like Satelight has done poorly out of that though; no matter one’s opinion on the latest iterations of Macross and Aquarion, it’s undeniable that Satelight has built its mecha-anime bona fides by the hand of Kawamori. That said, Kawamori is not going to be in the director’s role for Juushinki Pandora, instead bringing in Sato Hidekazu from Aquarion Evol with Nemoto Toshizo from Macross Δ on series composition. Unfortunately Sato has a weak record and Nemoto is somewhat inconsistent, so there’s some cause for pessimism, but at least we still have Kawamori doing the mecha designs. Yeah, the mecha are CGI again, but they’re interesting nonetheless, and they also reflect the setting, which is definitely the main draw. We can never get enough apocalyptic science fiction in anime, and Juushinki Pandora looks like it might explore some interesting areas about the relationship between nature and technology and the obsolescence of homo sapien biology. It’s certainly a more interesting human extinction event than the usual great floods and zombie hordes, and if that’s the kind of cheer you enjoy in your anime, give Juushinki Pandora a try.
Tada-kun Does Not Fall in Love is an original romantic comedy from the folks at Doga Kobo. The story starts when Tada Mitsuyoshi (Nakamura Yuuichi), who is taking pictures of blooming cherry blossoms, meets Teresa Wagner (Iwami Manaka), an exchange student from Luxembourg. Upon arriving in Japan, Teresa got separated from her travel companion. Mitsuyoshi helps her and brings her to his grandfather’s coffee shop. Other characters include Tada’s best friend Ijuuin Kaoru (Miyano Mamoru), little sister Tada Yui (Minase Inori), sempais Sugimoto Hajime (Umehara Yuuichirou) and Hasegawa Hinako (Ishigami Shizuka), kouhai Yamashita Kentarou (Shimono Hiro), and Teresa’s fellow transfer student Alexandra Magritte (Shimoji Shino).
Did you enjoy Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun? Because this original is from the studio (Doga Kobo), director (Yamazaki Mitsue), and script writer (Nakamura Yoshiko) of that series. Heck, Nozaki’s seiyuu is even in the lead role again! I would counsel caution though, because there was more that went into Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun’s success besides studio and staff, including more seiyuu with killer comedic timing and the original mangaka Tsubaki Izumi. This time Nakamura-sensei has to write with no source material, so will it turn out as well? At least the seiyuu crew seems solid, with co-lead Iwami Manaka having proven her cute-and-comedic chops after her performance in Gamers! The vibe here seems to be going more toward romance and less hijinks (there are four girls and four boys—convenient!), which is totally fine in my book, but it is different. I do have a good amount of faith in this staff, the premise looks fun, and the promos so far look really pleasant. If you go into this wanting more Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, you may end up disappointed, but if you’d like something slightly different but hopefully with that same level of quality and execution, Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai might be for you. I know I’ll be watching, and hoping for another dark horse win from a series that has all the markers of a great time.
This adaptation of a 4-koma comedy manga tells the story of the daily lives of up-and-coming female mangaka who must face the trials and tribulations of living together in a dormitory. One of the new girls, Moeta Kaoruko (Akao Hikaru) hits close to home as she is a 4-koma manga artist who writes under the pen name Kaosu. Many of Kaosu’s roommates, however, vary in genre and expertise, such as Koizuka Koyume (Hondo Kaede), who works as a shoujo manga artist under the pen name Koisuru Koyume. Meanwhile, they share their living space with shounen manga artist Katsuki Tsubasa (Takahashi Rie), who’s pen name is Wing V. Finally, they meet one of the more peculiar roommates in Irokawa Ruki (Oonishi Saori), who is the artist behind ecchi manga under her pen name Bakunyuu♥Himeko. Differences in work ethic, stylistic preferences, and personality cause our leading ladies to butt heads as much as they find common ground.
This sounds like quite the fun series, given how it takes subsections of artists behind different genres of manga, and gives them a living space to bounce off of each other, whether its in agreement or adversity. Comic Girls has the potential to explore different facets of manga fandom with how broad they’re able to work with 4-koma, ecchi, shoujo, and shounen genres all at once. Additionally, it is always fascinating to see how anime adaptations of 4-koma manga fare, as each one takes an entirely different approach to how they adapt the material. Some are straightforward in retaining their format as individual segments with little variation to the material, while others adapt the four panel comics into 24-minute episodes that are fluid and integrated naturally enough that you could barely tell they were adapting several strips. Where Comic Girls will lean toward is anyone’s guess, but the finished product looks like it will be as fun and zany as it sounds.
Megalo Box is a spin-off, tribute, and celebration of the 50th anniversary of the classic boxing manga and anime Ashita no Joe. This sci-fi boxing series stars JD (Junk Dog) (Hosoya Yoshimasa), who participates in fixed underground boxing matches in order to make a living. At the beginning of the story he enters the ring once again, but he encounters a certain person. JD decides he wants to take on a challenge that risks everything.
“Sci-fi boxing anime” is a pretty cool idea, though there are a lot of details you’ll need to know before committing to this series. First of all, while I haven’t read or watched Ashita no Joe myself, it appears to be a classic sports story, complete with a sports anime-style protagonist who trains hard, confronts all sorts of difficulties, and wins through grit, spirit, and wanting it more than the other guy. Now take that idea, and move it to a dystopian cyberpunk future where boxers utilize metal prosthetics in the ring, because what boxing clearly needs is more brain damage. The art style is pointedly retro, so viewers who can’t abide by the old school Lupin III-type animation should steer clear. Nostalgia is a helluva drug, though, so I suspect old Joe fans are already tuning in, and sports anime aficionados could be well served by giving this a try. For everyone else, I can only say that I don’t typically go in for retro series, but the dystopian cyberpunk sci-fi boxing got my attention. I may give this a shot after all.
The story focuses on the two main characters, Gaius Sorel (Shimazaki Nobunaga) and Gigina Ashley-Bufh (Hosoya Yoshimasa), the only two employees of spell formulist dispatch office Ashley-Bufh & Sorel Co. They are met with a variety of requests from a variety of clients, all requiring the adept use of spell formulae, which are essentially chemical reactions augmented through Magic Staff weapons that cause a magic spell-like effect. The two leading men use spell formulae to fight against Beasts of Abhorrent Form, natural creatures that use spell formulae and pose a threat to humans.
Don’t be too intimidated by how much detail and description pops up when you look this one up, it should be an easy series to get invested in. The show appears to be a compelling dark fantasy anime that builds off the deep lore of the universe as well as the friendly rivalry between Gaius and Gigina while they work together to survive in this harsh universe. With highly polished visuals and the promise of magic sword fights, it’s bound to be a neat anime to watch if you’re looking to scratch that itch. It looks like enough fun, drama, and action to keep anyone engaged in the jobs and assignments of the Ashley-Bufh & Sorel Co.
Sticking to the old formula, Inazuma Eleven: Ares no Tenbin focuses on a group of boys who love to play football. Or as Americans might call it, ‘soccer’. However, their club is suddenly disbanded, and they are given a single condition for its reinstatement: winning the prestigious Football Frontier. To compete in the tournament, Inamori Asuto (Murase Ayumu) and his friends leave the island they had lived on for their entire lives, enrolling at a high school in Tokyo. However, their first match is against the number one team, Seishou Gakuen. Will Asuto and his friends have their dream come to an end, or is this where it all begins?
Inazuma Eleven is adapted from a series of games made by Level-5. As someone who is not acquainted with the franchise, my general impression is that it looks like an animated version of Shaolin Soccer, dialed up to eleven. The director Hino Akihiro deviates from his norm of being an original concept creator for Level-5, being the brains behind other games like Danball Senki and Youkai Watch. Ares no Tenbin is in fact his first foray into directing anime, but if I had to guess, he’s probably good at catering toward the demographic targeted by his games. Longtime fans of the Inazuma Eleven franchise might get a kick out of this new series, but I wouldn’t expect newcomers to have an easy time finding a comfortable foothold.
