The Spring 2015 anime season is just around the bend and there’s a ton of new series on the way to hopefully fill the holes in our hearts left from all the great winter series.
Instead of a dry listing of all the various anime series that will be coming out, I’m going to take a stab at guessing which series will be the top anime series of season. Last summer I did a preview like this and it was funny to see what I got right and what I didn’t. I failed to include Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun, Futsuu no Joshikousei ga [Locodol] Yatte Mita, Ao Haru Ride, and Sabagebu! on my countdown. I also had Sailor Moon: Crystal picked to be my #6 anime and Glasslip as my #9.
So, I guess the takeaway is that the following list will probably be wrong, hilariously so, but that’s okay. I’ll laugh at myself later as well. And to lead this countdown off is …
Director – Junichi Wada (new, Episode director Gosick [5 ep], Fairy Tail [2 ep.] )
Series Composition – Touko Machida (Lucky Star, Chaika the Coffin Princess, Inari Kon Kon)
Animator – Satelight (Log Horizon S1, AKB0048, Ikoku Meiro no Croisee)
Something about this line-up on the production side plus the promotional material I’ve seen makes me think the money people feel there’s a high chance this will not be a smashing commercial success and are spending according. And at one time this would have made me very angry because 9 years ago (wait, it’s seriously been 9 years) the first Melancholy of Haruhi series impressed the pants off of me and lead me down the road to eventually becoming an anime blogger. Time moves on and I can respect KyoAni’s desire for greater control over what they work on. So, I’m not going to be holding this to some impossible standard which is why I can think there’s still enough going for it that I’m willing to place it on this list. At the very, absolute least, it’ll be great to hear the seiyuu cast back together again. I do also hope this series is a success because then maybe more of the main series will be adapted. I made a decision back in 2006 to not read the source material that was not yet adapted so as to not spoil the future anime series that I was sure were right around the corner and I’ve been wanting to know what happens next for a long time now.
Director – Tenshou (Grisaia no Kajitsu, Kiniro Mosaic S1)
Series Composition – Yuniko Ayana (Denpa Onna to Seishun Otoko, Locodol, Kiniro Mosaic S1)
Animator – Studio Gokumi (Yuki Yuna is a Hero, Kiniro Mosaic S1, The Severing Crime Edge)
One of my guilty pleasures of anime is listening to Engrish, aka when Japanese people speak English badly. I find it equal parts cute, heartwarming, and gutsy (they have to know they’re butchering those English words). This anime is about an English girl that loves Japan and a Japanese girl who loves English culture; so, I get to hear all the Engrish I could possibly want. The show itself is one of those cute girls doing things cutely shows and within this type of show the first season was a very solid show, not an exceptional great example but definitely above average. The best episode of the first season was the anime original first episode so I’m hoping to see more anime original material this season. One of the strengths of shows like this is it helps balance out all those dark, emotional dramas.
Director – Daisuke Tokudo (new, Episode Director Guilty Crown [3 ep], Xam’d [4 ep])
Series Composition – Hiroshi Seko (new, script Attack on Titan [10 ep], Terror in Resonance [4 ep])
Animator – Wit Studio (Attack on Titan, Hoozuki no Reitetsu, The Rolling Girls)
Speaking of dark, emotional dramas we have the latest anime from Wit Studio, Seraph of the End. In it’s short time Wit Studio has become an animation studio that demands the attention of viewers. This is the primary reason this anime is making the list, music by Hiroyuki Sawano helps too, because the story sounds iffy to me. I’m tired of vampires like some people are tired of moe so if this had been animated by JC Staff, Studio Deen, Xebec, Asread, Arms, Feel, or Hoods Entertainment I probably wouldn’t be touching this with a 10 foot pole.
Director – Yukiyo Teramoto (Kaitou Joker S1, Doraemon movies)
Series Composition – Dai Satou (Eureka Seven, Ergo Proxy, Kaitou Joker S1, and script Cowboy Bebop [3 ep], Ghost in the Shell: SAC [15 ep], Samurai Champloo [5 ep])
Animator – Shin-Ei Animation (Kaitou Joker S1, Tonari no Seki-kun)
Why is there a kid’s show on this countdown? Answer – look at who’s writing the series. I’m not saying Kaitou Joker is in the same league as those other series Dai Satou worked on but the story of the first season had a heft and bite to it that constantly surprised me and drew me in. I’m thrilled to see this is getting a sequel because, while it’s similar to Lupin III in that it’s about a phantom thief, the addition of an outright villain gives the show a focus and structure that gets me wanting to see what happens next. As of this moment, I haven’t heard any recent information about the new Lupin series and I’m starting to think it might not air this spring; thus, I’m glad I discovered Kaitou Joker because it will sate my desire for anime series about gentlemen phantom thieves next season.
