Spring 2016 Season Preview

Hope can be a scary thing.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone into a season with the sheer volume of material on my radar as Spring 2016. I’m previewing 21 shows and honestly, it could have been more – none of those were reaches by any means. I’m too lazy to go back and check just how long it’s been since I previewed 20+ series, but it wouldn’t shock me if it was all the way back to 2012. This is my first season preview after the move to WordPress, and it definitely looks like a consequential one.

It’s been such a long time since we’ve had a truly stellar anime season that I’ve become quite skeptical by default. Could Spring be the breakthrough – and if it is, will it represent the start of a creative revival or just a blip? Obviously the second question is so conditional that there’s not much point in tackling it now. As for the first, well of course we can’t know before a season begins just how strong it will be. But what do my instincts tell me?

The benchmark for recent anime history, certainly, is Spring 2012 – truly a great season in any era. As much as this coming Spring looks strong, I don’t see it as being on the same level. There isn’t that one Boku Dake ga Inai Machi on the schedule – that series you more or less know is going to be a masterpiece. We don’t have the laundry list of great directors (both Watanabes, Hatakeyama, Nakamura et al) we did then. And as a reflection of the times, fewer of the projected elite series are confirmed multi-cour.

What we do have is sheer volume of interesting prospects (a ton) – the law of averages is our friend. We also have a number of very good sequels (Ushio and Tora, Kyoukai no Rinne, Concrete Revolutio) that seem more or less safe bets. And on a personal level, there are more adaptations of manga I read and enjoy than in any anime season – Boku no Hero Academia, Sakamoto Desu ga?, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, even Shounen Maid. So it’s hard to imagine this season won’t at the very least be above-average in terms of good to very good shows.

Thematically, it’s a very sci-fi/fantasy heavy schedule, as usual dominated by manga adaptations but with some interesting originals too (like the P.A. Works 15th Anniversary/Okamura Tensai mecha project). I certainly don’t remember the last time the majority of series on a preview were sci-fi or fantasy (surely, traditionalists are going to find this refreshing). There’s a smattering of other genres and demographics that’s pretty evenly divided, but slice-of-life definitely edges out romance or comedy, at least on paper.

One other note – if you’re a fan of soundtracks, this should be the best season for quite some time – it’s an impressive list of composers, including the great Kawai Kenji.

The sidebar poll is in the usual place – go get it! Without further ado, on to the previews:

 

Mayoiga

Mayoiga – Diomedea
Director: Mizushima Tsutomu
Writer: Okada Mari
Schedule: Premieres Friday 4/01, 22:30
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
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First Look: Mizushima Tsutomu is another notch in Okada Mari’s belt, as they team up on this sci-fi original.  I can’t help but think “trainwreck” when I contemplate the pairing of two creatives so given to excess, but it certainly shouldn’t be boring.  As usual with originals we don’t have a whole lot of detail on plot – 30 teens head off to a supposedly Utopian village in the mountains that you can bet is harboring a terrible secret.  Emotional trauma and cross-dressing is a given.

 

Luluco

Uchuu Patrol Luluco – Trigger
Director/Writer: Imaishi Hiroyuki
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 4/01, 22:30
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
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First Look: I’ll come right out and say it – as far as I’m concerned there’s no studio more overrated than Trigger.  Their catalogue has ranged from pleasantly safe to abjectly awful.  And founder Imaishi Hiroyuki hasn’t done anything really good since Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann.  But I’m such an unrepentant Gainax fanboy that I still dutifully show up to give every new Imaishi series a shot, and Space Patrol Luluco is only going to be 7 minutes in any case.  If nothing else there’s a decent gag involved in the premise – it’s set in a space zone called Ogikubo where humans and aliens live together (Ogikubo is a Tokyo neighborhood filled with foreigners).

 

Ace Attorney

Gyakuten Saiban: Sono “Shinjitsu”, Igi Ari! A-1 Pictures
Director: Watanabe Ayumu
Writer: Tomioka Atsushiro
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 4/02, 17:30
Episodes: 12

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First Look: The Capcom VN this series is based on is quite famous, and pretty well-regarded to boot.  However the previews have been pretty low-rent, and by all accounts Kaji Yuuki is seriously miscast even by Kaji Yuuki standards.  Director Watanabe Ayumu (Nazo no Kanojo X, Uchuu Kyoudai) is really the main draw for me.  Plot-wise Ace Attorney is pretty much a straight courtroom drama, with a heroic protagonist standing up for innocent clients against a tidal wave of corruption and power.

 

Boku no Hero

Boku no Hero Academia – Bones
Director:
Writer: Nagasaki Kenji
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 4/03 – 17:00
Episodes: TBA (likely two-cour)

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First Look: If you asked me which series is likely to be the best of the season, intellectually I’d probably say Bones’ other series Bungou Stray Dogs or Joker Game.  But if you wanted to know which show I’m most looking forward to, it’d probably be Boku no Hero Academia.  This is a series for which I feel enormous affection, even as I recognize its flaws.  I’ve said it before, but when I read BnHA I find myself thinking that it’s the next series Horikoshi Kouhei writes that’s going to be a masterpiece – this one still shows the rough edges of youth.

But that’s also one of Boku’s great strengths – this is a pure shounen in the best sense of the word, flush with the vigor and awkwardness of youth.  When the announcement was made that it would be Bones doing the adaptation, fans let out a collective sigh of relief – this series is likely to become a monster hit as long as it isn’t screwed up.  BnHA is a very smart and very Japanese take on American superhero comics, featuring a ridiculously likeable young hero in Midorikawa Izuku and a great cast of students, teachers and villains (including the brilliantly-drawn mentor, All Might).  It might not end up as a masterpiece, but it’s virtually certain to be immensely entertaining.