As head of the yakuza Ashigawa Group, the young and intelligent bachelor Nitta Yoshifumi (Nakajima Yoshiki) has it made. The jobs are simple, the payout is good, and by god does no one ever come to him with any annoying problems to solve. All of that changes one day when Yoshifumi is literally hit over the head by a mysterious object containing a girl called Hina (Tanaka Takako). Normally Yoshifumi would quickly rid himself of such unwanted surprises, but when Hina displays awesome psychic powers that could come in handy for business—not to mention kill him in the blink of an eye—Yoshifumi is left with little choice but to take the impulsive and lazy girl in. Now stuck playing father to a nuclear bomb of a daughter in the midst of Japan’s chaotic underworld, Yoshifumi’s easygoing yakuza life will never be the same again.
Gentlemen, say hello to the new Mob Psycho 100. Much like that romp through hilarious psychic shenangians, Hinamatsuri is a tale of crazy mental powers combined with an even more outrageous cast of characters. Any “serious” plot here is firmly sidelined in favour of comedy and slice of life as Hinamasturi’s story revolves around bite-sized story arcs focusing on the ridiculous (yet endearing) relationship between Yoshifumi and the hikkikomori-esque Hina. It’s a perfect kick back and laugh story, and with over 13 published manga volumes so far, there’s plenty of it to go around. While adaptations of ongoing manga can have their issues, considering studio feel. has plenty of experience with similar series and director Oikawa Kei is well-versed in the art of easygoing anime, it’s not that unreasonable to expect something amazing here. We won’t know how well it works until the first episode drops of course, but given the story and crew at work, I would expect Hinamatsuri to be one of this season’s top comedy contenders.
Akkun to Kanojo revolves around the quirky relationship between male lead Kagari “Akkun” Atsuhiro (Suzuki Tatsuhisa) and female lead Katagiri “Nontan” Non (Suwa Ayaka). On the outside the two look like a normal couple, but their everyday lives couldn’t be anything further. On the one hand you have the extremely tsundere Akkun, who is awfully cold toward his girlfriend but in reality is so madly in love with her that he’ll engage in activities that most people would consider borderline stalking. On the other you have Nontan, a levelheaded, down-to-earth individual who gracefully ignores Akkun’s terrible outward personality and loves him with every fiber in her body. Together, the two form an awkwardly lovable duo. To help round out the cast are Masago Matsuo (Ueda Keisuke), Akkun’s partner-in-crime, and Kagari Chigo (Kouri Arisa), Akkun’s younger sister. Two side characters who are anything but, as they try and work out just how in the world people like Akkun and Nontan could exist.
If you’ve been looking for a romantic comedy with a twist, Akkun to Kanojo could be the one. It’s almost eerie how different it feels when you flip the genders of character types you’ve seen countless times before. Besides the slight paradigm shift, there’s definitely some charm in watching Akkun do his thing. As the main tsundere of the show, it’s really funny to see him have such a cold exterior toward his girlfriend. Especially when you realize just how much he’s into her! Paired with Nontan’s ability to look completely past all of Akkun’s awkward behavior, you end up with this interesting pattern of expecting one thing only to be pleasantly surprised with what actually happens. Toss in two strong secondary characters who help balance things out and you have a story that’ll keep your attention without wearing you out. When it comes to its adaptation, Akkun to Kanojo has some strong people working on it. With Katagai Shin (Eyeshield 21) leading the charge at Yumeta Company works (Tamayura, Yuruyuri) and Yamada Yuka (Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon) handling the writing, it’s tough not to get excited thinking about what a team like this could do. It may be a bit early to call anything, but you can bet I’m excited for this one.
Have you ever wondered about what it would be like if a sports anime focused on the nitty gritty of real life instead of the shonen dreams we all have become accustomed to? Instead of watching kids in middle school or high school try to figure out their strengths and weaknesses while trying to qualify for tournaments, what would you say about watching adults worry about the stresses of life and money while they contemplate just how to go about their next pitch? Enter Gurazeni, your atypical baseball anime that dives super deep into the real life side of sports. Told through the eyes of left handed, eight-year relief pitcher Natsunosuke Bonda (Ochiai Fukushi), this show explores what it’s like when, instead of focusing on doing your best, you have to approach your performance through the lens of gurazeni or “ground money”. Simply put, what would you do if you knew that throughout your entire professional sports career you were only going to make “x” money, and that every decision you make on and off the field can drastically affect just how much money that’ll be?
All the above said, the source material for Gurazeni doesn’t leave out the best part of all sports anime—dramatic and thrilling moments where we get to watch our characters show off their athleticism in the face of ever oppressive odds are still there. The thing is, even though it draws out the same feeling of excitement, something must be said about the mindset Gurazeni’s characters go through as they reach that point. After perusing the source material, I honestly believe this show has a chance to fill a hole in sports anime that I never knew existed. With down-to-earth characters who are measured by the amount of money they make, it’s interesting to see where the balance between pushing yourself to the point of injury versus taking it easy when you have a pretty good idea of how much impact your performance will have is drawn. But like I said earlier, even if the cutthroat real life idea isn’t doing it for you, be sure to stick around to see how it all ties in when the action ramps up and you’re wondering how you could feel so passionate about someone who measures everything against a dollar value.
After a two year break, the WIXOSS franchise returns to anime with a brand new sequel in Lostorage conflated WIXOSS. Centered on the wildly popular in-universe trading card game of the same name, WIXOSS involves a group of girls called Selectors who battle one another with LRIGs, living cards serving as in-game avatars. While victory in WIXOSS can see Selectors obtain their most cherished wishes, experiencing three defeats inflicts a curse on the loser designed to ruin any chance at happiness. With last season’s heroine Suzuko (Hashimoto Chinami) proving victorious by saving her childhood friend Chinatsu (Iguchi Yuka), attention now turns to tracking down the new mastermind of the games while some familiar faces from Selector Infected WIXOSS wind up caught in the chaos. As two generations of Selectors and LRIGs find themselves back on familiar [battle]ground, the only goal now on everyone’s mind is putting a stop to the madness once and for all.
Ahh WIXOSS, it’s certainly hard finding a more imaginative anime advertisement. When it first premiered in 2014, WIXOSS quickly became known as the Madoka of TCG, utilizing Okada Mari to forge a psychologically grimdark story of suffering that took conventional card game tropes and thoroughly upended them. It wasn’t perfect by any stretch of the imagination, but those who stuck around got treated to a wild ride of plot twists and even crazier climaxes. While the follow-up Lostorage Incited WIXOSS unfortunately lost some of the magic—in part from staff changes—it left plenty of openings for a new season to take advantage of, and that indeed is what looks to be happening. With both Selector/LRIG casts featured, it’s very likely this season will answer many outstanding mythos-based questions, and with the franchise focus on psychological suffering remaining you can bet even more outrageous twists await us in the future. While most viewers probably already know where they stand regarding WIXOSS, if you have the curiosity I’d give this one a shot. For all we know this season could end up being the best WIXOSS iteration yet.
For Asagiri Aya (Oono Yuuko), life truly sucks. She’s viciously bullied at school, beaten and tormented by her devil of a brother Kaname (Okamoto Nobuhiko), and ignored by anyone afraid of her pariah status wearing off on them. More often than not suicide seems to be Aya’s only solution, but all that changes one day when she stumbles across the mysterious website Mahou Shoujo Girl. Granting her a magical device capable of making anyone disappear permanently, Aya thinks the website has given her the solution to her misery, but it’s just the harbinger of a more radical transformation. After fellow classmate Yatsumura Tsuruno (Akaneya Himika) catches Aya using her power, Aya rapidly discovers she’s not the only girl with a magical device, and that many are willing to kill over their powers. Now caught up in a world far more insidious than her old tumultuous life, Aya is about to learn what it really means to be a magical girl.
