Summer 2017 Season Preview

Looks like the dog days of summer are in our future – and that’s without another season of Dog Days.

I’m not too happy with the Summer 2017 schedule. It used to be that summer was a reliably weak season for anime, but that’s changed over the past few years – where it’s actually eclipsed fall on more than one occasion (and even proved to be the best season of 2013). But this year, it just looks weak – really weak. And with winter having been exceedingly thin and fall looking almost as bad as summer, 2017 may be on-course to be the worst anime season ever in terms of depth.

Spring at least has proved to be decent – certainly not exceptional (and paling in comparison to the twin colossus of 5 and 10 years ago), but, well- average. The problem comes when average starts to look exceptional, and that’s where we are with anime in 2017. 2016 may have been a blip, but unless something changes it really feels as if we’re in a spiral. I’m not going to call it a “death” spiral – yet – but downward is definitely on the table. Honestly, I think as a creative medium anime at this point is like a species so endangered that there isn’t enough genetic material left for it to survive. So it hangs on in zoos with names like “Bones” and “MAPPA” with captive breeding but can’t survive in the wild any longer.  Yeah, Pluto is pretty great – but 8 episodes in 2020 (maybe) is a thin reed to cling to for optimism.

I know you’re sick of hearing about it, but I defy anyone to look objectively at the series announcements over the past six months and not conclude that anime has a very serious problem. The boxes are getting narrower and narrower, the target audiences more and more targeted – the house of pies is increasingly winning the day. Bland, creatively bankrupt (if you’re lucky) LN adaptations, imouto shows, cute girls doing cute things (this is expanding out now to cute monster girls, cute anthropomorphized inanimate object girls, etc.), Ikebukuro shows aimed at female otaku – if it doesn’t fit into the box it probably doesn’t get made. Great manga by the dozens are ignored while (frankly) garbage is adapted left and right.

In short, we’re probably screwed – more than ever before, it feels like the end is in sight. Animators make starvation wages, all but the elite studios hemorrhage money, and production committees control the creative process. Television Anime needs a savior, but I don’t see one on the horizon (though Sunrise and P.A. Works at least seem to be taking steps to give animators a fighting chance at a liveable wage and sustainable career). It will certainly survive as a medium, but it’s going to be on creative life-support unless something changes – the future I see is three or four watchable shows per season (in a good season), and even that’s thanks to holdouts like Bones and MAPPA.

But hey – we’re here to talk about Summer 2017 in specific, so we may as well do that. Let’s see, there’s Ballroom e Youkoso (in a charitable mood I’d probably include Production I.G. in that list of holdouts). There’s Tsurezure Children, which looks fascinatingly odd and somewhat perverse. There’s Shoukoku no Altair, MAPPA’s take on a very well-respected historical fantasy manga. And also from MAPPA (which is increasingly looking ready to join Bones as final bastions of creative ambition in anime) is Kakegurui, which honestly looks pretty silly to me but seems to be well-liked as a manga.

And in terms of stuff I’m looking forward to – really looking forward to – that’s about it.

And that’s not an exaggeration. The rest of it is straight-up wing and prayer stuff – the next series on my anticipation list (Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun) seems suspiciously like it might be a short. After that it’s LNs ad nauseum, Nisio Isin sequels. Cute beastgirls doing cute things, idols, Free! ripoffs and a couple of random manga adaptations that might surprise. Against that backdrop Nagahama Hiroshi’s The Reflection looks like a colossus – despite being an almost total cipher. It’s not a pretty picture, and there’s not enough lipstick in the world for me to make it so.

I can’t really even do my usual breakdown by genre, style etc. – because the non-crap sample size is simply too small to draw any meaningful conclusions. Oh, well – on the plus side at least the preview isn’t going to gobble up most of your cache.

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

Hajimete

Hajimete no Gal – NAZ
Director: Furukawa Hiroyuki
Writer: Momose Yuuichirou
Schedule: Premieres Sunday 06/25, Time TBD
Episodes: 10

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: Hajimete no Gal is a high school romcom about a guy desperate to lose his virginity, and the girl he hopes to lose it with. It’s probably way too optimistic to think that this might be a male version of B Gata H Kei (which was way underrated), but hey – a writer can dream. The manga seems to be modestly well-regarded, for whatever that’s worth.