 

12-sai

12-sai: Chicchana Mune no Tokimeki – OLM
Director: Taichuu Seiki
Writer: Tsubota Fumi
Schedule: Premieres Monday, 4/04 – 19:30
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: There have already been a few bites of the apple with Maita Nao’s coming-of-age manga 12-sai in OVA form, and they don’t seem to have been terribly well-received.  But I kind of get sleeper vibes with Oriental Light and Magic’s TV version, despite a lack of big names in the staff list.  The manga is highly thought of, and there aren’t many good series that seriously tackle the problems of pre-teens.  The reason is obvious – my good friend in film publicity once told me “The hardest movie to market is one that’s about kids but aimed at adults”.  Nevertheless these kinds of stories can be really powerful, and I think 12-sai has just been waiting for the right treatment – I just have no idea if this is it.

 

Super

Super Lovers – DEEN
Director: Ishihara Shinji
Writer: Nakamura Yoshiko
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 4/06, 23:30
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: There are some definite yellow flags with this shounen-ai from DEEN and director Ishihara Shinji.  In the first place, the age difference between the primary characters – a young man and his adoptive brother – is alarmingly large. But Ishihara is a pretty solid mainstream director and the manga is considered to be one of the very best in its demographic, so my assumption is that things stay at least modestly tasteful.  I also quite liked mangaka Abe Miyuki’s rather underrated Hakkenden, at least in anime form.

 

Rinne

Kyoukai no Rinne Second Season – Brains Base
Director: Sugawara Seiki
Writer: Yokote Michiko
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 4/09, 17:30
Episodes: 25

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First Look:I thought the first season of Takahashi Rumiko’s Kyoukai no Rinne was one of the funniest and most under-appreciated shows of 2015.  The manga is decent, but the comedy works much better in anime form – partly thanks to a terrific cast, and party to the medium itself.  This is old-school deadpan anime humor at its most appealing, and the second season is about as safe a bet as 2016 has to offer.

 

Big Order

Big Order – Asread
Director: Kamanaka Nobuharu
Writer: Takayama Katsuhiko
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 4/15, 25:40
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: Big Order is flying in a bit under the radar. But as the product of Mirai Nikki mangaka Esuno Sakae’s pen, it’s a series worth your attention.  This time around it’s a story of a group of espers called “Order Users” who have the power to grant their own wishes, and a protagonist who wished for the destruction of the world as a child.

In my view Big Order is not quite as good as Mirai Nikki (which I thought was a near-masterpiece that was mistakenly labeled as an entertaining pulp story but was actually a brilliant satire, and re-imagining of Evangelion), but it’s still damn good.  I like Esuno’s fearless, vibrant writing style, and Takayama-sensei also adapted Mirai Nikki.  Asread’s production values will never wow you, but they have a track record of very faithful and smart manga adaptations.  Sleeper.

 

Kotetsujou

Koetsujou no Kabaneri – Wit
Director: Araki Tetsurou
Writer: Okouchi Ichiro
Schedule: Premieres Thursday, 4/07, 25:55
Episodes: TBA

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Preview

 

First Look: Two masters of excess – Shingeki no Kyoujin and Death Note director Araki and Code Geass/Kakumeki Valvrave writer Okouchi – get together for this sci-fi original from Wit (Hoozuki second season when?).  The story surrounds a monster who can turn humans into undead monsters with its bite, and cannot be killed unless its iron-clad heart is pierced.

It seems pretty much a given with this staff that Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is going to be violent and silly, but they’re talented enough to give this show some potential.  Also of note is that Ushio & Tora star Hatanaka Tasaku is getting his second main role here as protagonist Ikoma, and he’s clearly a younger voice talent worth keeping an eye on.  It’s also worth noting that Kabaneri has been licensed for streaming by Amazon Prime – the start of a partnership with anime that will include future NoitaminA releases, and bears close watching – this could potentially be a game-changing event for anime, for better or worse.

 

Tanaka-kun

Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge – Silver Link
Director: Kawatsura Shinya
Writer: Omode Akemi
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 4/09, 22:00
Episodes: TBA

Preview:
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First Look: I would call Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge a sleeper, but I think that’s beneath even me.  In all seriousness, this is a series I expect to be quietly excellent, because the manga is exceptionally charming and funny in a wistful and cheeky way. I’m not always a fan of Silver Link, but their very particular style is all about finding the right fit – and I think this is a pretty good fit.

This is a comedy you’ll want to be patient with, because it’s not a series that will attack you with over-the-top gags and slapstick.  There’s a lot of character-driven humor, slow builds and some actual warmth too.  Most of the jokes are of the type that get funnier if you think about them for a few moments, too.  Also, Tanaka-kun has one of the best bromances in manga and an actual non-annoying imouto going for it.  Sleeper or not, it should be a keeper.

 

Concrete

Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou – The Last Song – Bones
Director: Mizushima Seiji
Writer: Aikawa Shou
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 4/03, 23:00
Episodes: TBA (1 cour)

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First Look: What a season this looks to be for Bones.  With Concrete Revolutio, Boku no Hero Academia and Bungou Stray Dogs they have a chance to have three of the best shows of 2016 airing simultaneously.  They’re on-track for one of the best studio years ever, and Spring is definitely the lynchpin.

