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Spring 2016 Anime Season Preview

duwangAre you ready for Diamond is Not Crash?

Welcome to The Cart Driver’s Relatively Famous Anime Season Preview, Spring 2016 edition. Without trying to get everyone’s hopes up too high, I think this might just be the greatest season for anime of all time. Yeah. For real though, it’s certainly the season with the most anime I’ve been interested in watching for as long as I’ve been doing season previews, and I’ve been doing these for 8 years. Granted in the past I’ve been incredibly hyped for anime like Guilty Crown so we all know where hype can sometimes lead us.

(I should probably explain that opening image. Back in the day there were old scanlated manga releases for Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable that was terribly translated, called Diamond is Not Crash by a group that I can’t remember if were actually called Duwang, or people just called them Duwang for this bizarre piece of translation. We’ve come a long way since then)

Boku no Hero Academia

my hero academia

This is the latest big Shounen Jump hit so it’s already confirmed to run away with the popularity polls at the very least. However since you hear people get excited about every single Jump series before release seemingly regardless of quality, is My Hero Academia actually worth checking out, or is it another World Trigger? Well on the animation side at least it will be good, since we’ve got Bones animating rather than ruddy Toei. The staff are a little mixed. The director did Gundam Build Fighters (yay) but also directed Classroom Crisis and No. 6 (boo). But whatever, its Bones and they tend to be pretty great when it comes to adapting material. It all comes down to the material itself.

Which I can say, from what I’ve read, is that it’s definitely not another World Trigger. It’s not terribly original (ooh my, a world with super powers, oh and a special school for them? Let me screw my head back on after it popped off in sheer amazement), but it’s funny and well drawn with distinct characters who don’t, and this is very important, shout the entire bloody time. It’s definitely a kids manga but I particularly liked that its central theme focused around encouraging kids to become whatever they believed they could become and never tell them you’re sorry you don’t think they’ll make it. It’s a powerful and important message for young people and one that managed to really stick with me when I read it. After the last shounen hit One Punch Man kinda bounced off me due to how shallow and throwaway it was, I like that the latest shounen hit appears to have a bit more meat to it.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress

iron fortress

Noitamina started off 2016 pretty well with their continuing smash hit Erased so let’s see what they have in store for us next. It’s an anime original project about a steampunk world ravaged by zombies so people have build giant walled cities connected only by a train. If it sounds fairly similar to Attack on Titan (the titans were basically just really big zombies), then don’t worry because that feeling will only double when you watch the trailer. Then quadruple when you see the staff. Yes it’s Wit Studio with director Tetsuo Araki, the same team that made Attack on Titan, trying to get lightning to strike twice. Which I’m cool with. Maybe it’s because I really like Attack on Titan, but the formula has hardly been done to death yet. Plus I just like Tetsuo Araki’s directing style. He also directed Death Note and he has this wonderful eye for over-dramatic bombast that I personally adore. The one thing that’s keeping me from going head over heels for this is the last time Araki and this team worked together on an anime original project was a little thing called Guilty Crown. We don’t like to talk about Guilty Crown around these parts.

Macross Delta

macross delta

What makes this preview a bit easier is I’ve already seen the first episode of Macross Delta. Yup, they followed in the tradition of Macross Frontier and released the first episode a solid 3 months before the show itself actually airs. I was pretty sceptical going in. I am just not into idol anime and Macross had been doing that long before your Love Lives of the world. Heck they were doing idols for so long that they were attaching them to a mecha show to get people to watch something with idols in, rather than attaching mechs to an idol anime to convince people to actually watch a mech show. Oh how the anime landscape has changed.

But yeah, that first episode was super dumb in a way I was kinda into. It felt a lot like Aquarion EVOL (I will continue banging the EVOL drum until my arm falls off), which shouldn’t be entirely surprising since they share the same lineage. It lent into the dumbness of robot fights powered by song in a way previous Macross entries did. I’m not sure regular Macross fans will take to it due to just how dumb it is, in the same way many of them didn’t take to the maligned Macross 7. But that was back in the 90s when people were into being hip and edgy rather than unironically enjoying dumb shit that is the 10’s, so maybe there’s hope for this yet.

Ace Attorney

professor laytonPhoenix Wright is getting an anime. I swear this thing has showed up on fake charts for over a decade. In case you’ve been too busy have sex with attractive members of the opposite sex to keep up with the latest nerd fads, Ace Attorney is a game series in which you play as an attorney in a totally realistic depiction of the average Japanese courtroom. You use your intuition to point dramatically and shout OBJECTION whenever you spot a logical flaw in someone’s argument. It’s weird to say this about such a well known game franchise, but it actually stands out as being a bit unique a concept in anime. I genuinely can’t think of another anime focusing on courtroom drama. At a push there’s Danganronpa, but asides from being a real fucking stretch to call it a courtroom drama, it was based off a game inspired by Ace Attorney in the first place.

At this point thought I must dust off my old “all video game anime adaptations are shit” placard and hold it grimly aloft. Yet there is room for hope. Ace Attorney isn’t that far off being a visual novel rather than an actual game, which tend to at least pay a touch more attention to the story being not a pile of junk. It’s being adapted by a competent director. It’s the bloke who directed Space Bros, the uplifting story about a man and his afro going to Mars, and Mysterious Girlfriend X, the skin-crawling saliva fetish show that was actually pretty well directed even if you’re like me and couldn’t bear to watch it. Now we’ve just got to hope the people hyping up the writing in Phoenix Wright aren’t talking out of their backsides, because man is the quality of writing in anime games so ruddy terrible. I’ve seen people get excited about the god-awful writing in Fire Emblem of all bloody things. The standard of writing is so low that the Persona games are held up as literary masterpieces rather than just being above-average school mystery series. I remain skeptical.

Big Order

big orderIf those character designs look familiar to you, that’s probably because you’ve seen some of Future Diary. Yes it’s that author’s new work, complete with the same staff who handled the original anime. In it some jerkoff loser gets magical powers and is chased by a crazy pink-haired girl who wants to kill him. It really does feel like a copy-paste job from the outside, which is why I was a little startled to discover when I started reading the manga that I was enjoying it a lot. That was when I remembered that oh yeah, I really liked Future Diary! It’s great schlocky thriller material with great entertaining characters, even if it had a penchant for slipping into some truly stupid highschool antics every 3-4 episodes. While it’s inherently less impressive done second time around, the author does have a happy knack of thriller pacing and structure, timing dramatic reveals for maximum impact.