Vatican

Vatican Kiseki Chousakan – J.C. Staff
Director: Yonetani Yoshitomo
Writer: Minakami Seishi
Schedule: Premieres Tuesday 06/27, Time TBD
Episodes: 12

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: J.C. Staff has put Vatican Kiseki Chousakan in the hands of a very experienced director in Yonetani (Shoukugeki no Souma, Shakugan no Shana among others). It’s always interesting to see Japanese take on iconic Western institutions like the Catholic Church, and this supernatural mystery thriller sounds like a cross between Gosick and The Da Vinci Code. That might just be weird enough to be interesting – we’ll see.

Koi

Koi to Uso – LIDENFILMS
Director Takuno Seiki
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Premieres Monday, 07/03/17, Time TBD
Episodes: TBA

 

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: The premise here is that society now forbids both love and lies, and determines everyone’s marriage partner when they turn 16. I actually think that’s kind of an interesting setup, but as I understand it the source manga has a reputation as quite the rage-inducer. I go into this one with, let’s say, morbid curiosity…

Keppeki

Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun – TMS
Director: Ichikawa Kazuya
Writer: Gotou Midori
Schedule: Premieres Monday, 07/03, Time TBD
Episodes: TBA

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: The cupboard is pretty much bare for true sports anime this summer (Ballroom e Youkoso and Nana Maru San Batsu sort of count, I guess – and Dive!!) – and summer is typically the season where we see them the most.  So, needless to say it’d be nice if Keppeki Danshi! Aoyama-kun were to prove to be a winner.  It’s a soccer anime based on a manga about a high-schooler soccer player so good he plays for the Japan U-17 team.  This boy also happens to be so fastidious that he refuses to tackle (is his nickname Ronaldo?) or head the ball, and will only handle throw-ins wearing gloves.  I’ve been worried that this show was going to be a short, but there’s no evidence of that yet.  I don’t really know what to expect here but the staff is competent and so is TMS, so I’ll hope for the best.

Tsurezure

Tsurezure Children – Studio Gokumi
Director: Kaneko Hiraku
Writer: Urahata Taatsuhiko
Schedule: Premieres Tuesday, 07/05, 23:15
Episodes: TBA

 

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: It’s certainly unusual for a short to be this high on my anticipation list, but there are a few extenuating circumstances with Tsurezure Children. First off it’s not all that short at 15 minutes. Then there’s the fact that this season is so shallow in terms of really interesting prospects. But in addition to all that, Wakabayashi Toshiya’s manga seems genuinely interesting and agreeably weird.

Superficially this series seems straightforward enough – a series of vignettes about young love. But from what I understand Tsurezure Children goes pretty far off the published bus routes sometimes (like giving the phrase “Blood and Chocolate” a whole new meaning) and it’ll be interesting to see how much of that survives the transition to anime. Director Kaneko’s resume certainly inspires confidence that it will (it’s packed with kinky weirdness) – though not much confidence beyond that.

Nana Maru

Nana Maru San Batsu – TMS
Director: Okuwaki Masaharu
Writer: Kakihara Yuuko
Schedule: Premieres Wednesday 07/05, Time TBD
Episodes: 12

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: In a season desperately in need of sleepers, Nana Maru San Batsu might just be one.  The idea is inviting – a story about a group of high schoolers involved in the exciting world of competitive quizzes.  I could see the simple and straightforward charm of something like Kabukibu! in this, and TMS is a studio that’s generally pretty good at capturing that vibe.  The staff is more or less competent and experienced, and the manga this show is based on really isn’t bad at all.

Abyss

Made in Abyss – Kinema Citrus
Director: Kojima Masayuki
Writer: Kurata Hideyuki
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 07/07 – Time TBD
Episodes: TBA

 

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: Bones little brother Kinema Citrus is in charge of this adaptation of Tsukushi Akihito’s manga, centered around the titular “Abyss” – a massive cave system that draws explorers from all over the world. There’s a robot as well, and despite the rather cute art style it’s my understanding that Made in Abyss gets pretty dark. This is a solid mid-tier pick with some sleeper potential.

Shoukoku

Shoukoku no Altair – MAPPA
Director: Furuhashi Kazuhiro
Writer: Takagi Noboru
Schedule: Premieres Friday, 07/07, 26:25
Episodes: 2 Cour

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: Shoukoku no Altair is certainly the co-headliner going into Summer 2017 along with Ballroom e Youkoso. It’s also more evidence that MAPPA is staking out a place as one of the rare studios committed to doing more than formula pap designed to please a production committee, and doing so by relying on veterans who were a part of the industry when such series were more common. In this case they’ve brought in Furuhashi Kazuhiro, most famous by far for his work on Rurouni Kenshin.

