Winter 2016 Season Preview

We’re approaching the last act of the fall season, which means it’s time once again to shift an eye towards winter and see what the future might bring. This winter season is not looking good, frankly – there are basically no shows I have strong confidence in, and even the potential hits are pretty sparse. But every season has its surprises, and it’d be hard for a season to be as barren as this past summer anyway, so I’m sure it’ll all work out in the end. Winter seasons are historically pretty lousy, anyway; last winter was a fantastic outlier, but with nothing like Shirobako carrying over and nothing as promising as Death Parade or Yurikuma awaiting us, we’re going to have to forage our way through the lean months. Check out your backlog, finish shows you fell behind on, and maybe spare a minute or two to check in on a few of these potential titles

As usual, I won’t be running down every upcoming title here – you can read synopses as well as I can, and there’s only so much I can say about Crappy Light Novel Adaptation #375. You can check out the full list over at anichart, but I’m just going to be hitting the stuff that actually looks interesting to me, and explaining why. Let’s get right to it!

Active Raid

Active Raid

The synopsis for this one looks pretty boilerplate “people in supersuits fight crime,” even if anime-original productions tend to deserve a second glance. The real reason this might be good is the director, Goro Taniguchi. His reputation has classically stemmed from two very different and very well-liked shows, Code Geass and Planetes, but after some time away from direction, he returned last winter with the excellent Maria the Virgin Witch. His name demands notice, and with this show also featuring a reasonable series composer (Naruhisa Arakawa, responsible for Spice and Wolf, Maoyuu, and a bunch of less interesting stuff), there’s plenty of reason to suspect there might be something here. Definitely worth a first episode.



I wish I could feel more excited about this. The original manga, written and illustrated by Gamon Sakurai, is apparently quite well-liked – a solid horror-thriller with some nicely unnerving art. But horror is already difficult enough to pull off in anime, and with mediocre CG like the Sidonia-style art they’re going with for this anime, it seems basically impossible. I’ll be checking this out because people like the source material, but it seems highly likely this will just be one more casualty of CG animation.

Here’s the first PV.

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime 2

Akagami no Shirayuki-hime

I actually dropped the first season of this, but its reputation remained strong throughout the summer, so if you’re looking for more airing shows, it’d likely be worth it to catch up on this one. I’m debating doing that myself!

Boku dake ga Inai Machi

Boke dake ga Inai Machi

Adapted from another fairly well-liked manga, this one sure does have a premise. “Manga artist struggles to express himself while dealing with his precognitive time-travel ability to prevent disasters before being framed as a murderer and ultimately sent back in time to grade school and now he must solve the mystery of his classmate’s disappearance” isn’t exactly the most relatable of premises, but it’s apparently quite a time. Additionally, this one comes from the writer/composer combo behind Silver Spoon, which was very well-liked. Tomohiko Ito was also the director of both seasons of Sword Art Online, which were honestly very solidly directed – that show’s problems have everything to do with its source material, and everyone else involved did the best they could. This one looks bizarre as hell, but I’ll be watching out for it.

Here’s the PV.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar

Hai to Sensou no Grimgar

So. This does indeed look like just one more in the endless stream of “trapped in a videogame” stories we’ve been drowning in lately. Buuut this one actually has a director associated with some solid productions – Ryousuke Nakamura, who worked on both Aoi Bungaku and Mouryou no Hako. Granted, I’ve already said in this very preview guide that SAO had a talented director, but still. Any upcoming anime port in a storm. Also, the backgrounds in the PV look gorgeous, so that’s also nice.

Here’s that PV.



I was tempted not to include this one in my list, but it just feels weird to not at least mention PA Works’ new thing, even if I don’t really have any reason to anticipate it. But yeah, I don’t have any reason to anticipate this. It’ll probably look good, and it seems possible it could move towards romance, but this seems like it’ll fit squarely into the “mediocre adolescent dramas spacing out PA Works’ fantastic adult dramas” category.

Here’s the PV.

