Ahh winter. Snow; festivities; hectic family get togethers: it truly is the most wonderful time of the year, and while global pandemics (and 2020 in general) may be giving the venerable Chevy Chase a run for his money when it comes to overall holiday insanity this year, rest assured that anime is here to help smoothen out any seasonal wrinkles. This season is absolutely jam packed, as culture-defying Shingeki no Kyojin continues its march towards full adaptation, the critically acclaimed isekais Re: Zero and Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken return for their latest sequels, and shounen staples Nanatsu no Taizai and Dr. STONE jump back into the ring with new and eagerly anticipated material. Not to be outdone either are the surprise (and heavily anticipated) appearances by isekai legend Log Horizon and genre defining romcom Horimiya, while Yakusoku no Neverland emerges for its next kick at the horror can. And the fun doesn’t stop there: besides a couple of intriguing anime originals in Back Arrow and Wonder Egg Priority showing up for some spice, fantasy and isekai further reinforce their presence thanks to revenge tale Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi, isekai progenitor Mushoku Tensei, and the spider-gone-isekai Kumo Desu ka, all the while the bodily Hataraku Saibou, wholly healing Non Non Biyori, and anthropomorphic Beastars help round out the showcase. It truly is a season of plenty – and the above is only half of the offering! This is Random Curiosity’s Winter 2021 Preview:
As is tradition now our Excitement Levels previously introduced shall again be used. With every anime a cacophony of hype and wholly immune to objective thought (because art), we will embrace the spin and give you our visceral gut reactions to what is likely to transpire. 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 the ancient times of 2012, previews were done by a single writer, Divine. But even in these modern times the RandomC preview is a substantial task, so we’ve divided it up among our active staff (Choya, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes (that’s me!), Miss Simplice, 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 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. Likewise, shows which have been postponed or currently lack a confirmed air date have also been excluded. 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. And if we happened to miss something major, don’t hesitate to poke us!
And finally, let me take this chance to thank everyone at Random Curiosity for their work on this preview. This year has been ridiculous at the best of times for all of us, and while building this preview was no different in terms of time and work, we still found a way and I’m incredibly thankful for all involved. Particular thanks must be given to Choya and Zaiden for the sheer amount they put into this writing- and html-wise, while PiC and Takaii continue being the stalwart saviours of the backend. I won’t get into the nitty gritty of individual tasks, but everyone helped where they could, so once again, thank you all! Also, because it’s tradition, give Enzo’s LiA Winter preview a perusal for a second opinion on many of these shows (and make sure to check out his new preview companion on his YouTube channel too!).
And of course, and as always, thank you to the entire Random Curiosity community. It is your interest, comments, and indeed curiosity which help RC keep on trucking, as without you we wouldn’t be able to keep on carrying on like we do. Thank you!
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. Series lacking confirmed air times are excluded until further airing info is released.
22:00 Tokyo MX (01/10)
Skate-Leading ☆ Stars
22:30 Toyko MX (01/10)
23:00 ABEMA (01/10)
Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu
24:00 Tokyo MX (01/10)
Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season
24:10 NHK.G TV (12/06)
25:05 Tokyo MX (01/10)
Non Non Biyori Nonstop
25:35 TV Tokyo (01/10)
Ura Sekai Picnic
23:30 AT-X (01/04)
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2
24:00 Tokyo MX (01/04)
Shin Chuuka Ichiban! (2021)
25:10 Tokyo MX (01/11)
21:00 AT-X (01/05)
Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (2021)
23:00 Tokyo MX (01/12)
Bungou Stray Dogs Wan!
24:30 TV Tokyo (01/12)
Wonder Egg Priority
25:35 Nippon TV (01/12)
Nanatsu no Taizai: Fundo no Shinpan
17:55 TV Tokyo (01/06)
Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai
19:25 NKH-E TV (01/13)
Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Kimluck-hen
21:00 AT-X (01/20)
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (2021)
22:30 AT-X (01/06)
I★Chu: Halfway Through the Idol
23:00 AT-X (01/06)
Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi
23:30 AT-X (01/13)
Soukou Musume Senki
24:00 Tokyo MX (01/06)
24:30 Tokyo MX (01/06)
24:55 Fuji TV (01/06)
SHOW BY ROCK!! STARS!!
22:00 Tokyo MX (01/07)
Dr. Stone: Stone Wars
22:30 Tokyo MX (01/14)
Yuru Camp Season 2
23:00 AT-X (01/07)
Tenchi Souzou Design-bu
25:13 AT-X (01/07)
2.43 Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley Bu
24:55 Fuji TV (01/07)
Yakusoku no Neverland (2021)
25:25 Fuji TV (01/07)
Go-Toubun no Hanayome∬
25:28 TBS (01/07)
21:00 AT-X (01/08)
Kumo Desu ga, Nanika?
21:30 AT-X (01/08)
23:00 BS11/Asahi (01/08)
24:00 Tokyo MX (01/08)
24:30 Tokyo MX/BS11 (01/08)
Praeter no Kizu
25:55 MBS/TBS (01/08)
Ore dake Haireru Kakushi Dungeon
26:25 MBS/TBS (01/08)
23:00 Tokyo MX (01/09)
Hataraku Saibou Black
24:00 Tokyo MX (01/09)
24:30 AT-X (01/09)
World Trigger (2021)
25:30 Tokyo MX (01/09)
Kai Byoui Ramune
25:30 AT-X (01/09)
26:00 TV Asahi (01/09)
* Jump to OVA/Movies.
Following the acclaimed and eagerly awaited season back in spring 2019, Shingeki no Kyojin is here to finally finish what it began some eight years prior. From the wildly popular manga by Isayama Hajime, SnK tells the tale of a humanity driven into interconnected walled cities by perpetual fear of man-eating Titans. Having miraculously survived for over a century against the monstrous foes, human civilization suddenly faces annihilation after the arrival of one Colossal Titan upsets its precarious balance. In the midst of the chaos, two children—Eren Jaeger (Kaji Yuki) and Mikasa Ackerman (Ishikawa Yui)—emerge into the centre of humanity’s struggle, joining the military’s Survey Corps to help explore and reclaim the land outside of the walls. Involved in everything from hidden conspiracies to political revolution during their military service, Eren and Mikasa now face their biggest test: the truth. Having now learned of the origins of the Titans and what exactly lies beyond their ensconced world, it will take every ounce of their strength for these kids to finally realize the peace they have been desperately yearning for.
Well boys and girls, it’s
Young and novice adventurer Lloyd (Hanamori Yumimi) has a problem: everyone in his village thinks he’s weak. Sure, he’s only a kid, but like anyone with aspirations Lloyd decides to correct this fault. Setting out to find his true strength and prove his doubters wrong, Lloyd makes for the capital city, but what he winds up discovering in the nearby “starter” town for adventurers quickly turns that mission upside down. Lloyd just as it happens comes from a village overseeing one of the most dangerous dungeons in the world, and that weakness of his is actually strength far in excess of the best of local adventurers. What to make of this? Lloyd has no idea, but he’ll figure things out one step at a time.
Well chalk another one up on the fantasy board—seriously, this season is ridiculous on that front! Unfortunately for Last Dungeon though, that’s about as far as I can swing any sort of major enthusiasm. Much like fellow season mate Kakushi Dungeon this light novel adaptation is very much paint by numbers, where we get stereotypical overpowered (yet inexperienced) MC doing the usual fantasy adventuring stuff with a party of equally crazy (and less powerful) characters who are naturally majority female and just so happen to love the kid. It’s pretty much your usual fantasy slice-of-life relaxation material, which can admittedly turn into a decent bit of fun provided execution is on point and source chopping is mitigated. It’s anyone’s guess right now whether Last Dungeon will succeed with that, but should it handle things the way Kamihiro did this past season, this adaptation will be one show to turn to if you’re in need of some lighthearted anime escapades this winter.
|Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shounen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari Promotional Videos ▼|
Kamikoshi Sorao (Hanamori Yumiri) finds a strange door while exploring an abandoned, run-down building. She opens it and steps through to the ‘Other Side’, where she immediately collapses into some water after being subjected to a psychic assault, almost drowning in the process. However, a girl with golden hair leaps to her rescue and destroys the paranormal construct that was responsible for plunging her into a state of deliria. Her name? Nishina Toriko (Kayano Ai). Also, it turns out they attend the same university. Inevitably, they spend their days exploring the ‘Other Side’ full of mysterious and dangerous entities, for their own personal reasons.
The SCP is a fitting parallel for this series, with both focusing on bizarre and unexplainable supernatural occurrences. However, because this is adapted from a Japanese light novel, we also have no shortage of cute girls thanks to Nishihata Ayumi (Shirobako, Kuromukuro) in charge of character design and I’m not surprised that Takuya Satou has been enlisted as director. The days where he was in charge of Steins;Gate seem like ages ago. Nowadays, he seems much more content to deliver projects where yuri is involved. Nevertheless, horror always takes extra effort to succeed within an animated format. So it remains to be seen whether unsettling elements can be adequately translated to the screen.
|Ura Sekai Picnic Promotional Videos ▼|
It’s not surprising there’s this amount of idol series making screens next year. Bubbly characters with a desire to shine offer a very welcome contrast to 2020, the dreary year we’re anxious to leave behind. Viewers will have a variety of options when it comes to finding a little bit of lightness, captivating entertainment, and sweet stories that offer a flicker of hope in their day to day lives. That’s where Gekidol comes into play. The animation is appealing and the series’ chief writer is Ochi Keiichiro who contributed to the original Aikatsu! (2012) so that piqued my curiosity off the bat. And unlike many of the other idol anime coming out this season, the story offers a little more parallel between their world and our own.
