Note: be sure to click on each show’s poster/visual to watch the PV! Also, clicking on the streaming platform name for each show will take you to its streaming page. I’ll try to keep streaming links updated as quickly as possible as the details trickle in over the start of the season.
Sword Art Online: Alicization
Adaptation (light novel)
Premise: Kirito has awoken in an unfamiliar digital world with little recollection as to how he got there. The residents of this world are NPCs who behave just like humans, and soon Kirito and his new friends must struggle to escape it.
Why you should watch: This is the arc that Sword Art Online readers will tell you they’ve been waiting years for, and A-1 Pictures is giving it the gravity it deserves: 4 cours, meaning an entire year of continuous Sword Art Online. Love it or leave it, SAO has never been better than this.
Adaptation (light novel)
HUGE caveat regarding this show: the first episode contains both graphic sexual assault and some pretty abhorrent violence. Please understand I didn’t know about this before putting this show on here and it seems I’ve been misled a bit on how good it actually would be. Consider all this before watching it.
Premise: A young priestess forms her first adventuring party and is almost immediately attacked. The man that comes to their rescue is the Goblin Slayer, a man who’s dedicated his life to the killing of goblins. When rumors of his feats begin to circulate, there’s no telling who might come calling next.
Why you should watch: This light novel comes highly recommended by those on both the Japanese and English sides of light novel Twitter, and White Fox has a stellar history of adapting dark fantasy these past few years (Re: Zero, Akame ga Kill!, Girls’ Last Tour).
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure Part 5: Golden Wind
Premise: Set in Italy, the fifth arc of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure follows Giorno Giovanna as he joins the criminal group Passione, determined to rise to the top of organized crime and become a head gangster in order to help people and make the world a better place.
Why you should watch: If you’ve been watching Jojo already, then you know what’s up and you’ll obviously be watching. If you haven’t, then there’s never been a better time to start. An all-star seiyuu cast, stellar music, and a DavidPro that has pulled out all the stylistic stops more and more with each new Jojo arc means that Golden Wind will be a certified banger from moment one.
That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Adaptation (light novel)
Premise: Depressed 37-year-old Satoru Mikami is killed by a robber, awakening to a blessed fresh start in a fantasy realm…only he’s a slime monster. These are the stories of him trying to acclimate to his new existence.
Why you should watch: Make no mistake, this is some certifiable light novel fanservice-ridden trash...at least on the surface. But it’s incredibly fun, colorful, funny light novel trash with a hilariously weird premise (even for an isekai light novel) that might very well fill that light novel trash-shaped hole all of us have in our seasons, and could also surprise us pleasantly in the process. I have no guarantee that it’ll be good, but it’s definitely something you don’t want to leave off your watchlist.
Bloom Into You
Premise: Yuu has always loved shoujo manga and pined for the day she gets a love confession that sends her heart aflutter, but when a classmate confesses to her she feels nothing. Disappointed, she enters high school and sees the beautiful student council president Nanami turn down a suitor and is inspired to ask her for help. But when Yuu’s next confessor is Nanami herself, has her whirlwind shoujo romance finally begun?
Why you should watch: It’s hard for me to resist recommending every yuri manga adaptation purely out of principle, but thankfully there’s more to this than meets the eye: unusually healthy exploration of girl-girl relationships, and what happens when aromantic feelings get involved with those dynamics. A remarkably mature and measured story from a source material that had many chances to be anything but.
Original (though inspired by Tokusatsu series of the same name)
Premise: Yuta Hibiki awakens with complete amnesia, called out to by a mysterious hero named “Gridman” compelling him to “remember his calling”. When a giant monster attacks and Yuta is pulled inside a computer and transformed into the giant hero Gridman, he finally understands what that calling is.
Why you should watch: The “tokusatsu anime adaptation” is a curse that unfortunately hasn’t been broken even today except for the Garo adaptations. Thankfully, if there’s anybody that can pull off a stellar original tokusatsu anime it’s Trigger, and Gridman is just obscure enough to allow for some serious creative freedom. The Trigger B-team is animating this, so think Kiznaiver and Inou Battle, but at the helm is Trigger veteran Akira Amemiya, director of Inferno Cop and Ninja Slayer from Animation. Evangelion music composer Shiro Sagisu rounds out the staff on music, making Gridman’s potential as big as the giant hero himself.
IRODOKU: The World in Colors
Premise: 17-year-old Hitomi, a descendant of a witch family, grew up with stale emotions after losing her sense of color at a young age. Fearing for her granddaughter’s future, Kohaku, a great witch, sends Hitomi back in time to the city of Nagasaki in the year 2018 in order for her to experience growth as a person.
Why you should watch: I don’t need to say much in this section other than “this is a P.A. Works show, and they make stellar anime”. You should absolutely be giving this one a shot this season no matter what.
Adaptation (french comic)
Premise: The story follows Seth, a boy who wants to become the greatest magician, and a group of witches who wish to travel to “Radiant”, a mythical land which spawns monsters that fall into the land from the sky. Along the way, they are hunted by the mysterious Inquisition.
Why you should watch: It’s not often a non-Japanese graphic work like this gets adapted, so this interpretation of French comic artist and author Tony Valente’s manga-influenced masterwork is guaranteed to not only provide a new take on the comic itself, but bring some welcome international influence, perspectives and stories into the anime.
Adaptation (light novel)
Premise: Minato practiced Japanese archery in middle school, but after an “incident”, he swore to walk away from the sport forever. However, upon entering high school he meets new friends, and together as part of the school’s archery club they aim to win the prefectural tournament.