Magical girls and suffering is a well-trodden theme these days; thanks to Madoka’s overwhelming success we receive a variation or two every other season, with only a few ever truly standing out. In this regard MSS is nothing special, but it does have one thing going for it: this one gets violent. Really violent. Compared to Madoka or even Mahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku, MSS goes all in on the suffering and agony as every character takes twisted and disgusting to the absolute limit, with some like Kaname providing a showcase in reprehensible immorality. It’s textbook torture porn, which means MSS’s success is going to be heavily determined by its handling; if it skips on the violence or overdoes the censoring it could easily become the cutie breaking version of Terra Formars. Thankfully, however, with Tokyo Ghoul’s Matsubayashi Tadahito sitting in the director’s chair and confirmed Amazon simulcasting (i.e. likely no censorship), all signs point toward a fun bit of bloody, suffering-injected entertainment. As long as MSS doesn’t stray far from its pulpy, violence-driven source material, there’s no reason to doubt it being anything but a wicked ride.
As a time traveler from the future, I’m here to tell you that studio Bones is producing the one and only show that’s set to sweep the Crunchyroll Anime Awards for 2018. You guessed it right, the greatly beloved My Hero Academia is about to receive a highly anticipated third season! In a world where 80% of the population possess Quirks, a genetic mutation bestowing superpowers to next generation humans, it just so happens that Midoriya “Deku” Izuku (Yamashita Daiki) is among the 20% born without one. But that doesn’t stop our young boy from striving toward his dreams of becoming a superhero, even if he’s met with crushing difficulties that would make anyone else give up. As fate would have it, Deku ended up having a chance encounter with All Might (Miyake Kenta ), the No.1 hero, with a secret behind his superpower that Deku becomes privy to. Seeing something in the boy, All-Might chooses Deku as his successor and takes him on as his personal disciple. And so Deku’s journey begins with the passing of a torch, and the inheritance of an all-mighty legacy. Plus Ultra!
Given their recent struggles, it’s no secret that Weekly Shounen Jump is fully invested in sorting out their flagships for the next generation. At this point, it’s become pretty obvious that Boku no Hero Academia is the chosen one, destined to save the shounen genre from utter destruction. Through combining a dynamic mix of western comic norms and the conventions typical to the shounen tag, Boku no Hero Academia succeeds in capturing the hearts of many by turning in a refreshing take on Japanese-inspired superheroes. The quality and execution of the story is consistent across the board, and is in fact some of the best in recent years. As outlined by Stilts last year, the series proves to be ‘a masterclass in tension, reversals, justified twists, and well-earned victories’. Since Nagasaki Kenji returns as director, alongside most of his fellow production staff, you can be certain that this will continue to be the case, with much more to follow. With season 3 starting so soon, my excitement cannot be understated for the triumphant return of Boku no Hero Academia. YOU’RE NEXT!
For those of you out of the loop (like I was), this show is actually a spin-off of another baseball show called Major where the story followed Honda Gorou throughout his life as he became a professional baseball player. Fast forward a couple decades and now the story has transitioned from Gorou to his son Shigeno Daigo (Fujiwara Natsumi). That said, if you were expecting a fairy tale story of a professional’s son rising throughout the ranks, you’d be wrong. Unlike the monster of a player that his father was, Daigo didn’t inherit any of his father (or older sister’s) athleticism. Through a lot of hard work and love for the sport, he was able to be just about as good as your typical player except with one fatal flaw: a terrible throwing arm that could probably be out thrown by a three-year-old. Which in turn caused him to be the butt of every comparison the public could think of, leading to Daigo giving it all up and abandoning the sport that he cared about so much. That is, until one day when a transfer student by the name of Satou Hikaru (Nishiyama Koutarou) shows up and manages to flip Daigo’s view of himself upside down.
After ripping myself away from the source material because I was spending way too much time reading it, I have to say that Major 2nd checks all the right boxes when it comes to a sports anime. With the focus equally revolving around the characters and the sport, you avoid the fatal flaw of not caring about the characters who are actually doing the playing. For Major 2nd though, I think it’s greatest strength will come from the rivalry between Daigo and Hikaru. With the former troubled by his status as the son of a professional player (and also putting way too much weight on that notion), and the latter also the son of a professional player who could care less about the implications that the title carries, I can’t wait to see just how exciting things get as Daigo lets go of his inhibitions and becomes a force to be reckoned with.
Following a nearly two year wait, Amanchu! returns with its second season in Advance. Based off of Amano Kozue’s (the creator of ARIA) scuba diving manga, the series follows Ooki Futaba (Kayano Ai), a young girl who has recently moved to Ito, a rural town by the sea. Having come from Tokyo, Futaba finds herself in an unfamiliar place filled with few of the conveniences she had in the big city. Combined with her shy nature, she finds herself not looking forward to her first year of high school until she meets fellow first-year Kohinata Hikari (Suzuki Eri). A veritable ball of enthusiastic energy, Hikari drags Futaba out of her shell, introducing her to underwater diving and a group of divers that would become close friends. Through her participation, Futaba finds herself falling in love with a world she never knew existed, all while coming to love the town and life in general. J.C. Staff will return to produce Amanchu! Advance, with Satou Junichi (also of the ARIA series), Mieno Hitomi (Arakawa Under the Bridge, Flying Witch), and Gontiti returning to take roles as director, script writer, and music composer.
As my personal choice for 2016’s best slice of life series, Amanchu! Advance comes in with high expectations. Its first season was every bit the “healing” anime we expected it to be, and given the pedigree of the staff behind it, that says a lot. The magical combination of Satou Junichi, Mieno Hitomi, and Gontiti yielded a feel good story that had virtually everything. Great character interactions, mouth-watering visuals, memorable compositions for its soundtrack and OP/ED, and unique perspectives on life and the sea were all part of Amanchu!’s package, and despite the fact that we seem to get multiple great slice of life series every year now, Amanchu! still sticks out as one of the best in recent history. To say this is a must-watch for fans of the genre is an understatement, and here’s to looking forward to a series that should continue the greatness of its much lauded predecessor.
Devil’s Line could be one of the best stories I’ve ever read when it comes to vampires and the difficulties they face when you integrate them into the real world. The story revolves around human Taira Tsukasa (Ishikawa Yui) and half-vampire Anzai Yuuki (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), and it dives into a scenario that resembles something of a modern day Romeo and Juliet. Backtracking a bit, in Devil’s Line’s world vampires are nearly indistinguishable from humans and they don’t need to consume blood to survive. However, there is one distinct difference: their bloodlust, which comes out whenever they sense blood. Be it from a tiny paper cut or a gash on someone’s arm, once a vampire’s bloodlust has been triggered they turn into less of a human and more of a demon. Their eyes change shape and color, their nails grow into claws, and their mind focuses on one thing: how to suck the most blood possible from wherever it’s coming from. In order to protect the public, society has created a secret task force composed of humans and vampires to keep everyone safe. With a vast set of rules and regulations, Devil’s Line dives into what happens when you picture a perfect world but have to deal with the problems that arise when that vision collides with reality.
I’m really excited for this show. It’s tough to pinpoint exactly what it was that caught my interest, but everything from Devil’s Line’s source material was just so damn fun. Maybe it’s how the story manages to juggle three vastly different ideas as it tries to tell a coherent story. If you peek at the genres for this show, you’ll notice that it has Action, Drama, and Romance listed—which is exactly what you get from Devil’s Line. At any point in time you could be experiencing a tragic love story between a human and half-vampire that’s frowned upon, a thrilling police story that tries to fairly police vampires who may or may not be falling victim to their own genetics, or a societal analysis on just how shaky the whole idea of persecuting vampires is and the idea of whether or not it’s fair to persecute some to save the “whole”. In fact, the only uncertainty about this one might be the studio that’s producing it, but a new studio doesn’t mean they can’t do things right! Anyway, don’t let me spoil any more of this one for you—be sure to check it out if anything above managed to grab your attention!
For those of you who haven’t heard of this little series called Sword Art Online, boy do you have a bunch of stuff to catch up on. Revolving around a certain person who goes by the handle Kirito, the show follows a group of characters as they spend their time in various online virtual worlds tackling problems that tend to have real world implications. HOWEVER, Sword Art Online Alternative Gun Gale Online has very little to do with the main story of SAO, due to this being a side story that takes place in Gun Gale Online, a virtual online shooter that played an important part in the main series. This story instead follows 183 centimeter tall Kohiruimaki Karen (Kusunoki Tomori), a college student who has a height complex due to all the bullying she dealt with growing up. That made it difficult for her to interact with people face-to-face. In order to escape from the real world, she enters the world of Gun Gale Online where she ends up making a character named Lleen who’s 150 centimeters tall, likes to wear pink-colored gear, and is a beast at lighting up other players.