In fact, Shoukoku has a really strong staff overall, two cours to work with, and one of the better historical shounen manga around as a source material. It may not be the adaptation placed in a Turkic setting that I dream of at night, but it’s still a keeper – the story of a young noble in a “stratocracy” on the verge of war. This is a pretty complicated story, with a huge dash of politics to go along with the military aspects and a large and diverse cast. The manga is ongoing, which always poses its own set of challenges, but apart from that Shoukoku no Altair is probably the safest bet of the summer.

Ballroom

Ballroom e Youkoso – Production I.G.
Director: Itamu Yoshimii
Writer: Suimitsu Kenichi
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 07/08, 26:08
Episodes: TBA

 

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: Speaking of “Ballroom”, this is indeed the other series that sits comfortably atop my expectations list for summer. There are actually a couple of ballroom dance-themed manga out there right now, but this one is generally regarded as the best – and I certainly like what I’ve seen of it. Like Shoukoku this one is the product of an elite studio, though the key staff is considerably less experienced. That’s now always a bad thing, mind you.

In a sense, I think Ballroom e Youkoso is a traditional sports manga – it just happens to be about an non-traditional sports manga topic, like Chihayafuru or Kabukibu!. You have the socially awkward protagonist who finds himself through the sport, romance, the thrill of competition… The manga is a big winner for Shounen Magazine, and mangaka Takeuchi Tomo’s writing and art are outstanding. Again we have an ongoing manga (9 volumes in this case) being adapted, and that always lends an air of uncertainty. But apart from that, “Ballroom” seems to be another safe bet in a season mostly bereft of them.

Centaur

Centaur no Nayami – Haoliners Animation League
Director: Konno Naoyukii
Writer: Machida Touko
Schedule: Premieres Sunday, 07/09, 22:00
Episodes: 12

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: Cute beastgirls doing cute things is the latest trend for anime to try and cash in on this overused trope while giving the appearance (usually falsely) of doing something different. At this point I’m highly skeptical of the genre as a whole, but a couple of people whose opinions I trust seem to think Centaur no Nayami is at least a modestly dark and creative spin on it. This is a complete flyer for me, but I’ll give it an episode or two to surprise me.

Reflection

THE REFLECTION – DEEN
Director: Nagahama Hiroshi
Writer: Suzuki Yasuyuki
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 07/22, 23:00
Episodes: TBA

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: If nothing else THE REFLECTION has intrigue stemming from its unusual pedigree. Director Nagahama requires no introduction, though Mushishi notwithstanding Aku no Hana certainly proves his presence alone isn’t enough to avoid a trainwreck. We also have Stan Lee on-board as co-creator, his first time in that role since the uneven but endearing HEROMAN (Mr. Lee apparently believes anime’s Caps Lock key is permanently depressed). And writer Yasuyuki is much better-known as an animator, though he has a lengthy anime resume. We even have music from legendary producer/composer Trevor Horn (best known to many for “Video Killed the Radio Star”, the first video in MTV history).

We don’t know a tremendous amount about the premise, which not surprisingly represents a take on the superhero genre. After the mysterious event in the title people in various parts of the world sport newly-awakened superpowers. Some use them to become heroes, some villains (yes, this sounds more than a bit like Boku no Hero Academia). The cast looks strong, especially the almost-peerless Miki Shinichirou in the lead role. THE REFLECTION is certainly an unknown quantity, but there’s more than enough here to spark my interest going in.

KakeguruiKakegurui – MAPPA
Director: Hayashi Yuuichirou
Writer: Kobayashi Yasuko
Schedule: Premieres Saturday, 07/22, Time TBD
Episodes: 12

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: Thank goodness for MAPPA, really, because while there are top-rate series occasionally popping up from other studios, it seems as if only MAPPA and Bones are aiming high with any real consistency.  This show is based off a well-reviewed manga about a high school where the wealthy, elite kids are taught “the art of the deal” (sorry if that makes you wince) – through the curriculum of high stakes gambling.  If I’m honest that sounds kind of dumb to me, but people I respect really seem to like the manga and even if Hayashi-sensei is pretty new to the director’s role, he has a good pedigree and the staff is (as usual for MAPPA) strong and experienced.

Katsugeki

Katsugeki/Touken Ranbu – ufotable
Director: Shirai Toshiyuki
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Premieres July 2017, Time TBA
Episodes: TBD

 

Preview:
MAL:

First Look: There’s not much reason to expect a lot out of this latest cash-on on the phenomenally popular game franchise about swords anthropomorphized as bishounen.  But this is supposedly the more “serious” and plot-driven of 2017’s two Touken Ranbu anime adaptations, and ufotable tends to put out some of the better-looking TV anime in terms of animation (especially well-integrated CGI).  I’ll be very surprised if I end up sticking with “Katsugeki” but I’ll give it a shot for a couple of weeks.