Director – Yutaka Uemura (Dantalian no Shoka)
Series Composition – Koutarou Uchikoshi (new, Ever17 manga)
Animator – Mappa (Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, Garo, Terror in Resonance, Kids on the Slope)
Another new studio, this one spun off from my favorite animation company – Madhouse – has also taken the industry by storm and is once again the main reason why I think Punchline has any shot at being good. I’m also not quite ready to throw the whole “noitaminA means quality” idea away quite yet. Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend turned out to be better then I originally thought it would be which is not to say it was a great, or even good, anime but I almost dropped it early on and now I’m glad I decided to keep watching. The thing that interests me the most about Punchline is it’s character designs. I don’t know why but there is something about Mappa series that their character designs always interest me. I’m not averse to the amount of fan service that Punchline is apparently going to have but I hope the fan service is integrated into the story well and that the show has a actual story to tell beyond finding excuses for the fan service.
Director – Noriyuki Abe (Yu Yu Hakusho, Bleach, GTO)
Series Composition – Makoto Uezu (Akame ga KILL!, Humanity Has Declined, Katanagatari)
Animator – Liden Films (Aiura, Terraformars) and Sanzigen (Arpeggio of Blue Steel)
If we’re speaking Hiromu Arakawa I wish it was in the context of another season of Silver Spoon; instead, it’s a manga adaptation she’s been working on of a Japanese novel series by Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka who also did Legend of the Galactic Heroes. It’s a historical fantasy series which I’m normally interested in, as long as I don’t have to suffer through a story by someone with an axe to grind about the Catholic Church. The biggest question about this series is the two companies animating it. In that regard, the trailer actually looks good and that has allayed my fears to a great degree. I’m still not a fan of 3D CG animation but it looks like this series will be a mix of types and Arpeggio of Blue Steel was a pretty decent series once one got past the 3D CG.
Director – Rie Matsumoto (Kyousougiga)
Series Composition – Furuya Kazunao (new, live action drama writer)
Animator – Bones (Space Dandy, Noragami, Captain Earth)
“Style over substance” always sounds a bit too negative to those works that really push their style forward. Sometimes, the story so fails the show that all the style in the world can’t save it; but, sometimes the story is decent or even good (with the style being even better) and a great show is the result. Consequently, I think that saying shouldn’t have the negative connotations that it has. From the trailer it looks like Bones is putting their best crew on this show and it looks uber-stylistic. And it’s that which is setting off people’s “style over substance” meters. Having the manga written by Yasuhiro Nightow, author of Trigun, also seems to helping confirm people’s doubts about this series as does, to some people, having the director of Kyousougiga here. I’m thinking that this will run no longer than 2 cour and only need a moderately coherent basic story to be a success, which should be easily attainable for this anime and for the people involved.
Director – Yoshiyuki Fujiwara (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei)
Series Composition – Naotaka Hayashi (new, original scenario writer for ChäoS;HEAd, Steins;Gate, Robotics;Notes)
Animator – Dogakobo (Mikakunin de Shinkoukei, Love Lab, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun)
Mikakunin de Shinkoukei (Engaged to the Unidentified) looked so very unappetizing before the Winter 2014 season started but it turned out to be one of the year’s best anime series. Now, the studio and director are back with an anime original series with a genuinely interesting premise – our main character gets a job at a company that makes completely human-like androids as the person that collects these androids when they reach the end of their service life – and the trailer again makes the series unappetizing. Of course, there is the possibility that this series will turn out bad; however, my gut is telling me that it wouldn’t. I think this’ll be a more serious work then the trailer is letting on. My gut is also telling me that I should find a spot for this on my Fantasy Anime League team and I have a feeling I’m going to regret not listening to it like I was last time when my gut told me to put Rage of Bahamut: Genesis on the team and I said nope, that Terraformars is going to be a great anime.
Director – Akira Amemiya (Inferno Cop)
Series Composition – Akira Amemiya (new)
Animator – Trigger (Kill la Kill, Inferno Cop)
This series sounds like a fake series that would have been featured somewhere in Shirobako. (My favorite fake series from Shirobako – RoboPub: The Robot I Built is Having a Hard Time Because of Puberty.) Ninja Slayer is a Japanese author’s translation back to Japanese of what’s supposed to be a badly stereotypical version of what Americans think is an accurate portrayal of anime from the 90’s. Did I get that right? Maybe. I hope whoever gets the English rights to this anime takes the joke one step further and provides a badly timed dub like we see in the old Godzilla movies. I’m also hoping that since this is supposed to spoof 90’s anime then that means little 3D CG will be used. The trick Ninja Slayer will have to accomplish is to be genuinely good while trying to be purposely bad because the jokey set-up will only last so long.
