Spring 2015 Season Preview

Baby Arslan Ore Souma
ubw Kekkai Sensen Plastic Euphonoum

Hope can be the cruelest thing of all.

Is Spring of 2015 the season when anime finally emerges from the long, dark tea-time of the soul that’s enshrouded it over the last couple of years?  There’s reason to believe it’s possible, but to me, this is a season that has “trap” written all over it – and not in the anime-specific sense, either.

On paper, it can’t be denied that this season offers more possibility than Winter – though Spring seasons almost always do.  There are a lot more shows, period, and a lot more that are interesting enough to at least be included in this preview (20, a respectable number).  The works of a number of prominent mangaka are being adapted, we have a few original series, and the number of light-novel adaptations as a percentage of the total appears (at a guess) to be down slightly.  Coming off the worst two-season stretch in the modern anime era, it’s easy to look at that and be almost giddy with anticipation.

Still, I’m worried.

There are always stages in the way I approach a season.  There’s a general sense I get as I watch the announcements of series roll out, but the serious consideration starts only when I begin preparing for the preview post in earnest – and my impression of what’s to come usually changes quite a bit when that happens.  My thinking as I began prep work this time was that there was a ton of stuff on the schedule that bore real possibility, but looking at the upcoming shows as a collective group, I don’t actually find it all that impressive.  There seem to be a lot of series with qualifiers – big names but lesser works (Rinne), major scheduling worries (Arslan Senki), a general paucity of really elite directors and screenwriters.  Rather than a lot of can’t miss series with the potential for greatness, I see a lot of shows that figure to be merely pretty good, or that look like a crapshoot altogether.

Still – at least there is a lot of possibility here, in sheer numbers if nothing else. There’s a smattering of shoujo, a bit of sports, a couple of sci-fi originals (sci-fi seems to disproportionately dominate original series these days), the return of one of anime’s most legendary properties and a few sequels of note (one in particular is of interest to me, that of course being Baby Steps 2).  We also have another of Weekly Shounen Jump’s hottest properties making the transition to the screen in Shokugeki no Souma, and while I consider the manga good rather than great, it should prove to be one of the most talked-about series of the season.

Interestingly enough, going in perhaps the most talked about series in English-language forums is a kid’s show – normally a genre completely ignored by this fanbase.  But when you’re talking about Digimon, you’re talking about a show most of these fans loved when they were in its target demographic.  I always preferred Digimon to Pokemon myself, though I’m a casual fan at best, and the franchise has a pretty august history (Hosoda Mamoru cut his teeth working on it).  It’s going to be fascinating to see how these older fans react to the new edition.

It’s going to be a busy first few weeks of the season as the wheat is sorted from the chaff – and with a schedule this big, there’s sure to be a lot of chaff (here’s hoping for lots of wheat, too).  As always, please vote for your most anticipated series in the sidebar poll!

With that, to the previews:

Souma

Shokugeki no Souma – J.C. Staff
Director: Yonetani Yoshitomo

Writer: Yasukawa Shougo

Schedule: Friday 26:40, MBS – Premières 4/03/15
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: After Ansatsu Kyoushitsu took its bow this season, WSJ launches its other top next-gen title in Shokugeki no Souma (incidentally, I believe the next WSJ phenom is going to be Boku no Hero Academia). It’s a big hit already, and though not quite as big a seller as AssClass, seems a better demographic fit with the disc-buying audience.  As with Ansatsu I like this series more than love it, though on the whole it’s edgier and probably a little more intriguing.  Mangaka Tsukuda Yuuto has a very distinctive art style, and while not everyone loves J.C. Staff I think we dodged a bullet here with this series not being given to SHAFT (who superficially seem like a good fit but in truth would almost certainly have wrecked it).

Story-wise, the clever conceit is basically a shounen battle manga being adapted to a cuthroat cooking school.  But truthfully, I think that’s a veneer – I’ve always seen the ecchi, fetishization and dark humor as the central pillars of Shokugeki no Souma.  J.C. Staff trends towards faithful if uninspired adaptations and Yonetani-sensei is a highly-experienced director with a modest resume, so I wouldn’t expect any big changes from the manga here.  I think the mandate is to appeal to the folks who buy the manga first, and whatever strays are swept up along the way so much the better.

Denpa

Denpa Kyoushi – A-1 Pictures
Director:
Satou Masato
Writer: Maekawa Atsushi
Schedule: Saturday, 14:30, NTV – Premières 4/04/2015
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
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First Look: I’ll caveat this by saying I haven’t read any of Azuma Takeshi’s very popular manga, but my first reaction in reading the synopsis is that this sounds an awful lot like Great Teacher Onizuka.  It appears that some feel that’s intentional – that this series is intended as something between a homage and a subversion of that legendary title – but whatever the case, it can certainly be said that Denpa Kyoushi is pretty well-regarded by the reading public.  The hero is a physics genius turned NEET who’s tricked into becoming a teacher as a way to try and get him out of the house, and turns out to be pretty good at it.  I’m fairly uncertain as to what to expect here, and the fact that the mangaka has written nothing else and the fact that the director and writer have mostly worked on children’s anime doesn’t help – though it should be noted that Maekawa handled series composition for the first 58 episodes of Hunter X Hunter 2011.  I have some genuine hope that Denpa Kyoushi could be pretty good – we’ll see.

Seraph

Owari no Seraph  Wit                      
Director: Tokudo Daisuke
Writer: Seiko Hiroshi
Schedule:  Saturday, 22:00, Tokyo MX – Premières 4/04/15
Episodes: 2 Split Cour (Spring/Fall 2015)

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Preview:

First Look: With so many shows to choose from, I had the luxury of not having to reach for series to include just to fill out the Season Preview (as I did for Winter).  Honestly though, this one just barely made the cut – there are serious red flags here, not least of which that it’s a LN adaptation (correction – it was a manga first, though written by a light novelist so I don’t know if it matters that much) and by the writer of Itsuka Tenma no Kuro Usagi (a series which I genuinely, wholeheartedly despise).  I don’t know why it’s even here, to be honest, except that I’m mildly intrigued by the premise – a post-vampire apocalypse world in which only children have survived, only to be enslaved – and that Wit has already established that they’re fairly likely to do good work.  It’s a heave and a hope at best, this one.

