Spring 2017 Anime Preview

Woo, I haven't done one of these in ages, but this year's is pretty good.  Courtesy of Neregate, here's your giant chart.

And of course, if you like there's also AniChart and my personal favorite, LiveChart.  Now if I can be done plugging other sites, let's get down to the picks!

Boku no Hero Academia Season 2
Synopsis: Izuku has dreamt of being a hero all his life—a lofty goal for anyone, but especially challenging for a kid with no superpowers. That’s right, in a world where eighty percent of the population has some kind of super-powered “quirk,” Izuku was unlucky enough to be born completely normal. But that’s not going to stop him from enrolling in one of the world’s most prestigious hero academies. Now, the only thing standing between him and his first class is the academy’s formidable entrance exam—nothing a little private tutoring from the world’s mightiest hero can’t solve.

Thoughts: Easily one of the best anime to come out of 2016 and the best Shonen Jump-related series on television, My Hero Academia returns for its second season.  This year they'll tackle U.A.'s sports festival...and if the trailer makes you think it looks a lot like a tournament arc...you're absolutely right.  The next part of the series contains a neat excuse for us to get to know class 1-A through them beating the crap out of one another.

Still, if the rumors are right and this season really is two cours/twenty six episodes, then this series has a lot more coming than just a tournament arc--there's going to be a lot of twists and turns that will hopefully elevate this series to where it belongs among the Shonen Greats. As a manga fan I couldn't be happier to see the next few arcs get adapted, as author Kohei Horikoushi really cements himself as a unique creative talent by balancing so many disparate art styles embodied in a number of cool-looking characters.

Gin no Guardian
Synopsis: Sui Gin may be poor, but he is one of the best online video game players. This identity however, is unknown to all except for RikuLei, Sui Gin's classmate. She delivers a mysterious mobile device to Sui Gin but before being able to explain herself, RikuLei is kidnapped and Sui Gin unwittingly finds himself wrapped up in series of problematic circumstances. Searching for a way to save her, he accidentally activates the device allowing him to dive into a new Virtual game-world. (Anime News Network)
Thoughts: One of several anime originals to come out this season, right now I'm not sure what to make of it.  The hero is defined as a "legendary online video game player" so its looking like another "transported to a video game"-type series, and as much as I loved Log Horizon, I'm actually kind of over that as a sub genre.  Yes, most of them do a pretty decent job of standing out strongly from one another--if anyone tells you they get Sword Art confused with Log Horizon or Overlord or even No Game No Life they're either lying, an imbecile, or doing a poor job complaining about "video game anime"--but...it's just starting to feel cheap, honestly.  Like, they're just doing these video game projects because it's the wave, when they obviously just wanted to do a fantasy universe. 

At this point, I only care to see it if the series is going to show an actual contrast between the virtual world and the real world.  And if we're being fair, not having seen this series it's possible it has exactly what I'm looking for, just have to wait a month to find out.

Boruto: Naruto Next Generation

 Synopsis: Naruto was a young shinobi with an incorrigible knack for mischief. He achieved his dream to become the greatest ninja in the village and his face sits atop the Hokage monument. But this is not his story... A new generation of ninja are ready to take the stage, led by Naruto's own son, Boruto! (VIZ Media)

Thoughts:  I was never much of a Naruto fan; I tried to get on the boat early (like first appearance in American Shonen Jump, 2003 early) but it didn't catch me like say...Bleach, and even THAT lost me.  My excitement for Boruto comes mostly out of my love for massive universes with long-running, existing histories.  

We're following the story of Boruto, son of a legendary ninja...but we already know the story of his dad.  We saw all the trials, pain, and sorrow that was Naruto's road from "most hated in Konoha" to "leader of Konoha village", and now we're getting to see the story of Boruto and his friends.  That's the hook here to me--and I can't wait to see how Daddy Naruto has to deal with his kid being a total pain in the butt.

(Also: Kishimoto is legend if at some point he kills off Naruto in an epic fashion protecting Konoha village.  Seriously, he'll have pulled off what Toriyama always wanted but could never manage if he can properly pass the baton from one character to another and keep telling stories about this universe he's fleshed out for nearly two decades.)

Clockwork Planet

Synopsis: Everyone on the Clockwork Planet considers Naoto Miura a machinery nut. Every moment of every day, he has his mind on gears and his hands tinkering with delicate mechanical motors, but nobody understand how he can hear and feel gears in operation, even from a long distance away. Then one day, a clockwork maiden falls from the sky, presaging events that would shake the whole world...  (Baka-Updates)

Thoughts: It is an absolute shame that anime is seemingly incapable of balancing romance and action in the same series.  Because the moment I saw Clockwork Planet's gorgeous animation and hauntingly beautiful city design, my interest in the anime was piqued.  And yet. 