Five years after a world shattering event that forced various cities or districts to disappear into thin air, a group of girls come together to offer emotional and mental relief to the collective consciousness still plagued with the devastation of years past. We follow Mamono Seria (Akao Hikaru), who, alongside her peers, uses the “Theatrical Material System” to generate holograms for stage performance. I presume the story will focus on how they prepare for their concerts as well as how they heal the hearts of the many who live in this post-apocalyptic world. I’m not saying we’re experiencing anything close to an apocalypse (no fake news here!) but I would wager that holographic concerts will be a popular medium explored in the future by music artists. And, to be honest, who’s heart doesn’t need a little healing right now? I’d pay to have one of these idols pop up in my living room but I guess the anime will have to do for now.
|Gekidol Promotional Videos ▼|
Returning for its fourth full season, the medieval fantasy shounen Nanatsu no Taizai is here to continue the tale of Seven Deadly Sins and their leader Meliodas (Kaji Yuki), the Sin of Wrath. A group of legendary knights, the Sins were fought against for betraying their comrades and trying to overthrow the king, only to become unlikely saviours themselves after helping princess Elizabeth Liones (Amamiya Sora) combat a coup d’etat staged by the kingdom’s Holy Knights. And now, after having battled against the Demon Clan and its powerful Ten Commandments, the struggle to bring peace to Britannia is only just getting started for Meliodas and friends. Thanks to an unholy past which links Meliodas to Elizabeth there is much on the line for all involved, and with the Commandments still a running concern, precious little room for maneuver. It’ll take everything Meliodas has to square the circle, but come hell or high water, the Sin of Wrath will succeed.
Oh Nanatsu no Taizai, how far you’ve fallen. Starting off as a good bit of fantasy shounen when it first premiered in 2014, Nanatsu no Taizai started sliding off the rails once its third season aired – and things certainly haven’t gotten better since. Whether or not down to Studio Deen taking over from A-1 Pictures in 2019, shoddy production, or poor writing, the ubiquitous hallmarks of gruesome hatchet jobs have unfortunately graced this series of late, resulting in a story which has been really hard pressed to stand up positively to its manga source. While there’s always room for improvement no matter the franchise, I wouldn’t expect much change this season compared to the last: Deen remains, all cast and crew are carrying over, and Nanatsu no Taizai’s story has reached the point where things get really crazy. Loyal series fans will certainly want to pay some attention to see how the next bit of material translates into anime, but for everyone else I strongly suggest caution. It may not be a complete write-off, but Nanatsu no Taizai has quite the trek before reaching redemption.
|Nanatsu no Taizai: Fundo no Shinpan Promotional Videos ▼|
One action-packed return and agonizing season wait later, Re: Zero is now back to put the finishing touches on its highly anticipated sequel. Based on the light novel series, Re: Zero focuses on high schooler Natsuki Subaru (Kobayashi Yuusuke) and the tale of his survival in another world after being rudely dumped in it by unknown powers. Through sheer perseverance and an insidious ability to rewind time upon his death, Subaru manages to not only help himself, but also the silver-haired half-witch Emilia (Takahashi Rie) who originally saved him upon his arrival in this other world. And now after overcoming the likes of curses, the chaotic Witch’s Cult, and even the venerable White Whale, Subaru faces his greatest test in the Sanctuary and its matriarch Echidna (Sakamoto Maaya), the Witch of Greed. With Subaru’s mental sanity on the line and Echidna demanding nothing less than full devotion to her desires, it will take everything Subaru has to get over this latest hurdle, but for the sake of Emilia and friends he’ll do what it takes to see this latest challenge through.
And so the suffering train recommences. While Re: Zero’s fall hiatus was as annoying as breaks get given where it started, there is no denying this season is likely to make up for any possible distaste. After all, we’re now getting into the meat and potatoes of the Sanctuary arc and the backstories of some of this franchise’s most important characters. There’s plenty on the line now to truly test Subaru, as between Roswaal and Echidna dropping their masks, Beatrice coming into her own, and Sanctuary’s purpose coming to light, numerous threats of increasing intensity are really forcing the kid to consider just what’s important to him and his goals. And with the production, writing, and acting chops on display previously as well, I dare say we won’t be lacking for grade A isekai entertainment once again. All Re: Zero fans know where they stand already, but if you have a soft spot for this series (or isekai in general) and enjoyed the last cour remember to give this one a whirl too because this show is well-set to be one of this season’s—if not this year’s—top anime contenders.
|Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu (2021) Promotional Videos ▼|
“What is an idol?” This question racks the minds of many aspiring pop stars and grandparents whose grandkids keep blasting that darn BTS whenever they’re over. But for the students at Étoile Vio School, it is the driving force that pushes its students known as “I-Chu” to excel to the highest heights. At the academy, would-be idols undergo the necessary training it would take to become full-fledged idols. But as the students watch the school’s opening ceremony, there are other questions in mind such as “Why is the principal a bear!?” or “Why is my classmate so attached to his bunny doll!?” Join the I-Chu as they form their own bands, perform spirited ballads and bubbly pop music, and climb their way to the top of the charts when I★CHU makes its debut this season.
You can never go wrong with a show about a goofy pop idol school. Uta no Prince-sama turned out to be a fun guilty pleasure that also had a focus on male pop idols trying to find themselves as they seek out the perfect sound that will revolutionize the world itself. Another series that comes to mind is the Korean drama Dream High, where students work themselves to the bone to come into their own in an academy where aspiring idols can eventually gain recognition and network within the industry. I★CHU looks like it’ll take on a lighter tone, but part of the charm in some of these examples is how the light-hearted moments make it all the more inspiring to see the cast eventually go from being a pupil to a master of their craft. Hopefully, when I★CHU arrives for the Winter season, it will also hone in on what makes singing and dancing such a magical experience.
|I-Chu: Halfway Through the Idol Promotional Videos ▼|
It’s the year AD 2046 and technology has expanded beyond the horizons. With innovation leading the way towards progress, delivery has become even more impressive with the creation of cardboard material that is strong enough to resist any harsh impacts or conditions. At first, it was a revelation due to how easily you could keep contents safe and intact no matter what they’re put through. But once this cardboard grew popular, it was repurposed to be used as material for special battlefields designated for miniature robots known as LBX’s. Originally, the LBX was banned due to their destructive capabilities. But with the construction of these specialized battlefields, their popularity skyrocketed and specialized models of LBX were subsequently made, ushering in a new era of mecha combat.
What follows in Soukou Musume Senki is a new vision for the franchise that incorporates female pilots into a story with passion, angst, and fist-pumping action in a parallel world influenced by the energy and spirit of Danball Senki. Based on a spin-off web browser gacha game, Soukou Musume Senki revolves around a group of girls having to defend an alternative version of Tokyo that is besieged by a mysterious enemy known as “Mimesis.” Although your familiarity with the Danball Senki franchise will help you appreciate the callbacks and illusions sprinkled throughout the story, it should be a nice introduction to the series since a narrative that doesn’t rely on past seasons to get up to speed with what will be happening in Soukou Musume Senki.
Nestled on the Yepetath Peninsula lies the kingdom of Hortensia. Blessed with fruitful land and over seven centuries of history, Hortensia has persevered thanks to the strong principalities (and loyal vassals) of Oliver and Camelia protecting its borders, but all that changes when evil spirits bent on chaos suddenly appear and Camelia shockingly rises up in revolt. For reasons unknown, Camelia’s duke decides to slay Hortensia’s king and rebuild the kingdom in his own image. Unbeknownst to the duke, however, the rightful heir to Hortensia’s king survived his coup, and now, after having come of age while hiding in the guise of a man, assembles a party of loyal followers to strike out to not only defeat her father’s murderer, but also save her homeland from the evil threatening its very existence.
If there’s one constant for any anime season these days it’s that we’ll get some sort of fantasy and/or game adaptation, and Hortensia Saga is here to helpfully check off both boxes. Another in the ever-growing list of mobile game adaptations, this one is about as pure fantasy as it gets: we’ve got the party of misfits out to do good, the grand conspiracy against the kingdom involving evil of some kind, and the usual array of sword & magic mechanics. It’s pretty much winter’s version of King’s Raid, albeit with a few hints of Akatsuki no Yona for thematic spice. Personally, while I wouldn’t anticipate Hortensia Saga to be anything more than glorified game advertisement (in part from the less than impressive staff list), given the stacked cast and general reliability of LINDENFILMS these days, pulling an entertaining rabbit out of the hat is easily in the realm of possibility. There’ll be no big surprises when it comes to Hortensia Saga, but if you’re a fan of fantasy and in need of something new to satiate the appetite, you need look no further than this.
|Hortensia Saga Promotional Videos ▼|
Winter 2021 comes complete with the usual raft of sequels to mediocre shows, of course. But among that lot is the follow-up to Itagaki Paru’s Beastars, one of the most interesting series of 2019. Paru’s writing seems to drift between commentary on race, class, and gender politics – to the point where you’re not sure how to interpret what you’re seeing on-screen. But the sense that the author is trying to figure that out for herself through her writing is part of the appeal.
