Holy smokes would you look at the time? Wait, what time? Time for the most stacked season in over a decade! Check the jump to see what we're most excited for.
Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online Light Novel
Set in SAO’s Gun Gale Online world, SAO Alternative is a spinoff about a student named Karen. Feeling uncomfortable in real life due to her huge body, she seeks refuge in virtual worlds until she comes across GGO where she’s given an exceptional small and cute avatar. Karen finds herself playing the game more and more and eventually enters a team based Battle Royale tournament at the request of one of her friends in the game. True to SAO’s origins, this battle might have some huge real life implications.
Y’all know I’m completely unrepentant in my love for SAO, but even then I gladly admit that GGO is a low point (even if it did introduce Sinon!). Luckily, this story (penned by the author of Kino’s Journey, Keiichi “Sig Sauer”) fits into the world of GGO much better! I read through the light novels in a flash when this adaptation was announced. It’s got a strong, brilliant, main character that you can’t help but root for, and is backed up by a great supporting staff, especially the interesting teams she has to go up against. The author’s love of guns shines through in the novels, with most teams being gathered up by their love of a certain type of gun (oh man I can’t wait to see the ridiculous heavy machine gun team animated…) or by replicating real life military and paramilitary organizations. Definitely a lot to love here…
If the production is ok. As much as the source gives me hope, the lack of information is giving me pause. This is the first SAO anime that isn’t being handled by A-1 and Aniplex directly, instead it’s Studio 3Hz. When 3Hz is on they’re definitely on, but they’ve definitely had production schedules in the past. The relative scarcity of promotional material makes me think they’re far behind schedule. This show is going to call for a lot of action (over 3/4ths of the chapters take place on the battlefield) and a lot of special effects. I really hope they pull through.
Caligula Video Game
Mobius is a perfect digital world created for the imagined benefit of humanity by μ, a virtual idol program that became sentient. Only people who are suffering in the real world and who strongly related to μ’s music are lured into Mobius, and once they’re there, often forget the real world exists. Regardless of age or gender, they are turned into students and forced to experience high school life over and over again, an existence which μ considers “the most radiant time in a person’s life”. 9 members of the “Going Home Club”, a club created from the desires of some to escape from Mobius, try and find a way out.
Marc’s take: I have to admit I didn’t know basically anything about this series before we started researching for this season preview. However, everything I’ve seen since definitely has my interest piqued. This is based on a pretty well-received turn-based JRPG for Playstation Vita that was released a few years ago, and is being animated at studio Satelight with Junichi Wada, director of The Disappearance of Nagato Yuki-chan at the helm. Perhaps the most notable thing about this show will be its music, as all the stuff I’ve heard from the PVs released so far has been phenomenal (though very anime). In addition, every single voice actor working on this show has previously worked on an idol anime property in some form, which spells more good news for the quality of the music. You can check out as complete chart of voice actors below, as well as the idol anime that they were involved with.
Legend of the Galactic Heroes Die Neue These Sci-fi Novel Series
The Free Planets Alliance, a democracy, and the Galactic Empire, a monarchy with aristocracy are stuck in a galaxy spanning never-ending war. In this generation, the empire’s brilliant Reinhard von Musel goes head to head with the Alliance’s tactical magician, Yang Wen-li.
Patrick’s Take: When people ask me what my favorite anime is I always want to say Legend of the Galactic Heroes… but I pull away from that choice because I feel LotGH exceeds the genre. It’s a space opera in the purest sense of the term, telling a grand story spanning decades, tackling massive questions about ethics and morality every step of the way. And it’s damn good at that. Having seen the first episode, I don’t think this version is going to meet that bar, but I still think it’s going to be a very good show with an incredible setting. I’ll be watching the whole thing, and hoping that it gets people to watch the original (available on HiDive!).
My Hero Academia 3 Manga
The third season of Bones’ shonen superhero series.