But I do find myself turning back to those character designs. Listen man, I know you can do better than this. Future Diary had tons of variation in its character designs. Not all of them were good. There was that one orphanage lady with the giant head. But they were certainly distinct and you could never criticise the guy for sameface character designs. But those two are just Yuki and Yuno. Yuki is missing his goofy hat and Yuno now has flowers in her hair, but otherwise they are literally the exact fucking same. Were you under pressure from your publisher to draw them that way?

Bungou Stray Dogs

bungou stray dogs

This is a sort of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen story in which a bunch of people with superpowers solve crimes, except in the anime sense so the gentlemen are all young adult bishies. Obviously. It wouldn’t be anime otherwise. I can’t say I was completely taken with what I read of the manga, but I’m sure a good adaptation might convince me otherwise. Which is why I’m quite excited about the trailer. Great animation with a cool sense of style and some interesting musical choices. The director is Takuya Igarashi, a Bones director for whom there was a lot of hype surrounding a few years back amongst the sakuga fanbase as he directed their darling series Ojamajo Doremi, but since then it’s been a bit…well, we can give him Soul Eater because boy was that thing incredibly well animated, even if the story problems ended up being even worse than they were in the original manga. Star Driver was supposed to be Mecha Utena but then turned out not to be, but I can still give him a pass on that because it was stylish and ambitious. But then he did Captain Earth and maaaaaan did that kill so much of the enthusiasm behind this guy. Still, at least he can make anime look pretty fucking gorgeous.

Bakuon

bakuon

Any regular readers of The Cart Driver Dot Com are probably getting a bit concerned at this stage that I’ve become too soft in my old age. New readers might start thinking this is some relentlessly positive shill who you shouldn’t trust. Hence when I say that I liked the Bakuon manga and am looking forward to this anime about cute girls with motorbikes, the former people might be convinced I have truly lost it and the latter will have their feelings confirmed that I am someone who just thinks all anime is amazing. To the latter people I say just you wait, the terrible anime are coming later. To the former, I can only say I really and truly did like the Bakuon manga. I can count the amount of Cute Girls Doing X series I like on the fingers of one hand with all but one of the fingers ripped off in a construction accident (it was Girls und Panzer, in case you’re interested). But the Bakuon manga felt less like an flimsy excuse to draw cute girls and more like the author desperately wanted to write about motorbikes and figured that in the current climate, having them be cute girls was the only way he could get it published. That’s an important distinction.

But yeah really, the manga’s pretty great from what I read. There’s one girl who doesn’t take off her helmet like she’s The Stig from Top Gear, but at the very least has a big pretty bow on the back of it. It has lines like “you’re an idiot, and that makes you perfect to ride motorbikes”.  I’m not expecting anything great from it by any means. I’m not even expecting another Girls und Panzer. For one, the director isn’t much to write home about, with their latest works consisting of the universally reviled Glasslip and the more bland than plain white crackers Dog Days. But if it can keep the sharp wit of the manga intact and enhance the more slapstick humour then we might have something worthwhile.

Endride

endrideAn anime original project, and by that I mean a mixed media project, because nowadays your new anime aint worth shit if it doesn’t launch alongside a manga, a phone game, collectible cards, toilet rolls and other paraphernalia. The story is one of those “falls into another fantasy world” stories that were all the rage back around the day of Escalflowne and 12 Kingdoms, but nowadays have morphed into the “falls into another fantasy world…that is just like a video game”! There’s a lot of fuss made out of the fact the authors of Ruruoni Kenshin and Bastard are involved, but it seems all they are doing are designing the characters. Which I suppose explains why the character designs look dated, as though they came out of a forgotten early 00’s Gonzo anime.

I’m being a bit harsh here. Anime original titles always at least have a chance. But I’m just not finding something to get excited about. The director’s previous works consist of stuff like Kiddy Grade, Uta Kata, Sengoku Collection and Gigantic Formula, and I will forgive you if you’re not sure what any of those are because none of them were particularly memorable. Plus the studio Brains Base being attached to it isn’t helping. There was a time around the early 00s when Brains Base were the hottest thing. From Baccano to Spice and Wolf to Durarara to Penguindrum to Natsume Yuujinchou, they were really knocking it out of the park. But since then? One Week Friends, Blood Lad, D-Frag, Dance with Devils. It’s just not quite the same.

Flying Witch

flying witch

A girl who is a witch goes to the countryside to live with another family. It’s a sort of Kiki’s Delivery Service meets Non Non Biyori or something along those lines. It’s one of those healing anime, where nothing happens but is pleasant to watch. Apparently anyway, I’ve never been a fan of these sorts of shows. But if you are, this seems OK. JC Staff have improved lately, albeit it could be argued it would be hard to get any worse. The director isn’t much to write home about, with some of their works including Gunparade March and Betrayal Knows My Name (again full marks if you know what both of those anime are). But the trailer seems pleasant enough. I don’t know, I’m not a good judge when it comes to these kinds of shows. In my head I like to assume they’re all like School Live: Gakkou Gurashi and she’s actually moving into the post apocalyptic countryside but can’t face reality so we see her delusions.

Haifuri

hai furi

In a world *BWAAAAAH* ravaged by tectonic subductions that caused entire countries to disappear into the ocean*BWAAAAAH*, humanity launched coastal cities on large floating islands as their last move for survival*BWAAAAH*. An elite team of seafarers were required to defend our waters *BWAAAAH*. These groups were called Blue Mermaids *BWAAAAAH* and their newest member is…Akeno Misaki.

*cue jingly background cutesy idol jpop*

“Hai, Akeno Misaki deeeeesu! I’m 15 years old and I looooooove canoeing and pudding but haaaaaaate math and oysters. My motto is “Any friend of the sea is family to me”! Yoroshiku!”

