Springtime: it’s the season of the birds and the bees and the time to enjoy the sunshine conspicuously absent during those long winter months. Except we’re all stuck inside thanks to viral pandemic as hand sanitizer runs off the shelves and the global economy burns; fun times right? Never fear though, because spring also heralds the start of a new batch of anime, and while some heavy hitters were postponed at the last minute (*cries in Re:Zero*), there’s plenty to tide you over while Corona-chan does her thing. Several major fan favourites are making their return, from the likes of Sword Art Online and Shokugeki no Souma to beloved romcom powerhouses Kaguya-sama and Oregairu, and even the second seasons of supernatural comedy Tsugumomo and sci-fi smash hit No Guns Life. New adaptations aren’t neglected either, as the widely popular Korean webtoon Kami no Tou sees its first anime appearance, alongside the acclaimed otome isekai twister Otome Game and mystery thriller Gleipner, while slapstick comedy Jashin-chan resurrects for a surprise sequel. And if that wasn’t enough, P.A. Works returns with adventure-esque Appare-Ranman alongside a new Ghost in the Shell ONA while brand new seasons of Digimon and Yu-Gi-Oh help keep those childhood memories alive. The world may be falling apart around us, but at least we have anime to help save the day! This is Random Curiosity’s Spring 2020 Preview.
This season we’ll continue using the Excitement Levels we introduced a while back. You know how this works by now, right? Every new anime is a cacophony of hype, and rather than pretend to objectively prognosticate, we shall embrace the spin and give you our visceral gut reactions instead. For more information, check out the Overall Impressions section at the bottom, which includes an expanded explanation of each category and a list of all shows by excitement level.
Disclaimer: Back in the ancient times of 2012 (it’s the RC catchphrase!), previews were done by a single writer, Divine. But the RandomC preview is a substantial task, so we’ve divided it up among our active staff (Choya, Guardian Enzo, Iskendaris, MissSimplice, Pancakes (yours truly), Passerby, Stilts, Takaii, Zaiden, and Zephyr) in order to maintain the quality of this preview. We will try to point out what appeals to us in each series, in the hope it will help you determine if it coincides with your tastes.
Disclaimer #2: Please note that this list does not reflect all the series airing this coming season. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible, but omissions have been made for shows that stray from the anime norm or seem to be oriented toward young children. Please check out MOON PHASE for complete listings, syoboi for specific air times, and Fansub DB for a list of potential sources for each series.
And finally let me take this chance to seriously thank the entire Random Curiosity team for their monumental work on this preview. With job changes consuming the time for some of us and first responder pandemic duties requiring another to hand off writing tasks entirely, it’s been a wild and ridiculous ride getting this one out, but we all did our jobs fantastically. Special thanks go to Zephyr for doing early prep work; Stilts for editing and people wrangling; Takaii for gathering the images and last minute html; Zaiden for laying the groundwork; and Pictor for doing the encodes. Also, thank you to everyone who wrote previews and helped with the formatting, you know who you are! For a more Enzo-centric point of view, check out the LiA spring preview for a second opinion on many of these shows.
Finally, and as always, thank you to the entire Random Curiosity community. Whether you read every posts and yammer in the Discord channel or a quiet lurker who just stops by for the season previews, thank you so much for giving us your time and attention. With the world going crazy and everyone in need of some fun, let’s sit back and enjoy another season of anime together!
Technical Note: The chart below is ordered by the date and time that the shows premiere. The links in the schedule will take you to a series’ corresponding entry and the “Top” links on the right will bring you back. You can also use the back/forward buttons in your browser to jump between links you’ve clicked. All times are given in a 24-hour, relative-day format where times are extended to show which day they belong to. For instance, Friday morning at 1:30AM would become Thursday at 25:30 to show that the episode aired late Thursday night.
Baseball is by far the most popular sport in Japan, so it’s no surprise that combining cute female protagonists and Japan’s favourite sport right before the Olympics is going to draw a lot of attention. The timing to produce this manga couldn’t have been more right. Tamayomi follows a pair of friends who reconnect in a high school and aim to reboot the female baseball team. This show is going to cover a lot of ground, including baseball try-outs, learning the scope of the sport, and watching this team of young women take on the challenge of reaching the national high school tournament together.
The story follows Takeda Yomi (Maeda Kaori) and close friend Yamazaki Tamaki (Amano Satomi), both enrolled in Shin Koshigaya High School. They become the founders of the new Shin Koshigaya High School baseball club, sharing their contagious passion for the sport with others. The team will be made up of eleven total members, all with their own sets of skills. But there’s nothing like Yomi’s fast pitched “miracle ball” that no one else but Tamaki can catch. The series has the potential to become as great as Diamond no Ace or Major, two classics of the sports genre. I’m loving this spring season. Alongside Hougako Teibou Nisshi, Tamayomi serves as an important piece of cultural work bringing women to the forefront, and more importantly, creating presence in areas that are widely male dominated (like fishing and baseball). Let’s keep this wave of shifts coming.
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Limited|
From Telecom Animation Film comes the adaptation of Korean webtoon Sin-uu Tap (Kami no Tou in Japanese). Also known as Tower of God, the series was first published in 2010. Since then it became one of the first webtoons to be officially translated, making its way into 8 different languages and receiving over 4.5 billion views. The series follows 25th Bam (Ichikawa Taichi)—“Bam” for short—a boy who has lived his life trapped beneath a Tower with his close friend Rachel (Hayami Saori). Seeking passage into the outer world, Rachel makes a decision to enter the Tower. Following suit, Bam also enters the Tower—not as a chosen one, but as an “irregular” who has managed to open the Tower’s doors by force. There he begins his journey, navigating each of the tower’s floors in an attempt to find his closest companion. Challenges await Bam on each floor, as do temptations from the Tower itself, which is said to be a place capable of granting any desire.