Beastars also features some of the most interesting and visually pleasing CGI ever to grace TV anime. Orange studio is at the forefront of this technology, and if every CGI series looked as good as theirs do (it doesn’t), you wouldn’t see the hostility towards 3-D animation among fans that you do. The combination of insightful writing and stylish and thoughtful visuals makes Beastars a compelling watch. It can be a difficult watch, too – that insight mostly runs towards the darkness in us (especially adolescents) and the series has a way of exposing a lot of raw nerve endings. It’s a fascinating and unique show and I’m glad to see it get a sequel – the big question now with the manga finished, will the anime try to cram what should be three cours worth of material into 12 or 13 episodes?
|Beastars (2021) Promotional Videos ▼|
The most adorable band returns in this 4th season of the Show by Rock!! Series this winter. Based in Midi City on Planet Sound, we follow girl group Merumeshi who made their debut on screens during the third season of the series. You might think these girls are pop idols but they’re far more than that. They don the fluffiest of animal ears, the bushiest of tails, and a unique, individual fashion sense. Howan (Toono Hikaru), Himeko (Natsuyoshi Yuuko), Delmin (Watada Misaki), and Ruhuyu (Yamane Aya) all kemono (half human, half furry) characters navigate what it means to be bandmates, young aspiring musicians, and adolescent girls all while performing their hearts out on stage.
Idol anime can be an overwhelming genre offering more options than one can handle but bringing together fluffy tails, bright colours, and musical talent will easily draw attention to anyone who gets a whiff of the series. For anime music connoisseurs, members of Team-MAX including Yasuhara Takanashi and Akiya Suziki alongside Funta7 will be producing the music. And for fans of the franchise, they’ll be glad to know that many characters from the original season or even the mobile game will be returning this season or even making their first appearance; like Rikao, the main vocalist and bassists of the band Yokazenohorizon. Luckily for anyone who hasn’t hopped onto this bandwagon, all you have to do to catch up for this upcoming release is watch the prequel to this season called Show by Rock!! Mashumairesh!!
|Show By Rock!! Stars!! Promotional Videos ▼|
When Nadeshiko (Hanamori Yumiri), an avid sight-seer and cyclist, goes on a trip to find the best views of Mt. Fuji, she meets a girl named Rin (Touyama Nao). Rin enjoys hiking and camping, so when Nadeshiko discovers exactly how Rin can scout out the perfect locations for her excursion, the two become friends instantly. While Rin is a little apprehensive to make friends too quickly or being involved with her school’s camping club, she eventually becomes invested in joining her newfound friends as they learn about new, fun ways to camp out in the wilderness. By joining the school’s Hiking Club, Rin and Nadeshiko are introduced to the club’s clever president Chiaki (Hara Sayuri) and her carefree assistant Aoi (Toyosaki Aki). Together, they all venture out into the great outdoors wilderness where they continue to learn different ways to take in the wilderness.
If I were to describe some of the coziest experiences I’ve had, it’d be sipping a cup of hot tea on a cold night, eating a perfectly soft-boiled soy-marinated ramen egg, walking across the beach on a cool, breezy day, and watching Yuru Camp△ during the Winter. Most healing animes are designed as a simple break from the real world, but would ultimately just serve as nice material to keep on in the background while you keep the house tidy. Yuru Camp△, however, is in the higher echelons of healing anime by recreating what it’s like to go out camping. Yuru Camp△ is all about creating an immersive experience that makes you feel as if you’re bundled up in a warm jacket, looking over a campfire as you share a hot pot among friends. Along the way, the anime gives you pointers on what to take into consideration for a camping trip in case you would want to venture out and go on a hiking trip of your own. Not to mention the beautiful scenery that is captured pristinely in Yuru Camp△’s animation and the music that does the most to contribute to the anime’s calming atmosphere. And with the difficulties of staying indoors for the majority of 2020, Winter couldn’t come any sooner for a chance to revisit Yuru Camp△ and replicate the sensation of soaking in the outdoors.
|Yuru Camp Season 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
Yahweh; Adonai; God: whatever one may call the Lord above, the one thing everyone agrees on is that He’s always on the move and never tires. Or so you think. Rather than going all out, God, after creating heaven, earth, water, and men, grew just a tad tired of having to flesh out his masterpiece and thus decided to contract out the creation of animals to the Heaven’s Design Team. Within HDT various animal designs are proposed, an associated engineering team tests each design’s feasibility, and God Himself then chooses whether to implement the selected design. It’s a nonstop whirlwind process day in and day out, and it falls to the liaison angels Shimoda (Enoki Junya) and Ueda (Hara Yumi) to help keep the design train on its tracks. Between the ridiculous demands of God and the equally crazy concepts proposed by HDT however, helping successfully fulfill this contract may be one job too much for even angels to handle.
When it comes to anime God certainly gets around. Everything from comedy to shounen and even philosophical dramas have featured the guy in some capacity—but as an employer looking to outsource? Now that’s untouched ground. The good news though is that Tendebu isn’t looking to be too aspirational; this is one is wholly slice-of-life, focuses on lighthearted moments over any determined preaching, and will be full of cute and cuddly. It’s pretty much as if Ishuzoku Reviewers went non-fantasy PG13, and arguably works all the better for it. While I wouldn’t expect too much in terms of lackadaisical perfection (the Nanatsu no Taizai art style doesn’t help when you remember what happened to that series), given Bleach’s Yokote Michiko is handling series composition alongside Hitsugi no Chaika’s Masui Souichi on director duty, there’s nothing so far to suggest a train wreck is anywhere on the horizon. Tendebu may not be intended for the more seriously inclined, but I heartily recommend tuning in to see what’s on offer if in need of some adventurous slice-of-life.
|Tenchi Souzou Design-bu Promotional Videos ▼|
Kimichika Haijima (Ono Kensho) was a member of the Tokyo Junior High School volleyball club until he caused trouble on the team. Because of the backlash, he had to move back to his hometown of Fukui, where he is reunited with his childhood friend, Yunii Kuroba (Enoki Junya). Kuroba is a volleyball prodigy with outstanding physical abilities, but he is quick to crack under pressure. When the two students enroll in Seiin High School, they aim to form an ace combination at the school’s volleyball club. They are joined by their hot-blooded team captain Shinichirou Oda (Itou Kento), his sharp-tongued vice-captain Misao Aoki (Umehara Yuuichirou), and a student who is allergic to sunlight named Akito Kanno (Aoi Shouta). Together, the newborn team embarks on a victorious journey to become the pride of Fukui as they take on a series of eccentric, fearsome, and unique rivals along the way.
There have been so many sports anime recently that have just been sequels so it’s a surprise to see one that’s brand new. Of course, it’s not the first male volleyball team anime that’s ever been released with the looming shadow of Haikyuu!! hanging over 2.43: Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley-bu. But you know what they say, the more the merrier. And if there have also been several classic basketball anime, who’s to say the newest volleyball anime won’t reach that same potential? And with Haikyuu!! coming to a close, 2.43: Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley-bu is looking to be a formidable anime to help carry the torch for them. One very noticeable detail about this anime is that it’s David Productions’ next project with some notable JoJo alum handling the anime. Since it’ll premiere on the noitaminA block, it also has the added pedigree of being a volleyball anime with a more serious, introspective tone to it. Whether it does end up being heavier in tone or just as inspiring and encouraging as other sports anime, it should be neat to see what 2.43: Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley-bu brings to the table.
|2.43 Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley Bu Promotional Videos ▼|
Grace Field House is a renowned orphanage where its children live together as a family, watched by their “Mama,” Isabella. Aside from daily examinations and a ban on venturing outside the orphanage’s boundaries, the children are given the opportunity to live a care free life, eventually being adopted and sent to live with a new family. It’s your ideal orphanage setup, until you realize that those adopted children are never heard from again. After attempting to return a forgotten toy to a recently adopted orphan, two of the orphanage’s oldest children in Norman (Uchida Maaya) and Emma (Morohoshi Sumire) stumble upon the truth: they are being raised as livestock for demons. Together with Ray (Ise Mariya), the three begin plotting their escape plans, aiming to have every orphan escape alive. Following up on these developments, Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season will follow their attempted escape and its aftermath, promising more action, new twists, and even more surprises.
Joining in on the trend of grim dark backdrops hidden behind a normal, wholesome exterior, Yakusoku no Neverland made a name for itself with its surprising twists and sinister revelations. Shock and awe moments were plentiful and viewers were pulled in quickly to what ended up being a thrilling first season run. The current expectation is for the series’ second season to maintain its list-topping success, but with the Covid production delay pushing its expected debut and very little information given regards to the cast, studio, and staff—there’s an awful lot of questions around a series that’s supposed to air in about a month. It’s also notable how many people have said that the series’ second season puts down some of the series’ thriller aspects for more action, which has led to mixed reviews regarding how well subsequent arcs will compare to its first and could turn off some viewers. Tempered expectations is the name of the game here, but you’d be hard pressed to find a series that—even if it underperforms compared to its first season—will likely still be a better watch than many other winter series.
|Yakusoku no Neverland (2021) Promotional Videos ▼|
Uesugi Fuutarou ( Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) is a put-upon high school student who has been tasked with tutoring the five wealthy Nakano sisters, each of which is doing poorly in one particular subject. But while Fuutarou tries to get the girls to pay attention to their studies, he has a new crop of problems when the sisters start to slowly grow attached to him. In the past season, Miku (Itou Miku) has grown the fondest of him, waiting for the right opportunity for her to make her move. Meanwhile, Ichika (Hanazawa Kana) is battling her conflicting feelings on whether she could remain Miku’s wingman for Fuutarou if she’s starting to fall for him. Itsuki (Minase Inori), while initially wary of Fuutarou, has started to see him as a dependable tutor for helping them stay focused on improving their grades. The openly hostile attitude that Nino (Taketatsu Ayana) shows Fuutarou is also crumbling apart when she meets a dreamy guy who looks a little too much like Fuutarou for some odd reason. And last, but certainly not least, Yotsuba (Sakura Ayane) is Fuutarou’s earliest ally, supporting him as he tries to get familiarized with her and her sisters. As if things didn’t seem messy enough with a potential love hexagon amongst five siblings and one guy, the story lets it slip in the beginning that Fuutarou will eventually marry one of the sisters. Will this new season give any of the Nakano sisters the edge in winning the Fuutarou Bowl? Will there be any clues as to who Fuutarou’s future bride will be? This second season of Go-Toubun no Hanayome aims to shed further light on these developments this Winter.
