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.
No Guns Life
Premise: Former soldier Juzo Inui takes on cases involving heavily-modified cyborg soldiers called Extends, while trying to uncover the mystery of who turned him into a cyborg and erased his memories.
Why you should watch: It’s been years since we’ve been given any hard-boiled cyberpunk anime, and No Guns Life seems set to deliver just that. Based on an acclaimed manga by Tasuku Kurasama, it’s being animated at Madhouse by veteran director Naoyuki Itou (Kanon, Overlord) with series composition by Overlord writer Yukie Sugawara. The voice cast is stacked, with Junichi Suwabe voicing the main character Juzo Inui and tons of big names filling out the rest of the cast. Music is also being composed by cyberpunk master Kenji Kawai, which gives me a big boost in confidence that this series will knock it out of the park. Madhouse has been on kind of a rough streak animation-wise as of late, so I’m hoping No Guns Life turns it around.
Premise: In a world populated by anthropomorphic animals, herbivores and carnivores coexist. Legoshi the wolf must navigate the twists and turns as a student of Cherryton academy, including the fact that he’s often ostracized based on his outward appearance despite being gentle at heart. Soon, he’ll find himself becoming more involved with his classmates who have their own share of insecurities.
Why you should watch: This one’s a no-brainer. Its biggest selling point is that it’s being animated at studio Orange, the highly established 3DCGI studio which had their self-made anime debut in 2017 with the astounding Land of the Lustrous. Much of the same animation staff will be brought to bear here, as well as first-time chief director Shinichi Matsumi (Rurouni Kenshin, Porco Rosso) and studio Trigger veteran Nanami Higuchi doing series story composition. The fantastic Satoru Kousaki (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Kizumonogatari) is composing the music and of course the cast is a massive ensemble of big-name seiyuu fitting of such an important adaptation. I have no doubt based on Orange’s pedigree alone that this will be one of the need-to-see shows this season.
My Hero Academia 4
Premise: The fourth season of studio Bones’ massively popular shonen superhero action show.
Why you should watch: Honestly if you like action shows and you’re not already onboard with My Hero Academia, I dunno what else to say to you. It’s easily the best shonen anime series currently running, and with most of Bones’ A-team animators being freed up after the movie finished production last year this newest season has the potential to look better than ever.
Sword Art Online: Alicization - War of the Underworld
Adaptation (light novel)
Premise: The second half of Sword Art Online’s Alicization story arc.
Why you should watch: So far Alicization has been SAO’s strongest and best-looking arc yet, and with the first half of the season leaving off on the biggest cliffhanger the series has ever seen, there’s no way the War of the Underworld won’t bring some serious heat if you’re already a fan of Sword Art Online.
Fate/Grand Order - Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia
Adaptation (mobile game)
Premise: Adapting the final scenario in the Gate/ Grand Order mobile game, Babylonia follows Ritsuka Fujimaru and his heroic servant Mash Kyrielight as they enter ancient Babylonia and defend the world from three gods that seek its destruction.
Why you should watch: Recent Fate anime projects have been a mixed bag, but Babylonia has the potential to be an incredible production and some solid fanservice for players of Grand Order and fans of the larger Fate franchise as well. Helmed by veteran animation director Toshifumi Akai (Magi: The Labyrinth of Magic, Idolm@ster) in his first chief directorial position, the series is being animated at A-1 Pictures’ subsidiary studio Cloverworks, a studio that’s essentially made its entire name during its short life on spectacularly good animation and striking consistency. The rest of the staff is stacked with Fate veterans which bodes well, and the voice cast is predictably stacked as all hell with this being a Fate thing and all. Overall if you’re into literally any Fate stuff, this is a show for you to watch this season.
Premise: The third season of Madhouse’s legendary high school drama anime, centered around the world of the karuta, or Japanese playing cards.
Why you should watch: Don’t have much to say about this one, because if you’ve already seen Chihayafuru then you already know it’s probably one of the best high school anime ever made and it getting a third season is an extremely huge deal. Original director Morio Asaka is returning at Madhouse, the studio that produced the first two seasons, so expect much the same quality and tone as before.
Premise: The story revolves around the coming-of-age of boys in a junior high school's soft tennis club, which is on the verge of shutting down. Touma Shinjou asks Maki Katsuragi to join the team for his vaunted abilities, and mentions a summer competition. Katsuragi asks for money in return for joining the team.