It isn’t often that you see people get as excited as when Tower of God was announced for adaptation. A look into the first few chapters and it isn’t hard to see why. The series gets rolling a mere few pages in, and you can tell from Bam’s first challenge how much potential it has to develop. I remember thinking the art style was a bit rough initially (likely due to series creator SUI working on the entire thing by himself early on), but as many have said, it improves in leaps and bounds over time, which further heightens the series’ dark fantasy atmosphere. I don’t want to spoil anymore, so I’ll just say that out of all the fantasy series this season, this could very well be the one to watch. This is a series whose source material seems strong enough to carry the adaptation on its own, so Telecom Animation Film and director Sano Takashi really only need to make sure things stay consistent throughout from an animation standpoint and they’ll have a winner on their hands. Thankfully, they’ve worked together before—both the studio and Takashi have worked on various Lupin series together—but this’ll be Takashi’s first director gig, so let’s hope he’s up for the task.
|Watching This: Choya, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii, Zaiden, Zephyr||Excitement Level: High|
From Shin-Ei Animation comes the adaptation of Y.A’s fantasy light novel series Hachi-nan tte, Sore wa Nai Deshou!. Originally serialized in June 2013, the series revolves around Ichinomiya Shingo, a run-of-the-mill employee at an unnamed Japanese trading company. After a long day of work, Shingo goes to sleep only to wake up in the body of a five-year-old boy named Wendelin (Enoki Junya). As he gradually gets used to his new surroundings, he finds himself in the unenviable position as a poor noble’s eighth son, destined to receive nothing in regards to territory and forced to fend for himself upon becoming an adult. Fortunately for Wendelin, he finds himself one of few people capable of utilizing high-level magic, a talent that could become a boon for himself and his family … or a source of impending disaster.
Having read the first twenty or so chapters of the light novel, I can’t say Hachi-nan tte, Sore wa Nai Deshou! really stuck out in any significant way. The backdrop fits your generic isekai with a small twist, as does the fact that the main character possesses a unique talent that differentiates him from everyone else. If there’s one redeeming factor about its initial chapters, it’s that it takes the time to really build up its world prior to anything significant happening, following Wendelin as he grows older and slowly grasps the concepts behind magic and the politics surrounding his family’s territory. The way it’s presented worked quite well in a light novel format, but I’m concerned as to how it will carry over to an adaptation, and it’s an open question whether subsequent developments will be enough to engage viewers or appeal to them in a way that makes this series different from others in the genre. Still, I can see where this appeals to fans of the fantasy or isekai genres, so I’ll likely take a look myself when it airs. I’d just temper my expectations accordingly.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Zephyr||Excitement Level: Limited|
Gotou Kakushi (Kamiya Hiroshi) is the writer and illustrator of a vulgar, disreputable manga series. His success would be admirable if not for the fact that he’s also a father. Because Kakushi loves his daughter Hime (Takahashi Rie) more than anything, he doesn’t want her to discover that he has created such filthy manga. Fearing her resentment, he goes out of his way to ensure that she knows nothing of his profession. Now that Hime is in the fourth grade, Kakushi enlists the help of his editors and assistants to help him keep his profession a secret in this father-daughter tale of love and laughter.
Kakushigoto’s mangaka Kumeta Kouji has had an illustrious career of his own as he’s brought despair to our world with Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei and brought the world of Uchouten Kazoku to life through his character designs. At this point, Kumeta and Kamiya Hiroshi have been a power duo with how many times Kamiya has lent his voice to Kumeta’s characters. But despite the lack of Studio Shaft’s presence, Kumeta’s influence shines through with the quirky humor that comes from Kakushi’s attempts to cover his tracks and prevent his daughter from finding out his painful secret. With the numerous off-the-wall obstacles that threaten to spill Kakushi’s secret, he’s got a handful to deal with as he finds new, practical, and impractical ways to cover his tracks. Will he be able to keep up his elaborate ruse, or will he spill the beans at some point? Find out when Kakushigoto airs this spring.
|Watching This: Choya, Stilts||Excitement Level: Average|
Shin Sakura Taisen the Animation emerges from a larger established game and anime series dating back to 1996. The franchise has found a fresh reboot with its recent game release in Asia earlier in 2019. The anime is planned to air after SEGA’s release as a compliment to the story. The events fans have played through took place in Ginza, Japan during the Taisho period as protagonist Kamiyama Seijuro (Azakami Youhei). However, this spring series shifts the perspective from Seijuro to Tamamiya Sakura (Sakura Ayane). After his reassignment to Europe, Seijuro becomes the new Captain of the Imperial Combat Revue Flower Division made up of a team of women ready to take their mechas into battle.
The anime is definitely targeted toward fans of the franchise and the recent game, as the story is set shortly after the events in SEGA’s 2019 release. Those fortunate enough to have played it before the series airs will get to enjoy the scope of the story with characters they’ve encountered before. The Flower Division (for short) is tasked with protecting the peace on earth from new demon invasions, and going up against other similar mecha-filled divisions in tournaments. All the while, they must make efforts to keep their home at the Imperial Theater open. I can’t say for certain that I’ll be watching this as the plot doesn’t instill much confidence, but I might watch it out of sheer curiosity.
|Watching This: Choya||Excitement Level: Limited|
Love’s biting sting can inspire some of the most emotional and gripping material for an artist. For Koda Minare (Sugiyama Riho), being duped and ditched by her last boyfriend caused her to go out for a night of heavy drinking. After unleashing a passionate, spirited, and angry tirade to a radio station worker, she wakes up to the news that her drunken rant was recorded and played live over the airwaves. She storms into the studio in anger, placing her job at a curry soup and bread restaurant at risk, but when she becomes involved with an impromptu talk show appearance, Minare’s eccentricities make her a popular and viable choice to work at the radio station as a personality. Armed with her sharp wit and natural charisma, Minare aims to take the airwaves of Sapporo, Hokkaido by storm as the newest and freshest voice in talk radio.
The concept alone is fascinating as an anime centered around talk radio and shock jocks. But one variable that comes out of left field is how the manga was made by Mugen no Juunin creator Samura Hiroaki. It’s easy to see his influence in the art style of the series, but it’s most interesting to see how he was able to adapt to a contemporary comedy after becoming renowned for the brutality and violence that defined some of his most popular manga. Nonetheless, the story makes for a wickedly funny seinen that demonstrates the empowerment and strength that can come from being mad as hell and refusing to take it anymore. It’ll be fun to see the full extent of Minare’s newfound success when Nami yo Kiitekure goes on-air this April.
|Watching This: Choya, Stilts||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
A confession – I don’t really know much of anything about Yu☆Gi☆Oh!: Sevens. I know YuGiOh was a manga about gaming, and that there was a card game as well as a manga – but I don’t know which one came first. I know there have been any number of anime series and movies connected with the series over the years. And I think there was a video game at some point too (or maybe several).
