Winter 2016 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

Two weeks before Winter 2016 begins, which is a bit early for me, but it’s time to look towards the new season, and put behind us a season where there was very little of interest, and even then, several of shows I found to be of interest failed me as the season went on. This Winter is going to have 19 fewer newly airing shows than this past Fall season, so will it be our salvation? Read on to find out!

As always, in these posts I cover shows I plan to follow, or have thoughts on why I will not follow them, or considered following and decided not to. As always, I try to strike a balance between giving you enough information on the show, and telling you why I think it is or isn’t worth watching. Shows ordered by day, and by expectation within the day, as that affects pick status. The “Almost In” category describes shows that I’d pick up in prior seasons, but decided to put aside in order to make more time for backlog, after growing unhappy with how many of the shows I pick up ending up “not worth the time”, let alone “good”.
Much space is given to the people involved with a show, as premises are easy, but execution is hard, and it’s people who are in charge of that. You’re likelier to end up with good shows that way.

Most of the information about the shows can be had from the helpful Neregate Chart. Since neither The Cart Driver nor Random Curiosity have their posts up yet, and since I was much more thorough with my research this time around, this is the most comprehensive overview of the upcoming season online right now. Have fun!

Sunday:

Dimension W animeDimension W – Poor Director Kamei Kanta, after directing Usagi Drop he went on to direct OreShura, Nanana’s Buried Treasure, and Saekano, the last of which I really hated. But even as I hated it, it was very well-directed, just directed on all the things I didn’t care for. Now though, he is joined by Suga Shoutarou, Series Composer for OreGairu (both seasons), Uchouten Kazoku, The Seven Deadly Sins, and Isshuukan Friends. I’d be willing to watch most stuff those two cook up together, but a gritty action-filled criminal-hunting, with some deeper musings on the side? Sign me right up. The lead reminds me of a cross between Lupin and Samurai Champloo’s Mugen. This show could be fun, and this show could be great. It might even be both.

The mangaka, Iwahara Yuji, wrote King of Thorn, as well. Promising.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. I just hope “cyborg ally, might actually discuss deeper issues,” won’t turn into another Plastic Memories, or Tokyo ESP, that just flopped. But there are good people here.
Airing Date: January 10th. Preview.

Hai to Gensou no Grimgar - Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash animeHai to Gensou no Grimgar / Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash – It’s not easy loving shounen battlers and other Light Novel-esque shounonsense stuff. I mean, most of the stuff is dreadful, and it’s still popular (see Mahouka and Heavy Object for examples), so you can’t really trust recommendations much, so what is a lover of such shows to do? Well, you go for the ones that at least look good, because it’s better than the alternative, where they’re bad and they look bad. Grimgar looks pretty, and the backgrounds are to die for.

Moreover, Director Nakamura Ryousuke directed Mouryu no Hako, Psychic School Wars, and Piano no Mori, he also directed a couple of Aoi Bungaku episodes and a bunch of Death Note and Monster episodes, the last of which he was also an Assistant Director of. Considering he’s also in charge of the series composition, maybe this particular “caught in a game world” will focus more on the psychological aspect, as Log Horizon focused on the social (and sociological) aspect.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. I’m expecting a pretty shounen action show, and if it goes for something more, I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Airing Date: January 10th. PreviewThe famous “A-1 ass-focus” is definitely here, but I like it when the fan-service is there, rather than pushed and then rubbed in our faces.

Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans / Kidou Senshi Gundam: Tekketsu no Orphans – This show is solid. It goes through the beats, it elaborates on its themes, it presents “both sides” in a classic Gundam way, where the “true villains” aren’t decided by sides, but by being change-resistant adults. I actually have some issues with the unsubtle nature of the show’s writing which I elaborated on after last week’s episode, but the show as a whole hasn’t done anything wrong. But it also hasn’t sold me, or hasn’t done anything to get me excited when a new episode is out, or care for its characters as more than background pieces. There’s still time though, and I don’t feel the time was wasted thus far either. Workmanlike show.
Current Rating: 7/10. “Solid”, means it’s good, but it’s not wowing me. Has upsides and downsides, but not really exciting.
Episodes Watched: 12/25. All up to date!