Look Japan, I’m not saying I want every anime to be deadly serious post-apocalypse grimfest, but there really is something depressing about seeing an anime original project with a genuinely interesting setting being about a bunch of cutesy teenage girls in a special school going about their daily lives.

Joker Game

joker game

Ah now this I’m into. It’s Production IG doing an adaptation of a novel series (not light novel, which is an important distinction), set in pre-World War 2 all about spies. With the current season’s fantastic Rakugo anime, I’m all for more historical stuff. I’m particularly fond of whatever Production IG puts out and it usually has really good animation too. Their latest stuff have included Psycho Pass, Haikyuu and Maria the Virgin Witch. Even when something doesn’t work for me, like Gargantia or Robotics;Notes, I generally like what they’re trying to do. The director isn’t that much to write home about, having overseen the aforementioned Robotics;Notes. But other than that, and the fact the character designs look a bit sameface-y, I’m generally feeling pretty pumped about this new anime, apart that is from one major caveat: Japan and World War 2.

If there’s one thing Japan has been pretty terrible about, it’s acknowledging their involvement in atrocities committed before and during World War 2. I’m living in Germany right now and I’ll give the German’s this: None of their media ever tries to abscond responsibility, even when they’re portraying people not at fault for the war like regular soldiers and civilians, which you really can’t say for Japan. It doesn’t help that people in English-speaking regions don’t have much education in what Japan was like in those days. So even when a piece of media accurately portrays Japanese people in that era by showing that, for example, their colonialism was in may ways based on how they perceived themselves as having a superior culture, people watching it misunderstand it as the creators themselves believing Japan has superior culture. You can totally see how outrage culture could make this whole thing really messy. But hey, let’s hope that isn’t the case, shall we?

Kuromukuro

kumokuri

PA Works are celebrating their 15th Anniversary by not making yet another quirky highschool romcom. Are you OK PA Works? You mean to say you’re making an anime original mecha series? Golly gee wizz, this might be the most exciting thing you’ve done since…well, Shirobako, which was only 18 months ago, but still! Exciting times ahead. The story is about a samurai who has been mysteriously transported into the modern day and is recruited to pilot a mysterious giant robot by the UN. The plot descriptions don’t actually make it clear that this samurai is made pilot the giant robot, but quite frankly if you don’t make this guy pilot the mech then that’s an affront upon the gods of anime and the Japanese government will probably deport you. The director is Tensai Okamura, the guy behind Wolf’s Rain, Darker than Black, Seven Deadly Sins. He has his fans certainly, and while I might not be among them, they are series I at least respect the ambition of. Not much else to go off beyond that. The trailer doesn’t tell us a whole lot beyond the fact the visuals aren’t particularly distinct. Seems like it could be all right? Hey, I’ll always check out an anime original mecha series.

Mayoiga

mayoiga

We have some fun staff on this one. But first, the plot. It’s an anime original story about 30 people who get on a bus together to travel to a mysterious isolated village where everyone has disappeared. It’s got the makings of a horror anime classic. The director is the much-heralded Tsutomu Mizushima, the director behind Shirobako. He has a habit of turning seemingly boring premises into massively entertaining pieces, such as Girls und Panzer or Prison School. The problem is he does have a weakness: He really likes directing horror anime, but he’s not very good at it. There was Blood-C, the perplexingly boring with sudden bolts of extreme gore. Then there was Another, which some people seem to like for whatever reason, but I thought was a load of very silly nonsense that worked better as a dumb comedy than horror. Mayoiga stars a bunch of ruddy teenagers, which up the chances of it being rather stupid. Then, to sweeten the deal, you throw in Mari Okada.

Yup, Okada. She of the overly melodramatic teen angst dramas where everyone shouts at each other but nobody listens, such as Ano Hana, Nagi no Asakura, Black Rock Shooter. A lot of people like her work. I think it’s complete garbage myself, but I can see it working in a very silly, overly dramatic fest of fun. That worked in Aquarion EVOL. Where it could go wrong is in a genre that relies a lot on suspension of disbelief and drawing you into the mood and atmosphere. You know, like horror normally does? Maybe I’ll be proven wrong. Maybe this will be a match made in heaven. Maybe being silly is their intent right from the off. But I can’t help but see this as ending up like the most ridiculous unintentional comedy of the season.

Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto

sakamotoYou may be surprised to learn that the actual secret best anime of the season is lurking all the ways down here. Sakamoto is already something of a sensation. It has been sweeping up awards and topping manga sales charts with each volume that has come out. The plot, such as it is, is about Sakamoto who is just the most chill, perfect guy ever. That’s kind of it, and I’ll admit I’m a little surprised it’s quite as popular as it is. But it’s definitely funny. One single joke that stuck out to me is when a bully tried to pull back Sakamoto’s chair as he sat down, Sakamoto just sat on thin air. The director has done some truly fantastic work on comedy in the past, such as Daily Lives of Highschool Boys, Gintama and School Rumble. Studio Deen are animating it, who are actually good now what with anime like that Rakugo under their belt. Again, it’s worth stressing that there’s not a whole lot too this. It’s a fairly throwaway comedy, and with only 4 volumes published so far it’s not going to run for very long. But it’s an extremely good one of those.

Twin Star Exorcists

twin exorcistsI feel like the best way to preview this is to compare it to the other shounen action show this season, My Hero Academia. Academia features a bright eyed young teenage boy. Exorcists features a young teenage boy with a dark past because anime seems to love giving people too young to have dark and mysterious pasts these dark and mysterious pasts. Academia is being animated by the excellent Bones, who made Full Metal Alchemist and Space Dandy. Exorcists is being animated by the below average Pierrot who animated Naruto and Bleach. Academia has clever visual jokes. Exorcists has people shouting instead of humour. OK I’m being harsh. The manga is just fine. But it’s very much junk food shounen action material.

