Spring 2014 Season Preview

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!

Ping Pong the Animation

Ping Pong the Animation

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.

Check out the Ping Pong PV.

Mushishi Season 2

Mushishi Season 2

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?

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders

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.

JoJo PV aw yiss.

Captain Earth

Captain Earth

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.

Here be Captain Earth PV.

Selector Infected WIXOSS

Selector Infected WIXOSS

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.

Creepy WIXOSS PV ahoy.

Bokura wa Minna Kowaisou/Isshuukan Friends

Bokura wa Minna KowaisouIshuukan Friends

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.

Very pretty, very adorable Isshuukan Friends PV.

Mekaku City Actors

Mekaku City Actors

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!

Knights of Sidonia

Knights of Sidonia

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.

Here’s another PV, wherein a big robot stabs a space sea urchin.

Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei

Mahouka Koukou no Rettosei

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?

35 thoughts on “Spring 2014 Season Preview

  1. Reasonably good season to hope for, although the Mahouka light novels are much, much better than a lot of people claim they are. Without spoiling anything, there are lot of things are very close to being terrible, but seem to be intentionally tweaking the wish fulfillment genre in a very subtle way that most of the critics are missing. Then again, I think most of the fans are missing them too, so there’s a very good chance that the adaptation is going to be horrific, especially since the series is so dense that it probably needs 3 cours just to cover the first 4 books without skipping over a lot of important content.

    • Yeah, I’m sure I’ll enjoy it, I just haven’t gotten to it yet. And I actually get that watch “style” recommended for it a lot, so I guess I’ll go with that!

      Looks like Jojo’s in fine form as ever. Pretty damn excited for that.

  2. Yoji Enokido’s pretty weird in that as good as he is, I don’t think he’s worked on anything on par with FLCL or Utena for a while. Star Driver was obviously an attempt to recapture that old Utena magic, but from what I’ve heard it wasn’t as successful as it could have been? Ikuhara came much, much closer with Penguindrum, which leads me to believe that Enokido really needs a good director in order to bring out his talents. Igarashi is pretty talented, but is that really enough? I guess we’ll see whether Captain Earth improves on Star Driver’s framework.

    The Knights of Sidonia manga’s actually done by Tsutomu Nihei, who’s probably one of the most talented and distinctive mangaka there are. Dunno if you’ve read BLAME or Biomega but his work is pretty mind-blowing visually, though all his stuff shares a pretty similar aesthetic. Sidonia’s apparently his attempt to market himself to a larger crowd, so it’s supposedly not really as welrd/quirky as his other stuff, but hopefully it turns out okay. Nihei’s one of the few mangaka I’ve seen to make really great use of 3D space and scale in his comics, so maybe the CG here will be good for something? We’ll see.

    Otherwise, Jojo YES. Ping Pong YES. Mushishi YES. Selector Infected WIXOSS looks like a pretty transparent attempt to recapture Madoka’s thunder, which didn’t succeed the last time someone tried it so I’m skeptical? That said there’s definitely a bunch of promising shows all coming out next season, excited for more Yuasa if nothing else.

    • I’ve heard mixed things about Star Driver, but have been meaning to see it. The Diebuster wikipedia page also has this interesting quote: “Regarding the show’s influences, Tsurumaki said, “Since I’m directing the show, you know there’s going to be some FLCL-ishness… [We] all have differing opinions on how this new series should go. Sato likes hot-blooded sports shows, while Enokido wants to do a story about an average boy coming to realize his own weaknesses and fighting to make a better life for himself, like in Evangelion and Nadia. What I want to do is combine a bunch of technical sci-fi concepts with an indescribably weird mood.”” How that translated into what Diebuster ended up being… I dunno, it’s a weird process. I’m excited for work by any writer with a high ceiling, though.

      I would love to see a show demonstrate what CG is actually good at, so I’ll keep that in mind for Sidonia. I think I’ve actually read a bit of BLAME before, but it just didn’t seem like my kind of thing.

  3. Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei is actually one of the top-two recommended LNs people keep recommending me. It’s actually the #1, that several people have been recommending to me for about a year, long before the anime adaptation had been announced.

    Sure, they may like generic LNs, but that they mention it over everything else means it’s not “atrocious”.

    Most of the things you listed also caught my eye, question is how much else I’m going to add to my plate. The answer as usual will probably be “Too much.”

    • Eh, that kinda sounds like the Golden Time “you should get back into it, it gets really good” situation – being highly regarded within a group that’s already self-selected to like that kind of thing. I’ll let the show be the judge.

      And yeah, there’s plenty of other stuff that could be good, so I’m looking forward to everyone’s first week impressions.

      • Well, they like this sort of stuff, but out of all the LNs out there, and there are plenty, this comes especially highly regarded. Then again, LNs can be good with anime being crap, wouldn’t be first time it happened either :p

  4. There’s always someone who posts his previews around the same time I plan to. And when it’s not psgels, it’s you.

    Kidding aside, the season looks alright. A few things I’m looking forward to. A bunch more with the potential to surprise. Can’t believe that Kindaichi revival got announced today of all days though. Hope it’s not super long like Space Brothers, let alone the original Kindaichi.

    • Haha, foiled again!

      In contrast to the current season, I’m pretty much already set on Spring because there’s at least a “safe” top tier – I highly doubt the top three shows will disappoint, and even having one show I’m impressed by every week is generally enough for me.

  5. Oh god I’ll never get used to those CG robots.

    Jojo and city actors are the main things I think I’ll enjoy this season..
    I’ll try ping pong and Isshukan too and wait for general consensus on the rest..
    I find games setting to be pretty boring most of the time so no great hopes for selectors (plus those noses are atrocious.)

