While writing this season preview I found myself thinking of the laughing producers in Girlish Number and their hair-brained ideas for how to create a hit in the hottest new craze. I’m pretty sure half of the anime from this season came from their think tank. There’s a bar somewhere in Tokyo with a number of them proclaiming they won! Gahahaha!
Welcome to The Cart Driver’s perhaps not world famous but at the very least reliable anime season preview, winter 2017 edition! I’m fast approaching 9 years writing these things and I’ll admit in the realm of pre-season hype generator, this upcoming season ranks as one of the worst I’ve seen in a while. Not quite Winter 2013 where the only good anime was Inferno Cop, but not far off. Are you still excited? Good, because so am I! Yeah I can’t help it. It could be an entire season of idol shows and flash animated shorts and I’d still get excited.
Little Witch Academia
Little Witch Academia is quite the feel-good story. It started out as a one episode project as part of the Young Animator Training Project, a government scheme to provide funds to studios to train up young animators and make a short anime. Death Billiards is probably the other famous anime to come from this as that short eventually became Death Parade, but there were some other pretty excellent shorts like Wasurenagumo and Oji-san no Lamp that I highly recommend checking out. They mostly were just fansubbbed until Trigger decided to stick Little Witch Academia up on Youtube with pink English subtitles.
That ended up being something of a huge success for Trigger. As Japan largely ignored the short, western fans were already quite fond of Trigger’s outreach to English-speaking fans with the debut nonsense piece Inferno Cop also featuring on Youtube as free streaming with English subs. This goodwill extended to when they decided to run a kickstarter to produce a second episode of Little Witch Academia and got 3 times more than they asked for. Out instead came a full movie, The Enchanted Parade, and now we’re getting a full 2 cours TV series. Startup studio, training young animators, government funding a notoriously underpaid position, western fandom outreach, kickstarter success. All for an anime so approachable and likable you could show it to anyone from literally age 2 and upwards and feel reasonably safe in the knowledge that they’ll like it. Even my blackened heart can find nothing cynical to say about this.
Can we stop giving the semi colon series the benefit of the doubt anymore? They’ve had 4 attempts so far. One of them was Steins;Gate, which was pretty great. But the other 4 anime have been Chaos;Head, Robotics;Notes, and Occultic;Nine, all of which were varying degrees of Bad. Steins;Gate happened to be a lucky coming together of a talented director with a singular vision who knew what parts to focus on, combined with an excellent lead character. Everything else about it has the ingredients to be as bad as any of the other semi-colon series. Silver Link animating it, who have been reliably poor for years. Director with nothing really notably on their resume. I don’t see anything about Chaos;Child to convince me it will be lightning striking again.
When describing Scum’s Wish, it’s usually put in the same category as something like Flowers of Evil. A no-holds-bar look at teenagers in their worst state, graphic and convinced of their own terribleness. All right I wasn’t super keen on the Flowers of Evil anime, but that had more to do with the director deciding he wasn’t allowed to have more than one thing happen per episode, but I got the appeal and would love to see something similar. Honestly though, what I’ve seen of Scum’s Wish hasn’t convinced me that it will scratch that itch. The director is OK, as he did School Live which I quite liked. But particularly the trailer reminds me more of something like Ano Hana; a bad teen soap opera rather than delving the depths of depriving lurking in the teenage mind. It’s the Noitamina show next season so I’m always willing to give Noitamina a shot. Plus I’ve been hearing about Scum’s Wish for a long time, certainly long before it got announced that it was becoming an anime. But I’ll admit my hopes aren’t that high right now.
Man fuck this piece of shit. I feel like this isn’t the first time I’ve read a light novel adaptation that comes off like it came out of the pick-up artist scene, or more generally the corner of the internet that houses backwards views about women and society. Anyway, Masamune’s Revenge reads like a PUA story about a dude who reads one of those books and becomes the total babe magnet, all to show them bitches who’s boss around here. You all laughed at me once but now you are slaves to me thanks to my good looks. It reminds me of how much I loved the portrayal of body building in Mob Psycho. While part of it is he wanted to impress a girl he liked, it was far more about being confident in himself and being proud of becoming a better person.