Marc’s take: I think everything that needs to be said about My Hero Academia has already been said, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t have it on here. It’s already solidified itself as being among the ranks of some of the best shonen ever made, and if you like action and aren’t planning on watching it, well...you’re missing out.
Love is Hard for Otaku Manga
Two long time friends at the same company are fed up with dating and trying to hide their hobbies from their significant others, so they decide to give dating each other a try. But how hard is it to date a fellow otaku?
Patrick’s Take: Looove this manga! It’s always nice to see a story take place in an office setting as opposed to a high school or fantasy world, and this one is especially grounded. Adding to the relatability is its adults trying to date around (or with) their otaku hobbies, which frankly, is entirely too real. The discussions (arguments) they have with each other over their different flavors reeks, in a good way, of an author who’s all too familiar with both sides. The reference humor is great, but when it does decide to get serious or sweet the manga hits the notes very well. The director has a number of great slice of life series under his belt, and with the PVs added I have no reason to be worried about this being a good adaptation. A definite watch for me.
Tokyo Ghoul:re Manga
A spinoff of Tokyo Ghoul proper and taking place a significant amount of time after the conclusion of Tokyo Ghoul Root A, Tokyo Ghoul:re follows Haise Sasaki, leader of the rambunctious Qs Squad within the Counter-Ghoul Commission. Qs Squad is untested, and in leading them Sasaki will have to deal with their conflicting personalities and his own uncertainties about his murky past.
Marc’s take: Let me lead off on this one by saying that I have no illusions that this spinoff will be any good. The first two seasons of Tokyo Ghoul were not good. But for some reason, I have selected Tokyo Ghoul as my garbage torch to bear and if I’m completely honest, I don’t hate it. I’m actually excited for more of it, choppily animated and shoddily written though it probably will be. For anyone who cares, re will have a new chief director in Odahiro Watanabe, a relative newcomer to the chief position with a lot of episode directing under his belt. Also joining up is Ranma ½ character designer Atsuko Nakajima, so that’s somewhat exciting. Either way, if you like severely grimdark, poorly-animated trash fires then this is a show you’re going to want to check out this season.
Mahou Shoujo Site / Magical Girl Site Manga
Magical items are granted to girls with personal and social problems by a creepy website administrator. The items are powerful but drain the girls’ life force. What happens when the magical girls discover the sinister plot behind the items?
Patrick’s Take: Dark magical girl series are still in vogue! This manga is pretty gratuitous in its gore but is a definite page turner. The cast is big enough that most of the characters aren’t too well defined but have enough notable quirks to keep them distinct and drive some fun, bloody drama. Of particular note for me is the voice actresses: several of them are from i☆Ris, the idol/seiyuu group that led PriPara’s cast, making me think that the show is going to be rich in insert songs and special endings.
FLCL Progressive Original
Adult Swim (Terrestrial broadcast doesn't start until June)
14-year-old Hidomi, her classmate Ide, and two otherworldly beings, "Jinyu" and "Haruha Raharu," are determined to unlock their hidden potential. Mixed up in this is an all-powerful force known as "ATOMSK," a gorgeous vintage car and a certain Vespa Scooter.
Marc’s take: This doesn’t start airing on Adult Swim’s Toonami block until sometime in June, but it’s technically beginning in spring so I thought I’d put in on here. If you’ve been hiding under a rock, FLCL: Progressive is the first of two sequel series to Gainax’s 1999 OVA FLCL, commissioned by Adult Swim and animated by Production IG. We’ve covered the staff extensively in content on our YouTube channel and podcast, so I’ll drop some links at the end of this post so you can familiarize yourself with what we think about it and what we know so far. I’ll give you a little preview first, though: we’re excited as hell.
Juushinki Pandora / Last Hope Original
A new original anime by Shoji Kawamori (Macross), Juushinki Pandora takes place in the near future where a “cambrian explosion” sized increase in evolution results in a power struggle between humans, AI, and new biotech.