In point of fact, about the only thing that comes to mind when I hear “Yu-Gi-Oh!” (I believe that’s the correct spelling) is that the MC or one of them has floofy yellow hair, and that the mangaka Takahashi Kazuki got in trouble for blasting the Abe government before the 2017 election and telling his readers to be “ready to vote for justice”. Well, that earned him some points in my book (though he was forced to apologize of course, because Japan) and I thought at the time I really ought to check the manga or anime out as a tribute to Takahashi. But I never did, and I feel bad. So maybe “Sevens” is a chance to take a version on, though I suspect I’ll have no idea what’s happening or why. It’s apparently an adaptation of one of the franchise’s many spin-offs and has a new protagonist, who can safely assumed to be an elementary schoolboy with floofy hair. Anti-nationalist commentary would be a plus, but I’m not really expecting it.
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Established|
Following in the footsteps of various 20th Anniversary additions to the Digimon franchise is Digimon Adventure:, a reboot of the original series. Advertised as a new adventure in modern times, the series will feature a brand new plot set in 2020. Fifth year elementary school student Yagami Taichi (Sanpei Yuko) is in Tokyo when a system malfunction occurs, stranding his mother and younger sister on a train that cannot be stopped. As he heads to Shibuya in an attempt to sort out the situation, he finds himself caught in a strange phenomenon that takes him into the Digital World. As a fated meeting brings him in contact with his partner Agumon and the other DigiDestined, a journey to safeguard the future of both the real and digital worlds begin. Toei Animation will produce the series, Mitsuka Masato (Digimon Fusion) will serve as episode director, and long-time Digimon franchise producer Sakurada Hiroyuki will return after contributing to Digimon Adventure 02, Digimon Fusion, Digimon Xros Wars, and various Digimon movies over the past two decades.
As someone who grew up following the original series back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s (those were good times), I’m excited to see how this series ends up. The fact that they’re doing a reboot is a pleasant surprise given the option of a plain remaster, and it’s a positive move that allows them to capitalize on characters we already know and love while building another (hopefully) memorable adventure for us to get to know them with all over again. Having staff members that have worked with the Digimon franchise previously will be a definite plus, although none of them worked on the original Digimon Adventure or Tamers, my two personal favorites. Interestingly enough, the main staff that worked on the recent 20th Anniversary sequels aren’t here either, so there’s a lot of potential question marks in terms of what to expect. The little kid inside me wants to think this’ll be a smashing success, but the older part of me is cautiously optimistic more than anything.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Zephyr, Zaiden||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
Thus far Mitsuda Takuya’s Major (I you consider “2nd” a continuation of the same series) has seen everything adapted eventually. A true institution in Japan, Major will probably continue to receive adaptations for as long as Mitsuda-sensei can produce new chapters. He’s not getting any younger and he’s already had a couple of health-related (though relatively brief) hiatuses, but he’s only 54, so he figures to finish this series eventually. And it’s hard to imagine any part of it not eventually coming to the screen when he does.
Major 2nd is quite a contrast to the original – Goro’s son Daigo (Fujiwara Natsumi) is no generational talent like his father, but a normal boy with insecurities about how he stacks up (or fails to stack up) against his father’s legacy. This series also focused on girls baseball quite a bit, a rarity for a shounen with a boy hero. I love the dynamic here (even the acknowledgement that Goro sucks as a dad) and with Watanabe Ayumu in charge, there’s almost no way for this series not to get the very best out of the source material. Pretty much as close to a sure thing as you’re going to get in anime – if this series is your bag, you’re going to be a very happy camper.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Established|
Novelty is definitely an arrow in Arte’s quiver. A historical seinen set in Florence during the 16th Century, the series focuses on the appropriately-named title character Arte (Komatsu Mikako) and her request to overcome the imposed limitations she faces due to her age and station and become an artist. Renaissance Florence isn’t exactly an everyday theme for anime, nor the struggles of a painter, so that’s a big plus. I visited Florence once and had the best wild boar sandwich of my life from a literal hole-in-the-wall sandwich shop, so there’s that too.
There’s always a leap of faith involved when you don’t have any history with the source material an anime is based on. But the staff and cast look pretty good, and Ookubo Kei’s manga is generally well-regarded, so this is a pedigree bet for me. As a seinen with these themes Arte by default is one of the most interesting prospects of the season. The manga is ongoing and not obscenely popular, so figure this one to be a one-cour advertisement for the source material.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
From the PC browser (and later mobile) game of the same name, Bungou to Alchemist is a tale about writing. Aggressive writing. Thanks to an insidious and persistent phenomenon known as Taints, numerous famous and important Japanese literary works have begun to be stained black, with peoples’ collective memories of these books erased and their authors forgotten. To combat this incessant disease, the National Library began recruiting Alchemists, individuals with the ability to summon the souls of writers of these works and use their power to fight against the Taints. With Taints born from negative emotions and their numbers growing by the day, it’s anyone’s guess whether the Alchemists will succeed in their mission, but with Japanese history on the line they will do whatever it takes to see this challenge through.
