Summer is usually a hot season for anime (ha ha ha), and this season is no different. There are some big names on them thar lists. What’s different is that some of them, we’ve seen before. And I’m not just talking about sequels. Yes, as long as Corona-chan continues running apace, even our wacky and weird world of anime is effected. Bugger! But fortunately, the studios and their intrepid staff creators have been hard at work delivering as much animated goodness as shutdowns and illnesses allow. Speaking of sequels, we’ve got a few of them this season, including a surprise second season of old school-style shounen Muhyo to Roujii no Mahouritsu Soudan Jimusho 2nd Season, more fire force action in Enen no Shouboutai: Ni no Shou, and second tries at Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season, Yahari Ore no Seishun Love Comedy wa Machigatteiru. Kan, and Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season (may their airings go better than things usually go for Subaru). There are a few fresh adaptations too, such as this season’s Korean manhwa production The God of High School (get hype), this season’s possible romantic trainwreck in Kanojo, Okarishimasu, and the great snaggletoothed smugening with Uzaki-chan wa Asobitai!. There’s also a pleasantly plump roster of originals, such as the big budget glitzy international romp GREAT PRETENDER (leverage that Netflix money yo), the post-apocalytpic survival horror Edo time travel crossover Gibiate, and the mecha one in Deca-Dence. There has never been a better time to stay inside and watch anime. This is Random Curiosity’s Summer 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, previews were done by a single writer, Divine. But even in these benighted times the RandomC preview is a substantial task, so we’ve divided it up among our active staff (Choya, Guardian Enzo, Iskendaris, MissSimplice, Pancakes, Passerby, Stilts (yours truly), 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.
Before the traditional end-of-the-intro thank yous, we at RandomC like to address a tragedy that recently happened in the English-language anime community. Here’s Zephyr with a few words:
And finally, let me take this chance to thank the entire Random Curiosity team for their work on this preview. Life has been challenging for many since Corona-chan reared her ugly head, and that certainly extends to the RC staff. That explains the lateness of this preview, but the fact that we were able to complete it during all the overtime, second jobs, lost jobs, and literal viral pandemic we’re all living through … well, it brings a tear to my eye. I’ve been doing this a long time, and I wouldn’t pick one version of the RC staff over another (they’re all my favorite children) (except Enzo) (especially Takaii), but the grit everyone displayed this season has been remarkable. I’ll avoid listing out the jobs as is tradition, because everyone helped out where they could and did more than they were asked. So once again, thank you all. I will include the obligatory Enzo-centric plug (who I dearly luff and therefore must tease, LiA summer preview for a second opinion on many of these shows.
Finally, and as always, thank you to the entire Random Curiosity community. I won’t obscure the message with unnecessary quips this time. I’ll just say what I mean. Thank you for your support, thank you for your time, and thank you for being so awesome. Thank you.
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.
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, Takaii, Zephyr, Zaiden||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
P.A. Works’ original series for this summer 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: Guardian Enzo, MissSimplice, Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
A short time ago, a great disaster occurred on Earth when aliens called “Censor Bugs” invaded to devour the libido and sexual energy of humans. During this disaster, a device known as HxEros was invented to combined the power of Ecchi (H) and erotic power (Ero) to combat the monstrous Censor Bugs. The main narrative centers around a high school boy Enjou Retto (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) who joins a team comprised of four erotic high school girls who specialize in wielding the HxEros devices. But when he discovers that one of the girls is his childhood friend Hoshino Kirara (Kakuma Ai), he discovers that her personality dramatically changed along the way, causing a rift between the two. After they help take down one of the Censor Bugs, Retto, Kirara, and their new crew must join together to use the erotic power of the HxEros device to save the Earth from the alien threat.
A war between repression and eroticism can make for a fun anime premise. For instance, Shimoneta was an amusing take on erotic terrorists fighting against an ultraconservative society where sexuality was criminalized, and how repression can stunt the formulation of one’s concept of what love and sex should be. It might sound like an odd statement, but Dokyuu Hentai HxEros doesn’t look like it will tackle any social commentary on sex in society with the same level of depth or sophistication as Shimoneta. With aliens as the antagonists of the series, it gives the series incentive to narrow its focus more on its main five characters. By focusing on the coming-of-age story between Retto and Kirara, there is potential for Dokyuu Hentai HxEros to tell a story that isn’t too deeply rooted in trying to make a statement about sexuality in society.
|Watching This: Choya||Excitement Level: Average|
As the premiere foodie shounen, Shokugeki no Souma returns for its fourth (or sixth, depending on your split cour categorization) and final season. Centered around the elite Toutsuki Culinary Academy, Shokugeki no Souma follows the trials and tribulations of young Yukihira Souma (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), whose grit and determination to succeed at the school sees him overcome insurmountable challenges and learn more about cooking than he thought possible. Having recently helped defeated the attempt of upstart academy director Nakiri Azami (Hayami Shou) to monopolize control over school and global culinary standards both, Souma’s attention now turns towards helping pick up the pieces—and deal with the appearance of one shady Saiba Asahi (Fukuyama Jun). As Souma and friends will quickly discover, not all cooking is imbued with good intentions, and plenty of chefs exist who are more than willing to do whatever it takes to get ahead of the game.