Clione

Clione no Akari – drop
Director: Ishikawa Naoya
Writer: TBA
Schedule: Premieres July 2017, Time TBD
Episodes: TBA

 

MAL:
Preview:

First Look: Clione no Akari is a total wing and a prayer job.  It’s based on a net novel about a bullied girl who disappears from school, until two months later her two best friends receive a mysterious email telling them of a festival taking place in a nearby town.  I’m not even sure why I’m previewing it to be honest – the director is basically a newbie, even the studio is new, and net novels, well… Something in the concept art looks mildly appealing to me and the season is thin, so- whatever.

 

Will Definitely Blog: Ballroom e Youkoso, Shoukoku no Altair.  Have I ever gone into a season with only two surefire blogging candidates?  I’m too lazy to check, I can’t think of one off the top of my head.  If Tsurezure Children were full-length I’d probably include it, and it’s overwhelmingly likely I’ll cover it as well anyway.

Sleeper Candidates: Nana Maru San Batsu, Made in Abyss, and that’s about it.  Maybe Hajimete no Gal in a stretch?

 

OVA/Movie: Slightly better that the TV side relative to average (on paper).

Shokugeki no Souma: ni no Sara (OVA) – 07/04/2017: Our Independence Day gift is another OVA from Shokugeki no Souma.  Is it possible this could be the last we see of Souma on screen?  It’s not likely but not impossible – the manga has been eclipsed by a few other WSJ titles in terms of sales, and it’s not as if the anime thrived on disc revenue.

91 Days: Day 13 – 07/05/17: This is the unaired “13th Episode” of the superb crime drama from 2016.  I have no idea about the content but anything new in this mythology is a welcome addition.

Haikyuu!!: Tokushuu! Harukou Volley ni Kaketa Seishun – 08/04/2017: Why, that title’s so long it could almost be a light-novel. This bundled OVA is a look back at the prelims and “interviews” with the players. Should be an amusing trifle, but with no Haikyuu!! 4th season announced yet it’ll have to tide non-moviegoers over for a while.

Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito (OVA) – 08/14/17: The preview OVAs for Mahoutsukai conclude, with an eye towards the full series premiere later this year.  I don’t think the story here is quite as magical as the visuals, but each OVA in this series is certainly an event.

Binan Koukou Chikyuu Bouei-bu LOVE! LOVE! LOVE! – 08/26/17: The Earth Defense club is back for one more adventure because, you know, love is never over.

 

Theatrical: Slim Pickings, especially for a summer season.

Mary to Majo no Hana – 07/08/2017: Studio Ghibli may not be dead after all (Miyazaki’s latest un-retirement is apparently a real thing) but it’ll be interesting to see what Yonebayashi Hiromasa and his new studio, Ponoc, bring to the table in their first feature – and how it fares at the box office.  Yonebayashi-sensei is the most commercially successful Ghibli director apart from the big two, and the preview here makes Mary to Majo look pretty much indistinguishable from a Ghibli film.  The source material is a children’s book from the legendary British novelist Mary Stewart, which likewise seems right in-line with something Ghibli would do.  Trailer:

 

 

 

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41 comments

  1. T

    And to think I was praying Boku no Hero Academia S2 would be a full cour…

  2. It’s two cours.

  3. T

    So it is continuing into this season?

  4. Centaur no Nayami’s source manga is … not just “dark”, it moreso goes to unexpected places … and often, but without any sort of regularity. And the social stratum of the places it goes hops around like a rabbit that has drunk too much coffee. It is definitely not for everyone, but it does go into and touch upon subjects that you would least expect.

    And yeah … Made in Abyss gets DARK.

    The thing about both of these series (both of them are ones I am very, very curious to see what the studios do with them) seems to me to land squarely in the writing department. The visuals for Nayami based on the previews are … well, for me nothing special. Abyss’ visuals looked better. But how they adapt and what they adapt is the issue … with Nayami I think it will be what material they choose, whereas with Abyss I am curious what they will leave out (specifically the darker material).

  5. O

    So do you categorize the second half of Virgin Soul as a spring anime… or is it not airing until the fall? I really hope it’s not the latter. I need my weekly Bahamut fix, at least until Game of Thrones or Rick and Morty start airing again.

  6. As far as I know it’s a straight two-cour, not a split.

  7. O

    neato burrito.

  8. H

    I’m keeping an open mind here but Welcome to the Ballroom is seriously the only show starting next season that I am genuinely excited for. That is so depressing. Usually I have a full list of shows I can’t wait to start airing. All I can hope for is that some of these others will be decent enough to follow.