Patrick’s Take: I love me some Kawamori but man this looks like a mess even for him. Evidently the production side is just as messy as the story. That having been said, Kawamori has worked miracles from bullshit before (see: AKB0048) and I’m not one to give up on a Satelight original early on. Plus, BUMP OF CHICKEN hitting the openings and endings gives me things to look forward to.
Persona 5 the Animation Video Game
An adaptation of ATLUS’s fifth entry into the legendary Persona series, itself a spinoff of the Shin Megami Tensei series.
Marc’s take: Early impressions of this show are confirming my and a lot of other people’s expectations about this adaptation, namely that A-1 and ATLUS are putting a hell of a lot more time, money and effort into this than they did with the (quite mediocre) Persona 4 anime. It’s directed by Masashi Ishihama, a newcomer to the director’s seat who made waves a few years ago by directing Garokowa: Restore the World, which we’ve talked about a bit before. That particular film is definitely a visually sumptuous piece of art, and P5A seems to be following in those footsteps. Another good piece of news is that game composer Shoji Meguro will be providing music for the anime as well, though whether the anime music is anything different than the music in the game is yet to be seen. Honestly, if they just played Last Surprise over and over again every episode I don’t think I’d complain.
Uma Musume PRETTY DERBY Original
In a world not very different from ours, some girls are blessed at birth the the genes of a horse. These girls can compete in derby races, and the winners get to perform on a stage.
Patrick’s Take: There’s a sports anime for everything, right? It’s about time we got a derby anime! Except instead of horses, it’s horse girls. And they’re idols. IMO this is a vast improvement on anything a regular derby sports anime might have been.
Ok bad jokes aside (even though it wasn’t really a joke), Uma Musume is actually near the top of my list of anticipated shows this season. They first announced it 2 years ago as an ad for a new venture by Cygames, and as we know from Shingeki no Bahamut, Cygames doesn’t fuck around with poor scheduling. Add on some P.A. Works know-how and you’ve got something that’s guaranteed to be well produced even if the premise doesn’t speak to you. BUT HOW CAN FIGURE SKATING DERBY RUNNING JPOP SINGING LESBIAN HORSE GIRLS NOT APPEAL TO YOU?! HOW CAN YOU CALL YOURSELF AN ANIME FAN?! *ahem* The first two episodes are out and they’re exactly what I expected: good. If this is something that might appeal to you, check it out!
Golden Kamuy Manga
In the early 20th century, Russo-Japanese war veteran Saichi “Immortal” Sugimoto is scratching out a meager existence on the northern frontier of the Hokkaido gold rush when he discovers a map to a fortune in the hidden gold of indigenous Ainu peoples. Setting off on his adventure, Sugimoto soon finds that he’s not the only one searching for the gold, and everyone who knows of it will kill to find it for themselves. Faced with numerous treacherous circumstances, Sugimoto will need all his skills and luck, as well as the help of an Ainu girl named Asirpa, to survive.
Marc’s take: This is an exciting adaptation, for one because I’ve heard nothing but good things about the original manga from the small amount of people over here in the west who’ve already read it. The studio, Geno Studio, is in a bit of an interesting situation considering they were created solely to make Genocidal Organ, a feature film that came out last year and was the last part of a planned 3-film sequence called Project Itoh. Genocidal Organ looked fantastic visually though, so I have no worries as to whether or not Golden Kamuy will give me a similar impression. Heroman director Hitoshi Nanba is helming, with Durarara!! series screenwriter Noboru Takagi handling series composition and Girls’ Last Tour, Space Patrol Luluco and Re: Zero composer Kenichiro Suehiro on music. Overall I think those three names, combined with a fresh and hungry new studio and some solid source material will make for a very exciting adaptation which you should definitely watch.
Gegege no Kitarou Manga
Gegege no Kitarou is the newest adaptation of the classic 1960s manga series of the same name. It the last member of the ghost tribe, Kitarou, as he tries to bring peace to the youkai and human worlds in a modern-day Japan.