Best prepare yourselves boys and girls, because Shokugeki no Souma is headed for rough waters. While having remained a relatively fun and enjoyable romp asIron-Chef-gone-anime, it’s hard denying Shokugeki no Souma dropped in quality with its last couple of arcs, and that’s before touching on the upcoming material. As any manga reader will emphatically tell, the BLUE arc is arguably the worst and most controversial part of the series, dispensing with much which defined this food porn series and providing an ending that only left a bad taste in many fans’ mouths. It’s not to say the anime will be the same, of course—we’ve had plenty of decent, source-material-deviating adaptations of late—but with likely only one cour to work with and given Shokugeki no Souma’s recent seasons, we probably shouldn’t go in expecting a face-saving anime original ending. It’s anyone’s guess how well Shokugeki no Souma’s last hurrah will play out, but I firmly recommend keeping expectations in check. After all, this season may not be predestined to fail, but pleasant surprises are always preferable to shocking disappointments.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Established|
In the year 198 of the Solar Era, Tokyo is beset by chaos. Infernals, violent creatures born through Spontaneous Human Combustion, wreak havoc wherever and whenever they appear, with only the valiant efforts of the Special Fire Force helping stem the carnage. At least on the surface. While assisted by gifted flame wielders called pyrokinetics, the Fire Force isn’t united and is incessantly plagued by mistrust and feuds. And as new Company 8 recruit (and eager Infernal extinguisher) Kusakabe Shinra (Kajiwara Gakuto) quickly finds out, it’s also one bearing its own share of secrets and enemies. As Infernal sightings increase across the city and a mysterious group called the White-Clad start featuring prominently in events, it falls to Shinra and his fellow Fire Force comrades to figure out the truth of human combustion before the world quite literally burns down around them.
Calm those agitated hearts everyone, for season two of flaming feet and latom prayers is finally upon us. While Enen no Shouboutai’s first season wasn’t particularly stupendous by shounen standards given certain narrative inconsistencies and the usual array of shounen quirks (e.g. hit or miss comedy), there’s no denying it was incredibly entertaining, thanks in part to some insanely impressive animation courtesy of a well-funded David Production. With all cast and crew carrying over it’s reasonable to expect more of the same this time around as well, however I would recommend keeping any expectations of similar quality and animation in check considering the show’s poor sales numbers; budgets after all are never set in stone and Corona-chan leaves few alone. Nevertheless, with this season set to start seriously delving into the inner workings of the White-Clad and the ultimate plans of the Evangelist, there’ll be plenty for both manga and anime-only fans alike to look forward to. More Iris (and Maki) after all is never a bad thing.
|Watching This: MissSimplice, Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii||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|
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|
Wow, would you look at that, another sequel! While not too surprising due to the unprecedented situation we’ve been experiencing together as a society, I will admit that this season is shaping up to be crazy with how many different sequels are coming. In any case, Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE is back for its second season and I’m sure fans can barely contain their excitement! Exploding out of the typical “Build” series where we see Gunpla fans duke it out in a mix of VR and AR, Re:RISE has really upped the stakes when it comes to leaving that established path. I would highly recommend anyone interested in the series diving into the first season while you have time, since it’ll give you time to get acclimated to the series as things go from 0 to 100.
In shameless fashion, I’ll rehash my previous preview on the series from back during fall 2019. Leaping off two years after the first series ended, Gundam Build Divers Re:Rise is the follow-up series to the well received Gundam Build Divers. A spiritual successor to Gundam Build Fighters, Divers utilizes a similar concept where the story is grounded in the “real” world. Unlike mainstream Gundam series of space operas where plot, drama, and unique characters make up a majority of the story, we instead are given a fun virtual world where anyone can pilot a mobile suit that they’ve built in real life. This virtual world of Gunpla Battle Nexus Online allows players to create a unique avatar that they control while they are “diving,” and just like any good online game, provides both cooperative and competitive modes of play.
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Established|
Based on the mixed-media project created by mobile game publisher KLab and omnipresent media conglomerate Kadokawa, Lapis Re:LiGHTs is a tale that blends idols and music with fantasy and magic. The story follows several groups of girls as they train to become idols. There are six full teams of idols so far, from the titular LiGHTs to their rivals/friends/etc in IV KLORE, Konohana wa Otome, Sugar Pockets, Sadistic Candy, and Supernova. While the anime has yet to premiere, more is known about the accompanying smartphone game, which involves turn-based battles where the idols use magic!? Yes, this isn’t just an idol anime. These idols don’t only sing, they use magic too. Do you believe in idols?
As resident previewer of shifty mixed-media project tie-ins, I usually assume these things are going to be crass commercializations designed to separate viewers from the maximum amount of coin as is humanly possible. I haven’t been wrong on this so far. Yet some of them still look good going in, and some even end up being good despite their mercenary beginnings, and this one has positive signs. The promo videos display good animation, the character designs are detailed (as is de rigueur for idol anime), and the seiyuu, while largely (though not exclusively) novices, are probably fine. Plus there are some music videos already released for the various idol groups, so some quick googling will tell you if the music is to your taste. (Spoiler alert: be prepared for standard-issue idol pop.) So what’s this about magic battles? That’s the part of the game which, if it moves over to the anime, might make it interesting. If someone went to me and said “Love Live! + your favorite Tales video game”, I would watch the heck out of that. The promo videos don’t reveal whether the anime will have any action outside of singing, though. We’ll have to watch to find out.