With the popularity of SAO, it’s no surprise that the audience for a show like this would be polarized. Based off what we’ve seen thus far, it’s safe to assume that many would blow this off as another spin-off that’s trying to capitalize on the original’s success. However, those people couldn’t be more wrong. Unlike the original show, Alternative Gun Gale Online feels more like a show made for gamers who dream about experiencing the virtual world we all hope will become a reality in the future. Toss in a main character who has to deal with their own problems and finds a way to break free from some of her stress through playing GGO and you have an experience that I think will appeal to just about anyone who’s ever played a video game. If I were to throw out a word of caution, I would say it’s best to set aside your SAO and approach this as its own thing. With new characters who aren’t bound by the already established story, I think there’s a high chance this could become another fan favorite for all of us who really enjoy gamer anime.
Shujin Academy appears to be a normal high school in modern Tokyo, and Amamiya Ren (Fukuyama Jun) appears to be a normal transfer student. But he’s actually a criminal. Made to unjustly take the fall for an influential socialite, Ren is assigned to study at Shujin as part of his probation. There he finds himself ostracised, his criminal record leaked to gossiping students by abusive teachers. But Ren finds a chance to strike back at the powerful and unaccountable. He stumbles upon the ability to enter the mental landscapes of these twisted individuals and summon forth a Persona, a spiritual manifestation of his psyche, with which he can ‘steal hearts’ and force his target to have a change of conscience. He and a group of like-minded youths decide to form a team to take down the wicked who are otherwise untouchable by conventional means, and the Phantom Thieves are born.
The Persona franchise by ATLUS is one of the most popular series of Japanese role-playing games, especially with the release of Persona 5 in 2016. It took the industry by storm and still stands as one of the most critically acclaimed titles of recent history. It seemingly had it all: some picaresque here and some dating sim there, deep mythology with an approachable narrative, a power fantasy and a stealth fantasy. How does it translate to an anime, though? Video game adaptations are notoriously inconsistent due to the difficulty of translating game mechanics into a non-interactive medium, and the previous Persona anime have ranged from decent to mediocre. Again, the Persona games are very busy and hard to fit into limited episode time, and the mechanics are often abstract and hard to capture visually. Good news though: Persona 5 the Animation comes with new staff. Shin Sekai Yori’s Ishihama Masashi will be directing, joined by Akatsuki no Yona’s Inotsume Shinichi on series composition. That’s cause for optimism, and as long as Persona 5 the Animation is not treated as just another tug on the cash cow and actually as a valuable investment in the value of the franchise, we may have a good video game adaptation on our hands.
Hell is overflowing with dead souls, who cannot find rest. But in the depths of Japanese Hell, there lurks an effective administrator at the heart of a bureaucratic system, infamous for his demonic efficiency. Feared by his subordinates and superiors alike, our cool-headed Hoozuki (Yasumoto Hiroki) pulls the strings from the background, as he spends every waking moment trying to resolve Hell’s numerous problems.
In the current industry, it seems that splitting a second season into two separate cours has become all the rage. It’s understandable that production teams sometimes require a break in the middle of their projects, and as such, Deen is returning to complete this particular venture. You can be rest assured that the overall quality should be maintained over this break. For the uninitiated, Hoozuki no Reitetsu relies on dark and dry humour to sustain itself, which can be pretty hit or miss. Old fans of the series will know what they’re getting, but if you’re interested in stuff relating to afterlife, you might find this conception of Shinto hell to be worth your while.
Lost Song is an original anime from LIDENFILMS and Netflix. It tells the story of two young women in a fantasy world of music and war. One is Rin (Suzuki Konomi), an energetic girl who loves to eat and who lives in a verdant frontier village. The other is Finis (Tamura Yukari), a songstress who spends her lonely days deep within the royal palace. Both share a special power no one else has, a miraculous power that can heal wounds, create water, and stir the wind—the power of song. Guided by destiny, the two young women each face an arduous journey. The shadow of war looms over the kingdom, and loved ones will meet their deaths as silent screams echo through a stone prison. As their destinies intersect, will the final song be one of despair or hope?
This series instantly calls to mind Symphogear or Macross, where the very premise seems designed to put two or more female seiyuu in a position to belt out songs (and sell CDs) in a world that was fashioned so that this would make sense. In this case it’s because songs are the pathway to incredible magic, at least for the two main characters. That first sentence sounded pretty cynical, but there’s a long history of music intertwining with magic, so I’m cool with that. Where it doesn’t work so well is with the glaring CGI the series segues into once the song and dance numbers begin, which reminds me of watching the first episode of Love Live! (“Whoa, sudden CGI!”), without the silly self-awareness to make it work. This is a more serious fantasy tale, with swords dripping blood and the fate of kingdoms hanging in the balance. I do appreciate that one of my favorite anime OP/ED singers (Suzuki Konomi) is going to be in a lead role, and a Yukarin is always appreciated. Lost Song will begin airing on March 31st in Japan and will be be released all at once to the rest of the world later this year, because apparently Netflix doesn’t realize how this is all gonna go. I’ll admit that I might check this out for the music (I’m a sucker for catchy pop songs), though the story is going to have to do some work to get me interested. Hopefully it gets there, because if Netflix is going to be the future of anime, I’d prefer they at least make good anime. And release it all around the world at the same time, you daft fools.
Honey Flash! The story of Cutie Honey revolves around a normal school girl, Kisaragi Honey (Sakamoto Maaya). She was your average girl until her father was murdered by the Panther Claw organization, who were seeking something known as the Airbourne Elemental Fixation Device. She then finds out that she is actually an android that her father created with that very device embedded within her. Upon learning about her and her father’s secrets, she aims to strike a balance between her ordinary school life and her quest to avenge her father as she pursues the Panther Claw. While the story and lore of Cutie Honey Universe could differ from Honey’s classic origin story, it aims to recapture the same fast-paced action and erotic fanservice of Nagai Go’s classic 1973 series, only this time, there’s more than one Honey!
This new project, alongside DEVILMAN crybaby, commemorates the 50th anniversary of Nagai Go’s works, and helps to revitalize the interest in his series that crybaby helped to cultivate. Nagai himself has explained that the main theme of this particular adaptation is “Kakko Kawaii Onnanoko” (Cool and Cute Girl), so Honey, her friends, and her foes will undergo a certain stylish flair that is specific to our modern times. Promotional material has steered towards highlighting a certain blonde cohort to Honey as her dakimakura will be available to coincide with the anime’s release. With that alone, it’s easy to see that we can look forward to the series’ trademark tongue-in-cheek fanservice to go along with our cool and cute themes. Universe already has some connection to crybaby, as a staff member (Yokoyama Akitoshi) who assisted with numerous Yuasa Masaaki productions will direct the new adaptation. Although his directorial credentials might raise flags with some viewers, his experience could do justice to both the stylistic choices that made crybaby a success and the titillation that makes Cutie Honey Universe a fitting entry into the classic franchise.
From the RPG of the same name, Caligula takes place in the future where the downtrodden masses can escape their pain by reliving their high school lives in Mobius, a virtual reality program. Simply find meaning in the songs of μ (Ueda Reina), Mobius’ virtual idol AI, and before one knows it one is enjoying life at idyllic Kishimai High School. There’s just one catch: when you enter Mobius, you stay. Forever. For some like second year Shikishima Ritsu (Sawashiro Chiharu), being a student for life isn’t all it’s cracked up to be, so with fellow like-minded Mobius members they form the Go-Home Club for the sole purpose of escaping the program. With μ herself opposing their actions alongside a group of Mobius loving oddballs called the Ostinato Musicians, the Go-Home Club has its work cut out for it, but with the promise of Mobius losing its lustre by the day, these kids are determined to break through back to reality once again.