Plastic

Plastic Memories – Dogakobo
Director: Fujiwara Yoshiyuki
Writer: Hayashi Naotaka
Schedule: Saturday, 24:30, Tokyo MX, BSS – Premières 4/04/15
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:                                      

First Look:  An original sci-fi series from Dogakobo, this one brings a very familiar-sounding premise.  Androids have become hugely popular, but the most human-like of them go seriously haywire past the “best before” date (details unknown), so the company that makes them has to have a special service to retrieve them.  There are nuggets of everything from Eve no Jikan to Hybrid Child to A.I. and beyond, but it’s the sort of chestnut that anime seems pretty good at executing and the previews have looked good.  Also a hopeful sign is that Hayashi is a scenario writer for 5pb./MAGES, and has worked on stuff like Steins;Gate and Robotics;Notes.

Rinne

Kyoukai no Rinne  – Brain’s Base
Director: Sugawara Seiki
Writer: Yokote Michiko
Schedule: Saturday, 17:30, NHK-E – Premieres 4/04/2015
Episodes: 25

Preview:
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First Look: If you’re talking about big names in manga, they don’t get much bigger than Takahashi Rumiko, author of the likes of Inuyasha, Ranma 1/2 and Maison IkokuKyoukai no Rinne, however, is widely considered (including by me) to be second-tier Rumiko.  It’s the story of a high-school girl who disappeared as a child and ever since her return has been able to see ghosts (and of course, of the ghosts).  Viewers familiar with Takahashi’s work will find a lot that’s familiar in Rinne, in ways both good and bad.

The other element that must be noted here is that this series is being produced at Brain’s Base, trying to make their first halting steps toward recovery after the studio was split apart by the departure of most of their key personnel.  We’ll see how they do here – Sugawara has an undistinguished record as a director but has worked at Brain’s Base before, and of course Yokote is one of the busiest writers in the business.  If there’s much about Rinne that surprises, that will be the most surprising thing of all.

Arslan

Arslan Senki – Liden Films, Sanzigen
Director: Abe Noriyuki
Writer: Uezu Makoto
Schedule: Sunday, 17:00, TBS – Premieres 4/05/2015
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
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First Look: See above.  Another huge name in manga, Arakawa Hiromu, is the artist behind the manga which provides the source material for this adaptation.  But the original story, of course, is a series of fantasy novels by the legendary Tanaka Yoshiki (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu).  And that’s already sparked a good deal of carping by fans of the original books, who were already none-too happy that Arakawa-sensei was adapting them in less then word-for-word fashion (for the record, Tanaka-sensei himself has never given any indication whatsoever that he agrees with them).  This is epic fantasy in the classic tradition – coming-of-age, sorcery, betrayal, gore and a great sense of scope.

There are certainly some questions here, starting with how long Arslan Senki is going to run, and it’s perfectly valid to take issue with Arakawa’s choices in adapting the novels to manga, or her art style.  The presence of Sanzigen as co-producer guarantees a heavy dose of CGI as well.  But I’m not a purist for the original novels, I happen to like Arakawa’s character designs and backgrounds, and Abe is an experienced and gifted director with a long resume of work on terrific series (and movies), so I’m looking forward to Arslan Senki with a great deal of enthusiasm.  Given its Sunday dinner timeslot and the well-known names behind it, I rather expect Arslan Senki to be decently budgeted and run for long enough to catch up to the manga, or close to it.

Euphonoum

Hibike! Euphonium – Kyoto Animation
Director: Ishihara Tatsuya
Writer: Hanada Jukki
Schedule: Tuesday, 24:30, Tokyo MX – Premieres 4/07/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: I’ve yet to dismiss a Kyoto Animation series without at least previewing it, but that’s getting harder and harder as the studio becomes more and more comfortable in the prison they’ve built for themselves.  Whatever source material they choose doesn’t seem to matter much any more – even if it isn’t some unknown LN property they own outright, once it goes through the homogenizer it’s going to look more or less like all the others.  This one comes from a novel of sorts, but it looks pretty much like a cute girls playing music in a band series from here.  Ishihara certainly isn’t the worst of KyoAni’s in-house directors and Hanada of course is one of the busiest hired hands in the game, and you know the animation and art will be lush and vibrant.  But the postage rate looks pretty high with this one, so my expectations are very modest even by recent KyoAni standards.

Punchline

Punchline – MAPPA
Director: Umeura Yutaka
Writer: Uchikoshi Koutarou
Schedule: Thursday, 24:55, Fuji TV – Premieres 4/09/2015
Episodes: 11

Preview:
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First Look: “If he sees pantsu, the world will end”?  NoitaminA continues its ever-faster journey towards irrelevance.  We’ve had our share of bad shows on the block over the years, but never have we’ve seen such clear signs that they’ve basically given up.  We’ve got another ecchi series with lots of pantsu here, even in the previews, and while it’s an original series it could hardly scream “light novel” any more loudly.  The story, if it matters, is nominally about a high-school boy whose soul has been separated from his body.  It is by MAPPA, Uemura shows genuine talent with Dantalian no Shoka, and it’s NoitaminA.  But I’m not expecting much.  The truth is that NoitaminA as we know it has been dead for a long time – it’s just that now the body is really starting to stink.

The icing on the cake, by the way, is that this is the only NoitaminA series this season.

Kishi

Sidonia no Kishi: Daikyuu Wakusei Seneki – Polygon
Director: Seshita Hiroyuki
Writer: Sadayuki Marai
Schedule: Friday, 26:10, Fuji TV – Premieres 4/10/2015
Episodes:TBA

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Preview:

First Look: The 100% CGI Sidonia no Kishi is back with its second cour, and though the director has changed (Seshita was A.D. on the first cour) I wouldn’t expect much else to.  Nihei Tsutomu is great with world-building and old-school intellectual hard science fiction, and not so great with characters.  Likewise Polygon is pretty good with backdrops and big set pieces, and bloody awful with close-up animation.  Those are serious flaws, but Sidonia certainly brings more good than bad to the table – and there just isn’t much of this kind of sci-fi produced in anime these days.  I think a hunger for more explains, in part, why this series overperformed expectations to become a very solid seller on disc.  I wish (as I often said about Kingdom) that Sidonia no Kishi had received a big budget, traditionally animated treatment – it might have gone down as a classic despite the awkwardness of the dialogue and character drama.