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Limited|
Humans, spirits, even gods themselves: all at some point have succumbed to Anoth (Suzuki Tatsuhisa), the Demon King of Tyranny. Yet for all Anoth has conquered, he still cannot scratch one particular itch: boredom. With none capable of giving Anoth an exhilarating experience, he chooses reincarnation—i.e. hibernate the demon way—to see what the future of the world holds. Waking up two millennia later, Anoth is surprised to discover that things have grown very different. Weak demonic descendants, declining magic; nothing is as Anoth knows, and determined to correct this he thus enrolls in Demon King Academy, only to encounter the unexpected issue of ostracism. With immeasurable power and no one knowing who he is, Anoth becomes the Academy’s social outcast, and with no one except fellow student Misha (Kusunoki Tomori) willing to listen, few ways to spread the true demon way of life. To revitalize the world Anoth must therefore climb the student ranks, but to do so may prove to be a challenge not even the Demon King himself can handle.
Fantasy, magic, school-life: that’s right boys and girls, it’s battle academy time. Before the overeager jump at the keyboard though, rest assured, Maou Gakuin is not entirely paint by numbers. Much like fellow Silver Link productions (e.g. Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry), Mahou Gakuin throws the typical script to the wind, choosing to go for twists over usual convention. Struggle and conflict will feature plentifully from start to finish, as Anoth’s frankly ridiculous power runs headfirst into the wall of obstinate social cliques and lack of fawning fangirls needed for the ubiquitous harem power-up. Wanted a livelier challenge to the usual OP MC shenanigans? You’re in the right place here. While Maou Gakuin isn’t without its array of concerns (notably in the chosen anime art style), considering Silver Link’s seasoned Oonuma Shin is handling director duty alongside first season Tokyo Ghoul’s Tanaka Jin on series composition, a tight and well-produced battle academy show is not out of the picture. Maou Gakuin may not be breaking any boundaries, but it’ll certainly fill any fantasy school-life void you might have.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
The God of High School is a prestigious fighting championship sponsored by a shady company that pits the best young fighters in South Korea against each other to represent their nation in a World Tournament. The winner gets their wish fulfilled by their nation’s corporation, no questions asked. This intrigues Jin Mo-Ri (Tachibana Tatsumaru), a 17-year-old Tae-Kwon-Do specialist from Seoul who is invited to take part. But in this brutal tournament, there is more than mere martial arts at play. Participants fight using a mystical energy granted by supernatural entities known as “Borrowed Power” and have to become acquainted with the Sage Realm and Heavenly Realm that conjures this energy into existence. As Mo-Ri becomes acquainted with other powerful Korean martial artists and learns the history of the clash between these two realms, he aims to achieve his goals and get a better understanding of what’s at stake in this cosmic war between humans and the supernatural.
Thanks to Crunchyroll’s interest in producing and co-producing anime projects based on Korean manhwa, we’ve gotten much more exposure this year to anime based on some of the more popular webtoons. If last season’s Tower of God was a proof of concept for a manhwa adaptation to gain popularity with ease, then this season’s The God of High School should be off to a good start. But coasting off of the good will accrued by Tower of God isn’t all that The God of High School aims to accomplish as it tells an action-packed story of a martial arts tournament that transcends the boundaries of this human world. Reading the premise alone makes me think of Tekken and, as a huge fan of Tekken, I can’t help but be optimistic about how The God of High School pulls off its supernatural international fighting tournament. And with MAPPA taking the wheel on the series, expectations will be high for the series to knock it out of the park. When The God of High School makes its fiery entrance this summer, we will truly find out if the anime will be able to deliver on the heat, intensity, and over-the-top action of “The God of High School” championship.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
Continuations and sequels galore! As with many other shows this season, Baki is making its triumphant return this summer! Baki: Dai Raitaisai-hen will pick up right where things left off and enter the Great Chinese Challenge arc where the titular Baki Hanma (Shimazaki Nobunaga) will continue his journey to become the strongest man on earth.
For those out of the loop, Baki is a long running series revolving around Baki Hanma. Son to Hanma Yujiro who has been dubbed the “Strongest Creature on Earth”, Baki’s goal in life is to not necessarily become stronger than the aforementioned Strongest Creature but become strong enough to defeat him. Partially for himself and partially for revenge for his mother’s death at the hands of Yujiro. The story follows Baki as he takes on one match after another in order to catch up to his father. As I mentioned earlier, this is a long-running show that has had many anime adaptations, and if you’re behind, it’d be wise to at least catch up with the 2018 anime first, but for those of you looking for a true challenge there are an additional two seasons and two OVAs to really get you up to speed on everything. I think this is a nice treat for Baki fans who have been waiting for more animated goodness and a chance for the fandom to hopefully get a little larger with a renewed marketing push for the upcoming season. That and at least this and the previous season should be easily available via Netflix (depending on your country). Why not give it a shot?
|Watching This: No one yet||Excitement Level: Established|
Even with a sequel manga I was still surprised to see Muhyo and Rouji get a second season (effectively a split cour all along, one supposes). I wouldn’t say I love this show or anything but it’s a pretty serviceable supernatural shounen. As it turned out mangaka Nishi Yoshiyuki’s sequel would only run for about a year, but I assume it was the reason why this old chestnut that was only modestly popular got an adaptation all these years later.
