The next season: 36 new series, and that’s probably not even the total amount, since I’m quite early with my preview this time. There will probably be a few more announcements next week for the latecomers. What sets this season apart is how relatively little bad series there are. I mean, there are a number of kids series and bad fanservice shows and all, but much fewer than usual for an Autumn season. Plus, for some strange reason the kids’ shows nearly all have really good people working on them, do not ask me why. That’s another theme of this season by the way: really talented people working on relatively dull or just outright questionable premises.
With most of these previews, I usually have a clear one that sticks out. This time though, I don’t. I’ve got about 7 shows that all intrigue me equally, and that’s just the tip of the iceberg here. Seriously, this season is definitely going for the quantity, because there were a lot of shows that piqued my interest. On the other side of the coin though, it does have one major weakness: everything looks the same! There are a lot of very similar premises out there and series with the exact same genre. On top of that, just about every show deals with teenagers again. We definitely don’t have the sheer amount of imaginative premises that we’ve gotten used to from the past half year here, unfortunately.
Also, do note that I’ve decided not to include Kyousogiga for now. We just don’t know yet whether it’ll be an OVA or TV-series. However, I do want to note that if it does turn out to be a full fledged TV-series, helmed by the same director, then it will immediately rise to the top of the list of shows I’m looking forward to.
Onii-chan Dakedo Ai Sae Areba Kankei Nai yo ne—
The Positives: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu… in theory could make this into something enjoyable, after what he did to Milky Holmes.
The Negatives: If you don’t understand what the title means: BE GLAD!!!
To Love Ru Darkness
The Positives: I see no positives about this one whatsoever.
The Negatives: Good lord, they’re still going with this show? This makes 52 episodes of mind-numbing fanservice. Or am I really missing something beyond the boobs that makes this worth watching?
Hiiro no Kakera 2
The Positives: It has bishies.
The Negatives: Studio Deen, for god’s sake stop making these crappy bishie series and get back to actually doing justice to the shoujo genre.
The Positives: An American-Japanese co-production…
The Negatives: … about spinning tops that summon monsters. Yup, it’s another kiddie show. The director also isn’t looking good, being the director of Element Hunters and all. Moving on…
Seitokai no Ichizon – Hekiyoh Gakuen Seitokai Gijiroku
The Positives: Staff change! This season is handled by AIC, adapted by Reiko Yoshida (a very experienced writer) and directed by the director of Kateikyo Hitman Reborn.
The Negatives: I did not like Seitokai no Ichizon. It was like, funny for one episode and then it lost all of its charm. Most of the jokes were bad moe jokes anyway. Do I think that this will change with the new people working on it? Not really, bad moe jokes is everything that this show is. The creators are going to have to try really hard to make this consistently hilarious, and I don’t see that happen.
Battle Spirits: Sword Eyes
The Positives: The thing with the Battle Spirits franchise is that Sunrise keeps enlisting actually competent writers and directors to its installments (heck, Dai Sato worked on one of them). This time they got the director of Bartender. I am not kidding with that. Atsuhiro Tomioka, many of you may know him better as as the guy who adapted Zetman. The potential is definitely there.
The Negatives: The thing however with this franchise is that even though it isn’t among the worst of the kiddie series, it’s clear that the creators are forced to dumb themselves down a lot. From the few episodes that I did watch, they were trying way too hard to conform to the standards of kiddie series that really limits creativity, for the sake of selling toys through a business model that has proved to be lucrative. But then again, I only watched the first episodes of these series, so perhaps they got better later. With so many episodes however (all previous four seasons had 50 episodes, this one will likely have that as well), this franchise is just way too long for me to actually give it a chance.
The Positives: For those of you with enough time and patience this will be a treat.
The Negatives: Sorry Bakuman, you could have been a nice series for me. But there is no way I’m going to watch 75 episodes of you dragging on. You’re just not worth it, especially after you pulled a bunch of soap operas in the second season. This might be bearable for a series with a regular length, but not one that is as long as this one. Zero potential, because I already know that I’m not going to continue watching it.