Bungou to Alchemist certainly is a funny one at face value. Ignoring the coincidental similarity to Bungou Stray Dogs (hey, the aesthetics and character choices are similar!), Bungou to Alchemist is best thought of as a game version of a Type-Moon-influenced Trickster (or a less militaristic Senjuushi): agency bands together a group of misfits, said misfits utilize powers to summon bigger misfits, and fun ensues. Of course Bungou to Alchemist has the benefit of actually adhering well to the histories and personalities of its writer characters (at least from what I’ve seen of the game’s story and cast), but make no mistake, anime perfection isn’t likely in the cards. Between the series’ game origins (already a red flag) and Tokyo Ghoul:re’s Watanabe Odahiro on director duty, anything from superficial promotional material to a chopped and rushed disaster is entirely possible, but provided Bungou to Alchemist sticks to what it knows best—i.e. its historical writer cast—there could be a good deal of fun to be had. We’ll just have to see what the first episode brings, but Bungou to Alchemist is one show it would be wrong to count out before it’s had its chance in the spotlight.
|Watching This: Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
In this comedic series, Kaede (Shimabukuro Miyuki) is a gyaru who encounters an adorable blue dinosaur. When Kaede decides to keep the dinosaur and let it stay with her, she introduces it to all of the joys and pleasures of being human. While the dinosaur stays in Kaede’s room, it starts to eat human food, watch TV, and share Kaede’s interest in being fashionable. This short comedy depicts their daily lives together while Kaede, her colleagues, and her boyfriend interact with her new dinosaur in a tale of cohabitation that transcends time and space.
One thing that’s noticeable right away with Gal to Kyouryuu is how poppy and cute the artstyle is. The original story is an amusing gag comedy, but what elevates the material even further is how simple yet expressive the character designs are. Her interactions with her new pet make for some amusing fish-out-of-water comedy as the dinosaur is introduced to human culture. But this anime’s secret weapon is Aoki Jun, the director and staff member that helped bring the manic world of Pop Team Epic to life. That series might be in a class of its own as far as its brand of comedy goes, but with how well Aoki Jun was able to adapt such abstract material into a gag comedy, it is easy to come to the conclusion that Gal to Kyouryuu will be in good hands when it premieres this spring.
|Watching This: Choya, Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
For eight-year-old Katarina Claes (Uchida Maaya), life couldn’t be better. As the only daughter of a well-positioned duke, she has the run of the neighbourhood, doing what she likes with little care in the world—including bothering Prince Gerald (Aoi Shouta), whom she has an inexplicable desire to harass. At least until she trips, face plants a rock, and gets swamped by random memories. Her real memories. As Katarina discovers, she’s actually an otaku who died on her way to school, and in death was reincarnated in her favourite otome game Fortune Lover. Not only that, but Katarina was reincarnated as the game’s villainess who just so happens to die or be exiled once the heroine beats the game. To avoid this unpleasant end Katarina sets out to use her game knowledge to save herself, but as the girl will quickly learn, avoiding fate is not the simplest of tasks.
No, you’re not seeing things, isekai has now invaded the otome realm. Rest assured though, it’s not entirely as you think, because outside of premise Hamefura has no intention of following the alternate world script. Much like the structurally similar Gaworare or Kaminomi, Hamefura is pure romcom: Katarina does what’s necessary to claim her desired ending, winds up with completely unexpected (and hilarious) outcomes, and continues, only to dig herself an even deeper (and more hilarious) hole. It’s your textbook play on dating sim mechanics, and while unabashedly otome-themed, there’s plenty to like here for all romance lovers, especially once the designated heroine Marie (Okasaki Miho) gets involved (*cough* yuri baiting *cough*). Considering Silver Link is producing alongside the romcom experienced director Inoue Keisuke, you can expect an entertaining romance anime, and with a stacked cast to boot, there should be plenty of hilarious love triangle situations to enjoy. Hamefura may not be the absolute best the romance genre has to offer, but it’s certainly set to be one of this season’s most entertaining offerings.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
Now that Chihayafuru 3 is complete, the coming of spring introduces us to a new love triangle, and Yesterday wo Utatte takes the stage as the romance of the season. The series follows a not-so-motivated Uozumi Rikuo (Kobayashi Chikahiro), a university graduate in dire need for direction in his life. His lack of motivation has left him in a state of limbo, working a lowly convenience store job four days a week. But things are looking a little less grim after he meets eccentric high school drop-out Nonaka Haru (Miyamoto Yume), whose closest friend is a crow. Except, it isn’t Haru that Rikuo is pining after, but an old university acquaintance, Morinome Shinako (Hanazawa Kana), who has baggage of her own.
The manga by Toume Kei was published in 1997, and only found its end in June 2015. The story he created carries themes with a lot of weight, implying serious tones. Rikuo’s character is living with symptoms of depression, Haru has unstable relationships with those around her, and Shinako, after so many years, is still grieving the loss of a loved one. There’s no doubt interesting character shifts and growth will come from these various relationships and emotions. The teaser for the series depicts a nice style to it as well, one that compliments these darker tones the series aims to convey.
|Watching This: Choya, Guardian Enzo, Miss Simplice||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
Oregairu Kan is the third season of a franchise which completely deviates from your typical romcom, and that mostly comes down to its unique and compelling protagonist. Hikigaya Hachiman (Eguchi Takuya) is an extremely jaded high-schooler – the black sheep of the flock, proverbially speaking. To be more exact, he’s a nihilistic loner with no sense of self-worth who doesn’t care about other people. An outlook that no doubt resonates with many western anime fans for having such a quirky hobby compared to their peers. But over the previous seasons, he’s very much changed, thanks to spending time at the Going Home Club with Yukinoshita Yukino (Hayami Saori) and Yuigahama Yui (Touyama Nao). Seeing him come to enjoy his time at school is really heartwarming, and his declaration at the end of season two roused something within my heart. And probably the hearts of many others. Who doesn’t relate with the desire to search out and create genuine connections with other people? But a dark shadow has fallen across the series. With his dedicated selfishness and the realisations he’s come to over the course of his personal development and maturation, can he rescue Yukino from the vague predicament that threatens to consume her well-being? Will he be able to finally find the ‘genuine thing’ which he so desperately seeks out?