Eikoku

Eikoku Ikke, Nihon wa Taberu Fanworks/NHK
Director/Writer: Rareko
Schedule: Sunday, Time TBA, NHK – Premieres 4/12/2015
Episodes: 1 Cour

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First Look: Obviously I enjoy the oddball series, and this one is about as outside-the-box as anime gets these days.  It’s adapted from a memoir by British writer Michael Booth, who traveled Japan for 100 days with his wife and two sons, sampling Japanese food.  There’s no way to know what to expect here – I don’t even know how long the episodes are going to be, though I suspect they won’t be full-length.  I’m also resigned to the fact that this one is unlikely to be streamed or subbed.  But I sure see the potential for something interesting here, and I hope someone somewhere does decide to translate these episodes.

Kekkai Sensen

Kekkai Sensen – Bones
Director: Matsumoto Rie
Writer: Furuya Kazunao
Schedule: Saturday, 26:58, MBS – Premières 4/04/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: Let’s see…  Science-fiction from Bones, set in a post-apocalyptic New York called “Jerusalem’s Lot” – a “bubble” where human survivors are trapped with crazy aliens, and a band of superheroes goes around saving them.  Directed by Matsumoto Rie, who powered onto the scene by directing Kyousougiga brilliantly, with art design by the great Kimura Shinji and character designs from Bones legend Kawamoto Toshihiro.  My God, what’s not to like?

There’s really only one thing that has me worried, and it’s this: an awful lot of folks who’ve read the manga (known as Blood Blockade Battlefront in the U.S., where it’s licensed) don’t seem to like it all that much.  Mind you that opinion is not universally held, but I’ve heard enough negative reviews to at least make me cautious because, while I’ve no doubt that a great staff is huge in anime, if they try to be faithful they’re largely hostage to the quality of the source material.  There’s too much to like here not to be curious and hopeful, but I’m trying not to get ahead of myself until I see the actual product.

Mikagura

Mikagura Gakuen Kumikyoku – Dogakobo
Director: Iwasaki Tarou

Writer: Yokotani Masahiro
Schedule: Saturday, 26:35, TV Aichi – Premières 4/06/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: High-school culture club battle anime, based on a LN series itself based on Vocaloid songs?  Kay…  Well, it’s a flyer, what the hell.  I’m pretty sure this will be awful but there’s something in the art that sort of appeals to me, so I’m giving it a shot.  I accept no responsibility – proceed at your own risk.

Gunslinger

Gunslinger Stratos – A-1 Pictures
Director: Ezaki Shinpei
Writer: Kaihou Norimitsu
Schedule: Saturday, 23:30, Tokyo MX – Premières 4/04/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: Let’s see…  This one is based on a game, where a Japan 100 years into the future has been split into a lawless badlands and a totalitarian dictatorship.  Urobuchi Gen’s name is attached to this, but it seems as if it’s going to be an Aldnoah.Zero type of involvement where he contributes the original scenario,, while the rest of the series is written by others.  I certainly don’t see anything in the staff list to get excited about, but it’s sci-fi and Gen is pretty reliable for coming up with an interesting premise.

ubw

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works 2 – ufotable
Director: Miura Takahiro
Writer: Various
Schedule: Saturday, 24:00, Tokyo MX – Premières 4/04/2015
Episodes: 12

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Preview:

First Look: We have a good notion of what to expect here, since UBW – like Fate/Zero – is a split cour.  My feelings about the ups and downs of the first season are pretty much on the record, and whether I choose to blog the second will depend in equal measure on two things – how good the rest of the schedule turns out to be, and which of its competing identities UBW chooses to focus on in the second cour.  All things being equal I want to blog it if I can – this is clearly a popular series, ufotable’s production is immaculate and at its best, this can be a very powerful story.

Dungeon

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka – J.C. Staff
Director: Yamakawa Yoshiki
Writer: Shirane Hideki
Schedule: Friday, 25:05, Tokyo MX – Premières 4/03/2015
Episodes: TBA

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: Let’s see…  Another LN with a ridiculously long title and dumb premise – and it ends up in the preview, too.  Am I getting weak?  This could never be anything more than a shot in the dark, but Yamakawa did a nice job with Little Busters!, and this series does generally seem to be regarded as a notch or two above the usual light novel standard.  Adventures in a dungeon with a “Lolita God”?  Yeah, I really must be crazy here…

Baby

Baby Steps Season 2 – Pierrot
Director: Murata Masahiko
Writer: Chiba Katsuhiko
Schedule: Sunday, 17:30, NHK-E – Premières 4/05/2015
Episodes: 25

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: Let’s see…  It’s funny I never made the connection, but Chiba Katsuhiko is the screenwriter for Baby Steps, and the series is set in Chiba…

At this point I hope I don’t have to introduce anyone to Baby Steps, because I’ve been shilling for it since the first days of this site.  The announcement of a second season was a delightful surprise, and while it still won’t be nearly enough to cover the manga material that’s already published, it’s a hell of a lot better than nothing – it’s going to take us into some really interesting parts of the story (well – the whole story is really interesting), such as Ei-chan’s trip to the “Not the Nick Bollettieri” Tennis Academy in Florida.

Baby Steps has few of the elements that have made some sports series a new generation of commercial successes in anime – it’s simply a fantastically written story about a fascinating sport and a truly great protagonist and supporting cast.  Pierrot is in what passes for their most typical mode here – a very, very faithful adaptation with a meager budget and inconsistent production values.  I would love for Baby Steps to get a treatment like Haikyuu, or to be as popular as the likes of that series or Yowamushi Pedal – but I know that will never happen.  This simply isn’t that sort of series – it’s always substance over style and takes no short-cuts to indulge the audience.  I’m fine with Pierrot’s adaptation, because this manga is so superlative that it doesn’t need a lot of buff and polish.  Just tell the story like Katsuki-sensei tells it and the audience – even if it’s small – will get it.

