Welcome to The Cart Driver’s a little bit later than usual Fall 2015 Anime Season Preview! 2015 has been a pretty good year for anime all things considered, certainly a step up from the fairly woeful 2014. Winter was great, summer had some fantastic series, spring was…well OK spring was a waste of time but hey 2/3 isn’t bad. Will the year end in a bang to finish off, or will it sputter like a dying car to the finish line?
The trailer looks quite pretty, I will grant Comet Lucifer that. Full of weird alien imagery and psychedelic colours. Until you realise it’s basically a music video and probably none of that animation will make it into the anime itself so that’s cheating. The anime original project is otherwise about a generic teenage male lead meeting a mysterious girl and they frolic together on an alien planet. Or something, the plot description is pretty vague, as it usually is for anime original projects. I wasn’t even sure there was going to be any action in the series until one of the later pieces of promo art showed the two lead characters with a mecha in the background, which changed my expectations somewhat. Why yes I am shallow and get excited when I see giant robots.
The staff are reasonably competent, which sounds like damning like faint praise, and that’s probably because it is. It’s by the studio 8-Bit and their usual director and backroom team. 8-Bit are the shitty spinoff from Satelight who usually do awful light novel and visual novel adaptations like Absolute Duo, Grisaia and Infinite Stratos. Granted there’s not much they could do with them to elevate them beyond their source material (I’ve heard people say they ruined Grisaia, but after having a gander at the source material there wasn’t much there to ruin). The main writer may have written a lot of Gundam Seed Destiny, but they’ve also done screenplay for Eureka Seven, Code Geass and Darker than Black. The director may have done Infinite Stratos but he’s also done Macross Frontier and Legend of Black Heaven. You haven’t heard of Legend of Black Heaven? Shame on you! It’s about a man playing an electric guitar to battle space aliens as a metaphor for a midlife crisis. You know what, forget the next anime season, just go and watch Legend of Black Heaven.
A Corpse is Buried Under Sakurako’s Feet
Why are you still reading? I though I told you to go watch Legend of Black Heaven. No really, I’m not kidding. This season preview will still be here when you’re done. I can wait.
…all right back to previewing. Sakurako’s Feet is a light novel adaptation, but not one of those light novels. This runs in Kadokawa’s josei-ish light novel label so it’s a lot different than the usual “here’s a self insert male lead surrounded by pretty girls” affair. It’s about a normal male high school student meeting a beautiful lady and OH GOD MAKE IT STOP IT REALLY IS ALL THE SAME ARGH ARGH ARGH!!! Do you know what is totally different and is has a genuinely original story? Legend of Black Heaven, you should go watch it if you haven’t already.
Sakurako’s feet is billed as a mystery series and I’ll grant you there’s something quite pretty about the trailer and artwork coming out of it. The animation studio is Troyca, the one set up for Aldnoah Zero. If I was delivering this season preview in an auditorium, that would be the spot with the awkward silence once I say that name. The staff are very new and by all accounts I wish them luck. I imagine this show will actually do pretty well. I just don’t think it will be my kind of show. Something about the way they’re presenting it reminds me of KyoAni affairs like Hyouka, and I’m really not a fan of that style. You know what I am a fan of though? Legend of Black Heaven!
If we’re talking purely in terms of potential, then I think Concrete Revolutio has the highest ceiling for greatness. It’s an anime original project directed by Seiji Mizushima and written by Shou Aikawa and being animated by Bones. This is a team that have worked together on some truly excellent projects, from the original Full Metal Alchemist to the criminally underrated Un-Go to the anime I haven’t seen but people assure me is really good Oh Edo Rocket. They’re a team I always like to keep an eye on because they tend to make really interesting, ambitious anime together. And Concrete Revolutio looks pretty rad with it’s colourful polka-dot art style vaguely reminiscent of a cross between Gatchaman Crowds and Star Driver (neither anime I admittedly like but both at least look cool). The story is about a superhero bureau who…do stuff? As per usual with anime original material the story is vague. But hey, I’m excited. After some 7 years of doing season previews, if I can’t get excited for something like this then what’s the point?
