Is it time for a new crop of anime already? It feels like just last week we were sitting at AX mashing F5 on Crunchyroll waiting for them to upload the first episodes of Summer, and yet here we are, eager to check out what's next in the wide world of anime. Above you'll see a video of the anime we're most anticipating, and below you'll see a quick reference chart of this season's offerings (right-click open in new tab to see full size). After the jump you'll see our synopsis and opinions on this season's shows along with links to their PVs.
March Comes in Like a Lion 3-gatsu no Lion (manga)
Rei Kiriyama is a 17-year-old boy who lives with his adoptive family and supports himself through a professional Shogi career. His relationship with his family and those around him is becoming strained, and his Shogi career has entered a slump. It’s clear he needs to mature, but will Rei’s interactions with the three Kawamoto sisters Akari, Hinata and Momo be his ticket to happiness?
Marc's take: It’s a rare thing when a SHAFT anime doesn’t pull some deep emotions from its viewers, and Lion has all the necessary components to succeed on that count. The project has a more than capable director in Akiyuki Shinbou, having directed other well-known SHAFT projects such as several installments of the Monogatari series, Madoka Magica and Hidamari Sketch (to name just a few). I’m excited to see Yukari Hashimoto composing the show’s soundtrack, as her work on Toradora, Penguindrum and Osomatsu-san shows that she can tackle a wide variety of styles and should be right at home here. Also exciting is the opening and ending themes, both composed and performed by BUMP OF CHICKEN (Kekkai Sensen). Overall, if everything goes to plan Lion has a chance to be added to the ever-growing list of must-watch SHAFT anime.
Patrick's take: It's a great failing of mine that I haven't read March Comes in Like a Lion yet. Despite the mangaka also having written one of the all-time best college romances Honey and Clover I just never got around to this work. Well, my laziness definitely paid off because now we're getting an anime adaptation by the legendary ShaftxShinbou. I'm excited that Shinbou himself has decided to, uh, directly direct this one. While his name is on a ton of Shaft projects and he's a big part of their original aesthetic he hasn't been directly involved for a while. It'll be good to have him back.
The Last WitchShuumatsu no Izetta (original)
1940: A witch gets embroiled with a princess during an attack on her nation by the imperialist nation Germania. An alternate universe’s version of a small nation fighting against WWII Germany.
Patrick’s take: I have a soft spot for original anime. Going into this fall season I can confidently say this is the anime that I’m most anticipating in spite of the lack of info about the plot itself that's available. The staff is a curious mix of old and new, along with an uncommon choice of studio for late night anime; the setting is once again a bastardization of WWII, a popular choice lately; the opening and ending themes are by personal favorites AKINO and May’N; and the titular character Izetta is being voiced by the main character from PriPara. Take away all those things unique to my tastes and you still have a trailer with a witch riding an anti-tank rifle like a broom. How could anyone not be interested?
Marc's take: This show's bringing back memories of Maria the Virgin Witch in some ways for me. Part of me hopes that the good parts of this one are similar in nature to Maria, but I also hope it doesn't fall victim to the same sort of flaws that putting a cast of witches in a well-known and real-world setting can cause. If all else fails, the idea of another modern WWII anime intrigues me.
ALL OUT!! (manga)
Gion Kenji is short and has a perpetual chip on his shoulder about it. Iwashimizu Sumiaki is tall but as timid as a mouse. Bullies will bring this unlikely pair out of the darkness and into the light together, and their high school rugby club will keep them there.
Marc's take: Rugby has found new popularity in Japan due to their national team’s success at several international competitions recently, and it’s in this newfound world of popularity that ALL OUT!! might find its place. Some discerning viewers might still have PTSD over the last Madhouse sports anime Prince of Stride, but rest assured I’m confident that ALL OUT!! will be quite different. Director Kenichi Shimizu is new to the director’s chair, a veteran key animator who only recently exploded onto the scene in 2014 with his first full-time directing gig with the fantastic Parasyte: the Maxim. Despite his inexperience, I think Shimizu is perfect for the job as Parasyte was an extremely notable and successful series. For you seiyuu fans, the voice cast is practically bursting at the seams with supporting appearances by the likes of Kensho Ono and Yoshimasa Hosoya. Last but not least, the ending theme is composed and performed by notable anison jazz fusion duo Sukima Switch (FMA Brotherhood OP3, Space Brothers OP2, Haikyuu!! OP2).
Patrick's take: One of my favorite things about sports anime is that while unrealistic, they are an opportunity to introduce new fans to the sport. With the Japan national team's recent winningness and Japan set to host the World Cup of Rugby in 2019 I think we're going to see a real crazy amount of synergy a la Giant Killing in 2010. I'm sure the studio and staff are propping up a show that already stands to do well.
60 years ago a disease that cause people to stay awake for more than a week struck, driving all those infected mad. A new medicine was produced to cure the illness but its side effects turned everyone who took it into vampires, causing a war between this new species and humanity, which humanity eventually won. The main character, Mi Liu, is a product of a relationship between one of the few surviving vampires and a human and is transferred to a prison built for monitoring vampires, where he tries to escape.