Patrick’s Take: I’m so happy to finally get to experience a new proper version of this show, by Toe,i as it airs. This story almost single-handedly revived the youkai genre in Japanese popular culture and its main tenets are still applicable today. Taking over Dragonball Super’s timeslot is no easy task but after the first episode I think it’s up to the challenge. If you’re into shounen or have a curiosity about youkai lore it’s definitely a show to check out. And it’s pretty damn well animated to boot!
A new story in celebration of Ashita no Joe’s 50th anniversary, Megalobox follows JD (Junk Dog), a man who participates in fixed boxing matches in an underground ring in order to survive. Today, he’ll enter the ring again and in taking on a certain challenge, will risk everything.
Marc’s take: This show has been pretty consistently flying under my radar since it was announced but honestly, the more I see and hear from it the more I froth at the mouth for it. The setting looks like something you’d see in an 80s anime: dark, dirty and dank, which is definitely interest-piquing for me. Also the whole thing with robot-assisted boxing is a signifier that it may take place in the far future or just some alternate timeline, who knows. The staff isn’t all too important for this series, though it is worth noting that mabanua, who worked on Kids on the Slope in some capacity, is doing the music, and the show also features a brand new hip-hop track from rapper COMA-CHI in the form of an insert song. This might be one of this season’s many sleeper hits, so I’d say if it even kind of piques your interest, throw it on your watch list.
Kiratto Pri Chan/Aikatsu Friends Original
New versions of the leading children’s idol franchises are dropping around the same time this year.
Patrick’s Take: This is here just so I can yell at y’all to stop sleeping on these! The music’s great, and (Aikatsu at least) has some promising young animation talent in it! If you want some anime without fanservice, good comedy, and surprisingly progressive values and morality pick them up as they start!
Amanchu! Advance Manga
The second season of JC Staff’s scuba diving and slice of life show.
Marc’s take: This is another sequel that I won’t need to write basically anything about, because it’s a no-brainer. Even though it’s premiering in spring this time, Amanchu! is the perfect summer show and will give you the same sort of feelings Yurucamp gave you last season. It’s beautiful, touching, calming and memorable, and you should definitely watch it.
Hisone to Maso-tan Original
Straightforward and innocent Hisone Amakasu is a rookie pilot in the Air Self Defense Force, having joined up after hurting people around her and wanting to isolate herself. This leads to her meeting a secret “OTF” dragon deep within the base she’s stationed at, who chooses her as its pilot and changes her life forever.
Marc’s take: It’s like this show was made just for me. A Bones original revolving around fighter jets and military aviation, and also somehow involving cute girls and dragons? Seriously though, the PVs for this show have been incredibly cute and heartwarming, and the staff backing this thing up is absolutely stacked. First off we have Shinji Higuchi supervising direction, a surprising choice considering that he’s been working on mostly live-action stuff nowadays (he was ½ of the directorial team that produced Shin Godzilla). On series comp we have the magnanimous and sometimes controversial Mari Okada, who surely will be delivering a melodramatic and heartwarming tale suitable to her charms. I was also excited to see Kekkai Sensen music composer Taisei Iwasaki on the list for composition, though the PVs haven’t let on exactly what approach he’ll be taking for this series with a much different tone (he hasn’t done too many other anime soundtracks outside Kekkai Sensen). I think you can probably expect this show to be a hit; the staff list inspires great confidence and Bones is probably the most reliable and fun studio in existence today.
Captain Tsubasa (2018) Manga
A modern adaptation of Youichi Takahashi’s legendary soccer manga from 1981.
Marc’s take: Captain Tsubasa is easily one of the most important and storied sports manga and anime series of all time, so it’s always a big deal when it gets a new adaptation. I won’t bore you with too many details because frankly, they’re not important in this case. The one thing you need to know is that this adaptation is being undertaken by Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure studio David Production, making it the first sports anime they’ve ever produced. The PVs have all looked clean and slick, with the kind of thick lines and bright colors you’d expect if you’re familiar with the source material, with the new designs remaining decisively 80s and faithful to the originals. Viz Media licensed the entire property for streaming and distribution, but so far as I’m writing this (the day it premieres in Japan) no word on whether this will be simulcasted on any of the usual outlets.