My affection with this weird, dense and challenging series grew slowly but by the time the first cour ended it was one of my favorites of Fall 2015 (thank goodness Mizushima-sensei makes more interesting shows than his Shirobako avatar does).  As with many Aikawa-penned shows it’s heavily political, with a “pox on all your houses” worldview.  The cast is interesting, the visuals striking, and as a comprehensive mash-up of sci-fi and fantasy genres Concrete Revolutio is always fascinating, even when it’s occasionally a mess.

 

Kuromukuro

Kuromukuro – P.A. Works
Director: Okamura Tensai
Writer: Higaki Ryou
Schedule: Premieres Thursday, 4/07, 22:00
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: My affection for P.A. Works has waned quite a bit over the last couple of years.  They seem to have embraced their reputation (which used to be undeserved, in my opinion) as a poor man’s Kyoto Animation a little too much.  As a result they’ve become quite predictable, pandering to those they clearly see as having a certain expectation about their work.  The last several PAW shows have ranged from indifferent to downright awful.

Kuromukuro does, at least, seem to have aspirations of being a mold-breaker.  Certainly the idea of a P.A. Works mecha series is kind of exciting on  a certain level, and Okamura-sensei (Darker than Black, Ao no Exorcist, Wolf’s Rain) is a very prestigious director and he has a strong staff working with him.  The plot seems pretty standard – an ancient magical artifact is discovered during Kurobe Village dam construction, and the children of the researchers all attend school together when the weird stuff starts to happen.  But execution here could be the difference-maker, and PAW clearly views this as a prestige series for them.  Way too important not to pay close attention to.

 

Kiznavier

Kiznavier – Trigger
Director: Kobayashi Hiroshi
Writer: Okada Mari
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 4/09, 23:30
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: See Luluco for my feelings on Trigger, and why I’m giving this series a shot too.  It’s interesting that Imaishi would choose to direct a comic short over what would appear to be Trigger’s main show of the Spring, a full-length sci-fi original written by the always-marketable Okada.  Setting aside admittedly interesting speculation about why that might be, what Okada has come up with here is a future where the “Kizuna” system exists to promote world peace by distributing the damage of any wound suffered by someone part of Kizuna to everyone that’s a part of it.  Who knows?  Sci-fi Okada isn’t generally all that successful IMHO, but you never know.

 

Ushitora

Ushio to Tora Second Season – MAPPA
Director: Nishimura Satoshi
Writer: Inoue Toshiki
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 4/01, 22:30
Episodes: 13

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First Look: In a season that looks strong for sequels (as it does generally) UshiTora might just be the one I’m most looking forward to.  There’s no true season break here, just a split between the second and third cours, so no real reason to suspect this adaptation of Fujita Kazuhiro’s classic shounen manga will be any less old-school terrific.

If that turns out to be the case this series has a shot to be in  the conversation for the 2016 Top 10 list – MAPPA (as you’d expect) is doing right by this one.  They’ve wisely made no attempt to contemporize the material, but rather celebrated it in all its GAR 80’s glory.  What they have done is made significant cuts to the manga (with the author’s participation) in order to fit the entire series into 39 episodes.  That didn’t cause a problem for me in the first two cours – hopefully that continues to be the case.

 

Endride

Endride – Brain’s Base
Director: Gotou Keiji
Writer: Machida Touko
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 4/02, 25:55
Episodes: 24

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First Look:You don’t see original Sci-fi/fantasy anime from Brain’s Base every season, that’s for sure.  And this one has a pretty solid staff, including character designs from no less than Rurouni Kenshin’s Watsuki Nobuhiro and music by Tanaka Kouhei.  Endride looks like a riff on the same alternate universe theme as stuff like Arata Kangatari, which is certainly familiar ground for anime.  But it’s nice to see Brain’s Base regrouping in the aftermath of the Shuka schism, and multi-cour fantasy series aren’t exactly growing on trees.  I’ll certainly be giving this one a chance.

 

Shounen Maid

Shounen Maid – 8bit
Director: Yamamoto Yuusuke
Writer: Nakamura Yoshiko
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 4/06, 25:58
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: Frankly, I was surprised to hear that Otochibana’s manga was getting an anime adaptation.  I like it a lot – I’ve read everything that’s been translated, which isn’t all that much – but it’s certainly not a commercial powerhouse.  As a measure of how little-known the series is in the West, when the anime was announced I repeatedly saw it mistakenly assumed that it was based on a similarly-titled hentai doujin to which Shounen Maid has no connection whatsoever.  And I don’t expect the anime to get all that much attention either.

And that’s too bad if it happens, because this one should be a real sleeper.  The manga is really charming – much sweeter and more sincere than one might guess from the title and premise, which finds a young boy left to work as his uncle’s maid after his parents’ death leaves him orphaned.  The art is quite nice as well, one of the most impressively-drawn shoujo manga of recent vintage.  We also have a pretty solid staff, with director Yamamoto having worked on NKH no Youkouso! and B Gata H Kei (a series which is also easy to misjudge by its cover).  I see no reason why Shounen Maid won’t be a very solid show, whether anyone is watching or not.

 

Bungou

Bungou Stray Dogs – Bones
Director: Igarashi Takuya
Writer: Enokido Yoji
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 4/06, 25:05
Episodes: 12 (split-cour – second in Fall 2016)

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First Look: Boy, when you sit down and hammer these previews out one by one, Spring 2016 really does look loaded. Bones has it working especially hard, and Bungou Stray Dogs is probably the safest bet for best show of the season. Excellent source manga, platinum studio, multi-cour, seinen, very solid staff including Gainax vet Enokido and composer Iwasaki Taku. On paper, this is a thoroughbred.

