Welcome to one of The Cart Driver’s fabled anime season previews, spring 2017 edition. Just 6 more until I’ve been doing these for a full 10 years. Yup, this site aint over until I’ve stopped posting these. Yes I know technically the first episode of the new My Hero Academia has already aired, but that’s just a sequel. We’re here for all those juicy new anime, like….ummm….which sequels are airing again?
That’s unfair, there are a few mildly interesting looking things, and every season sneaks in a little Tanya the Evil surprise here and there. Let’s roll through them all, shall we?
Alice & Zouroku
In what ends up being something of a trend this season, we have an anime that would have been completely unremarkable in every way if it wasn’t for the fact that they replaced your typical bland teen boy snark male lead with something completely different. In this case we replace him with a grumpy old man! Something about the changing demographics of Japan perhaps? Anyways, the story is a girl with super powers gets out of the research facility and sorta takes refuge with this auld fella. I couldn’t find any of the manga translated but it seems totally harmless. JC Staff aren’t great, the director doesn’t have any big hits in his CV, and the trailer is a bit bland. But eh, maybe worth a look I suppose for not being total shite at first glance? I have low standards in season previews.
This is something of a throwback harem comedy that feels more in line with Tenchi Muyo with its character designs and story. It’s basically your typical raunchy shounen supernatural harem comedy with bland gormless teen boy lead and a bunch of ladies eager to take their clothes off for increasingly silly reasons. It is, however, being animated by the studio that made MD Geist and basically nothing else, there being a lot of crossover between raunchy shounen harem comedy and hyper violent, nihilistic, awful early 90s OVAs.
Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? Sword Oratoria
Putting this up here instead of the sequels section because it’s more of a spinoff. A Dungeon Pickup Artist Gaiden if you will. Ribbon-tits Railgun. Except it doesn’t even have ribbon tits in it, which I thought was the whole reason anyone watched Lets Bone Dungeon Chicks anyway? I didn’t think much of what I read of the manga adaptation of the spinoff novel, but I also didn’t give a rats arse about the original series either and it doesn’t appear to differ too much in tone. It’s all the same staff who worked on the main series too. The main girl’s armour bothers me a lot though. Why not cover the bottom of your breast anyway? What purpose does that serve?
Grimoire of Zero
Some little witch girl is in a fantasy forest and then teams up with our main character as they search for Answers. The answer in question being: How do I stop being a giant beast man. Yes it’s another anime where they decided to replace the main character from being a generic teenage snarky boy to something far more interesting, in this case a giant hulking furry beast creature. I kinda liked what I read from the manga. It’s not going to win any awards, but the characters are well defined with clear goals. It could be something like Chaika from a few seasons ago where some good execution helps make an OK story fun to watch. Which is where the problems come in. White Fox have done good work in the past, but oh boy does that trailer look rough. Even something like Rokka from a while back, while having dodgy animation and a terrible ending, at least had strong art direction, which from this trailer it looks like Grimoire of Zero doesn’t even have that. And this is the trailer, where you’re supposed to put your best foot forward.
Kado: The Right Answer
I was all ready to dismiss this as yet another poorly produced CG anime with awkward alien people and hilariously smooth vehicles, but then I watched the trailer and got sort of fascinated by it all. Yeah ok the CG anime characters look as terrible as ever with their weird swaying movement, limited frame movement and flat, textureless bodies. But then the big CG cube appeared and I got interested again. The way they use the CG to animated the cube reminds me of how some of the architecture was animated in Gankutsuou and I’ve always wanted more anime to do that. Sure, Kaod would probably be improved if they used hand animation for the humans and kept the alien structure as CG. Sure Toei don’t have a great track record lately and the staff aren’t terribly exciting. But the story of a weird, CG block containing aliens visiting earth and trying to get involved in the politics of Japan sounds and looks fascinating.
Oh dear. The author of the…classic My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute is back. Does he break out of his shell and write some kind of historical, socia-political masterpiece commentary on our way of life? Of course no, he writes more little sister sexual fantasy naturally. This time it’s where a 12 year old girl draws soft core light novel porn. Sexy.