Cutie Honey Universe Manga
Honey Kisaragi is an advanced android that possesses the ability to transform into one of many personas and disguises at will, including the “Warrior of Love”, the beautiful and strong superheroine Cutie Honey. She fights against the terrorist organization Panther Claw, who killed her father and creator Professor Kisaragi while trying to steal the technology Honey was based on. Thirsty for revenge, Honey vows to destroy Panther Claw.
Marc’s take: This is the third and final anime project celebrating Go Nagai’s 50th anniversary as a manga artist this year, after Devilman Crybaby and Mazinger Z: Infinity. Akitoshi Yokoyama’s heading up the project at Production REED, a studio that until recently has been relegated to in-between and 2nd key animation duties on dozens of shows over the past 5-10 years. Despite their unproven nature, I have high hopes for this series as the other two Go Nagai anime revivals this year were spectacular, and honestly I love Cutie Honey so much that these people would have to try very, very hard to mess it up so badly that I didn’t like it. This is the first Cutie Honey anime in 14 years after all, and features an absolutely stacked voice cast including Maaya Sakamoto as Honey herself, and a whole mess of famous voice actresses voicing Honey’s other forms and disguises. It looks to be a fresh, exciting take on a classic franchise that I love with all my heart, and I can’t wait to see where they take it.
Souten no Ken: REGENESIS / Fist of the Blue Sky: REGENESIS Manga
A prequel to Fist of the North Star set in 1930s Shanghai, the story follows a different Kenshiro as he navigates a violent city in the grips of violence between two rival mafia families. He crosses paths with a young girl named Erika, who is followed by tragedy and on the run from powerful forces.
Marc’s take: The first episode of this has already aired by the time I’m writing this and lemme tell ya: it ain’t great. Fist of the Blue Sky is being animated by Polygon Pictures, the studio behind CGI anime Knights of Sidonia, Ajin: Demi-Human and Godzilla: Monster Planet. They’re unfortunately not known for being the most creative studio, being associated with some solid yet pretty ugly adaptations over the years, and I’ve always found their animation joyless and choppy at best. This show continues that tradition, with designs that are so beefy and large and take up so much of the screen that animating them in any way seems almost like folly in and of itself. However, if animation is not something you usually care about and you like Fist of the North Star, this might be something you want to check out. Be warned though: fans of the original manga have noticed some serious lack of important plot points in even the first episode.
Lupin III: Part V Original
Part V of the legendary and decades-long Lupin III series, in which master thief Arsene Lupin III and his ragtag band of friends travel to France, ancestral home of his grandfather, the original Arsene Lupin.
Marc’s take: Y’all know I love some Lupin. I really love some Lupin. So predictably I’m going to be pretty glowing in my assessment of whether you should be watching this new Lupin series. All the right staff members from the previous series (including original soundtrack composer Yuji Ohno) have stayed on for Part V, and the change in visual style and color palette looks to be just what a show this old needs to keep things fresh. The new setting being in France seems great as well, as most Lupin properties are set in fictional Mediterranean countries and lack a certain oomph when it comes to solidifying the setting sometimes. It also looks like the creators behind this are trying really hard to bring Lupin into the 21st century with a plot revolving around high technology and the thievery that can come with it, the success of which really lives or dies on how corny it is. Only time will tell, but either way you should definitely put this one on your watch list.
Gurazeni: Money Pitch Manga
The story follows Natsunosuke Honda, an 8-year veteran player on the professional baseball team the Spiders. The team operates as a highly stratified society, with a player’s performance determining their annual salary. Natsunosuke is one of the highest-paid players in the game, and aims to stay that way. As such, he’s always looking for new players to challenge and measure their worth- in money, of course.
