The Winter 2018 anime season was amazing. Violet Evergarden, Yuru Camp△, Koi wa Ameagari no You ni, Sora yori mo Tooi Basho, and 3-gatsu no Lion 2 all presented convincing arguments why they were not only the season’s best shows but deserved to rank at the top of the year’s best shows. And that was not the extent of the good shows from this season. Others worth mentioning included Kokkoku. It was a weird Seinen series, but, I liked watching the family interactions and was glad to see the show end on a happy note. Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens turned out to be a decent clone of Durarara!!. And Darling in the FranXX has been slowly creeping upwards as the show teases the mysteries behind it’s strange world; I’m expecting this show to explode in it’s second half and compete for the title of best spring anime.
In lieu of spending time being depressed about the passing of the Winter 2018 season, I decided to get a jump on trying to figure out what new series will be the worth watching in the upcoming Spring 2018 season.
The eleven series I list below are the series from the upcoming season that I believe will be worth watching.
I’m starting with the season’s original series because there is a sense of unlimited potential behind them that always excite me. Whereas, adaptations so often will only ever tell a portion of the story and require the viewer to seek out the source material if they want to find out find out the whole story – an anime original series can tell it’s entire story. Adaptations are also stuck adhering to how the story was told in the source material so the pacing might feel off when translated into the anime. Further, original series are a gamble that someone or a group of someones felt was worth a shot and convinced enough other people to provide the time, talent, and money to create. The result is not always a winner, yet, it warms my heart every time to see people still willing to make that gamble.
Hisone to Maso-tan
For me, Hisone to Maso-tan is the anime I’m most excited about in the upcoming Spring season. I feel like I should be slotting in the other new Bones series of the season – My Hero Academia 3 – as the show I’m most excited about; but, there is something about Hisone to Maso-tan that has been grabbing my attention from the moment I first saw the character designs. The list of talent that has been assembled by Bones, an established studio that knows how to make great anime, and the latest trailer have only confirmed and intensified my interest. The story seems to be about a shy girl that enlists into Japan’s Self-Defense Air Force and ends up being the pilot of the dragon that lives at the air base. Yeah, a living and breathing dragon. The world in the trailer looks like our world so I’m not sure how a dragon ended up being part of the military. And that’s just one of the things I’m looking forward to finding out about this show, I’m glad they have not gone the route of telling viewers exactly what to expect by cramming every important plot point into the trailer, even if that makes it harder to get people excited for Hisone to Maso-tan.
The trailer for Megalo Box, a standalone spin-off of the Ashita no Joe franchise created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the original manga, packs quite the punch. Sorry, I couldn’t resist.
Megalo Box is the story of an underdog boxer fighting in a corrupt city’s underworld for survival. Beyond the obvious high quality production values that this series will appear to have, there was something about this trailer that felt familiar. A production of TMS Entertainment, it shares some stylistic similarities to their recent Lupin productions like Lupin III: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine but that wasn’t what I was thinking of. I eventually figured it out when I looked up the director – You Moriyama. While this is his first time directing, he has been active as an animator and animation director before this and that includes being in charge of the visual concept/concept design of Attack on Titan and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. There is a “staging” – maybe that’s the right word – of the scenes in the trailer that reminded me of the dramatic flare found in Titan and Iron Fortress.
I can’t say if this will end up being one of the top series of Spring; for that it will need characters and a story to match it’s production values. However, if the characters and story are only generically passable then it will still be worth watching because of how satisfying underdog stories tend to be.
Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai
It’s really hard to gauge a romantic comedy before it begins to air because it’s the execution of this popular series type that determines how good the show turns out. The synopsis is always close to worthless and a trailer only gives very limited insight into the show as a whole. The trailer for Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai was decent. The character designs look good and the animation felt pretty lively and the number of male and female characters seem to hint towards multiple possible couples.
All very good points and yet I wasn’t quite enamored enough to include Tada-kun wa Koi wo Shinai here until I saw who was in charge of the scripts and who the director was. Doga Kobo has animated a number of good romantic comedies, but, Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun is currently their best. It’s not realistic to expect them to create a series that will match that masterpiece; however, if one is looking for the staff that knows how to create a good romantic comedy then there might not be a better pair then the staff behind this anime.