Oh boy is this super serious shoujo. Dramatic angles, serious preteens, swearing never to speak again because the boy you liked has moved out of town. It’s almost charming in its own way. I suppose at least with Anonymous Noise there is more of a story than cute girl holds cute boy’s hand like Kiki in Todoke or Ore Monogatari (yes I know the main character of Ore was a 2 metre giant but in practice it was literally the same crappy high school shoujo romance and I can’t understand why it got so much praise). At least this one is about Music and shit. Girl likes singing so she forms a band with cute boys except more drama and less Prince-sama. Ultimately it’s doomed to never be my sort of thing, and Brains Base has been on a bit of a shitty run of form since their glory days of Baccano and Durarara, but if you’re into shoujo with a little bit more meat to them then maybe this will be ok?
Oh PA Works. This is maybe the most PA Works anime imaginable. A studio that basically made their name because they helped bring in funds to small, rural Japanese tourist locations by making anime about cute girls at these locations, make an anime about tourism promoters at a small, rural village. Even the trailer showed a hint of that slightly quirky sense of humour their series often have (although the trailer also was keen to highlight that they made Shirobako and Hanasaku Iroha, aka the only good anime they’ve made in my totally biased opinion). I feel a little ashamed, but I’m sneakily quite looking forward to this. I’m in the right sort of mood to watch a Miyamori clone be crowned queen of a fishing village.
From the author Black Lagoon, or at least that’s how they’re selling this. It can be a bit hard to tell because at first glance I honestly thought they were just the artist, but it appears that he really is writing the story. Now that’s caught my attention because Black Lagoon man. I have the feeling Black Lagoon might actually be a little bit too old for younger anime fans to have returned back to, particularly since its not as widely hyped despite being generally pretty popular and highly regarded back in its day. But Black Lagoon is fucking awesome and everyone should watch it and anything by the same author is an automatic pass in the “let’s at least give this a chance” category.
Which is good for this anime original material because I was little wary at first. It’s by Troyca, the studio that formed to make Aldnoah Zero, that unholy gradual trash fire that definitely had good points to it but collapsed under the weight of its own horribly boring protagonist and story that ran out of good ideas after episode 3. Despite his high acclaim and being given massive properties and anime originals to direct, I have a sneaking suspicion Ei Aoki isn’t actually a very good director. The story, from what I can gather between the nonsense plot description the promo material contained, is that’s it’s kind of like Fate/Verse except without the actual historical connection and just generic fantasy warriors. Still, anything anime original I will at least check out.
It’s a supernatural shounen harem comedy like you’ve all seen before. This time it’s like someone watched Death Note and wished it had less Death and more Boobies. A yandere and a cupid fall in love with Yuji Everylead the Bland and hijinks ensue. As far as shitty shounen ecchi comedy goes it’s above average. The cupid girl is kinda great in her own wonderful gormless way. The staff and studio I feel are sneakily a little above average too, although you wouldn’t know at first glance. The studio’s only previous work is Girl Meets Bear, an anime with serious issues but not on the production side. The director’s only previous lone directorial work is Anime de Training Ex, an anime about cute girls wearing little clothes performing warmup routines. I might out myself here as the biggest loser ever, but it was a lot better than it sounds…which is to say it was still absolute crap, but a weirdly watchable pile of crap. I tried to convince my wife to do the warmups with me, but she declined.
Warau Salesman NEW
This will be the face people will drop into cutesy anime love scenes to mess with people. The face of despair and destruction. The face of potentially a surprisingly good anime? Basically a Monkey’s Paw show in which people have wishes, in pops the scary face of this salesman, they get their wish and everything goes to shit. There’s some surprisingly good staff writing the scripts too, writing stuff like Eden of the East, Shiki, and…err, Yuru Yuri? Anyways, it seems like it might be worth checking out.
I’m finding it weirdly difficult to get excited for this one. Studio Deen have been on a reasonably good run of form lately, the director did some reasonably good stuff like Hoozuki and Yona of the Dawn. Plus I’ve just come off two seasons of Rakugo and more anime about people performing old Japanese theatre sounds like something I should be into. Maybe it’s how hard they’re leaning into “cute boys in club” angle rather than the theatre itself? You literally never see them do actual kabuki in the trailer, which says a lot.