Kiznaiver

kiznaiver

There’s a new anime original Trigger show? Holy fuck! The creators of Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, Panty and Stocking and Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann are back (well, technically those last two are Gainax but since all those people went off and formed Trigger, we’ll give them it)? Holy fuck! Why am I not more excited? I really like their work. Maybe it’s because it’s not the usual director Imaishi but instead some newbie. Maybe it’s because the plot involves super-powered teenagers and the main character is described as “emotionless”, which is never a great sign. Maybe it’s because Mari Okada is writing the story, and I’ve made my feelings known on her writing. The trailer doesn’t have any particularly standout bits of animation nor crazy visuals like I’d want from their work. On some level it’s still an anime original project by Trigger so there’s at least a base level of excitement from that. Maybe it’s just because we’re in such a packed season that I’m not desperately reaching out for anything with the tiniest chance of being good so I’m instead looking for reasons to be fearful? Who knows.

I will say one great thing about this though. Boom Boom Satellites are doing the opening song, the band that did the song Shut Up and Explode for Xam’d, one of my favourite anime openings of all time. This usually wouldn’t warrant a mention in a season preview since the quality of the opening means jack shit at the end of the day. But this is a little special because Boom Boom Satellites had announced they were cancelling concerts as the lead singer was suffering from a brain tumor relapse. But since then he’s announced he’s feeling better and is writing songs again. That’s simply a feel-good story and my little burnt up heart managed to feel a little touched after reading that.

Tanaka-kun is Always Listless

tanaka sanGangan Online is an online publisher of manga that has been the source of some quite excellent series over the past few years, such as Barakamon, Daily Lives of Highschool Boys, and Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun. Tanaka-kun comes from there too which I would have been excited about if I hadn’t gone and tried reading it and found out it was a load of rubbish. It’s about a guy who falls asleep on the toilet. That’s kind of it. A guy. Who gets tired. There’s no funny jokes. It feels like one of those cutesy 4-komas about cute girls doing nothing. It does have the director of Non Non Biyori on it, so maybe it’s a healing anime? That must be why I don’t get it.

Rage of Bahamut: Manaria Friends

bahamutRage of Bahamut: Genesis was a cool fantasy anime about a guy with a big red afro trying to get rid of his demon tail. The surprise came from the fact it was based off a digital trading card game of all things, but it had a pleasant Pirates of the Caribbean vibe to it. Sure it fell apart in the second half, but if you told me there were planning another Rage of Bahamut anime, I’d say “sure, I’d happily take more FAVAROOOOOOOO”. But then they announce this fucking thing. None of the same cast. None of the same staff. The story  goes from being about bounty hunting adults in a cross-country escapade to being about a magical ruddy highschool. The studio went from the awesome ex-Madhouse people at Mappa to the studio that made the fucking Training and Sleeping with Hinako anime. It’s fitting that an anime with the word Rage in the title manages to make me so angry.

Seisen Cerberus: Ryuukoku no Fatalités

some other fantasy card game anime

Since it doesn’t look like I’m going to get my cool fantasy adventure story based off a digital trading card game from Rage of Bahamut anymore, instead I suppose I should turn to the other fantasy-themed digital trading card game. Seisen Cerberus is ticking a lot of the same boxes right off the bat. A fantasy world in which a dragon is being sealed away. A guy has to go on an adventure. Unfortunately the enthusiasm starts to drain after that point. The trailer looks like crap, which isn’t a great start. The animation studio is Bridge, whose previous works consist of Mitsudamoe, Devil Survivor 2, and Nobunagun (again, no shame attached if you haven’t heard of all of those). The story isn’t about FAVAROOOOO but instead about some generic teenage brat. Yeah, maybe we won’t get our Rage of Bahamut: Genesis 2 here. We’re more likely to be getting a Chaos Dragon 2.

And you thought there is never a girl online?

tits or gtfoAnd now we’re down to the rear end of the season preview where the titles are long and unusually descriptive and light novel adaptations reign supreme. This one is about a guy who thinks all his clan members in his MMO are dudes until they have an offline meetup and they all turn out to be hot babes. By itself that’s maybe not a terrible idea for an anime. Complete fanservice wish-fulfillment, but harmless. What bugged me about it though was the tone throughout, like it was written in the mid to late 00s when people still said girls don’t exist online and anyone who claimed otherwise was subjected to “tits or GTFO”. Throw in some homophobia for good measure. This does seem increasingly like it’s A Thing with some light novels, as though it’s targeting the anti-feminist, racist and homophobic, anti-“SJWs”, young adult male audience, which I guess is as much a thing in Japan as it is in English-speaking regions. There’s always been a touch of that tone with some anime (there’s a reason why these people often have anime girl avatars). But this feels more brazen and obvious about it in a way that worries me.

Re:Zero: Life in a different world

re zero

Ah good, we’re in light novels I don’t feel dirty after reading. Re:Zero is another anime about some gormless teenage boy getting dropped into a mysterious world (not a video game though, which I guess must be out of favour in 2016). I thought what I read of the manga adaptation was OK. The guy kept thinking some cliche would happen, like this mysterious cute girl running towards him would save him, only for the girl to then run past and completely ignore him. The twist is that he can rewind time and has to relive the same passage over and over again to save this pretty princess lady he meets. Which would be an original premise if it wasn’t done by Erased, Steins;Gate, Madoka, All You Need Is Kill, etc and so on. But hey, it’s a premise that people seem to really like. White Fox are animating, the studio that did Steins;Gate, Jormungand, Katanagatari, and Maou-sama, so they’re pretty decent. If it wasn’t so unoriginal and in such a packed season, I could see this really catching on. It might still catch on anyway. Anime fans reeeeaaaally like the whole rewind time plot point.

Pan de Peace!

pan de peaceA 4-koma about girls who love bread so much they turn into lesbians.

Sansha Sanyou

SansayouIt’s a 4-koma adaptation about cute girls doing stuff. There’s one of these every season. I will say I’m relieved these girls actually look like teenagers rather than like they’re 6 years old. Maybe there’s hope yet?

Girl Meets Bear

Kumamiko

The story is about a shrine maiden who lives in the boonies but wants to go to school in the city, but her guardian is wary about letting her out in the world. Oh, and her guardian is a giant bear spirit. It’s quite cute and charming and fluffy and all that. Kinema Citrus are animating with a number of the staff who worked on Barakamon, which is a fairly good start. The trailer looked fine. I’ll admit it’s not my thing, but it’s also not the kind of thing that would physically pain me to watch as it’s not a healing anime. It actually has jokes and stuff. Also I could amuse myself by assuming the bear is actually a giant doge meme. He does rather look like a Shiba Inu in bear form, doesn’t he? Much shrine maiden. Very healing. Wow.

