Spring is upon us! Well, technically spring is still almost a month away, at least if we’re talking in anime terms, and when are we ever not talking in anime terms. But still! We’ve only got a few short weeks before the spring season arrives to assail me specifically with way too many shows to watch, and so that means it’s time once more for me to run down the stuff I’m actually excited about. As usual, I’m only going to bring up the shows that actually look interesting to me, and the reasons I specifically find them interesting – there are plenty of resources to give you synopses of the whole list, and besides, the preview guide means that I’ll have exhaustive commentary on even the dregs of the season when they actually arrive. But even limiting the list to shows I’m actively anticipating, we’ve still got a broad and respectable selection of hopefuls this time. There are manga favorites and returning champions and new challengers, a diverse menagerie to suit all anime palettes. So let’s start at the shows I’m most anticipating and run ‘em down!
No surprise here. Concrete Revolutio’s first season was one of my favorite shows of 2015, and I have high hopes the second half will be even better. A great deal of the show’s first half was dedicated to setting up the very complex setting; with all of that established, and Jiro now having left the Superhuman Bureau, I’m hoping the second half will be a high-stakes political scramble from start to finish. Adding Gen Urobuchi on as a new writer really just sweetens what was already a great deal. My only real concern is that Bones will apparently be handling three shows this spring, and since My Hero Academia is clearly going to be the mass-market hit, Conrevo may take a production fall. But the show was always stronger in its art design than its actual animation, so hopefully even that won’t be too much of a problem. Either way, it’s nice to have such a strong top pick to lean on.
Here’s the new PV.
And at the far end of reliable sequels, we’ve got JoJo’s fourth arc. Stardust Crusaders was overlong and inconsistent, and burned a lot of the goodwill built up by the show’s first season; but that said, Stardust Crusaders also ended at an extreme high point, and I’ve heard Diamond is Unbreakable is where the stands really start coming into their own. Of course, there were also many people saying that Stardust Crusaders was where the series got good before that one came out, but given the fact that Stardust Crusaders actually did seem to improve in its storytelling and use of stands in the final act, it seems reasonable to assume this really will be a more consistent season. I’m trying not to look a gift JoJo in the mouth here.
Here’s the PV!
Clocking in right beneath the known sequels, My Hero Academia seems as sure of a bet as any new property could be. I’ve read through all the published volumes of My Hero Academia, and can confirm the manga is a damn good time – it’s a classic shounen adventure story, but it’s a shounen adventure story told with momentum and confidence, full of engaging characters and great action setpieces. The director here was responsible for the much-loved Gundam Build Fighters, and considering the hit potential in adapting a major Jump series like this, I have to imagine Bones is throwing everything it’s got at the production. My Hero Academia is the obvious breakout pick of the season, and I hope it’s as good as it has every reason to be.
Here’s the PV.
The last anime-original production direction by Tsutomu Mizushima was Shirobako. The last one before that was Girls und Panzer. The man has essentially earned a blank check to my heart at this point, and I’m ready to follow wherever he leads. His track record with horror shows actually seems far more spotty than his other material, but basically all of his recent shows have been golden, and anime-originals just generally have a higher ceiling than most other things. The composer on this one is Mari Okada, who I’m not actually sure will work with his style; Mizushima’s shows tend to excel through their tight storytelling and pacing, and Okada has a habit of turning sixteen episode stories into twenty-four episode slogs. Hopefully Mizushima’s presence means we’ll get Okada’s strong character focus without her narrative ramblings – either way, I’m on board with anything Mizushima wants to make.
Here’s the very busy PV.
I honestly know almost nothing about this aside from the fact that many of my friends loved the prescreening episode and that it’s apparently about a mix of robots and idols. The creative team behind this one seems accomplished in both mecha and idols, and Macross is one of those major anime names that I still haven’t really dove into, so I’m excited to see how this one goes.
Here’s the PV.
A period drama about spies in the leadup to WWII? I’m not generally one to get interested in a show based on premise alone, but that definitely falls far enough outside of anime’s standard genre wheelhouse to catch my interest. The director for this one has worked on a somewhat perplexing grab bag of prestige shows and films across many years, including 4C projects like Tekkonkinkreet and other classics like Dennou Coil. The series composer also has a solid resume (Usagi Drop, ERASED), so I’m interested in seeing how this one pans out.