The me of 5 years ago might not have reacted as negatively to this…but then again 5 years ago I was getting incredibly angry at The World God Only Knows, specifically because it annoyed me that his pickup artist routines were actually working rather than teaching him a valuable lesson that real people are not games to be conquered with a series of multiple choice questions with boning inevitable if you choose the correct options. Perhaps Masamune’s Revenge will be a clever subversion of the genre, but my hopes for that are below zero. Also oh boy I’m sure I’ll get some enlightening comments about this one….if my blog was as popular as it once was that is. I’m writing more frequently now at least!
Oh GoHands, you know how to put out flashy trailers, I’ll give you that much. Yeah it’s full CG but it’s one of the more impressive CG-fests out there, even more than Bubuki Buranki. Much like Bubuki Buranki though, the actual story is a load of nonsense from what they described. Or perhaps a more useful comparison would be with K, the poorly-optimised-for-SEO title of GoHands last ambitious anime original project that wasn’t in CG but had an equally ambitious and awesome looking trailer. That trailer turned out to include all the best animated parts of the eventual anime and also included characters and plot that were beyond the saving by some fancy visuals. My expectations remain low.
Went into the manga expecting nothing, came out feeling like this was a totally fine shounen action manga. It’s like a family friendly version of Parasyte where mysterious alien creature becomes part of teen boy’s body and they fight other aliens. Then I saw that the author is the same bloke who wrote Hitman Reborn and that the studio is Pierrot aka Naruto, Bleach etc. OK right I see, it’s the latest attempt at a long running shounen hit. Pierrot seem to be doing reasonably well with Twin Star Exorcists so far so good luck to them on this one.
Oh dearie me, so reading the manga I was instantly reminded of Suzuka. A shounen romance manga I read yeeeeaaaaars ago and something even my teenage self recognized as being kinda bad soap opera nonsense (and teenage me was really into Ichigo 100% so that you tell you where my bar for quality was). Then I discovered that Fuuka was by the same author and was something of a sequel set years later. Then I read some spoilers for what happens in the manga and lol I can’t wait to never watch this myself but watch the reactions of other people watch this disaster unfold. The same author also wrote Kimi no Iru Machi, another train wreck shounen romance soap opera filled with stupid characters where everyone reading it hated it and raged while reading it so if you’re into that then get very excited.
ACCA: 13th Ward Observation Department
This is the kind of classic hip and stylish anime for cool people that you associate with Madhouse, albeit admittedly more frequently a decade ago than current Madhouse. It features an adult cast with interesting visuals and jazz music. It’s being directed by the bloke who did Space Dandy and One Punch Man, which is a pretty fantastic resume to have. Most of the writing staff worked on Tiger and Bunny. The author is the critically acclaimed Natsume Ono who wrote House of Five Leaves and Not Simple. Basically everything lines up to be a critical darling. My one caveat is that I’m not super hip and cool as I’m not fond of Natsume Ono’s previous works. I’ve found her characters to be too distant and plots too static to make up for me struggling to engage with the characters. But hey, this looks really cool so I’m completely on board with trying it out.
Onihei is by a brand new studio, Studio M2, set up by Masao Maruyama, the producer who also created Madhouse and Mappa. A sterling track record to say the least and one that demands you pay attention to whatever they produce. Problem is now that I’m paying attention, there’s sort of no real promo material out there yet about Onihei. It’s based on an old set of historical crime novels and being directed by the bloke who directed Blood Lad, but promo material consists of one picture of some samurai shinsengumi looking dude. Which leads me to believe that it’s hit some production problems. Oh well, new studio and all that. I’ve been burned before by the boredom and dryness of historical crime dramas before but Rakugo has whet my appetite for more historical anime lately so I’m on board for now. If it actually comes out this winter that is.
Ah I recognise those character designs! It’s the bloke who drew Sex Hair in that anime in which the guy licked knee pits and barked like a dog. Although this is just an anime original project so it won’t necessarily be another one of those despite having the same character designer. Madoka Magica isn’t like Hidamari Sketch, Eden of the East isn’t like Honey and Clover, Hitman Reborn isn’t like Psycho Pass etc. So what is it about? Well it’s a series of short arcs in which the main doofus everyman lead character woos each heroine and lol ok never mind moving on.