Ore

Ore Monogatari!! – Madhouse
Director: Asaka Morio
Writer: Takahashi Natsuko
Schedule: Wednesday, 25:29, Nippon TV – Premières 4/08/2015
Episodes: 24

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Preview:

First Look: Shoujo has become an oasis of good storytelling in the desert of modern anime.  It’s not as though there isn’t plenty of bad shoujo out there, but by percentage, what makes it to anime is certainly better than what we see in most other demographics.  And Ore Monogatari!! has an enormous amount going for it.  It’s two cours, and it comes from Madhouse, who’ve delivered some of the best anime of the last few years.  The director is Asaka Morio, who nailed it with Chihayafuru.  It also shares a character designer with that series, Hamada Kunihiko.  In short, My Love Story!! is loaded.

Perhaps more important than any of that, though, is that Ore Monogatari!! is based on a really wonderful manga – sensitive and funny and fearless.  And if that weren’t enough, it’s a mold-breaker in that it’s a shoujo romance built around a male protagonist.  That would be Gouda Takeo, a sweet kid who happens to be a virtual giant, and is thus ignored (or worse) by girls – who flock to his bishounen best friend Makoto.  The drama centers around Rinko Yamato (played by Han Megumi, by the way), the girl Takeo saves from a pervert on the train.  It’s a great setup and a very human, powerful and funny story.  If there’s a yellow flag here it’s that the manga is still ongoing, but if I were to pick one non-sequel this season that I’m most excited about, this would be the one.

Lupin copy

Lupin III 2015 –TMS/Telecom Animation Film
Director: Tomonaga Kazuhide/Yano Yuuichirou
Writer: Takahashi Yuuya
Schedule: TBA – Premières 4/2015
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: When it comes to legendary figures in anime, they don’t get much more famous than Lupin III.  And this series takes the radical step of actually making a new Lupin series where Lupin is the main character.  Rehabilitating a legendary franchise from the damage done to it by Okada Mari is never easy, but the sense here is that this update is going to steer pretty close to the traditional Lupin vibe, and while I’m only a casual fan I think that’s very much for the best.  This is actually the first new TV anime with Lupin as the star since 1985, and it will debut in Italy before Japan – a cool move reflecting the setting for this story.  It’s also destined to be known as “Blue Jacket Lupin” – as he seems to wear a different-color coat every time he stars in a TV series.

Ninja

Ninja Slayer From Animtion – Trigger
Director: Amemiya Akira
Writer: Satou Yuu
Schedule: Thursday, 23:00, MBS – Premières 4/16/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: Frankly, I’ve been pretty disappointed in everything Trigger has done so far.  It seems like pretty lowest common denominator stuff to me, packing none of the wit and soul of the vintage Gainax material it parrots, and often suffers from atrocious production values.  But Gainax isn’t Gainax anymore, really, and for those of us who loved them there aren’t a lot of options.  Ninja Slayer is at least a sort of interesting idea, based off a LN series which parodies American misinterpretations of ninja stories (complete with broken Japanese).  It’s not like the staff here is anything special (though Amemiya did direct one of the TTGL “Parallel Works” shorts), so my expectations are modest.

Pleiades

Houkago no Pleiades – Gainax
Director: Saeki Shouji
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Wednesday, 26:44, ABC – Premières 4/08/2015
Episodes: TBA

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Preview:

First Look: And from Trigger, to Gainax.  Yes, they still exist – they’ve opened a small studio in Tohoku, in fact, which is admirable I suppose.  But it’s hard to muster much optimism that anything the studio does these days is going to be relevant.  Yes, Saeki Shouji did direct one of the greatest anime of all-time, FLCL – but he also directed the thoroughly mediocre Pleiades ONA.  It seems unlikely Gainax would even have been able to muster the wherewithal to get this series made if it weren’t a commercial for a car company, but that’s what the greatest studio in TV animation history has come to – making cute girls being cute shows as advertisements.  Yet, it’s Gainax, and it’s Saeki – I can’t not give it a chance.  The bonds are simply too primal.  But it would be a wild exaggeration to say I’m hopeful about the result.

Tri

Digimon Adventures tri – Toei
Director: Motonaga Keitarou
Writer:Kakihara Yuuko
Schedule: TBA – Premières 4/2015
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: I confess to a certain amount of surprise at just how big a deal the Digimon 15th Anniversary project is turning out to be.  The website crashes every time a new update is posted, and fans who normally disdain kids anime viciously attack each other over imagined shipping combinations.  I think this is a case of the right series at the right time – the kids who were part of the target demographic when the Digimon franchise was at its peak are now the prime target demographic for late-night anime – and they have strong memories.

I don’t think any of us knows exactly just how “updated” the tone in this version is going to be, but the fact that the original cast has been aged up to high schoolers is a surefire sign it will be be substantially so – as is the staffing.  We also got character designs from Uki Atsuya of Cencoroll and Tsuritama (character designs only) fame, which some of the traditionalists hate but I love.  Among Digimon fanatics (which I am not) the second season of Digimon Adventures is apparently pretty reviled, but it does appear that “Tri” is going to treat it as canon.  I did like Digimon, and I’m more than curious to see what this new version does with it – I’m just not living and dying with every detail.

Will Definitely Blog: Arslan Senki, Baby Steps Season 2, Ore Monogatari!!.  Not a lot, but there are an unusually large number of “probables” this season and it’s a lock that a bunch of them will make the cut.  But the lack of sure things ties into the perception I mentioned earlier, that this season may be a bit of a trap.

Sleeper Candidates: Plastic Memories, Eikoku Ikke, Nihon wa Taberu.

Sarusuberi Hoozuki Comecome
Kande Tulip Gargantia
Genroku Gugure Kyojin

OVA/Movie: Matching the TV side, there’s a busy OVA calendar this spring.  But the rise of streaming and the commensurate decline in true subbing groups has meant fewer and fewer OVA are subbed, and those that are usually are only after a long wait.  It’s certainly frustrating.

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (OAD) – 3/06/2015: It’s always nice to see an OVA that isn’t a commercial for a TV anime, but an original idea that probably couldn’t be funded for a series.  This story (a manga adaptation) of a paroled prisoner who becomes a rakugo storyteller certainly qualifies, and it’s already been released.  But will we ever see it with subtitles?

Kumi to Tulip (OVA) – 3/22/2015: An Anime Mirai release from Tezuka about a little girl in a world dominated by robots who meets an old man at the park, painting artificial flowers.  This one looks quirky, and it’s directed by Tezuka Osamu’s son, Makoto.