The appeal of this series, for me, lies in its distinctly old-school shounen anime feel. It puts me in mind of the likes of Mythical Detective Loki or D.N. Angel – it’s not on that level but has something of the same vibe. The school setting and the innocently cheeky sense-of-humor are very 90’s in nature, and Nishi’s writing is quite good – he knows how to construct a plot and manages to keep the series internally consistent. In a weak season with much of the schedule delayed, a show like Muhyo and Rouji is a modest pleasure that stands out a little more than it normally would.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo||Excitement Level: Average|
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby was an engaging sports anime that took great race horses of the past and depicted them as horse girls attending an academy where they train and race their way to becoming track-and-field legends. The anime followed the journeys of Special Week (Waki Azumi), a country girl who promised her mother that she would become the best runner in Japan, and Silence Suzuka (Kono Marika), a seasoned runner who aims to continue her upward trajectory toward fame and glory. In Umayon, these two are joined by their friends and competitors in a light, fluffy story that captures their daily lives. Rather than focus on the sweat and tears they shed to deal with victory and defeat, Umayon revels in the girls’ everyday lives as they hang out with friends, wander about town, and bond over mutual interests.
Uma Musume was one of my guiltiest pleasures when I started blogging it back in 2018. It had a ridiculous gimmick of being about horse girls, but was also an interesting track-and-field anime that was a little inspiring because they’re all trying to better themselves and aim for their aspirations to be professional race horses. At the same time, there is something sentimental about girls based on deceased race horses being resurrected as young girls to continue their legacy as successful runners in the Uma Musume universe. This spin-off deviates from the more serious tone of the original, but in its lighter tone, it makes it so that Umayon can have a deeper focus on the fun banter that the first anime had. It’ll be fun to see what they give to Gold Ship and how we see her personal life since she was hilarious in the original series. It’ll be interesting to see how Umayon captures the daily lives of these horse girls when it arrives during one special week of the summer.
|Watching This: Choya||Excitement Level: Limited|
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, Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
From the light novel series of the same name, Re:Zero is back for its second (and most anticipated) season. Focusing on high schooler Natsuki Subaru (Kobayashi Yuusuke), Re:Zero tells the tale of Subaru’s struggles to survive in another world after being unceremoniously dumped in it by unknown powers. Equipped only with his mind and an insidious ability to rewind time upon his own death, Subaru sets forth to protect those close to him in his new life, especially Emilia (Takahashi Rie), a silver-haired half-elf who originally helped him upon his arrival in this other world. Overcoming the likes of curses, Witch’s Cult leader Betelgeuse, and even the venerable White Whale, Subaru believes he’s finally getting somewhere in his mission, only to run headfirst into his greatest challenge yet. As Subaru will find not all enemies are so straightforwardly dealt with, particularly those who’ve had a personal hand in crafting the very ability he uses to save the day. If the likes of Emilia and friends are to be kept safe from harm, Subaru will have to start putting more than his own life on the line.
Oh boy this one has been a long time coming. First airing back at the arguable start of the current isekai wave, Re:Zero is without a doubt one of the best and strongest of the genre we’ve received to date. Merging the usual isekai shenanigans with Madoka-esque pain and suffering, this series went full tilt into psychological abuse, throwing Subaru to the wolves and building him back up only to repeat twofold again and again. It was a showcase in what isekai is capable of, and the good news is it’s only set to get better from here on out. After all, we have one of Re:Zero’s longest and most critically acclaimed arcs now up for adaptation alongside all staff and cast in their previous roles. While I’d hesitate on placing too much pre-air hype on this season, considering how successful the first was and White Fox’s usual production, heading in with a healthy dose of optimism isn’t that bad an idea. Everyone who watched the original knows where they stand, but if you have a soft spot for fantasy and/or isekai definitely give the first cour a go and pay attention to this one, because Re:Zero is set to be one of this season’s (if not this year’s) top contenders.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes, Stilts, Takaii, Zaiden||Excitement Level: High|
An anime original from the minds of Aoki Ryou and Amano Yoshitaka, Gibiate is the latest in post-apocalyptic survival horror. After a viral pandemic in 2030 sweeps the world (Editor’s note: too soon) and turns the infected into a grotesque array of monsters called Gibia (Editor’s note: that’s better), the devastated remnants of Japan receive some unlikely visitors: a samurai-ninja pair, transferred right from the Edo period. After helping some bystanders escape a Gibia attack, both feudal transplants soon find themselves in the company of a doctor who requests their help in finding a cure for the virus. Stuck in a world they know nothing about, both agree to the doctor’s request, however actually following through proves to not be as easy. With the Gibia relentless in their attacks and outlaws hiding around every corner, it will take every ounce of strength for Edo’s finest to help their new companion, yet success might not only see a cure, but a way for them to also return back home.
