Wow! This season looks awful!
…yep, that’s pretty much all there is to it. Perhaps it’s because I’ve been spoiled the last few seasons, or maybe Winter seasons just really are always that bad, but dear lord this season looks weak. Let’s run down the bright spots!
Chuunibyou Season 2
No surprise here. Chuunibyou S1 is actually my personal favorite of all of KyoAni’s productions, and the second season promises to center on that rarest of anime curiosities – a couple in an actual relationship. If you haven’t seen the first season, catch the fuck up – this show is romantic comedy done right, infused with KyoAni’s relentlessly perfect comedic timing and actually telling a convincing romance/drama along the way. Tatsuya Ishihara will once again be directing (one of the core KyoAni directors, who helmed Haruhi S1, Clannad, and Nichijou), and he’s already indicated that there won’t be any love triangle shenanigans injecting this season with artificial drama. All in all, I’d be fairly surprised if anything dislodged this show as my favorite of the season. That said, if anybody’s going to go toe to toe with Chuunibyou, it might as well be…
Good luck not dancing, motherfuckers. Shinichiro Watanabe is back (again), and he’s bringing a funky scifi comedy exploitation show. This doesn’t actually seem like my kind of thing, but I tend to like Good Things in most genres/aesthetics, and Watanabe is incredibly good at making Good Things. And he’s shown no signs of slowing down – I actually think 2012’s Kids on the Slope might be the most flawless of his shows, even if it lacks the inspired genre-fusing and worldbuilding of Cowboy Bebop. Hell, if the soundtrack in general is half as hypnotizing as Viva Namida, that’ll pretty much do it for me. I’d say if you like space monsters, wacky adventures, great music, or bulletproof direction, you’ll probably find something to love here.
…and that’s where my “legitimately excited” tier ends. I told you, this season’s awful. Moving along, we still have…
Alright, I admit it, I’m a little excited for this one. Mainly because it’s a total mystery with exactly the right set of ingredients. First, it’s an original production, which almost by itself makes any show worthy of notice – it’s not designed to sell manga or LNs, it’s not forced to warp its narrative structure to fit some specific number of volumes, it can tell a complete story if it wants to, and it can be designed to actually take advantage of the animated medium. Second, the studio behind it, A-1 Pictures, actually has my respect. They make many, many things I have no interest in, but they also scatter their schedule with a variety of interesting/polished original productions, and last year they committed to the clear financial liability/equally clear artistic achievement Shinsekai Yori. Finally, the show’s released information makes no goddamn sense. A secret organization dedicated to taking over the world led by a little girl and costumed in utter insanity. Good studio pedigree + original production freedom + what the fuck is even happening = yeah, I’m on board.
After suffering production difficulties (apparently related to DEEN’s unwillingness to back down on the graphic content, which… well, sweet) that pushed it back a season, it looks like we’ll finally be seeing the incestuous body horror story we’ve always wanted. I don’t actually have any serious expectations for this, and I’ve heard that this will actually be a series of five minute episodes, but we just don’t get many good horror stories in anime. Something to keep an eye on.
Hoozuki no Reitetsu
Dipping into the wildcards here. I know nothing about the manga this is being adapted from, and the director’s two biggest credits seem to be directing Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun and Kimi ni Todoke S2, neither of which were exactly renowned for their visual flare. But this seems like the kind of thing I like – a story that uses fantastical elements in a very grounded way, a slice of life with some dashes of real conflict, and a focus on actual adults. No real expectations, but another one I’m keeping in mind.
Akiyuki Shinbou (Monogatari, Madoka, and a million other Shaft productions) taking on a Shounen Jump romcom. The phrase “Shounen Jump romcom” kind of makes my teeth shiver, and I’ve heard it does indeed spin in pointless yet financially lucrative narrative circles, but I do like romance and Shinbou, so I’ll be giving it a try. No promises on how long I last with this one.
Tonari no Seki-kun
This show will be very unambitious comedy, but the manga is actually charming. File under “pleasant.”
To Aru Hikuushi e no Koiuta
I’ve heard good and bad things about the first anime adapted from this author’s works, so… yeah, not that helpful. Anyway: romance, aerial combat, a fantastical quest in a fanciful world. This all seems quite reasonable to me! As far as crew goes, the highlight seems to be scriptwriter Reiko Yoshida’s tremendously stacked resume, which wanders from The Cat Returns to Rec to maybe half the iyashikei of the last ten years. So yeah, I’ll at least be checking it out.
Overall, that’s actually a decent number of shows, but the vast majority of them are basically “well, this could not be bad.” Two highlights, a couple more potentials, and thank god Kill la Kill/Log Horizon/Nagi no Asukara are continuing.