Much of the appeal of Go-Toubun no Hanayome is in the speculation on which of the five sisters will be Fuutarou’s future bride. At first, the Nakano sisters are frustratingly rebellious towards Fuutarou’s efforts to get them to study, but as he becomes familiarized with how they act, we start to see more of what makes each of them charming. Miku is relatable in her shyness, but she also wants to take proactive measures to share her time, interests, and affection with Fuutarou. Nino has that tsundere appeal yet is also admirable in how much she values her sisters as a family unit. Ichika carries a mature allure to her and can level with Fuutarou when he needs some thoughtful advice on how to get to know the girls. And who could forget Yotsuba, the glue that holds everyone together who is as optimistic as she is supportive of Fuutarou’s efforts. We left off with the five sisters sharing their time with Fuutarou as he was recovering from a cold in the middle of a school trip, each having their own motives for wanting to spend time with Fuutarou during an intimate fire-side dance. There has been some uncertainty about the content of the show when the studio switched over to Bibury Animation Studios after many COVID-related delays and pushbacks. The art so far is looking more faithful, but where the story goes under Bibury is anyone’s guess. On top of this, the manga recently ended and reactions to the sister who won Fuutarou’s heart are mixed, especially without taking the cowards way out of writing individual scenarios where everyone wins. Will it follow the recently finished manga towards the same trajectory or throw a few curveballs our way? Find out when the quintuplets arrive this Winter.
For reserved Tomozaki Fumiya (Satou Gen), the high school life is an utter drag. A social outcast with nary a sliver of popularity to his name, Fumiya gets by through impressive gaming skill in the online game Attack Families where he, via the handle nanashi, is Japan’s best player. Fumiya wholeheartedly believes Attack Families is the way real life should be—until he gets a shocking awakening thanks to his incredibly smart and popular classmate Hinami Aoi (Kanemoto Hisako). As Fumiya discovers to his horror, Aoi is actually NO NAME, Attack Families’ second-best player, and the only individual Fumiya respects. And to make matters worse, Aoi, disgusted with what her in-game rival in real life turned out to be, spontaneously decides to take Fumiya on and teach him how to win outside the computer. Fumiya might’ve thought maintaining his leaderboard status was rough, but Aoi is about to give him a whole new challenge.
You a fan of Oregairu? Miss the cynical nature of AoButa or introspective look of ReLIFE? Well say hello to Jaku-Chara. Much like those aforementioned series this one is not your typical romance or romcom centric school-life, focusing first and foremost on life lessons and shedding deleterious biases over any sort of harem shenanigans or fan service first plot. Similar to the personalities of Oregairu’s Hachiman and Yukino, for Jaku-Chara it’s all about Aoi trying to “educate” Fumiya as the latter drags his heels through the endeavour. Is there love and relationships here? Definitely, but (spoiler alert) not between the main duo—for this one it’s all about the other girls met along the way. While I wouldn’t anticipate any sort of AOTS perfection from Jaku-Chan given the light novels are still ongoing and the high probability of this adaptation only being a one cour affair, considering the incredibly skilled Shimo Fumihiko (Kokoro Connect) is handling series composition alongside NetoYome studio Project No. 9, expecting a bit of well-paced introspective school-life is not that unreasonable. It may not be the ideal romance you’re looking for, but if you have a thing for good old-fashioned school struggles, Jaku-Chara is definitely winter’s top choice.
|Jaku-Chara Tomozaki-kun Promotional Videos ▼|
Kumoko (Yuuki Aoi) was once a high school student living her life to its fullest extent. But when a mysterious explosion kills her and her entire class, their souls are reincarnated as the denizens of a fantasy world. But while some students were reborn as royalty or prodigies, Kumoko has the misfortune of having her low merits in her past life factor into her rebirth as a spider. With Kumoko at the very bottom of the food chain in this terrifying new world, every day is a struggle to survive as she is forced to adapt to her surroundings and push forward. Only sheer willpower can keep her alive in dangerous labyrinths swarming with fearsome monsters that could flatten her in no time. Will she be able to survive by trusting her instincts or will she succumb to the “eat-or-be-eaten” world she was reborn into? Find out when Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? subsists through the Winter season.
It’s been a while since this anime adaptation was revealed, but from the moment I saw it, I knew I was looking forward to how it’d turn out. The story has been described as a darker version of Tensei Shitara Suraimu Datta Ken where the stakes are higher for the vulnerable Kumoko. Because of the squishy nature of spiders, the looming threat of death hangs over Kumoko as everything and everyone is out to kill her as if she were a mere obstacle in their path. At the same time, her status as a spider gives her the ability to push back, giving her the leg-up if she has the guts to push forward and devour those in her path. Kumo desu ga, Nani ka? has some levity to it, but much of Kumoko’s goofball personality helps her cope with the brutal reality she faces with her new life as a spider. For a more peculiar isekai that offers an intense spin on the life of an enemy character, keep all eight eyes out for Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?
|Kumo Desu ga, Nanika? Promotional Videos ▼|
That’s right! Another idol anime is coming out in January so you’ll be spoiled for choice this winter. There’s little to no information about the story but what we do know is that the series is the result of combined efforts between Shin-Ei Animation and 81 Produce, an important voice acting agency. The project began at the beginning of 2020 when they launched a Youtube competition called “Idoll Project” aimed at finding the lead voice actresses of the show.
Aina (Ruto Aina), Ami (Mizuno Ami), Shiori (Hanaoka Shiori) and Ruka (Yashiro Ruka) will make up the main voice acting cast and then some. The production will involve motion capture technology generating the character’s movements making the 3DCG animation even more realistic. I’m not the biggest fan of watching 3DCG throughout an entire anime but I’d be curious to see how this one looks and if it’s smoother on the eyes.
After four seasons, one recap movie, and copious suffering galore, the WIXOSS franchise returns with Diva(A)Live for another kick at the magical card game can. In this latest variant, the WIXOSS card game has spread worldwide in part thanks to WIXOSSLAND, an online virtual space where the players battle as LRIGs, WIXOSS’ in-game avatars. While WIXOSSLAND features many game modes, the most popular is Diva Battles, where three players compete as a team against other teams using song and dance to win over the most Selectors—i.e. the game fans tuning in to watch. For one first year high schooler Asu Hirana (Fukuzumi Saya) it’s probably the most awesome thing in the world, and after deciding to chase her dream of becoming one of WIXOSSLAND’s top diva Eternal Girls, plunges headfirst into the world of Diva Battles. With plenty of competition Hirana knows realizing her dream won’t be easy, but through sheer determination she’ll find a way to reach that diva summit, one way or another.
Well chalk another one up to series I thought I’d never see again. As a veritable fusion of Yu-Gi-Oh! and Madoka, WIXOSS as a whole can be considered the card game contemporary of magical girl deconstructions—albeit with arguably weaker execution and less staying power. Or in other words, the selector series did things right by psychological suffering (thanks largely to Okada Mari) while the subsequent Lostorage series largely ran off the rails as time went by. And now we’re getting WIXOSS…with idols? Yeah, I’m just as confused as you. The biggest question here is obviously whether Diva(A)Live will be by the book idol-life or another deconstruction and frankly your guess is as good as mine; there’s some hints for WIXOSS veterans that something sinister is afoot with Eternal Girls and players as LRIGs, but none of the earlier WIXOSS staff carrying over and CGDCT-centric Tamai Tsuyoshi handling series composition suggests a WIXOSS series sticking to the straight and narrow. The first few episodes will naturally tell the tale, but until we see what’s in store it’s a good idea hedging any bets—you know, just in case those hopeful card game suffering dreams wind up only being fantasy.
|WIXOSS DIVA(A)LIVE Promotional Videos ▼|
The ‘Akatsuki Special Ward’ rises up as an independent state of Tokyo after a successful revolution overthrows the corporate figureheads of authority. Three organisations keep watch over the streets — Helios, Artemis and the Public Safety Bureau. To that end, they rely upon special agents to act as law enforcement – also known as ‘Scards’, who possess Divine Tattooes that confer special powers upon them.
I have to say, this premise sounds rather fascinating. And these visual aesthetics look rather pleasing. I wonder which studio produced this. Wait what, GoHands?!? Oh no no no. Notto disu shitto agen. Once a promising fledgling studio that debuted with the illustrious K Project, the name now evokes Vietnam flashbacks to Hand Shakers. Which no exaggeration is definitely one of the worst anime I’ve had the displeasure of watching. It was so awful that they renamed Hand Shakers 2 to W’z in a bid to bypass negative association. With no kind of warning or indication this was the case. Imagine people’s shock when they realised they’d been suckered by GoHands into unwittingly watching Hand Shakers sequel. Yeah, I wouldn’t even touch Praeter no Kizu with a ten foot pole. Fool me once, shame on GoHands. Fool me twice, shame on me. For all I know, this could really just be Hand Shakers 3 in disguise. If you’re courageous enough to give this a go, my only advice is this. Proceed at your own peril.
|Praeter no Kizu Promotional Videos ▼|
As the third son of a minor noble family, Noir (Osaka Ryota) doesn’t have it easy. With money tight and inheritance nonexistent, all Noir has going for him is a job offer that just so happens to get rescinded before he can even start. All is not lost though; thanks to Noir’s rare magical ability to consult with a great sage (if at the cost of migraine headaches), he learns of and is directed to a secret dungeon filled with all manner of beasts, items, and potential power ups. It is in this dungeon where Noir stumbles across Olivia (Horie Yui), a trapped adventurer who offers to help Noir grow stronger if he’s open to being her conversation partner and pupil. Naturally Noir agrees, but as he’ll soon learn from Olivia, obtaining strength comes with its own set of problems.
