Winter 2017 Season Preview

I’ll be honest – this upcoming anime season is looking pretty sparse. Perhaps this is our punishment for having such a strong current season, or perhaps the good and just anime gods are displeased with Flip Flappers’ low sales numbers, but either way, we’re going to be scavenging for scraps come January. That said, there are still some bright spots here and there – sequels to strong first seasons, shows with promising creators, originals that might have have some kind of special spark. And we’ve certainly had weak winter seasons before – in fact, this winter may just end up being a repeat of last year’s, where Rakugo stood head and shoulders above the rest of the pack. We’ll get by, as we always do. And we’ll probably have some nice cartoons to help us.

As usual, I won’t be previewing every single show of the coming season, and I also won’t be providing traditional synopses. You can check a site like anichart for all that stuff – instead, I’ll be highlighting the specific shows that seem to have potential, along with the generally staff-related reasons I feel that way. Plot is cheap, but strong artists are irreplaceable. So let’s start at the vague peak of my interest level and run this next season down!

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu 2nd Season

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First off, it’s the long-awaited sequel to one of this year’s easy highlights. Rakugo Shinjuu’s first season was a masterfully directed period drama with great writing, great art design, and astonishing performance highlights. A breakout role for talented director Shinichi Omata, it found universality in a very niche art form, and made the magic of rakugo clear even to someone who had no experience with the art. I found the show a bit emotionally cold, but that was likely reflective of the first season’s tragic inevitability – told entirely through flashback, its characters felt like actors in a grand melodrama, which tempered its emotional reach. With the second season looking to the future, I’m hoping the show will reach even higher heights. If there’s one show we can count on this winter, it’s definitely Rakugo Shinjuu.

Here’s the first PV.

Little Witch Academia

Little Witch Academia

After two terrific short films, Little Witch Academia is finally getting the full series treatment. I don’t expect the LWA series to match the standard set by the originals – not only is it just unfeasible to expect the same level of animation and design from something that’s powering through a new episode every week, but it’s already been announced that a fair amount of the original staff won’t be present here. That said, Little Witch Academia is still certain to be a charming and visually arresting adventure, a show that’s already starting off with a great visual aesthetic and compelling set of characters. Even Trigger’s worst productions are still blessed with solid comedic sensibilities and wonderfully goofy character acting – given a platform as strong as the Little Witch Academia universe, they’re sure to make something well worth watching.

Here’s the already lovely PV.

ACCA

ACCA

Clocking in as the top prospect I don’t already have experience with, ACCA’s strange, somewhat arbitrary premise doesn’t do much for me, but that’s not why it’s here. ACCA was originally created by Natsume Ono, whose House of Five Leaves stands as one of the most lauded anime series I haven’t actually watched. On top of that, the adaptation is being directed by Shingo Natsume, who’s demonstrated clear talent through One Punch Man, Space Dandy, and elsewhere. I don’t know if ACCA will be precisely my thing, but it’s got a strong enough pedigree to be worth a serious look.

Here’s the very classy PV.

Scum’s Wish

Scum's Wish

I’m going largely off the reputation of the source material for this one. From what I’ve heard, Scum’s Wish is one of those messy, indulgent character dramas that end up either great or terrible, often depending on how much the author judges the characters for their actions. The director’s main claim to fame is directing White Album 2, which is precisely that kind of narrative, while the series composer is a workhorse with a very deep resume. It’s not much to go on, but I’ve heard a fair number of positive testimonials regarding the source, so we’ll see where this one falls.

Here’s the PV!

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid

I’ve actually heard kinda lukewarm things about this one’s source material, but the fact of the matter is, no studio in animation can handle comedy or slice of life better than Kyoto Animation at their best. I don’t expect this show to be their best, but director Yasuhiro Takemoto has proven himself fully capable of handling dedicated comedies, and if this ends up somewhere around the level of his Amagi Brilliant Park, then I’ll be reasonably satisfied. The fact that this one’s based on a manga hopefully means we’ll avoid the garbage light novelisms of Myriad Colors Phantom World, and Takemoto’s general talent means we might even get some effective emotional moments. My expectations aren’t the highest here, but I’m hopeful that we’ll get a perfectly entertaining production.