Here it is, folks. The final season of Oregairu – the swan song for the hero we all need, but don’t deserve. Sure, Hachiman’s views and methodologies might be deeply flawed, so much so that I can recognise I’d struggle to get along with that kind of person in real life. But that relatable imperfection is the beautiful charm that hooks us in, and reveals a brave character who is unafraid of standing out against a sea of conformity. Supporting him is a wonderful cast of varied and interesting characters with chips on their own shoulders, highlighting the struggles that young people face in trying to become members of modern society. Alongside the returning voice actors, Studio Feel has come back with their usual staff, including Ooikawa Kei returning as director. With a consistently brilliant track record even outside of Oregairu, including Minami-ke, Outbreak Company and Hinamatsuri, as well as the talented voice actors at his disposal, I’m extremely confident the staff will bring us the incredible ending Oregairu deserves.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii, Zaiden||Excitement Level: High|
Honzuki no Gekokujou: Shisho ni Naru Tame ni wa Shudan wo Erandeiraremasen—or Ascendance of a Bookworm as it’s known in English—follows the journey of Main (Iguchi Yuka) and her insane passion to recreate her favorite object in the world: books. However, after being reincarnated in a fantasy-like world as a young child to a family with a less-than-stellar financial status, it was near impossible to even find something resembling a book. Not one to let obstacles stop her, with a little bit of luck Main was able to recall all of her memories as an adult during her time as Motosu Urano in a world just like ours, the first season dove into Main’s various attempts at creating paper to lay the foundation of one day creating affordable books. Along the way, we got a close look at the medieval world Main lives in, as well as what it really takes to build bonds when you just so happen to get thrown into the body of someone else.
Leaping into season two, the story continues right after Main’s streak of successful moments. Having successfully formed the Main Studio (with Lutz in tow) and bartering with the church to address the annoying problem of constantly worrying about dying due to an overflow of mana, it looks like we’re about to see just what this new life situation has in store for Main. Between her duties as a Blue Robed Priestess at the church and her passion for wanting to create books to read, it looks like the story is finally about to pay off with its original promise of showing us Main creating the books she so dearly desires. As with all sequels, I would highly recommend catching up with the first season before starting this. One word of advice from someone who has made handfuls of others watch this show would be make it through the first few episodes of the first season, since it takes some time for the story to really find its groove. The moment it does, though, you’ll want to have snacks ready since you’ll want to finish all of it before getting back up.
|Watching This: Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
From a third person perspective, Kagami Kazuya (Sanpei Yuko) is a fairly pedestrian and forgettable high school boy, if you don’t account for his singular eccentricity – the fact he goes everywhere with his precious Fukurobi, a keepsake left to him by his deceased mother. One day, he’s attacked by a monster and his Fukurobi transforms into a young girl named Kiriha (Oozora Naomi), who explains that she’s a Tsukogami, a sentient spiritual weapon that can be wielded to fight off monsters. Because this is one of those old school ecchi shows, her introduction is quickly followed by a varied swathe of female characters who all become hot and bothered by Kazuya – interspersed with supernatural shenanigans and ridiculously raunchy moments.
First off, because it isn’t obvious in the naming, this is a second season to the original one that aired. Prospective viewers will need to be familiar with the preceding story before diving in, as Zero-G return to take another shot at this passion project of theirs, having gained a lot more experience as a studio since Spring 2017 – though it isn’t exactly clear whether Kuraya Ryouichi will be returning in a directorial capacity. Anyway, Tsugumomo is a rare breed of ecchi action show that has been dying out over the last decade. Back in the days, adaptions from manga like Sekirei or Sora no Otoshimono were commonplace. However, they are being slowly superseded by the likes of ecchi action light novel adaptations. And even those have fallen by the wayside in recent years as anime seeks to expand its global profile, which includes toning down the fanservice. So, what sets Tsugumomo apart from its dying brethren? It takes generic, puts an unconventional twist and ends up providing a pleasantly unique experience. That said, Tsugumomo won’t be everybody’s cup of tea. But I can promise you that it becomes something really special, which we may see getting adapted in this second season. The best parts are yet to come, where Tsugumomo plunges down a dark rabbit hole. Gruesome shock plot twists are weaved in and complex moral dilemmas are introduced, giving ample opportunity for people to introspectively contemplate on various themes and ideas. Specifically the Tsukogami’s nature as sentient creatures, with an application similar to tools. Whether you’re willing to wait and see what it’s all about is entirely up to you.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Average|
Returning for its second season, IDOLiSH7 is bringing even more groups into the fray as the titular group tries its best to grasp success against an even tougher playing field. For those out of the loop, IDOLiSH7 is a show based off of a mobile game sharing the same name. Revolving around the main group named Idolish7, the show dives into the journey of a group of seven idols who all have wildly different personalities but bring their own unique charm and traits to the table.
Diving into the show’s second season, Idolish7 is running off a great high having taken the win in a competition over three-man rival group TRIGGER. Landing a spot on television, the group gets a chance to learn about another rival idol group named Re:vale. Comprised of two members who give off an overwhelmingly heavy aura as they unleash their powerful performances, it’s revealed that they’re surprisingly relaxed. Learning from the pair, Idolish7 learns of an opportunity to perform at an event called Zero Arena where Re:vale will also be performing. With an open spot waiting to be filled, Re:vale invites them to try and take this chance to perform. If you like the IP and/or idols, IDOLiSH7: Second BEAT! is definitely a show that I recommend. While the usual caveat of “go watch the first season” is there, I think this show’s strength comes in the form of its unique characters and how their conflicting personalities manage to bring the best out of one another. Plus, episode one is already available so you can get an early start!
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Average|
Entrepreneurship is a hard and arduous path, but in the face of the unknown that adage can quickly go out the window. After a large number of interdimensional gates appear across the world and open portals to innumerable monster-laden dungeons, the shrewd and savvy figure out how to start reaping the rewards. With newly minted adventurers in all their various RPG classes eager for a chance at loot and glory, numerous companies are founded to employ this talent, building parties of various skill to explore these new worlds and return (hopefully) with the riches beyond. There’s never a guarantee a dungeon will return the investment made in it, but for many of those involved in this rapidly growing industry it’s all about the friends and fun to be had while exploring the great unknown.