Heavy Object anime adaptation has been on the cards for years now, it was really only a matter of when. It’s by the same author as A Certain Scatological Raildex and given what a hit those anime turned out being for JC Staff, it was inevitable they would turn to the author’s other hit series. I’ll say this for Heavy Object: It has one of the best source material for new anime being adapted this season that I read. However that has more to do with the shockingly bad level of quality of the manga and light novels being adapted this season than praise of Heavy Object. It was thoroughly average. Soldiers in the future have a big super weapon controlled by special people, it at least escapes the usual light novel issue of being all about high schoolers again. But the writing standard was so bland and uninspired, and I don’t think I can put that down to translation. I’ve been forced to backtrack on my stance with JC Staff recently after some good recent showings, but Heavy Object is packed with the staff that produced the anime in the period between 2005 and 2014, which is to say they worked on Shana. I can see Heavy Object being popular…well, no actually rather I can see Heavy Object being watched by a lot of people even though a lot of them aren’t that enthusiastic about it.
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
I was definitely ready to get excited for a new Gundam anime. It might be because I watched the original Gundam movies recently I really enjoyed them. I could totally go for some serious real robot political action. Although the trailer shows the guys apparently all have to pilot the robots shirtless. OK maybe throw aside the “serious” side, but I can dig it. All the promo material looks promising. Then I saw the staff being proudly promoted as “the staff behind the hit Ano Hana” and NOPE!
Fake overwrought melodrama bullshit where nobody acts like humans…wait am I describing Ano Hana or the worst parts of Gundam? Maybe it won’t be so bad after all? I mean it’s not like this director has really done mecha action series before, and neither has the writer…oh wait, Mari Okada. M3 was her last original mecha series and that was not great to put it lightly. I’m sorry guys, I know some of you people like their series, things like Toradora and Ano Hana, but you people are WRONG DAMNIT! I can’t see it working. Or at least I can’t see it working for me. Or maybe the overwrought melodrama will feel more real when it involves war torn orphans rather than teen dramatics? Part of my problem with those series previously is I felt the characters acted so alien to what actually happened in their life, with nobody actually listening to each other and just shouting and crying. Maybe that would make more sense if they’re all being shot at?
One Punch Man
Undoubtedly the big hitter anime of the season, practically guaranteed to be the most talked about anime with English speaking fans. The shounen manga sensation was fairly inevitably going to make its way into anime form at some point. It’s about a superhero who can beat every villain ever with only one punch. The problem is this has led to him feeling very bored about life. It’s more a comedy than a shounen action really. Madhouse are doing the animation which looks like a good fit, with the director having worked on Space Dandy as assistant director and writer having done Tiger and Bunny.
…is it good? Like, is it another completely forgettable shounen hit that people go nuts for but inevitably forget about less than a year later? Another Toriko or Beelzebub? I think the manga is pretty good myself. I read all of what was out for it a couple of years ago and yeah it’s good. I’m not going nuts for it but I definitely think this one is a little different. This feels like it has more hype going into it and more staying power overall.
I Was Abducted as a “Sample Pleb” for a School of Ojou-samas
So there’s something quite interesting in what I read of this latest wonderful light novel. Not the actual story itself, oh god no. It’s actually a lot worse than I thought it would be. I don’t really need to tell you the plot as it’s all there in the title, but I wasn’t expecting it to be quite so…pedotastic. It’s main appeal is these perfect younger girls who aren’t sullied by the evils of society and they are all fascinated by you. The director of Prisma Illya is doing the anime which should tell you everything. No, what I want to talk about is something in the early chapter.
In these kinds of stories, you usually create some reason why the main character can’t just fuck them all. In this story the main character is taken to this school because they think he’s gay and therefore isn’t considered a threat to the ladies’ innocence. They think he’s gay because he’s never had a girlfriend. When he tries to tell them he’s not, they say they can’t let him go because he knows of their secret school so to be safe they have to chop his dick off. Hence why he has to pretend he’s gay while he’s there. This all by itself is not a bad joke. Where it gets…uncomfortable is the gayness is presented as the staff at the school purchasing a muscled man in a thong to give him bear hugs while he’s in the car. I assume the whole story has continued instances of that as he “loves muscled men”. It says something about the difference between western and eastern images of what constitutes gayness in the eyes of the non-gay. In western societies acting girly and being interested in fashion is viewed as gay while bulking up is a manly thing. But in Japan the idea is that only other men care about whether you have muscles so obviously muscly men are all super gay while the effeminate men who care about their looks do so because they want to get women and that’s the straightest thing.