What, thought winter was through already with new fantasy offerings? Best think again! At face value Kakushi Dungeon can be considered the less “serious” and more slice-of-life-esque Danmachi: the plot-based challenge for Noir is middling, the harem shenanigans courtesy of a female trio are front and centre, and you best like vanilla fantasy settings because surprises (even when Noir is dungeon crawling) will be few and far between. It’s pretty much the latest bulk bin fantasy power trip—and that’s before remembering it’s not even an isekai! While the likes of Kamihiro show how these sorts of shows, even with generic settings and characters, can be entertaining with sufficient work and attention, given the quality unknown of studio Okuruto Noboru and director Oonishi Kenta’s relative inexperience, I wouldn’t be hyping this one up too much right now. Until we see just what Kakushi Dungeon has on tap, it’s a pretty good idea to keep any optimism within the realm of reason.
|Ore dake Haireru Kakushi Dungeon Promotional Videos ▼|
The human body is filled with trillions of cells that carry out their jobs daily to keep everything going. Hataraku Saibou!! (Cells at Work!!) puts us right in the middle of that action, providing us with an anthropomorphized perspective into the human body and how it works. If you want to follow the flow of oxygen in your body, we have Red Blood Cells (Hanazawa Kana) for that. Got bacteria in the system that need taking care of? That’s what White Blood Cells (Maeno Tomoaki) are for. Got an injury that needs to be repaired? Send out the call for Platelet-chan (Naganawa Maria). There’s a story behind every process, combining with each cell type having their own quirky personality (representative of their role in the body of course) to give you a series that is as educational as it is fun to watch. Following its 2018 debut, the original Hataraku Saibou! took the world by storm with its unique take on the human body—one that appealed to a broad audience including everyone from the youngest of children to older viewers. All the while, it got kudos for its educational value, with its generally accurate and easy to understand depictions providing a new way to engage people in science and some episodes straight up being used in a few actual classrooms.
I’d like to say that if you enjoyed the first season you’ll likely get more of the same with Hataraku Saibou!!, but there are some caveats. For one, there may be some differences in the series’ presentation with Ogura Hirofumi (Kuroshitsuji II) will be taking over the reins as director. Other than that, the blu-ray release information seems to hint at an abbreviated season of about eight episodes (editor note: 12 episodes are scheduled per syoboi listings), which means you won’t get the full one-cour experience this time around. While that’s unconfirmed, it make sense given that there seems to be a lack of source material left to adapt, so just keep in mind there’s also a possibility that anime-original content may be added to fill out some episodes—the quality of which may go a long way towards determining how well this second season goes. As with many sequels, having tempered expectations is the name of the game here.
|Maou-jou de Oyasumi Promotional Videos ▼|
I found Hataraku Saibou to be moderately pleasant but grew bored with it rather quickly, so I won’t be following its direct sequel. It was one of those series having a moment that I felt like I really should like, but there just never struck me as being much to it. Once you get past the Fantastic Voyage gag on perma-loop, it’s just moe pandering and not much else. Or so it seemed to me.
But airing during the same season as that sequel is this adaptation of the spinoff manga focused on the body’s reaction to adult self-abuse – tobacco, alcohol and stress. The manga does have a different writer and artist than the parent series so maybe this show will prove more to my liking. It seems somewhat odd to have this spinoff airing the same season and coming from a different studio (LIDENFILMS as opposed to David Production with the original) but that’s just how big the Hataraku Saibou franchise has gotten.
To say that the news of a Horimiya anime adaptation came out of the blue is an understatement. I’d long since given up on a proper anime (there was a middling OVA adaptation starting in 2012) as a lost cause. And it’s not as if most of the new series announcements in the past few years have filled me with optimism. So I was pretty gobsmacked when this was announced a couple of months ago.
Horimiya, for those unfamiliar, is a romance manga by HERO (I’m going out on a limb and saying that’s a pen name). And a lot of readers – myself included – consider it one of the best romcoms of the decade. It tells the story of an unlikely couple, Hori Kyouko and Miyamura Izumi. She’s an honor student who looks after her younger brother, he’s a quiet and reserved loner at school. But there’s more to both of them than it seems, as they quickly learn when fate brings them closer together in a remarkably charming way. If you enjoy romcoms that are more about the relationship than the dance, this one’s for you. And the characters are superbly crafted to boot.
|Horimiya Promotional Videos ▼|
Four years ago prior to the start of the series, a portal to an alternate dimension opened in Mikado City, spawning monsters known as Neighbours who laid waste to the planet. Even worse, no traditional weaponry works. Guns, missiles, swords, nukes. You name it. However, a mysterious group known as Border appeared, utilising weaponry known as Triggers to protect people against this new threat. Thanks to their intervention, and after establishing a defensive grid which prevents further portals from appearing, the people of Mikado City return to some semblance of normality. That is until one day, a mysterious humanoid named Kuga Yuuma (Muranaka Tomo) appears with his special Black Trigger. For better or worse, things will never be the same again.
Back in the days, Samu dropped coverage of World Trigger, dismayed at the fact it was slowly being bloated by needless filler to pad out its 70 episode run. Worse still, it ended on a cliffhanger. Which was unavoidable since they caught up to the manga and had no futher material to adapt. So anime fans were left wondering if they were never going to see any more. Or if their only recourse to finding closure would be through reading the manga. Worry not. The franchise’s explosive popularity back home meant a second season had always been a matter of when. Four years later and we’re finally seeing a follow up. Considering how well they handled the first season, minor imperfections aside, I don’t think fans need to worry about quality issues with Toei returning to take charge of production. We’re seeing a shift in directors from Hongou Mitsuru (Honzuki no Gekokujou) and Ogawa Kouji (Gegege no Kitarou) to Hatano Morio (Saint Saya Omega, Dragon Ball Super). So there’s a noticeable shift in focus from premise building to action – which is brilliant knowing what’s about to come next in World Trigger. Buckle up everybody. Because it’s time to get ready for more CUBES.
|World Trigger (2021) Promotional Videos ▼|
In recent times, horrifying maladies have spawned from a strange disease that makes its way into the minds of its victims. Conditions such as crying condiments instead of tears, growing chili peppers as fingernails, and seeing your genitals transform into a fish cake are born from this odd illness known as the “mystery disease”. For these symptoms, there’s only one person who can confront and cure the mystery disease: Dr. Ramune (Uchida Yuuma). For Dr. Ramune to get the marble of information he needs to cure a particular illness, he’ll need to smash the soda bottle that is his patient’s concerns in the parking lot that is his office. That is to say that Dr. Ramune can cure any mystery disease by combining his treatment with a psychiatric evaluation to hone in on the particular issues in a person’s life that might’ve triggered these illnesses to surface. Witness as the “Mysterious Disease Specialist” refreshes his patients by uncovering the root of their distress when Kai Byoui Ramune begins his practice this Winter.
This was a fun series to research because of how eccentric and low-brow the manga’s sense of humor is. Dr. Ramune is an amusing character who is both excited and highly disturbed by the number of odd cases he has to deal with. The bright, poppy, and expressive art style also makes for amusing reactions regarding some of the crazier cases he gets. But part of the Kai Byoui Ramune’s charm is how it scratches a certain itch for stories about eccentric doctors trying to solve people’s problems to cure their afflictions. Stories like Black Jack, Trapeze, or at its most extreme/gory, Franken Fran, hit this particular niche, so turning away from this show was never going to be an option. It’s fulfilling to see how they manage to push their patients to make positive changes in their lives before tackling the root of their issues. For Kai Byoui Ramune, this formula is made amusing by how far it’s willing to go to balance the tried-and-true doctor TV show formula with gross-out humor where we have to be contemplative about how to maintain your genitalia if it’s perishable. If zany humor and doctor-based anime strike a chord with you as well, then it’ll be easy to look forward to Kai Byoui Ramune.
|Kai Byoui Ramune Promotional Videos ▼|
Reki (Hatanaka Tasuku) is a high school sophomore who is hooked on skateboarding. His favorite pastime is racing down a dangerous downhill track known as the “S” located in an abandoned mine. The secret downhill race is used as a way for skaters to settle any beef they have by seeing who’s tough enough to handle the “S”. When Langa (Kobayashi Chiaki) returns to Japan after his study abroad program ends, he transfers into Reki’s high school and catches his attention. Langa has no skateboarding experience, but Reki takes him to the mine where the “S” races are held, encouraging Langa to take part in these skateboarding competitions. Will Langa languish in a downhill skateboarding race, or will he shred up the track with some of the best skaters in Japan? Find out when SK∞ nollies into the Winter season.