Aki no Kanade (OVA) – 3/22/2015: Another Anime Mirai feature, this one from J.C. Staff.  Simply, I’m nuts about taiko – playing, listening, watching – and we’ve never had a taiko anime as far as I know.  This one is about a girl who dreamed of playing professionally, gave it up, then returned 15 years later to coach a taiko group for a matsuri.  Count me in.

Happy ComeCome (OVA) – 3/22/2015:  And finally, Anime Mirai brings us this one from Synergy SP about a lonely boy who orders a maid from a robotics company, only to find that he’s gotten one of their “mother” models (get your minds out of the gutter).  I see sleeper potential here.

Gugure! Kokkuri-san (OAD) – 3/25/2015: We have three more shorts from this delightful Fall series coming this season.  But again, will anyone sub them?  Stay tuned.  I’m surprised by how much I miss this show, and I haven’t given up hope for a second season.

Shingeki no Kyoujin Gaiden: Kuinaki Sentaku (OAD) – 4/09/15: Levi’s origin story gets its second chapter.  The first part was probably among the best of the Shingeki OVAs so far.

Hoozuki no Reitetsu (OVA) – 5/22/2015: Where the heck is our S2?  And for that matter, the first OVA still hasn’t been subbed – and this was the runaway top seller of the Winter 2014 season.  It’s not easy being a fan of quality anime.

Suisei no Gargantia ~Meguro Kouro, Haruka~ (OVA) – 5/27/15: See above.  The first part was a pretty decent stand-alone episode, but I find myself pretty much over Gargantia at this point – I think the story has run its course.

Theatrical: Slim pickings here to say the least, though we do have one genuine gem to look forward to.  Theatrical anime has sadly followed the OVA route in devolving from being a medium dominated by original animation to one used mostly as a commercial for TV series.

Saruseberi: Miss Hokusai – 5/09/2015: I’m of the opinion that Hara Keichi is the unknown genius of anime.  Summer Days With Coo was marvelous, but Colorful was flat-out one of the best theatrical animated films ever, in any language.  Now Hara-sensei has teamed up with Production I.G. to tell the story of O-Ei, the daughter of renowned Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai Katsuhika.  It’s based on a manga by Sugiura Hinako.

Hara has been away from anime for a while, having directed the well-received live-action film Hajimari no Michi in 2013.  It’s great to have him back, though I suspect Sarusuberi will do minimal business at the box office.  Hara seems to be appreciated abroad (especially in France) more than at home, and I won’t be surprised to see this film follow in Colorful’s footsteps and do very well on the festival circuit.
Trailer:

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59 comments

  1. i

    As far as Danmachi (the dungeon LN title) goes, I've read the first volume of the light novel and found it to be much more endearing and charming than I expected. It certainly has some of the expected generic light novel weaknesses, but a decent adaptation that even slightly improves upon the source material could make Danmachi a pretty likable series.

    Of course, things could go in the opposite direction, but I'm hopeful for the best rather than for the worst!

  2. w

    I think the only series I'm excited about without any caveats at all is Ore Monogatari, which is kind of sad for the season. Not even the length worries me, since from what I've read, I fell like this is the type of series that could be great whether it's 6 episodes or 60.

    Blood Blockade Battlefront is by the same author as Trigun, which I liked but didn't think much of the writing. I'm expecting more or less the same quality there, but with based Bones animation. Also not terribly worried about them being chained to the source material, since they're one of the few studios who aren't afraid to change things around if they feel the need to.

    I'm also basically guaranteed to love Euphonium and Punchline, and while I'm not expecting much beyond K-on mk2 from the former, I have a pretty good feeling about Punchline. I have a feeling it could be more sensitive and innocent than it's letting on, as much as an anime about pantsu can be, at least. It might just surprise..

    I'm continuously surprised by how curious and excited I am about Mikakura Gakuen. I'm a big fan of the character designs, and the director showed a great amount of skill with Issuukan Friends last year. The songs themselves mostly deal with a group of lonely kids, so it'll be interesting to see how that translates over to anime. Dogakobo often do right by me, and while I don't expect anything groundbreaking, I think this might be a pretty enjoyable watch every week.

    Lots to look forward to, though very little I feel has a chance to be a classic. That or I'm just afraid to get my hopes up too much. BBB, OreMono, Oregairu 2, Arslan, Euphonium and Plastic Memories are my safe bets, with Punchline, Mikakura Gakuen and Show By Rock as my sleeper pegs. I really hope this season treats you better than the last few have!

  3. R

    *spits water everywhere over Mikagura Gakuen*

    THIS IS SURREAL. I WAS TRANSLATING THE DAMN VOCALOID SONGS LITERALLY NOT THAT LONG AGO (ok at least a year ago BUT STILL). How the flying HELL did it blow up so fast that it got an anime???

    This is literally so baffling to me. I love the Vocaloid songs and I like the story, but after the utter train wreck that was Mekkaku City I just can't bring myself to hope for anything. I loved that series to death and back before the anime came along and just….ugh. I'm just going to pray but my heart's still broken up by the last stint.

  4. S

    The new Lupin III series is the one anime I'm looking forward to the most. I really enjoyed watching the Jigen Daisuke no Bohyou movie, where Lupin first wore his blue jacket. However, based on this commercial, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v8G62udwCZo that came out last year, I don't think the new Lupin III anime will air until October/Fall 2015.

    Besides Lupin III,the only spring anime series I'm interested in are Blood Blockade Battlefront, Seraph of the End, and Yamada-kun. Though I think I'll wait until they finish airing to marathon them.

    Excluding anime, the number one series I'm looking forward to watching this spring is the third season of Orphan Black.

  5. Every list I've seen has it for Spring, unless there's been some kind of delay.

  6. S

    I hope it does air next month, but there really hasn't been any new information on the series since it was first announced last October. That commercial implying the series will air before Japan in September is about the only release date I've seen. It'd be nice if a trailer for it came out sometime next week.

  7. Y

    About Shokugeki no Soma post: Tsukuda Yuuto is only the author, Saeki Shun [Tosh] is responsible for art style.