Myriad Colors Phantom World

Myriad Colors Phantom World

This is a KyoAni production, so its potential ceiling outstrips almost everything else in the medium, but I don’t really have much reason to have faith in this one in particular. Everything I’ve heard about the source material indicates “boilerplate fantasy light novel,” the PV implies the same, and Ishihara isn’t really their best director. But I’m almost certainly going to be watching it straight through regardless – even KyoAni’s lesser shows have moments of brilliance all throughout them, they’re all gorgeous, and there’s always the reasonable chance this one will surprise me. I’m keeping my hopes low, but we’ll have to see.

Here’s that very shiny PV!

Prince of Stride: Alternative

Prince of Stride: Alternative

This one doesn’t really seem like my kind of thing, but as far as cute boy shows go, it definitely has some points in its favor. The series composer is the same one who’s handling Boke dake ga Inai Machi, and who previously composed both Silver Spoon and Bunny Drop. But more importantly, the director is Atsuko Ishizuka, currently known for Hanayamata, Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and No Game No Life. I found NGNL to be unwatchable trash, but it definitely featured some interesting visual choices. I wasn’t a huge fan of its incredibly loud and abrasive color palette, but a toned-down version of the effect seemed to work well in her other shows, and the PV for this one seems like it might have an even lighter touch. She seems like a talented director, and I’m guessing this won’t be her breakout directorial hit, but it’s worth giving a second look.

Here’s the PV.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

Alright, here we go. Featuring the very talented director behind Sankarea, who basically spun lead into gold with that adaptation, this josei period piece looks like a real solid contender. Director Shinichi Omata has distinguished himself as one of the most talented creators to emerge from the “Shaft style,” and I’m eager to see what he does with material that already seems well within my reserved drama wheelhouse. Basically everything about this one look very promising.

Here’s the PV.

And that’s all I’ve got! There are other shows that I don’t really have any expectations either good or bad for (Dimension W, Dagashi Kashi, etc), but this is basically everything I have reason to anticipate outside of the base synopsis. As always, I’ll be covering basically every first episode for ANN anyway, so look forward to that good old Virtually Every First Episode Retrospective in a few weeks. Until next time!

26 thoughts on “Winter 2016 Season Preview

  1. I haven’t done my own season preview yet, so I don’t really have too much of an opinion on the season and its shows yet, but cursory glance showed very slim pickings, even considering the fact I still expect at least 5 more shows to be announced by the time the season goes live (3 were announced this past week alone, I think. Two for certain).

    The season will probably be carried over for me by 3.5 adaptations (Fairy Tail Zero is half, since it’s a prequel mostly starring other/side characters, and 6 chapters of manga source material might lend itself more to an OVA anyway). And if Concrete Revolutio does end up being 2-cour, I’ll be basically set without having to pick up any new show at all, huzzah!

    But from what I did see, things look dire. A lot of shounenonsense, which I’ve grown more and more wary of picking up as they air, both because they’re often meh in general, meh while being watched weekly in particular, and because they rarely end up worth it. Yeah…

    Anyway, I’ll definitely check out Active Raid, because I liked every show you mentioned, and the setup has room to go places (I liked the Silent Mobius manga. Don’t judge). Boku dake ga Inai Machi is actually something that leaped out at me, and reminded me one of my favourite shows to watch with the family on Saturday evenings, Early Edition. I think the premise has room for actual drama, and hey, an actual adult main character? I’m on board.

    Finally, Akagami no Shirayuki-hime 2, I gave it 7/10. It’s not special in any way, there’s a definite lack of conflict and stuff to pull you in, but you know what? I spent the majority of every single episode with a smile plastered on my face and feeling better after it ended, like Barakamon, but with more “fluffy romance” than comedy. And a show that makes you feel good is special, even if it’s not. I definitely recommend picking it up.

    • According to twitter gossip, I’ve been hearing Concrete Revolutio is actually going to be a split cour, so it sadly won’t be picking up the slack this particular season. I’ll probably just fill time by spamming more backlist, and hopefully getting some momentum going on the Current Projects stuff. Who needs anime when they can just work on anime-related professional busywork?

      • I forgot all about Gundam, and the fact I might catch up on Utawarerumono. I still haven’t seen solid proof either way on ConRevo, but I’ll take it as it progresses…

        And yeah, that’s one of the reasons I moved to watching less airing anime – most aren’t worth of being revisited or remembered 6 months from now, and I have so many guaranteed the chance to be great shows (yes, the contradiction is purposeful), and other media/ways to spend my time in the backlog.