Anime originals—especially sci-fi originals—are always a black box at the best of times, but Gibiate truly takes the summer 2020 cake. Outside of the Black Bullet meets Kuromukuro premise and some main character and monster concept art/name reveals, precious little is actually known about this, story-wise. What we do know, though, is that it’s wise to keep expectations in check. While Amano Yoshitaka’s always impressive artwork is already on glorious display, the cheap appearance of monster CGI and the quality of the animation in the PVs screams cut corners and shoestring budget. Couple this with Aoki Ryou being the creative force behind the flop which was Endride, and Gibiate being Komino Masahiko’s first shot at the director’s chair, and I won’t be anticipating this one to save anime anytime soon. Nevertheless, there’s always the potential to see the unexpected with unknown shows like this, and Gibiate could as easily blow expectations away as quickly disappoint. As with any good mystery, we’ll just have to wait and see to find out which direction it takes.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: Average|
For me any Tachikawa Yuzuru anime is an event. Any original anime all the more so, and Deca-Dence is his first since Death Parade. What I’ve really been jonesing for, though, is the next Tachikawa-written series, and for that we’ll have to keep waiting for now. Perhaps Death Parade was the story he’d been dreaming of telling and he has no such inspiration in its wake – who knows. But Tachikawa remains the most interesting young director in anime, so any show he’s directing goes to the top of the list.
This time around Tachikawa is working with most of his usual collaborators but after directing at titans Madhouse and Bones, this time around the studio is the relatively unknown Nut. One of those collaborators is writer Seko Hiorshi, who handled series composition on Mob Psycho 100 and has largely done adaptations, mostly (though not always) exemplary. As we know this role is hugely important on original series, but we just don’t have much to go on with Seko there. He seems very competent and Tachikawa obviously respects him and enjoys working with him, but this is the great unknown with Deca-Dence. I know only as much as the synopsis and the PV tell us, which isn’t a lot, but it’s hard not to get excited at the prospect of Tachikawa and Kurita Shinichi working on a mecha anime. At some point in the distant dystopian future the dregs of humanity survive in a giant mobile fortress called “Deca-Dence” (it got its own designer), hiding from a life form called the Gadoll. There’s also a cynical dude-genki girl odd couple dynamic. It sounds pretty generic for this sort of show to be honest, but Deca-Dence is all about the staff list, and if it’s going to be great (as certainly seems possible) it’s almost surely the execution that will drive it.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Stilts, Zaiden||Excitement Level: High|
The first thing I said when this show was announced was, “if it doesn’t have the Platters’ song as the OP it’s an epic fail”. Well, they went with the excellent Freddy Mercury cover version, but that’s good enough for me. Thanks, Netflix money – and that money is also of course the reason Great Pretender actually premiered on Netflix Japan June 2. That leaves western anime viewers with the now-familiar choice of whether to wait for traditional streaming options or watch it old-school style.
This is an interesting premise – a Japanese conman gets ripped off by a French conman and chases him to L.A. to try and get his ill-gotten fortune back. Wit has put together an outstanding staff including director Kaburagi Hiro, writer Kosawa Ryota and legendary Gainax character designer Sadamoto Yoshiyuki. As this is an original show, Kosawa is a key figure of course, and while he’s largely unknown in anime he’s compiled a very solid resume in movies and TV. I think that background is a good fit for this sort of story. I’ve watched the first 14 episodes and been very impressed. Clearly Great Pretender has a big budget, but this show is much more than that. Art director Takeda Yuuseke (Seirei no Moribito, Uchouten Kazoku isn’t as well-known as the other big staff names, but he should be, and his work here really stands out. The OP and ED are wonderful and on-point, the writing is sharp, and the casting excellent. I think Great Pretender has a good chance to be the first Netflix-funded anime to fully realize the potential in the relationship.
|Watching This: Choya, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Stilts||Excitement Level: High|
Yuasa Masaaki and his team are back, this time with an updating of a novel that’s already seen three (not very well-received) live-action adaptations. Sakyo Komatsu’s book was published in 1973 and is generally regarded as a pillar of Japanese sci-fi. Given its premise – a middle-school girl and her younger brother try to survive after a massive earthquake strikes Tokyo – one wouldn’t be out of line in wondering if Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was among the works influenced by it. Yuasa has Netflix money behind him for this 10-episode venture, which is actually showing in competition as a film at Annecy (which has moved online for this year’s festival).
It’s certainly not a surprise that Japanese fiction has a bit of an obsession with seismic activity, given that this modestly-sized island nation has 20% of the world’s earthquakes. Enough time has passed since the Fukushima quake/tsunami/nuclear disasters (indeed, a Chernobyl-styled docudrama film about that event was released last year) that the subject matter here is no longer a third rail. I haven’t read the novel – as far as I know it’s never been translated – but despite the poor critical reception all of its live-action adaptations received, the book itself is purportedly a classic.
Yuasa recently stepped down as president at SARU, but my assumption is that’s so he can focus more heavily on making movies himself. The studio is certainly incredibly busy with both film and TV work, and that may have taken a bit of a toll on the quality of their output. But Japan Sinks looks like meatier material than Yuasa has been tackling lately, and the early buzz has been very positive. I liked Eizouken but honestly it was a show Yuasa could have done in his sleep – he’s better when he challenges himself more. Will Tokyo Sinks provide such a challenge? We’ll see.
|Watching This: Guardian Enzo, MissSimplice, Pancakes||Excitement Level: Optimistic|
No Guns Life returns with a second season this summer, following cyborg protagonist Inui Juuzou (Suwabe Junichi), who is what is known as an Extended. The appeal of the show stems from Inui’s particular ‘build.’ He has a gun for a head. In this world set in the future, Inui’s role has shifted from being a soldier to a ‘resolver.’ He uses his newfound time to solve crime, and oftentimes comes to other Extended’s aid. With no memory of his past life, he uses the best of his ability, his sense of justice, and his compassion to help those who seek him out. In the first twelve episodes which aired in fall 2019, Juuzou meets a young runaway, Arahabaki Tetsuro (Yamashita Daiki) who carries the weight of this action-thrilled futuristic world on his shoulders. He’s sought out by larger corporations, by special agents, and anyone who can take advantage of his special ability. It’s with Juuzou at his side that he’s made it through this far.