Almost In:

Nijiiro Days - Rainbow Days animeNijiiro Days / Rainbow Days – What if I told you that Amino Tetsuro, the director behind Shiki, and Itami Aki, who besides doing scripts for various Mushishi episodes also did Series Composition for Aku no Hana were working on an anime together? Would you guess it to be a comfy slice-of-life “cute boys hanging out together” with a side-dish of romance show? Neither would I, nor that Matsuoka Yoshitsugu (Kirito, Sora, and other LN protagonists) would star in it; but here we are. Good voice actors all around, capable people at the helm, but I’m not sure it’s my sort of show. It’s quite possible I’ll pick it up anyway, but Akagami existing on Monday makes this less of a priority.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. Two directors. There’s a lot here that looks promising, but it’s not exactly my sort of show. We’ll see as the season progresses!
Airing Date: January 10th. Preview. A bit sad that this director who did so well with atmosphere in Shiki is given such a bland-looking show.

Didn’t Make It In:

Schwarzesmarken animeSchwarzesmarken – A Muv-Luv tie-in for fans of the franchise. The preview looks bad and uninspired, and I don’t mean just the art. Though it does have fripSide music going for it. “Fighting against the horrors of war” is something many anime shows promise to tackle, and most don’t tackle well at all. Director Watanabe Tetsuya only directed single episodes this past decade and Series Composer Higuchi Tatsuto worked on Cross Angel, Bakumtasu Gijinden Roman, and Sora Kake Girl. Nothing to inspire confidence here. For the die-hard Muv-Luv fans, and for those who need  more anime Starship Troopers (the official version came out in 1988).

Overall Sunday Thoughts: Lots of action this day around, with stuff for those who like their action grittier and more thoughtful, as well as to those who just want to see things blow up. Nijiiro Days is a close call, and I see myself checking it out even so, and especially if one of the other shows ends up disappointing me. A strong and relatively well-rounded start for the week.


Monday:

Akagami no Shirayuki Hime - Snow White With the Red Hair Anime 2nd seasonAkagami no Shirayuki Hime / Snow White With The Red Hair 2nd season – In case you missed it, here are my final thoughts on the first cour of the show. The show brings up plot-threads it doesn’t make use of, the characters are way too competent, and the show is at times very moralistic about work ethic. There’s not a lot going on. It’s mostly just watching nice characters with nice chemistry, in a show with good music and lovely backgrounds. And each week after watching it, I felt good. So what if it does nothing new, and isn’t “great”. It’s good for my heart, and that’s good enough for me. The “Will they, won’t they?” Is obvious to everyone from the get-go, and they’re making progress. And they’re going to keep making progress and spending time together.

This will not be another Chuunibyou Ren, so it’s all good. And if it somehow is, you’ll have to pick me up from the floor.
Interest Rating: 3/3. I’m looking to this so much because regardless of what it does or doesn’t do with plot, it’s almost guaranteed enjoyment and relaxation, and that’s worth a lot.
Airing Date: January 11th. 
Write-ups: No, too busy enjoying it, watching it and relaxing.

Almost In:

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm - Four Rhythm Across the Blue animeAo no Kanata no Four Rhythm / Four Rhythm Across the Blue – There’s nothing ostensibly wrong with this show, unless you’re as wary of Visual Novel adaptations as I am (which you should be!), a show with a background on sports and learning together, but where the true focus is on the lead’s mysterious reason for dropping the sport of flying and his budding romance with New Girl (and maybe with all the other girls too? This is based on a VN, after all). It looks pretty enough, but director Oizaki Fumitoshi (Acchi Kocchi, Astarotte no Omocha!, Etotama, but also Romeo x Juliet) isn’t a source of confidence, even if he’s helped by the indefatigable Yoshida Reiko (Bakuman, K-On!, Kimi to Boku, Non Bon Biyori, D.Gray-man, and many more). These are shows I like, but there’s a lot of them, so it’s best to hold off and hear which ones are better than others.

Also, it’s interesting how the male, supposed main character, is always shoved out of the frame in the posters of shows based off of romantic VNs.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Nothing stands out as bad, but nothing stands out as good, or better than average, either. Standard fare.
Airing Date: January 11th. Preview.