Lupin III: Part V
Yes, Lupin is a long running franchise. It is, nonetheless, not a particularly difficult series for new viewers to just pick up. Lupin is a gentleman thief. Inspector Zenigata tries to catch Lupin. Lupin gets help for his heists from Goemon, a samurai with a sword that can cut through anything, and Jigen, a very skilled marksman with a very fast draw. Lupin is also often helped and hindered by the beautiful Fujiko, a very capable and resourceful thief in her own right. Fujiko will often end up with treasure that Lupin steals because Lupin is in love (or lust) and that gives her easy opportunity to relieve Lupin of his treasure. There, I have summarized a nearly 50 year old franchise, so, there is no excuse not to give this Lupin series a chance.
New, Adapted Series
Not as exhilarating as the limitless potential possible with anime original series, new series based on some sort of source material can still be exciting to anticipate because – when done right – they can still create some of anime’s most memorable series.
Persona 5 the Animation
There is only one reason why I’m interested in the Persona 5 anime. The track record for video games as a source material has been very lackluster and I didn’t like the Persona 4 anime. I was about to consign Persona 5 to the group of shows that will require really positive word-of-mouth before I consider watching them, when, I realized the director of the spectacularly good Shinsekai yori is directing this anime. I know there’s no guarantee that having Masashi Ishihama as the director will make Persona 5 a good anime but it’s a good first step.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii
Let me reiterate what I said earlier about romantic comedies. The synopsis never makes these shows sound good. Here, we have a gaming crazed otaku and a fujoshi reuniting for the first time since middle school when they discover they are both working at the same company and they begin dating. You can just hear the unspoken “and hilarity ensues” at the end of this synopsis. Even though I watch a lot of anime, I don’t consider myself an “otaku” and often find shows that emphasize the otaku lifestyle to be pretty lazy about characters and plot since they can rely on the viewers to fill in the blanks from their own lives. There are, however, a few reasons why I’m going to shot because I think it might be worth watching. The first is that it’s this season’s Noitamina show. This programming block has gone on for 13 years now and, while not everything has been great, more often than not their shows turn out to be pretty good. The second is the director, Yoshimasa Hiraike, has directed a number of good series that turn out better than they really should. And lastly, the source material seems to be well-liked so maybe there’s something there to work with.
I want this show to be a success. I always had a soft spot for Manglobe; Samurai Champloo was one of the early anime that helped push me into liking anime. After their bankruptcy, a core group from Manglobe went and founded Geno Studio. I worry their new studio will go the way of their old because they seem determined to continue making weird Seinen anime that stray far from the mainstream. I could be wrong; the manga for Golden Kamuy seems to be well received and liked. Maybe it’ll be a commercial, financial, and artistic success for them.
Set on the north island of Hokkaido at the start of the 20th century. The story appears to revolve around a hunt for a stash of gold between a band of unsavory thieves and a former soldier seeking the gold to help the wife of a fallen comrade and who is helped by a skilled female Ainu hunter. The animation in the trailer looks above average and the trailer did a good job getting me curious about this anime, so, I’m hopeful.
I’m particularly interested in the setting. I know a little about the indigenous Ainu and how Japan discriminated against them, suppressed their religion and took their land. I wonder and hope Golden Kamuy will explore this aspect of the setting and not gloss over this ill-treatment by the Japanese.
Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katri no Nazotoki File
Yes, this is a kid’s anime and it’s source material is a game. However, the director is Susumu Mitsunaka who is best known for directing the fabulous Haikyuu!! franchise. Also, the lead character is being voiced by Kana Hanazawa. Calling her a national treasure might be embellishing things a bit, but only a bit. The number of memorable roles Kana Hanazawa has been able to voice is truly astounding. Just in the most recent Winter 2018 season she voiced Shirase Kobuchizawa from Sora yori mo Tooi Basho and Hinata Kawamoto from 3-gatsu no Lion 2. And if you’ve seen either, I don’t need to tell you how important her vocal work was in making those two titles among the best anime of the season.