Interviews with Monster Girls
I take issue with Interviews with Monster Girls. The girls in question have barely any monster features. The best we’ve got is one girl with her head off but apart from that, every monster girl in this could pass as a human with no difficulty. As someone with an unhealthy appreciation of monster girls, I feel this goes against the whole point of the genre. I have my problems with Monster Musume, but at least it had the balls to give us monster girls that were actually mostly monster. Some may argue that this is an unfair comparison as Interviews with Monster Girls is doing something different. It’s more of a slice of life anime about conversations. But I argue no, my point still stands. These conversations become far more interesting if we’re dealing with full on monsters. If you’re going to write a manga about how we want to fuck snakes, give us a goddamn snake with tits, not this.
Chain Chronicle: The Light of Haecceitas
Once upon a time, after Rage of Bahamut aired, I thought there might be hope in the world of phone game anime adaptations. My thinking being that phone games had such a lack of story that they avoided the problem of usual video game adaptations of having terrible stories that were only created to fulfill tutorial obligations and fill the gaps between fight sequences, which allowed the anime staff to instead create their own story more fitting to their medium. Then came Luck and Logic and haha lol nope. Turns out phone games were introducing stories. It’s just those stories were the most generic garbage around that were even stupid without the free to play mechanics surrounding it. Like they had to provide as much familiar anime bullshit in the game to get Japanese fans on board. Chain Chronicle won’t be another Bahamut as instead of getting the talented folks at Mappa, we instead get staff who diligently ruined the Hayate the Combat Butler sequels. Yay.
Granblue Fantasy the Animation
Another fantasy phone game adaptation. If you want to know what to think of this, scroll up a little bit and reread what I said about Chain Chronicle. That will save me writing a bunch more.
Akiba’s Trip The Animation
Akiba’s Trip is a game adaptation in which you defeat people by ripping off their clothes. I have actually seen some of the game and I can tell you it’s not as good as it sounds, make of that what you will. On the anime’s website you can click on the main image and all the clothes disappear, which is appreciated but not as good as when Freezing came out and its site allowed you to play a version of breakout where you knocked the ladies clothes off. I played way too much of that game….
Also the ladies in Freezing were more attractive. The ones here look like the came from Punchline except without Punchline’s dedication to the fanciest, most stylish underwear around. The character designer actually appears to be the one bright spot on the staff roster, given they have some Gainax background (which I suppose is where the Punchline comparisons kick in). Basically it’s a lot of terrible ideas which could have come together into something weirdly incredible in supremely talented hands but absolutely won’t in this iteration.
Youjo Senki: The Saga of Tanya the Evil
This one looks potentially interesting at least. It’s about a Japanese office worker reborn as an insane, bloodthirsty military commander little girl, working for some kind of fantasy world nazi regime. The studio is completely new and this is their first project. The director did Dantalian no Shoka, which I never saw but people assure me is kinda good, and Punchline, which I did see and wasn’t that into but appreciated the effort it put into being fucking weird. The trailer for this is super eye-catching with deformed manic face of our lead heroine. I don’t know whether it will be good per se, but in a generally weak season it’s definitely worth checking out.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
I got kinda excited when the trailer opened with the lead girl rapping, but then it cut to large boobs and cute girls and my interest plummeted. The manga is a cute yet forgettable gag manga about a lady and her maid who is also a dragon and the hilarities that ensue. It has one or two good jokes in amongst a load of fluff and rubbish. Exactly the kind of material I think suits KyoAni. But I suppose I am just a hater and can’t stand the work of KyoAni and have been generally avoiding their stuff for the past several years so go watch it yourself and figure it out.
Himouto was one of those anime that completely passed me by, but I sort of understood the appeal of watching a complete trash monster flail around like a loser in chibi form for the entire series. Well that author made another manga except it doesn’t even have the appeal of watching chibi trash monster. Just some cute girl trash, which makes it considerably less appealing at first glance. There’s some overarching story about angels and demons but in reality it’s a gag manga about watching a (cute) piece of human garbage be terrible and revel in it. I prefer my human trash to be more like Tomoko from Watamote as a social anxiety eats at their soul in a spiral of depression and failure as small gains in self-improvement are as tough to gain as digging through a mountain range with only your teeth, but then again I am a weird man with weird tastes.