Video game adaptations are an anime crap shoot a lot of the time. Between representing game mechanics and dealing with a different storytelling approach, the results can prove underwhelming, and Caligula isn’t likely to be any different. With the original game releasing to less than stellar ratings and the anime coming out the same time as Caligula’s remake (can someone say promotional material?), it’s hard imagining this being the new Shingeki no Bahamut, but there are some positive signs. Studio Satelight (Log Horizon) for one has good experience tackling similar adaptations, and with SukaSuka’s Wada Junichi handling direction there’s a decent chance at seeing Caligula’s main story at its best. Plus with all of the game cast (who are all seasoned idol anime veterans) reprising their roles, this one won’t be lacking for the complementary array of catchy idol song tie-ins. While always a good idea to remain cautious on any video game adaptation, should Caligula align its pieces right, there’s nothing stopping it from being one of this season’s potential surprises.
On the edge of a city, inside a sleepy forest, lies a broken piano that has lost all trace of its sound. The kids at school create rumours that it’s haunted, and attempting to play it at night becomes a test of courage. Amamiya Shuhei (Hanae Natsuki), a transfer student hailing from a lineage of distinguished pianists, resents the expectations laid upon him of seeing his family’s musical legacy through. He experiences peer pressure from bullies to try and take this test of courage, in order to prove his manliness. However, Shuhei’s life takes a turn when he meets Ichinose Kai (Saitou Souma), the son of a prostitute. Although Kai has never had any formal musical training, he is able to remember any song he’s ever heard and reproduce melodies from the piano within the forest. This earns him the respect of Ajino Sosuke (Suwabe Junichi), a former master pianist who lost all ability to play following a terrible accident many decades beforehand. Kai firmly refuses to hone his techniques under Ajino’s tutelage, but once he hears Chopin, and discovers that he’s unable to play it with unrefined finger techniques, he returns to properly pursue the path of the piano. Can the wild beauty in Kai’s talent be tamed? Through his encounter with an incredibly prodigy, Shuhei’s previously uninspired path is about to change forevermore.
On the 20th anniversary of its first serialisation in a magazine, Piano no Mori receives a proper anime adaptation, which will hopefully cover the full extent of its 26 volume run. Coming from someone who has read the manga, the source material is truly a masterpiece, and once won the Grand Prize for best manga at the 12th Japan Media Arts Festival. Two boys from completely different backgrounds aspire to be piano maestros, all while overcoming despair and hopelessness in regards to their respective circumstances. Dark and dramatic moments are successfully contrasted, with emotional freedom delivered through a love for music. And much like Nodame Cantabile or Shigatsu wa Kimi no Uso, it’s able to elicit a musical appreciation for the classical style by sheer virtue of the story alone. Worryingly, Fukushima Gainax is a mere offshoot of Gainax that has never handled a full TV series before. For the good of the anime world, I hope that they can live up to the reputation of their founding father and bring this remarkable series to life.
Following a brief hiatus, Shokugeki no Souma’s third season returns with the latter half of its two-cour run. The first cour saw the beginning of Toutsuki Academy’s Moon Banquet Festival, an annual gala and competition where students’ profit margins determine victory. Those who found themselves unable to profit found themselves with the threat of expulsion, naturally bringing Yukihira Souma (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) into the fray. While competing against Elite Ten member Terunori Kuga (Kaji Yuuki), the return of a dark figure from Erina’s past culminates with a threat to the existence of the Polar Star Dormitory and a plot to overturn the very foundations of Toutsuki Academy. Having weathered the initial wave, Yukihira and a growing group of friends now find themselves caught in between the machinations of the food world’s elite. As one group seeks to keep Toutsuki open to all with talent, another seeks to turn Toutsuki into a haven for select culinary creations and techniques. J.C. Staff will return as the series’ production studio along with the first cour’s main cast and staff.
The Shokugeki train continues and we all know what that means. Mouthwatering culinary creations, cooking showdowns, and foodgasms are the expectation, as is the steady rise of Yukihira Souma to the top of the culinary world. Now shouldering the hopes of those wishing to preserve Toutsuki as the institution it was previously, the stakes are higher and the level of competition more challenging than ever. The Elite Ten have taken center stage as the targets to beat for everyone involved, and it’s hard not to get excited for a series that’s been enjoyable throughout its entire run and continues to add more to its shokugeki formula while maintaining the development of its side characters despite a growing cast. With the same studio, cast, and staff returning as well, look for Shokugeki no Souma: San no Sara – Toutsuki Ressha-hen to be one of the better offerings of the spring season.
Oh boy—after a one season break we have the return of a magical boy classic. Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu HAPPY KISS is the continuation of the Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu series that concluded things in an hour long OVA toward the end of 2017. However, the spirit of Binan High School’s Earth Defense club lives on in this new sequel. For the uninitiated, the Earth Defense Club specializes in doing just about nothing. As more of a joke club (or a way to escape the “going home” club), its members lounge around after school while chatting over a nice hot cup of team. Afterwards they frequent the Kurotama Bathhouse where they enjoy a rather luxurious hot-bath experience. That is, they used to enjoy this type of life, up until they were magically whisked away (naked mind you) by a mysterious prince from the country known as Honyara Land where our five boys end up taking part in deciding who the next heir of the country will be.
I know the intro to Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu HAPPY KISS probably sounded ridiculous, and to an extent it is. But you’d be wrong if you didn’t think this show was taking it every bit as seriously as every other show out there. Because when it comes to execution, the people behind this show manage to do a pretty damn good job at parodying a ton of genres at once. It’s tough to know whether to recommend shows like this which rely so much on comedy, since different things are funny to different people. But if you’re looking for a show that is definitely different from traditional offerings, goes all the way when it comes to executing its ridiculous premise, and somehow found enough commercial success to have two prior seasons and an HOUR long OVA to close out those seasons, there’s nothing wrong in giving Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu HAPPY KISS a shot.
Having long inhabited Japan prior to the arrival of Japanese people themselves, the Ainu are discontent with becoming second-class citizens. As they stockpile a reserve of gold, preparing to fund an uprising against the Japanese government, a brazen criminal murders some Ainu tribesmen. But with justice catching up to him, the thief hides his ill-gotten gains before being captured by the police. He most certainly will not be let out of prison, at least until he reveals the location of the gold. However, he concocts a plan whereby the details of said location are tattooed across the backs of 24 prisoners. Sugimoto Saichi (Kobayashi Chikahiro), a survivor of the Russo-Japanese war nicknamed “Immortal Sugimoto”, now seeks the riches promised by the gold rush, hoping to save the widowed wife of his now deceased comrade. Through pure chance, he encounters one of the 24 prisoners, gaining his first hint toward the legendary treasure. After partnering with an Ainu girl named Asirpa (Shiraishi Haruka), who is looking for her father’s murderer, they go on a bizarre adventure to discover the stash. Along the way, they fight against powerful factions such as the Japanese army, as well as a powerful criminal syndicate that is also interested in acquiring this sizable wealth.
Crazy and energetic from its inception, yet thoroughly compelling, Golden Kamuy has been making waves within manga community. With 4.6 million copies in print and having won the 9th Manga Taishou award, which has previously been awarded to Chihayafuru, 3-gatsu and Gin no Saji, the quality or popularity of this series isn’t in doubt. Particularly impressive is how it doesn’t get too self-important, nor does it pull cheap tricks to keep our interest. It’s also has an admirable dedication to accurately depicting the Ainu culture. It pulls together a mishmash of conflicting genres that just shouldn’t work together, but somehow, they do. Without further spoilers, let’s have a look at the production team. Studio Geno has really impressed me with its exciting adaptation of Kokkoku, which proved itself to be a dark horse of its season. Nanba Hitoshi lacks an inspiring CV as a director, but it seems like he can generate a fair bit of hype and excitement through both his storyboarding and directorial vision. Is this worth a shot? If the prospect of a bloody battle royale between hardened badasses tickles your fancy, then hell yeah!
