This is going to be a pretty short preview, for one simple reason – there just aren’t very many series in Autumn 2015 that interest me. There are some, mind you – things haven’t gotten so bad that there aren’t always at least a couple of shows that excite me and a handful more that look interesting. But on balance, this looks like potentially one of the weakest anime seasons since I’ve been watching.
I can’t recall a season where – at least on paper – prospects were more dependent on one series than they are this Fall. There are a ton of sequels, most of them (as usual) yawners, and a high percentage of generic LN adaptations that can only be told apart by their (pretentiously long) titles. But there’s also One Punch Man, which seems to have a chance to be that rarest of birds, an anime that’s both creatively and commercially (in Japan and the West to boot) a blockbuster. It has the pedigree, the studio, and the buzz – and a preview airing of the premiere has done nothing to lower the temperature. But boy – if this one flops, are we in big trouble…
Fall is, of course, usually the second-strongest season of the year after spring. And this one has a lot of titles – the problem is just that most of them don’t project to be very notable. If I’m going to reach for another positive it would be that sci-fi is making a modest comeback, with a few notable works including a potentially interesting Gundam experiment. There’s slim pickings among sports, romance and comedy though, with one or two prospects being tasked with carrying the entire load.
With so few clear-cut keepers and not much that tickles my sleeper sense, this may be one of those seasons where it takes me a while to figure out what I’m going to be covering, much less watching. There are almost no carryovers from Summer either, so it may very well end up being one of my leanest seasons ever. Let’s hope it’s a schedule full of happy surprises. As always, please vote for your most anticipated series in the sidebar poll!
With that, to the previews:
Young Black Jack – Tezuka
Director: Kase Mitsuko
Writer: Takanashi Ryousuke
Schedule: Premieres Thursday 10/01, 26:16 – TBS
First Look: Pioneer female director Kase-san takes the helm for this prequel series about Tezuka Osamu’s maverick doctor, Black Jack. Takanashi-sensei is very, very experienced – though of course he’s not Tezuka Osamu, so it’s really anybody’s guess how much this series will have to offer. Still, it’s a potentially interesting new look at a classic, and in this cupboard that definitely merits a taste.
Skingeki Kyoujin Chuugakkou – Production I.G.
Director: Ibata Yoshihide
Writer: Gotou Midori
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 10/03, 25:58 – MBS
First Look: The endless cavalcade of cash continues for Shingeki no Kyoujin, as we build towards another season of the root series in 2016. I haven’t read the spinoff manga this is based on so I can’t speak to whether it’s anything more than a bald-faced attempt to mine more gold from the mine that keeps on giving. But sometimes with overly puffed-up series like this one, you actually get something more entertaining when all pretense towards seriousness is cast aside and the absurdity is embraced.
Haikyu!! Season 2 – Production I.G.
Director: Mitsunaka Susumu
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 10/03, 26:58 – MBS
Episodes: TBA (likely 2 cour)
First Look: This Production I.G. series is likely to be more to my taste, and represents one of the more welcome sequels of the season. I wouldn’t say Furudate Haruichi’s manga is a classic, but it’s awfully solid – earnest, tightly-written and very fun.
That said, what makes Haikyuu stand out as an anime is that, like it’s Weekly Shounen Jump stablemate Shokugeki no Souma, it’s received a virtually unassailable adaptation. The first season was a class act all the way – fantastic animation and music, good cast, and some of the best choreography you’ll see in any sports series. There are sports manga I love more that I wish had gotten the treatment Haikyuu did, but that’s neither here nor there – Haikyuu should be appreciated for what it is, and it’s pretty much carrying the load for sports anime this coming season.
Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans – SunriseDirector: Nagai Tatsuyuki
Writer: Okada Mari
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 10/04, 17:00 – TBS
First Look: Where to begin? Surely, Iron-Blooded Orphans sends more mixed signals than any other Fall series. On the one hand it’s Okada Mari writing original material for an established franchise – and a mecha franchise at that. Thus far that has produced nothing but disasters and clusterfucks, without exception. But on the other, she’s paired off with one of the absolute best in the game in Nagai Tatsuyuki – with whom she did arguably her best work in AnoHana. Okada with a strong director to rein in her errant impulses has often produced good to great results.
So which augers win out here? I surely don’t care to guess – but the curiosity factor is certainly high. Gundam itself has been a mixed bag in recent years, but Orphans sounds sort of interesting, like a cross between Infinite Ryvius and Lord of the Flies. A bunch of teens launches a revolution after being set-up and abandoned by the adults in am exhausted postwar Earth? OK, I’m game to give that a try – wary, but intrigued.
Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note – SIGNAL MD
Director: Ichikawa Kazuya
Writer: Fudeyasu Kazuyuki
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 10/07, 18:45 – NHK-E
First Look: This is something close to a total flyer for me, but this is the sort of season where anything giving off even a tiny sleeper vibe makes the preview. I’m always interested in character-driven shows that aren’t about high schoolers, and this is is set in 6th-grade (and the fact that it’s based on an actual – not light – novel is reason for hope as well). It’s about a girl who joins a club with four quirky boys which ends up solving mysteries around the school, and her friendship with the boys. This might just be sweet and charming – or it could easily be nothing noteworthy at all.
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider – A-1 Pictures
Director: Kanbe Mamoru
Writer: Oono Toshiya
Schedule: Premieres Thursday, 10/08, 24:55 – Fuji TV
First Look: For numerous reasons, Subete ga F ni Naru is comfortably in the top tier in terms of expectations this season. Let’s hope NoitaminA does better with this mystery-tinged novel adaptation than they’ve done with Ranpo Kitan – though that’s a pretty low bar, and my real anticipation (off the charts) points towards next season’s mystery NoitaminA, Boke Dake ga Inai Machi.
A research lab worker meets up with the daughter of his mentor, they find a corpse, and all sorts of mysteries break out – with S & M (it’s a pun) to boot? It’s all part of Mori Hiroshi’s (again, not light) novel “The Perfect Insider”. And this adaptation has Oono Toshiya writing it, which adds to the intrigue – I adore his Tsuritama, but find his two Gatchaman series lazy and poorly-executed. Kanbe Mamoru (Elfen Lied, So Ra No Wo To, Kimi to Boku) is very experienced and pretty accomplished, and music by the great Kawai Kenji doesn’t hurt, either. Mori-sensei is an interesting writer, a bit of a flake whose mysteries tend to be science-driven. I expect this one to be better than Ranpo Kitan for sure, but I’m not sure of much beyond that.
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan – Production Reed
Director: Yanase Takeyuki
Writer: Tomonaga Korie/Murakami Momoko
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 10/04, 20:55 – BS-Animax
First Look: A complete an unapologetic weak-season flyer on this one. Expectations are low, but there have been manga serialized in Comic Meteor that have been respectable, and I love onsen. I suspect it will be no worse than a kick in the head.
One-Punch Man – Madhouse
Director: Natsume Shingo
Writer: Suzuki Tomohiro
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 10/04, 25:05 – TV Tokyo
First Look: And so there it is, the big one – the series on whose success the entire season more or less depends. It’s hard to find anyone who doesn’t love ONE’s manga, Madhouse has produced more great anime than any studio in the last few years, Natsume is a fine director and the previews have been jaw-dropping (as well as suggesting the show could run for quite a while). The expectations are pretty much off the charts here, but we may as well indulge ourselves – this season needs something for the audience to get excited about.
I have read some of the manga, and I agree that it’s unique and vastly entertaining. But I’ve resisted the preview screening so far (nearly caved a few times) because I really want to go into the season fresh. It’s hard to describe OPM, really – yeah, it’s a story about a superhero so overpowered his life is basically dedicated to finding a challenging opponent, but it’s a lot more – intensely satirical, introspective, and quite dark at times. It’s an odd and heady cocktail, and I think there’s a chance this series could be a very big hit both in Japan and in the West (where its themes should find a natural audience). Yeah, this could be a bust, just like any new series could – but not only would that be a crushing disappointment, it would also be a huge surprise.
Noragami Aragoto – BONES
Director: Tamura Koutarou
Writer: Mieno Hitomi
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 10/02, 25:05 – Tokyo MX
First Look: It always seemed a decent bet that Noragami would get a second season. It sold moderately well, gave the manga a fairly big bump, and the first season was ended with a short original arc – seemingly in order to save the longish Bishamon Arc for a sequel. So when Aragoto was announced it wasn’t a shock, though certainly welcome.
BONES has reassembled the team from the first season, and it’s a damn good one. Noragami features two seiyuu I don’t always like, Kamiya Hiroshi and Kaji Yuuki, in roles that are among their best (actually that could apply to Uchida Maaya too), to go along with exceptionally creative and witty visuals and the manga’s sharp humor. Noragami isn’t quite a great series, but it’s a very good one indeed, and along with Haikyuu represents the most compelling sequel of the season.
Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou – Bones
Director: Mizushima Seiji
Writer: Aikawa Shou
Schedule: Premieres Monday, 10/04, 23:00 – Tokyo MX
First Look: Here’s BONES’ other show of the Fall, and it’s equally intriguing though much less of a sure thing. When you have an elite studio like BONES, a powerhouse if erratic director like Mizushima, one of the most iconoclastic writers in the industry in Aikawa and two cours to boot, you’ve got the potential for something interesting.
