We just came off one of the best seasons of anime that I’ve yet encountered. There were more shows that were absolutely brilliant than I could possibly keep up with. (which is exactly why I've only just now started watching The Ancient Magus Bride) Even with the ones that I did decide to keep up with, such as Juuni Taisen or MMO Junkie, a lot of them simply fell off my radar because there were other shows that I also wanted to keep with that were even better or at least more fun for me to watch (Garo – Vanishing Line = best Garo) And then there were those unfortunate shows that weren’t actually bad but just not freaking amazing and in the fall of 2017 that was reason enough for me to drop them from my already ridiculously busy viewing schedule. (I’m sorry Kimono-clad moe Kitsunes, one day I’ll pick you up again, I promise)
So with this onslaught of amazing anime and my desperate battle to keep up with all of them (that I completely and utterly lost, as expected) a thought came to my mind. A wish that I never thought I’d have.
“Maybe next season there’ll be fewer great anime to keep up with”
Well, …it seems that wish has come true and now I wish I’d never have wished that.
This surprises me greatly too because this is the winter season and much like with movies winter is generally reserved for shows that, while not necessarily speaking to the broadest audience do tend to appeal to critics and the more intellectually minded individual. Personally, I do not consider myself part of the reactionary, condescending, permanantly pessimistic and downright unpleasant bunch usually referred to as elitists, but it is true that the shows that tend to pander more to that crowd often also happen to be the ones that appeal to my tastes. More often than not, these shows air in either winter or fall. This winter though…while I’m not saying there aren’t any shows like that, there’s certainly not a lot of them and by extension there just aren’t a lot of shows in general that I’m even remotely interested in checking out.
Now, to be fair, winter 2017 was ALSO one of the best seasons of anime I’ve encountered to date so it was never going to be able to top that. March Comes in Like a Lion went through its second cour and turned an already immensely strong series into a masterpiece. Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu returned for a second season which was pretty good until it ran itself into the ground with one of the worst twists ever. We also got the really solid historical police drama Onihei. Though best of all: I got another waifu with the wonderfully cute and sassy Tohru in the highly entertaining romantic comedy Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. A show that has since become a personal favorite of mine. At the same time Interviews With Monster Girls proved there are still many interesting social and philosophical topics you can tackle with a high school slice of life show, while the controversial Scum’s Wish was not to everyone's taste but I thought it was a terrific show and one of the best dramas of the year. Just to name the winter 2017 anime that I can come up with off the top of my head.
That’s not to say that winter 2018 is entirely devoid of promise. Acclaimed director Masaaki Yuasa and his studio Science Saru are making their TV-debut with Devilman Crybaby and Production I.G. is releasing the psychological thriller B: The Beginning. Both of which look absolutely incredible. The reason these are not on the list though is that they are Netflix anime and because of that both series will be available in their entirety on the day of release. Thus my usual rant on how a show will turn out is kind of pointless here because you can simply check them out for yourself when they become available on January 4 and March 2 respectively.
So this leaves us with a rather deserted wasteland in terms of promising releases. Taking second seasons out of the equation because there’s not a lot of reason to include them in a list such as this I could find no more than six shows that I’m interested in and from those six there are really only two that I’m actually somewhat excited for.
6: HAKATA TONKOTSU RAMENSGenre: crime, drama, action
Director: Kenji Yasuda
Writer: Chiaki Kisaki (light novel) Shougo Yasukawa (series composition and script writing)
This is Satelight’s glorious return to the anime scene after being away for a couple of years, at least to my knowledge. Though whether it will actually be a glorious return or a monumental failure that puts the final nail in the studio’s coffin remains to be seen.
The premise of this show isn't exactly the most gripping being rather vague. Apparently, it revolves around the city of Fukuoka’s Hakata Ward where criminals of all kinds duke it out with local law enforcement types who tend to resort to rather unorthodox methods. Then all of a sudden a so-called “killer of professional killers” shows up and, I’m guessing shit hits the fan in a major way. The premise reminds me a lot of Durara and like that anime, it is also based on a series of light novels. Now I love me some Durarara but I’m not all that interested in watching a lame rip off. That being said the PV for this show did look pretty intriguing despite reminding me a lot of Durarara. Or maybe it's simply because of that, I'm easy to catch that way, I admit.
As for the staff involved. The director of this show is Kenji Yasuda who’s most prominent directorial credit is Macross Delta which I haven’t seen but I've heard differing opinions on it. Though he also worked as a storyboard artist on Fullmetal Alchemist and Boogiepop Phantom, so he has that going for him.
The name I was actually very pleased to see on the staff list for this was Kotaro Nakagawa. This man is probably best known as being the music composer for Code Geass. With that show, all of my favourite parts of the OST were the ones that included elements of Jazz, which unfortunately were far too few. But if the PV is anything to go by this series soundtrack will be all Jazz. Also, the OP will be done by The Akeboshi Rockets and I’ve kind of gotten a soft spot for them since Alderamin on the Sky. Which was a great show that nobody watched and if you haven’t seen it…go do that.
As for this show…well, I don’t really have too high expectations for it but I do look forward to listening to the soundtrack. So that’s something at least.
5: JUNJI ITO COLLECTION
Director: Shinobu Tagashira
Writer: Junji Ito (manga) Kaoru Sawada (series composition and script writing)
If you talk to me on a fairly regular basis than this should come as no surprise as I am a rather big fan of the works of Junji Ito. There’s this common misconception that horror is a genre that isn’t present in anime with shows like Higurashi and sometimes even Future Diary getting mislabeled as horror. Junji Ito, however, is the real deal. Not just one of the most prolific horror authors in Japan but, in my opinion, one of the best horror authors period.
So why isn’t this higher on the list? The answer is simple: it’s anthology series and that's not really my favorite storytelling format.
