A new year, a new quarter, a new anime season. I like to tell people that there are always great anime worth anticipating, some of which we might not even be aware of. I’ve been around long enough to know what I like and follow some creators whose work I’ve enjoyed in the past. Here are a few things I’m anticipating this season!
The unique, complicated political climate that serves as a backdrop here would be enough to get me interested, but I’m also an enthusiastic follower of Natsume Ono’s other works – I own all of her manga that’s been published in English, and I’m a very big fan of both the Ristorante Paradiso and House of Five Leaves anime adaptations. I like her focus on more mature, adult-focused stories, and her somewhat European aesthetics, which is unusual for anime. Her character designs are also very unique and identifiable, eschewing overall cuteness for sharper angles and lankiness.
The series’ director, Shingo Natsume, has a lot of Key animation work under his belt, so one would hope that those sensibilities would translate to a pretty end-product (it worked for his One Punch Man adaptation, obviously). I would love to watch the PV, but for some reason YouTube is not loading well at the moment, so I will have to go on faith. In any case, this is definitely one of my top picks for this season, sight-unseen.
Did I have any idea before watching the first season that Rakugo is a very funny, engrossing theatrical art form? Not really, though being a student of Japanese Culture I had certainly been exposed to it before in a more academic sense. Sometimes it takes that pop culture media connection to fan the flames of interest, though.
The first season of this series was definitely an emotional ride that I voluntarily took multiple times (sometimes you just have to sit your friends down with you and force them to watch an anime about an unfamiliar storytelling art that they probably don’t know or care about otherwise). Perhaps the only thing I felt it was missing was further exploration of Konatsu’s character as an adult, which I expected to appear in the first season based on pre-broadcast summaries of the story. I certainly wasn’t dissatisfied in learning about the history of Sukeroku and Yakumo’s relationship, which was rich and complicated and emotional. But obviously women’s stories are of interest to me, so I’m hoping that Konatsu will get her due this season, even if the focus is more on Yotaro.
Ever since the original LWA OVA, I’ve been hoping for a TV series adaptation. The second OVA was great in its own right, but the world in which the story takes place has always seemed so much richer than what could be crammed into a mere forty-five minute chunk. I’m so glad that Trigger decided to go forward with this project, especially since I haven’t been quite as pleased with their output as of late (though Space Patrol Luluco was definitely very fun).
My one major worry is that director Yoh Yoshinari’s perfectionism will get the best of him and cause delays and perhaps less-good initial animation quality (I’m not sure what kind of development schedule Trigger was on for this, so it might not be as much of an issue as I’m thinking). My other sort-of worry revolves more around characterization – the one big downside of LWA: The Enchanted Parade was the fat character whose defining characteristic was that she ate constantly and spoke in a stereotypical deep/dumb-sounding voice. I was left feeling glad for the body-type diversity, but sad about the choices made in her character portrayal. I’m hoping that will be minimized this time around (but the hope isn’t strong, I know how Japanese creators can be).
I wouldn’t necessarily say that I’m looking forward to this series, but I’m cautiously interested to see how it handles the kind of emotionally-fraught and weird relationship between two teenagers who are kind of using one-another to fill their emotional emptiness. I’ve heard the story compared to Inio Asano’s The Girl on the Shore, which is a tough book to read; explicit, sad, and filled to the brim with characters who are truly lacking in self-esteem. It’s not a fun read, but I did find it to be an compelling window back into that depressed and directionless teen mentality, and it was one of the few manga I’ve read where the visual explicitness was actually used to proper effect (I anticipate that there are people who would disagree with me on that, and I totally understand it). I think many adults might brush off this kind of stuff as overly melodramatic, but as someone who had kind of a tough go of it as a teen it tends to resonate with me a bit more.
In looking towards Scum’s Wish I think I might be hoping for something akin to The Flowers of Evil, which I enjoyed despite the fact that it tore my guts out and stomped on them; emotional rawness and, even beyond that, truthfulness about the badness and goodness of people. Life is hard, we all put up fronts to guard our position in society, and this is especially true in high school when we’re still concerned about fitting in and holding up appearances.
I like monster girls, okay? I keep hoping there will be an anime series focused on those types of characters without being overly sexualized (at least in the creepy, uncomfortable manner that most anime tends to be). This one sounds lighter and goofier, and features a woman as the main character, rather than Loser Anime Dude #437 who doesn’t know how sex works, so in that sense it’s at least slightly fresher. I’m anticipating it in a “probably-bad-but-might-be-funny” sort of way. The nice KyoAni animation can’t hurt, either.
I should mention, as always, that I tend to be pretty cold on most anime comedies. I’m not into humor that involves a lot of yelling back-and-forth; instead, I prefer really sharp visual comedy, and comedy that escalates well. I have a small hope that this series might replicate a little bit of that Nichijou magic that seems so difficult to capture, so here’s to hoping, I guess.
I forgot to add this initially, but thought it deserved an edit.
I’m definitely a fan of serious historical drama. I’m not as big a fan of the part-fantasy, pseudo-romance stuff like Hakuouki and its ilk (not that they’re bad); I’m truly kind of a nerd and love to see different time periods brought to life, so I generally stick to fare that’s closer to reality. As far as this series in particular is concerned, I’m still not entirely sure what to expect – plot synopses are vague and don’t give a strong sense of the actual tone. But I’m kind of hoping for a historical police drama, as the main character is purported to be trying to crack down on arsonists and other criminals in Edo-era Japan.
Another curiosity about this show in particular is that it’s being animated by a newer studio (M2), which can be good or bad. I tend to think good, usually; generally newer studios seem to be less concerned with the financials at the moment of their inception and can pour their effort into whatever their first project is before realizing that they’re not making enough money and deciding to take on some adaptation that’s bound to sell copies but might be more lacking in the creativity department. It’s maybe not a great thing in the long run… but the end product has some freshness and ambitiousness, so it’s nice for the anime viewing audience in that sense.
So how about you? Is there anything you’re looking forward to? Winter season tends to be smaller and more subdued, with fewer “big-name” series, but I tend to think there’s always at least a couple of things worth making time for. Let me know if you have any potential favorites!