You could count the amount of anime that involves skateboarding with your hands. For this reason, SK∞ already has the upward advantage as an anime series entirely dedicated to the world of skateboarding. As someone who’s recently picked up skateboarding again after getting invested in the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater remake, it was exciting to see the PV for SK∞ pulled out all the stops to show off how neat skateboarding can be with animation added into the mix. It’s also insane to look at the staff list and see how many big names are involved with SK∞. Bones being involved with the animation was a major shocker for a show that’s technically still a sports anime as is the involvement of Free! and Banana Fish director Utsumi Hiroko. Hopefully, SK∞ will be able to meet up to the grand expectations from such a high-level staff and then some by the time it’s released.
|SK∞ Promotional Videos ▼|
Kemono Jihen is coming in pretty far under the radar for most Western anime fans. Aimoto Shou’s manga hasn’t been licensed in English (though as is often the case, the French got a license), and even in Japan doesn’t have the popularity of a big WSJ title. The studio (Ajia-Do) isn’t especially well-known, and the staff lacks any huge names. I’m also not madly in love with some of the “usual suspects” casting choices (Hanae Natsuki, Shimono Hiro, Hanazawa Kana).
Still, for all that, Kemono Jihen is one of my most anticipated shows of the season. Simply put, I really like the manga. Aimoto has a gift for creating likeable and distinctive characters, and the series strikes a perfect balance between action and comedy. It’s quirky in a good way, the protagonist Kabane is kind of adorkable, and the supporting cast is colorful and memorable. The “kemono” of the title literally means “monsters”, and that’s what this series is about – monsters of all types. Youkai, tanuki, kitsune, oni – all are here, fitting into modern Japanese society in their own way. If I were to try and capture the appeal of this series, maybe I’d say this: Kemono Jihen is a shounen that almost immediately makes you say “Yeah, that would never be in Weekly Shounen Jump“. And once you grok that, you get why this series works as well as it does.
|Kemono Jihen Promotional Videos ▼|
When a young professional figure skater named Kensei Maeshima (Uchida Yuuma) met his match during a battle against rival figure skater Reo Shinozaki (Kamiya Hiroshi), his career was placed on hold. Years later, Maeshima spends his high school days uncommitted to the activities that keep him busy at school. When Shinozaki announces in a press conference that he’ll be transitioning from singles skating to competing in teams in a fad known as “skate-leading”, a boy named Hayato Sasugai (Furukawa Makoto) confronts Maeshima. Sasugai is aware of Maeshima’s career as a solo figure skater and, with this information, invites Maeshima to join him in team-based figure skating? Will Maeshima restore his glory by partaking in “skate-leading” and catch up with his rival? In the moment of truth, will Maeshima, Sasugai, and their skate-leading team realize they were born to make history? Find out when Skate-Leading ☆ Stars hits the ice.
Skate-Leading ☆ Stars is unique in trying to create an unusual figure skating style that involves groups larger than two. You usually have singles and pairs, so that alone is one distinction that Skate-Leading ☆ Stars that can help it stand out from your standard sports anime. Another detail that elevates this anime further is the pedigree behind its staff. For character designs, Kuroshitsuji creator Toboso Yana was brought in to make an appealing, polished aesthetic for the character appearing in this anime. And for some reason, the notorious co-creator of Code Geass, Taniguchi Gorou, is helming the series, offering a ton of potential for possibly crazy moments. It’ll be neat to see how much of Taniguchi’s influence ends up carrying through as Maeshima is further integrated into the world of “skate-leading”.
|Skate-Leading ☆ Stars Promotional Videos ▼|
It’s not easy to ascend to the higher echelons of the music industry. Idols fight through their blood, sweat, and tears just to have a fraction of a chance to make it big, and even then, their dreams could be dashed away as quickly as they arrive. But despite the pain that comes from being an idol, there is much to gain from the experience. The motivation to push on, shine on stage, and see the results as you gaze upon seas of adoring audiences is more than enough to inspire idol groups to persevere. Earning the acknowledgment of countless fans and reputable mentors is more than enough to make overcoming obstacles and facing adversity head-on worth the struggle. Watch as the idols of this anime starts from the very bottom and ascends to the top by confronting the harsh realities that face the girls.
Although fluffy idol anime about how wonderful it is to sing and dance for the fans are commonplace nowadays, anime as a medium is no stranger to the brutal reality of the idol industry. Wake Up Girls! was Yamakan’s middle-finger to the idol industry by having the girls’ first gigs take place in seedy bars and resorts full of perverted old men to hammer at home how cruel and unforgiving it is to become a famous idol. Anime like Backstreet Girls and the third season of Aggretsuko have large sections of the show focus on how much of a crapshoot the industry is to be a part of. Kon Satoshi’s classic Perfect Blue is all about the paranoia and hang-ups that come from being so heavily embedded in the idol lifestyle that it takes a toll on your well-being. It might be a stretch to say that Idoly Pride is aiming to be as critical, scathing, or cynical as these examples, but from the description, it’d be optimistic to say that the anime would intend to show that, for better or worse, it takes abject misery to become an idol. Hopefully, it takes on a more meaningful kind of message than just being a run-of-the-mill idol anime with a vague description and a cute poster, but the promotional material for Idoly Pride seems to be pointing in the direction of giving us an anime that shows us the best and more grueling aspects of working your way towards being an idol.
|IDOLY PRIDE Promotional Videos ▼|
A 34-year-old NEET concludes that his life was meaningless. He never achieved anything and utterly failed at life. However, in a last ditch attempt to bestow meaning to his existence, he dies pushing a highschool girl out of the way of an oncoming truck. By the provinence of cosmic forces, he reincarnates into a rural village of a fantastical world as a newborn baby: Rudeus Greyrat (Uchiyama Yumi). What follows is an epic saga within a high fantasy setting, chronicling the life of Rudeus from cradle to grave. Despite his latent talents in both magic and swordplay, we witness his progression from unsavoury individual wallowing in self-loathing to a truly respectable person who treasures reincarnation as a second chance to live a life he can be proud of. More importantly, it’s the way this process is done – packed with sensational world building paired with exemplary characterisation serving as testimony to Rifujin’s understanding of human nature.
Many people might have heard of whispers regarding Mushoku Tensei. That it is a progenitor of modern isekai and a magnum opus residing at the genre’s pinnacle. Arguably, it all started from here. However, any reader knows it seemed impossibly difficult to adapt. For example, the manga adaptation unbelievably sucked. So most fans never had any hope of an anime adaptation happening. Especially one that could be worthy of the source material. Long have we waited, and the production gods evidently heard our wishes. Studio Bind is the love child of two industry titans in White Fox (Animation) and Egg Firm (Production) which was created in 2018 for the express purpose of making this adaptation a reality. Okamoto Manabu may have limited experience directing, with Gamers! being the stand out piece on his resume. But production team boasts an incredibly impressive record, consisting of decorated industry veterans possessing pedigree across many critically acclaimed works. The Editor: Mishima Akinori (NHK ni Youkoso, Magi: Kingdom of Magic), The Director of Photography: Tonsho Shinji (Youjo Senki and its movie), The Art Director: Miyake Masakuza (Konsuba, Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou, Sword of the Stranger). Official sources also suggest they’ve implemented a system for producing projects on a continuous, long-term basis. Meaning this entire project likely won’t be a one season affair. Two years have gone into producing Mushoku Tensei’s opening act. And if the PVs indicate anything, this project has a great chance of living up to the source material’s hype. As long as contest doesn’t get skipped or rushed, Mushoku Tensei might just be a masterpiece in the making.
|Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu Promotional Videos ▼|
The year is 2014. Normal times. Happy times. Except for poor high schooler Natsume Akira (Saitou Souma). A kid with a fear of all things electrical, Akira devotes himself to diagnosing and fixing the very devices he loathes as a way to help change who he is and better emulate his older (and more socially attuned) brother. That is until Akira has a fatal meeting with infamous Truck-kun during one of his excursions. Fast forward to 2030 and the world has changed drastically. Robots; exosuits; superweapons: nothing is what it once was, and things only get stranger when police officer Uezono Minami (Komatsu Mikako) and her android partner Alma (Kitou Akari) retrieve and accidentally activate a highly advanced AI weapon called EX-ARM. Besides being incredibly dangerous for all involved and a veritable black box origin-wise, both Minami and Alma are surprised to discover EX-ARM is not an AI—because it’s actually Akira’s brain, in the same state it was back in 2014.
I’m really torn when it comes to Ex-Arm. This manga adaptation has been on my radar since it was first announced given the cyberpunk setting and the Robocop-esque material at work, but such hype is hard to maintain following two consecutive delays (Ex-Arm was supposed to air earlier this year), a change in studio, and a 3D CGI PV that tells you exactly how much money is being thrown at this. Or rather lack of. Whether or not due entirely to the shenanigans of Corona-chan, what’s on display so far doesn’t particularly breed happy thoughts when it comes to Ex-Arm, especially with the staff being complete unknowns and the show only set for a 12-episode run. There’s always the possibility the story makes up for the presentation (as Cop Craft highlights) and avoids running straight off the rails, but given how the likes of Gibiate is still fresh in the collective mind, I think it’s going to take one hell of a tale to overcome the massive red flags Ex-Arm is currently waving high for all to see.
|EX-ARM Promotional Videos ▼|
Asahigaoka might be a quiet countryside lacking in many conveniences and resources, but the five students that make up the student body at Asahigaoka Branch School know how to make a ruckus. As soon as Ichijou Hotaru (Murakawa Rie) transferred into the school from Tokyo, she was recognized as a student who held an air of maturity. The last seasons focused on how she had adjusted to her new life in the country with her new friends, the youngest of which being Miyauchi Renge (Koiwai Kotori), whose quick wit and catchphrase “Nyanpasu!” resonated with the other students. They are joined by a short eight-grader Koshigaya Komari (Asumi Kana), and a mischievous seventh grader Koshigaya Natsumi (Sakura Ayane). Along with Komari’s elder brother, they are the five students who come together as a lively, vibrant crew to make sure there’s never a dull day at Asahigaoka.