Concrete Revolutio is an original series, and from the earliest days it’s been described as a Japanese “Watchmen”. The premise is that all of the superhuman races from Earth’s mythology have been brought into existence at the same time, and it makes Concrete Revolutio sound like a pretty interesting mix of science fiction and fantasy – though the way the superhero cast is treated sounds as much like X-Men as Watchmen to me. In broad terms this theme has been done a lot (though this does sound like an interesting take) and though very talented, both Mizushima and Aikawa have been involved in a couple of absolute clunkers. This one could go either way, but the sheer talent involved makes it one of the most anticipated series of the season.
Comet Lucifer – 8bit
Director: Nakayama Atsushi/Kikuchi Yasuhito
Writer: Nomura Yuuichi
Schedule: Premieres Monday, 10/04, 22:30, Tokyo MX
First Look: Another original sci-fi series, albeit with a fairly nondescript staff list. This one’s about a space boy who collects rare crystals on his home planet “Gift”, who meets a mysterious girl by an underground lake, and… Well, you’ve heard it before. Maybe there’ll be some old-school sci-fi charm in that well-worn premise.
Osomatsu-san – Pierrot
Director: Fujita Yoichi
Writer: Matsubara Shuu
Schedule: Premieres Tuesday, 10/05, 25:35 – TV Tokyo
First Look: The first thing that must be said about Osomatsu-san is that it’s very likely no one is going to stream it, which in concert with the decline of true subbing groups (because of streaming) means it’s likely we won’t see it in English. But I’ll be watching in the event someone does sub it, because this updating of the old-time classic Osomatsu-kun looks like it could have a sharp and slightly raunchy wit. That story followed six naughty 10 year-old sextuplets who were in love with the same girl – the new one picks up the narrative when they’re adults
Will Definitely Blog: One Punch Man, Haikyuu S2, Subete ga F ni Naru, Noragami Aragoto, Concrete Revolutio. What strikes me is that’s quite a high percentage of the total shows previewed – not much depth this season, but some interest at the top. It must be said, though, that a couple of those series are less than sure things to stay in the rotation for the entire season.
Sleeper Candidates: Tantei Team KZ Jiken Note, Osomatsu-san.
OVA/Movie: As usual, all the OVAs on the list are extensions of current or former TV anime. But at least there are a couple of good ones in the bunch.
Akatsuki no Yona (OAD) – 9/18/2015: It’s no spoiler to say that Pierrot’s wonderful Akatsuki no Yona is going to be on this year’s Top 10 list. I’m still holding out hope for a second season – the disc sales weren’t bad for a shoujo (especially considering how absurdly late they went on sale) and the manga got a decent bump. But if this is it, treasure it. On tap are two manga bonus chapters – an onsen episode and a Kija (Hakuryuu) back-story chapter.
Tokyo Ghoul: Jack (OVA) – 9/30/2015: It’s quite nice to see more Tokyo Ghoul despite the uneven second season, and based on the mammoth bump in manga sales I think we’ll see another season soon enough. I’m really going to miss ultra-stylish director Morita Shuehi, but hopefully this side-story focused on Arima will prove engaging.
Shokugeki no Souma: Jump Festa 2015 Special (OVA) – 11/03/2015: What do we know about the plot of this Jump Festa Special? Not a damn thing. Nor do we know if Shokugeki no Souma will get another season despite (to me, at least) surprisingly weak disc sales. But I suspect it will, given the blockbuster status the manga enjoys.
Noragami Aragoto (OAD) – 11/17/15: The first of two OADs, this depicting the Nijikn no Teikei ni so Koto arc of the Shuuishuu spinoff manga, which appears to be more comedic and romance-related than the original manga.
Theatrical: The pickings are as slim on the big screen as the small screen this season, with only two theatrical release making the cut.
Kokoro ga Sakebittagakerunda – 9/19/2015: Nagai and Okada aren’t only re-teaming on TV this season – they’re also collaborating on a follow-up to their massively successful AnoHana franchise. This film is set in the same mythology (and town – Chichibu) as AnoHana, but with a different cast. This time around we have an “egg fairy” which takes away a girl’s voice after she says something very hurtful as a young child. Well… I’m going to withhold judgement, because I’m a huge fan of AnoHana and I’m hoping the good Karma carries over.
Digimon Adventures Tri. 1: Saikai – 11/21/15: Remember that new Digimon TV series I wrote about a while back? Turned out it was a series of movies instead, and this is the first one.