There's a clear romance vibe from this series that I just know they are going to handle in the most juvenile, basic way possible.  After a decade of giving series like this a try I'd thought I'd learned my lesson--there's a reason why so many of the series I watch are either primarily male or primarily female in their character background.  I'm going to give this...a single episode.  Just one, to prove it can do more than have a clueless male character who seems oblivious to even the most obvious sexual advances, or a female character who only knows how to communicate romantic interest through violent attacks any time another girl looks at the boy she's interested in.  If it can't pass that...well.  You see this list--it's easy to cut one series so I can have time to actually watch the rest.

Synopsis: I-Machines are the general term for robots that operate in extreme environments. While Alliance Academy student Maya Mikuri is in the middle of operating an I-Machine, she gets involved in an incident with pirates, and ends up serving as a crew member on an excavation company's spaceship. (Anime News Network)
*watches trailer*  O_O

Every iota of my being is telling me I shouldn't be supporting a show like this, which looks like it's just about adorable teenaged girls living their lives.  Despite that, I'm totally in.  The longer you watch anime by the season, the more you learn teenaged girls make some of THE BEST fucking protagonists.

See: Rinne no Lagrange
See: Mouretsu Space Pirates
See: Senki Zesshou Symphogear
See: ViVid fucking Strike

Like I said earlier, I am always surprised how well anime can write women and young women as compelling characters once you divorce them from any kind of major relationship with the opposite sex, and this looks like the kind of show that would sneak up on me and do just that.  So yeah, if this anime is able to tone down on the fanservice, not bug me too much with its 3D CGI, and focus in strongly on the life of main character Mikuri Maya doing cool sci-fi stuff?  This could easily be one of my favorite non-sequel anime of the season.

Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka: Sword Oratoria

Synopsis: Sword princess Aiz Wallenstein. Today, once again, the strongest female swordsman heads to the giant labyrinth known as the "Dungeon" along with her allies. On the 50th floor where mysteries and threats such as a decayed dragon's corpse that crumbles to ash and an irregularity that creeps ever closer to the party loom, Aiz calls for the wind and heads deeper into the darkness of the Dungeon. Eventually, she finds herself meeting a boy for the first time. "Um, are you OK?" In the Labyrinth City of Orario, the contrasting stories of the boy and the girl intersect! (Source: GA Bunko)

Thoughts: DanMachi was one of my favorite anime series to come out of 2015.  As much as it tried to be just another shitty harem series, it also had a surprising amount of world-building--creating a fantasy universe that was unabashedly fantasy while also drawing on video game tropes like stats and power-leveling.   It's got Western monsters like minotaurs, Japanese RPG monsters like slimes, and re-imagined Greek gods competing amongst one another by having clans of adventurers who conquer "Dungeon" mentioned in the synopsis in their name.   The original series also had some fairly decent character-building and probably the best fight scene from that year in terms of both animation, emotional resonance and plotline relevance.

Sword Oratoria is a side story that takes place in the same universe, and instead of following up after Bell and Hestia as they climb from the bottom of things, it follows the goddess Loki and her clan, and the strongest woman in the city--Aiz Wallenstein.  I've always been a guy who prefers the cosmic over the street level, Superman over Batman and so on, so I'm pretty excited about to watching a group that knows what its doing instead of almost dying to nobodies.

It's crazy that just under a decade ago every season seemed full of dull slice of life and overly serious pretentious dramas and now we're actually about to be in a series where we'll get four high fantasy series at the same time.  It's reminiscent of the glory days of the late 80's, which hopefully means we aren't too far from high-budget sci-fi projects again, either.

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

Synopsis: The world knew that witches existed, and that they practiced the notorious art of sorcery. Nevertheless, the world did not know anything about the study of magic.  Our story follows a half-man, half-beast mercenary; humans mockingly call his kind the “fallen beasts”. He always dreamt of becoming a human, but one day, he met a witch who would change his life forever. (MAL)

Thoughts: I definitely thought this was connected to that "other" From Zero series, what with the similar name, similar genre, and both of them being animated by White Fox, but nope.   Two completely different series.  Still, with that beautiful art style it's got going for it my interest was already piqued--now they just have to avoid fucking up by having the witch be too much like the sorceress from the last show Zero-related show I watched.

 Re: Creators

Re:Creators TV anime PV by pKjd
Synopsis: Humans have created many stories. Joy, sadness, anger, deep emotion. Stories shake our emotions, and fascinate us. However, these are only the thoughts of bystanders. But what if the characters in the story have "intentions"? To them, are we god-like existences for bringing their story into the world? Our world is changed. Mete out punishment upon the realm of the gods. In Re:CREATORS, everyone becomes a Creator. (Anime News Network)

Thoughts: The subject matter for this series is actually pretty meta, which means one of two things: this is going to be a piece of genius, or utter fucking garbage.  There's no in between, the writer either knows what he or she is doing and we get something great, or they don't and don't do anything fun besides either navelgazing or typical anime trope-y bullshit without even doing something fun like lampshade hanging.   Obviously I'm hoping for the former, but we'll see what happens!