Fantasy, isekai, and the usual collection of cute faces: yup you know exactly where this one is going. Or maybe not, because Battle no Jikan isn’t entirely all it seems. Adapting a relatively recent mobile gatcha game (it was only released October 2019), Battle no Jikan at face value could be thought of as a Working / Watashi Nouryoku hybrid, where a bunch of really adorable moeblobs (seriously, just look at that promotional art) are hired to go raid dungeons and succeed (or fail) in the process. Personally I wouldn’t be expecting too much; mobile game adaptations are more miss than hit given their promotional nature, and it’s wholly unclear just what sort of story Battle no Jikan will aim for in the first place—i.e. serious plot versus episodic slice-of-life. Provided the show sticks to the upbeat and lighthearted atmosphere plastered all over its material I can see it proving to be a good bit of weekly fun, but until we see the results keeping any expectations in check is a pretty good idea.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Limited|
Shuichi Kagaya (Hanae Natsuki) is an intelligent, friendly high school student who was satisfied with his ordinary life up until he discovers he has the power to become a mascot suit. When he sees a mysterious girl named Claire Aoki (Toyama Nao) trapped in a burning building, he decides to use his power to save her. Although he’s been trying to keep his powers a secret, Claire’s knowledge of what Shuichi’s power entails has her interested in using him to hunt down her sister and avenge her family. With the threat of both having his secret revealed and being hunted down by other mutated people, Shuichi is roped into helping Claire exact her revenge by letting her climb into his body to fight her way to the bloody end.
One unsung genre that is abundant in manga yet rare in anime is Mascot Horror. Manga is the perfect medium for creating edgy cartoon fursuits that devour humans and tear them to shreds, but it also exponentially lowers their chances of getting an anime adaptation. Because of this, it’s a pleasant surprise to see Gleipnir receive a chance to show off its grotesque monster suit violence in all of its glory. There are other factors that could make Gleipnir a popular anime such as its dark material, its fanservice peppered about, and its high octane action sequences. And for a high concept idea like having a girl use a classmate as a super suit to get revenge, it’d be hard not to resist the boldness and tenacity that will be on full display when Gleipnir unzips itself this season.
|Watching This: Choya, Miss Simplice, Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Average|
Set during the Warring States period in Ancient China, the series centers around a war orphan named Xin (Morita Masakazu), who dreams of becoming a great general for the state of Qin and unifying the country. After his friend is abducted for an undisclosed purpose, he is left alone as a household slave until he meets the current king of Qin, Ying Zheng (Fukuyama Jun). In a turn of events, Xin finds out that his friend was mortally wounded because he was used as a body double for Zheng. Although he was furious at Zheng for his role in his friend’s death, his ambition pushes him to ally with Zheng to help reclaim his throne. In the process, Xin begins a new illustrious life as a Qin commander where he can work towards his dream of becoming the “Greatest General in the World”, bringing China together, and ending the long, brutal wars that plague the country. Season 3 covers the manga’s Alliance Arc where Qin-Zhao relations are put to the test when they form a shaky pact with one another to work together towards their mutual interests.
As a shounen inspired by feudal Chinese warfare, Kingdom has had its fair share of popularity as the long-running manga has inspired two previous seasons in 2012 and 2013. The six year time gap between Seasons 2 and 3 can be quite daunting and unpredictable as far is what caliber the animation and overall quality will be like. The changing times are all the more present now that the production is going to be helmed by Pierrot’s subsidiary company St. Signpost. But with the inclusion of veteran actors Morita Masakazu and Fukuyama Jun, it’s far more hopeful that it will be able to retain the same spirit that the series carried through two seasons back in the early 2010’s. Although it’ll be kicking off its third season this spring, the news of a new season serves as a good reminder of how much of a nice surprise it is to see a grand war epic show up in an anime season. It should help to give fans of Kingdom the satisfaction of seeing the story continue and give newcomers the right incentive to get started on witnessing tremendous, bloody warfare when the new season picks up where it left off.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Established|
Based off of a mobile game sharing the same name, Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle is an anime adaptation of the game’s third anniversary event which was a prologue to the already ongoing story. Starring Kaji Yuki as the Prince of Darkness and Horie Yui as the King of Light Iris, we will get to see the story of what events ended up kicking off the conflict that lead to what players experienced in the actual game.
One fun fact if you thought that the art or characters looked familiar is that the game had a westen release under the name Colopl Rune Story. In any case, this show is a tough one to talk about when the material is out there for anyone to see if they really wanted to. That said, the previews and people behind the scenes make this adaptation feel like it’ll be something really solid if you’re judging it on how fun and exciting it’ll be to watch. Toss on that this is covering a prequel to Shironeko Project’s story and I can see how this could lead to more adaptations to the game’s story. Overall with its fun character designs and classic story of light and dark, I don’t think you’ll go wrong giving this show a shot.
|Watching This: Takaii||Excitement Level: Limited|
This sequel to the original Princess Connect! mobile game acts as a hard reset for the franchise as our main protagonist, Yuuki ( Abe Atsushi) wakes up having forgotten about his previous adventures with the series’ staple princess knights. Although he is plagued with amnesia, he aims to begin his life anew in this new world to start another adventure. He is welcomed into his new journey by three new princess knights. Together, they venture off to go on magical quests, fight beasts, and possibly help Yuuki restore his lost memories.
The jaded outlook of Princess Connect! Re:Dive’s origins serves as an amusing selling point for the reboot. It makes no secret of the fact that it was reupholstered to cut their losses from a failing mobage (mobile gacha game) and restart from scratch to wipe off the bad taste left behind by its predecessor. Such stunts have worked out well for some properties, like the Final Fantasy XIV MMORPG that was rehauled enough for it to go from a miserably flawed disaster to one of the most popular MMOs to date. The mobage industry is far riskier as properties come and go after the initial novelty of a game wears off quickly thanks to lack of content or predatory practices. Princess Connect! might not have had the right ingredients to make it a bona fide hit when there’s so much competition on the market, but Princess Connect! Re:Dive should be a step in the right direction for the game by giving it enough of a fighting chance to inspire an anime adaptation. With several manga adaptations released or coming out soon, it should be interesting to see how the series develops once the anime premieres in this season.
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Limited|
As a spunky little half-snake demon girl, Jashin (Suzuki Aina) has a challenge like none other. Abruptly summoned to the human world by university student (and zealous horror-loving gothic lolita) Hanazono Yurine (Oomori Nichika), Jashin finds herself permanently stuck in Yurine’s dilapidated apartment as both girls struggle—and fail—to figure out a way to send the demon girl back home. At least until Jashin gets the bright idea to kill her unintentional roommate in the hope that’ll solve the problem. Now locked in a constant fight against demonic death, it’s up to Yurine to find a way to ship Jashin back where she came from before her cute yet malicious summoning experiment ends up blowing her to hell.