Onihei

Onihei

Onihei makes this list for one reason and one reason alone – it’s based on a reasonably respected full length novel. Traditional novels tend to make for the absolute best anime source material, which isn’t that surprising – compared to shounen manga and otaku-oriented light novels, they’re generally just better-constructed fiction in all respects. Anime’s general problem is “incredibly gifted animators/directors, absolutely abysmal stories,” so starting off with a full length novel, even one whose premise seems like a historical fiction CSI novelization, is a great first step. It’s not much, but we’re taking what we can get this season.

Konosuba Season 2

Konosuba

Frankly, I’m not particularly looking forward to Konosuba S2. The first season had some great gags and a couple solid characters, but much of its material was either awkwardly mean-spirited or just not funny, and protagonist Kazuma was actively aggravating at basically all times. That said, this is not a deep season, and “moderately watchable comedy” still seems better than most of the winter crop. I’ll be giving Konosuba 2 an episode at least, and if desperation or Stockholm Syndrome prompt me to watch another, so be it.

Here’s the entirely recycled PV.

And that covers it! I know, I know – it’s a vanishingly short list, possibly the shortest list I’ve ever had for a preview. Look, I wasn’t lying at the start – this season just doesn’t have a deep bench. That said, I’ve got very high hopes for the first two shows here, and moderate expectations for the next several, so I’m trying to just think of this as a pre-sorted season. And of course, there’s always the very real chance something I overlooked will leap out and surprise me with its sudden excellence. Stranger things have happened in this wild anime land. Hope you found something new that looks interesting here, and let me know if there are any gems I’ve missed!

6 thoughts on “Winter 2017 Season Preview

  1. I dunno… with ERASED and Grimgar (plus the better-than-it-could-have-been AOKANA), Winter 2016 shaped up pretty good for me.

    My big concern with Winter 2017 is Amazon… Who, after the disappointment of Battery, is trying to pretend they never made the Noitamina deal. We haven’t seen Great Passage, and who knows what will happen to Scum’s Wish and Saekano?

    • We get Great Passage in the UK, though there’s been three occasions now where they couldn’t be arsed to put the subtitles on until the next day, or in one case five or six days later.
      Amazon really isn’t set up for doing anime and they clearly aren’t fussed about it.

  2. As per usual I looked up the original anime for next Winter season, Seiren looks promising, I don’t have high hope for Hand Shakers and BanG Dream! only appeals in niche idol crowd.

  3. Demi-chan has a pretty cute, heartwarming original manga, although A-1 are unlikely to put forth an amazing effort so I’ll have to watch for the reviews.

    And the dragon maid manga is very good (especially with KyoAni’s touch) but also fanservice-rich. But it’s almost in the Keijo/Monster Musume/Prison School up-front/direct way, so here’s hoping the adaptation can work with it.

  4. I think you’ll enjoy the first episode of Konosuba S2 at least where (it should be) Kazuma getting his comeuppance for his actions in a trial. It’s pretty downhill from there though since the novels are getting more about Kazuma being Kuzuma (and indulge him) and less Aqua being Aqua (though the moments where she gets the spot are still funny).

    Demi-chan is pretty decent, I personally like the manga more than Dragon Maid, but considering the staff, most likely the Dragon Maid anime will be better as they kinda fullfill the same niche, comedy/slice-of-lice stuff with the emotional moments centered around the barrier between humans/non-humans.

  5. I read some of Scum’s Wish manga on Crunchyroll and I’m utterly unconvinced by it – it looked like overwrought melodrama over a conflict it’s hard to care about much for. I won’t be checking out the show, but if I read glowing reviews that might change.

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