Marc’s take: This is another series that I knew absolutely nothing about before writing this preview, but the premise is so interesting for a sports anime that I couldn’t possibly pass it up. It’s such a weird combination of things: basically Moneyball combined with the traditional shonen “I gotta get stronger” formula, but sprinkled with comedy elements and all based around a much older main character than we currently see with most sports anime. I have no idea whether or not it’ll be good; I can say with a measure of safety that it probably won’t look great, considering Studio DEEN is animating it (they haven’t exactly fed my confidence in them since Rakugo). However, if the other baseball sports anime offerings don’t pique your interest this season, perhaps give this one a shot.
Gundam Build Divers Original
The third entry into the exciting Gundam Build Fighters anthology, this story follows 14-year-old Riku Minami and his ragtag team as they battle for renown in the “Gunpla Battle Nexus Online”, a virtual world in which pilot and Gunpla are immersed and do battle with players from around the world.
Marc’s take: If you don’t know anything about the GBF series yet, here’s a basic rundown: this is Sunrise and Bandai’s flagship anime for selling Gunpla (plastic Gundam models) to younger kids, but is also an incredibly fun and well-made action show in its own right, capable of being enjoyed by pretty much anyone who likes fun dumb mecha action. The previous two series have a special place in the hearts of a lot of Gundam fans, as they basically enabled the dream cross-universe battles between really cool customized versions of our favorite Mobile Suits to be a reality. It also helps that the show features appearances from well-known Gundam characters from shows past, as well as work by magnanimous pioneering mecha animators like Masami Obari. It’s definitely not for everyone, as it is first and foremost a kids anime made solely for selling toys, but if you love cool explosions and mecha doing stuff that no other show would be crazy enough to do, then Gundam Build Divers might just be for you.
Piano no Mori: The Perfect World of Kai Manga
Kai, the lowly son of a prostitute who has been playing the abandoned piano in the forest near his home since he was a boy. Shuhei, the child of a family of prestigious and wealthy pianists. Their backgrounds couldn’t be more different, but their mutual love of the piano with intertwine their paths forever.
Marc’s take: There’s not a whole lot of info out about this series right now, which is worrying considering it premieres in only a few days from me writing this. There’s really two things that you need to know about this series: one, that there was an anime film in 2007 based on this manga that won a ton of awards and was very well received, so this series has hella big shoes to fill. Two, this particular series is being animated by none other than Gainax Fukuoka. That’s right, Gainax Fukuoka, a subsidiary and satellite studio to the original famous anime studio that hasn’t made an anime worth watching since 2009. Whether or not Fukuoka can succeed in this measure is anyone’s guess.
A Word on Netflix Originals
We mostly neglected to cover Netflix originals that weren’t Devilman Crybaby this year, because we had no idea so many would be coming out during the last season. That being said, there’s a few new Netflix-exclusive original anime (meaning they’re made solely for Netflix and released all at once) that you might want to check out this season. B: The Beginning is a supernatural crime thriller about a mysterious murderer named “Killer B”, who is known for killing known murderers and other heinous criminals. It’s animated by Production IG and is a slick though at times incomprehensible production that is worth checking out. Also worth checking out is Aico: Incarnation, a near-future science fiction action show from Bones. It revolves around a team of “divers” going on a mission to rid the world of the artificial matter, a biological experiment gone wrong that now threatens humanity’s existence. It’s a beautiful show and very outside Bones’ current wheelhouse, being a much more traditional design and production than what we’ve seen from them recently. I’ve been really liking it so far and it might be something you’d like, too. Finally, we have Children of the Whales, JC Staff’s story of a stratified society of psychics and non-psychics living on the back of a giant whale skating over a sea of sand. I haven’t actually watched this one yet, and it’s been pretty consistently flying under most people’s radar since its release, but it might be worth checking out if you want something different.