Credit where credit is due: Jashin-Chan certainly has a loyal following. While the first season back in summer 2018 wasn’t the absolute best supernatural slapstick comedy we’ve seen of late (Binbougami ga! has my heart), and had some seriously bad initial sales numbers, it accomplished what few of these series have by actually acquiring a sequel in early 2019 thanks in part to a staff pitch and audience response. Now over a year later we finally get to see the results of that impressive crowdsourcing in action. If you’ve seen and/or like the original there’ll be no major surprises: all major cast and crew are reprising their roles and studio Nomad again resides at the production helm. Expect plenty of additional goth-infused chainsaw slaughter, gut busting (literally) skits showcasing the wide range of potential Jashin suffering, and further focus on the wholesome and enjoyable antics of Jashin-Chan’s growing (and ever ridiculous) secondary cast. There’s no better place to look for some good laughs this season, because with plenty of source material left to adapt and passionate staff on call Jashin-Chan is primed to be one of this season’s standout comedies.
|Watching This: Pancakes||Excitement Level: Average|
It’s no surprise that Fruits Basket’s second season, a series some would say is at the helm of the shoujo genre, is one of the most anticipated sequels of spring 2020. The story follows Honda Tooru (Iwami Manaka), who, after losing her mother to an illness, found herself homeless. Through a weird series of events, she moves into the Souma household, which means she needs to adapt to living with a most particular male-centric family, made up of her schoolmates Souma Kyou (Uchida Yuuma) and Souma Yuki (Shimazaki Nobunaga), as well as their older relative Souma Shigure (Nakamura Yuuichi). However, there’s a little more to this story. With her presence in their house, the men are at risk of divulging their deepest secret, a curse that has ‘plagued’ their family for generations. Keeping that in mind, the manga, the original adaptation, and this recent release has left fans laughing, crying, and cheering for the most eccentric family that has ever existed. If you’ve not yet picked up this classic, it’ll be a worthwhile discovery and a treat for your eyes, ears, emotions, and all other senses.
The continuing second season comes after the remake’s first season that aired in the summer of 2019. The original series was adapted from the manga of the same name by creator Takaya Natsuki, which found its own fanbase back in 2001 (original release). Fruits Basket isn’t your typical shoujo revolving around a love triangle. Yes, that’s part of the picture, but it doesn’t make up the whole. It’s about so much more than romance between lovers. The manga, as much as the two adaptations, captures the essence of what it is to be a friend, a relative, a family. As we navigate the relationship between Tooru, Yuki, and Kyou, we discover the stories of so many different characters, all carrying their own weight within the overall plot. If you’re a fan of the manga, you’ll be happy to learn that this adaptation’s finale will follow the storyline very closely. It’ll serve as a nice stroll down memory lane as well (I know it will for me!). But either way, whether you’ve read the original work or have only just come across this story in recent years, you can expect a whole swell of emotions as you take in every episode.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Miss Simplice, Takaii||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
This adorable coming-of-age story comes at a time where I find myself nostalgic for cute anime shows centered around friendship, adventure, and comedy. Set in a remote seaside town in Japan, the teaser initially brought back images of Nagi no Asukara, but the premise is nothing alike. Tsurugi Hina (Takao Kanon) moves back to her hometown in the countryside where she reconnects with old friends while making new ones. As a bonus, she ends up as a member of her school’s only female-led fishing club “Teibou,” whose three other members are all weirdly passionate about fishing.
You heard right. A group of four girls encourage each other to learn more about fishing and improve their skills. No other series has ever come close to bringing ocean and high school girls together unless they were mermaids. Houkago Teibou Nisshi offers an interesting story about young women’s connection to the ocean, without diving into the mysteries of the underwater world. Instead, I expect this show to offer an even, grounded, and refreshing take as to how young girls fall in love with their environment, and find confidence within themselves to follow through in a realm not often open to women. What awaits at the end of the line? Possibly a lot of laughs, some small hurdles, and a generous amount of salty fresh air. Don’t let this one slip past you this season if you’re looking for the feel of sea breeze with your coffee.
|Watching This: Choya||Excitement Level: Average|
In the 21st century, humans have discovered the existence of humanoid animals who have spent centuries in hiding. Michiru (Morohoshi Sumire) was a high school student who led an ordinary life until she suddenly transformed into a tanuki person on one fateful day. Upon running away, she seeks refuge in the humanoid animal town of Anima City where she meets a wolf man named Ogami Shiro (Hosoya Yoshimasa). Through her experiences with Shiro, she begins to understand the lifestyle and concerns of humanoid animals. But as she investigates why and how she transformed into a tanuki person, she is mixed up in a large incident that gets Michiru and Shiro further enveloped into a series of strange circumstances. Soon, the question of how Michiru transformed will end up burrowing a deeper rabbit hole (or rather, a tanuki hole) that leads to a deeper understanding of the existence of humanoid animals.
It’s always exciting to see a Studio Trigger anime come around the corner, because expectations are either to watch some of the most creative anime within the past decade, or some of the most spectacular trainwrecks to air on television. With BNA director Yoshinari Yoh, his contributions steer more toward the former with the Little Witch Academia OVAs and TV anime giving us a glimpse of the quirky, colorful, and imaginative world of magic. If Yoshinari uses the lessons learned from LWA’s TV anime to its greatest extent, it’ll be interesting to see the world-building behind BNA’s humanoid animal city and their origins. But above all else, the series will definitely deliver on impressive visuals and engaging animation if the studio’s past efforts have any indication. With how much they’ve thrived off of high concept ideas, an anime like BNA not only feels like a natural fit for the crew, but it could definitely excel as a strong title this season.
|Watching This: Choya, Stilts, Takaii||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
From the mind of Jin (Kagerou Days, MEKAKUCITY ACTORS) and Satou Dai (Kaitou Joker, Eureka Seven) comes a new music-focused original anime from studio MAPPA. Set in a world where the very concept of music ceases to exist, the story begins when a boy named Echo Rec (Murase Ayumu) comes across the mysterious girl Myuu (written as “μ”) (Takahashi Rie), who has an audio jack in the middle of her back. When she is plugged into an amp, something happens which will change the world. Thus begins a journey of music and sound that will never be forgotten.