Why you should watch: Stars Align has easily the most interesting assemblage of prestige, veteran staff out of anything on this list. The Vision of Escaflowne director Kazuki Akane is both writing and directing the series (pretty unusual for anything outside a passion project), with veteran Macross Frontier character designer and animation director Yuuichi Takahashi adapting original creator Itsuka’s character designs, as well as acting as animation director contributing to the possibility of a clean and consistent look throughout. The voice cast is also appropriately filled with well-known names for a sports anime of this caliber, with a personal favorite of mine Tasuku Hatanaka (Ushio & Tora, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress) voicing one of the two leads opposite Natsuki Hanae. No word on who’s composing the soundtrack for the series yet but so far everything I’ve heard from the PVs has been nailing the tone.
Ahiru no Sora
Premise: Kurumatani Sora is short, weak and just transferred to a new school. He’ll use his love of basketball to try and become like his mom, his personal hero who is a tall former basketball player.
Why you should watch: If you’ve been following these previews long enough you’ll probably realize that I just kinda put all sports anime on here out of a force of habit, and this is one of the many this season that has an equal chance of sinking or swimming. The two things that make it stand out a bit from the pack are its stellar voice cast (though pretty par for the course for a sports anime), as well as the fact that by some miracle of fate the show has an opening song from the legendary Japanese rock band (and my favorite band of all time) The Pillows. We’ll have to see if it can make it to the end of the season, but for now check out the first episode and form your own opinions.
Kandagawa Jet Girls
Adaptation (PS4 game)
Premise: An anime tie-in for Marvelous’ upcoming PS4 game centered around pairs of girls competing in a futuristic jet ski race.
Why you should watch: “Wave Race but with anime tiddies” is how one YouTube commenter described this new property, and I’m inclined to agree. After checking out some gameplay footage from the PS4 game, I can say that it’s probably more akin to a fusion of Wave Race and the Senran Kagura series, which is to say: jet skiing and looooots of very jiggly fanservice. I wouldn’t expect any different from the anime, but gosh those character designs sure are pretty. If you’re looking for your once-a-season fanservice anime, this one just might be it.
Bibury Animation Studios
Adaptation (mobile game)
Premise: An adaptation of the Chinese mobile game of the same name that features “shipgirls”; anthropomorphic avatars of WWII battleships, battling against a grotesque sea-borne enemy called Sirens.
Why you should watch: Anyone that has ever heard of “shipgirls” has likely heard of Kantai Collection, the Japanese browser game that popularized the concept. Azur Lane is the first true competitor to Kancolle, released in 2017 by Chinese developers as a side-scrolling mobile game and released in the west last year. That last fact sets it massively apart from Kancolle, given the fact that Kancolle was never released here, and in most other ways Azur Lane is just plain better than its competitor. If you actually like shipgirls (like I do), then you’ve definitely heard of both of these properties and know that the Azur Lane anime will be worth watching on principle alone. If not, then give it a shot! Who knows, you might become a convert…
Rise Up! Animal Road
Adaptation (light novel)
Premise: Professional wrestler and animal lover Shibata Genzo is suddenly summoned to another world. Greeted by a princess, she requests to get rid of the evil beasts roaming in this world. Outraged that he was asked to kill monsters, Genzo German suplexes the princess. Unable to get back to Earth, he decides to live a peaceful life and manage a "monster" pet shop.
Why you should watch: I love pro wrestling and I think a pro wrestling isekai sounds just ridiculous enough to make a fun and silly show out of. That’s about all I got for you!
Food Wars! The Fourth Plate
Premise: The fourth season of JC Staff’s cooking battle shonen anime.
Why you should watch: These last two is where the “why you should watch” section starts to come unraveled a bit, because I genuinely don’t know if you should watch the fourth season of Food Wars. I’ve been a pretty unapologetic lover of this show since its first episode but the manga ended recently, and suddenly, and from what I’ve heard it ended very badly. I have no idea how close we are to that material but if we are, I’d be ready for a huge quality dip unless JC Staff decides to try and save the anime with an original ending. It’s anybody’s guess.
Amazon Prime Video
Premise: The third season of Production IG’s original future police procedural anime, centering around a society in which every citizen’s propensity to commit crime can be measured numerically, and they can be arrested and/or killed because of that number.
Why you should watch: I’ll be frank for this last entry y’all, I have no illusions about this third season of Psycho-Pass being at all good. After the trainwreck that was the second season, I fully didn’t expect this show to get another season, but Production IG seems intent on keeping this thing around. Most staff from the second season are sticking around for this one, including season 2 writer Tow Ubukata who’s built a name for himself as kind of a terrible writer over his short career. With none of the original cast of characters returning, I don’t know how much there actually is for existing fans of Psycho-Pass here, but maybe it’ll be a good hate watch. That’s about all we can hope for now, I think.