Why you should watch: Perhaps the most important thing you need to know about the original source material is that it won the same Kyoto Animation competition that Violet Evergarden did the year before it, signifying a near-unparalleled mark of quality. I doubt it’ll be breaking the internet like Free! or Sound! Euphonium, but with venerable screenwriter Michiko Yokote penning the screenplay, and an all-star seiyuu cast backing up the ensemble cast of characters, Tsurune has the makings of yet another KyoAni sleeper hit.
Release the Spyce
Premise: Momo, an unsuspecting high school girl in the city of Sorasaki, is secretly an agent for the private intelligence agency Tsukikage, protecting the city and its people. Under the tutelage of her senpai Yuki and her other friends, they keep peace in the city.
Why you should watch: An original anime that seems to be a hybrid between traditional magical girl shenanigans and an action spy thriller should be enough to sell anyone on this show, but that’s not all. Akame ga Kill! and Yuki Yuna is a Hero creator Takahiro is penning the script and screenplay, with character designs from veteran Bones staff member Satoshi Ishino and Yuruyuri creator Namori. In addition, all the branding and music in all the PVs and press releases for this thing has been nothing short of explosive- basically made for anisong remixes. Get ready for an exciting experience no matter what.
Premise: In the city-state of Lisvalletta two suns hang in the sky, with crime and illegal drugs running rampant in the long shadows they cast. The SEVEN-O Special Crime Investigation Unit specializes in cracking down on a particular drug called Anthem. The unit operates in two-man teams as part of the “Double Decker system”, and seasoned investigator Doug Billingham is joined by newbie Kirill Vrubel, whose abilities are mysterious and unknown.
Why you should watch: Above all other possible merits this show brings to the table the most important is that it is a spinoff/spiritual successor to the incredibly popular series Tiger & Bunny, and boy does it look like it. Little of the original staff is involved, save the original creator, scriptwriter and character designer, but we also have the always-amazing Yuki Hayashi on music to look forward to. All that being said, visually it looks amazing and with the animated might of Sunrise backing it up, that’s not surprising. Oh, and the first episode’s already up on Crunchyroll!
Run with the Wind
Premise: Kakeru, a former elite runner in high school, is chased for stealing food. He’s rescued by Kansei university student Haiji, who is also a runner. Haiji persuades Kakeru to live in the old apartment building “Chikuseisou”, where Haiji plans to team up with the residents and enter the Hakone Ekiden marathon. Kakeru soon finds out that all the residents but Haiji and himself are complete novices.
Why you should watch: Production IG sports anime are always something to keep your eye on (Haikyuu!, anyone?). With Joker Game director Kazuya Nomura at the helm, Yuki Hayashi on musical composition (also composed for Haikyuu!) an opening by Unison Square Garden (Welcome to the Ballroom, Blood Blockade Battlefront) and exactly the amount of A-list seiyuu talent you’d want on a roster of characters this big, Run like the Wind could very well be this season’s breakout sports anime hit.
Premise: The peaceful lives of seven girls are interrupted by a zombie apocalypse, which they must now somehow survive at all costs.
Why you should watch: There’s not much else I can tell you about why this anime should be on your radar other than that its completely original and the PV is one of the most genuinely unhinged things I’ve seen in a while. God bless Mamoru Miyano, this anime’s success will live and die solely based on just how insane his performance can get.
Thunderbolt Fantasy 2
Pili International Multimedia
Premise: The second season of Thunderbolt Fantasy, Pili International Media, Good Smile Co and Nitroplus’s epic Taiwanese fantasy-influenced live-action puppet adventure action extravaganza.
Why you should watch: Thunderbolt Fantasy is genuinely some of the most fun I’ve ever had watching any media, and a good portion of it is because it is so wholly unlike anything I’ve seen before. It absolutely is anime, made flesh by extremely talented puppeteers using traditional Taiwanese theater puppets and remarkably good special effects. Coupled with easily the most star-studded seiyuu cast of anything this season, earth-shattering music from powerhouse composer Hiroyuki Sawano (Kill la Kill, Attack on Titan), and a script by screenwriting legend Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica, Psycho-Pass), Thunderbolt Fantasy 2 will again be unlike anything else before or since. Please watch it.
Premise: An adaptation of Kazuhiro Fujita’s manga following three intertwined stories- Katou Narumi, a talentless clown with a mysterious disease, Saiga Masaru, a fighting man whose just inherited a massive fortune and is set up by assassins wielding macabre puppets as weapons, and Shirogane, a woman who controls a puppet of her own.
Why you should watch: I’ve spent no small amount of time on the podcast and other areas online extolling the virtues of Kazuhiro Fujita’s earlier work Ushio and Tora, an incredibly good shonen horror-action manga that was adapted by this same studio and staff into one of the best long-running classic shonen anime I’ve ever seen. Despite Karakuri Circus‘s significant differences to the former, that pedigree alone should make it at the very least an entertaining watch.
Premise: A “small” new student named Ushio Hinomaru lands within the fledgling sumo wrestling club at Oodachi High School. Despite their small stature in a sport where giants rule, the students of the Oodachi Sumo Wrestling Club are going all the way to the top!
Why you should watch: I’m going to be 100% honest and say this show is somewhat of an outlier on this list, for some key reasons. Its premise positively reeks of just about every hotblooded sports anime with no originality or spirit, especially one based around rugby from a few seasons ago called All Out. However, it’s also not every day that a hotblooded sports anime about sumo wrestling (one of Japan’s national betting sports) appears in our midst, so I’m willing to take a risk and check this one out. I think you should, too.