The Positives: Passione is relatively new, and this will be their first full series to produce. Nice.
The Negatives: The thing is, that this is like Recorder and Randsell: it’s got five minute episodes and even the same director, so I really fear that it will be as dull and under-produced as that series.
Hayate the Combat Butler: Can’t Take My Eyes Off You
The Positives: Manglobe is… well, I guess I can’t use that argument anymore, can I? Anyway, the character-designs at least look better now, although I’ve heard that they really don’t work in animation-form.
The Negatives: Hayate the Combat Butler has been recommended to me quite a few times now, but really: with this instalment it will probably have 100 episodes. Is such a huge amount really worth it? Does it really stay hilarious enough for its entire run? Is it really fun enough to make up for Rie Kugimiya in yet another of her tsundere roles? On top of that, this season will be directed by the director of the ultimately very dull Asobi ni Iku Yo.
Aoi Sekai no Chūshin de
The Positives: Perhaps this has potential for a few classic game jokes or something?
The Negatives: It’s very hard to find something about this series, but basically we have an adaptation of a parody manga with a lot of fanservice, adapted by the guy behind Kannadzuki no Miko and High School DXD. I’m not expecting much from this one.
The Positives: This is a case of awesome people working on… what!? I mean really: Mappa, the people who broke off from Madhouse studio that did Sakamichi no Apollon is now going to work on somehting that sounds like K-On with tennis. It’s also directed by Shin Itagaki, who is someone who really knows how to make exciting action scenes, as shown by Ben-To and Basquash.
The Negatives: What really worries me is the original source material here. Looking at some of the other works of Tsugeo Terada, there is a lot of hentai doujin among them. This is not looking good and I predict a lot of bad fanservice.
Hidamari Sketch × Honeycomb
The Positives: Hidamari Sketch is not one of my series. I tried watching it, but after around four episodes, I came to the conclusion that just too little happened. It was just too slow and boring to hold my attention. I can understand the appeal though.
The Negatives: However, there is one thing that I’m wondering about: how can series like this last for four entire seasons? Is there really enough material to warrant 50 episodes, or are the creators just repeating themselves over and over? I mean, me and Shaft sequels have a very bad relationship, so I’m very sceptical about this one.
The Positives: Oh great, another show based on a card game. Prepare yourselves, because this season really has a ton of them and… Seiji Mizushima?! The Director of Un-Go, Natsuiro Kiseki, Hanamaru Youchien, Full Metal Alchemist, Gundam 00… what’s he doing here with the supervision? And you know about the director? He was the assistant director for Natsuiro Kiseki and Hanamaru Youchien.
The Negatives: And on the other side of the coin we have the guy who wrote the utterly terrible Miracle train. This season is bizarre in these choices, really.
The Positives: To think that they actually made a full fledged anime about this. And take a look at the character-designer, Takahiro Kishida: he also designed the characters for Baccano, Durarara, Noein and Madoka Magica, so the producers are definitely gambling on this as an advertisements for their action figures (because yes, that’s what this series is).
The Negatives: So yeah, this basically requires an original storyline to be written for these figures. So who do the producers get? The director of Infinite Stratos. Sure, he also directed Macross Frontier, but that was under Shoji Kawamori. But I guess that he’s not all bad, with that series and Kurogane Communication under his helm. My real worry here lies with the guy who is going to have to write everything: This is the guy adapted World Destruction, Beelzebub, and Maria Holic. His one original story is from Reideen, which was more wasted potential than anything and saved by good directing. Add that to the story of the OVA which just involved a boy finding one of these girls, even though it did have really good staff behind it, and it seems that on top of that these guys will probably be facing a lot of restrictions in this adaptations from above. To be honest this isn’t sounding too good.