Here’s the PV.
This is another one I’m largely interested in on the basis of friends’ enthusiasm, which at this point kinda feels like the only barometer I tend to trust. Look, I know I’m going to watch all of them anyway, so why even bother developing an ear for guessing which shows will be good? Anyway, Flying Witch seems to be a low-key slice of life based on a well-liked manga with a strong aesthetic and adult characters. That’s really all it takes – if the cast is actually charming, a show like this can be a lovely time. The PV looks pretty and relaxed, so here’s hoping this turns out to be a pleasant, low-maintenance ride.
Here’s the super comfy PV.
P.A. Works’ anniversary show doesn’t quite recommend itself in terms of story (we really don’t know anything aside from teenagers and robots), but the director here is a serious veteran, responsible for shows like Darker than Black, Wolf’s Rain, and (most importantly) Sekai Seifuku. The series composer is another notch in this show’s favor – in spite of handling composition on Another, his other major works include a number of episode scripts on both Moribito and Eccentric Family, a pretty stellar pair of projects. This one’s largely a mystery so far, but it’s another mystery with a very high ceiling.
Here’s the PV.
Honestly, I don’t really have high hopes this show will work – or at least, I have a sneaking suspicion that even if other people find it hilarious, I might end up finding it tedious. Sakamoto actually works quite well as a manga; the premise is incredibly simple and stupid, but the various ways Sakamoto manages to be the most improbably swoon-worthy guy in school are all worth a solid laugh. But a manga page worth of solid laughs does not translate to five television minutes of humor, and that’s how anime comedies often pan out. I enjoyed the source material here, but the anime will have to prove it can somehow elevate the material.
It’s a girl and a giant bear and they go on adventures together, what the fuck else could you ask for. I don’t even need to check out the staff, “moe Calvin and Hobbes” already has me sold. Bring on the goddamn bears!
Here’s the suitably derpy PV.
“A bunch of cute boys solve dangerous crimes” doesn’t really seem like my kind of show, but I am willing to give Yoji Enokido exactly as many tries as it takes to be involved in the production of another masterpiece, and teaming him up with his pal Takuya Igarashi to take on an adaptation of a manga that presumably doesn’t go flying off the rails seems like a fine place to start. I don’t expect this show to be great, but Enokido is one of those names that I’ll always pick up the phone for, no matter how many times he hurts me.
Here’s the very colorful PV.
As far as cute girls doing random things shows go, this one looks completely ridiculous and hopefully very funny, and from what I’ve heard, the manga more or less succeeds at being that. I don’t really have high expectations for it, but since I’ve gotten thumbs-up impressions of the manga from a variety of sources, it seems like something worth keeping an eye on.
Here’s the PV.
I’m honestly pretty skeptical of this one – the only Trigger production I’ve liked overall is Little Witch Academia, and Okada’s presence makes it seem likely this will only lean further into the studio’s rambling, self-indulgent tendencies. But I guess that’s unfair of me – I mean, this isn’t actually an Imaishi production, so there’s a fine chance it’ll just make use of some of Trigger’s pet techniques in the same ways that light novel adaptation I’ve already forgotten the name of did (Inoi Battle! I remembered!). But I’m not gonna hold my breath for this one.
Here’s the useless PV.
Coming from the director of Death Note/Attack on Titan and the writer of Code Geass/Guilty Crown/Valvrave, this one shows every sign of being inescapable even if it’s terrible. And I pretty much do expect it to be terrible – I consider Araki to be possibly the worst high-profile director working in anime, and find his style of permanently loud dramatic affectation and ridiculous self-seriousness to basically be antithetical to effective, emotionally meaningful storytelling. Plus Wit Studio are pretty much synonymous with production disasters at this point, so that’s something else to look forward to. But it’s a big action thing, so I at least have to acknowledge it exists.
Here’s the Titantastic PV.
And that covers it! As you can see, we’ve already got a much lengthier list than the current season’s hopefuls, and I didn’t even really dig deep into shows that might be hiding some unexpected talent. But again, there’s no need for that – I’ll be watching all of them soon enough, and dutifully reporting back with fresh tales of my suffering. I’ll see you then!