Hey y’all! Hope you weren’t waiting on ours this year, but here it is! Check out our hottest of takes after the jump.
Kekkai Sensen Blood Blockade Battlefront & Beyond (Manga)
The second season of Bones’ urban fantasy anime about a New York City that has been transformed into Hellsalem’s Lot, an interdimensional melting pot created when a portal opened to the “Beyond”.
Marc’s take: If there ever was a time to catch up on Kekkai Sensen, also called Blood Blockade Battlefront, that time is now. The original set the world on fire a few years ago, and became an impossibly huge hit in Japan that still enjoys pretty widespread popularity today. The first season was also directed by famed director Rie Matsumoto and written by drama writer Kazunao Furuya, and it’s through the efforts of these two that a relatively disjointed and boring manga became an incredible anime achievement, despite the first season’s delayed and somewhat flat ending. That said, the second season has been in the shadow of some significant staff changes since its announcement, with Matsumoto being replaced at the helm by The World God Only Knows director Shigehito Takayanagi, with series comp by relative newcomer Yasuko Kamo. Despite how worrying those changes can be, I still have some excitement in my heart about more Kekkai Sensen, especially after seeing the PV which seems to continue the trend of fabulous voice acting, stylishly animated action, and a jazz soundtrack that only Cowboy Bebop could beat.
Black Clover (Manga)
It’s kind of hard to become the Wizard King when you’re the only one in the kingdom without any hint of magical power! That’s not going to stop main character, Asta, from trying though. Meanwhile, his longtime rival at the church orphanage, Yuno, appears to be on the fast track to becoming the greatest mage of their time
Patrick’s Take: Somehow this shounen manga slipped under my radar while a lot of people were calling it part of the next big 3. I went ahead and read the first volume as research and it was pretty easy to see why: classic wide shounen cast of interesting characters, a good basis for combat and conflict, and pacing that makes it hard to put down. All that’s left is for Pierrot to throw together a production team that con translate it into a decent anime. Judging by the amount of marketing that’s been thrown its way, they’re putting a lot of eggs into this basket so I’m fairly hopeful for a good, fun, beat em up show.
The Ancient Magus Bride (Manga)
Hatori Chise, a 16-year-old who has lost nearly everything, has resigned herself to whatever fate awaits her. However, a chance appearance by a mysterious, ancient and benevolent magus begins to turn the wheels of Chise’s fate, throwing her down a path along which awaits danger, magic, and adventure.
Marc’s Take: This is probably the most anticipated anime of 2017, and has had a hell of a long run-up of promotion throughout all of this year. The first three episodes of the series are long finished, and were screened early at Anime Expo this past summer, as well as at nationwide showings of Crunchyroll’s Anime Movie Night. In addition, a two-part prequel OVA series has been available on Crunchyroll for several months, and I highly suggest everyone interested in checking this series out head over there and watch them, because they will no doubt be very important in developing a number of characters. Now, having seen both the OVAs and the first three episodes, I can confidently say that WIT Studio has made something extraordinary here, and that all the hype and promotion has certainly been well-deserved. Viewers can expect clear and crisp animation and use of color, fantastic voice acting from all cast members, and a package that will blend a dark and dangerous magic with the fuzzy warmth of Ghibli movies to give you something very enjoyable. I highly recommend you check this one out.
Sad old man Inuyashiki Ichirou is barely noticed by his family and is doomed to die from cancer in a few months to boot. While commuting home from work an alien spacecraft crashes into him putting him out of his misery. (Un?)fortunately for Ichirou, he’s rebuilt with alien tech and his regular exterior and given superhuman abilities. How will Ichirou deal with his newfound powers?
Patrick’s Take: I really expected this to be picked up by the Ajin/Knights of Sidonia team, not MAPPA. Regardless, it’s pretty overdue for an adaptation. The mood of the manga reminded me kind of an AJIN/Parasyte remix so if those sort of old-styled anime are your fancy you’ll probably be into this one as well. The director, Keiichi Satou, has some underrated and underwatched titles under his belt with a director credit, and some cool old school shows like Big O as a designer. Really excited to see where he takes Inuyashiki.
3-gatsu no Lion March Comes in Like a Lion 2 (Manga)
The second season of Shaft’s quiet slice-of-life show following Rei Kiriyama, a middle school-aged professional shogi player who lives in modern Tokyo and is forced to juggle family, friends, school and his professional life all while battling the ups and downs of his mental health.