Listeners is this season’s entrant into the “original anime with an unnecessarily obtuse premise” category. What’s it going to be about? What genre is it? What will the episode-to-episode experience of watching this show be like? No clue, other than it will be stylish as all hell and it’ll be heavily focused on music. I remember MEKAKUCITY ACTORS being kind of a mess (before I dropped it), and Jin has the air of an “auteur” that triggers warning signals in my mind. But you know the thing about auteurs? When you let them do their weird thing, sometimes you get something truly special. (That’s true of everybody, by the way. The result’ll probably just be weirder with an auteur. Looking at you, Kojima Hideo). I definitely know the concept art for Listeners looks exciting, and the cast is absolutely stacked with top-tier seiyuu voicing 25 different named characters. Director Andou Hiroaki is a question mark, he has experience but it’s mostly with odd shows I’ve never heard of and/or Polygon Pictures CGI series, and this ain’t CGI. But MAPPA is a good thing, and originals are good things, even if they don’t always yield a good product. The usual advice with regards to original series that are holding their cards close to their chests is apropos: if you’re curious about any of this, watch the first episode to see what it’s about. None of us will have more than a guess until episodes start airing.
|Watching This: Choya, Guardian Enzo, Miss Simplice, Takaii||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
Kambe Daisuke (Ounuki Yuusuke) is the heir to one of the wealthiest families in Japan. He is also a detective assigned to the Modern Crime Prevention Task Force at the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department. Using his vast family wealth, this millionaire detective spares no expense in solving cases that would be seemingly impossible for anyone else to crack. He has the tendency to evaluate everything in terms of their monetary value, from items to human lives, due to his upper crust upbringing. This fundamental belief on Kambe’s part is put to the test when he is partnered up with Kato Haru (Miyano Mamoru), a compassionate detective who is repulsed by materialism and believes money isn’t everything. Although their ideologies are worlds apart, the two join forces to tackle complex crimes and mysteries.
For the most part, noitaminA’s main goal has been to create a television block for animation that is geared toward those who want to watch anime that is geared toward a more mature, somewhat sophisticated audience. While some choices have been out-of-left-field, Fugou Keiji Balance: Unlimited is definitely within their wheelhouse as an adaptation based on a beloved detective novel series from 1978 that had since inspired a successful TV drama in 2005. As icing on the cake, the stories were written by Tsutsui Yasutaka, the original author behind Paprika and The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. The premise has an interesting class dynamic as Kambe’s privileged background and Kato’s down-to-earth morality strike a rocky balance between the two, since they are the antithesis of one another. At the same time, it’ll be neat to see how they are able to come to terms with their differences if they are going to be an effective team at solving any mysteries that come their way.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
P.A. Works’ original series for this spring season is shaping up to be a wild ride. Set during the waning years of the 19th century, the story stars the genius (yet socially awkward) engineer Sorano Appare (Hanae Natsuki) and the wise (yet cowardly) samurai Isshiki Kosame (Yamashita Seiichirou). After a mishap, the two find themselves drifting on a boat from Japan to America. After landing in Los Angeles, bewildered and broke, the pair decide to enter the Trans-America Wild Race to win the prize money and use it to return to Japan. From the starting line in Los Angeles to the finish line in New York, they’ll battle crazy rivals, outlaws, and the great outdoors itself as they fight to take first place in the steam-powered car they built.
Some ideas are just good. A squirt of lime on tacos is good. A fried egg on a bánh mì is good. Soy sauce with sushi is good. (I may be hungry as I write this.) And pitting a couple of fish-out-of-water Japanese eccentrics against a bunch of larger-than-life American drag racers in the (presumably less violent) anime version of Twisted Metal? That is a very good idea. The character designs are evocative, the promo videos are full of style and panache, and they even managed to give the non-Japanese characters real-sounding names! They even avoided giving the black character big lips, which is a legitimate concern. (Great character, but damn y’all.) Of course, P.A. Works original series can be excellent and they can be god awful, and you never know what you’ll get until it happens. At least director Hashimoto Masakazu has some chops, so it doesn’t look bleak off the bat. Appare-Ranman! looks wild and crazy, and most of all, it looks like a lot of fun. I’ll definitely be watching to see whether this race stays on the tracks, or if it explodes in a tragic fireball of ambition and style.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
From the same people who brought us BanG Dream!—but, and this is important, not set in the same continuity as the girls from that project—comes a new singing idol anime in Argonavis from BanG Dream! The story begins with Nanahoshi Ren (Itou Masahiro), a lonely college student who isn’t good at communicating with others. He remembers the thrill of watching a live band perform when he was young—a memory so vivid he can’t forget it. Now he spends most of his days searching for his own identity. One day, while Ren is singing karaoke alone, he is overheard by Goryou Yuuto (Hyuuga Daisuke) and Matoba Wataru (Maeda Seiji), who marvel at his wonderful singing ability. The two agree: “This is fate. Let’s start a band!” Though Ren tries to run away, fate steps in nevertheless, and their journey begins.
Argonavis is a mixed-media project of the “brand extension” variety. Cashing in on the BanG Dream! franchise while remaining totally distinct—this takes place in a different world than the original series, and there will be no crossover between this band and that girl band—Argonavis seeks to raise another idol group from nothing to super stardom! Or at least a marketable mid-level status. The titular band, which is filled with young seiyuu with few (if any) credits to their names, will be joined by at least two others: GYROAXIA, which has more of a rock’n roll flair, and Fantome Iris, which is a visual kei band. Their seiyuu? Pretty much the same. This is about harnessing cheap talent and using anime as promotion for their music, and it shows in the cost-cutting cgi animation style they chose. Doesn’t mean it can’t be good! It totally could be. It’s just paint-by-numbers, so be aware of that going in. It’s a male idol show, the music is peppy and inoffensive, and they’ll definitely try to make us like these characters enough for an earworm or two to help extract a few more dollars from our collective wallets. Go in with eyes open, and you may still find a story here to enjoy.
|Watching This: Takaii||Excitement|