    I totally agree about great manga getting passed over. Of course I would love an Otoyomegatari adaptation (only if done right) as well as Immortal Rain (Meteor Methuselah), Tail of the Moon, Red River (Anatolia Story), and Ooku: The Inner Chambers just to name a few. There’s also a fair number of BL stories that would make great anime, such as Itoshi no Nekokke or Doukyuusei (the short movie was phenomenal and very beautifully animated but there is so much more to the manga that was left out).

    I didn’t realize the Pluto adaptation is only going to be 8 episodes. I personally haven’t read the manga, but I’ve been interested in the story since you mention it now and again. I was intrigued when I saw the announcement and certainly want to check the show out whenever it gets released, especially since I saw that it’s Studio M2 is producing it.

  9. Well, they’re 8 “long” episodes, whatever that means. Maruyama wanted 39 and said so for years, but reality is a harsh mistress. He’s old, in a wheelchair, and knows his time is limited. Getting Pluto done is his last great professional mission (along with the unfinished Kon film), so it’d be a crime if M2 weren’t behind it.

  10. K

    Oh my…..this is depressing….so I am only mildly interested in Vatican/Abyss/Reflection/Altair and will probably watch each for a few episodes to determine if they are worth my time…sigh. I miss the good old days….Right now i am only watch berserk/virgin/kado(on and off)/hero….Among those I only look forward to Hero on a week to week basis. I am back to filling ‘anime’ time with reading a book time haha….

  11. h

    my eyes are on made in abyss,I got that feeling that it is going to be a Hit

  12. C

    Any update on Drifters S2?

  13. Not that I heard, but follow the wires as I doubt I’ll be talking about it here.

  14. Z

    Wow, I just checked, and Summer had exactly 2 new series I had planned to watch, and 1 continuing series. I’ve taken the time to populate it with anything that sounds vaguely interesting to me, and now I’m up to 11 (insert Spinal Tap joke here). Hopefully Ballroom e Yousoko will stay closer to the “feel” of the manga than Sangatsu no Lion’s adaptation did. As bare as this season looks for me, if BeY were to go tits up, that would be a devastating blow.

  15. e

    Ouch. Barring surprises on The Reflection I’m more interested in the Binan extra and in the final Magus Bride prequel episode than everything else on the regular menu. Ballroom’s writing – regrettably – didn’t really click with me in manga form and I like the trailer even less ( a combination of trying-too-hard facial expressions + they turned all the guy’s physique into anime!Haikyuu-esque body types… basically the overall vibe is off even compared to what I felt the Ballroom manga was aiming for).
    Silver lining: ample time to catch up with the three Spring shows I had in my oh-so-short watch list (Uchouten II, Tsuki Ga Kirei, Virgin Soul) while I wait for Fall – Magus Bride TV seres, yo! – Hopefully they’ll manage to cover up until chapter #27 at least: itìs one of the main turning points and it just escalated from there from very good to candidate for excellence in my book :) -.

    On the subject of the state of anime I would agree if it weren’t for the Yuri!!! on Ice miracle (YMMV but it’s still going super strong outside the usual niche and among the skaters too woohooo if you happen to follow them on social media you’ll see them happily addicted to gadget and merchs, skating the show programs… quite the sight all around for a show that barely managed to get greenlit XDDD).
    On the other hand we could consider it the exception to the trend though.

  16. a

    No Youkai Apato no Yuuga na Nichijou? It’s about boy and youkais story in the same vein on Natsume and Fukigen na Mononokean. Its the one anime I really looking forward this summer because the manga is somewhat comfy

  17. I was close – I’ll definitely check out the premiere. It takes a lot to get me to preview a LN adaptation (even though this one pre-dates the really dark era for LNs) and it usually burns me when I do. That was probably the last show I cut from the preview though.

  18. d

    Actually, Youkai Apato is not LN-based. The original source is a manga in Monthly Shounen Sirius, the same magazine that runs Altair.
    I’m pumped for Ballroom, Youkai Apato, Altair, and Kakegurui.

  19. The manga is an adaptation of an earlier LN.

  20. d

    Ah, didn’t realize that. I was only familiar with the manga, which is quite good.