Hundred

hundred

A light novel adaptation in which an irregular student attends a magical high school in which he is challenged to a duel by the student council president and then accidentally falls on her boobs. And to think we nearly made it through the entire season preview without coming across one of these. I do wonder why they keep making these? Contrary to popular opinion, these samey light novel adaptations don’t actually sell well most of the time. Even the Youtube comments on the trailers, usually full of people saying “best anime evarrr”, are just shitting all over this, both English and Japanese.

Shounen Maid

shounen maid

We’re out of the shitty light novel adaptations and into the pedo yaoi anime. Yeah for some reason there’s two of these this season. Shounen Maid is about an incredibly creepy dude who decides to take advantage of a young boy still in elementary school. The young boy has no dad and his mum has just died so he has nowhere to live. But this creepy man offers to take him in so long as he cleans his house dressed as a maid. There are so many multiple layers of creep to this that I’m just going to move on.

Super Lovers

super lovers

OK so before you jump to conclusions, this isn’t as pedo a the promo material is making it out to be. Yes that is an older man with a 10 year old boy draped in his arms, but there’s nothing going on there! Yet at least. It’s about this guy who stays with a family in the forest where he has to take care of this wild kid and become a father figure for him. Fast forward to the time when the young kid is in college and then things start getting gay. So no, it’s not another pedo yaoi-fest. Rather it’s the standard josei pseudo-father fucking storyline that ruined both Honey and Clover and Bunny Drop if you ever read that far in those two manga. But at least it’s not child fucking, and for that we can be grateful.

Wagamama High Spec

wagamama high specBased off the adult visual novel (that means it has BOOBIES) in which a guy is in high school and eventually fucks the student council president or something. It’s a forgettable visual novel adaptation and there are like 20 other anime this season worth watching already. I choose to believe it’s actually about a group turning their Wagamama restaurant into the most High Spec restaurant in town.

Unhappy♪

unhappy

There are two manga called Unhappy with very similar premises. The first is a short manga about a policewoman who causes bad luck wherever she goes, which results in a controlled hostage situation to go horribly wrong and the SWAT team accidentally fire tear gas in amongst themselves. It was kinda funny. This is not that Unhappy. Instead this is Unhappy Musical Notation, which is about a class is full of students in which unlucky things keep happening to them. I’m not sure either author entirely understood that Unhappy does not mean Unlucky. Secondly, after praising Sansha Sanyou earlier for having its cute girl gang actually look their age, this is what I meant by these cute girl fests featuring teenagers that look like they’re 6 years old.

I find the music in the trailer curiously hypnotising. Something about the cute girls making pop noises lulls me into a trance, possibly in the way Nyan Cat did for people back when that was a thing. It’s Shin Oonuma directing at Silver Link, the Shaft spinoff team who have done a lot of trash since leaving, such as No-Rin, Fate/Pedo, C3 and so on. They also admittedly made Watamote, the best anime ever, but I have since learned Watamote must have been made on opposite day and isn’t considered valid for season preview purposes. It’s not that the concept doesn’t have a little bit of comedic promise, as ironically the other manga called Unhappy proved. Heck, this is the same staff that worked on Baka to Test, which was not terrible and worked off a vaguely similar premise.

Shorts

Space Patrol Luluco is a short series by Trigger with Imaishi as the director. Why he’s directing the short series and not their main series I don’t know, but he’s teaming up to co-direct with his buddy who made Inferno Cop and Ninja Slayer. So we can assume this intergalactic love story is going to be another one of those types of series. What’s to bet it ends up being better than Trigger’s more traditional-length anime.

Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is about a chef who suddenly discovers he really likes being a DJ and is inspired by the wonderfully named black American DJ Big Master Fly. Since it’s being animated by Studio Deen with the director Akitarou Daichi, the guy who directed stuff like Fruits Basket and Now and Then, Here and There, this might end up being a normal length series. But Daichi has done shorts in the past before like Poyopoyo, the anime about the round cat, so I’m guessing it won’t be.

Kagewani Shou is the second season of the surprisingly good Kagewani horror shorts series. It’s paper puppet animation style takes a little getting used to, but it was quite entertaining for what it was and I’ve found myself surprisingly excited to watch more of it, particularly after how the last season ended.

Hakuouki: Otogisoushi is a chibi spinoff of the Hakouki franchise, which has bizarrely continued chugging away.

A million different kids shows

Aikatsu Stars!, Battle Spirits: Double Drive, Beyblade Burst, Duel Masters VSRF, Future Card Buddyfight DDD, Kaitou Joker 3, Kamiwaza Wanda, PriPara 3rd Season. At first I thought we were living in some kind of kids anime renaissance and I hadn’t realised it yet. But then I realised all bar one of these are sequels. So in reality it’s just the same as it always was. They’re just splitting each season up instead of continuing as normal so it looks like there’s way more.

Sequels

As always with sequels, I don’t tend to write as much for these as you already know if you’re going to watch them or not. Well, that is, apart from this anime…

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable

jojo

It’s baaaaack! Although this is in the sequels section, like each new Jojo’s generational shift, you can watch this without any knowledge of the previous series. But if you haven’t seen the previous series, then what are you waiting for? These new anime adaptations of this venerable manga series have been one of the greatest things about this decade of anime. Or at least the first two arcs were. I can’t quite stress just how let down I felt after Stardust Crusaders. It wasn’t bad, but its format shift and pacing problems turned a series that I considered as one of my top 10 of all time into not even making my top 100. But I guess enough time has passed since Stardust ended that I feel like I’ve ready to love again. It’s still the same staff with that wonderful colourful art style. And that trailer man. I was grinning the whole way through.