Madhouse produced a steady quality animated series with the first twelve episodes. However, No Guns Life’s first half left viewers feeling underwhelmed. Even with an interesting world, the first season fell short in providing a gripping story and solid character arcs. Rather, it was charged with establishing the roles of larger players in the series and the conspiracies within the overall story, which might have required a little more patience from viewers, establishing a very ‘film noir’ tone to the show. With this second season, fans are hoping for an evolution in character development, in relationships, and in resolutions. That isn’t to say Madhouse won’t meet fans’ expectations. They have a whole other season to turn things around and create the series they aspire for the community.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
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|
If you’ve come for plot, depending on what type you’ve come for, perhaps you’ve come to the right place. Sakurai Shinichi (Akabane Kenji) is an athletic introvert at university who enjoys being left alone, but he finds himself plagued by an annoying kouhai intent on smugly pestering him at every opportunity. Her name is Uzaki Hana (Oozora Naomi), an extremely well-endowed, energetic, snaggletoothed girl who has known Shinichi since high school. While he often acts aloof, as if he’d rather not be around her, surely there’s no coincidence and he must actually enjoy it?!?
Beyond the manga community, Uzaki-chan gained some notoriety for helping promote a blood donation initiative for the Red Cross in Japan – and helped increase said blood donations by a significant margin. No doubt because many Japanese men couldn’t resist her cheeky smug smile and notable assets. But for those who aren’t in the loop, Uzaki-chan is part of the new wave of romance manga where a hapless protagonist gets endlessly smugged on by a cheeky girl. Which I won’t deny is my kind of thing. For me, it helps that Shinichi isn’t a wimp who’s getting rolled over every single time. He’s a chad who puts up with it because he can’t be bothered to push her away – but is soft and endearing enough toward Uzaki that you know he’s not an asshole or jerk. Regarding the visuals, I do feel that the animation could be better. But ENGI got the most important thing right – the casting behind Uzaki. When I listened to the trailer, it was amazing how she sounded even more cute, even more smug and even more annoying than I’d imagined her to be. So I’m excited to see this premise come to life – and in a relatively bare season due to reasons beyond anyone’s control, it will be sure to provide my weekly dose of smug and fan service.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes, Stilts, Zaiden||Excitement Level: Average|
After teasing us with another gigantic cliffhanger, Sword Art Online returns to close out the Alicization arc that has been running for over three cours now. For the uninitiated, Sword Art Online is the premiere VMMORPG anime that took the world by storm many years ago. Currently working through the Alicization arc, the story has entered an interesting spot as protagonist Kirigaya “Kirito” Kazuto (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) is stuck in a virtual world where after a shocking series of events had his brain in the real world slightly fried. Luckily his girlfriend (fiance?) Yuuki “Asuna” Asuna (Tomatsu Haruka) has raised hell infiltrating a secret military base and is currently trying to save both the world that Kirito is stuck in and Kirito himself.
Skipping out on a lot of specific plot points that would take pages to explain, the second Season of War of Underworld is shaping up to be a high stakes battle for both the virtual and real world. Alice Zuberg (Kayano Ai) has been set up as the key piece the bad guys want, and it looks like our heroes are in a pinch since scary psychopath Gabriel Miller (Ishida Akira) is currently escorting her to the edge of the world where they’ll presumably eject her fluctlight into the real world. On the other side of things we have Suguha (Taketatsu Ayana) and Shino (Sawashiro Miyuki) diving into The Underworld to help out Asuna, plus the possibility of thousands of ALO players providing backup. Honestly, it’s tough to really talk about Alicization since it’s been going on for over a year at this point with all the breaks the arc has taken. Long story short, if you’re a Sword Art Online fan and have been keeping up, this is the moment we’ve all been waiting for. If you’re not a fan, I would like to say that this arc is one (in addition to Mother’s Rosario) that definitely makes keeping up with the show worth it.
|Watching This: Pancakes, Takaii, Zaiden||Excitement Level: Established|
For freshman Kinoshita Kazuya (Horie Shun), his vaunted college life has been anything but refreshing. Unceremoniously dumped by his girlfriend a month into their relationship after asking her to visit his family, dejected Kazuya tries to fill the loveless void by impulsively renting a girlfriend through a mobile app—only to get far more than he bargained for in the process. While Mizuhara Chizuru (Amamiya Sora) is seemingly perfect on the outside, after Kazuya leaves her a negative review following some post-date regrets, she reveals an incredibly temperamental personality wholly at odds with Kazuya’s initial impressions. And to make matters worse, he’s forced to bring her with him as his “girlfriend” to the hospital mid-second date to see his admitted grandmother. Although this makes grandma ecstatic to see her grandchild find love, it leaves Kazuya and Chizuru in a serious quandary. Unable to tell the truth to avoid upsetting Kazuya’s family, both must now carry on the lie and act as though their love is as real as the pocket change Kazuya uses to pay for it.