  8. e

    @enzo you forgot about nanoha vivid which will air in this spring as well

  9. f

    Yo Enzo,

    I`ve been following your blog for a while and even though i don`t usually comment i`m quite fond of your writing and i mostly agree with your opinions on many shows, it`s great to see someone who`s so passionate about anime and i really think the anime blogging world would be a better place with more people like you, writing and reviewing the shows they love in such an endearing way 🙂

    Nonetheless, there`s something that makes me curious and something that i`ve been thinking for a while: what do you think of Gintama? As a huge fan of both the anime and the manga, i wonder what you think of it, especially now that a new season is coming.

  10. Oh, boy…

    Well, I never know how to answer this one. I guess the best answer is I just don't "get" Gintama. I get that people love it, smart people, and I don't dislike it or anything. But the appeal just doesn't click with me. I don't find it hilarious or anything, just kind of OK.

  11. R

    Considering it's first and foremost a gag manga (sans the serious arcs) it's always going to be hit and miss as all humor is. And considering how much of it is toilet humor (I think it's hilarious, especially out of context) that's even more hit and miss, so I can't say I'm surprised.

    I'm personally looking forwards to it since I love the series XD

  12. e

    Talking of mold breakers shoujo, it's a pit a lot of the 49ers mangaka's opus has gotten so little love – I can only think of Terra E… among the anime titles of recent vintage – . I was just leafing through A Drunken Dream yesterday and by God Hagio Moto can write some poignant one-shots (on top of having a penchant for stories with male protagonists in general).

    Eagerly anticipating:
    – Miss Hokusai
    – Hoozuki no Reitetsu OVA (if and when)

    Anticipating:
    – Baby Steps 2 (but I've red the manga so that took the urgency sting off)
    – the Taiko OVA (I hope I can go see the taiko group performance in Turin next week at Lingotto btw)

    Mildly curious, will probably catch up with these later due to RL circumstances :
    – Arslan ( I'm not familar with the source but the juicy lady's stripperific outfit feels grotesquely out of place and archery-incompatible. That thing is rubbing me off the wrong way, what can I say ).
    – Ore Monogatari
    – The BONES adaptation

  13. Z

    I agree with you on Hagio Moto stuff. Far more interesting than the adaptations of conventional shoujo stuff being released currently.

    Oh wow. The female Arslan character was dressed far far more modestly in the original OVA.

  14. e

    P.S.: forgot Nihon Wa Taberu among my picks – with the 'translation if and when' caveat – .

    @Zeta Zero: it'd need be a labour of love and likely financial loss in the current anime market but one can dream.
    I glimpsed the OVA's art and liked the Amano-esque designs. Arakawa's solid style can work pretty well to convey emotions and movement/action but sure it's like night and day. I just wish this fighting lady was allowed to dress as practically for the task as seemingly everyone else (and male apparently) is. Unless these oh-so-revealing-and-no-support-no-protection cloth scraps are a visual shortcut for boobs&body of steel. Seriously is she a cyborg? A golem? A deity? Eh.

  15. Z

    I don't think it would hurt them to venture beyond the cliché.

    Faranghis Faranghis. Just why? Her original design was already fully clothed! o___o
    This is sort of why I wish they would leave old stuff alone. If you're going to half arse it don't bother. Although I've enjoyed pretty much all the recent Lupin stuff (their storyboarding skills puts a lot of other studios to shame).

  16. g

    What about Saint Seiya Soul of Gold?

  17. P

    Enjoyed your preview post as usual. Too bad about noitaminA but that's how it goes. Looking forward to Arslan and Baby Steps (I've been binging sports anime lately). Everything else is really a "we'll see". Do you have any thoughts on Oregairu S2? I'm not sure if you saw/had an opinion on the series in general because I'm anticipating it as well.

  18. I blogged several eps in the first season, so those are a better answer than I can give here. Interesting, but IMHO ultimately a victim of its own limitations.

  19. s

    yup; a victim of it's own limitations indeed

  20. S

    I'm kind of surprised that, as of right now, Blood Blockade Battlefront is the top voted series on the poll. I would have thought it would have been Seraph of the End, since it's from the studio that made Attack on Titan. Though I am also interested in Blood Blockade Battlefront, so that's pretty cool to see it favorable above the rest. It seems like a rare type of action anime taking place in America without a school setting and featuring a large adult male and a kid with squinted eyes as main protagonists.

  21. S

    Edit: Nevermind, too early to judge. Now Ore Monogatari and FSN UBW are top votes.

  22. A

    The timeslot and the fact that Arslan already seems to be quite popular in Japan (And with quite a few novels published) leads me to believe we might be looking at a two-cour or more show that goes well past the material Arakawa's adapted (Volume 3 only just came out in February) and they just wanted to go with her designs. It's hard to call, but I'm hoping it's longer rather than shorter.

  23. O

    Nice preview. Lots to look forward to. Selfishly I am hoping you decide to blog the Spring season of Fate/Stay Night. I really enjoyed the last season (both the fantastic animation and the story) as well as your corresponding blog posts, which I eagerly viewed every week.

  24. Thanks you. We'll see how it goes…

  25. T

    I'm interested in Digimon Tri, Arslan Senki, and Oremonogatari. Other then that I'm not interested in too many series this season. This might be a good time to finally start watching FMA Brotherhood and finishing Mushishi (I save this series to watch later especially if I had a rough day)

  26. S

    Amazing post enzo, was waiting for it for quite a while. Seems like a lot of infrequent anime watchers are excited this time, been hearing a lot of comments about lupin and digimon from unexpected sources!

  27. G

    Great post, as usual. I feel the same about this season, it's not terrible but not great either. I'm not worried about the ones with strong source material (Baby Step, Ore Monogatari!!), but the rest are all up in the air for now. I'm kind of curious about Owari no Seraph, mostly because of the studio to be honest. It at least looks lavishly budgeted.

    Very much looking forward to Arslan Senki, the art is done by Arakawa-sensei, I don't need more reasons *irrational fan driven by primal instinct*.

    Then there is Kekkai Sensen….and the premise is pretty typical BONES. Action, check, apocalypse, check, supernatural elements, check. You are right, there isn't much to not like. I've read reviews that the series starts off episodic and the world building is very slow – very much like Trigun. It takes a number of volumes before they even get to the overarching plot. I'm a bit worried about the pacing here, BONES does excellent world building when they are given the time, but when they are not, the plot can be seriously convoluted. I hope it at least gets two cours. I like the old school feel of Nightow's works, so I'm in.