I’m not expecting greatness. If it is, wonderful, if not, the director knows how to make entertaining shows and Kana Hanazawa knows how to voice characters to keep them interesting.
People don’t need help deciding if they should watch a sequel if they’ve already seen the prior seasons. Therefore, for this section, I’m only going to cover those sequels that I feel are good enough that people unfamiliar with the franchise should go back and watch the prior seasons before diving into the upcoming season’s sequel.
I should mention that I’m specifically not going to talk about Steins;Gate 0. The original series was just about perfect and that included it’s ending. From what I can gather, this new series follows an alternative (and less happy) story line that was not the true ending shown in the original series. I would like to be charitable and not say that it sounds like they are trying to milk the Steins;Gate franchise with this new series, but it totally sounds like they are. Steins;Gate 0 may be worth watching, we’ll find out in the coming months. For perspective viewers, I’d suggest watching the incredible original series and waiting to see if this new series is worth watching.
Boku no Hero Academia 3rd Season
Season 1 – 13 episodes, Season 2 – 25 episodes
My Hero Academia is probably the best and most well-known shounen series currently running. Set in a world where almost everyone has some sort of super power and centered on a school designed to teach kids how to become licensed heroes, this show features a large cast of likable characters – including the main cast – and weaves many story threads from the traditional fight between good vs. evil to the kids learning how to use their powers and what it means to be a hero all the way to some of the shadier aspects of living in a world of superpowers like arranged marriages as a means to attempt the creation of child with high-quality super powers. Academia has been slowly ramping it’s plot up over the first two seasons and this third season seems set to be even better. I highly recommend giving this show a chance.
Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory
Season 1 – 24 episodes, Season 2 (Fumoffu) – 12 episodes, Season 3 (The Second Raid) – 13+1 episodes
It has been almost 13 years since Full Metal Panic! was last on the air. There’s been so much change in the creation of anime, the watching of anime, and the fandom around anime that I’m surprised that Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory has got the tenth best plan-to-watch number on MAL for the Spring season. Still, there are many anime fans that are unfamiliar with this franchise.
Sagara, a soldier all his life, is a high school aged member of a private military organization that fights terrorism. He is tasked at the start of season 1 with protecting Chidori, a fairly normal girl attending a normal Japanese high school. He has trouble adapting to mundane life but will eventually need to call on his military expertise to protect Chidori.
The franchise has two modes. When Sagara is going to school the show is more light-hearted and comedic and when Sagara is in soldier mode the series turns serious. Seasons 1 and 3 focus more on the serious plot and season 2 focuses on the comedy. Both parts of the show work and they are blended together well.
If you are not familiar with the franchise, I think this show will pleasantly surprise you.
To perspective viewers, I wouldn’t let the latest studio move bother you. With their work on the reboot of the Space Battleship Yamato 2199/2202 series, Xebec has show they have the ability to make Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory a good series that stands along side the past seasons. And the original creator of the source material, Shoji Gatoh, will be in charge of the series composition and scripts for this season.
As an aside, I just wanted the mention that Full Metal Panic? Fumoffu was the very first TV series that Kyoto Animation animated. The first time director, Yasuhiro Takemoto, went on to direct other KyoAni series like Hyouka and Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon.
Season 1 – 12+1 episodes
The first season of Amanchu! excelled at being able to relax the viewer and was a few small nit-picky items away from being a perfect slice-of-life series. I’m optimistic that the second season will fix these tiny problems and turn this show into one of the season’s much watch series. One item that held the show back as a slice-of-life series was having one of the main characters unable to join in the diving club’s activities. This fragmented the cast and minimized the opportunities for the cast to interact with each other, but, this problem was resolved at the very end of the first season. Another item that could have helped the first season was a few more characters and I see in the trailer for the second season that a few new characters will be introduced.
Most people probably already know if this type of series is one that appeals to them. If it doesn’t, that’s fine. I’m not sure Amanchu! is the best example of this type of show to try and win some converts; Yuru Camp is probably a better recent example. If you normally like this type of series and somehow missed the first season, I definitely recommend giving Amanchu! a chance.
To those reading this, what new series are you looking forward to?