Boys and girls, say hello to this season’s main trainwreck contender. Anyone who’s familiar with typical romance should know what’s coming with Kanojo Okarishimasu: we’ve got the stereotypical weak male lead, plenty of romantic interests who all just happen to be interested with him, and more misunderstanding-fueled hot and cold drama than you can shake a stick at. While the college setting and dating rental twist (a service which does actually exist in Japan) are a leg up over the usual high school shenanigans, expect this to be more Golden Time than Honey and Clover, especially considering Kanojo Okarishimasu’s manga is still ongoing with over 15 volumes to date. It’s unlikely we’ll see a true disaster mind you, given Amaama to Inazuma’s Hirota Mitsutaka is handling series composition alongside an absurdly loaded cast, but when it comes to incomplete romance adaptations it’s always best to hedge your bets. Kanojo Okarishimasu won’t be breaking any new romance ground, but if you’re in need of some summer romance drama look no further than this.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes, Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
In a world of swords, magic, and good old-fashioned horse-drawn carriages exists one Peter Grill (Shimono Hiro). A fighter by training and proud member of the warrior’s guild, Peter’s only dream is to marry his long-term girlfriend Luvelia (Ninomiya Yui), but after winning a major fighting competition and getting labelled strongest man in the world, he encounters a major snag. A female snag. With Peter’s genes having proven a step above the rest, numerous women, from humans and elves to orcs and ogres, start seeking him out in the hopes of bearing his children. While such advances are not entirely unwelcome to the soft-hearted Peter, with his own girlfriend believing babies come from storks and other girls determined to do whatever is necessary to get into his pants, his pursuit of holy matrimony with Luvelia will prove to be anything but a walk in the park.
Oh boy, do we have a wild ride here. If not immediately apparent from art and synopsis both, Peter Grill is full blown harem ecchi. Similar to winter’s Ishuzoku Reviewers, this one is all about fantasy world sex in its many forms and functions. The key difference, however, is that Peter Grill will be less contractual and significantly more divisive. Unlike that earlier fantasy brothel romp, Peter Grill revolves around its main male character getting coerced and effectively raped by various fantasy girls as he tries—and fails—to stay true to his main love. While the various arcs and situations are couched in plenty of comedy to help offset this starting point, don’t expect it to overcome those aspects if you’re not one to find dark and raunchy humour funny. Make no mistake, there’s plenty here for ecchi fans to heartily dig into, but if you need something more vanilla to fully flesh out your usual fantasy wish fulfillment, I firmly recommend caution if you hope Peter Grill will be this season’s top guilty pleasure.
|Watching This: Choya, Pancakes||Excitement Level: Limited|
Finally not a sequel! Monster Musume no Oisha-san follows the story of Dr. Glenn Litbeit (Toki Shunichi) and his journey as a doctor in the town of Lindworm. However, he’s not just a regular doctor, but a doctor for monster girls as Lindworm is a place where both Humans and Monsters live together. Together with his assistant Saphentite Neikes (Oonishi Saori), the pair go around solving problems that sometimes extend beyond just the medical side of being a doctor.
If I had to accurately sum up my thoughts on this show, I’d say it’s a show I personally would enjoy but would have a tough time suggesting to others if they didn’t start watching it of their own volition. For those of you who don’t understand what that means, it’s my way of saying that not every show needs to be a masterpiece, and that accepting that fact and enjoying things as they are is one way of consuming content and enjoying it! That aside, this show looks like it’ll have your typical tropes in its genre (i.e. some ecchi), but my hope is that the story dives into the deeper topics of what happens when you smash together different species (and races) in an enclosed area. Glenn Litbeit seems like someone who’s interested in being more than just a doctor and based on the show’s short preview, I think there’s a good chance there’ll be more than just watching Dr. Litbeit patch up monster girls. That and the art style looks pretty good. So, if you don’t already have a ton of other things to watch, why not give this one a shot? That and there’s probably no chance of it being as extreme as Ishuzoku Reviewers, so you’re probably safe if that was your worry.
|Watching This: Takaii||Excitement Level: Average|
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|
|05/08||Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi OVA
|Bundled w/ BD/DVD BOX Vol 2. Episode 14.|
|05/27||Heya Camp△ Special Episode: Sauna to Gohan to Sanrin Bike
|Bundled w/ Heya Camp△ BD/DVD.|
|05/27||Soukyuu no Fafner: Dead Aggressor – THE BEYOND
蒼穹のファフナー THE BEYOND
|BD/DVD Release. Episode 4-6.|
|05/27||Tenki no Ko (Weathering With You) | 天気の子
|06/03||Lupin III: THE FIRST | ルパン三世 THE FIRST
|06/05||Bokura no Nanokakan Sensou (Our Seven Day War)
|06/10||Sora no Aosa wo Shiru Hito yo (Her Blue Sky)
|06/18||Nakitai Watashi wa Neko wo Kaburu (A Whisker Away)
|Netflix Movie Release.|
|06/26||ARP Backstage Pass
|Bundled w/ BD/DVD Vol 4.|
|06/26||Sekaiichi Hatsukoi: Propose-hen | 世界一初恋~プロポーズ編~
|07/15||Boku no Hero Academia the Movie 2: Heroes: Rising
僕のヒーローアカデミア THE MOVIE ヒーローズ：ライジング
|07/29||Goblin Slayer: Goblin’s Crown
ゴブリンスレイヤー -GOBLIN’S CROWN-
|07/29||Strike the Blood IV OVA | ストライク・ザ・ブラッド IV OVA
|OVA 3 and 4 of 12.|
|08/21||Hoozuki no Reitetsu 2nd Season OVA
鬼灯の冷徹 第2期 OVA
|Bundled w/ LE manga Vol 31.