Director – Morio Asaka (Chihayafuru, NANA, Cardcaptor Sakura)
Series Composition – Natsuko Takahashi (Blue Drop, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, Moyashimonn, Yuyushiki)
Animator – Madhouse (Parasyte, Hunter x Hunter, Death Parade, Chihayafuru)
After watching the adorable trailer I have to say that this is the series I’m most looking forward to seeing. This shoujo series is built around the character of Takeo Gouda who is a sweet boy unlucky with the girls in high school because he grew up to be a jolly giant, and his best friend being a gorgeous hunk doesn’t help either, until one day he helps a girl from a pervert in the subway. Has spring finally come for Takeo Gouda? The answer better be yes is all I’m saying. One of the few shows that is confirmed to be definitely running for 2 cour consecutively, this length strengthens my feeling that this will turn out to be a great anime series (over a similar single cour series). Speaking of the trailer, I was tickled to figure out that the woman voicing the main female character here with such a high voice is the same woman who voiced Gon from Hunter x Hunter, Megumi Han.
Director – Kazuhide Tomonaga (Buta) & Yuichiro Yano (Moyashimon)
Series Composition – Yuuya Takahashi (Donten ni Warau)
Animator – Telecom Animation Film (Lupin III – Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone, Muteki Kanban Musume)
Like I said earlier, I’m starting to wonder if this will, in fact, air this spring season. There’s been no information for awhile now and as an added wrinkle I seem to remember reading that this anime will air in Italy first before airing in Japan later this year. So, it’s entirely possible that when it’s time to figure out the best series of this spring season in three months time Lupin won’t be there. I’m excited for that point whenever I eventually get to see the new Lupin III series. The publicity picture for this Lupin series seems to imply a larger budget and that it intends to be pretty stylish, not to the degree of Lupin III – Daisuke Jigen’s Gravestone but certainly not willing to rest on it’s past won laurels. Saying that the setting will be Italy and San Marino also seems to imply a tighter story then what is common with Lupin who is by nature a world traveler. Maybe a new series, providing an entry point to the Lupin franchise for new fans, will finally see Lupin catch on over here.
Director – Hiroyuki Seshita (new, co-director Sidonia no Kishi S1)
Series Composition – Sadayuki Murai (Sidonia no Kishi S1, Mouryou no Hako, Natsume’s Book of Friends S3 and S4)
Animator – Polygon Pictures (Sidonia no Kishi S1, Sanzoku no Musume Ronja)
My number 13 anime of 2014 is back with a catchy subtitle. It’s a very good subtitle because it’s getting me excited about what we’ll see in this second season – what is on this Planet Nine that humanity is willing to risk themselves to battle for it? In the year since the first season I’ve grown no fonder of 3D CG, though that wasn’t the reason why I dropped Sanzoku no Musume Ronja, but I’m hoping to see some improvement by Polygon Pictures rendering people’s faces and in unstiffening the bodies to make them look better (unless everyone is wearing whalebone corsets and I didn’t get the memo). I’m placing this all the way up at number 2 because I expect another season of hard science fiction world building sense of wonder big ideas big gambles in the face of adversity and the eventual triumph of humanity. I’m even hawkish on the characters this time around because we’ve had one season to start planting seeds that will have to eventually yield quality character development.
Director – Tatsuya Ishihara (Kanon, Clannad, Haruhi, Chuunibyou)
Series Composition – Jukki Hanada (Nichijou, Steins;Gate, KanColle, Level E)
Animator – Kyoto Animation (Amagi Brilliant Park, Hyouka, Free, Nichijou)
Speaking of big gambles I’m going to go with Hibike! Euphonium as my predicted top anime of the spring season. I’ve always felt that Tatsuya Ishihara was KyoAni’s best director and I’m getting the feeling that this won’t just be K-On!!!, assuming there’s good material for it, there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with a hypothetical K-On!!!. I do think they’re trying to get replicate the success of K-On! (who wouldn’t want that type of sales) because I read somewhere that there’s apparently male characters that aren’t being included in the previews. I’m not going to knock the show for how they choose to advertise it. Shirobako did something similar; the advertising convinced me that that series was a cute girls make anime in high school show and not what we ended up getting. It’ll be very interesting to see how well Hibike! Euphonium ends up doing both here and for the Fantasy Anime League. It’s plan to watch number is low enough that I’m kind of tempted to not pick it for my team but that also seems like a particularly stupid move.
Disagree or agree? Want to record your own guess? By all means leave a comment. I plan on reviewing these picks at the end of the season.