The Perfect Insider
Noitamina’s entrant for this season looks interesting at first glance. It’s based off a murder mystery novel series. Novel novel rather than light novel. All right not exactly leaping out of my seat but it’s not generic high school male lead has cute girl with magical super powers fall into his lap and they go to magic high school. Once you start looking beyond that though I find less and less reasons to get interested. The director’s primary works are Elfen Lied and Sound of the Sky, both of which are rather seriously flawed. The trailers don’t fill me with confidence mostly because there’s something off about the character designs. They’re by the acclaimed mangaka Inio Asano (solanin, Oyasumi Punpun) and his character designs are nice. They just look like they’ve been adapted horribly. Noitamina’s output lately has been questionable anyway. There hasn’t been one I’ve liked since Ping Pong. There’s been 7 anime since then, which is a shocking record for the time slot that used to have an over 50% hit rate for me. I’d like to remain hopeful but I just have my doubts this will be the one to break its poor run of form.
Lance N’ Masques
Speaking of fucking up character designs! I’m not going to say I’m that crazy about the character designs from the light novel promo art displayed above. They’re a victim of the overly childish softened look with no noses that I’m not fond of. However I at least get what they’re going for. It has something distinctive going for it. The anime designs look awful, like someone got the aspect ratio wrong when copying over the character designs and now everyone has squashed faces. Noseless monstrosities aside, Lance N’ Masques is a light novel about magical powers who I’m pretty sure don’t have to go to magical high school and therefore is already several steps above most light novel adaptations. The director is the same guy who did Your Lie in April if you’re into that sort of overly melodramatic directorial style.
Garo: Crimson Moon
Garo: Seal of Flames was an anime by studio Mappa from last year about men wearing CG armour getting involved in highly stylish fights. I liked it up to a point but personally felt the second half of the series took every possible wrong direction it could with the story and ended up not giving a shit about anything that happened by the end. Not that any of those details matter for this new season as it appears to be only tangentially related to the first season. It takes place in the same universe and uses the same terminology and CG suits but it appears to be generational gap sort of deal. The armoured suits are passed down like they’re members of AKB48. Makes sense since that is a plot point in the story. Garo is part of a much larger sentai franchise that mostly exists in live action form and even though it didn’t seem like the last season was a success, the franchise owners seem determined to break into anime fandom and are giving it another crack.
So, Garo: Crimson Moon then. While I fell off the first season of Garo, I’d be more than happy to give Mappa another shot. I loved its style and my problems came down to story reasons. Abandoning all the characters and finishing their story last times means all my problems are null and void for this new season. The director previously did Guin Saga and a few episodes of Rage of Bahamut, so he’s experienced in this genre of overly serious fantasy if nothing else. Rather disappointingly the animation style looks a touch different. Particularly for the character designs, as I rather liked the 70s-esque designs of the first season. But look, if the story improves this time around then I will take that.
Young Black Jack
Black Jack is the God of Manga’s second most iconic character after the rather obvious Astro Boy, and certainly the most sexy. Problem is for the audience of today he was too old and smelly. So instead we catch him in his early 20s in this latest anime featuring the two-toned hairdo master surgeon. This time he’s really been sexed up and features him with a rippling six pack. I’m sorta OK with this development myself. If you’re going to sex up someone, sex up a master surgeon with interesting episodic stories. Plus the trailer would have me believe that his accursed sidekick Pinako is nowhere to be seen, which might just be the thing that allows me to get into Black Jack. The team that worked on the Votoms series together have teamed back up again for this Black Jack installment. I doubt many people will watch this because it’s old and shit, but I say it’s worth a shot myself.
Three Literally Indistinguishable Light Novel Adaptations About Magical High Schools
AntiMagic Academy “The 35th Test Platoon”, A Tale of Worst One, and The Asterisk War: The Academy City on the Water. I tried reading the manga adaptations of each of these and the level at which they all followed the same format was shocking. Magical high school, irregular male at the school, guy walks in on girl changing, it all happened like clockwork. I’m not going to even try talk about each of them individually since there is literally no fucking difference between them.