      • Not really. Shaft can make great stuff when they want hopefully they are getting bored of applying Monogatari style to everything. The thing being based on a music project also intrigues me. Usually it means a lot of style and a great soundtrack (but that’s based on Western medias knowledge) (the songs of this project seems very energics/abrasifs too). I’m a big fan of operas (though I know nothing about this particular project). I do hope Shaft will use it’s roots has a strength.

        So it’s really just a bunch of wishful thinking sadly eh.

  6. Only heard good things about Mahouka as well. Looking forward to it. Not really interested in much else besides Knights of Sidonia and Mushishi this season, though there are a lot more shows that I might have a look at than there almost ever are.

      • Looking back at my enjoyment level of the new shows this season (not counting silver spoon), the top 5 shows all have a significant level of comedy in them except inakon which I just watch for the romance between a deity and a human

  7. I didn’t mind this winter line-up. No, it wasn’t the best season of the year, but I still found my full quota of shows to enjoy. That said, I’m pretty excited to leave winter behind – first because I despise the cold, and secondly because the spring anime season was my favourite of last year’s anime line-up, and I’m keen to see if the same will hold true for 2014. I’m damn excited for Mushishi (the first anime of which probably makes it into my top 5 anime titles of all time), but I’m also very interested in Captain Earth, Bokura wa Minna Kowaisou, Mekaku City Actors, and Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei. On the slightly-less-interested-but-still-curious side, I’ll be checking out Akuma no Riddle, Fuuun Ishin Dai Shogun, Hitsugi no Chaika, and Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to.

    • It’s definitely not spring – they announced it too recently for that. For some reason I was thinking summer, but if a press release actually stated fall, then I’d assume that’s that.

  8. Oh Shaft why must you take on these projects that sound absolutely insane. As a series based on Vocaloid songs, I really hope it doesn’t turn into an incomprehensible mess which turns me off to yet another Shaft production. They’re my favorite studio but after Nisekoi and Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko I have to wait with bated breath. Seriously fuck Nisekoi. With barbed wire. Repeatedly…

    • Ohhh Nisekoi. It was actually kind of nostalgic watching that first episode – Love Hina’s exact style of characters, humor, and storytelling, somehow magically reappearing in the 2014 season. I guess these things go in cycles.

      • Ohhhh come on man please don’t give it any praise. Sigh. To be fair way way back when I got into manga/anime it was I’s,Love Hina, Onizuka (the exception) and other like works (twas a dark time). But watching Nisekoi made me groan and sigh so much I had to pause and watch which made 30 min episodes into hr long runs. I’m tempted to go back and watch Love Hina but I feel like I’ll be ruining that nostalgia because I’ll want to murder everyone the whole goddamn book.

        • Oh, I’m not praising it! Love Hina was a bad show and so is this one – I just discovered Love Hina back when I was young enough and new enough to anime for it to seem amazing, and so I’ve got tremendously positive memories associated with it. I actually still own the whole manga series of that…

    • What I want to know about Shaft is what the hell happened to that Magical Prism Nanna project ?
      And I still wish that they will finally adapt the end of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei…

  9. Some other ones you might be interested in for good or bad reasons
    Soredemo Sekai – Love story taking place outside of a high school setting
    Gokukoku no Brynhildr – Remember Elfen Lied? Basically the same thing. Should be fun at least.
    Black Bullet – Basically put Shingeki in a modern setting and even more lax wall security. Also pretty spot on for another “mainstream anime breakout” pick.

    Anyways, really looking forward to Jojos and Mekaku. Jojo’s because it’s Jojo’s, and Mekaku because I really do like the set of media the anime will be based off/around. It sounds generic on paper, but Mekaku really does go places.

  10. Mahouka is one of those things that is awful, but it’s awful in a way that is very salvageable for adaptations. A lot of Mahouka’s problems stem from the fact the author never got an editor who looked at his manuscripts, nodded, and said, “okay, now cut out half of these words and hand this back to me.” Visuals can streamline a lot of that, and the limits of an anime season can induce them to cut further.

    Aside from the words thing, it’s pretty bog standard characters in a bog standard setting with some cool systems stuff. It’s got an unapologetically overpowered protagonist, which isn’t for everyone. If you like Nasu-esque “these rules exist so that specific characters may break them in cool ways” magic stuff, then Mahouka can scratch that itch. Other than that, it’s all about whether the adaptation team can work with the material better than the author.

    Mekaku City Actors is going to be a thing. Every media’s version of the Kagerou Project has different events, or the same events happen at different times with different people. I mean, hell, it wasn’t even clear that there WAS a plot to the music project (rather than a collection of vignettes in the same world) until shortly before the song labeled “Bad End.” That’s something the series does a lot across all its versions, though: it leaves a lot of questions up in the air, seemingly unimportant, then drops one new tidbit that puts everything in a totally different light.

    Of course, that means it’s definitely a three-episode-test kind of show. It needs a good hook, because the first couple of episodes are probably going to seem slow and generic. But it gets better! I’m hoping this meets the potential it has.

    • Oh man, I HATE Nasu-esque “rules rules rules” storytelling. Writing about that show is sounding more fun all the time…

      That description of Mekaku City Actors sounds very interesting, though. I tend to really like stuff that plays with structure like that.

  11. Ping Pong is adapted from manga which actually was adapted in a 2002 movie. Hadn’t seen it yourself, but judging by what I’ve seen, it was quite surrealistic with awesome music(both of which are in the PV). In other words, why the hell Yuasa didn’t do it earlier?

    Me watch.

  12. Pingback: Spring 2014 Anime Preview | The Grand Shuckett

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