Chou Soku Henkei Gyrozetter
The Positives: My very first impression when I saw this was: great, not another kiddie show to promote toys. And then I found out who were involved: the director of Daily Lives of High School Boys and the first 100 episodes of Gintama will direct, and Dai Sato will be writing it. On top of that it also turned into a show to promote various cars, the soundtrack is composed by the same person who composed the awesome soundtracks of X and Blood-C and they got a lot of different designers together for the various mecha designs. And on top of that A-1 Pictures will animate it. That’s a lot of ambition for a kids’ series, don’t you think?
The Negatives: As much as I’d love to see more Dai Sato (this is the guy who wrote Eureka Seven, Ergo Proxy and various episodes of Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell, and he’s characterized by his very intelligent dialogue), I want to see him do an actual non-kiddie show again: one that can take itself seriously. Because he already did this before with Battle Spirits and also with the Tekken movie. After he went off and created his own writing studio, he unfortunately had to take a lot of jobs for the heck of it in order to make some money, it appears. It’s a bloody shame, because a writer like him really needs to get his chances.
Girls und Panzer
The Positives: From the creators of Squid Girl: a series with a bunch of girls and a tank. Okay, fair enough. These people know what good comedy is, and this time they’re dealing with an original story so they can go all out. Just don’t let this get a sequel.
The Negatives: Reiko Yoshida is busy this season: three series at the same time. Also, it’s a bunch of girls with a tank! I can just imagine the creators coming up with this “Quick! We need another premise! What do people like besides girls?” “Uh, tanks?” “Good enough! Let’s go!”
Suki-tte Ii na yo
The Positives: This most definitely looks unlike anything Zexcs have ever done before. I think we can blame Yoshiko Okuda for that, who has an interesting track record as an animator so far with experience on episodes of Casshern Sins and Shigurui. Yuuji Nomi also did the soundtrack of Bokura no and Hi no Tori, so that also sounds very promising. On top of that, this will both be directed and adopted by one of the two directors of Steins;Gate. The series director meanwhile is completely new. He worked as an animator for a few years, after which he moved on to a few series for episode direction (Ao no Exorcist, Inu Boku, Working and Kimi ni Todoke) and this will be his first chance to direct an actual series. Interesting.
The Negatives: For the negatives, I unfortunately have to turn to the original source material. Looking at the author’s other works, she seems very fond of smutty shoujo romances, and to be honest, that’s exactly what this series sounds like. It’s so entirely typical, so the execution really is going to have be good here to prevent us from watching yet another couple of paper bags in a “will they won’t they” relationship.
Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun
The Positives: It’s a bit difficult to explain what a director of photography does, but he basically is in charge of the camera work, and making everything look good. Now, the guy who does this for Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun also did this for the various seasons of Natsume Yuujin-chou, Durarara and Kuragehime. Add that to the director of Kimi ni Todoke and we’ll probably have a very pretty looking series here. Noboru Takagi is also a very good writer, having adapted Baccano, Durarara, Koi Kaze and Sankarea in the past.
The Negatives: Now the question is: can they make this story work? I’m glad to see more shoujo romance, but if it’s just going to be like “will they won’t they” like with Kimi ni Todoke, then I’m not feeling like sitting through that again. The set-up is really clichéd for a shoujo series: especially dating a bad boy has been done to death, so something definitely needs to set this one apart in its progression or execution. I’ve taken a look at some of the other stories that Robico, the writer of the manga this is based on, has written and they’re typical romances, although all of them aren’t as plain as what Kimi ni Todoke was: from what I could gather she always tries to at least give a side or story to her character. She also seems to like to use irony in some of her short stories, so let’s see whether her longer ones can also make use of this.
IXION SAGA DT
The Positives: So here is the thing: Ixion Saga is based on an MMORPG. Since these games are known for their plots, the main creators will need to put a lot of new and original stuff to make it work. And wouldn’t you know, they happen to be the people behind the Gintama anime: its series composition guy and the director of my personal favorite first 100 episodes, so be exact. That series had some really good fillers, so they have shown that they’re able to create original content. Atsuki Yamatoya also worked on the series construction of Simoun, which I found to be utterly brilliant.