Marc’s take: Read my figurative lips: this is the most underrated anime of the past two years. The first season was masterfully crafted in a way that only Shaft can make an anime, and while the pace was plodding at times ultimately what the viewer got was a multi-layered and sincere look at life in modern Tokyo through the lens of someone with severe issues with anxiety and depression. Kiriyama’s issues with mental health, especially anxiety, really struck a chord with me and I’m sure will continue to do so through a second season where the entire team from the first is returning. This coming season is definitely a season of sequels and while many people will be telling those who have shows to catch up on to watch one thing or another, you should drop everything, catch up and watch this when it airs. The warm feeling in your heart will make it all worth it, I promise.
Kino no Tabi Kino’s Journey: The Beautiful World (Light Novel)
A fresh take on an older light novel series, Kino’s Journey follows the titular markswoman Kino and her talking motorcycle Hermes on a road trip as they discover more about themselves and the world around them.
Patrick’s Take: The original Kino’s Journey is one of those rare series from the early 2000s that escaped mediocrity and is still talked about with admiration today. Its atmosphere and episodic content were unique and that uniqueness was most of its draw – while watching this new one I’m going to be curious to see if they try to stay close to the feel of the 2003 series or head towards a new look. Regardless of where they go with that it’s hard for me to not get excited about a show as moody as Kino’s Journey… and double that excitement when I remember that Aoi Yuuki is Kino, triple it when she’s using a boyish voice!
Just Because! (Original)
A series of high schoolers interact romantically after the arrival of a new transfer student that will change all their lives.
Marc’s take: I’ll be honest, this originally wasn’t going to be on my list. But, to give it the credit it’s due, it has a ton going for it after the events of the last year. First of all, it’s an original anime by studio Pine Jam, a new studio formed in 2015 and the one responsible for a breakout hit of last season, Gamers! The co-creators of this series are light novel author Hajime Kamoshida , author of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and illustrator Kiseki Himura, creator of Tawawa on Monday. You’ll recognize that second one from the massively popular Twitter and Pixiv “challenge” it spawned last year. This show has the possibility of being a breakout hit once again for Pine Jam, and I hope it does because it certainly has some of the best young talent the industry has to offer involved.
UQ Holder (Manga)
Set in the same universe as Mahou Sensei Negima 10 years after the world has learned of the existence of magic, UQ Holder follows Touta as he joins a group of immortals known as… UQ Holder.
Patrick’s Take: I’m very excited to see this turned into an anime… for all the wrong reasons. Negima was exactly the type of thing I loved in middle school and early high school and for better or for worse it’s the type of thing that was super popular in the mid 2000s. UQ Holder takes a while to get going but it’s more of the same as Negima, and something we don’t see very often in anime these days. Provided it’s not a horrible adaptation it should be some good weekly fun.
Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou Girl’s Last Tour (Manga)
Chito and Yuuri travel the wastes of the post-apocalypse together on their Kettenkrad motorcycle, looking for food and fuel. Despite the fact that civilization has fallen and the worst has come to pass, as long as the two of them are together there are still rays of sunshine to be found in the darkness.
Marc’s take: This is a real interesting one that I have no idea if it’s going to stick or not. All indications point to the fact that the only characters in the entire show are the two main characters, voiced by Inori Minase and Yurika Kubo. Takaharu Ozaki, a second-timer and director of that really cool Person 5 promo anime from last year, will be heading the project at studio White Fox, which you’ll recognize from their work on shows like Akame ga Kill and Re:Zero. Their record on animation is spotty at best and I have no clue what the requirements of this source material will be, so be prepared for anything visually. Speaking of which, the show has a very unique design aesthetic when it comes to the world and main characters, one I think will remind a lot of people of last season’s Made in Abyss. Whether or not that’s a good thing will depend on just how much that show scarred you for life.
Love Live Sunshine!! Season 2 (Original)
After having stepped from zero to one at the end of the previous season (see what I did there?) the girls of Aqours are back for another round of fun in the sun.
Patrick’s Take: I dare someone to say this won’t be my favorite of the season. I FUCKING DARE YOU. I don’t see the magic happiness that Love Live brings ending any time soon, and I’m excited as hell to lay in bed watching the LINE LIVE simulcast at an ungodly hour every week.
Two Car (Original)
Yuri Miyata and Megumi Meguro are high school girls who compete against six other pairs in the competitive sport of motorcycle sidecar racing.