Marc's take: This is another one of those mysterious Chinese-Japanese co-productions that we’re seeing more of recently. It’s adapted from a Chinese web comic from artist Bai Xiao, and is a co-production between Creators in Pack, Namu Animation and Emon Animation, the Japanese branch of Shanghai-based studio Haoliners. I haven’t seen much good about previous co-productions between Japanese studios and Chinese studios, so let’s see if Bloodivores has the moxie to break the mold. More cooperation between nations is good for creativity!
Bubuki Buranki 2nd Season BBK/BRNK 2L Hoshi no Kyojin(original)
The second cour of Bubuki Buranki, stylized as BBK/BRNK. Special teams from countries all over the world are armed with weapons with their own minds, called Bubuki. When combined, the powers of the Bubuki can create a Buranki: a massive and ancient mecha with which to do battle. Azuma Kazuki and his team continue their struggle against myriad other Buranki-wielding teams from countries all across the globe.
Marc's take: Despite the fact that the first cour of BBK/BRNK was an absolute mess, I still enjoyed every second of it. If I’m honest about 75% of my enthusiasm for the next season comes from my love of the American Bubuki team Megalara, and for the inevitable reveal of their no-doubt star spangled Buranki. Despite the mess, Sanzigen has always managed to make this show entertaining and beautiful to boot, so count me in for twelve more explosive episodes.
Patrick's take: I wouldn't be an anime fan if I didn't love dumb shit and BBK/BRNK is all about dumb shit! I barely managed to hobble across the finish line of the first season so I'm surprised to find myself feeling pretty excited for its comeback. Maybe it's because the twin sister is pretty much wearing an Elin armor set from Tera. Speaking of which, where the hell was she during the first season? I wonder if they'll even mention that...
Bungou Stray Dogs 2nd Season (manga)
Second cour of Bungou Stray Dogs. Atsushi Nakajima has joined a supernatural investigation agency, a government agency that takes on cases too difficult for the government to handle and populated by people with their own special abilities, who all happen to be named after famous authors with name-appropriate abilities to match. In addition to their enemies the Port Mafia, a mysterious guild of Western ability-users has appeared, adding a new degree of threat to the city constantly torn apart by supernatural crime.
Marc's take: I had thoroughly dismissed Bones’ sort-of “Kekkai Sensen Lite” as I had called it as a cheap superpower show with no real substance. That is, until “The Guild” showed up. The introduction of a new faction of Western supervillains all named after Western authors like F. Scott Fitzgerald and Lucy Maud Montgomery completely captured my attention, and the show has been much better for it. The animation and production side of the show has always been solid, not necessarily anything to write home about like some of Bones’ other shows but definitely respectable. If you’re into superpowered action and character-driven melodrama with a side of unnecessary silliness, this show is probably one for you to catch up with.
Digimon Universe: Appli Monster (original)
The digital revolution has gone mobile! Inside of our smartphone apps lurk “Appli Monsters”, or “Appmon”, AI life forms who can think and act on their own and exist in the boundary between the human and digital world. Haru Shinkai, a young boy, acquires the Appli Drive and must use it and his Appmon companion Gatchmon to fight the evil AI Leviathan.
Patrick’s take: We’re getting the first “proper” Digimon TV series in some time, and a complete IP refresh with it. I’m nervous but will definitely be checking it out. It’s worth it to note that this project is a joint between Toei and Bandai Namco and will tie-in games as well. In an already crowded space I’m curious to see what they do to try to grab kids’ attention.
Flip Flappers (original)
Papika and Cocona hold the keys to open the door. When the two girls meet, their adventures in a different time and different overlapping dimension called "Pure Illusion" begin. Many things in Pure Illusion will stand in the girls' way on their search for the mysterious crystal called the "Shard of Mimi," an item that is said to grant any wish. However, when the girls find themselves in danger, the Shard of Mimi shines, and they are able to transform.
Patrick's take: If there's a sakuga project to look out for this season, Flip Flappers is it, without a doubt. The first PV appeared what feels like a millennia ago and it looked brilliant way back then. What little we know about the story is quite confusing, but hey, magical girl transformations in a show with animation as its focus! I'm sold.
Marc's take: What happens when you take Daoko's GIRL video, mash it up with some Rolling Girls and then send it through the Alice and Wonderland rabbit hole? Probably this show, if all goes according to plan. Not only does this look to be a sakuga masterpiece, but it could very well put burgeoning studio 3hz on the map if it hits the right chord with the right audience.
AJIN 2nd season(manga)
The second cour of AJIN: Demi-Human. High-schooler Kei, and fourty-six others, are immortals. However, in the eyes of the government and general public he is a specimen to be captured and handed over to the authorities and experimented on for life, for the benefit of humanity.
Patrick's take: There's honestly not too much to say here. As long as more of the same it'll be pretty darned good. I still say it's a shame it went to Netflix - while they put out a better end product than most their shows fall to the wayside in the west without the weekly hype machine.
Magical Girl Raising ProjectMahou Shoujo Ikusei Keikaku (light novel)
The popular mobage Magical Girl Raising Project has the ability to turn one out of every ten thousand players into a real life magical girl! These magical girls have unique abilities based on their personality and life and are expected to serve and protect the regular populace. Eventually, the administration decides that 16 magical girls is about 8 magical girls too many and drags them into a battle to the death against each other.