Imagine, if you will, a family slice-of-life, except most of the family are mutated! This is the premise of Jikkenhin Kazoku, otherwise known as Frankenstein Family. A scientist couple had children they raised in their laboratory, four of which have been mutated in different ways such as gaining telepathy, plant genes, spider genes, and dog genes. The youngest child, Dannis, is the only one who grew up as a normal human, and tries to find the medicine to give the rest of his siblings their fully human forms back. One day, the couple is arrested for conducting illegal experiments, allegedly for performing genetic modification on their children. How will these family members who grew up in the laboratory survive in the outside world?
This series is particularly interesting because of how bold it looks as it tries to see what obstacles and perks there can be for the kinds of mutations these kids have to live with. It’s described as a slice-of-life, but wants to explore more of its deeper themes such as trying to find a sense of belonging after being shut away from the world for most of their lives, or what to think of their parents for doing Shou Tucker’s big no-no to almost their entire family. It sounds like an intriguing story that combines the serious undertones behind the origin stories of the cast’s mutations and the mellow slice-of-life adventures the cast has as they grow adjusted to their new place in society. Will they be welcomed by people who pity them? Will they be able to apply their powers to their daily activities? Do they want to get rid of their mutations, or has it become so much of a part of them that it feels like they’re getting rid of themselves? These are interesting ideas that it appears Jikkenhin Kazoku will explore.
There was once a man named Kenshiro, who was famed for saying ‘Omae wa mou shindeiru‘ while poking down bad guys, right before they disintegrated into a pile of mush. If we delve into the specifics of things, we can trace everything back to his namesake: Kasumi Kenshiro (Yamadera Kouichi). Known as ‘The King of Death’. Kenshiro Senior roams the streets of 1930s Shanghai, subduing any villains who come across his path. This becomes a frequent occurrence, since the place is embroiled in a power struggle between various factions, each seeking to carve out their own brand of laws and governments. As the 62nd successor of the Hokuto Shinken, it is down to Kasumi Kenshiro to restore peace and justice to his troubled locality.
The access threshold for Souten no Ken REGENESIS is ridiculously high. It’s a sequel to Souten no Ken, which is a prequel to Hokuto no Ken, and takes place in between. Therefore, if you want to watch this show with all the required context, there’s a whole lot of content to crunch through. Alternatively, it can serve as a simple action flick for those who want a quick way of satisfying their fighting itch. There is no production experience to speak of from the staff, but as the industry leader on adopting CGI, Polygon Pictures (Ajin, Sidonia no Kishi, Blame) merges 3D animation with a very old art style to bring us this new series – though this type of combination hasn’t always gone over well with manga fans. Nonetheless, Souten no Ken REGENESIS promises to be an action flick about gangster rivalry and territory wars, that happens to feature the beloved Hokuto Shinken fighting style.
This slice of life manga’s translated title, Railroad Crossing Time, helps to explain the premise that encapsulates the vignettes captured in the series. The story is told through a series of omnibus short stories featuring conversations from women who are waiting for the next train to arrive. Many topics surface along the railway crossings, from bittersweet talks among high school girls to elementary school students gossiping about occult events they’ve encountered. The idyllic times that these girls and women encounter in their daily lives are the central focus of this anime.
Fumikiri Jikan is a mysterious anime in that it has a plentiful list of characters and voices, but it is a fairly new manga for a fairly new production company, EKACHI EPILKA, by director Suzuki Yoshio, who was previously but an assistant director. Although the details for this anime are relatively mysterious, its status as a slice-of-life, and its interest in creating a small anthology of stories interconnected in their relation to railroad crossings is fascinating. It offers up a level of mystery and nuance that leaves your expectations with something more to hold onto than any projected, preconceived notions of what exactly to expect from each of the characters’ stories. It will be interesting to see how each of the stories is adapted or whether the tone will be toward straight-up comedy, cozy warmth, or the naturalistic feel of just seeing a group of friends talking among themselves.
The Oppai Dragon is returning for a fourth season! This series once again stars Hyoudou Issei (Kaji Yuki), a shamelessly perverted high schooler who was killed by a girl on his very first date. Fortunately he was resurrected (as a demon) by the beautiful and busty school idol Rias Gremory (Hikasa Yoko). Now Issei is one of Rias’ “chess pieces”—her Pawn—along with her flirty Queen Himejima Akeno (Itou Shizuka), taciturn Rook Toujou Koneko (Taketatsu Ayana), ikemen Knight Kiba Yuuto (Nojima Kenji), ditsy Knight Xenovia Quarta (Taneda Risa), gentle Bishop Asia Argento (Asakura Azumi), ultimate trap Bishop Gasper Vladi (Sakura Ayane), and hopeless Valkyrie-turned-teacher Rook Rossweisse (Kakuma Ai). This season will cover the 9th volume “Pandemonium at the School Trip” and the 10th volume “Lion Heart of the School Festival” arcs.
For anyone who hasn’t heard of High School DxD yet, here’s the long and the short: it’s action fanservice done right. It’s one of the better magical-fantasy-action-harem-ecchi series because it leans into the fanservice (it’s shameless, but that’s endearing), it doesn’t neglect the action (it’s not top tier on its own, but it hits all the right notes), and there’s actually some effort put into the plot. As a bonus all the haremettes are cool with the harem setup, which avoids tiresome drama and lets the wish fulfillment silliness take hold. There are some big changes coming to this season, though. The previous three seasons were all animated by TNK, directed by Yanagisawa Tetsuya, and with series comp by Yoshioka Takao, while this one is animated by Passione, directed by Sueda Yoshifumi, and with series comp by Konuta Kenji. Whether that’s a good change remains to be seen, but the TNK crew arguably earned their firing, because after two and a half good seasons they totally botched the (anime original) ending of BorN. It also means we’re in for new character designs, which are perfectly fine if a bit jarring after so long with the old ones. We’re back to adapting two light novels per season, which is a good pace, so if the new team can just execute on the source material then they’ll be all right. That plus provide plenty of bouncy, booby fanservice. What? The ecchi comes first and foremost with High School DxD, and I’m sure fans wouldn’t have it any other way.
At the popular Japanese-style tea house Rokuhoudou, customers can count on receiving services far beyond your typical expectations. Guests are not only served excellent food and exquisite drinks, but are treated like family. If customers wish for a helping hand to solve any issues that plague their daily lives, the staff at Rokuhoudou are more than happy to assist. The tea shop is run by four men, tea expert Tougoku Kyousui (Suwabe Junichi), latte artist Gregorio Valentino (Ono Daisuke), patissier Nakao Tsubaki (Yamashita Daiki), and chef Nagae Tokitaka (Nakamura Yuuichi). Together, they are consummate professionals who use their talents to serve the best tea and plates that Rokuhoudou offers, and ensure that their guests leave with a positive outlook on life.
The premise may sound familiar as a blend of the feel-good hospitality of various series and anime’s recent fascination with food and drinks. As a tea fanatic, it’s exciting to see a show that could potentially dive into the nuances and details behind types of tea and methods of brewing that match the quality of traditional Japanese tea shops. For those into attractive men, this is also a must-watch as it has Ono, Suwabe, Nakamura, and Yamashita all in the same place as the voices of the suave, sophisticated men behind Rokuhoudou. For anyone who loves the feel of shows centered around cafes, it is nice to see more material like Rokuhoudou Yotsuiro Biyori surface, and hopefully, it spares no expense in capturing what makes the dishes and cups at tea shops delectable and refreshing.
Last Period: The Story of an Endless Spiral is an adaptation of the mobile game of the same name from mobile developer Happy Elements. The story takes place in a world where fantastic beasts called Spirals are born out of isolation. Those who can defeat the beasts are called Periods. 14-year-old Haru (Hanae Natsuki) is one such Period, an apprentice assigned to the Arc End 8th Branch. However, after a mysterious theft sinks the division into bankruptcy, the Arc End headquarters abandons the 8th, leaving it with only three Periods, Haru included. Haru and the others set out to rebuild their branch by completing quests.