The Negatives: The downside is that these two don’t always try to deliver good stories. Akatsuki Yamatoya is just as well fine with doing stuff like To Love Ru and Blue Dragon. Also, how on earth did they succeed in making this show this ugly? Shinji Takeuchi is the character designer of Gintama, so he should know how to correctly portray colourful characters.
Medaka Box 2
The Positives: Well, even though this involves Gainax’s worst director and Nisioisin, I enjoyed the first season. It was nothing special, but the craziness it evolved into… I could appreciate that, and the second season is promising more of that, if you liked that, then you’ll probably like this sequel as well.
The Negatives: It remains a shounen jump adaptation that needs to squeeze in 52 chapters in one year. That rather scares me, because that gives this series the danger of dragging on horribly, like so many other of its predecessors have done as well. When I see the first signs of this happening, I’m bailing out.
Chuu-2 Byou Demo Koi ga Shitai!
The Positives: Trying to find information about light novels is really hard on the internet. I’m surprised nobody has yet set up some kind of AniDB for light novels yet. Because of that, I also have no idea what the source material is going to be like. It does sound interesting if it goes in-depth to what that “Chuu-2 Byou” actually does to teenagers, despite the really bad title. Jukki Hanada is a good choice to adapt this material, and on top of that Kyoani put its best director on the job: Tatsuya Ishihara was behind Air and Clannad, whose adaptations I really loved.
The Negatives: But it can just as easily turn into yet another show in which cute girls fight and a male lead is in the middle of them. There are too many of those, so this show will have to set itself apart, and not just with Kyoani’s trademark really good animation. Is this the right type of material to make Kyoani shine, or have they just gotten more generic?
The Positives: Oh god, this will definitely be the eye candy series of the season. A-1 have really managed to improve themselves even more, and with this they also brought in Takashi Hashimoto in for the special effects. The list of series this guy has worked on is HUGE, and includes things as direction the animation of Mononoke and Bake Neko, including their conceptual designs and the Special Skills director of Karas. And then there is the director: the guy who directed the really imaginative Read or Die, Risky Safety, and Kamichu. Whole premise is loosely based on the Arabian Nights. Interesting!
The Negatives: Oh god no! Not Hiroyuki Yoshino! The guy behind the script of Guilty Crown, Macross Frontier, Mai Otome, Seikon no Qwaser and Code Geass. This guy’s name is nearly synonymous with train-wreck. Thankfully he is adapting a story this time, but when I look at who wrote it, I’m not really positive either: he’s the guy who wrote Sumomomo Momomo before this, a series whose only redeeming quality was its catchy name (Plums and peaches too!), otherwise it was just a run off the mill romantic fighting school comedy. Magi thankfully sounds much more creative, but can he really do justice with a story based on the Arabian nights? I mean, such a setting sounds really promising, but not when it’s chock-full of shounen cliches. Especially not with Hiroyuki Yoshino having to adapt it.
The Positives: Well, those who watched this series know what to look forward to: snarky military action with a lot of intrigue.
The Negatives: The first season for me missed something. The characterization was just one-sided, especially on the villains’ side. That’s something that this sequel is definitely going to have to fix.
Initial D New Season
The Positives: I’ve actually never watched anything of Initial D, but who knows? A hot blooded racing anime has potential, especially now that the creators are giving it a modern touch. This series will air twice every month, so it’ll follow the same formula as Wangan Midnight, allowing the creators to just take their time. Nice choice.
The Negatives: I’ve heard that Initial D was not the best looking series (to the point where the car CG stood out way too much, and one particular character resembling a potato more than a human being), so I wonder if this new series will have the same problems or not.
The Positives: This is an original project by Gohands, and the only thing we know so far is a bunch of voice actors, a bunch of promos and that it’s got a producer who worked on most notably Fafner, Stellvia and Heroic Age. Based on the promo images, this seems like an action series with good animation and a lot of different characters walking around. The trick will now be to give them all character and make them all interesting, so I hope they went with the right people behind this.
The Negatives: One warning sign though was that everyone looked around the same age. If you want to have a diverse cast, then go for it. Switch up the ages as well. Also, make sure not to go overboard on the CG, Gohands.