Granblue Fantasy: The Animation

Synopsis: This is a world of the skies, where many islands drift in the sky. A boy named Gran and a talking winged lizard named Vyrn lived in Zinkenstill, an island which yields mysteries. One day, they come across a girl named Lyria. Lyria had escaped from the Erste Empire, a military government that is trying to rule over this world using powerful military prowess. In order to escape from the Empire, Gran and Lyria head out into the vast skies, holding the letter Gran's father left behind - which said, "I will be waiting at Estalucia, Island of Stars".  (Aniplex of America)

Thoughts: We got a preview of this at the start of the Winter season, and while it was too soon to tell what the plot and character development would be like--the story set-up was sound enough, and there was a powerful, almost nostalgic sense of adventure kindled by the end of episode two as Gran, Lyria, and Katalina set off on an adventure to Estalucia.   Granblue has a pretty awesome universe of characters to tap into, and this is actually the fantasy series I've got the most amount of faith in being great.  Y'know, after...

Shingeki no Bahamut: Virgin Soul
Synopsis: The story place 10 years after the world escaped destruction due to the revival of Bahamut. Humans at the royal capital gather wealth, the demons are enslaved to assist with the capital's revival, and the gods lose their power due to a decrease in religious piety. The world is thrown off balance as humans, gods, and demons hold their own ideas of justice. (Anime News Network)

I'm sorry.  But not really.  Shingeki no Bahamut: Genesis is easily one of my top 5 favorite anime from my time in college--MAPPA's jaw-dropping animation and stunning art design combined with a story that actually felt unique and rose above the typical dross offered by what was at the time fairly typical for an anime series, with a fantasy world that actually felt properly developed and felt like it existed for more than just the single 13 episode series we were watching.   Back then I said it was so good it barely felt like anime, which is either slightly more insulting than I meant it or exactly as insulting as I meant it, depending on your view.

This next series introduces a brand-new character that's either Kaisar's sister, girlfriend, or both because lol Japan.  Judging by the description of this season, we're getting more of the same in a good way, as the world of Bahamut keeps a precarious balance between the forces of good, evil, and the humans in the middle--with Bahamut itself the only thing that stands above the squabbles of all of them, capable of laying waste to all three realms.   The original series was a little more ground-level, with us only seeing hints of what went on in each of the three kingdoms, so if we saw a bit more this time that would easily justify this two cour we're getting. 

Now if only I was this positive about the next series...

Rokudenashi Majutsu Koushi to Akashic Records
Synopsis: Sistine attends a magical academy to hone her skills in the magical arts, hoping to solve the mystery of the enigmatic Sky Castle. After the retirement of her favorite teacher, the replacement, Glenn, turns out to be a tardy, lazy, and seemingly incompetent bastard of an instructor. How is it that Glenn was hand-picked by the best magician in the academy?! (Baka-Updates)

Thoughts: You know what anime I liked a lot more than most people gave it credit?  Denpa Kyoushi/He is the Ultimate Teacher.  It was like a new school GTO filtered through the life of an otaku main character to spice things up for a new generation of anime viewers.

You know what else I love, which I've made abundantly obvious by most of the series I've   Fantasy-based settings, where the world and the characters just exude these arcane auras and you get the sense of a place that's legitimately beyond anything you could ever see on Earth as it is now.

And yet, despite wanting to be excited for a potential magic version of Denpa Kyoushi, I realize that this series is most likely going to be more like Mahouka--an unholy combination of every anime trope I despise, with a setting that has the veneer of things I love. I can tell already-the teacher character seems semi-perverted--he'll no doubt cross the line by doing things his student should really call the authorities for.  And he's got a student who's doubtlessly "beloved" but will no doubt cross the student/teacher line by being way too violent FAR too often instead of just calling the authorities. It's going to be awful and after one episode I'm going to want to punch things and people until I feel better for the twenty two minutes of my life I threw down the fucking trash. 

 Synopsis: New anime featuring characters that use leading-edge technology to create a virtual space where they host VR duels. The protagonist is Yuusaku Fujiki, and his ace monster is named "Decode Talker," who wields a giant sword. Yuusaku transforms from his school uniform when he enters the VR space for duels. He also has different colored hair after he transforms, and he rides a surf board while dueling. (Source: Anime News Network; edited)

Thoughts: Oh wow, has it been three years already?  These things pop up like clockwork.  The only problem is the even numbered series tend to suck for some reason or another for their early parts.  Sure, everyone claims GX and ZEXAL "get better" but who's going to watch a series 50+ episodes to wait for that?

I'm not sure how VRAINS is going to do so far--we just know it's about a kid named Yuusaku who would love more than anything not to stand out, but he's got this wacky anime hair and can't stop riding virtual surfboards to he just decides to go with the tides and play Yu-Gi-Oh.  I've literally never finished a single one of these--5D's got too hard to find subs for, ZEXAL was...trash like I said, and Arc-V just finally got so far ahead of me that it felt like too much of a hassle to keep up.  I'm going to try again this time with VRAINS (which sounds like virtual brains and makes me think this is about card-playing zombies), but I even stopped playing Yu-Gi-Oh a few months back so it might be significantly more work to keep up.


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