    One last thing, I cannot believe Bones is adapting a mobile game. *facepalm*

  28. l

    You mention two of the key components of Punchline and skip over the most important? Can't say I'm too surprised. As an overall writer, I would put Uchikoshi another tier over Urobochi in terms of what to expect in the quality of the work in question. While Urobochi has various hits and misses, Uchikoshi has yet to write anything less than excellent. Whether it be the Infinity series, or Zero Escape series Uchikoshi has only improved as a writer with each story and I don't see that changing for Punchline. Especially with the Infinity series Uchikoshi sets an extremely basic framework leading to some huge twist that shakes up the entire story and elevates each of them past your average generic visual novel into something masterful. The only worry with Punchline and the twist, which will seemingly happen at episode 6 revealed by Uchikoshi himself is the pacing preceding that point which is the biggest issue with the Infinity series and to fill that time frame it looks like Uchikoshi has chosen comedy with fan service. Uchikoshi was already writing the story for a new visual novel but NoitaminA has provided Uchikoshi anime as a platform for this story, far from selling out and one of my most anticipated anime of the year. I know you haven't really played any visual novels, but it still stings to see Uchikoshi given no mention despite his pedigree.

  29. R

    "I know you haven't really played any visual novels"

    I think that would pretty much have summed up why he didn't mention the dude.

    Hell, I had no idea who Uchikoshi was before this infodump. I know who Urobochi is because he decided to venture out into anime earlier and had a bunch of hit series since I'm first and foremost an anime fan.

    Also, who in the world announces ahead of time which episode the twist will happen in???? (does this make sense to anyone else? the idea just kind of baffles me)

  30. J

    Thanks for pointing this out, I was just about to. I adore the Zero Escape series and I'm really interested to see how Uchikoshi will deal with a non-interactive medium.

  31. S

    But will punchline end up a saekano??? That happening would really depress me.

  32. S

    I'm definitely hopeful for Arslan, interested in Kekkai Sensen, and eager to see what the hell NINJA SLAYER is going to turn out like. My record with Trigger is definitely better – liked Inferno Cop, loved Kill la Kill to bits, and merely dropped Inou Battle out of vague boredom while acknowledging it was definitely way less horrible than it sounded on paper – but if anime has taught me something it's to never fire my expectations TOO high, for pretty much anything.

    However, if it's just silly, stylish bombast as it looks, count me in.

  33. Z

    This is epic fantasy in the classic tradition – coming-of-age, sorcery, betrayal, gore and a great sense of scope.

    It's actually more about war between humans and slavery.

  34. Z

    + religion

  35. y

    Hi! I'm following your blog just since few weeks so please apologize me if this is a very basic question but I really want to know. Why being adapted from a light novel is a "flaw" for anime. I'm currently reading also let novel and being a girl ( and not being exactly a "teen" anymore ^^) I have a quite hard time to find something suitable for my taste but still there are decent LN. Or the problem is the "medium"?
    Anyway thanks for your post

  36. S

    It's just that there's a bad past record of anime adapted from Light Novels that were pretty bad – either because the source material was badly picked, or because the adaptation was poor.

    If one looks at it, there's a lot of anime adapted from Light Novels that I (and often Enzo too) enjoyed: Baccano!, Durarara, Humanity Has Declined, The Devil is a Part-Timer, and so on. I also personally enjoyed No Game No Life a lot but I know that's divisive; same goes for Oregairu, I believe.

    Really, in the end, the worst offenders as far as LN anime are involved are Sword Art Online and Mahouka. Besides those, every season has its share of very-convoluted-title-LN-adaptation that ends up being basically some harem-ecchi-fanservice show with poor plot and little enjoyment besides the occasional panty shot or boob jiggle if you're into that, so yeah.

  37. In my view, the problem is the medium itself. It lends itself to shallow characterization, snark, lots of clumsy exposition and rote world-building over real development. And formula – above all, formula. It's a medium where writers not good enough to make it as mangaka or screenwriters for movies can flourish.

    There are exceptions, of course. But in truth, from my perspective the batting average of LN adaptations – really good ones to mediocre to awful ones – is way, way worse than it is for manga or true novel adaptations. Not even remotely close. For every Hataraku Maou-sama or Baccano! there are dozens of generic series (or worse). As such, the increasing predominance of LNs as source material is a major contributor (perhaps the major contributor, though there's a chicken-and-egg discussion to be had there) to the decline in quality we've seen in anime. And any given new show is less likely to be any good if it's adapted from a LN.

  38. S

    I suppose the main problem is simply that writing is easier, cheaper, and faster than writing AND drawing. Especially considering how many LN are written in an extremely informal style. Anyone can write one pretty easily and put it on the internet, and if it works out, all the better, start the presses. In the end it's a market that's faster and cheaper to run. So maybe that's the core point – there simply are MORE LNs because they are more easily produced. And of course, quantity seldom goes along with quality…

  39. E

    Nah, there are a lot of manga around as well, and quality is usually determined from quantity by its popularity which is what studios take into account when they choose what to adapt. The main problem is probably that the LNs that are popular are usually not very good, that why we come out with crappy animes getting adapted from LNs.

  40. Sorry, not buying that argument. Even if one did believe that, what you're effectively saying is that manga readers have much better taste than LN readers because they make the good titles popular and LN readers make the bad titles popular. I think you're mixing up cause and effect.

  41. y

    Thanks to everyone answered. Now that I know tha reason I agree with you. Yes I've noticed that many LN and WN are written in a quite simple and sometimes clearly bad way. And yes there's a lot of ecchi-harem stuff is them. I guess more then in manga. A good novel, in my opinion that's quite popular is Biblia Koshodou no Jiken Techou (but It doesn't have , still, an anime). Maybe it's also true that the main target of LN (popular ones) are mainly teen boys. This should explain the usual question in LN related forums are "how OverPowerd is MainCharacter?" "Any harem"?
    Anyway I've to confess that I've overlooked Hataraku LN and anime. I think I'll try both.