The Positives: Kinema Citrus, with the director of Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood and Kurau Phantom Memory. Hell yeah! This guy knows how to portray action scenes and how to do characterization properly, and he’s doing both the direction and series composition.
The Negatives: This does seem like the least interesting story he’s worked on so far, though. The original mangaka seems to have written Samurai Deeper Kyo before this. The premise for Code Breaker just seems… plain in comparison to what Yasuhiro Irie and Kinema Citrus did before this, so let’s hope that it at least has some good character development.
Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure
The Positives: Finally a show that doesn’t look like the others! I tend to love remakes of classic series, so I’m very interested what the creators can do with this, and the character designs at least look very artistic. We still have no bloody clue who will end up doing this, but they definitely plan to make it interesting to look at.
The Negatives: However, try to look at that trailer on the official website and you get treated to some very jumpy and awkward animation, showing that character designs like this are hard to move around.
The Positives: Yosuke Kuroda as the scriptwriter is a really solid choice. This guy is really experienced. The director is also very interesting: he hasn’t done much, but the episodes that he did work on were really, really good: A Spider’s Thread of Aoi Bungaku, plus a few episodes of Madoka Magica, Chihayafuru and Supernatural. I wonder what he can do with the actual series here.
The Negatives: So… basically we have Sword Art Online again here, only this time with a survival theme and instead of an MMORPG the focus is on an action game. Okay, sounds promising. The mangaka of Btooom seems to like a lot of horror as well and his stories definitely have potential. There is that fact that the manga isn’t finished yet though…
The Positives: Well, so after Chaos;Head, Steins;Gate there is Robotics;Notes. The whole futuristic approach really reminds of Eden of the East. And yes, for those wondering: Naotaka Hayashi is a member of 5pb, the company who published the game that this is based on. He’ll be able to keep Jukki Hanada in check, who sometimes manages to lose himself in his own scripts. Beyond that Jukki Hanada managed to turn into a very solid writer who manages to deliver when he needs to in his adaptations recently, as shown by Level E and Steins;Gate. This is also necessary for Kazuya Nomura, the director of Sengoku Basara 2 and its subsequent movie.
The Negatives: So yeah, the big challenge will be to stuff everything into just Noitamina’s 11 episodes. This is pretty much tackled by people with pacing problems. Sengoku Barara’s second season for example had its awesome moments, but near the end you could see that Kazuya Nomura was unable to make everything come together due to his excessive focus on build-up. Also, Noitamina is for adults, put them in there for god’s sake!
Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
The Positives: Mari Okada! That definitely gives it a plus, because even though she writes really good original script, she is also brilliant at adapting other works, as shown by Hourou Musuko, Gosick and the Armed Librarians. What’s also good is that there is character-development in the premise of this series. And to make things even better: they got the director of the final two stories of Aoi Bungaku, and half of Supernatural, both which were really artistic and well directed. And on top of that she worked on a ton of awesome episodes of series like Mouryou no Hako, Monster, Nana, Chihayafuru, and Himitsu. My favorite female director out there is Sayo Yamamoto, but damn: she comes close.
The Negatives: So of course the next move for these two would be a seinen romance. A bit strange when you consider that they’re both women, and from the outside this does look like wish fulfillment for the common fetish of helpless girl (pretty much like Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko). On top of that, JC Staff is a lot more conservative than the companies that they usually work with. The thing with both of them is that they need freedom. But something tells me that Mari Okada is going to grab that anyway. Also, I don’t really like the character-designer: she was the one behind the IMO ugly designs of Zero no Tsukaima and Hayate the Combat Butler.
Zetsuen no Tempest: The Civilization Blaster
The Positives: From the original author of Spiral, very interesting. This guy knows how to write mind games really well. But what about the rest? Well, the plot for this story definitely sounds much more interesting than that of Spiral. Add that to that it’s going to be adapted by Mari Okada, who is excellent at adapting stories, along with a chief animation director who previously designed the characters for Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood and Rahxephon, along with none other than Masahiro Ando, the director of Sword of the Stranger, Hana-Saku Iroha and Canaan, and you might just have something that can surpass Spiral very easily.