Urara Labyrinth Album
Cute girls shrine maidens, a uncommon specimen within the genre of cute girls doing cute things realm, but still with enough numbers to continue reproducing at manageable rates. It runs in the same magazine as K-ON and Yuyushiki if you want an idea of what kind of manga it is. Let’s just say they’re not my tea and biscuits.
Minami Kamakura High School Girls Cycling Club
Cute girls start a cycling club….yeah that’s all I got. It doesn’t even have a sexually experienced training motorbike like Bakuon had, and if you don’t have one of them then well what’s the point.
Marginal#4: Kiss kara Tsukuru Big Bang
Oh dear boy idol shows. I suppose you were cutely terrible back when you were rare and the part where your titles look like the creators shut their eyes and pointed at random words in a dictionary was endearing. But there’s been enough of you now to no longer be worth giggling at. I suppose I’ll just sit here and continue waiting for this idol craze to die. Hasn’t happened yet but I can wait.
Bushiroad saw all the money Sunrise were raking in with Love Live and decided to try their hand at their own multimedia cartoon idol project. This one will clearly be better than Love Live as the characters don’t have the same level of sameface syndrome. Whether it will be good or not isn’t really a thing I can personally offer much advice on as I think all this anime suck major donkey balls, but the director did make Argevollen so fuck that guy.
Piacevole! My Italian Cooking
I thought this was one of those shoujo cooking mags with the bright eyed heroine and the 12 year old brat as her sidekick that preteen girls seem to always be into. But then the trailer showed a lady with massive bouncy boobs and I got awfully confused. Turns out it runs in an online publication that also ran Nanbaka and ReLife. So…not sure? The website still features lots of longing looks between teenage lovers with giant eyes so probably still shoujo albeit a slightly older, 2010’s era shoujo? I dunno, I’ll admit as much as I like cooking, I can’t get particularly interested in this. I’m more interested in how web manga are marketed and how much the classic shoujo/shounen/josei/seinen labels apply.
Schoolgirl Strikers: Animation Channel
Another phone game adaptation that sells itself as a “light novel style RPG”, which to me reads like you’ve bred a shit-smelling style flower, but ok Square Enix you do you. It’s a JC Staff adaptation by the director of Index about an all girls private school where they fight an evil and frankly unless they are viciously scissoring by the end of episode 2 then I’m not interested.
Oh Mappa, what happened to you?
For sequels I will personally be watching, there are only 2 as I am roughly 100 million billion episodes behind on Gintama and I feel the appeal wore off for me somewhere around episode 100. Shouwa Era Rakugo Shinjuu is back and I am so excited! One of the best anime of the entire decade is moving with the generations like it’s Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure except with obscure Japanese theatre. Let’s just hope it doesn’t follow the route of many other josei titles and have someone fuck their father figure. Blue Exorcist returns after 5+ years, which is something of a shock. Not that it returned but that it took this long since I gather it was quite a success originally. It’s been so long I barely remember how the original ended, but given that it was an anime original ending I imagine they will retcon the whole thing anyway.
As I mentioned earlier, Gintama will continue in its ever expanding quest to lock down every top 10 spot on MAL. KonoSuba returns to be inexplicably adored by a lot of people and leave me confused and befuddled by its popularity. Reikenzan was a Chinese co-production that I definitely know one person who watched it but nobody else so why it’s getting a sequel is beyond me. Maybe it did really good streaming figures in China? Rewrite gets its sequel for the people who still claim Key are actually really good and aren’t reusing the same cheap emotional manipulation techniques that we all got bored off several years ago and feel embarrassed when we look back and realise Kanon was actually pretty awful. Super Lovers moves its story into the part where someone fucks their father figure, except in a gay way because it’s not just ladies who get to do that. Tales of Zestiria the X is an anime getting a sequel for whom I genuinely don’t remember even getting the first season. Finally there’s Yowamushi Pedal which is one I don’t have any snarky remarks about because it seemed like a totally fine sports anime that I just wasn’t that into personally.