  21. I was always going to give it a try. LN adaptations have surprised me on occasion.

  22. d

    As usual, thanks a lot for your preview. Honestly, I feel kinda depressed right now, not by the coming season (I actually have high hopes for Altair, The reflection, Vatican and, probably, Made in Abbys) but by how dark and hopeless the anime future looks like. Reading your comments at the introduction of this preview felt pretty much like you were hitting the nail in the head (not sure if that’s the correct expression, English is not my mother tongue after all;) of the situation of the anime industry right now.
    I mean, I’ve just read the latest announcement of a new TV series: Comic girls, a series about (you guessed it) 4 moe girls (who look like 3 year olds) writing manga… Jeez, Japan, please STOP it already.
    It’s actually pretty depressing to think that wonderful manga like Pluto take years and years to go through hell and beyond to get an anime adaptation (IF it finally gets one: let’s keep our fingers crossed) and utter crap like Comic Girls gets greenlight on a weekly basis (seriously, as you mentioned in the intro, can anyone name a single new announcement in the last 6 months that doesn’t involve either moe or fujo pandering?)
    But it doesn’t just end there: the most anticipated series of the summer season for japanese otaku is none other than New Game. The most popular show of the Spring has been Eromanga Sensei… it’s like otaku don’t give a shit about things like plot, character development or animation… as long as they can have their moe waifus doing their thing.
    Oh, boy, I think Anime needs a serious kick in the nuts right now or we are doomed… who knows, maybe Netflix will have the answer ? (I’m actually really looking forward to see what they do with Castlevania, and maybe if it’s succesful enough we’ll see some interesting projects in the future)
    Sorry for the rant but I just felt that I needed to vent some rage because boy is this getting depressing…

  23. That’s definitely the exact right use of the expression, don’t worry.

    It is depressing, absolutely. There was just an NHK special about the dire financial crisis about to befall the industry (which raised quite some waves among those who don’t want to see this discussed), so at least on some level it’s something the Japanese are aware of. But actually fixing it?

    Otaku of both genders are the bane of anime in my opinion. They’re the ones driving the whole house of pies model that’s destroying the medium as a creative entity. And slowly but surely, those narrow tastes are draining out to the West as more and more younger viewers get the idea that this is all anime is. I’m not optimistic – anything but. As I said, right now I think we might be at the stage where anime as a creative medium is effectively extinct in the wild, and able to survive only through captive breeding in zoos.

  24. s

    hmmmmm…see here’s the thing about hajimete no gal; the source material had the potential to be very very good. The female protagonist is a pretty decent character all around and her motivations pertaining to the male lead are very genuine. Heck, i almost got slight “oshiete galko-chan” vibes from it upon the first few chapters (an anime which people should definitely watch) . The problem I had with the manga was that its writing fell short in the areas where it truly mattered. I dont want to spoil the story for those who havent read the source so i wont get too into it; the bottom line is that hajimete no gal has some charm but it stumbles in some critical areas. Im hoping the anime adaptation can fix those areas although for some reason it seems that the anime has cranked up the fanservice waaaaaayy more than its manga counterpart

  25. B

    No Fate/Apocrypha? I find its statements on immortality and salvation interesting and the characters rather likable, and if all else fails the spectacle of 14 Servants fighting should entertain.

  26. I’m done with the Fate mythology. I think it was only Gen’s involvement that made it interesting enough to rise about its obsessive tropiness, and even with F/Z the second season totally lost me by the end (as Gen’s series almost always do).

  27. s

    Once upon a time enzo, I would have been singing the doom and gloom of the anime industry right there with you; and while the industry is still in the shitter, I dont think all is lost. The course of the anime industry is just shifting; shifting in an attempt to make things better. As ive mentioned before, we are probably moving into a phase of anime where a lot of it’s financial successes may lie in anime films. Just look at the boom of premiering anime films in selected areas of a limited amount of time. We are starting to see this happen more often in accordance with certain studios like kyo ani attempting to make big splashes in the international market in an attempt to grow and find greater success. Streaming services have become more robust and crowd funding, while not where we would like it to be, is starting to sprout seeds as a viable way to fund projects. Netflix is dabbling in more anime original projects, and while they wont give out the numbers pertaining to how well their projects do, the fact that they keep making them and that they seem to be forming a tight knit relationship with polygon pictures is a pretty good sign that things may be going alright for them. Believe it or not, the west seems to be slowly starting to look at anime as a respectable medium of art and if this exposure can continue, the slump that the industry is in may start to change into a healthy and constructive ecosystem for creators to make content that is reputable and successful. Im sure you’re probably already aware of the A.I. being developed to complete in-between animations for key frames and the prospect of that taking the strenuous load off of animators. Im going to have some faith that things will get better before they get worse.

  28. A lot of very prominent people in the industry aren’t so enthusiastic about that development – they think it’s just going to mean even less work for animators and in turn, drive even more people away from pursuing animation as a career.