Didn’t Make It In:

Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut - Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle animeSaijaku Muhai no Bahamut / Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle – In case you’ve not had enough from Tale of the Worst Knight and Asterisk War this past season, try this for a premise:

Lux accidentally trespasses in a female dormitory’s bathing area, sees the kingdom’s new princess Lisesharte naked, and incurs her wrath. Lisesharte then challenges Lux to a Drag-Ride duel. Lux used to be called the strongest Drag-Knight, but now he’s known as the “undefeated weakest” Drag-Knight because he will absolutely not attack in battle. After his duel with Lisesharte, Lux ends up attending the female-only academy that trains royals to be Drag-Knights.

How’s that for endless trope collection? Director Ando Masaomi (School Live!, White Album 2, and Muv-Luv Alternative: Total eclipse) and Series Composer Kakihara Yuuko (Chihayafuru S2, then mostly magical girl stuff like Jewelpet and action/ecchi like Heaven’s Lost Property and Unbreakable Machine Doll) are competent enough, so if you do want more of the same, you could probably do much worse than this, but this just seems so bland. Have a preview.

Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu kara. – Speaking of bland premises, “Girl gets approached by a suspicious creature who tells her she has the making of a magical girl, but after she transforming, she’s clad in a bathing suit!” Thankfully this appears to be a short. It’s based on a 9-months serializing digital manga. If those silly gags rock your boat…

Overall Monday Thoughts: Monday and Tuesday are usually dead days. Monday this time around has a good amount of content in it, except that half of it seems to be tired crap. But, if you need your LN weakest-strongest romance hijinks, you’re covered. And a romance that could be promising, and a romance that’s a given, well, romance, that’s sure to soothe your heart as it ambles along amicably. I’m liking this Monday, it has room to grow, and yet is also calm after the weekend’s onslaught of action.


Tuesday:

Prince of Stride - Alternative animePrince of Stride: Alternative – Director Ishizuka Atsuko has a very colourful and vibrant style to her shows, Hanayamata, Pet Girl of Sakurasou, and No Game, No Life, which is very evident in this show as well. I don’t always care for her shows, but they’re still well-done. This seems like another show in the same-vein, based off of an otome-game (dating sim-game visual novel aimed at women), with a parkour/relay-race club sports activity to spice up the romantic elements of the show. Will it be good? It’d probably be pretty good, even if it might not be my thing. For lovers of romance, sports show, and cute boys, this show is definitely recommended. For everyone else? It might still be worth a look.

Series composition is done by Kishimoto Taku, who worked on Gin no Saji, Magi: Sinbad, Usagi Drop, and the “cute boys sports-club” show Haikyuu.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Though not really my thing, this whole write-up is about how talented people come before interesting premises, so I’m wont to give this a try myself.
Airing Date: January 5th. Preview.

Overall Tuesday Thoughts: This time it’s Tuesday that’s the deadest day of the anime week, because anime week runs Wednesday to Tuesday, and they need to calm down. Prince of Stride, capable people, but not sure it’s my thing. But hey, after a slow Monday, I can probably handle it.


Wednesday:

Haruchika - Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru - Haruta and Chika animeHaruchika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru / Haruta & Chika – People have been calling this “P.A. Works’s version of Sound! Euphonium,” but considering the direction in which it is going, it seems more apt to call it “P.A. Works’s version of Hyouka.” As with the aforementioned two shows, HaruChika is based on a series of mystery novels, and will mix the slice of life attempt to breathe new life into the protagonists’ wind ensemble (if you’ll forgive my pun), and answering the mystery they come across. I like mysteries, but last season’s Perfect Insider and Beautiful Bones both provided examples of how it can fail, and even a well-done mystery show does not lend itself as well to weekly viewing, so I might wait until this series is over before diving in.

Director Hashimoto Masakazu worked on Crayon Shin-chan movies as well as the first Professor Layton film, Soul Eater NOT! and Tari Tari, so not entirely sold on him. Series Composer Yoshida Reiko was already mentioned earlier in Four Rhythm Across the Blue’s section, and she’s done a lot: Bakuman, K-On!, Kimi to Boku, Non Bon Biyori, D.Gray-man, and many more.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. I want this show to be good. It can be good, but this past season has made me twice shy, especially for weekly viewing of a mystery-focused show.
Airing Date: January 6th. Slice-of-life Preview, Mystery Preview. Character designs by the person who did character designs for Chaika, yes.
Write-ups: Maybe?