        And if you get paid for it, it’s even better 🙂

        You know how what really made me stop reading LNs was taking a break from the Spice and Wolf and reading some Scalzi and seeing the stark difference in quality? Jessica Jones once more reminded me of how most anime, even the better ones, often can’t really stand up to the above-average to-great western dramas, and it’s probably time I watch The Wire.

        The competition for bad anime isn’t just good anime, but good books, and video-games, and western drama, and time with friends. Life’s far too short to watch currently-airing anime in general, and honestly, it’s more for the experience, and because it’s easy. But when the experience is rubbish (I’m focusing on the show, not the social aspect here, though sometimes that’s lacking too), it’s time to reconsider.

        Well. Backlog ahoy.

        But I do recommend Shirayuki-hime. Again, it’s not great, but it really feels good, and it’s quite good, if you don’t expect anything outstanding.

      • There’s a chance Revolutio’s not ending at 1 cour? Gosh that means I’ll have to find another sub-7 rating show to fulfill the MAL challenge.

  2. wow I’m not excited about anything coming up next season. That time travel manga artirst thing looks interesting though, really reminds me of Life is strange premise wise(you should try that game out itwas great). At least the bloody orphans gundam is continuing.

    • Yeah, Orphans continuing and Utawarerumono hopefully getting into the meat of its story will lift some of the load for this season. But I agree, there’s nothing I’m actually anticipating, only things I’m hoping might be good.

    • Hearing that author was responsible made me wonder why I hadn’t given it a second look, and then I checked the premise/promo art, and yep. I will be checking it out, though – I’ll be hitting all non-sequel first episodes for ANN’s preview guide, so hopefully that one turns out well.

  3. And here I was hoping to find something I don’t have my own list to “save” the winter season. But it looks like we basically have the same list.

    Atleast there are 3 decent sequels and carry-overs for me. Akagami no Shirayuki-hime (which you definitely should give a second chance), Haikyuu S2 (did you see the first season?) and Gundam Orphans. If 1-3 of the new shows turn out well enough I might be set up.

  4. Nothing sounds very interesting, but you’re absolutely right, Grimgar’s art style is just beautiful and screams to be watched. Even if it was simply an average fantasy-ish story I’d be happy with it if it keeps that art – as long as it isn’t aggressively bad. I may also pick up Shirayuki-hime in time for the finale, I heard good things of it.

  5. Ajin is the really the only thing that looks solid(coming from a reader of it). It’s more of a supernatural thriller than a straight up horror series. And while I agree that the CGI isn’t the best,I could not see the Ajin’s themselves animated normally and the janky CGI movements give them a more unnatural feel personally.

  6. I’m definitely excited about Macross Delta because…oh wait…that’s right I can’t watch it because a certain company is squatting all over the word Macross and no one can use it.

  7. I’d say resuming Shirayuki-hime depends on why you dropped it. If you dropped it because you figured that Shirayuki would keep getting menaced and then rescued by various people, you can pick it up again because that doesn’t happen at all after episode 2. If you dropped it because there was no real conflict or tension and everything was pretty fluffy-sugary, well, that didn’t change. I do like the characters and the story, but I do admit that Shirayuki-hime has kind of a restricted tonal range and you have to connect with it to enjoy the show.

  8. The Manga of Boku Dake No Inai Macchi is pretty great. I haven’t finished it (a recent move has really interupted my manga reading) but the original passage where he first returns to his childhood is one of the best couple of chapters I’ve read in any (non-Asano) manga.

  9. As for Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, I haven’t seen Sankarea but the source manga for this one is a very solid series, so the anime has every chance to become one of the best of the season. There are two OVA episodes out, and they’re both really good.

  10. Man out of that list only two things that I’d might like. Barring surprises, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu or Active Raid. And the latter only because of the director.

    I read a little bit of Aijin, honestly the tiny bit I’ve read and the reviews made it seem like entertaining junk-food. Read more of Dimension W. The manga had gorgeous art (same person who did the King of Thorns manga), but story and character-wise pretty route. Bounty hunter teams up with robot learning to be human so…. yeah.