Patrick’s take: This season is real heavy on magical girls and I am A-ok with that! This show is our dark mahou shoujo (no seriously, the story gets gruesome and cold-hearted real quick) of the season, and probably the one I’m looking forward to the most in that genre. Lerche is no stranger to light novel adaptations and has gathered a pretty experienced staff to work on bringing this one to life. Not to mention the star-studded seiyuu cast.
Marc's take: I can't say I have too much to say about this other than it has big shoes to fill. The "dark magical girl" story has been done and done again since Madoka Magica, and none have even come close to the lightning in a bottle Madoka managed to capture. Here's hoping this defies those expectations.
In a rural town undergoing a revival through music, high school students Kanae and Sousuke are surprised to meet famous composers from the past such as Beethoven, Mozart, Shubert, Bach and Chopin! Calling themselves “ClassicaLoids”, they create a strange power through music that can make giant robots fall from the sky! What are they? Are they friend or foe? Is this the most insane concept for an anime yet? Who knows!
Marc's take: It could possibly be the strangest concept for an anime I’ve ever seen in my short time buried in this industry: famous composers, gender-bending, giant robots…what else is there in this world? On the real though, Sunrise’s ClassicaLoid is in fantastic comedic hands with director Yoichi Fujita, who’s made a name for himself as a capable comedic director by helming both Gintama and Osomatsu-san. Series composition is being handled by Ichirou Sakaki and much like an actual comedy show, ClassicaLoid has a writing staff of four different people handling the scripts. Lastly, music is provided by video game composer Masashi Hamauzu (Final Fantasy XIII) with collaboration with the one and only tofubeats and several other notable composers. Seiyuu nerds will also be pleased to hear there are cast appearances from Tomukazu Sugita, Yuki Kaji, Mao Ichimichi, Kousuke Toriumi, and Mamiko Noto, to name a few.
Patrick's take: I don't even know where to begin; the music maybe? They’ve assigned some absolutely huge talent to each announced composer: Tomoyasu Hotei (Beethoven) is famous for his work on Kill Bill’s theme “Battle Without Honor or Humanity”, tofubeats (Mozart) is one of the most popular electronic producers right now, Daisuke Asakura (Liszt) has worked with TM Network and a long list of popular Jpop artists, EHAMIC (Chopin) is one of the leading vocaloid producers, and tsunku♂ (Bach) was behind almost every one of Morning Musume’s early 2000s chart toppers. After the music there's the station and the time slot. ClassicaLoid will be airing on NHK-E, the education arm of the government-funded NHK channel, on a primetime Saturday timeslot. What in the hell is going on?
Great warriors from all across history are transported through time and space into the same world, where they are forced to fight each other in an endless battle.
Marc's take: DRIFTERS was created by Kouta Hirano of Hellsing fame, so you know it’s going to be absolutely batshit insane. Oda Nobunaga is a character. Japanese Zero fighter planes and dragons are shown in the same frame in the PV. Need I say more? I don’t, but I will anyway. Drifters is helmed by director Kenichi Suzuki, series director for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders, with series composition and scriptwriting by Yousuke Kuroda of Gungrave and Hellsing Ultimate. Those two alone seem like a magical combination to me, but wait, there’s more! Music is being handled by Hayato Matsuo of Hellsing Ultimate and Cyborg 009: The Cyborg Soldier, with additional help from the original Hellsing OST composer Yasushi Ishii. The opening theme is sung by Maon Kurosaki (High School of the Dead, Space Battleship Yamato 2199). All in all, Drifters seems like a remarkable concept for a show that, if handled right, could turn out to be every bit as insane and entertaining as Hellsing was.
Patrick's take: I made the mistake of writing this one off as "the holy grail war without the holy grail or mages." I probably should have taken a better look at the circumstances behind it, because that PV makes it seem like anything but that. I'm not entirely certain what to expect but I have at least an inkling that it's going to be very bloody, very brutal, and very entertaining... the combo of Hellsing's author and JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders' director wills it.
The Great PassageFune wo Amu (novel)
Mitsuya Majime is recruited to publisher Genbu Shobo’s dictionary department, known within the company as the “money-eating insect”, in order to create and publish a new and comprehensive Japanese dictionary called “The Great Passage”. Mitsuya, who has poor social skills, finds himself working as editor alongside Masashi Nishioka, a man who is able to express himself much better.
Patrick's take: Workplace dramas with no fantasy elements about characters who remind salarymen a bit too much of themselves are a pretty tough sell in a medium filled with cat-eared maids. While I'm not familiar with the source material in the least (nevuh hoid of it) most novel adaptations turn out to be pretty interesting journeys, and airing in the noitiminA time block means they're trying to court a less otaku audience to begin with. The Great Passage has the recipe for a sleeper hit down, for sure.