    Maybe there’s something happening in films, but for me, that can never take the place of TV anime as the backbone of the industry. And TBH if there is a renaissance in theatrical anime I think it has to do more with the talent of the specific directors involved (ands really, we’re talking about Shinkai and Hosoda here as the directors who really make a difference commercially). Guys like Hara Keiichi still put out critically revered movies that tank at the box office.

    As for the involvement of entities like Netflix and Amazon, I’m agnostic at this point as to whether that’s a net positive or not. I suppose I take the view that the current system is so broken that it’s better to take our chances with an entirely different model, even if we don’t know whether its creative impact will be positive or negative.

  29. s

    “Maybe there’s something happening in films, but for me, that can never take the place of TV anime as the backbone of the industry”

    Well once upon a time theatrical anime use to be the backbone of the industry….you know..before the depression which led to the crash of the animation renaissance in japan and anime had to come back in the form of limited animation for TV. Yes we are in a time were tv anime is the scaffolding of the industry and i would like for it to stay that way, but im mostly saying that film might be what starts pulling in the big bucks .for the industry as it has more of a possibility of going mainstream while tv anime remains niche. While Shinkai and hosada are the main batters when it comes to anime film, do not underestimate the power of popular franchise. The sword art online movie did surprisingly well considering the vitriol that exists for the series. The kizumongatari movies have also done well theatrically for what their worth and are selling well on blu-rays which is no surprise considering how popular the series is. Then you have movies like one piece, fairy tail, the latest naruto movie, etc. If the reputation of those franchise continue cross international borders, we are looking at significant exposure to anime as well as a chance for other anime features to shine. Koe no katachi was successful for kyo ani, and we all know how much of mega hit your name was, which is significant not just for its financial success, but for how it affected non-anime fans, some of who want to watch more anime film as a result of its success. Hopefully some of that intrigue brings attention to the movie “In this corner of the world”…I need that movie yesterday.

    In regards to the in-between animation A.I., i think those prominent industry naysayers are prognosticating too far into the future and that is clouding their judgment. First off, i dont think the A.I. would ever be able to be developed to a point where the personableness that is found in drawing will be replicated and even if it did, what one A.I. could draw would not be the same as the vision of another person drawing that thing. Secondly, there are so many other elements in animation such as being an animation director, doing photography, color checking, storyboarding, key frame animation. So much of that will still need people supervising these things and will probably need those people for a long time; those things are still linked to a career as an animator. Thirdly, if the A.I. truly does take off, it’s going to be imperfect for quite some time. What this means is that rather than in-betweeners breaking their backs to do their job, all they have to do is just correct the mistakes the A.I. makes (and it will be making mistakes for a long time). The A.I. dont have to make jobs obselete; they just need to supplement the necessary work force to produce anime in a timely manner. If anything, the perfection of the A.I. will promote more animators to focus themselves in key animation or digital effect work and design.

    Long story short, the industry is definitely in the shitter, but like in the shawshank redemption, there’s a cloud rain waiting to wash the stank and nasty ecoli of the body of the industry. Dont go agnostic on me just yet man

  30. M

    As much as I appreciate the shine of optimism, these developments seem to me lukewarm at best in a place where lukewarm isn’t enough to change currents. For this broken system & creative draining are a self-perpetuating terminal cancer that work in a feedback loop. And the reputation & perception this creates of the medium is a rabbit hole that prevents change.

    People are starting to think this is what ANIME is, and take the shit pandering for granted without resistance. We need change in infrastructure; and I don’t feel accentuating the movies and leaving TV to be its own niche for a while will achieve that. Creating a different kind of spotlight and shifting perception by focusing on other parts of what Japanimation is is a good idea, but even if it happens, the change must happen from within.

    Right now, it’s internally broken and leaky. The ones that place the defibrillators MUST be the ones that work in the industry, with support from outside demographics. There needs to be cooperation between producer & audience for this to work. The anime industry must adapt a more sustainable model, with a healthy relationship with its employees. Which is why the present is a harrowing picture.

    Because we’re currently as far away from cooperation as can be.

  31. Agreed. As I said, the only real source of hope I can see is what Sunrise and PAW are going to be doing with animator training programs – it may be a small first step in a positive direction, but it’s going to have to be followed up by much bolder ones or we’re still doomed.