So what is Diamond is Unbreakable actually about? It’s about Josuke, the illegitimate son of vampire fighter Joseph Jostar, and his life as he’s surrounded by people with mysterious stand powers as a unseen threat starts building. It’s formatted similarly to Stardust Crusaders in that it’s very Monster of the Week style rather than the ever-evolving adventure, which is bad. But then the manga readers stress that this arc is Stardust Crusaders done much better as the author got to grips with this new style of storytelling. It’s the Jojo’s manga arc that I hear people heap the most praise on, apart from maybe Part 7. I’m admittedly highly doubtful it will reach the heights Battle Tendency did for me, simply down to not liking this format as much. But I guess part of my disappointment with Stardust was my expectations were so sky-high after Part 2 that the drop in quality felt that much more depressing. With lowered expectations and (hopefully, if the manga readers are to be believed) better story telling, this should be a return to form for Jojo’s.

Magi: Adventure of Sinbad

magi sinbadA prequel rather than a sequel this time, featuring the story 30 years earlier of the epic Sinbad and his great quests from the anime Magi. Apparently they’ve been animating a bunch of OVAs from this prequel manga and they seem to have been generally well liked. Same staff from the OVAs returning to this anime, which are notably different from the ones which worked on Magi proper. Which might be a good thing? I kinda liked what I saw of Magi but it seemed very shoddily directed and animated so I ended up falling off.

Concrete Revolutio 2

concrete revolutionaroWhat I liked about this second cours of Concrete Revolutio is that they announced Butch Gen is going to be doing some writing for it. Because plonking Gen’s name onto anime he has barely any involvement on in the past worked out soooo well, except now they’re doing it halfway through the show.

Ushio and Tora 2

ushio and torraThis thing ended up being reasonably popular, which came as bit of a surprise. Then again, Osomatsu-san has been the biggest anime hit since Neon Genesis Evangelion or something like that, so perhaps we shouldn’t be surprised when anime adaptations of older manga do really well.

Terra Formars: Revenge

terrra formarsI heard from rumour from a guy on the internet so it’s totally reliable, that Terra Formars only got a sequel due to how well it did on Crunchyroll with English-speaking audiences and not Japan. Which is great, I suppose. I wish it had been something a little….better? But hey, it’s nice to hear anime can get made due to Western interest.

The Asterisk War 2

the asterick lawThe bog standard magical school light novel adaptation. I genuinely can’t remember which of the multitude of those we got over the past few years this one was originally. They all sorta blend into one eventually.

Rin-Ne 2

Rin NeNow this one I’m shocked it’s getting a sequel. I wasn’t under the impression anybody was watching Rin-ne. It sold like crap and I hadn’t noticed it having a significant boost on the manga sales. Who knows?

Sailor Moon Crystal – Death Busters-hen

sailor moonMan I remember when this came out and the sheer level of anger and disappointment it created was astounding. It did however spark a huge wage of Sailor Moon nostalgia, which resulted in a ton of new Sailor Moon merchandise for older women being put out, which probably made a whole lot of money and is probably why they’re continuing to make more Sailor Moon Crystal. They don’t even need people to watch it. They just need to remind them Sailor Moon exists and they’ll buy more merchandise.

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50 Comments

  1. Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:07 pm | Permalink

    After years of magic high schools, the looming age of underage yaoi doesn’t seem so bad. Horribly creepy, but we’ve already seen the worst with Pico, so we should be fine.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:00 pm | Permalink

      I dunno man, I feel like they could probably get worse

      • Posted February 25, 2016 at 12:57 am | Permalink

        Worse than Boku no Pico?

      • Banarok Lionrage
        Posted April 2, 2016 at 6:26 am | Permalink

        it might be hard but there are no mountains too high to climb!

  2. Shinmaru
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Diamond Is Unbreakable is good because it’s the “what if shitty teenagers and suburban weirdos got magic powers” arc of JoJo.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:07 pm | Permalink

      Do they fizz up cola bottles and fire the caps at vampire sympathisers? If so then maybe I’m back on board

      • fulinamon
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:11 pm | Permalink

        No but they punch spaghetti

  3. Kiseki
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 10:54 pm | Permalink

    All my hype for the Gyakusai anime died after Mister Naruhodo’s Kaji Yuuki miscast was announced. Why. I even have a friend denying the anime’s existence now.

    Igarashi also directed the masterpiece Nadja, which you watched the first episode of but couldn’t stand because ur shoujo&kids show game is 2weak. Remember that episode in the original Pretty Cure series where the main duo fought? That was directed by him too. Bones killed his talent.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:09 pm | Permalink

      Man people really do hate Kaji Yuuki, don’t they. Was it Eren that sparked this?

      • Outcast
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

        I would have guessed the MC from your favorite anime: Guilty Crown.

        Personally, I don’t get the Yuki Kaji hate. He does fine for what he’s given. Of course, I’m still open to assuming the OP just means he thinks the VA isn’t a good fit, rather than just hating Yuki Kaji.

      • Posted February 25, 2016 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

        Yuki Kaji can be quite good (or at least perfectly serviceable) when he’s not stuck voicing a whiny little shit of a protagonist. Unfortunately, that’s what he was typecast as for a good while. Which is a shame, as that’s a complete waste of him. (But then, my first contact with him was Durarara, where his creepy goofball Walker is a complete departure from his usual range.)

        The good news is that Phoenix Wright isn’t a whiny little shit. He’s basically Kyon : the snarky straight man stuck in a world gone mad ; with no opportunity whatsoever to focus on his navel. Not something Kaji has done much of, admittedly, but I’m at least entertaining the possibility this can work. (It’s not like Aoi Yuuki is an obvious choice for Maya either.)

        Since this takes over the pre-Conan timeslot from Kindaichi, it’s nearly guaranteed to get at least 25 episodes, so I’m cautiously optimistic about the show having enough room not to rush through all the cases at light speed.

      • Kiseki
        Posted February 27, 2016 at 10:15 am | Permalink

        My friend is actually quite the fan of Kaji. He’s just terribly, terribly miscast in the adaption of a game series she also loves.

        I like his voice fine, just not here. This will not end well.