I’m a sucker for these semi-generic fantasy adventures, where the world is all about quests, monster battles, and bands of friends struggling together. It was actually a pleasant surprise to find that the premise works for me, because this series originally caught my eye mostly because of the art. The character designs are just so vibrant and full of personality, and the promos show smooth animation that can really suck you in. Story-wise I would go in expecting a light-hearted affair, both because of the art style, the palette choices, and because the main character is 14 years old but looks younger. I doubt this will go grimdark. I’d also go in expecting a fair amount of comedy, because when there’s a trio who looks like Team Rocket with a goofier fashion sense, I don’t think serious business is on the table. Video game adaptations are generally pretty fraught, so approach this with all due caution, but if the art style or the upbeat fantasy adventure appeals to you, consider giving this one a shot.
We usually spend the first paragraph of these previews giving a summary of the story, but it’s impossible to talk about the story of Steins;Gate 0 without spoiling the original Steins;Gate. This is a direct sequel, and completely without context if lacking the first series. I’ll give the blurb in the second paragraph, and those who have already experienced the original or don’t care about spoilers can jump there. If you’ve never watched the first Steins;Gate, though, I highly recommend it. It was an adaptation of a highly acclaimed visual novel, and a very solidly executed anime in its own right, still one of the top offerings of its genre. It managed to tell well, in a linear medium, a story about time travel and its consequences, and those are always complicated because messing with causality opens a can of worms and the possibility of incoherent timey-whimey balls. That said, Steins;Gate 0 is even more convoluted and is definitely a difficult adaptation. If that wasn’t concern enough, there’s also been a staff shift. I would say that if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it, but unfortunately Steins;Gate 0’s director has been changed to Kawamura Kenichi, whose only prior experience in the main director chair is Qualidea Code. Thankfully, we still have Hanada Jukki held over to oversee the scripts, which will hopefully help the story maintain the same standard as the original. If you’re wondering what it’ll be about, here’s how it goes:
[Spoilers for Steins;Gate] In the year 2010, university student Okabe Rintarou (Miyano Mamoru) accidentally invented a time machine. No good comes out of it. Even with extensive use of the time machine Okabe could find only two possible futures: one where his childhood friend Shiina Mayuri (Hanazawa Kana) is killed and international research organisation SERN takes over the world using time machine technology, or one where his love interest, genius researcher Makise Kurisu (Imai Asami) dies and World War III breaks out. After a recent failed attempt to save Kurisu, a mentally and emotionally drained Okabe finally decides to give up and forswear meddling with time forever. But one day, Okabe attends a presentation by a professor from an American university. His lab, the Brain Science Institute, had invented a method of copying and digitising human memory, which could then be used to create an AI simulation of a human being. One such AI has already been created, based on someone Okabe knew well, someone whose knowledge of time travel theory was responsible for global dystopia in a different timeline, someone who should no longer exist in this world: Makise Kurisu.
This quasi-original anime centers on two protagonists. First is Jinguuji “Jay” Kouma (Suzuki Tatsuhisa), the smart and handsome student council president of Koyomi Academy, whose elegant smile captures the hearts of all the women. The other is Hayakawa Tsubasa (Satou Takuya), the talented and gentle shop assistant at a charming cafe, whose cafe latte with owl latte art is very popular with female customers. But the two men have a secret: they’re Butlers, guardians of a clan which has one thousand years of history and a peculiar destiny. They’re also from one hundred years in the past, and only arrived in the present due to an errant timewarp. Together the two men travel through time to fight their archenemy, while also experiencing a slapstick comedic school life.
Do you like bishounen? How about anime based on Chinese mixed media projects? If you answered “yes” to one of these, keep reading. This quasi-original series is based on the mixed media project “Intouchable Butlers” produced by China’s SUMMERACG, and it’s populated almost entirely by pretty men (and one pretty, plot-significant imouto). I’m unsure what tone it’s going for, since some of the promotional material talks about goofy slapstick comedy, but the promo videos are all dire dramatic music and self-serious battles. What’s definitely true is that the boys are pretty, and I appreciate that a woman is doing the series composition for a series aimed squarely at women, even if Shimizu Megumi doesn’t have anything else on her resume. After that, just ask yourself this: Do you want to watch an anime where each character has an image color? (Emerald green, light brown, indigo, etc.) I feel I’ve told you enough.
This original series by BONES stars the straightforward and innocent Amakasu Hisone (Kuno Misaki), a rookie with the Air Self-Defense Force who’s stationed at Gifu Base. She’s been struggling with how she sometimes unintentionally hurts people with her words, which is why she decided to join the Air Self-Defense Force in the first place, hoping to keep a certain distance from others. This decision led to a fateful encounter, because it was there that she met an “OTF” (Organic Transformed Flyer) dragon hidden on the base, and it chose Hisone as its pilot. When Maso-tan soared into the sky with Hisone, her fate as a dragon pilot was sealed. What’s more, it is said that dragons have a key to the future of the world…
What if a story about fighter pilots, but their planes are also dragons. But there are also jets too! That’s the quirk to the world of Hisone to Maso-tan, and it’s both deeply weird and intriguing. It’s not an idea that would get my attention in a pitch meeting, but now that someone’s actually made a whole anime about it, I’m curious as to what they know that I’m not seeing. I’m getting vibes of those stories where a small kid befriends a big friendly beast, though in this case Hisone is an adult, and the proceedings are wrapped in a military setting. I actually get an almost relaxing vibe from the the promo videos—let’s call it deliberate—which hints at more low-key drama as opposed to adrenaline-fueled action. The big goofy face on the dragon Maso-tan sure hints at that. As befitting a BONES production the animation is more kinetic and free-flowing than the current norm, something it shares only with Trigger in the modern industry. The staff features some old hands, including an occasional Trigger director and an old Gainax legend, but the most notable (and infamous) is Okada Mari, who at this point has an almost M. Night Shyamalan-esque reputation even though she’s been straying from her old tricks and still doing good work (unlike M. Night Shyamalan). Which is to say, I wouldn’t go in expecting melodrama just because she’s involved, though I might enjoy it if that happens. This is a weird enough idea that I can only say, “Try out an episode or two,” because who knows if it’ll be any good. The pedigree is there, so now we just have to see how it turns out.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku isn’t your typical romance story. Revolving around the love life of Momose Narumi (Date Arisa) and Nifuji Hirotaka (Itou Kento), the story asks the question, “How difficult could it be for a fujoshi and a gamer to fall in love?” A question that may seem pretty obvious at first, but in reality is a little more difficult than you would have originally thought. Luckily, Narumi and Hirotaka make for fantastic leads with a back story that could make any romantic’s heart swoon. Childhood friends who lost contact after middle school, the two are reunited when they realize they work together at the same company. Except Narumi (somewhat) tries to keep her otaku tendencies under wraps while Hirotaka couldn’t care less who sees him grinding out dailies on his phone or his PSP. Together with their respective work-senpais—Koyanagi Hanako (Sawashiro Miyuki) for Narumi and Kabakura Tarou (Sugita Tomokazu) for Hirotaka—who also have a history of their own as former high school classmates, Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii takes a slightly more mature and nuanced look at just what it means to be in love with somebody.
Boy, I haven’t been this excited for a romcom in a while, and I’m the type of person who will leap at the opportunity to watch one. For Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii, I must say that the lure of otakus dating reeled me in, but the overall story and the presentation of it all is what kept me coming back for more. As with any romance, the characters and their supporting cast are what make or break a show, and I can only see great things for this one. Keeping things small with a core cast of four characters, everyone gets ample time to develop and become something more than what they started as. Toss in the super relevant material of otaku-related activities (Comiket workshopping, cosplaying, game nights) that are integrated into the “romance” part of the show and could mirror a lot of our own real life’s pretty well. But as if that wasn’t enough, we have the one and only A-1 Pictures leading the charge. Something that in itself doesn’t mean much, but when you look at their track record, there’s definitely something going on there that’s fostering a healthy production environment for a show like this. Which for us (the viewers) should be good news! So, if you’re looking for a romantic comedy that has a fun premise, great characters, and a lot of material to keep you coming back for more, why not give Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii a shot?