It’s a fascinating premise, too – a starving orphan named Nakajima Atsushi rescues a man attempting suicide. That man turns out to be a detective, one who specializes in the supernatural, but there’s something strange about the boy as well. It’s a very interesting and well-written story, very vibrant, and in Bones’ hands it should make for an outstanding anime.

 

Sakamoto

Sakamoto desu ga? – Deen
Director: Takamatsu Shinji
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Premieres Thursday, 4/07, 26:28
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: Could anyone but Takamtsu Shinji possibly direct Sakamoto desu ga? – I mean, really?  Anyone who’s read the manga will understand.  Sano Nami’s manga is a colossal hit in Japan so this adaptation was only a matter of when, not if.  And while the anime has come fairly quickly, Sano ended the manga after only four volumes – a rather courageous and surprising decision given its popularity.

Sakamoto is the story of, well– Sakamoto, an impossibly cool and GAR high-schooler beloved by girls, boys, teachers and animals (even the bullies begrudgingly revere him even as they plot his downfall).  The series basically chronicles his ridiculous exploits in hilarious fashion, and with Takamatsu-sensei on-board that’s a slam-dunk.  My only worry was that the anime might be half-length or even a short, but thankfully that doesn’t seem to be the case.

 

Sousei no Onmyouji

Sousei no Onmyouji – Pierrot
Director: Taguchi Tomohisa
Writer: Arakawa Naruhiusa
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday, 4/06, 18:25
Episodes: 12 (split-cour – second in Fall 2016)

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First Look: These are heady days over at Studio Pierrot.  They’ve had a very nice run of quality (not quality) over the last couple of years, and in Osomatsu-san they have a genuine monster hit of a generational magnitude.  Sousei no Onmyouji doesn’t figure to be that, but it might just be another commercial winner for the studio.

Twin Star Exorcists is yet another intriguing manga adaptation this season, based on a popular and well-regarded series about two middle-school exorcists who are fierce rivals – and fated to one day marry.  The staff is fairly nondescript apart from writer Arakawa, who has a long and pretty distinguished track record.  I haven’t read more than a few pages of the original manga but I like what I have, and my expectations for this show are quite high.

 

Joker Game

Joker Game – Production I.G.
Director: Nomura Kazuya
Writer: Kishimoto Taku
Schedule: Premieres Tuesday, 4/05, 23:00
Episodes: TBA

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First Look: This should be a keeper.  It’s based on a series of spy novels by Yanagi Kouji that has won several literary prizes in Japan.  Joker Game has already inspired a live-action film in 2015 and a manga which will run concurrently with the anime.

I.G. has put together an A-list team for Joker Game.  Director Nomura (Ghost in the Shell, Robotics;Notes) and writer Kishimoto (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi) are rock-solid, and composer Kawai Kenji is Kawai Kenji (’nuff said).  The setting is the days before WW II, the subject a shady espionage training ring called “D Agency”.  The twist?  The spies are secretly being trained to act against the war-mongering of the Imperial military leadership.  That may be the best premise of a very packed season, and it wouldn’t shock me to see Joker Game emerge as the best series of Spring.

 

Tonkatsu

Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou – Deen
Director: Akitarou Daichi
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 4/10, 22:15
Episodes: TBA

MAL:

 

 

First Look: I don’t know a whole lot about this manga adaptation, which I suspect may end up being a short.  But I do know it’s directed by Akitarou Daichi, indisputably the greatest shoujo director in anime history.  He ventures into oddball shounen this time with the story of the titular young man who works at his family’s tonkatsu restaurant in Shibuya and discovers his love for the club life after a delivery to a local nightspot in full roar.  A visiting American DJ (Big Master Fly) inspires Agetarou to try and become great at both pork cutlets and being a DJ.  On the assumption that a talent of Akitarou-sensei’s stature wouldn’t do a project he thought had potential, I’m very interested in where this is going.

 

H x H

Hunter X Hunter – Shounen Jump
Writer/Artist: Togashi Yoshihiro
Schedule: Returns Monday, 4/18 (4/14 on web)
Chapters: ???????????????????????

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First Look: Yes it’s back – one more time it’s back.  And one more time the most ungrateful fanbase in manga unleashes a tsunami of mockery and disdain towards a mangaka who takes years to do what no other mangaka could do in lifetimes.  It’s the circle of life.

There’s just no way to know, of course, for how long Togashi-sensei will be able to continue publishing new Hunter X Hunter without extended breaks – he has serious back problems, which as I can verify are debilitating.  My hope is that he has some material banked after one of his longest hiatuses ever.  However long this run lasts, however much of the “Dark Continent” arc we see this time, I have to cover it – it’s not even a question.  And rather than bitch and complain and predict when the next hiatus will come, it makes a hell of a lot more sense to me to enjoy having new H x H while it lasts.  This is gravy – we’re playing with house money.  In the words of the late Warren Zevon, enjoy every sandwich.

GoT

Game of Thrones – HBO
Director: Various
Writer: George R.R. Martin
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 4/24, 22:00
Episodes: 10

Preview:

 

 

First Look: If there’s any writer whose fans are bitchier than Togashi-sensei’s, it’s George R.R. Martin. Yes, he’s slowed down a lot – but I’d rather Martin get it right than get it fast.  And we’re at a rather exciting time for the HBO adaptation of A Song of Ice and Fire, because for all intents and purposes the TV series has left the books behind and fans of all stripes are in the same uncharted waters. Season 5 was easily the most uneven so far, which I chalk up largely to the awkwardness of the overlap in pacing between the show and the books, but I expect a lot from Season 6.  Benioff and Weiss should have a lot more freedom now, Bran is back in the fold with potentially his most exciting season, and the story of a certain “dead” member of the Night’s Watch should prove fascinating to watch play out.