Marc's take: If you thought the concept for Fune wo Amu could be both boring and troublesome to localize, you probably wouldn’t be the first. However, I’m willing to give the show the benefit of the doubt for now, for at least one key reason: the voice cast. Maaya Sakamoto (my favorite voice actress), Takahiro Sakurai and Hiroshi Kamiya form the main trio; all incredibly talented and seasoned seiyuu veterans that rarely give a bad performance. Most of the staff are newcomers to their respective roles, with one notable exception being the character designer Hiroyuki Aoyama. While this is only his second character design gig (after Summer Wars), his key animation experience speaks for itself: Akira, Steamboy, Dennou Coil, Ghost in the Shell: SAC, Redline and several Ghibli movies among many, many more highly respected projects. Overall, this show is a big question mark for me. Only time will tell whether or not the formula for a Japanese dictionary show is able to survive in the west while remaining entertaining.
College student Chitose Karasuma is trying her hardest to become a seiyuu (voice actress). Not just any seiyuu though, Chitose wants to become one of the new breed of idol seiyuu, encompassing singing, dancing, and publicity on top of voice acting.
Patrick’s take: I really am loving the rise of industry-specific meta works as well as the rise of characters in college or in the workforce. While we have had Sore ga Seiyuu (Seiyu’s Life!), it looks like Girlish Number will have a very different mood and focus on a lot more characters. At the very least, it’s going to have some super cute designs by QP:Flapper.
Haikyuu!! 3rd Season (manga)
The third season of high school volleyball anime Haikyuu!! Hinata and the rest of the Karasuno high school men’s volleyball team face off against Shiratorizawa Academy, the highest-ranked and most feared volleyball team in all of Japan, in the final round of the inter-high tournament.
Patrick's take: Haikyuu!! has been pretty amazing to us. The animation is top notch, the sense of anticipation is damn near unmatched in every scene. The only problem I've ever had with HQ is its pacing - it reared its ugly head (as it does in most sports anime to be fair) a bit in season 2 during the training arc, and I'm afraid of it this arc. Given this season's subtitle (literally Karasuno High vs Shiratorizawa Academy) and having spoken to some people who are reading the manga, it seems like this entire arc is going to be one match. If any show can keep our attention on one match for that long it's this one though.
Marc's take: Production IG has already created, to me, one of the best modern sports anime in existence with Haikyuu. The animation and general production quality has always been higher than any other currently running sports anime, and since there are no notable staff changes to speak of this season, I’d say that level of quality is only going to remain constant. If you haven’t seen or caught up with Haikyuu yet, I wholeheartedly suggest you do because it is an incredible show and the best is yet to come.
Natsume's Book of Friends 5th SeasonNatsume Yuujinchou Go (manga)
Having completed their tour of the seasons, Natsume and his book of youkai… acquaintances returns for a fifth season.
Patrick’s take: There’s a good reason Natsume Yuujinchou is topping most of Japan’s most anticipated polls. The show is one of few to perfectly nail a good melancholy yet heartwarming atmosphere and do it consistently, mix that with Japan’s love of youkai and it’s no wonder it’s such a beloved series. I’m full of fond memories from the previous seasons and can’t wait to add to them.
Sound! Euphonium 2nd seasonHibike! Euphonium 2 (novel)
The second cour of the high school band show Sound! Euphonium. The Kitauji High School band strives to compete on the national stage after having cleared regional preliminaries, all while dealing with interpersonal strife, tension between members and budding romance.
Marc's take: Anyone that knows me or has heard me talk about this show before knows that Sound! Euphonium is one of my favorite shows of all time, even though it hasn’t even finished airing. KyoAni has created a masterful window into the world of high school band, showing it more accurately than possibly anything else that has tried to capture the subject matter before. It still hasn’t quite hit me yet that I’m getting more, so all I have to say is that if you haven’t caught up with this masterpiece of the high school experience yet, do yourself a favor: watch it.
Patrick's take: We all know it's gonna be good, there's only one question: will KyoAni stay true to the novel's romances or will they forge their own path?
Idol Memories (original)
In the near future advances in virtual reality have made home live idol performances commonplace around the world. The rival idol groups StarRing and Shadow compete in the Idol League for the “tiara”, the reward for the top idol group.
Patrick’s take: Most idol shows focus on the characters over the music; if the PVs are to be trusted, Idol Memories is taking a much more music and performance focused approach. This show is going to live or die by the performances of the six voice actresses in it. The animation looks tight and the songs sound catchy, all that’s left is to not suck! (Nanami Hoshi is the best character already)
StarRing PV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U9607oPEoJ8
Shadow PV: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tPOsTZk6V4
Long Riders! (manga)
Ami Kurata, a first-year university student with no athletic ability, falls in love with a folding bicycle after seeing it in front of a train station. She soon throws herself fully into cycling, saving up to buy her own bike and eventually joining her university’s long-distance cycling club.
Patrick's take: This is one of several cycling manga I picked up randomly and one of the same several that I'm amazed (but happy) that are getting an anime adaptation. Long Riders! is pretty whimsical in that they never really compete seriously in their sport, but instead have fun discovering more parts of it. The manga is super cute and I'm confident that that will flow into the anime. Plus, the more college-based shows we get, the better!
