Well, we’re into the back half of winter, meaning it’s high time to stop suffering through whatever we’re currently watching and starting figuring out if next season will melt our jaded hearts. I’m pretty sure it will, in this case – even if this winter weren’t already awful, next season looks fantastic. I’m sure you’re all excited too, which is why I’m here to demonstrate the Correct shows to be excited about, with no exceptions, additions, or substitutions. And by that I mean the opposite of that – this list is basically just what I already know I have reasons to be excited about, and every season has its own surprises. It’s not like I expected to be looking forward to friggin’ Witch Craft Works. Anyway, let’s run down next season’s extremely impressive list.
Well, actually, before that, I should probably explain what this list is even about. I’m pretty much not going to list shows based on premise – personally, I think premise is almost entirely disconnected from quality, and will only bring it up if it seems unusual enough to warrant mention. Instead, my list is largely based on things I think actually do correlate with quality – talented creators, strong source material, and studios I’ve come to trust. Will I miss some shows? Obviously, but listing premises and hypothesizing on how they might not turn out poorly doesn’t sound like a particularly useful exercise. As always, the full list up upcoming shows is available at anichart.net. Anyway!
My top hype choice, for pretty obvious reasons – it’s an acclaimed manga by the creator of Tekkonkinkreet being adapted by Masaaki Yuasa, who’s damn high on my list of all-time anime directors. If you’re not excited for this, go watch The Tatami Galaxy and correct that. Yuasa’s easily one of the most distinctive, creative people in the industry, and any productions by him are a cause for celebration. You can basically append “like you’ve never seen it before” to pretty much anything he creates, so I guess Ping Pong is going to be a friendship/sports anime like you’ve never seen it before.
Horrific confession time: I still haven’t seen Mushishi. I know, my cred, oh god. But yeah, the first season of this is pretty much unanimously considered one of the classics of 00’s anime, and considering the reaction to the recent OVA episode was very positive, there’s no reason to suspect this won’t be a worthy continuation. Meditative, episodic spirit-stories with a beautiful aesthetic – what’s not to like?
Another sequel, this time to the most hot-blooded, hard-fisted, fabulous-posed series of 2013. No need for explanation here – I covered my love of JoJo in my top shows of 2013 list, and I’ve heard Stardust Crusaders is actually where the show “gets good.” I’m not sure how it can top cyborg nazis, killer squirrels, and the noble Robert Speedwagon, but I’m eager to see it try.
Another choice based entirely on creator pedigree. Yoji Enokido, the writer, is possibly one of the most under-mentioned creators in anime – his resume includes scripting FLCL and Diebuster, doing series composition for Revolutionary Girl Utena, writing several scripts for Neon Genesis Evangelion, and even working on compositions as varied as Redline and Ouran High School Host Club. The plot of this one looks pretty typical, but it’s not like you could tell the quality of those other shows through synopsis, either – this writer can do great things, and that makes this a show to look out for.
Oh jeez, could it be another show I’m anticipating purely because it features a talented writer? Color me surprised. But yeah, it’s Mari Okada this time. I’m pretty hit or miss on Okada shows (love Toradora, like NagiAsu, lukewarm on Anohana, dislike Gosick and Sakurasou), but all her shows demonstrate strong character writing, and the premise (gasp!) of this one looks like a fun match for her talents. A speculative title, but it could definitely be good.
I’m grouping these together because they’re here for the exact same reason – for the first time since OreGairu, Brain’s Base are adapting something that isn’t either an otome game or a gag comedy. That’s exciting! At the time of OreGairu’s release, they were pretty close to my favorite studio – along with that, their highlights include Spice and Wolf S2, Penguindrum, Baccano!, Durarara!!, and Natsume Yuchinjou. Additionally, Isshuukan Friends is being composed by one of my favorite series composers – Shoutarou Suga, who’s handled series composition for OreGairu and Uchouten Kazoku, along with scripting episodes for Darker than Black, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Eden of the East, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, and Serei no Moribito. He’s really damn talented, Brain’s Base can put an excellent production together when they feel like it, and both these shows have premises that could easily lead to satisfying drama, romance, or slice of life. Definitely excited for this pair.
Pretty simple reasoning here – it’s more or less an anime-original (technically based on a music-centric multimedia project, but that’s just confusing) production, meaning Shaft probably have a whole lot of room to go crazy on this one. I’m a big fan of anime-originals – I feel stories that are originally designed for anime tend to make much better use of the medium, and Shaft are very good at making full use of the medium. Though Shinbou’s name is attached, he gets attached to basically all Shaft productions nowadays, so I assume the actual director is Yuuki Yase, who’s apparently previously worked on Durarara!!, Nisemonogatari, Monogatari Season 2, and the Madoka movies. That’s good enough for me!
I’m not actually particularly excited for this, but the premise and aesthetic make me feel like it’s aiming at that “latent anime fan” demographic stuff like Titan reached so successfully. Self-serious aesthetic? Check. Fantasy/scifi setting? Check. Boilerplate action premise? Check. This could turn out well (the manga is well-liked and the series composer has worked on a bunch of good stuff), but if people aren’t turned off by the hideous CG, there’s also a chance it could turn out huge.
That said, this is probably the safer “mainstream action breakout” pick. Madhouse are a very good studio, but everything about this show looks cynical as hell, and I’ve heard the light novels are pretty atrocious. Meaning that, just like with Titan, I may once again be covering a show for purely mercenary reasons. Hey, bad shows need love too!
So yeah, that’s pretty much everything I’ve got an active eye on at the moment. As I stressed, I’m sure other shows will end up surprising me, but I think this is a pretty good place to start. You all excited to leave this cold, barren winter behind?