OVA 3 of 3.
|08/26||Granblue Fantasy The Animation Season 2 Extra 2
グランブルーファンタジー The Animation Season 2 ジータ篇：Extra 2
|Bundled w/ BD/DVD Vol. 7.|
|08/27||Ta ga Tame no Alchemist (For Whom the Alchemist Exists) | 劇場版誰ガ為のアルケミスト
|08/28||Tenchi Muyou! Ryououki 5th Season | 天地無用! 魎皇鬼 第伍期
|BD/DVD Release. OVA 3 of 6.|
|Bundled w/ BD/DVD Vol 6.
|Sept 2020||Planetarian: Snow Globe | planetarian ~雪圏球[スノーグローブ]~
|Crowdfunding Campaign Release.|
It’s hard to know where anime is going anymore. It’s hard to know where anything is going. As we live through the kind of historical event I would have rather left to the history books, it’s struggle enough to keep our jobs (or find new ones), keep our health (or recover it), and spend time with friends in a way other than virtually. Also, it’s hard to produce anime under these conditions, apparently. That won’t stop good anime from coming out, but there’s a certain amount of hedging in this schedule—there are a lot of sequels of long-running, sure-fire winners. Though much of that has to do with being delayed from previous seasons. To me, the most heartening sign is the number of originals—even here, in these times, people are trying to create new, fascinating, and innovative stories. For that, I am thankful, and of those (and others), I will partake and enjoy—which brings me to our Excitement Levels!
That’s right, we’ll be continuing with our now-customary Excitement Levels, which includes four main levels plus Established for special cases. Our goal is to make it easier to use the top and bottom of the scale, and to take away the incentive to hedge our bets—after all, we’re not saying these shows will be good or bad, we’re just saying how excited we are. Exciting things can be flawed, and unambitious things can be fun! Hopefully this guide will help those of you with limited time understand which shows to try first, based on our preliminary examination of each show’s staff, seiyuu, and source material. Failing that, it’ll give you another reason to laugh when we get hyped up about a show that ends up failing down the stretch.
As usual, these levels were arrived at by our regular (and reliably shady) “Excitement Council” of Stilts, Zephyr, and, repeating for another season, Guardian Enzo. While we’ve gone to great lengths to consider multiple viewpoints and not get swept away by our own proclivities, these aren’t predictions, and shouldn’t be taken as such. Take these with the appropriate amount of salt.
Note: Lists are sorted in alphabetical order.
High excitement shows are the ones we’re truly pumped about. These are the shows we want to watch the most, and which we think have a good chance of being exemplars of their kind — or at least come close. Shows in this category might be sequels to excellent anime, adaptations of highly regarded source material, projects with stellar pedigrees, or even originals that just light up our minds. They don’t have to be perfect, but they do have to feel like something special. If you consider yourself a casual fan who only gets your toes wet every season, then these are the shows we feel you should most keep an eye on.
Optimistic shows are ones that we’re hopeful will be really good, and which we have good reasons to think they might be. The underpinnings of these are generally strong, with a lot to suggest in each of them, but with one or two elements that give us pause and keep our enthusiasm from boiling over. They still have most of the makings of very strong series, though, and many stellar anime will arise from this category. If you’ve exhausted all the High shows, or want to delve deeper into your favored genres, check out these as well.
Average excitement shows look middle-of-the-road to us. They could be good or they could be bad, but they don’t provide much immediate indication that they’ll be amazing in retrospect. This is often the case with shows that are firmly ensconced in their genres’ tropes, or which overly rely on some of anime’s overused plot devices. It can also apply to shows that seem deeply flawed, with elements that could make them amazing, but with so many potential pitfalls that we’re not getting hyped up. However, in many of our experiences these shows still provide a great deal of entertainment, and may turn out a lot better than they appear. Personal taste comes heavily into play, so your mileage will vary.
Limited excitement shows are ones that we simply aren’t all that excited about. They often don’t seem to be striving for much, and choose to focus on more frivolous aspects such as senseless humor and fanservice. Other times they’re doing the same thing we’ve seen a thousand times, with few mitigating signs that they’ll rise above their tropes. That doesn’t mean they’re the bottom of the barrel and shouldn’t get any consideration, but simply that they’re not doing a lot to suggest themselves. Keep in mind what kind of show they are, though, and you might find something you enjoy amid this cohort.
Established shows are any series that has aired for more than 40 episodes or has been previewed three or more times. This can include anything from never-ending shounen and decade-spanning dramas to that quirky comedy that keeps getting renewed season after season. The only commonality is that they’ve aired a lot of episodes, and that they’re the kind of show that most viewers will want to catch up on all the previous content before watching the new. Spin-offs and remakes don’t automatically qualify, since they’re considered new series.