It’s that time once again! With three weeks of the winter season to go, it’s time for me to start feeling existential dread at the thought of one more preview guide, and time for you all to get some uselessly vague predictions about how this whole spring season’s gonna go down. As per the usual, I’ll just be covering stuff that actually looks interesting to me – if you want the full list, head on over to anichart to check it out. Normally, this is a time of celebration – it’s the end of winter doldrums, and spring is generally a pretty stacked lineup. But between Shirobako and a few intrepid newbies, this winter season has actually been perfectly respectable, so let’s try and approach the upcoming shows with a bit less desperate of a look in our eyes. It’s just another anime season, you guys. No need to get excited.
HOLY SHIT OREGAIRU IS COMING BACK FUCK GUYS LOOK IT’S OREGAIRU YEAAAAAH.
Yeah, I’m looking forward to this one. OreGairu’s one of my all-time favorite shows, easily my top show in the “high school kids doing vaguely club-related things” mega-genre, and just a really sharply written and characterized production all-around. I’m not particularly worried by the changes in studio or staff this time – not only was OreGairu never really defined by its visuals, but Brain’s Base’s moment in the sun has clearly passed, and studios are less important than individuals anyway. OreGairu’s strength was always in its writing, and since the source material is stable and the show has retained the fantastic Shotarou Suga on series composition (he of Eccentric Family fame, among many other solid shows), there’s no reason to expect this season to be any worse than the first. It’ll be good to see Hachiman, Yukino, and Yui again.
Normally this’d be the kind of generic fantasy-shounen stuff that I’d skip right over (see also: Seraph of the End), but instead, this is one of my most highly anticipated new shows. Why? Rie Matsumoto. Kyousogiga was a goddamn masterpiece, a huge amount of its power came from its incredible direction, and now Matsumoto’s escaped the Toei factory and is off at Bones. The plot looks like nonsense (based on a work by Trigun’s creator, but I have no opinion on Trigun, sooo), but I’m not really bothered by that – I think Matsumoto has the ability to make Good Things, and the PV’s already showing off a great sense of visual personality, with more of the wild colors, environmental focus, and creative shot framing that made Kyousogiga such a wonder. I’m extremely happy to see Matsumoto working again, and very excited to see wherever she takes us.
Because clearly I never learn. Though KyoAni have certainly engaged in a lot of heart breaking lately, and though Euphonium is being directed by one of their chief heartbreakers, Tatsuya “I will Ren’d your heart” Ishihara, there’s definitely reason to hope here. First, there’s the obvious fact that KyoAni just always make impressive things – those things might not necessarily be good, but the studio’s overall understanding of stuff like animation fundamentals, shot framing, and visual comedy is excellent. Second, Ishihara has made many great things, even if he did break my heart that one time (and the extremely talented Naoko Yamada‘s directing the first episode, anyway). And third, Euphonium is based on a real book – not one of the semi-books submitted to their in-house light novel competition, a Real book. It’s also supposed to be more drama than slice of life, so we’ll see how it goes.
Blade Works’ first season was a bunch of fun, and I see no reason that’ll stop in the second half. I expect lots of lovely action, lots of ridiculous dialogue, and hopefully some more endearing personal scenes. ufotable’s got a good thing going on, no reason to mess it up now!
My Trigger honeymoon is definitely over at this point – they’re a studio with clear strengths, but their style seems exemplified by Kill la Kill, and Kill la Kill was not my bag. They’ve certainly got style though, and that style is on display in the Ninja Slayer PV. Ninja Slayer seems like the ideal Trigger project – it’s essentially a Japanese parody of what western people used to think anime is like, meaning it’s trashy and hot-blooded and way too full of goddamn neon. It’s very likely going to be pretty fun, and I’m also probably going to get bored of its style-over-substance approach after only a couple episodes. But hey, it’s worth a look.