  4. joinedforfal
    Posted February 23, 2016 at 11:38 pm | Permalink

    ace attorney going to be the first anime focusing on courtroom drama is possible because the collective concious of anime blots out the memory of how ‘this is not what we expected’ Wizard barristers was.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

      Why yes, I had blotted that one out. Did they even go to court in that show? I remember it had a talking frog

      • joinedforFal
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Permalink

        they eventully did get there, but then again galelai donna also ended up in a court room in the end, don’t know which did it better

  5. Leo
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 1:22 am | Permalink

    I really like the Ace Attorney series of games, so I hope the anime is good. But if it’s done competently I don’t think it will work quite as well as in the game. For instance, the climax of a trial, when suddenly all the pieces of a massively convoluted case start coming together in succession like some sort of combo in a fighting game, as the music picks up and the defence and prosecution rapidly exchange “OBJECTION!”‘s and “HOLD IT!”‘s. It’s amusing for how over the top it is, but I think part of what really makes it compelling is how you feel invested in it by that point. The cases get crazy complicated, so you need to think fairly hard about them to figure out the inconsistencies (or maybe I’m just dumb). When everything fits together at the end it feel like and accomplishment. It probably won’t feel as interesting if the case is just spoonfed to the viewer.

    Also, there’s puns. No point in fretting over this, it can’t really be helped, but Ace Attorney loves puns, and pretty much all of them will be lost in translation. The english localizations of the games did a pretty good job of changing the puns to ones that work in english, but keeping about the same spirit. Probably not going to work as easily with the anime though, as the subtitles have to somewhat match the audio.

    I’ve written way more than I intended too, now it almost seems like a rant.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:11 pm | Permalink

      We can only hope the subbers put proper effort into the puns. And then watch as people watching the anime get annoyed that they’re not direct translations

      • gedata
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

        I think the real annoyance would be intrusive translator notes

  6. Nagisa33
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 2:29 am | Permalink

    I’m excited for Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress and Joker Game. Both look gud.

    Probably going to read the manga for jojo’s instead of watching the animoo.

    Also, Under the Dog is apparently being released spring 2016 as is Gundam The Origin OVA 3.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:15 pm | Permalink

      Hah, I completely forgot about Under the Dog. My expectations for that thing could hardly get lower

      #saveanime

  7. lossthief
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 4:24 am | Permalink

    Just a heads up: Manaria friends is a short series airing in the Super Anime Time block (along with Space Patrol Luluco), not a full-length. And if you’re interested there IS supposed to be more coming from the Genesis cast – Manaria’s just a spinoff rather than taking the place of the announced 2nd season.

    This season just has a ridiculous number of shows. Per volume it’s probably the biggest in years, and there’s a ton of big name titles coming. I’ve been avidly following My Hero Academia since the manga launched and I’m excited to see what the team at BONES can do with it. All the good word I’ve heard about Part 4 also has me hopeful that Diamond is Unbreakable will finally be the installment to hook me into the franchise. I’m excited for Kiznaiver’s fresh blood in its team – Trigger has a lot of talented veterans, but I’d like to see what their proteges can do when allowed to cut loose.

    Macross Delta is kind of a wild card – in preparation for its release I mainlined the whole Macross ouvre, and I’m really hoping it takes more from Macross 7’s book than Frontier. The franchise is at its most entertaining when it’s slamming high concept science-fantasy against its war drama, and the preview episode would appear to be heading that way, so here’s hoping.

    • Outcast
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 5:42 am | Permalink

      “Manaria’s just a spinoff rather than taking the place of the announced 2nd season.” <— Oh, thank God! This is the greatest piece of news I've heard all week.

      • Scamp
        Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

        Ah I must have gotten too angry and not paid proper attention to the news. That’s a relief. Still somewhat annoying, but whatever.

    • gedata
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

      Still in the middle of watching Macross 7, but at this point I think it’s the worst at mixing camp with seriousness. If Delta really is going to resemble that one more, I at least hope there’s no one in it comparable to Basara, because holy hell is he just the worst.

  8. DarkEnergy
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 6:38 am | Permalink

    Looks like a good season. I just added 10 shows to my “Plan to watch” list.

  9. Buffaloe
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 10:31 am | Permalink

    The horror! I haven’t even gotten to start watching Erased or that Rakugo thing yet. And now this season, stuffed to the brim with interesting shows comes around. How can one possibly catch up to all that? Can’t we have more crappy light novel adaptions I don’t have to care about?

    • Scamp
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

      Hey yo let me shorten down the list of anime you have to watch from the winter season:

      Rakugo

      There you go =D

      • Buffaloe
        Posted February 25, 2016 at 9:06 am | Permalink

        Did you just not like the show from the get-go or do you think it took a turn for the worse in recent episodes? After all people were giving this show a lot of praise.

        Also I’m wondering whether it might be worth checking out “Schwarzesmarken” (it hurts to type that name as a german speaker) for a possible “so bad it’s good factor”. A terribad mecha-show set in the GDR kinda sounds intruiging – Nah, scratch that, there are too many good shows I haven’t watched.

  10. IT'S ALIVE
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

    • Ken
      Posted February 24, 2016 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

      Yes. I suppose Scamp is still alive.

  11. Posted February 24, 2016 at 9:12 pm | Permalink

    #guiltycrown #neverforget

  12. Ibri
    Posted February 24, 2016 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

    A shame about the Bahamut anime. While the first one was hardly a masterpiece, it and FAVAROOOOOOOO were fun. But I fear it is a law in japan that 90% of all anime in a season must play in a high school or at least have a cast of that age.

    • Outcast
      Posted February 25, 2016 at 4:17 am | Permalink

      As someone mentioned above, apparently the Manaria friends anime is not the second season of Rage of Bahamut; it’s just a spin-off.

      • Scamp
        Posted February 28, 2016 at 1:58 pm | Permalink

        Plus I’ve read somewhere that new seasons have been planned, so fingers crossed?

  13. Bullseye
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 3:47 am | Permalink

    You know if you want a western version of a battle school anime check out Deadly Class, also I’m I the only one who thinks the anime weapons are looking dumber

  14. yolo
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:18 am | Permalink

    Duwang is the Chinese reading of the town the series takes place in, Morio. Pretty sure those old scanlations were from the Taiwan edition of the manga, which is why they had delightfully unpredictable nonsense like Duwang and entire speech bubbles just left in Chinese. Anyway, really looking forward to Diamond, I think it shouldn’t have any of the pacing issues from Stardust Crusaders.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 28, 2016 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

      Ah, finally I get my explanation! Thanks for the info!