Marc's take: The concept for this show originally started in a cycling magazine sometime before 2012, before being expanded out into a full manga in 2012 and onwards. The anime adaptation, animated by studio Actas (Girls und Panzer) looks to be just what you would expect from a cute, heartwarming female-focused sports story. While this won’t be an animation or voice acting masterpiece by any stretch of the imagination, the staff looks perfectly suited to tackle this type of show. Monster Musume director Tatsuya Yoshihara is helming the series, while series composition will be handled by Natsuko Takahashi of Baby Steps, Fullmetal Alchemist and Ore Monogatari. Ray is singing the opening theme, with a song that sounds a LOT like a fhana song but hey, I’m no expert. If you like cycling anime, I’m sure this’ll be a fun time. Whether or not Long Riders! will manage to capture a larger slice of life audience remains to be seen.
Luger Code 1951 (original)
A young university professor who can learn any language is asked to decipher the Luger Code, a supposedly impenetrable code developed by Werewolves, the enemies of mankind. Surprised to find he cannot decipher the code, the professor embarks on a journey to learn more.
Patrick's take: I have a real hard time not laughing at the premise of this show... it's pretty damn silly. I just keep imagining Remus Lupin at the enigma machine typing away and unfortunately none of the promotional material has been substantial enough to tear me away from that ridiculous image. However, it is an original, and that gives it a starting boost in my eyes. Not to mention it being the result of a Shueisha writing contest.
Marc's take: Studio Deen has really managed to capture light in a bottle with some of their recent shows, but unfortunately this doesn’t look to be one of those shows. In fact, this show looks horribly bad and I can’t imagine a whole lot of scenarios where I’m wrong about that. Not a whole lot of information is available on the voice cast right now and with no notable names on the staff, I can’t say I have a good chance of giving this one more than one episode.
Show By Rock!! # (original)
Cyan has returned to the human world for the first time since the first episode of the first season, but the metropolis of music MIDICITY is far from being safe. Is she going to go back? Can she go back?Patrick’s take: Seeing as the first season was woefully under watched I’m sure it will be the same this time around. Luckily, those of us who watch Show By Rock really like Show By Rock and I’m ready for some more.
Magic-Kyun! Renaissance (original)
In a world where art becomes magic, people who can use Magic Arts are called Artistas, and are employed in show business. At a high school that teaches Magic Arts and is populated by attractive boys, a new transfer student named Ohana Aigasaki arrives. Side note, in Japanese the title is a pun on the word "rune".
Patrick's take: Shows like this always make me feel guilty. Reverse the character's genders and I'd be really excited for this! Sunrise has given it a young, flexible director and is using their brain-trust Hajime Yatate (the name Sunrise uses as a stand-in when the writing is a joint effort: think most Gundam series, Love Live, Cowboy Bebop) to write it, and yet the very basic fact that it's an otome has me writing it off. Sunrise is obviously pouring a lot of effort into making this a big deal, I'm going to do my best to give this a fair shake, just like the many wonderful women who have given ridiculous harem shows a chance. Besides, the music is pretty danged good.
Nanbaka (web manga)
Four men are sent to the world’s most fabulous and infamous prison. Now they must try to escape from a myriad of guards and other obstacles in this stylish action-comedy.
Marc's take: I don’t know whether or not to get excited for this show, mostly because I don’t really have any clue who it’s actually for. The voice cast is large and features notable appearances by Tomokazu Seki, Kenjirou Tsuda, Yoshimasa Hosoya, and Yuu Kobayashi. The show’s director, Shinji Takamtasu, directed the first 100 or so episodes of Gintama so we know he has competent comedic chops. The PV looked super colorful and stylish, but I’m still confused at who exactly this show is aimed at. I’m excited to watch the first episode, but I’m not allowing myself any more than that. I’ve been burned by colorful and stylishly outlandish shows in the past (Rolling Girls, ahem).
Lostorage Incide WIXOSS (original)
A story in the WIXOSS universe. WIXOSS is a popular card game with the best players secretly invited to a tournament that promises their greatest wish be granted if they win enough.
Patrick’s take: WIXOSS is probably one the most undeservingly underwatched series out there. Mari Okada made a trading card show as dark and twisty as Madoka Magica and very few people were there to witness it. Unfortunately, she does not seem to be a part of this production. I’m curious to see where this fits into the WIXOSS universe and whether it can stand up without Okada’s guiding hand, especially since we already know a lot of the secrets behind the WIXOSS game.
Occultic;Nine (light novel)
A story of paranormal science that revolves around nine unique individuals all linked by an occult blog run by 17-year-old Yuuta Gamon. Strange events that occur around this group will eventually lead to a larger revelation that may alter the rules of reality forever.
Patrick's take: Woohoo! Another entry in the Semi;Colon series at long last. While Robotics;Notes and Chaos;Head are hugely (and rightfully so) overshadowed by Steins;Gate I still love them. Given what we know about this show, it looks like it'll be one of those shows that start with separate stories leading up to the same climactic event, like Durarara and Baccano. These are all about execution, hopefully A-1's crack squad pulls it off here.
Marc's take: It’s always hard to get a read on A-1 Pictures shows before they air, because they have no permanent staff. However, what I’ve seen of this show looks intriguing. The director of Your Lie in April, Kyohei Ishiguro, is directing this show and will be joined by Your Lie in April music composer Masaru Yokoyama for music production. The voice cast is solid, featuring Yuki Kaji, Mamiko Noto and the ever-breathtaking Miyuki Sawashiro. The PVs don’t give too much away so like I said, it’s hard to get a read on this one but based on the information at hand I think this will be a solid and atmospheric mystery show worth checking out.