Slavery. Maybe you’ve fantasized about it in some form or another, being able to make your most hated enemy do your bidding or have that crush reciprocate your feelings. In Dorei-ku’s world, such things are reality. Thanks to a small wearable device called an SCM, people can turn others into their permanent slaves, with the only requirement being to beat a fellow SCM wearer at any agreed upon game. Win, and the loser’s life is yours for the taking, but lose and you may never taste freedom again. As word of SCM spreads, many like Oota Yuuga (Suzuki Ryouta) naturally begin turning to the device to solve their problems, whether that be for revenge, attention, or in Yuuga’s case, a simple test of mettle. Everyone has their reason for putting on the device, but as all SCM users like Yuuga will eventually learn, the consequences of use can be far greater than they ever imagined.
Oh boy, now here’s a hot potato. Fetish anime are a dime a dozen any day of the week, but Dorei-ku takes the concept and runs with it all the way. Everything from perverse sexual fantasies to outright physical torment is on the table here, and the manga doesn’t flinch at showing each act in disgustingly brutal detail. It’s truly a cornucopia of psychologically crazy and ridiculous pseudoscience (no magic shenanigans), but the series also has a surprisingly calculating side at work, as every character interaction comes down to a game of some form or another. In effect, Kakegurui on steroids. How well it works will naturally boil down to execution, but with TNK (and Zero-G) animating, and Tsugumomo’s Kuraya Ryouichi directing, you can firmly expect that every ribald and heinous act will be played to its fullest. Excessive censoring, chopping, or simple budgetary constraints can of course sink this show, but if Dorei-ku sticks to the path of pure popcorn entertainment, there’s nothing stopping it from being one hell of a wild ride.
Recently, there’s been a place that everyone’s been talking about in the Old Capital. Tucked away in a corner of this medieval fantasy world, amid the brick and mortar and shingled rooftops, you might find an unassuming establishment by the name of Izakaya Nobu. Though it has an unimpressive and wooden exterior, stepping in feels like travelling to distant lands. This is a cozy tale revolving around a Japanese bar in another world, as well as the customers who visit, and the unfamiliar foods that they get around to eating.
After dabbling in nothing but Gundam, Love Live!, and the Code Geass movie series for more than twelve months, Sunrise has decided to turn their attention to the isekai trend, in order to raise some quick cash to fund their passion projects. You may think I’m joking, but it’s actually hard to tell, since they might have cheaped out on the staff. Ono Katsumi is hardly a director who shakes up the industry, though YuGiOh 5D’s was probably the last YuGiOh instalment I enjoyed before that franchise went off the rails. However, I’m confident in saying that poor directing is unlikely to ruin such simple yet engaging source material. Does anyone remember a really popular isekai food show that aired a while back? Expect something similar, with the key distinguishing feature being the Red Dragon. Isekai Izakaya Nobu has no such assurance against threats that might seek to ruin its comfiness, though the customers promise to be equally as interesting, and the food equally as appealing.
There is something off with the world as we know it. Anachronistic military technology, decades more advanced than what should be currently possible, have been trickling in since the Cold War, and modern warfare has become defined by improbable super-weapons like giant robots and cloaking devices. This ‘Black Technology’ is made possible by individuals who, unbeknownst to even themselves, contain in their head scientific knowledge of inexplicable origin. They are collectively known as the Whispered, and include people like Chidori Kaname (Yukino Satsuki), who would be an average high school girl if not for her intuitive knowledge of recondite physics. Such knowledge puts her under many crosshairs, and thus international mercenary organisation Mithril dispatched lifetime soldier, professional mecha pilot, and amateur teenager Sagara Sousuke (Seki Tomokazu) to infiltrate Kaname’s school and act as her bodyguard. But Mithril is opposed by a shadowy paramilitary organisation calling itself Amalgam, which seems to have access to Black Technology similar to Mithril. Amalgam has designs for the Whispered, and their reach may be greater than anything Kaname and Sousuke can hope to resist.
Full Metal Panic! has come a long way. Sixteen years ago it was an anime adaptation by the now probably-deceased-but-strangely-not studio Gonzo, later series were picked up by a fledgling Kyoto Animation, and now Xebec will be animating Invisible Victory. Xebec may not be a bad pick, as traditionally they have had, if nothing else, plenty of experience with mecha anime. When one thinks of Xebec, one thinks of mecha and fanservice, and FMP! has always served up both with aplomb. It was half mecha drama, half romantic comedy, and half fish-out-of-water slapstick, 150% anime, with wide appeal. That said, the best of FMP! was arguably its humour—Fumoffu still stands as one of the tightest comedies in anime—but if Invisible Victory continues following the source novel, the humour will have to take a back seat. That’s not saying there will be no comic relief, just that it will noticeably recede as the plot moves further into Serious Business. Perhaps we should temper our hype slightly, especially since director Nakayama Katsuichi is relatively fresh (though Planetarian was pretty great). However, original author Gatoh Shouji is going to be doing the writing himself, which is usually promising. And let’s face it, not matter the predictions, we’ve waited more than a decade for more Full Metal Panic! The hype is real.
There’s only one word for this season: wow. It would be a lie to say I (your ever
As for levels, we’ll continue with the Excitement Levels introduced in Fall 2017, which includes four main levels plus Established and Niche for special cases. Our goal with this change was to make it easier to use the top and bottom of the scale, and to take away the incentive to hedge our bets—after all, we’re not saying these shows will be good or bad, we’re just saying how excited we are. Exciting things can be flawed, and unambitious things can be fun! 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 laugh when we get all hot and bothered about a show that ended up splattering spectacularly against the wall.
As usual, these levels were arrived at by our regular (and reliably shady) “Excitement Council” of Passerby, Zephyr, and—the boss man himself—Stilts. While we’ve gone to great lengths to consider multiple viewpoints and not get swept away by their own proclivities, these aren’t predictions, and shouldn’t be taken as such. Take these labels with a liberal helping of salt.
Note: Lists are sorted in alphabetical order.
High excitement shows are the ones we’re truly pumped about. These are the shows we want to watch the most, and which we think have a good chance of being exemplars of their kind — or at least come close. Shows in this category might be sequels to excellent anime, adaptations of highly regarded source material, projects with stellar pedigrees, or even originals that just light up our minds. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to feel like something special. If you consider yourself a casual fan who only gets your toes wet every season, then these are the shows we feel you should most keep an eye on.
Optimistic shows are ones that we’re hopeful will be really good, and which we have good reasons to think they might be. The underpinnings of these are generally strong, with a lot to suggest in each of them, but with one or two elements that give us pause and keep our enthusiasm from boiling over. They still have most of the makings of very strong series, though, and many stellar anime will arise from this category. If you’ve exhausted all the High shows, or want to delve deeper into your favored genres, check out these as well.
Average excitement shows look middle-of-the-road to us. They could be good or they could be bad, but they don’t provide much immediate indication that they’ll be amazing in retrospect. This is often the case with shows that are firmly ensconced in their genres’ tropes, or which overly rely on some of anime’s overused plot devices. It can also apply to shows that seem deeply flawed, with elements that could make them amazing, but with so many potential pitfalls that we’re not getting hyped up. 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. Personal taste comes heavily into play, so your mileage will vary.
Limited excitement shows are ones that we simply aren’t all that excited about. They often don’t seem to be striving for much, and choose to focus on more frivolous aspects such as senseless humor and fanservice. Other times they’re doing the same thing we’ve seen a thousand times, with few mitigating signs that they’ll rise above their tropes. That doesn’t mean they’re the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t get any consideration, but simply that they’re not doing a lot to suggest themselves. Keep in mind what kind of show they are, though, and you might find something you enjoy amid this cohort.
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.
Established shows are any series that has aired for more than 40 episodes or has been previewed three or more times. This can include anything from never-ending shounen and decade-spanning dramas to that quirky comedy that keeps getting renewed season after season. The only commonality is that they’ve aired a lot of episodes, and that they’re the kind of show that most viewers will want to catch up on all the previous content before watching the new. Spin-offs and remakes don’t automatically qualify, since they’re considered new series.