  32. s

    I don’t think the future of anime is grim, but now I’m too tired to start a discussion. I would like to point out some things about the preview though.
    You didn’t mention Princess Principle. I know it has moe girls and a mobage tie-in (I don’t like these things too), but hey, it looks like another Ichiro Okuchi trainwreck and a fun ride (PV2 already has blood and mad facial expressions, a sign of potentially fun trash). I don’t think it will reach the level of Valvrave, but possibly it can be more fun than Kabaneri was – I felt that he was playing a bit safe there.
    Also I think that Isekai Shokudou looks like a sleeper hit. LN started as a net-only and grew popular enough to recieve a print version and a manga. It seems pretty well-regarded.
    I stii have some hope in Yamakan delivering a somewhat okay show with RoboMasters the Animated Series. I didn’t believe in Gundam Build Fighters, and it proved to be quite cool.
    18if also has Kouji Morimoto attached to it, so there’s some hope.
    And I’m really surprised that you didn’t include any info on Ballrm’s director. He did Mitsuami no Kamisama, a fairly impressive short back then, so he’s definetly an interesting choice.
    DIVE!!! is based on a book written by the author of Colorful. Yes, the movie, not that odd series. Again, a surprising twist.
    So actually, I think that this season looks really interesting. It’s the season of dark horses. I’m really excited for very few shows, but I’m very interested in seeing many projects, actually, way more than in Spring. It had only Kado as a dark horse (and it thankfully delivered).

  33. I

    Just a thought but in the future, considering the falling quality of anime, would you rather review and recommend manga?

  34. Well, I mean- I do. I could always review more, and I have thought about it. But broadly speaking I don’t think manga lends itself to weekly blogging as anime.

  35. J

    I really enjoy reading your thoughts on the industry Enzo. Even though your likes and dislikes in anime sometimes vary greatly with me, I can recognize we’re alike in how gloomy (I think) we see the scene nowadays, and I don’t doubt you’ve watched way more shows and know backstage shenanigans far greater than I do.

    I know it’s a pain and your posts would become far longer than they already are, but if you could, I would really appreciate it if you could expand on some off-comments you make referencing certain events or people, or link to a post where you expand on this. Sometimes you’ll mention industry-related stuff that I’d be super interested in learning more about, but just end the idea there and move on. Because I kinda (think I) know you I usually get most of those references, but it’s frustrating as a reader to not get the others.

    Again, I know writing can be tiresome and I don’t want you to read this as a complaint. Keep up with the great posts man.

  36. Thanks for that kind comment. Let me know specifically what you’d like me to elaborate on, and I’ll be happy to do so to the extent I can.

  37. M

    I’m probably jaded beyond recovery. Nothing in this list even remotely piques my interest. Anime’s kinda like Japanese motorsport right now – Honda in F1, Toyota in LeMans – so woeful it’s just painful to watch.

  38. y

    As much as I am very excited with the return of Saiyuki, I think that it doesn’t have the same sparks and fanbase as it used to. Anyway, I’m still looking forward on it. Right now, what I really want to see is Fate/Apocrypha, it’s not just the hype and although this is not a work from ufotable, I’m still believe that it’ll be awesome. Re:Creators 2nd cour better be good and give us better change of phase in the story, Souta need to man up seriously. And lastly, Hell Girl is definitely just my thing. Nonetheless, thank you for sharing some preview about the upcoming season, I don’t think it was as strong as spring but I guess, it has a pretty decent and somehow refreshing (not too many sequels) lineup.

  39. Comment re-added:

    Well you still have the Kamisama Kiss and Akatsuki no Yona OVA’s to compensate if this summer season proves to be bad.

    Say

    In reply to kanda92.

    Me too, I’m waiting for the Akatsuki no Yona’s review!

  40. Comments re-added:

    yoloalchemist

    In reply to yoloalchemist.

    Oops! Not really on the day of the announcement, but still…

    Guardian Enzo

    In reply to yoloalchemist.

    Actually I posted it like a week ago. But yeah, I did see this – good news indeed.

    yoloalchemist

    “Is it possible this could be the last we see of Souma on screen? It’s not likely but not impossible”
    Hey Enzo. It looks you posted this summer anime schedule just on the day it was announced that a 3rd anime season of Souma is going to air this fall. Just thought I should inform you. https://myanimelist.net/news/51212200
    Though I have to say, having someone other than Taneda Risa voice Erina isn’t really good news for me. Hope she recovers and I hope this problem doesn’t affect her career going forward. Who know. Maybe she’ll even get the role of Erina back, though I don’t know if that can happen.

  41. Comments re-added:

    blargnobia

    Enzo, do you plan on blogging Hunter x Hunter now that the manga is back? I always enjoy your thoughts on the series.

    Guardian Enzo

    In reply to blargnobia.

    Yes, I will – I’ll jump back in as soon as I have time.

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