Magic of StellaStella no Mahou (manga)
Incoming high school freshman Tamaki Honda joins a school club focused on making a doujin game. Will her and her upperclassman be able to to put one together?
Patrick’s take: Cute girls do cute programming? I really hope the show’s characters are able to somewhat focus on actually making a game - 4koma manga have a tendency to be about everything other than what it says on the cover (see: K-On!). That doesn’t mean they’re bad though! The character designs and bubbly color palette look nice together from the PV and there’s some stand-out talent in the staff and cast: most notably, the director of slice of life favorite Non Non Biyori.
Ping Pong GirlShakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume (manga)
To Agari Kamiya, the recognition that comes with being the best is everything she needs from playing ping pong. When transfer student Koyori Tsumujikaze shows up with nothing but natural talent and a burning hot passion for the game will she be able to convert Agari back into loving the game itself?
Patrick's take: I don't envy a show that's starting point is going to be "that show about ping pong that isn't a Masaaki Yuasa masterpiece" but luckily for it it's playing the game quite differently. Going off what I know from a bit of the manga this is going to be an over the top sports anime with special moves, hot blood, and passion in excess... all coming from middle school girls. A winning combo for sure.
Marc's take: This show has flown extremely low under the radar, having only really been recognized about a month ago as being part of the Fall 2016 season. The PV looks as if it will be a combination of standard girls’ slice of life and action-packed traditional sports anime, with some visual humor packed in for flavor. The voice cast doesn’t feature any notable performers, which is typical for an anime of this caliber. However, it’s two major exciting factors are that not only does it look like an anime from the early 2000s, but also Wake Up Girls! Will be performing the opening theme. All that being said, Kinema Citrus has a pretty wide swathe of work to point to so how they play this show is anyone’s guess.
Matoi the Sacred SlayerSoushin Shoujo Matoi (original)
Matoi Sumeragi yearns to live a simple life. Yuma Kusanagi, her best friend, is the daughter of the family who lives at the local shrine and is expected to become the next Miko. When Yuma’s parents fall ill, Matoi discovers a power within her that allows her to exorcise spirits. Yearning for her normal life back, Matoi and Yuma embark on a journey to do battle with evil spirits, their magical girl story set against Japanese traditional folklore.
Marc's take: Having majored in religion in school, any show that deals with Japanese traditional folklore and religious imagery interests me highly. Most of the staff here are industry veterans with not a whole lot of notable titles to their name, with the exception of Gungrave scriptwriter Yousuke Kuroda, who is penning Matoi’s series composition and script, as well as another show in Fall 2016, Drifters. The voice cast is also nothing to write home about, with no overtly famous talent appearing anywhere in the main cast list. Whether Matoi is a must-watch remains to be seen, as it must really make a case for itself within the first few episodes or be doomed to be forgotten.
Patrick's take: Y'all know the drill: if there's magical girls, there's me. Hopefully the Shinto twist sets it apart but if I'm being dead honest I'll likely enjoy it even if it doesn't separate itself from other magical girl shows. I just hope the exorcisms she performs look cool!
Tiger Mask W (manga)
Two young wrestlers compete in a newly revived competition called “The Tiger’s Lair”, which destroyed the wrestling dojo they grew up in. One walks the path of light, while the other walks the path of shadow. Though neither knows the other’s face due to the fearsome tiger masks they each wear, both share the same goal: to destroy the Tiger’s Lair from the inside out.
Marc's take: I’m kind of a secret fan of pro wrestling as I watched it a lot growing up and have only recently got back into it, so Tiger Mask W intrigues me beyond belief considering that the last time a decent enough pro wrestling anime happened was the previous Tiger Mask anime in the early 80s. Toei is taking a big risk reviving such a storied and incredibly old (by anime’s standards, anyway) show, and I really hope it pays off because the original show was great by all accounts. Toei has put Ultimate Muscle director Toshiaki Komura up as the director of this project, which is heartening because after directing Ultimate Muscle, a pro wrestling revival anime should be right in his wheelhouse. The voice cast is what you’d expect for most sports anime: the two main characters are voiced by relatively little-known performers, while the supporting cast is filled out with more recognizable names. Toei has also said that they aim to re-create the look and feel of cel animation with this show, which is exciting but also worrying considering that, well…its Toei. I hope to god this show is good because this franchise sure as hell deserves it.
Patrick's take: This one might be the biggest, fattest, question mark of the season for me. I've seen a few episodes of the old school Tiger Mask while pursuing some solo sakuga research and let me say this - the show is very weird. Not a bad weird, it just looks different from anything in its period and or today's. Tiger Mask trailblazed a lot of interesting animation techniques so part of me wonders if Toei will try to do the same with some digital/analog marriage here or not. Additionally, I'm a fan of the other old school Toei reboots (Sailor Moon Crystal, Yoru no Yatterman) but looking at the staff it seems like they might be going long-form 50+ episodes on us. Only time will tell whether that's what they're doing or if it's a good idea. In the meantime though, pro wrestling anime sure does sound like an idea.
Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru (browser game)
An anime based on the popular card-based browser game, featuring men personified as legendary swords from throughout history.
Patrick's take: The Touken Ranbu game (think Kantai Collection but with sword boys instead of ship girls) is popular enough to warrant two anime productions. This one by Dogakobo is going to be a much lighter affair than next year's work by Ufotable. Dogakobo's in house animators are well known in sakuga crowds for their skill at "character acting", or breathing life into character's everyday movements. I can't say I have a lot of personal feelings riding on this one but I am curious enough to get a feel for the characters before Ufotable's version while enjoying some primo animation.
Marc's take: I don’t have a whole lot to say about this show except that the fact that it’s being animated by New Game and Plastic Memories studio Doga Kobo intrigues me beyond belief. I hope it’s good!
Nozomi Kaminashi is a brilliant young gymnast with the grit to make it all the way to the Olympics… but that’s not what she wants. She wants money. The best place to make money for young female athletes is the betting sport Keijo, so that’s where she heads. Keijo is a game played on a platform floating on water where contestants must make each other fall down or off the platform without using their arms or legs. That is to say, they must use their tits and asses.
Patrick’s take: Look I know what you’re thinking… and you’re right. This is a terrible idea. But that’s what makes it all the better when the manga plays it straight! You’ve got every sports anime trope you could ever hope to fill in this show and it revolves around such a ridiculous thing. The manga is (obviously) very fanservice heavy and I’m sure the anime will be the same, but I’m curious to see how it’s handled. Even though the plot lends itself very well to male gaze the focus in the manga is definitely on the parody of over the top sports manga, and I hope the anime keeps that focus.
Marc's take: Despite all evidence to the contrary and common sense in general, I do actually think this show is going to be unbelievably fun and a genuinely good watch. I'm seriously wondering how popular it'll be in the states, as heavily fanservice-laden and near-softcore porn level shows like Monster Musume have struck a serious chord in the western scene. Either way, I'll be watching the first episode with my dick out, and not just for Harambe.
PV (best PV of 2016 award): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dfQVsgO16Y
TRICKSTERTrickster: Edogawa Ranpo "Shounen Tanteidan" yori (original)
In the 2030s, the efforts of the “Boys’ Detective Team” have resolved several incidents across Japan. A team member named Kensuke Hanasaki meets a boy named Yoshio Hanasaki and, upon realizing that he has an undying body and constantly wishes for death, invites him to join the Boys’ Detective Team. Their meeting will eventually lead to a connection to a famous criminal and a mysterious detective.
Marc's take: This is another show that is hard to get a read on, and that worries me: anime based on stories by Edogawa Ranpo haven’t gone over that well in recent years. Most of the staff are new to their respective positions with the notable exception of music director Yuuki Hayashi, most famous for his incredible scores for anime like My Hero Academia, Haikyuu and Kiznaiver. His presence on the team makes this a guaranteed watch for me, as his recent work has put him near the top of my favorite composers in anime list right now. The voice cast is hilariously diverse with performances by Daiki Yamashita, Daisuke Ono, Makoto Furukawa and pop singer Gackt, who voices the main villain and will also perform the show’s opening theme. I have to admit this show looks strange and mysterious, but maybe not for all the right reasons.
Patrick's take: It's hard for me, as a westerner, to get excited at another Edogawa Ranpo "thing", call it the culture gap but I feel like I've been burned a couple too many times to look at a new Ranpo-based mystery with anything but caution. That having been said, this looks to be a much more direct adaptation of his work than previous anime, maybe I'll finally get to understand why he's so well regarded.
Poco's Udon WorldUdon no Kuno no Kiniro Kemari (manga)
Souta Tawara is a web designer from Tokyo who, when visiting his family in a rural town in Kagawa Prefecture, discovers a young boy at his parents’ Udon restaurant. Souta soon learns the boy’s secret (he’s actually a wolf) and decides to quit his job in order to take care of him. Poko (the boy) and Souta’s daily adventures slowly unfold in the “Udon Kingdom”.
Marc's take: This looks to be a pretty standard slightly more supernatural Barakamon-type show. I was blown away first and foremost by the voice cast, which is bursting at the seams despite this show seemingly being a straightforward slice of life affair: Yuuichi Nakamura, Kana Hanazawa, Jun Fukuyama, Yuu Kobayashi, Tomukazu Sugita, Yuu Shimamura, and Kousuke Toriumi make up the bulk of the show’s already sizeable cast. Yukari Hashimoto, who is also working on 3-gatsu no Lion this season, will handle the music and should again be right at home in this musical setting. The PV looks adorable as it should, so if you liked Barakamon or just like slice of life in general, this show is probably one to put on your list.
Patrick's take: As much as I don't want to be a dad right now, I'm not sure I'll get tired of anime that make me want to be a dad. Even moreso if it's a supernatural child! My personal life aside, this sub-sub-genre of single parenthood has been taking off lately and Poco's Udon World looks like it will snuggle in quite comfortable that ilk.
Uta no☆Prince-sama♪ Maji Love Legend Star (original)
Patrick's take: You might notice that this show is missing a plot synopsis. That's because I'm not going through four seasons and god knows how many movies and OVAs to figure it out. I know what this show was about once upon a time (bunch of dudes courtin' a gal through song and dance) but I think it might have lost itself in the sparkles. Look, I'll forgive it for existing as soon as it has another song as good as Maji Love 1000%. Sigh, Idolish7 needs to hurry up with a TV series so we can finally have a good male idol series.