 

Will Definitely Blog: Uwah. Boku no Hero Academia, Kyoukai no Rinne Season 2, Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge, Concrete Revolutio: The Last Song, Ushio to Tora Second Season, Shounen Maid, Sakamoto desu ga?, Joker Game, Hunter X Hunter, Game of Thrones.  Honestly, even that huge list leaves off several shows I’m overwhelmingly likely to cover.  It’s going to be a long season.

Sleeper Candidates: 12-sai, Big Order, Koutetsujo no Kabaneri, Shounen Maid, Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou.

 

Ajin OVA Noragami OVA Kaze no Matasaburou

OVA/Movie: I’m already exhausted.

Noragami Aragoto (OVA) – 3/17/2016: Chapter 41 of the manga.

Kaze no Matasaburou (SP) – 4/19/2016: A city girl moves to the country and dreams of love with a local boy.  A part of this year’s Young Animator Training project and seemingly a remake of a 1988 film (directed by Rintaro).

Dimension W (OAD) – 3/25/2016: Short OADs bundled with Volume 1 and 2 of the Blu-ray/DVD.

One Punch Man (OAD) – 3/25/2016: The One Punch Man OADs continue during a slow time for Madhouse.  A second season is a seeming inevitability at some point.

Kamisama Hajimemashita: Kako-hen (OVA) – 4/25/2016: The “past arc” of KamiHaji continues.  With the manga ending, one hopes we might see a third season to wrap up the adaptation of this wonderful and underrated shoujo – but to be honest, I think we were wildly fortunate to get a second.

Ajin (OVA) – 5/06/2016: Bundled with Vol. 8 of the manga.  This is a depiction of the “Shinya Nakamura Incident”.

 

Theatrical: Not much going on here.

Ajin Shoutotsu – 5/2016: The second Ajin movie, which will presumably take the series past where the anime is leaving off.

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61 comments

  1. So, it sounds like Bungou Stray Dogs is your pre-season pick for the best show of Spring 2016? That’s intriguing, and encouraging. That’s not been a take on it that I’ve heard from anyone else—nor have I even heard anyone mention it might even have that potential. My expectations were simply for it to be fun, but perhaps I can let myself hope for a little bit more.

    The only omission I’m see (and for me, it’s a big one) is Macross Delta. I’m aware it’s not going to have even a prayer of getting an official English simulcast, but not even acknowledging its existence is too much an injustice for a Macross/recent Kawamori fan like me to allow to slide!

  2. I’m just not that much of a Kawamori fan. The previews here are never meant to be encyclopedic – they’re reflections of my personal interest level in the upcoming season.

    I’d be hard-pressed to pick one show I think is the favorite. It really could be any of at least 5 or 6 different ones and it wouldn’t shock me. Bungou Stray Dogs would be on that list.

  3. That’s fair—especially with your schedule as packed as it is already, I can see why you might not take a flier on a show whose creator you’re not really in sync with.

  4. I’ll watch the first episode, don’t get me wrong – just because I don’t preview it doesn’t mean I won’t check it out. Different thresholds there.

  5. Looking forward most to Gyakuten Saiban and Bungou Stray Dog, mostly because Ace Attorney is literally my favourite game series of all time, and I’m a sucker for anything with the word ‘detective’ in the description.

  6. A

    Enzo, I have a question. There have been confirmation for a set of OADs despicting Akatsuki no Yona’s “Zeno Arc” what are personally great news! I love that arc a lot, but it worries me from the perspective of anime viewers: the Zeno Arc happens about two-three arcs after the one where the anime ended and there are a lot of build up for it that it’s going to be surely missed.

    I’ve been looking forward to the chance you may blog Akatsuki no Yona again in the future, but the fact remains that for anime-only viewers these OVAs lack a lot of the needed background.

  7. A

    Forgot the question!

    Basically, knowing that… what are you going to do? Personally I recommend against watching the Zeno Arc without being familiar with the previous ones, but it depends on you.

  8. I know about the OVAs, and I’ll watch (and blog) them. I have little hope of another season and I’m not going to wait.

  9. A

    I see! Thank you for answering! Yeah, these OADs seem to mark its destiny. Will you also blog your impressions in the previous arcs, if you are going to read them?

  10. h

    are you going to review HxH last 9 chapters ?

    this season looks amazing , most anticipated for me are boku no academia and joker game

  11. I may do a summary post on the DC arc. Haven’t decided yet.

  12. The Spring schedule has me trying to narrow down my to-watch list for the first time in forever. School starts in April and I don’t want my GPA going down the drain.

    As it is:
    ConRevo S2
    Bungo Stray Dogs
    Tanaka-kun
    Twin Star Exorcists
    Kuromukuro
    BnHA

    And then there are the carry overs. I’m still trying to reduce the number of shows on that list.

    *Wails melodramatically* It’s not fair!

  13. Think I’m going to take Kurumukuro off that list…

  14. D

    No interest in JoJo Part IV (slice of life, Araki-style)? Many fans consider this as one of the two best arcs (along with VII), and the arc’s final battle is probably the most well-constructed fight in all 100+ volumes of JoJo.

  15. Too hopelessly far behind with Jojo to hope to catch up during a season like this.

  16. O

    I know this probably won’t change your mind, but I’d like to mention that each JoJo arc is pretty self-contained. You wouldn’t be missing much if you picked it up now. That being said, I’m not sure if you’d enjoy JoJo given your tastes (it has a very specific appeal).