Marc’s take: Only in anime could such an insane premise be entertained, which is why I just love anime so goddamn much. Seriously, it’s giving me a moe sports anime about possibly the most obscure sport, certainly the most obscure motorsport, imaginable. I won’t get into the staff because frankly, that’s not important. What is important is that this show is entirely original, being produced in celebration of studio Silver Link’s 10th anniversary. Silver Link’s another one of these studios that just cranks out mostly unremarkable shows, but they have a great deal of successful and quality-laden products like Strike Witches, Prisma Ilya and Non Non Biyori. Whether or not this will be good is very, very up in the air right now but I have high hopes despite my better instincts.
Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero (Original)
A sequel to 2014’s magical girl series of the same name.
Patrick’s Take: While us in the West haven’t been able to (legally) see it for the most part, the YYY series has been flourishing since its first installment in 2014 with games and movies being made pretty regularly. I’m curious to see how much a direct sequel this is and to see if it keeps the ultimately upbeat mood of the first despite how upsetting the premise could be.
Urahara (Web Manga)
Three high school girls work at a fashionable clothing store in Harajuku called PARK. One day, aliens invade Earth in order to steal the culture of the famous district, and the three must fight back using special powers granted by a mysterious girl.
Marc’s take: So, I’ll be speaking from a place of experience on this one because I actually caught an early preview of the first episode of this at Anime Weekend Atlanta. I think my overarching opinion on this show will be that it would’ve been much better served as a short series, as it’s clear from the first episode that their stretching for material here. Urahara is based on a web manga called PARK: Harajuku Crisis Team, which is a collaboration between American writer-editor and Crunchyroll staffer Patrick Macias and artist Mugi Tanaka, as well as the real-life PARK store in Harajuku. The anime is being animated by studios EMT2 and Shirogumi, and features a (mostly) female production staff and (mostly) female voice cast, with singer Luna Haruna making her seiyuu debut. After seeing the first episode I can tell you to not expect much substance: the animation is simple and choppy in places, the voice acting and dialogue vapid, meaningless and sometimes even annoying. But, the design aesthetic and setting are great, and the opening and ending themes are absolutely phenomenal.
Houseki no Kuni Land of the Lustrous (Manga)
3DCG studio Orange’s first flagship project. Land of the Lustrous takes place in the far future where jewel people are locked in a war against the moon people.
Patrick’s Take: This is my sleeper pick for the season. This show has an enormous amount going for it – first and foremost the manga is widely acclaimed by critics and its readers alike. Orange, the studio in charge of production, has been well beloved by fans for their great CG work in shows like Knights & Magic and Majestic Prince where their bombastic action mecha scenes took center stage, while having a list a mile long of other shows where they worked on CG scenes (Ghost in the Shell, Tiger & Bunny, and KanColle to name a few). The direction staff is stacked beyond belief with the director of the first Love Live show and GATE helming the show, and veterans in all other sections of the show. The animation style might put off some purists but I’m ready for our new CG gem overlords to rule this season.
[email protected] Side M (Mobile Game)
An anime adaptation of DeNA’s popular male idol mobile game, which is itself a spinoff of the even more popular [email protected] series of games.
Marc’s take: This is an anime I’ve seen asked for a lot, and there’s also a ton riding on its potential success. For those of you not in the know, the world of male idol anime is a treacherous wasteland of terrible shows that have been crushed underfoot by the behemoth that is Uta no Prince-Sama, the only currently successful male idol anime and one that is not particularly a good show in itself (this is not a HOT TAKE from a non-fujoshi asshole, even fans of the show will tell you that it ain’t great critically). However, Side M has the potential to change this landscape because, well…it’s [email protected] Just that name alone brings an immeasurable amount of prestige to this project because, despite another certain more popular idol anime franchise, [email protected] is still the pinnacle of representing idols in an animation medium. Bringing this high level of realism, compelling characters and ridiculously well-written music (especially compared to other male idol anime) could be a real boon for a show that has an uphill battle ahead of it, especially when fighting for mass appeal. Don’t let the lack of any big-name seiyuu scare you, that’s pretty common for idol shows. A-1 Pictures is handling animation production, and you can rest assured that this show will look very good by male idol anime standards because they also happened to animate all other [email protected] properties as well, and they all looked very good indeed.
Shokugeki no Souma Food Wars! (Manga)
The third season of JC Staff’s cooking battle show.
Marc’s take: What can I say about this show that hasn’t already been said? It’s made very well, the voice cast is absolutely insane, Shingo Natsume directs the thing, what more do you need? WATCH IT! I put this on here just so I could say that.