Attack on Titan: Junior High
This used to be a more common things years ago. The chibi spinoff phenomenon happened back in 80s and 90s to the point that you can read furious fans back in the day complaining that kawaii chibi stuff is ruining anime with language that look remarkable similar to the people who complained moe was ruining everything in the late 00s. But if anything was big enough to garner that treatment again it would be the monster hit of Attack on Titan. It’s basically Attack on Titan Babies where they go to school and make dumb jokes based off your knowledge of the original series. I imagine some people will collapse into histrionics in various forms over this things existence, claiming Attack on Titan is ruined/gone too far/is what is ruining anime or whatever, but they’re all nonsense. In reality though the manga this is based on is not very funny at all. Which is a touch disappointing but who cares. The real sequel is supposedly coming next year so I can look forward to that.
High School Star Musical
By the studio whose only previous work has been Dragonar Academy, a completely forgettable light novel adaptation, comes an anime about bishies in a musical high school. Which I suppose is the equivalent version of the magical high school featuring women you can walk in on when they’re changing for stuff aimed at ladies. It features a bunch of bishies practically identical to the bishies in that last anime featuring a bunch of bishies as its main selling point (I’ll leave you to fill in the gap there as it hardly matters). From looking at the trailer, to my untrained eyes they look like genderswapped versions of the Love Live cast. I’m sure that, since they share similar plot lines and feature singing teenagers, Love Live fans will all be watching High School Star Musical.
Dance with Devils
In the world of “garbage anime targeted at horny women”, Dance with Devils falls into the second category. If Star Musical Bishies is the musical high school genre, the Dance with Devils is the Evil Men Engage in Fulfilling Rape Fantasies genre. A girl is at school but suddenly gets thrust into all sorts of intrigue when her sexy male classmates turn out to be demons. “Demons” in this case usually meaning they like to grab other people’s chins, male or female, and drag them really close to their face so their lips are almost but not quite touching. I would say I’m glad that there is more gender parity in the world of anime garbage, but the issue is these anime are just increasing the overall percentage of bad anime to good anime, or at least anime that are trying to engage us in ways that don’t involve our sexual organs.
Valkyrie Drive: Mermaid
It’s like Soul Eater and Ikkitousen had a child and turned out to be a lesbian.
…yeah, don’t really have anymore to add to that.
There are a lot of these this season so, in keeping with the length of their episodes, let’s keep their previews short.
Magical Somera-chan: By the author of Ai Mai Mi, it’s another one of those randomness for randomness sakes shorts that move too fast to create any rhythm or timing in their jokes. Besides, they are still making new seasons of Teekyu which appears to be the ur-example of this genre. Trailer shows off some potentially good animation so if you’re one of those sakuga weirdos maybe you should give this a watch?
Komori-san wa Kotowarenai: A 4-koma adaptations about a girl who can’t say no. It’s mostly cute harmless rubbish with nothing that even looks like a joke, although its premise makes good doujin fodder I’m sure.
Onsen Yousei Hakone-chan: I figured at first this was a perfectly harmless s’life show about hot spring shrine maidens or something, but upon closer inspection of the plot description, it features a spirit “who looks like a little girl” meeting a high school boy in high school. Perhaps if anime didn’t have such an awful record in this area…
Osomatsu-san: An adaptation of an ancient gag manga, which apparently had anime adaptations 27 years ago. Chances of it getting subbed are next to zero but hey, Crunchyroll pick up some awfully random anime sometimes.
Fist of the North Star: Strawberry Flavour: It’s like the Fist of the North Star version of Attack on Titan Babies where Emperor Whatshisface wants to be friends with You Are Already Dead-Man. Except they don’t chibi-fy the character designs, which I think adds to the humour myself.
Hacka Doll the Animation: In previous season previews I’ve said that I like the idea of anime adaptations of mobile games as they usually don’t have any story so the anime creators have to come up with something. That gives them more freedom to come up with something more worthwhile. However there’s a limit to what I’m OK with being given this treatment. An app for a personalised nerd news feed featuring anime girls is where I would draw the line. And no, putting some random people who once used the toilet in Trigger’s studio isn’t going to change my mind.