  17. Yeah, I understand there’s not much need to have premises for it either. Plus, let’s face it, Stardust Crusaders was the weakest part yet. It had some moments of brilliance, especially in the Egypt arc, but certain sections were a total slog, and overall it’s just too damn long for its own good. It can be fun but it isn’t as GAR as Part 2 (again, except the end. From Pet Shop onwards it’s relentlessly awesome).

  18. C

    (sigh of relief that yet another person does not think the world of Trigger; as the hype dies down, this seems to be an increasingly acceptable opinion)

    I’m not very familiar with Tanaka-kun but it reminds me a little of Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun. I hope it lends itself well to animation. And while I’m always game to try a Bones series or even Production I.G., I’m most excited about Ace Attorney, but also most worried. Yes, it’s A-1 Pictures, which is always a bit of a mixed bag but managed to please me most of the time. The trailer suggested the show would have a skimpier budget than the typical A-1 successes, and at this point I’m worried we’ll get something closer to the recent Kaitou Kid anime than, say, a decent show with the occasional burst of good animation. Then again, Kaitou Kid didn’t have the story chops that Ace Attorney does, so maybe it will turn out alright in the end. It all comes down to the writing and direction, so no pressure, Watanabe!

  19. Y

    Looking at this list, I am once again reminded of why I am such a fan of your blog. As a veteran anime watcher, I have a tendency to dismiss at least 80% of upcoming series (mostly out of skepticism and intuition), and while I am often right about what’s a good fit for me, reading your posts and recommendations has often allowed me to broaden my perspective and tread unfamiliar ground. For example, I probably would not have watched Ushio to Tora if it weren’t for your blog. This season I was originally only interested in Bungou Stray Dogs, Joker Game, and Ushio to Tora 2, however after reading this post I am now interested in giving Endride, Boku no Hero, Ace Attorney, and Tanaka-kun a try.

    Thank you for your hard work every season!

  20. That’s enormously kind of you to say – thank you.

  21. s

    There’s more to togashi’s breaks than just back pains im quite sure. I feel it more has to do with the pure exhaustion that comes with drawing manga and the magazine’s stipulations. Either way, if he chooses to take breaks he should without people rioting. If anything, he probably should give people a window as to how long he plans to write…perhaps that would satiate their rage; i think that’s fair. It would be like announcing a set amount of eps per season for a show

  22. P

    “One other note – if you’re a fan of soundtracks, this should be the best season for quite some times – it’s an impressive list of composers, including the great Kawai Kenji.”

    *raises hand* This is some very good news to my ears because I love me some soundtracks, that was what saved (barely) Zankyou no Terror for me.

    I have only seen the previews for Joker Game but as of right now it’s what I’m most looking forward to, all the novel to anime adaptations I have watched have been good so far.

    The bits I read of Sakamoto desu ga? last year was very funny so that’s in my comedy slot for Spring.

    All in all not dry like winter at all, look forward to your reviews for most of these as well.

  23. Continuing shows that I have followed before like Ushio and Tora are a given. Of the new shows, there are many that I’m interested in or have my curiosity piqued. Won’t commit to them right now until I have watch about 3-4 episodes. There’s only so much time that I can set aside for anime watching. If a number of shows have to be set aside in priority, the probable silver lining is that it would be my fallback in later seasons to watch and catch-up.

  24. T

    I agree with one of the commenters Zeno arc was a huge build up and I was worried about that arc being animated because its relevant in the main story line. However Kusanagi on her blog posted the reasons why she decided she wanted Zeno arc to be animated. Essentially she said felt there would not be another chance for Zeno backstory to be told or hell for animated version to ever make it that far into the story so she decided to jump at the opportunity. I was originally disappointed, BUT now that I know from the queen herself the reasons why she chose Zeno arc as opposed to the shorts I really cant argue with that anymore (still disappointed). I guess my question is are you going to read the series first (then blog about it) or watch his story be told?

    As for this season, sigh I have so much on my back log. ;_;

  25. T

    Oh enzo I forgot to post Kusanagi blog in case you want to read more of her thoughts about Zeno arc. http://yaplog.jp/sanaginonaka/archive/754

  26. I thought Mob Psycho 100 was going to premiere this season and was looking forward to it. Is is slotted for summer?
    Otherwise, there’s quite a lot to sample this season. My main picks are Joker and My Hero Academia. Will see which other ones will hold up.
    And YAY, HXH is back! Good thing it’s coming back right after Osomatsu-san finishes.

  27. s

    mob psycho 100 has always been slated for the summer

  28. So summer it is. I looked around for a date and just couldn’t find it for some reason, so thanks for the info.

  29. And there’s those of us for which this is the season when Jojo comes back, oh and also there’s all that other stuff XD.

    …but seriously, jokes aside, season is ridiculously packed. Jojo, Boku no Hero, Ushio and Tora back, Concrete Revolution I’ll eventually have to watch (probably will wait for it to be finished though), Joker Game, Bungou Stray Dogs, those Tanaka-kun and Sakamoto comedies, and the return of Trigger – which I’ll admit hasn’t been up to the hype they get (Ninja Slayer was pretty bad, and that superpowers LN show was simply forgettable), but two series, and of the two, Luluco seems the most promising to me, as it seems to play on their “cute” side (like Little Witch Academia did). Kiznaiver makes me curious but frankly I am wary of Mari Okada.

    Also, Kabaneri. Let’s face it, when the writer of Code Geass and the director of Attack on Titan team up, whatever comes out will be hammier than a rap battle between William Shatner and Adam West. I shall fetch the popcorn.