  15. Gan_HOPE326
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 11:48 am | Permalink

    “I can count the amount of Cute Girls Doing X series I like on the fingers of one hand with all but one of the fingers ripped off in a construction accident (it was Girls und Panzer, in case you’re interested).”

    I thought you liked Cute Girls Surviving The Zombie Apocalypse (aka Gakkou Gurashi)!

    Also I’m with you on Luluco ending up being better than Kiznaiver. I just hope it won’t end up being flash-style animation, the subject seems to deserve a bit more love than that.

    And didn’t Boom Boom Satellites do the opening for Ninja Slayer too?

    • Scamp
      Posted February 28, 2016 at 2:01 pm | Permalink

      Ah yes you have a fair point there. Gakkou Gurashi was a bit more of a…I wouldn’t say a parody, but a criticism of that genre in many ways, so it’s not quite the same as something like Girls und Panzer.

      Yes, Boom Boom Satelights did indeed do the OP for Ninja Slayer

  16. Canary Paint
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 5:27 pm | Permalink

    First of all, thank you, Scamp, for these previews. They have just the right mix of enthusiasm and snark. Heck, the snark makes your investment in anime even more apparent.

    I am watching more anime this season than I have in a while. None of them are of the must-watch genre, and now you are putting next season and Rakugo on me? Pitiless…

    I must say your Rakugo promoting has me very curious.

    Second of all, Shirobako was just so awesome that I will take a shot at the coupke of anime you mentioned come from its studio and its director. Hoping for the best!

    • Desi
      Posted February 26, 2016 at 12:20 am | Permalink

      Kiddy Girl-and had an entire beach planet. That’s all that matters.

    • Scamp
      Posted February 28, 2016 at 2:04 pm | Permalink

      Dunno about taking a shot at other anime by the studio. I haven’t been the biggest fan of PA Works in the past. Take steps there with caution

  17. shytende
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 6:43 pm | Permalink

    I actually watched Kiddy Grade, but can’t remember anything about it except the mains and their power. I remember more stuffs about Kidy Girl-and (mostly the afro of afro, The tranvestite named Minou Rose, and the fact they retconned the powers of the original MCs. But nothing about the plot.)

    I don’t remember spending a bad time with it, and didn’t forced me to finish it, but it just left no lasting memories at all.
    That’s quite troubling

  18. il-Palazzo
    Posted February 25, 2016 at 7:08 pm | Permalink

    C’mon, Scamp. I don’t know if you’re joking or not but what you said about Shounen Maid is just borderline libel.

    Shounen Maid is an adorable slice-of-life story about a boy happily adopted by his uncle. Sure, the boy is tricked to wear maid uniform (designed by said uncle with short-shorts instead of skirt) but that’s pretty much a joke with some cute factor bonus. Nothing is really creepy or sexual. I would really recommend it.

  19. frodonk
    Posted February 27, 2016 at 4:52 am | Permalink

    I missed FAL last season and wasn’t able to follow the last 2 seasons closely, so I was curious as to what kind of anime reached the top spot and it was one of those generic light novel … thing where the main heroine shouts KYAA~ HENTAI during the first episode. I think they’re contractually obligated to always include a scene like that, together with the beach/onsen/bath scenes.

    I would’ve dropped it right then and there if not for my curiosity as to why it took the top spot, apart from the obvious reason that MAL has shit taste and nothing better aired that season, turns out it was relatively decent once you get past those kind of scenes, I watched the entire thing in one go and enjoyed it, which makes me realize I do have the same shit taste as the majority of people on MAL.

    This season though, nothing particularly stands out. I can’t see an obvious top pick like when Attack on Titan aired. The closest might be My Hero Academia but I’m not so sure. FAL will be on hard mode for me this time around.

    Not much sequels this season, as has been pointed out above. Rinne was a surprise considering that it’s mediocre but a Rumiko Takahashi series doesn’t have money issues I think.

  20. cseko
    Posted February 27, 2016 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    When you pointed out the similarities in Kabaneri and AoT, I rembembered I have watched a similar anime: chrome shelled regios. It has cities with walls, big killer bugs outside, people fight them with swords and only a bus connects the cities. It was made by a different studio and wasn’t as popular as AoT, though I liked it.

  21. Dark Kain
    Posted February 28, 2016 at 3:31 am | Permalink

    Shouzou Kaga’s Fire Emblem titles had overall pretty good plot (with genuine strokes of genius here and there such as Seisen no Keifu infamous half-game plot twist) all set in a single cohesive and coherent world, then after the end of the 16 bit era Intelligent System lost Kaga and the direction and plot of the games went all over the place.
    At that time Nintendo also panicked a lot, suing Kaga’s newborn SH thrice, failing/cancelling two games, and having Roy debuting in super smash bros melee before his own game even started production in the hope that the mediatic exposure would help the series.

    Not like Kaga managed to write anything vaguely successfull after leaving Nintendo/IS.

    So in the end this post is summed up as “old times were better”.

  22. Traintop
    Posted March 1, 2016 at 4:11 pm | Permalink

    I’m gonna be the contrary opinion and say that I don’t think Scamp will be a big fan of Diamond is Unbreakable. The majority of it is fairly low stakes, and there’s kinda a complete lack of an overarching plot until maybe halfway through. It’s good, but I also suspect it’s very much Not Scamp’s Thing.

    Sorry, Scamp, but you’re probably gonna have to wait until Stone Ocean to get the JoJo you want – that’s when Araki finally marries individual Stand fights with ongoing plot progression. Also, invisible alligator zombies.

  23. 45am
    Posted March 7, 2016 at 2:18 am | Permalink

    I love these season previews and I love reading them out loud to friends
    Thanks as always!

  24. bassgs435
    Posted March 10, 2016 at 2:26 pm | Permalink

    I come to report good news
    Manaria has been cancelled, Genesis S2 is still coming sometime in the future (They said as much in the Manaria announcement. Manaria is it’s own thing and Genesis is still getting an S2 that’s not related to Manaria at all)

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