Monster Strike: Speaking of phone games, Monster Strike is one of the two phone games that dominate the market in Japan, alongside Puzzle and Dragons. I figured it would be a bigger production than 7 minute episodes released online, but given its target audience are people playing this shit on their phones, perhaps that’s the ideal format. Should have good animation at least given the budget they should be able to blow on this thing.
Training Through Anime! EX: Remember those Training With Hinako videos where a large breasted anime girl performs stretches? This is basically that except with a greater variety of ladies. It’s less overtly sexual, mainly because while Hinako could easily pass for someone in her early 20s, these girls are clearly young teenagers. Which actually makes it a touch more creepy now that I’ve written that out…
Kagewani: Anyone watch those Yamishibai ghost stories anime? It was one of those ones that would have never seen English fandom years ago, but Crunchyroll picked it up in their “let’s just try get everything” approach. It seemed to work as I know a few people were kinda into it. Anyway, this is by the same people and seems to be a similar horror stories approach. One of the cooler-looking anime shorts coming out.
Kowabon: Another horror shorts series. This one features rotoscoped characters, which I can see working. I mean, the rotoscoped characters in Flowers of Evil were pretty horrifying so.
There’s also some shorts sequels like Teekyu Season 6, Miss Monochrome Season 3, Ameiro Cocoa Season 2, and That Anime About Blood Types Season 3. I haven’t even covered all the shorts coming out either. I skipped some random stuff for 3 year olds, stuff with no information, and some other random anime I skipped because I saw a butterfly and decided to try chase that instead.
The number of shorts have really exploded in recent years, and I don’t think that’s purely down to there simply being more information available so we know of their existence. The best theory I’ve heard for their explosion is Japan finally embracing online streaming several years behind the rest of the world mean the 5 minute thing is perfect. It’s for people watching on the cell phones. Although since most of these run on TV I’m not sure if that really is the reason.
Some people ignore the shorts each season which I think it a mistake. Tonari no Seki-kun was one of the best anime from last year (albeit more of a damning statement of the quality of anime in 2014). I really enjoyed the Psychology Seminar anime from earlier this year. Some really cool anime from over the years have had shorter episode lengths like Cromartie, Fireball, Kogepan, Thermae Romae, Hetalia, even Azumanga technically had that format. Sure there are loads of forgettable garbage but the same is true with regular TV anime. They might not leave as much of a lasting impact but they can certainly be fun, thought provoking, and even educational. The difficulty, as I’ve learned rather painfully over the years, is it’s very difficult to tell what is good and what isn’t from the outside. But hey, that’s my job as a previewer and reviewer. I’ll do my best to find the shorts worth watching.
Everything listed before this point you could watch with more prior knowledge of the franchise. Hence I tried to give some information for those wondering if they should jump in here. Everything past this point are direct sequels that require you to have seen the previous season, so previewing basically boils down to “did you like the previous season”. Hence these are kept shorter.
Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen
Well this was unexpected. A visual novel adaptation from before I even got into anime gets a sequel. Of all the anime that fans were desperate to get a sequel for, I’m not sure there were any that were clamouring for Utawarerumono. People certainly thought it was a decent, if slightly forgettable anime. I suppose if Fafner keeps getting sequels then it must be open season on otherwise forgettable mid 00s anime.
Seraph of the End
I wonder if this season the author was allowed to write the story he wanted to write from the start instead of forcing in high school fake rival cliche bullshit. I mean, he can’t have wanted to put that garbage in himself, could he?
The last Monogatari. We’re finally here. OK yeah sure we haven’t got what is technically the first Monogatari since Kizumonogatari is taking so long it must have animation on the same level as Redline, but still. Shaft said they would be animating the whole franchise and we’re nearly there. I honestly thought they would give up at some point. I’m a fan of the series, despite disliking big parts of the thing, but I definitely feel it’s time to wrap up. In particular Arararagi has become such an awful pain to watch, and the reason Season 2 was so good was because they so rarely even had him on screen. Things are reaching breaking point when you’re doing everything to keep your ostensible main character away from the action. If you’re new to the franchise then good fucking luck understanding the mess of sequels and OVAs that came before. If you’re like me and have been here since the start, then let us enjoy this final installment. And agree that Senjogahara is best girl.