  30. e

    Dogs and Poker.
    Jojo IV ( not a fan of the overall structure and length of Part III Stardust Crusaders – it still did have good moments, a good ending and my darling cherry boy-on-steroids Kakyoin :,) – but every arc tend to shuffle things around and part IV has a few interesting bits including some that Togashi must have liked as he used them for a certain HxH MC I hear :p ).
    UshiTora of course.
    ConcRevo is on the bucket list once it’s finished.
    Everything else is giant question mark (this blogger is persuasive :p) or a no thanks. Talking of the latter: Super Lovers… uhm. Unfortunately it features the kind of setup and BL visual (mis)match that makes my skin crawl somewhat fierce. There are maybe a couple of authors tops I’d trust with this kind of material. I pass…

  31. Yeah, Super Lovers is a big warning sign for me as well. I was also wary of Shonen Maid for the same reasons, but if Enzo says it’s not what it looks like, I have to believe him. Still, it’s not exactly my genre and the season is packed enough, so unless it ends up on Crunchyroll and for some reason I really have nothing to do I may check it out.

  32. I don’t know exactly what you think Shounen Maid looks like, but I suspect based on the tone of your comment that it’s not like whatever that is. Give it a chance – it may surprise you.

  33. Nah, I realized it. I had gotten the impression that the whole crossdressing boy angle was yet another approach to some kind of slightly creepy shotacon story. As I said, your preview definitely convinced me that it’s not that. However, even for some kind of cute comedy/slice of life show I still have Tanaka-kun and Sakamoto that intrigue me more, and those aren’t even the kind of show I care about the most. I’m definitely more hyped for Jojo, Ushio’s finale, and Boku no Hero Academia.

  34. P

    I agree with everything you said about Hero Academia. It is flawed but I love it as if it were a masterpiece. I pretty much enjoy it every week and get pumped for the next chapter every time. There has not been a weekly manga like that for me personally in a long time. Its pretty surreal to read Horikoshi’s first authors note in Volume One. It’s nice that he has finally found success after his first two failures.

  35. It really is an incredibly honest work, isn’t it? And full of love for shounen manga and American comics.

  36. At least you’ve read Shounen Maid before, so I don’t have to try to sell it for you here. That’s a relieve.

    Really, it’s maddening how many people dismiss it outright as yaoicrap and/or confusing it with the other Shounen Maid.

  37. Conditioning, I suppose. There just aren’t many series about boys that age which aren’t playing the same angle most series about girls that age are playing.

  38. M

    If Natsume Yuujinchou can get a fifth season, maybe Kamisama Hajimemashita can get one more as well.

  39. Pretty huge difference in disc sales, though.

  40. h

    Yup, just want to add a bit of what Enzo said, the difference is very huge between KamiHaji and Natsume, not only Natsume sold more per vols in manga terms, but one of the most important thing is Natsume BD/DVD sales are vastly different than KamiHaji (Natsume is one of the few or even the only shoujo title that consistently averages around 9-10K+ disc sales through all of the seasons, compare with all other shoujos which practically bombed/mediocre in disc sales except Hachikuro and KimiTodo, I don’t think 2K disc sales for shoujo titles can even be considered good/success for any production committees to easily willing to greenlight another season despite a decent modest boost on the original sources). Just like how Mushishi manage to get another final season is partially because the director is very passionate about the projects and the production committee still find incentives in greenlighting it since the first ones sold around 10+K disc sales. Disc sales is not everything, but it’s still one of the main primary factors for the production committees to reconsider any sequels, besides the enormous boost of the original sources (like most shounen series, especially SJ series), live-action films/drama tie-in promotions, TV ratings, merchandises, etc..etc…and honestly I find most of shoujo series manga sales, especially the ones from Hakusensha with the exception of Natsume is still “nothing” compare to those shonen or seinen ones like OP, SnK, Haikyuu, TG, NNT, etc. Heck even compared to their peers from Shueisha or Kodansha (Nana, Nodame Cantabille, Kimi no Todoke, Ao Haru Ride….where those are the only rare shoujo that can equal shounen series on their manga sales considering all of them are the only ones that sold around 900K-1mil+ per vols), etc their sales are still below them by a lot margins. I find it quite ironic that the most selling shounen series in Japan that loved by the majority are mostly fiction series set in fantasy setting, while the most popular shoujo ones like Nana, nodame, etc are the ones that set in our real-life setting. Nowdays, there’s no shoujo with fantasy-types of setting like AkaYona, Soredemo, Akagami, etc can hold candles in terms of manga sales compare to their peers that dabbles in everyday-real life setting whether it’s high school setting/college/work places, etc like Nana, Nodame, KimiTodo, Ao Haru Ride, Ore Mono, Hachikuro, Chihayafuru, etc…heck even series like Ookami Shoujo sold more than those series from Hakusensha (Hana to Yume&Lala), with the only exception is Natsume. I guess those sales shows the fact that many Japanese female/woman demographics still considering the ones with those real-life settings more preferable/relatable for them individually.
    KamiHaji getting another cour of 12 eps 2nd season is practically already something to be grateful enough, the average disc sales of the 1st season is totally so-so (around 3-4K maybe) , but I guess since it’s only 1 cour unlike all the others 2 cour adaption that the least we get from shoujo titles by Hakusensha (HtY&Lala), plus the manga gets a bit of decent boosts from the 1st season and (maybe) Funimation and other production committees still find incentives to make another 1 cour at that time and that’s why we still get another season of 12 eps. But the sales for the 2nd season is practically bombing so hard, under (sub) 1K if I’m not mistaken (need to check it again), that’s why The Past Arc is animated as ova. If they want to make another season, why animate that in a ova form, you know. It’s better off to animate a singular chapter/kind of side-story chapter or even original stuffslike those SnK ovas, etc rather than animate an important continuos storyline-arc as ovas. Plus it’s the norm that another season won’t give any huge major boost just like the 1st anime adaptions, basically the huge boost normally only happen on the first iteration.
    Just like what one poster above said regarding AkaYona situation stricly from the words of the mangaka herself, where Kusanagi-sensei said on her twitter what’s the reason why the Zeno-part being animated as only manga tie-in ovas, while the arcs before it, the water tribe arc being adapted as a stage-plays (that already announced on ANN, etc). It’s because the chances for any sequel or continuation is practically kind of slims or a very long-shot (I’m not saying it’s practically zero chances, but it all depends on the production committee or if there’re rich producers that willing to throw their money away). If those series happen to get another season then it’s practically something worth to be grateful about, let alone the miracles of shoujo titles to get a whole full anime adaptations that adapting the whole materials until the end, unless you’re very successfull or even iconic or legendary in the world of shoujo manga/demographics (in terms of sales, popularity, etc) on the level like say….Sailor Moon, Nodame Cantabille, Hana Yori Dango, Itazura na Kiss, etc…then the chances for full adaptation is very much slim. It’s basically in the hands of the producers, all we can do is just to support it in any way we can, and if by the end of it there’re no continuations at all then we all just have to move on and switch to reading the manga/novel ourself, cuz thats how the anime industry always works all this time, just like any other entertainment mediums.