Kiss Him, Not Me!Watashi ga Motete Dousunda (manga)
Kae Serinuma is a high schooler who is an avid fujoshi who ships her classmates. When she loses weight rapidly and suddenly becomes attractive to her classmates, how will she deal with the sudden attention when all she wants is for them to pursue each other?
Patrick's take: While I've fallen quite behind on it, the manga is an absolute blast. As soon as we found out our protagonist fujoshi lost all of her weight because a favorite character died it was all laughs. I think the manga's format of weekly dates with the guys and lack of real developments will lend itself pretty well to the anime, allowing concessions to be made for the format as well as additions. I'm looking forward to this being a strong comedy with a lot of Yuu Kobayashi yelling ridiculous things.
Marc's take: This show could very well have the recipe to be a funny weekly endeavor, and Yuu Kobayashi’s role as the main character definitely pulls me towards it, but I don’t see me giving this one too much of a shot unless it’s absolutely spectacular. The premise is tired at best and downright offensive at worst.
Yuri!!! On Ice (original)
Yuri Katsuki goes on behalf of Japan to the Gran Prix Finale international figure skating competition but suffers a crushing defeat, returning home to Kyushu in shame. While being wishy-washy about wanting to continue his career, five-time consecutive world champion Victor Nikiforov appears before him with 15-year-old prodigy Yuri Plisestsky, challenging him to continue as they embark on an unprecedented Gran Prix series.
Marc's take: This is the show I am unabashedly most excited about this season. Directed and composed by Sayo Yamamoto (Michiko+Hatchin, The Woman Called Fujiko Mine), with music from Taku Matsushiba and Taro Umebayashi of Yoko Kanno’s PIANO collective and a voice cast bursting at the seams with talent like Junichi Suwabe, Kouki Uchiyama, Ayumu Murase, Jun Fukuyama, Kensho Ono, Mamoru Miyano, Satoshi Hino, Wataru Hatano, and Yoshimasa Hosoya. Yamamoto’s other work has been nothing short of incredible, and she’s one of few women working as a director within the perpetual boy’s club that is anime that has managed to make a significant name for herself. Yuri!! on Ice will no doubt thrill and pull on the heartstrings in equal measure, as even the first PV had me fighting tears. I cannot overstate how excited I am for this new direction for Yamamoto, and I hope the finished product is every bit as good as I think it’ll be.
Brave Witches (original)
An anime original spinoff to 2008’s Strike Witches and 2010’s Strike Witches 2, Brave Witches follows the fight against the alien Neuroi in Eastern Europe. The show will focus on the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing “Brave Witches”, stationed in Petersburg, Orussia, who have been given the nickname Breaker Witches due to how often they break their own striker units. The girls themselves are based on famous aces in WWII.
Patrick’s take: It’s no secret that one of my favorite genres in anime is “WWII bastardization”, and I pretty much have Strike Witches to thank for introducing me to it. On a base level I’m just happy to get thrown back into the Strike Witches universe, and despite it being 6 years since the last TV series it looks like we have just about all of the original production staff on board; hopefully this means the series’ corny charm is returning as well. If this sort of show is your jam then there’s a lot to look forward to in Brave Witches.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans Second Season (original)
A continuation of last Fall’s Gundam TV series. With the first season ending on a relative safe note, this second season promises to bring more classic Gundam mecha fights and political intrigue to the young mercenary outfit Tekkadan.
Patrick’s take: The first was good, so I hope the second will be! The few trailers we’ve had have hinted a lot of new characters, so I’m mainly interested to see how they fit into our story.
Marc's take: I don't think it's hit me yet that we're getting more Iron-Blooded Orphans. Sure, the first season had its flaws and was pretty poorly paced sometimes. But hell, it's the best Gundam series since Unicorn and certainly the best Gundam TV series in a long while. The ending of the last season was incredible and set the world and characters up for much, much more development and exploration. So far based on the PVs that seems like the direction Sunrise is taking with the second season, so strap me into the dang cockpit and let's get it on.
ViVid Strike! (original)
"Thou shalt not be afraid, I am with you." Set one year after the events of the last ViVid (Nanoha) anime. Not much is known about the plot details other than Vivio and co taking a back seat to our new protagonist duo.
Patrick’s take: More Nanoha series? Yeah I’ll watch it. The series has been on a bit of a decline and I’m worried that Nanoha and Fate themselves don’t appear on any cast list I’ve seen… but the trailer starts with the new girl kicking bullies in the nuts. I can get behind that.
A spinoff of the popular Working!! Franchise. Daisuke Higashida isn’t a fan of his strict life at home despite the peace it offers him. One day, his father’s company goes bankrupt and can no longer afford common amenities, so Daisuke picks up a job at a nearby family restaurant to make ends meet.
Patrick’s take: Working had a pretty winning formula through the end, even if its character tropes got pretty tired. Freshening it up with an all new cast may be just the thing it needs to rope people back in - or it could completely miss the charm the first one had.