  42. E

    I have never read a LN, so I am making assumptions, but aren't they more popular with a teenage audience, as opposed to manga which are popular with people of all ages? There are still evidently good stuff, but its read by a much narrower range of audience and thus would succumb to more pandering and such to sell well? Again, mostly assumptions here, please correct me if I'm wrong in any way.

  43. Earthling, I would concur with all of those points.

  44. R

    You also have to understand that a lot of LN writers don't even have an editor or any sort of reigning influence to stop their more troublesome writing habits (just like what happens if you have a loose canon screenwriter without a strong director to keep them focused).

    Take Sword Art Online, for example. It get popular before it was picked up for official release and given an official publishing contract (editor included) and the damage had been done in establishing characters and setting trends that would cause it problems later.

    A relatively large number of LNs start on the web or as cell phone novels (a very odd phenomenon that I've only ever seen in Japan where stories are released in short episodes for the explicit purpose of being read on people cell phones during commute and such, so the formatting, length, GRAMMAR DEAR GOD EVEN I CAN TELL YOU HOW MANY THINGS ARE WRONG AND I'M NOT EVEN FLUENT, and structure are all of….questionable quality) and are basically fanfiction, the wish-fullfillment type. You essentially get the sort of Mary-Sue filled story that a lot of teenagers probably wrote or dreamed up themselves (the dark ages of 14 years old OCs and such).

    Wish-fullfillment isn't bad, per se, but it does make for a very narrow and uninteresting (in the long run) trend and that's what the LN industry is built on since that's the main buying audience.

  45. E

    Thanks for the informative writeup, 14 year olds writing for other 14 year olds actually sounds a lot better than companies exploiting certain markets (although im sure that does happen for certain titles…)

  46. M

    I really don't need anything else. ORE MONOGATARI!! I've been a huge fan of the series from the beginning. It was one of the series that caused Shoujo Manga Obsession 2.0 for me. Ore Mono has all the sweetness and heart palpitations of a good shoujo romance, but without the melodramatics and saccharine plot developments that tend to be the pitfalls of the genre. Also, I'm half in love with Takeo. He's actually the best. I just hope the anime will do his facial expressions justice. But anyway, I feel like Ore Mono is in good hands. Gah! I'm just so excited to be this excited about something!

    Other than that, I'll probably watch Arslan, Yamada-kun (though the character designs look too cutesy? to me) and maybe the KyoAni show (main reason being that I used to play the trumpet). And then there's the Oregairu sequel which I am pretty pumped for.

    Not too many things to watch, but that's okay. I'll use the spare time to binge-watch my American shows and kdramas. And catch up with Adventure Time.

  47. T

    Man I haven't been on this blog in forever… well ok that's not wholly true I check in every now and again but still, I remember the last time I made a comment.

    It is nice to see what EXACTLY you see in Souma, since while I myself like the manga I really didn't see how You'd be interested in it whenever you brought it up (as well as my hero academia, that manga is fun and my style but I don't see it as anything special other than it's blowup in popularity and getting a guy who clearly wanted it a job.) I can't say with certainty that I'll be watching it though because honestly I'm not really digging how things look as I've seen in the trailers. No I didn't, DID NOT, want shaft to do this, but I was hoping for something that looked a little more high energy. Something of the same can be said for me and Yamada, which I really like but don't feel heavily compelled to see an anime of.

    I think I'm really looking forward to the new lupin and digimon more than anything. yeah neither are high intellectual properties, but I do have enough of an interest in Lupin, and was at the right target audience when digimon was big (sorta, I only paid attention to season 3, even as a kid I kinda thought the first two seasons were stupid and only re watched them a few years later in life) While I definitely have a different stance on trigger I'm under no illusion that they're special. I just haven't hated anything they've done and like a few of their artists styles, plus like with fate stay night, I doubt I'll be entirely bored. I'm pretty interested in Ore monogatari though since I have been trying to give a few shojo series a shot (Yona's pretty much in my backlog and I'm waiting for it to finish before I try it myself) and Arsland since I have been reading the manga but fell off it at some point.

    I think the last thing I can bring up is Kekkai Sensen, which when I saw the trailers was going to ignore it since it only looked like a stock action show with all style an no substance. It felt like if I were a bit younger it'd be on a must watch list for me but now it's only a curiosity since I know the mangaka behind Trigun made the manga. Even then, I realize there are differences between the anime (that I've watched and enjoyed) and the manga(that I have yet to read) so it's a really thin curiosity. The staff looks competent but I still can't believe that's Toshihiro Kawamoto doing character deigns since they looked so Trigun that it was the thing that prompted me to do further research. Hearing it be a despised manga is a little worrying, but oh well. There's a few other things I'll be checking out but I won't bother since I've said most of what I wanted to here.

    Happy blogging!

  48. T

    Oh yeah, and that new Kyo ani show can blow itself.

  49. i

    Let's not forget Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Zoku! I look forward to how Kei Oikawa will handle the directing with the return of the original season's voice cast.

  50. Tastes vary of course, and we're all looking forward to different stuff. But there seems to be a common misconception that I "forgot" the series I didn't preview. When, in fact, every show I include and every one I admit is a choice.

  51. U

    Just write down shows you intentionally omitted next time. This way there won't be misunderstanding.

  52. S

    60 shows are coming out in spring…

  53. Uh, yeah – what Starnoid said. That list would be twice as long as the list of shows I preview.

    I suppose I could provide a link to the full list of the new season's series. I assume people reading a preview post know where to find that but maybe not all do.

  54. K

    Just blog a show you like but no else blog. That's usually the trick.

  55. I can pretty much guarantee the sushi family would fit the bill, but I'm not expecting anyone to stream or sub it.

  56. R

    Enzou, out of curiosity, did you ever get around to reading Ore-sama Teacher? (by the author of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, it's her 'official' shoujo but I'm not really sure it's really shoujo XD)

  57. Not yet. On the list…

  58. N

    Hoping for Arslan Senki to have a long episode .

  59. J

    I think you're losing it, man. None of these look at all good to me.

    I'll give Lupin III a try, cause good memories, and I know you're a Chihayafuru fan, but I could never quite get over the animation style.

    To me this is a bunch of sequels to things I don't care about and a lot of uninspiring drivel.

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