The Negatives: Unfinished manga alert! Abort! Abort! With Spiral this ended in a disaster where this caused the series to be unable to answer just about every single damn question that it asked.
From the New World
The Positives: A-1 Pictures adapting the work from an award-winning novelist about a dystopian science fiction mystery story. Count me in! The director is a very interesting guy. He doesn’t direct often, but he did the really stylish OP for Senkou no Night Raid, he did half of Speed Grapher (which I unfortunately didn’t watch), he was the chief animation director of Read or Die and directed the animation for Welcome to the Space Show. This guy needs some freedom (he also designed the characters for Eiken of all things), but he can really make this work. Masashi Sogo meanwhile is a decent scriptwriter for this. He worked both on good and lesser series, but he can really make this work I feel. I especially enjoyed his work for Yukikaze.
The Negatives: The big potential pitfall: the 5 children. The promotional material already made it clear that they’re just a small part of this world, but make sure that they can play out their role, instead of forcing them in the midst of struggles they don’t belong, having to pull deus ex machina to get them out again.
The Positives: After Air, Kanon, Clannad and Angel Beats, this will be the next Key work. This one’s another adaptation, and this time it’s JC Staff’s turn to have a go at it. I’ve heard from various sources that the original story is even better than Clannad, so I’m definitely interested here. Michiru Shimada can make it work. On one hand she did a very botched adaptation of Before Green Gables, but her adaptation of Kaze no Shoujo Emily was amazing and very well thought out.
The Negatives: I haven’t seen Hatsukoi Limited enough, but I do wonder: is the director of that one good enough to make this work as a tear-jerker? Beyond that he also directed Kill Me Baby, but such a gag manga isn’t really comparable to something by Key. And here is the thing: what made Air and Clannad stand out (both with the movies and the TV-series) was that there were some amazing people working on it. Can these people live up to that in their own way?
The Positives: The creators are being really mysterious with this one. And it’s really working as well. This will definitely be some sort of police series, an interesting new direction for Noitamina, and the way in which it does this will probably involve some sort of science fiction. But the exact how and what are still completely unknown. This is unique for a Noitamina-series, but goddamit whoever the people behind this are: they definitely wet my appetite.
The Negatives: The only promotional material was of a gun that looked very CG-ish. Be sure to use your CG well, Psycho Pass!
Litchi DE Hikari Club
The Positives: And the winner of the most creative premise of the season: Lichee Light Club. I mean, this just looks bizarre from start to finish, and with such ideas behind it it’s bound to have a few laughs. A horror comedy isn’t done often, so this definitely has potential, and it also definitely stands out from the rest. Good job.
The Negatives: We still don’t know who will adapt this, nor if it’s actually going to be able to make it on October, since there is no official art yet on the website to be found. The above image was either that, or some strange live action picture.
The Positives: YES! YES! For more than three years I have been waiting for Akitaro Daichi to actually direct a proper series again. I mean, he’s doing a wonderful job with Poyopoyo right now, and his adaptation of Gag Manga Biyori also was hilarious, but remain just random gag series. For those who are unfamiliar with him: I consider him to be the single most consistent comedy director out there, who at the same time gets even better when he has something serious in his hands (he was the guy who directed Now and Then, Here and There for example). On top of that, the premise here sounds like we’ll finally get another good shoujo series again, and Julietta Suzuki has potential as a writer: her short stories won a few awards and her stories overall seem much more imaginative than what I’ve been used to from most shoujo-series of the past years. TMS Entertainment, I really like the complete change in direction you took this year.
The Negatives: My one worry is TMS Entertainment, in the way that they’re obviously taking a huge risk this year. Now don’t get me wrong: I really like that, but I fear that like with Zetman, they won’t have enough support to fully animate it. Especially considering how the manga has 13 volumes currently published… and is still ongoing.