It’s been a long time coming since the last season of Non Non Biyori so it’s a pleasant surprise to see that they’re able to bring more to the table. Past seasons of Non Non Biyori were a blast to watch as the girls got themselves into hilarious situations to pass the time in an otherwise quiet town. It has similar vibes to Barakamon where it focuses on the quirky, fun personalities of the town’s residents as Hotaru gets adjusted to the country life. But because the rest of the girls have strong personalities of their own, it never feels like she overshadows her new friends. Not when Renge ends up stealing the show with funny quips, one-liners, and scenarios built around her impulsive nature. If you’re looking for a show that’ll make you laugh.
|Non Non Biyori Nonstop Promotional Videos ▼|
19th Century China. The Qing Dynasty. The Emperor is weak and China is undergoing turmoil due to the combined threat of internal and external political pressures. But that’s about as far as historical accuracy goes. From this point onward, we enter a fictitious period known as ‘The Era of the Cooking Wars’. In this China, food is taken extremely seriously, to the point where it has heavily shaped government policy and the legal system. As such, chefs have a high status within society that correlates with their cooking skills. They compete with each other in order to gain respect through increased standings, which brings greater power and influence. But there’s a major caveat to this system that heavily raises the stakes for those participating: all chefs must accept the risk that they might lose everything. The protagonist Liu Mao Xing (Fujiwara Natsumi) carries on the will of his mother, seeking to bring happiness to others through cooking. After passing the Guangzhou Special Chef Trials, Mao decides to travel around China to further his skills in the culinary arts, as he continues his journey to become the very best. But he will have to face off against a mysterious organisation that threatens to undermine order and stability within the Cooking World. Just what exactly is their goal?
This is essentially the split cour of Shin Chuuka Ichiban, a long-awaited continuation from an old adaptation that originally ended 2-3 decades ago. Studio NAS more than proved their worth with the first season – demonstrating pleasing CGI and delightful art quality encapsulating old and new, bringing Cooking Master Boy to a modern age. It’s not like I’ve watched the original show, so I can’t do a direct comparison. But in my opinion, from the perspective of a bona fide foodie, this is a superior article to Shokugeki no Soma. Because the dishes don’t become too outlandish and the culinary fundamentals remain consistent. Also, it doesn’t just randomly fall off a cliff once the villains show up. But enough Shokugeki bashing. If you can be bothered to catch up on the first season, I can guarantee that Shin Chuuka Ichiban will be a fabulous feast for fans of food.
From studio 8bit comes the much awaited second season of Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken. The first season saw ordinary salaryman Mitami Satoru’s (Okasaki Miho) daily routine turned upside down as he is stabbed by a passing robber. As Satoru approached death and lamented his intact virginity, he found himself suddenly whisked away to another world and reincarnated. The catch is, it isn’t a human body that he finds himself in, but that of slime. With the ability to absorb anything and obtain its appearance or abilities however, Satoru finds himself making the most of his new existence. His fateful meeting with a dragon named Veldora leads to a new friendship, which begins with a promise to help the latter escape his confinement and the bestowment of new name for Satoru. Now known as “Rimuru Tempest,” Satoru endeavors to make the most of his fresh start, and spends most of the first season figuring out the workings of his new world, meeting and befriending various factions, and fighting with the occasional demon lord. The second season continues Satoru’s exploits following his successful establishment of the Jura Tempest Federation consisting of goblins, Lizardmen, Orcs, Dryads, and Treants.
After a significant production delay due to Covid, it seems like we’ll finally be getting Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken 2—albeit in a split-cour format, with one cour in January and one cour in July. One of the more popular shows to make its debut over the past few years, Tensei shitara Slime Datta Ken was a series that had a broad appeal with its upbeat nature, occasional humor, and colorful cast. Seeing the main character make his rise from a lowly slime was a fun watch, and the first season did a lot to setup its world while leading into more significant developments. The delay between seasons likely dulled the series’ initial shine for some, especially given how many isekai series we’ve gotten since, but given that the studio and main cast are returning—the staff hasn’t officially been announced, but all indications show it’ll be the same as well—the expectation is for the second season be just as good, if not better than its first now that much of the world building has been done. If you’re looking for an isekai that’s a cut better than the rest, you can’t really go wrong with catching up with Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 2.
|Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (2021) Promotional Videos ▼|
Asagiri Kafka’s manga about famous authors and poets having supernatural powers returns… in miniature form? An online spin-off from the Bungou Stray Dogs franchise, Bungou Stray Dogs Wan! arrives as a gag manga revolving around the series’ two main factions in the Armed Detective Agency and the Mafia. Many of the series’ main cast return as chibi versions of themselves as they navigate their daily, now peaceful lives—leading to the revelation of new sides to everyone as they get involved in various gags and short stories. The cast members will all reprise their roles from the original and Kikuchi Toshihiro (the animation director behind a multitude of Bones series) will direct.
Following in the footsteps of various series receiving chibi-fied spinoffs, Bungou Stray Dogs joins the trend with Bungou Stray Dogs Wan!. Unfortunately it’s not the sequel that many have been clamoring for, but it’s likely that fans of the series (especially fans of particular protagonists) will find something to like here. There’s not much else to be said—it’s a spin-off gag manga made specifically for fans that have watched Bungou Stray Dogs’ previous iterations, so whether it appeals to you will be directly tied into your enjoyment of the original franchise and your feelings toward chibi-fied spin-offs in general.
|Bungou Stray Dogs Wan! Promotional Videos ▼|
Break the egg and change the world.
While we haven’t been told anything about the synopsis of Wonder Egg Priority, which will be Wakabayashi Shin’s debut as a director after his long tenure in the anime industry, these are the cryptic words that were given in the visual trailer. Upon closer inspection, we’ve seen this before. Shoujo Kakumei Utena was the first. And it’s actually a reference to Demian by Hermann Hesse, which was apparently referencing Carl Jung’s ideas of Gnosticism – with Gnostics considering the principal element of salvation to be direct knowledge of the supreme divinity in the form of mystical or esoteric insight. Primarily dealing with concepts of illusion and enlightenment – as opposed to sin and repentance. But the egg metaphor itself began with Demian: “The bird fights its way out of the egg. The egg is the world. Who would be born must first destroy a world. The bird flies to God. That God’s name is Abraxas”. The philosophical pretense sounds like Passerby’s cup of tea. As for me, I know I can’t help but dive into mysteries when they catch my intrigue – and I must discover why I’m beset by such a sense of foreboding.
|Wonder Egg Priority Promotional Videos ▼|
Well, those isekai dreams are no longer memes, because Log Horizon has finally returned to anime. An adaptation of Touno Mamare’s incredibly popular fantasy tale, Log Horizon follows the happenings of over thirty thousand MMORPG Japanese gamers (and several hundred thousand more worldwide) after they find themselves sucked into the world of Elder Tale after the launch of its twelfth expansion. Within Elder Tale’s Akihabara, the local adventurers band together in a Round Table Alliance led by master strategist Shiroe (Terashima Takuma), who as a group manage to not only stabilize their city, but much of the surrounding land of Yamato. And now they face their greatest challenge yet: each other. Thanks to a small yet growing number of adventurers resentful of their transfer to this world and People of the Land looking to sway adventurers to their pet causes, the Round Table and its governance is at risk at collapse. Shiroe has a plan to finally design a means to return back to the real world, but with certain other adventurers seeking domination over all, such aspirations are likely to run headfirst into the reality of selfish desires.
Out of all the MMORPG isekai series we’ve been inundated with, few have done the concept as good as Log Horizon. Next to SAO this was arguably the “trapped in a game” isekai story, playing to everything you know and love (or hate) of MMORPG games with a focus on groups, guild, and cooperation rarely mentioned elsewhere. And when coupled with some interesting thought given to the politics and mechanics of its world, well, let’s just stay I hold the series in quite high regard. Unfortunately for Log Horizon, the dual downsides of a lackluster second season and Mamare’s tax troubles really put a stop to its overall momentum, and while half the problem still remains—i.e. Deen returns to animate—the fact we’re even getting a third season is cause for celebration. I’d still hedge bets right now given there’s no good indication of what will be adapted/adaptation pacing, but if the isekai bug has bitten you in any way, this one is definitely one show you’ll want to pay plenty of attention to this season.
|Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai Promotional Videos ▼|
Based on the light novel series, Kaiyari focuses on one Keyaru (Hozumi Yuya) and his pursuit of vendetta. Born impoverished and a strong admirer of heroes, Keyaru gets the calling of a lifetime when Jioral Kingdom’s princess Flare (Shibuya Ayano), the Magic hero, identifies him as the Healing hero. Ecstatic, Keyaru joins the ranks of heroes alongside Flare to combat the Demon King—only to discover the Demon King is the least of his worries. Not only does the stunning and charismatic Flare turn into a vicious sadist bent on enslaving Keyaru to her will, but the Sword hero Blade (Fujita Mami) treats Keyaru as little more than a stress relief punching bag while the Cannon hero Brett (Inada Tetsu) uses him as a sexual outlet for his hedonistic urges. Crippled and psychologically broken, Keyaru manages to escape from the group during the final battle with the Demon King, and after invoking some nifty healing magic to rewind time four years into the past, vows revenge. Before returning to a life of peace, Keyaru swears to do whatever it takes to ensure his fellow heroes receive their just desserts.