That being said I am still somewhat excited for it because it still is an adaptation of Junji Ito’s works and if done well I can certainly see myself quite liking this show. Not to mention that I’ll then finally have something to recommend to people who say that horror doesn’t exist in anime.
4: VIOLET EVERGARDENGenre: adventure, drama, fantasy
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Director: Taichi Ishidate
Writer: Kana Akatsuki (light novel) Reiko Yoshida (series composition and script writing)
This is by far the highest anticipated anime this season and with good reason too. More than two years ago Kyoto Animation released a brief teaser that took the anime fandom by storm and ever since they’ve been hyping the show up with more teasers, a trailer and even a showing the first three episodes at Anime Expo. And now in winter 2018…after all this hype…we’ll finally be able to see the series in its entirety. That is to say, if you’re not one of those suckers like me who prefer to consume their anime legally and thus get fucked over by Netflix and Amazon on a daily basis. Because for us…it probably won’t be until spring at the earliest that we get that chance. Which is exactly why I’m not gonna waste more words on this. Cause that’d ge just adding insult to injury and I’m not as big an asshat as some of the people at Netflix.
3: DARLING IN THE FRANXX
Genre: adventure, action, sci fi, mecha
Studio: Trigger/A-1 Pictures
Director: Atsushi Nishigori
Writer: Naotaka Hayashi
This is a series I really haven’t looked into all that much. Mostly because I was on board with it right out of the gate. It’s a collaboration between Trigger and A-1 Pictures and takes place in a fictional sci-fi universe that has mechs in it. That’s enough for me to know I want to at least check this out. The one PV I did watch also showcased some pretty awesome animation too making me ven more sure this show would be worth checking out for me.
That being said, I don’t want to get too excited about this show either. Mainly because of the possibilities if it succeeds. In recent years, mech anime seems to have been in short supply. Something that, as a mecha fan, makes me weep long into the night. But if this series actually becomes a success there’s a chance…albeit a small one...that it might signal the return of mech anime. Not that, that’s necessarily an amazing development in its own right but…well, I certainly wouldn’t mind it if that does come to pass.
2: RECORD OF GRANCREST WAR
Genre: action, fantasy
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Shinichi Omata
Writer: Ryou Mizuno (light novel Ryou Mizuno & Satoshi Yano (series composition and script writing)
This is the first anime from this upcoming season that I’m actually very excited about. Mainly because, while I do still consider it viable for this list, it is a sequel of sorts. To be exact it is the spiritual successor to Record of Lodoss War.
The story will follow a, in my opinion, gorgeous looking blonde mage who’s noble and headstrong nature puts her in the crosshairs of the lords of the land who’ve forsaken their vows to protect it and instead battle each other for supremacy.
The impression I get from this series is that it takes the stereotypical medieval fantasy world and infuses it with a good amount of political intrigue and strategizing. This in turn once again reminds me strongly of Alderamin on the Sky and if this show turns out anything like that one...ho boy are we ever in for a treat!
Behind the scenes, everything also seems to be very much in order with the show being produced by A-1 Pictures and having some of the most talented people in the anime indusry working on it. The PV also had me impressed with some beautiful animation, a good balance between political intrigue and action and while we can’t say much about the actual personalities, at least visually I had no problem telling the characters apart which is a very good thing for a show that has as extensive a cast as this one seems to have.
While we won’t know if this show is really any good until at least the first episode has aired this is one of the few shows this season that I’m actually willing to bet on being awesome. Mainly because of how much it already has going for it. Here’s hoping I’m not wrong in that assumption.
HONORABLE MENTION: OVERLORD – SEASON 2
Genre: adventure, comedy, fantasy
Director: Naoyuji Itou
Writer: Maruyama Kugane (light novel) Yukie Sugawara (series composition and script writing)
Yeah, yeah, I know I said no second seasons but this is Overlord. I went into this show expecting it to be mindless fluff and instead got both a brilliant comedy and an awesome fantasy adventure in its own right. So the fact that this is getting a second season is making me very happy. Just wanted to put that out there. Moving on.
Genre: action, mystery, supernatural, fantasy
Director: Yoshimitsu Ohashi
Writer: Seita Horio (manga) Noboru Kimura (series composition and script writing)
I’ve been looking forward to this show ever since it first got announced and after I watched the first PV for it I’ve basically done nothing but hype it up to high heaven for myself and others. That being said, even in all my enthusiasm, there are things that worry me.
My first issue has to do with length. This is a 12 episode series and the source material has a total of 8 volumes which seems a bit much to adapt into a mere 12 episodes. Which means we’ll either get a version of the story with a lot of scenes cut out or a version that doesn’t end and requires you to pick up the manga to get any kind of closure.
This also brings me to my second point of concern: the manga. Very little can be found about this manga but on the few sites that did have it listed, it got really rather low rating. This might, of course, simply be due to the fact that, in general, very few people have even rated the manga and it might be that the few that did simply were not the audience for it. Based on what little I’ve seen of the show I definitely think I am the audience for it and I definitely think more people I know would really enjoy it. That being said I do admit that there’s enough evidence to make me consider the fact that this series might not end up quite as good as it seems.
For now, though I definitely remain optimistic but I’m not going to promise that this show is going to be absolutely amazing. Not until I’ve seen at least the first episode and can form some kind of opinion for myself.
That’s it for the shows I’m interested in checking out this winter. If there are any shows that I didn’t include you think I might be interested in, then let me know as I’d love to have a larger selection of shows to choose from this winter than I currently have. My favorite show of any season is always that one show I completely ignored for a good chunk of it only to have it recommended to me by one or several of my friends, only to finally sit down and discover it’s absolutely amazing. Hopefully, that will happen too this season as well.
See You Space Cowboys…