    But I’m always pretty pessimistic with anime-seasons.

  11. I love your dogged optimism even in the face of a season that you’re less than thrilled about. Makes me wanna try harder in life. Then again, I don’t have to watch garbage anime in order to feed myself, so I probably have it easier.

  12. From what you said, it seems like you haven’t seen Silver Spoon. The fact that it’s the same duo actually threw my anticipation upward considerably. I feel like Silver Spoon is your type of anime. It reminds me of Spice and Wolf but with a much more thoroughly explored main character. It’s like…effortlessly thoughtful and has that lazy charm to just kick back to. Only difference is Spice and Wolf is an adventure through an actual world while Silver Spoon is an adventure through one’s self.

  13. This past year and a half has been one long dry barren wasteland. A lot of people felt Kill La Kill as a sign that “anime is not dead”. To me, especially lately, Kill La Kill was a last gasp of creativity before we slipped into a long recession of sorts.

    This upcoming season doesn’t make me feel like an end is in sight anytime soon. To be honest I’ve barely watched anything since Kill La Kill and No Game No Life since nothing has caught my interest. I’m not trying to be dramatic, after all there have been dry spells before. 2008 wasn’t a particularly good year but even then there was at least stuff that I still wanted to watch.

    I’m not sure if it’s just because I’m older and don’t have as much tolerance for seeing rehashes but the only thing that I’ve even considered watching in the past year and a half is One-Punch Man. Other than that I’ve been trying to catch up on a few back-log animes that I never got around to before. In part I blame the disappearance of the AnimeReactor awards. I’ve yet to find anything quite as reliable for narrowing down choices. On the other hand, even if it was still around I think I’d still be pretty disappointed.

    • I have to say, if you enjoy those kind of over-the-top shows (loved both Kill la Kill and NGNL here), then you’re likely to find at least some enjoyment in David Production’s latest Jojo. Also, in the last year, I found Ushio to Tora to be rather enjoyable. I watched a few more things but it depends on your tastes about genres, really.

      I’d say my greatest disappointment right now is Trigger never doing anything to live up to their first work. Inou Battle was terribly boring and most people thought it was meant to “pay the bills”… but then we got Ninja Slayer, which we can surely take as trashy fun, but it’s all but quality anime (if done on purpose). One Punch Man is pretty good though, maybe not as great as some make it but good fun. I also love Osomatsu-san this season, but that falls into “wacky weird irreverent comedy” so it’s really very subjective.

      • Over-the-top is just one of the things I like but it sounds like we have some overlapping tastes. I’ll give Ushio to Tora a shot and see if I like it. Osomatsu-san looks, er, interesting? The style kinda reminds me of Crayon Shin-chan so it’s at least worth seeing if the comedy is up my alley.

        I started watching Jojo but, sadly, I find it terribly dull. A lot of people really seem to enjoy it though so I feel like I’m missing something. Maybe it picks up later on?

        Also, as a side note ‘barak’ reminded me that Ping Pong came out after Kill la Kill so I guess at least one decent show has come out since.

    • I don’t really understand how a period of time that had shows like Ping Pong or Gatchaman Crowds Insight can be called barren of creativity…

      • Ah you’re right, Ping Pong was really good, I did really enjoy that show. It was certainly one of the best anime that I’d seen in a long time so at least I can say there was something I enjoyed.

        I’ve heard various things about Gatchaman so I should probably give that a shot. Hopefully I’ll be surprised.

    • This all really comes down to taste. I didn’t like Kill la Kill or NGNL, but I still found plenty that was creative and noteworthy over that timeframe, from Shirobako to Hanamonogatari to Ping Pong to the Animator Expo to Sound! Euphonium. Popular trends change, but there’ll always be a variety of stuff of a variety of qualities in a variety of genres.

  14. Boku Dake ga Inai Machi is one of those mysteries that you like Bob, filled with a lot of character development and drama; it’s less about the murders and more about how the protagonist copes with everything while trying to understand and help those around him. You’ll probably have a good time with that one.

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