  41. C

    I love Togashi to death, HxH is the greatest “shounen” of all time and to compare Hunter with any other work in the same genre sometimes feels like comparing Bach to Maroon Five.

    But if someone like Daisuke Ashihara works very hard to provide us with that excellent little gem called World Trigger, in spite of his cervical spondylotic radiculopathy, without having Togashi’s enviable contract, then Togashi needs to step up his game.

  42. i

    The berserk fan base is far worse when it comes to how bad they can be and that whole idol masters bull that everyone keeps bring up based solely on info of a click bait website thats moslty based around hentai for god sake, it doesn’t even have the art quality issues HXH has each chapter has a massive amount of effort put into it but you get nothing but people complaining.

  43. Pretty sure most of that Berserk fanbase also follows HxH though, they’re both quite popular. I guess fans will whine at every little thing…

  44. G

    Just the poster visual for Joker Game is getting me intrigued, it will be a busy season for all of us and this season easily hits all my soft spots in terms of genre.

    Definitely picking BnHA and Rinne as my feel good shows, but I’m most intrigued by Bungou Stray Dogs. The hype is huge

  45. a

    I spent 20 minutes trying to find more information about “Uwah” since it was the first entry on your “Will Definitely Blog” list, until I noticed it wasn’t in italics. I am not a smart person.

  46. Thank you for the season preview, Enzo! It must have taken a long time to write.

  47. Truthfully, you have no idea. It’s basically a week where I have no life.

  48. Oh my goodness! I can’t even imagine.

  49. M

    Are you going to cover Hunter x Hunter chapters that are already out, or just start from his return this April? It’s my favorite anime and I love your posts about it. Sometimes I’ll just reread a bunch. Thanks

  50. Tentatively planning to do a “story so far” post on the Dark Continent chapters.

  51. E

    Hey Enzo, how do you feel about the announcement that Adult Swim and Peoduction IG are making Seasons 2 amd 3 for FLCL? (http://comicbook.com/2016/03/24/flcl-seasons-2-and-3-announced-by-adult-swim/)

    I doubt they could pull it off but its exciting news regardless.

  52. I’m somewhere in the depression stage of grief right now. Normally I’d say acceptance will come sooner or later, but my love for FLCL is so deep and elemental that I may never get past stage 4.

  53. Adult Swim also will be starting episode 1 of Hunter X Hunter on April 16th. Of course it will be dubbed but will still be worth watching.

  54. A

    Hey Enzo, how did you find out Sousei is split-cour?

  55. That was speculated based on the timeslot, I believe.

  56. R

    If Summer 2013 got the crown for the best Summer in recent years, Winter 2016, to me, is in its grip for the Oscar of Winter. Coming in, I was so looking forward to Shouwa Rakugo — I have been waiting for the TV series to come since you previewed the ova/movie a while back — but as it turns out, this Winter is packed with quality shows that everyday I have something to look forward to. Of course, carryovers like Haikyuu!! and Osomatsu-san help fill up the week.

    While the upcoming Spring comes with sheer volume of shows, somehow I don’t find myself feeling as excited. Having said that, Joker Game, like you said, may probably be the one that will carry the season. Who knows, maybe there are a few more that will surprise us. I’m looking forward to the sequels though. Casted my votes just now….it seems like Rinne deserves more love.

  57. M

    Yeah JoJos back!

  58. v

    “the most ungrateful fanbase in manga” What a load of myopic horeshit. We’re talking about a guy who takes 2-3 year breaks, release 20 chapters worth of story then goes on brake for two years again, and you call people who complain ungrateful? Never have i heard such a sad joke.

  59. Just watched the 1st episode of Bungo Stray Dogs and it was a fun episode. Looking forward to seeing what comes next.

  60. G

    A bit late in this post – any interest in Gundam UC RE:0096? Have you seen the Unicorn OVAs already?

    It helps if you have some background in the original gundam canon, but it’s still a really cool piece of work…and the TV adaptation seems to be hitting the right production notes so far.

    I know you’re not a big gundam nut…but with your coverage of IBO and Thunderbolt recently (ep 3 just dropped!) I was kinda curious…

  61. It’s on the list to try and catch up with at some point.

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