It’s time! Time at last to start thinking about putting this lousy season behind us, time pick our heads up from the anime-parched earth and take a glimpse towards the horizon. Is that a mirage in the distance, taunting us with the thought of media sustenance? Are we doomed to wander this barren waste forever, continually lowering our standards until eventually we forget anime was anything more than a vehicle for monstergirls and pee jokes?
Nah, there’s some new shows coming out. Some of them look pretty good, too! We’ve got long-awaited manga adaptations, sequels to steady favorites, new entries in venerable franchises, and even some tasty-looking originals and wildcards. My overall bench isn’t terribly deep, but I’m confident I’ll be happy with at least a couple of them, and even outside of my picks, every season holds surprises.
As always, I won’t be running down every new show here – there’s vast selections of shows I know I’ll never be interested in, and even among those shows, if there are any standouts, I’ll hit them during preview week anyway. If you want the full list, you can check it out over on anichart – here, I’m just gonna break down what I’m excited about, along with maybe a reason or two to feel optimistic. So let’s get to it!
Oh hey, big surprise, my most anticipated show of the season is the sequel to the series in my top ten all-time favorites, the show I’ve likely written more about than any other. Monogatari’s second season was a joy to watch, and managed to elevate much of what had come before through its smart continuation of half a dozen distinct but thematically linked character arcs. Owarimonogatari is billed as the “final season,” which makes sense narrative-wise, since it really does feel like we should be winding down the various arcs now. Half of the cast has moved on in some meaningful way, and Araragi’s journey towards adulthood is finally progressing as well.
The only misgiving I’ve got about this one is the fact that I’ve heard Nisio Isin has actually continued the series beyond these books. I’ve obviously enjoyed the Monogatari journey, but I’d like it to actually have a solid, coherent ending, and not just sort of peter out based on its dwindling economic value. I’m hoping this season either offers satisfying closure in some other way or makes a continuation seem natural, but either way, I’m sure I’ll have a lot of fun returning to one of my favorite universes.
Following up on the show I’m most certain to like, we’ve got a show that’s basically a total mystery. The series composer apparently also ran composition on Penguindrum, which is about as strong of a recommendation as you can get, but I’m mainly into this for the premise and overall tone it gives off. It’s about a couple who actually are a couple, and one of them isn’t even a high schooler, which basically makes it a unicorn among anime even before you get to the kind of quietly mysterious bones thing. The first touchstone this whole mystery-slice of life-beautiful aesthetic deal brings me to is Hyouka, and while I’m not expecting another Hyouka, it still seems like a show to look out for.
And here’s the big manga adaptation darling of the season. One Punch Man has a serious reputation, and Madhouse are a serious (or, well, formerly and now inconsistently serious) studio who are hopefully assigning Top Men to the job. I’ve read a fair bit of One Punch Man, and enjoyed it without really being wowed by it, but an energetic adaptation could change that. The issue here is the same one Prison School had – a big part of OPM’s appeal is its precise, personality-filled art, and translating that strength into motion seems like a tricky feat. The trailer strikes me as solid but not spectacular, but the very clean, anime-friendly designs they’ve gone with seem to be designed with plentiful movement in mind. Hopefully the show can pull it off, but either way, One Punch Man is looking like the heavyweight action show of the season.
The long-awaited new Lupin series has finally begun its run… in Italy. Yep, apparently the Italians have better anime taste than the rest of us, and we all just have to wait and see when Lupin will make his way elsewhere. I’ve got very limited Lupin experience (basically just a couple scattered episodes from back on Adult Swim and Castle of Cagliostro), but I’m excited to have an easy reason to dig into the franchise, and I’ve already been hearing good things about this one’s designs. Definitely worth a shot.
And continuing in the new entries in old classics genre, we’ve got this season’s brand spanking new Gundam series. My Gundam experiences have been pretty hit or miss, but that likely comes down to Tomino‘s individual wackiness more than anything, and I’m guessing an entry outside of his hands will be a bit more reliable.
Wait, this one’s being composed by Mari Okada, nevermind all bets are off. Mari Okada has a vast and occasionally checkered history, but her love of melodrama and suffering of all stripes will likely lend itself well to Gundam, and she’s certainly a talented writer. Knowing she’s involved actually makes me significantly more interested in this one – I tend to find war dramas a bit dry, but Okada is extremely good at emphasizing the human element. And c’mon, this one’s got “orphans” right there in the title! I’m definitely on board.
Here’s another one that’s pretty close to a mystery. The series composer did composition on both seasons of Gatchaman Crowds, which is nice, but overall I’m mainly excited because this looks like one of those noitaminA prestige pieces that I’ve heard they occasionally put out between light novel adaptations. The story sounds vaguely literary-ish, the designs are interesting, and despite my snark, noitaminA is still a name that means something. Plus, apparently this one’s based on a series of full-length novels, not light novels, which is one of the best single indicators of anime merit out there. This one’s a wildcard, but it has some very strong points in its favor.
This one looks like a whole lot of fun. It’s got a classic premise, but not one that’s worn out its welcome, and the overall visual aesthetic looks very inventive. It’s got a veteran director and scriptwriter who’ve worked together on stuff like Fullmetal Alchemist and UN-GO. It’s got a solid studio and great designs and clearly at least the appearance of personality. It looks a bit too breezy to be a personal favorite, and it’ll take a couple episodes to see if the extremely loud style works, but aside from that stuff, this is pretty much all you could hope for in an original. Hopefully it’s actually good!
Garo’s back with a new story and new cast, this time centered on a female protagonist in the Heian period. I kind of missed the Garo train the first time around – the hair metal aesthetic and CG suits didn’t appeal to me at all, so I missed out on what seemed to play out as a somewhat inconsistent but also fairly rewarding fantasy drama. In light of that, I’ll be giving this one as fair of a shake as I can. I’ve basically found something to like in pretty much everything MAPPA’s produced so far, so I’m hopeful this one will keep up the trend.
This one’s also a wildcard, and honestly not one I have particularly high hopes for. The initial… music video???… was intriguingly mysterious, but subsequent reveals have added a boy and a giant robot, shifting my impression from “what could this be about” to “oh, it’s this season’s version of this story.” Boy meets magical girl, girl becomes the vehicle of his destiny with the help of a big robot, etcetera. On the other hand…
No, nevermind, there isn’t another hand. I thought there was some staff reason I was interested in this one, but nope, it’s just entirely because this is an original production, and those are generally at least worth a look. I’ll watch the first episode, but yeah, it doesn’t seem too likely I’ll stick with this one.
And that’s it! Overall I’m pretty happy with this season’s selection – it’s not a huge number of shows, but it seems diverse enough, and a few of the more mysterious ones look like they could have a really high ceiling. If you want to look a little deeper, Utawarerumono, Heavy Object, and Young Black Jack also seem maybe-kinda promising, but I didn’t really have enough personal interest in any of them to include them in the main list. Either way, it turns out anime isn’t dying this year, guys. You can cancel the funeral.