The Moon is Beautiful
A slightly pretentious, teen drama, anime original slice of life, in which teens get overly worked up about things like crushes and the like. Being directed by Seiji Kishi, if you’re into awkward pacing. At least it’s anime original so it means he can’t just copy-paste the original material wholesale then go eat barbecue. I’m sure a lot of people will say how deep and pretty it is purely off the basis that the character designs have a washed out, watercolour look to them like the author forgot to finish the outlines of the characters, since that’s what people always say when they see watercolour-esque character designs.
What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?
In what everyone will end up shortening to the kinda hilarious portmanteau of “SukaSuka”, this one ended up taking me a little by surprise with its trailer. Maybe I’m just easily moved by heartfelt ballads with tin whistles playing because I’m Irish and that somehow taps into a deep, primal part of my soul that causes me to rip off all my clothes and dance at the end of rainbows. But it looks like a cute little fantasy adventure anime, perhaps in the vein of Re Zero except without the obnoxious lead. Maybe it’s because the one thing I kinda liked about the lead in Re Zero was the romance was genuinely a bit sweet and the trailer had a main couple blushing and getting kissed on the forehead and stuff. Also fantasy maids, because anime? And cat ears too. And a slightly generic-sounding story. Whatever, it seems fine. Might even be a sleeper success story in the west.
Wait wait wait, Goro Taniguchi? I know I haven’t been as clued into the anime scene in recent months, but I didn’t realise the director of Code Geass , Planetes and Infinite Ryvius was making some CG cute girl monstrosity? In fact the staff in general are weirdly stacked with talent. What is up with this? Why are the character designs these horrible shiny CG girls? The story is something about giant robots and space and shit. I mean, I’ll watch anything with Goro Taniguchi at the helm, but after Active Raid I’m starting to worry. Are you OK Goro? I know Maria the Virgin Witch wasn’t a financial success but I swear I really like it.
Atom The Beginning
A manga prequel to Atom Boy…no wait that’s not right. Atom Punch? Aston Man? Astron Robot? Astro Boy! Yeah, that’s the name. That anime usually cited as the beginning of anime, even though anime existed in cinema before that and its only really the first TV series. It has a pretty important place in anime history, let’s put it that way, and codified how anime was to be made for years and years to come. Only problem is I haven’t actually seen it. Have you tried watching children’s anime from the 60s? I went back to watch the old Osomatsu-san TV show and boy, outside of its historical value, you get nothing out of it. It meant a lot of what the manga for Atom The Beginning did was a little lost on me, beyond explaining why the characters have really stupid noses. At least they have noses I suppose, something that has become a rarity in modern anime. I’m being a bit dismissive, which I shouldn’t be. The author of this manga also wrote Rideback, which was pretty decent. The studio is Production IG, who are fairly reliable. Perhaps it’s because I just lack any strong feelings towards old Tezuka manga that’s put a dampener on my excitement. I have a feeling I secretly might not like Tezuka, which I know is like saying you don’t like eating atoms.
I was struggling to figure out what the appeal of this was supposed to be at first. I read the manga and to say it was slow-moving would be like saying the sewers under London smell a little bad. There’s things about super powers but it felt like they were doing a snail-paced build up to some kind of catastrophe that occurs maybe 3 episodes in? But then I saw the director did Non Non Biyori and Tanaka-kun and it all made sense. It’s one of those anime! The ones where nothing happens and the most boring people in the world like watching nothing happen! Wooh, get your socks out and cheer for this thrill ride!
Granblue Fantasy the Animation
Another in what’s becoming an increasingly long line of really bad phone game adaptations. I know that’s maybe getting a little ahead of myself, damning something before it even has had a chance to prove itself. But we appear to be littered with generic fantasy phone game adaptations with terrible stories lately. Why just last season I watched the first episode of this hilariously awful one called Gran-something or other…wait a second, this is that same show! Oh I see. Those last episodes were like a preview for the real show, like how Macross likes to do it. Well that makes a bit more sense, apart from being perhaps a touch damning that it took me this long to realise this was the same show. Demonstrates how memorable and distinct the characters were I suppose.
Frame Arms Girl
Remember in the olden days they made Mobile Suit Gundam to sell people toys of robot parts you put together yourself? Well this is basically that except instead of robots you are putting together young teenage robot girls that somehow have extensive armour plating all over their body while showing off their striped panties. So if you like old school classic Gundam then you’ll like this. That’s how season previews go, right?