Is the order a rabbit??
I’ve forgotten which of the “girls who are supposedly teenagers but look like they’re 5 years old” anime series this one is. Was it the one about English transfer student, the one with the dancing kids, or the one with the cafe?
In this brave new world of anime that recognises ladies exist, sports shounen for girls is one of my preferred genres. It’s just the same as regular sports anime except a little bit more gay and the guys are cuter, both of which I’m OK with. Haikyuu was one of the better ones, mostly thanks to Production IG doing some truly incredible animation work for this, especially when you compared it to the asscrack of animation that was Kuroko Plays With His Balls.
Diabolik Lovers More,Blood
The creepiest of creepy otome game rape fantasies in which a series of men physically abuse the main girl. Includes a man wearing a fedora who calls her Bitch-chan in a classic example of negging. Also yes I did write that title properly. It really does have the comma between More and Blood.
Aria the Scarlet Ammo Double A
Of all the shitty light novel adaptations about a boring male lead having a pretty lady fall into his lap, Aria the Scarlet Ammo is around about the middle in terms of shittiness. Why it was picked out from the pile of identical series to get a sequel it beyond my knowledge. I like to imagine a blindfolded intern being given a bat and a set in a room full of watermelons with random shitty light novels written on the side while full-suited executives cheer him on as he swings the bat around wildly trying to crack them. The one that survives at the end gets a sequel.
K Return of Kings
The joint most difficult anime to google ever alongside X, even more so than all the young teenagers googling “free anime” and getting swamped with pictures of wet anime boys. I sorta liked the style K was going for, blue filters and all, but eventually the sheer levels of stupidity it contained wore me down. There was only so much I could take. But hey, I like it in principle so good for you, fans of this dumb anime.
World Trigger: Isekai Kara no Toubousha
I am truly amazed this thing has been as popular as it has. I remember it as being one of the worst animated, poorly paced, embarrassing excuse for a shounen cartoon I think I’ve ever seen. Even Toriko was better, and that’s a low bar. It had the kind of long awkward pauses and repeated shots that stunk of a crew so lacking in funds and manpower that they could only create 15 minutes of content and had to pad the rest of the time out by adding random pauses in the episode so they reached the required length. But it was popular. Somehow it was popular. I genuinely don’t understand. Is the audience all 10 year olds who have never watched another anime before, let alone another shounen? Hey kids, there’s this cool anime called Naruto I think would blow your fucking minds. It’s one Crunchyroll and I recommend giving it a shot.
Kindaichi Shounen no Jikenbo R 2
I probably should have stuck with Noragami. It reminded me a lot of early Bleach with its style and story, but I got too bored during the whole arc with the blonde kid moping and stealing skateboards so I stopped watching. I believe it got better after that? Anyway, this show was popular so good for you.
The Testament of Sister New Devil BURST
Yuru Yuri San☆Hai!
Movies and Specials
Release date: 26th of November
You know Hokusai. He’s the Japanese artist that did that one painting of the wave that everyone knows. Or at least he gets the credit for it. There’s a fairly common theory that the painting was actually done by his hyper talented daughter. This is her story, brought to us by Production IG and the director of Colorful (the quiet movie about the dead kid, not the bizarre one done by Gainax). Early impressions from movie festivals make it sound very slice-of-Edo-life material with not much direction. Just a series of vignettes. Which is a little bit of a shame since I was hoping for something more along the lines of Millennium Actress but I suppose it’s a touch more difficult when you’re working with an actual historical figure.
Rabu Raibu School Idol Movie
Release date: December 15th
I turned around one day, turned back and suddenly these girls with the exact same face had taken over anime fandom. Idols idols everywhere. I’m quite happy to let them jump around in their own little corner of fandom so long as they keep their cooties to themselves. My only interaction with the franchise is putting off my wife when she’s playing the phone game version of this franchise so she doesn’t get full combos. It’s a small action but it’s my only way of getting back at the series.