There are over 50 shows getting released in March and April. Writing a series of preview guides for Anime UK News left me at my most cynical about the lack of artistry and the rampant commercialization in the Japanese entertainment industry as a whole (I must have been feeling tired).
Out of the 50+ released, there is so much that does not appeal to me. A lot of them are aimed at NEETs and hikikomori and I find shows like those are creepy and immature.
I did have a longer, whinier intro about the season and it’s over-reliance on LN adaptations and shows aimed at immature males written but cut it because it was written when I felt grouchy and want to be positive. Some other anibloggers are writing this season off but there are lots of new series starting and some gems amidst all of the titles. Here are the gems from my perspective.
Chief Director: Toshiyuki Kato, Series Director: Kenichi Suzuki, Series Composition: Yasuko Kobayashi, Music: Yuugo Kanno, Original Manga: Hirohiko Araki, Character Design: Masahiko Komino,
Voice Actors: Daisuke Ono (Jotaro Kujo), Unshou Ishizuka (Joseph Joestar), Takehito Koyasu (Dio), Kenta Miyake (Mohammed Abdul), Fuminori Komatsu (Jean-Pierre Polnareff), Daisuke Hirakawa (Noriaki Kakyoin)
Studio: David Production
Premiere Date: April 04th
Jotaro Kujo is considered a troublesome student at his school and regularly gets into fights at school. When he beats up three armed men and a trained boxer he is put in the slammer. As if things couldn’t be worse, he thinks that he is possessed by an evil spirit and refuses to leave. Enter his grandfather, Joseph Joestar! Joseph informs Jotaro that his “evil spirit” is a manifestation of his psychic power, something known as a “Stand”.
Jojo is incredible. I almost missed the Jojo train when it came out but then I caught this clip and I was converted. I gobbled up the first season in a matter of days and never looked back. While at work, talking to colleagues and guests at the museum I would remember sequences from the anime and almost freak out laughing (Samurai Flamenco had the same effect on me but that died a horrible death and shall never be mentioned by me again – apart from my in Winter anime season round-up). In short, Jojo is fun because it is always hyper and OTT. I played the Jojo’s game and played the hell out of the soundtrack. The new season is based on the Stardust Crusaders arc of the manga and that is said to be the most popular arc and it is also completely different with new characters. I have not read it but I do not care. More of Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is a good thing.
Ladies, if you want to know what it is to be a man, to be masculine and fabulous, you must watch this demented anime. Jojo’s is full of absurdly muscular men in insane battles spouting cod-philosophical nonsense while looking gloriously cool thanks to inventive visuals, absurdly hyperactive coke-fuelled direction and all done to a grand dubstep soundtrack. F*ck all that school based comedy light novel sh*t. This could save the Spring season single-handedly. Thankfully, it’s not the only high-quality anime coming out…
Director: Masaaki Yuasa (Director), Original Creator: Taiyo Matsumoto, Character Design: Nobutake Ito,
Voice Actors: Fukujuro Katayama (Yutaka “Peco” Hoshino), Kouki Uchiyama (Makoto “Smile” Tsukimoto), Masako Nozawa (Obaba), Shunsuke Sakuya (Ryuuichi “Dragon” Kazama), Subaru Kimura (Manabu “Demon” Sakuma), Yosei Bun (Kon “China” Wenga), Yuusaku Yara (Jo Koizumi)
Studio: Tatsunoko Production
Premiere Date: April
Peco and Smile are both friends and members of the high school ping pong club. They are also both insanely talented at the sport. However, Smile’s quiet personality keeps him from beating Peco. The club’s coach notices Smile’s talent and works to change his attitude…
This is the first stand-out for me since I watched the wonderful live-action film back when it was screened on BBC Four in the early 2000’s. I love the film a lot. It was hilarious at times, laughing at the story, the absurdly OTT ping pong battles and the way characters could be jerks but in a fun way. It was entertaining and fun and probably the best work from director Fumihiko Sori (who also directed the awful Vexille and the so-so Ichi) and writer Kankuro Kudo (Go, Maruyama, The Middle Schooler).
I’m supposed to be writing about the anime and not the film, sorry.
Ping Pong is clearly another adult title for the season and probably the most experimental because of the animation style. The director of the anime is Masaaki Yuasa whose style can be incredibly surreal and genuinely far-out as seen in Mind Game (2004) and The Tatami Galaxy (2010) and Kick-Heart (2012). The Tatami Galaxy is the one I am most familiar with. The visual style of those shows is definitely here, the jumps to different strange tones and a loose style, and I can see from the trailer that thanks to Yuasa’s style this show will have the most unique look this season – which critics like and everybody else hates much like with Aku no Hana. I think his style fits the story from what I remember of the film since that was full of ping pong matches with extreme camera-angles, character placement, all sorts cut-aways to characters, scenes, and odd things and dream spaces.
Sorry, talking about the film again but you should definitely check it out because it’s awesome. Actually, forget anime, just watch that.
Director: Kobun Shizuno, Series Composition/Screenplay: Sadayuki Murai, Character Designer: Yuki Moriyama, Original Manga: Tsutomu Nihei
Voice Actors: Ryota Ohsaka (Nagate Tanikaze), Aki Toyosaki (Izana Shinatose), Atsuko Tanaka (Samari Ittan), Eri Kitamura (Honoka Series), Nanako Mori (Eiko Yamano),
Studio: POLYGON PICTURES
Premiere Date: Spring
Earth has been destroyed by Gauna forcing humanity to flee into space and look for a new home using gigantic spaceships. One of these ships is called Sidonia but it has lost contact with the other spaceships in the fleet and the inhabitants of Sidonia believe they are the last survivors of humanity. Things seem desperate as Gauna still chase them. To help fend off the threat of the Gauna’s, humanity has developed mecha named Morito (Guardian) Nagate Tanikaze is training to be a pilot. We follow his journey.
If you don’t know who Tsutomu Nihei is then drop what you are doing and go read Biomega. For something shorter, try Abara. I’ve written about the former and reviewed the latter and I love his mixture of post-apocalyptic sci-fi body horror manga. Knights of Sidonia is more of the same. The CGI is not off-putting to me (it isn’t as bad as something like Vexille) and I expect epic action and a mature storyline.
It is directed by Kobun Shizuno who has worked on Tegami Bachi: Letter Bee and the latest Detective Conan film, Detective Conan: Private Eye in the Distant Sea. The one member of staff that has me Series composition is handled by Sadayuki Murai, writer of screenplays for Kino’s Journey (YESH! Classic anime) and the great live-action Mushishi movie.
Director/Series Script Supervisor: Hiroshi Nagahama, Original Creator: Yuki Urushibara, Character Design/Chief Animation Director: Yoshihiko Umakoshi,
Voice Actors: Yuto Nakano (Ginko), Mika Doi (Narrator),
Premiere Date: April
The anime Gods must have seen this train-wreck of a season and decided to grant a miracle to anime fans over the age of 15 and with good taste. Rejoice! The sequel to Mushishi (one of the best anime ever made) is nine years late (the last TV series was made in 2005) but a welcome return and more mature storytelling. The anime will continue to adapt Yuki Urushibara’s critically acclaimed manga and track Ginko as he investigate the mythological and spiritual side of Japan. We get tales of beauty and melancholy that is an intellectual and emotional treat.
Anything else to mention? Hiroshi Nagahama is director and his last anime was the underappreciated Aku no Hana.
I’ll give other shows a shot but these are my highlights.