Let’s get the obvious out the way: no, Kaiyari is not an isekai (praise!), and yes, you’re looking at Shield Hero’s spiritual successor. Whether as a passing fad or the genre simply moving into less grazed pastures, edgy grimdark settings and shock-based revenge porn tales have started taking serious root in fantasy, and Kaiyari well-set to be one of the more emboldened variants. Just take that synopsis. If it wasn’t hint enough, everything is on the table with this one: rape, gore, torture, pure unaltered mindf*ckery—mix the divisive aspects of Shield Hero and Goblin Slayer, throw in some Berserk for flavour, crank the heat up to 11, and you get a pretty good idea what Kaiyari is all about. As with thematically similar series the strength of this adaptation will rely heavily on the level of censoring, but provided Kaiyari receives the Goblin Slayer treatment I do not foresee many production-related issues. Kaiyari definitely won’t be for everyone, but if you a taste for fantasy and like a little shock and awe, this one will be right up your alley.
|Kaifuku Jutsushi no Yarinaoshi Promotional Videos ▼|
Back in the anime saddle after a well-received first season, Dr. Stone returns to continue the tale of Senkuu (Kobayashi Yuusuke), shounen inventor/engineer extraordinaire. Following the occurrence of a blinding light which turns every human on planet Earth into stone, Senkuu breaks free from his igneous bonds several millennia later and emerges into a world not at all what he remembers. Buildings; electricity; the very pillars of civilization itself: everything modern taken for granted gone, with only memories—and personal knowledge—remaining. Which suits Senkuu just fine. With a broad array of scientific knowledge and the help of several friends awoken from their sedimentary slumber, Senkuu concocts a grand scheme to pull this new stone age back into the present through whatever means necessary. Achieving it though won’t be easy as Shishiou Tsukasa (Nakamura Yuuichi), one of Senkuu’s classmates, works towards stopping Senkuu in his tracks to prevent a return to what he sees as the tyranny of adults. And now with both sides having successfully solidified their power bases, their struggle—and the fate of Senkuu’s plan—will be decided through war.
As far as shounen series go, Dr. Stone is a bit of an oddball. An entertaining oddball. It’s a series that effectively melds JoJo with Fairy Tail and all the related (and equally loved/hated) tropes, yet bounces off the chaos with some very realistic science and engineering knowledge/implementation. And the best part? It somehow makes the dichotomous fusion work. Even for those not big shounen fans the first season was an absolute blast to watch, with some wickedly over the top characters, excellent production values, and tight writing helping carry through a concept which could’ve easily run off the rails. And with all cast and crew back in their original roles I wouldn’t suspect this season will be offering up anything different. Those which loved the first season will certainly be first in line to eat this one up, but I firmly recommend anyone with a love of realism-spiced popcorn thrills give Dr. Stone a chance. It may only be a shounen, but it’s well-set to keep on being one hell of an entertaining shounen.
|Dr.STONE STONE WARS Promotional Videos ▼|
Krylancelo Finrandi (Morikubo Shoutarou) was once a sorcerer who joined his foster sister Azalea Cait-Sith (Hikasa Yoko) as two prodigies at the prestigious Tower of Fangs. But after an experiment traps Azalea into the form of a dragon, she is driven off from civilization and the Tower of Fangs covers up the incident. Outraged with the academy and the elders at the Tower, Krylancelo leaves to rebrand himself as Orphen, a sorcerer-for-hire in the city of Totokanta. Although his quest to return Azalea to normal has been stalled for the past five years, an attempt at committing marriage fraud brings him face-to-face with the dragon that Azalea transformed into. With Azalea in his sights and rival sorcerers hot on her tail, Orphen makes it his goal to save Azalea and turn her back into a human before it’s too late.
Much of the charm from the Orphen series is through the old school vibes it gives off as a series from the 90’s and early 00’s. While Orphen has been trucking through the decades in multiple formats, it retains the classic charm of a fantasy series where the hero wears modern digs, is trapped in several wacky situations, and tries to strike a balance between brooding and spunky. When he isn’t getting himself wrapped up in get-rich-quick schemes or one-sided fights, he is seeking out his sister and aiming to legitimize himself once again as a prominent sorcerer. For a new spin on a classic swashbuckling experience, look no further than Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Kimluck-hen.
|Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Kimluck Hen Promotional Videos ▼|
From none other than the legendary Taniguchi Gorou (the creator of Code Geass) and Nakashima Kazuki (creator of TTGL and Kill la Kill) comes the latest anime original fantasy in Back Arrow. Within the world of Back Arrow exists the land of Ringarindo, an isolated region complete surrounded and isolated by a wall. For Ringarindo’s residents the wall is sacred: it protects, it covers, it nurtures all within. The wall is effectively Ringarindo’s god – until its divinity is upset one day by the appearance of a mysterious man named Back Arrow (Kaji Yuki). Beset with amnesia, all Back Arrow remembers is that he came from beyond the wall, and that to restore his memories he must venture back beyond it. Unfortunately for Back Arrow though, such a task won’t be easy as those memories—and his very existence—are destined to upset the entire order of Ringarindo.
Strap in boys and girls, we have a fun one here. While anime originals are a crap shoot at the best of times, when you’re bringing together the likes of Taniguchi Gorou and Nakashima Kazuki—not including Yuki Kaji in yet another lead role—you best pay some attention no matter the narrative ambiguity. At its core Back Arrow looks to be fairly standard fantasy/sci-fi: we’ve got the mysterious world with homages to SnK, an MC with a dark past screaming conspiracy and intrigue, the whole suite of cookie cutter sidekicks and secondary characters, and some serious mecha vibes which may or may not turn into something akin to Kamen Rider or a less melancholic Casshern Sins. Frankly anything is possible right now given just how close Back Arrow is playing its cards to its chest, and while another Deca-Dence isn’t out of picture just yet, should the writing chops match the production values already on display, this anime original will definitely be a show to pay some close attention to this season.
|Back Arrow Promotional Videos ▼|
|01/08||Otona no Bouguya-san II | おとなの防具屋さんII
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
|01/10||Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki Sansatsume | 八十亀ちゃんかんさつにっき 3さつめ
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
|01/11||Azur Lane: Bisoku Zenshin! | アズールレーン びそくぜんしんっ!
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
|01/12||World Witches Hasshin Shimasu! | ワールドウィッチーズ発進しますっ!
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
|01/12||Yami Shibai 8 | 闇芝居 8
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, syoboi, Wikipedia
|12/01||OBSOLETE Part 2
|12/04||Yuragi-sou no Yuuna-san OVA | ゆらぎ荘の幽奈さん
|Bundled w/ manga Vol. 24.|
|12/16||Ongaku: Our Sound | 音楽
|12/23||Strike the Blood IV | ストライク・ザ・ブラッド IV
|OVA Episode 7 and 8 of 12.|
|01/15||Gintama: The Semi-Final | 銀魂 THE SEMI-FINAL
|dTV Online Exclusive. Episode 1 of 2.|
|01/20||Gintama: The Semi-Final | 銀魂 THE SEMI-FINAL
|dTV Online Exclusive. Episode 2 of 2.|
|Jan 2021||Planetarian: Snow Globe OVA
|Prequel Short Story. Crowdfunded Release.|
|02/26||Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki 5th Season | 天地無用! 魎皇鬼 第伍期
|BD/DVD Release. OVA 5 of 6.|
|02/26||Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii OVA | ヲタクに恋は難しい OVA
|Bundled w/ LE manga Vol. 10.|
|Feb 2021||High-Rise Invasion (Tenkuu Shinpan) | 天空侵犯
2020 may have been wild, but damn if anime didn’t find a way to help things go out with a positive bang. Compared to earlier seasons we really have a lot on offer this time around, with multiple popular and acclaimed series being up for adaptation alongside a slew of hotly anticipated sequels for franchises that I’m sure few ever thought we’d see. While the usual caveats exist regarding quality or execution (particularly in regards to this season’s anime originals), there’s plenty more which could arguably go right instead of wrong, and I for one am going to remain positive. After a year of delays and postponements it’s about time we start getting a sense of anime normality wouldn’t ya say? And speaking of normality, onto our Excitement Levels!
That’s right, we’ll be continuing with our enshrined Excitement Levels, which includes four main levels plus Established for special cases. Our goal is 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 hyped up about a show that ends up failing down the stretch.
As usual, these levels were arrived at by our totally not shady “Excitement Council” of Zephyr, Guardian Enzo, and Zaiden. While we’ve gone to great lengths to consider multiple viewpoints and not get swept away by our own proclivities, these aren’t predictions, and shouldn’t be taken as such. Take these with the appropriate amount of Himalayan pink 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.
- Optimistic Excitement: Back Arrow, Dr. Stone: Stone Wars, Jaku-Chara Tomozaki-kun, Kemono Jihen, Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu, Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken (2021), Wonder Egg Priority, Yakusoku no Neverland 2nd Season
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 possibilites 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.
- Average Excitement: 2.43: Seiin Koukou Danshi Volley-bu, Go-toubun no Hanayome ∬, Hataraku Saibou!!, Hataraku Saibou Black, Hortensia Saga, Kai Byoui Ramune, Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?, Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Kimluck-hen, Ore dake Haireru Kakushi Dungeon: Kossori Kitaete Sekai Saikyou, Shin Chuuka Ichiban! (2021), SHOW BY ROCK!! STARS!!, SK∞, Skate-Leading ☆ Stars, Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shounen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari, Tenchi Souzou Design-bu, Ura Sekai Picnic, World Trigger 2nd Season
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.
- Limited Excitement: Bungou Stray Dogs Wan!, EX-ARM, Praeter no Kizu, WIXOSS Diva(A)Live, Soukou Musume Senki
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.