The Royal Tutor
Bishies. Some bloke has to be a tutor for a bunch of otome game stereotypes. Except they’re princes, so that makes them more nomy. Is that a word? Nomy? Well it is now and there’s nothing you can do to stop me.
Remember that Machine Doll anime from a couple of years back? This is like that, except maybe slightly less shit. Still pretty shit. It’s being dropped down the bottom with the other Light Novel rejects for a reason. But Machine Doll was kind of legendarily awful so I suppose at least Clockwork Planet will get to escape notoriety that way.
Armed Girl’s Machiavellism
Guy goes to a school where all the guys are forced to dress as girls or else the girls will chop off their dicks with the swords they’re all carrying. Except for our main character, who rolls in and shows these bitches whose boss while also getting him some sweet pussy. Yeah I’m sure there’s a small possibility that a talented writer could do something interesting with this premise, or at least funny, but not this. It’s extraordinarily bad to an almost insulting degree, with a couple of added elements of transphobia and sexism in there too. I’ll throw this into the “weirdly socially backwards light novel” category alongside stuff like Sample Pleb, Girls Online and Mahouka.
Akashic Records of bastard magic instructor
Sin: The Seven Deadly Sins
I have been looking forward to this anime for ages because I want the faces of people looking for that shounen anime and getting tit-fest instead. Yeah it’s another one of these. Another Queen’s Blade. I feel like none of these have gained proper notoriety since Queen’s Blade (maybe Cross Ange?) so I’m ready for another anime so packed full of boobies you can’t see anything above the mounds of flesh.
Kenka Banchō Otome: Girl Beats Boys
Otome game in which girl goes to school full of delinquent boys. Except these are sexy, kind delinquent boys and not the kind that would sexually harass her the entire time. Except maybe they do and that’s sexy or something? This is a world in which Diabolik Lovers exists.
The opening chapters of this cute girl 4-koma manga had a joke about a braindead moeblob getting a job as a scarecrow and doing a terrible job of scaring everything but people paid her anyway because she looked like she was trying so hard. It was a legitimately funny joke so I decided to stop reading there, save my precious memories, and declare this the best 4-koma about cute girls since Azumanga.
Love Kome -We Love Rice-
In the list of sequels I personally am looking forward to, I am a failure as an elitist critic because the anime I am most excited by is the return of the most mainstream hit of the decade Attack on Titan. It’s been four years and I’m so ready more more of its bombast and wonderfully ridiculous plot twists and hopefully less of the 5 minute scenes of one guy panicking. Continuing on the mainstream side, I’m quite happy to watch more My Hero Academia too. It wasn’t amazing but it had a nice message about not backing down from your dreams and a fascinating overarching theme about the power and image of the American Dream. Natsume Yuujinchou is a series I do quite like, but I’ve fallen behind because 6 seasons of it is a lot when the characters have largely stalled out. I’ll have to catch up with the last season before this one starts. More personally interesting to me though is what they do with the new Rage of Bahamut. That last season was a huge surprise in what they did with a phone game adaptation. Its main issue was the story was absolute shite on a stick, but the writing, characters and directing were all excellent, so a new season with a new story but returning characters is just want I to see, especially if we get more FAVAROOOOOOO!!!
As for the rest, just to re-emphasise my failure as an elitist, I thought the first season of Eccentric Family was boring with muddled themes that didn’t come together in a satisfying way. Although I am also not personally interested in Boruto, so at least I’m not so mainstream that I’m interested in literally the most mainstream anime outside of Pokemon. I feel like the ending of Naruto came without as much fanfare as I was expecting, and part of me worries about what will happen to Crunchyroll without that steady stream of Naruto fans each week. Berserk is a series I love…at least the 1997 version, but have been so put off my the CG movies I haven’t even touched the TV versions. I heard the blu-ray versions compared to the TV series look like jumping from a PS1 cutscene to a PS3, so maybe I’ll check them out someday so I know what happens past the Golden Age arc. Rin-Ne is a series I honestly thought nobody was watching, not even in Japan, but we’re up to season 3 so obviously it’s doing something. Rumiko Takahashi strikes again I guess? Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend is a series I try to pretend doesn’t exist because it makes me depressed at the direction Noitamina took. Finally, Starmyu is a series at least my wife is happy about existing, so she’ll have to watch that while I watch that anime about cute girls doing warmup routines for the third time.