This one’s synopsis looks almost Key-like in its readymade melodrama potential, but this is the first anime by the writer of the semicolon games (Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes, etc), so I’m certainly going to give it a shot. The director’s resume is a mix of stuff like SAO/Guilty Crown and stuff like Gj-bu, with an emphasis on animation (including plenty of credits from Engaged to the Unidentified), so hopefully it’ll at least look nice. Certainly a wild card, but “writer with a high ceiling” is a very good place to start.
Alright, lot to recommend this one. First of all, just reading the synopsis, you can tell this seems a bit more thoughtful than anime’s usual fare. Josei manga normally extend to far more broad and compelling dramatic territory than most other manga, and this looks to be no exception. And beyond the unique premise and award-winning josei pedigree, this one’s also directed by Shinichi Omata, who cut his teeth working on a lot of Shaft shows before breaking away over the last couple years. Recently, his shows have included Sankarea, a zombie romcom that ended up being far better than it had any right to be, and most of that came down to its excellent direction. So yeah, definitely excited for this one – it’s a bit of a wildcard, but the potential is there.
(thanks to @br1anwuzhere for mentioning this one even existed. anicharts has betrayed me!)
(double edit: apparently this one’s airing season has yet to be announced. sorry for doubting you, anicharts)
A series of fantasy novels originally written by the creator of Legend of the Galactic Heroes, adapted as a manga by the creator of Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon, now adapted into an anime. That’s a pretty solid pedigree, and every season deserves a decent fantasy pick, so I’m on board for this one.
Frankly, this spinoff adaptation seems like a bad idea in an “everything that’s wrong with anime” sort of way. “Hey, remember that show you liked? Well, how about we remove the premise that made it interesting and focus on one of the fan-favorite side characters, except we replace her personality with one that’s far more conventionally cutesy and popular?” It seems cynical as fuck, and it may well be cynical as fuck, but I’ve got a lot of built-up fondness for Haruhi, and more importantly, look at these goddamn faces. Yeah, maybe it’s not her original personality, but those are still some pretty great faces. I’m willing to give those faces an episode at least.
This one rides entirely on pedigree and presentation. Its panty-focused tagline is a serious cause for concern, but as the PV makes clear, there’s a whole bunch of ex-Gainax staff involved in this one, plus the studio MAPPA (a Madhouse breakaway that also worked on both of Watanabe’s recent shows) is just coming off the twin fan favorites of Rage of Bahamut and Garo. And the writer is Kotaro Uchikoshi, known for those Zero Escape games people seem to like so much. Basically, this one seems like it might impress based on sheer talent in spite of itself. I’m not holding out much hope, but the potential is there.
Knights of Sidonia was a very solid show, and I’m perfectly happy to see more of it. The show’s mixture of really purposeful, well-constructed worldbuilding and excellent fight direction made for a very unique production, and though the character CG and love triangle nonsense had their hiccups, the overall production was engaging, endearing, and highly recommendable. The first season’s resume-light assistant director seems to have moved up to the director’s chair for this season, which is maybe something of a cause for concern, but there’s no use worrying until we see it, and Sidonia has certainly earned itself a fair glance. Should be fun!
The premise of this one seems to be “it’s a shoujo romcom, except starring That Dude On The Cover instead of a pretty male protagonist.” That’s not really the most to go on, but this seems to be one with some buzz around the source material, and Madhouse remain a very real name in spite of some recent missteps here and there. This season also seems somewhat romance-light, and this looks to be the best of them. Obviously I’m checking it out either way, but it seems like a show to keep an eye on.
Honestly, I don’t actually have any interest in this one. I just find it to be a funny reflection of the diminishing Urobuchi investment returns we’ve been getting over the last couple years – from writing Madoka, to splitting writing of Psycho-Pass, to series comp of Gargantia, to writing the first couple episodes maybe of Aldnoah, to perhaps jotting down a couple ideas on a napkin for this. From the mind that brought you Madoka Magica! Just do what makes you happy, dude.