Musaigen no Phantom World - Myriad Colors Phantom World animeMusaigen no Phantom World / Myriad Colors Phantom World – I’m not opposed to light novel shounonsense shows, and I’m not opposed to some fan-service, so long it’s there, rather than pushed unnaturally into the spotlight, such as by fixating on a character’s crotch while she’s talking with her head not even in the frame (I’m looking at you, Prisma Illya!), but the fact of the matter is, most LN adaptations, especially as they lean on ecchi, aren’t very good. Well, here we have KyoAni, giving it their try, not just with ye olde “boy leads group as they fight against monsters and face off against a mysterious organization,” but with the fan-service. And I’m fine with that. I don’t think it’s KyoAni giving me what I want, nor am I sad that KyoAni are not doing “KyoAni stuff”. I’ll take this as a shounonsense show done by capable people, and hope for the best.

Speaking of which, the show is directed by Ishihara Tatsuya, a KyoAni mainstay who did the Key visual novel adaptations (Air, Clannad, Kanon), and then went on to Haruhi Suzumiya, Chuunibyou, and Euphonium (which I wrote of recently). Chuunibyou shows he knows how to direct action sequences, at least to a degree. Series Composer Shimo Fumihiko worked with him on the Key VN adaptations, but also worked on Deen’s Fate/Stay Night, Golden Time, Infinite Stratos, and Kokoro Connect, so is definitely versatile.
Interest Rating: 1.25/3. Bog standard light novel, on the face of it, with capable people, and much eye-candy. I’m in, but I’m not expecting too much just yet. Good voice actors, focus on fan-service a bit on the high level for me.
Airing Date: January 6th. Preview.

Almost In:

Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! - Give Blessings to This Wonderful World! animeKono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! / Give Blessings to This Wonderful World! – Shut-in (hikikomori) boy dies, meets a goddess who becomes his girlfriend, and gets transported to a magical world, where hijinks ensue, and a demon army encroaches. And tits and ass, lots of it. I said so in Phantom World’s write-up, that I’m fine and even like some subtle fanservice, but there’s far too much of it here, and there seems to be nothing beyond fanservice and tropes. I’ve already watched the entirety of Zero no Tsukaima, and No Game, No Life, and my reaction wasn’t “give me more!”, so I’m gonna pass, even though this seems competently made enough.

Director Kanasaki Takaomi is behind the entirety of the “Is This a Zombie?” series, so knows how to do the silly hijink magical girlfriend, and also directed Tokyo Ravens, which I quite liked. Series Composer Uezu Makoto is versatile, beyond helping him on “Is This a Zombie?” he worked on Akame ga Kill!, Assassination Classroom, D-Frag!, Danganronpa, Humanity Has Declined, Katanagatari, and more. I guess everyone needs to pay their bills, so if you’re looking for a tropey magical girlfriend in another world show, you could probably do worse.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Tropes and overt fanservice leave me cold, but I know there’s an audience for it.
Airing Date: January 13th. Preview.

Didn’t Make It In:

Sushi Police – This is straight out of late night American cartoons, of the low-class, absurdist variety. Fully made of CG, lacking in sense… I just want you to check out the preview.

Overall Wednesday Thoughts: This is the day for tropes! Tropes and light novels and novels! I’m not sold on the two shows I’m watching, because of either the people in charge or because of the content, and the show I’m not watching might end up pleasant enough. But this is the day of the week to kick back and enjoy the pretty sights, and hope KyoAni’s shounonsense doesn’t kill my brain as it pleases my eyes, and that HaruChika delivers a capable mystery, even if it’s hard, and even harder when mixed with slice of life shenanigans. So, this day will either be very enjoyable, or an utter flop.


Thursday:

Boku dake ga Inai Machi - ERASED animeBoku Dake ga Inai Machi / ERASED (Literal translation: “The Town Where Only I am Missing”) – Manga is read by all walks of life in Japan, and has many intricate and highly considered stories. We mostly get the junk, or stuff aimed at younger crowds as anime adaptations (or the “GrimDark Mature!!”), so it’s nice to receive something like this. I haven’t read the source material, but I’m highly hopeful. The premise, of a failing mangaka who can travel back shortly in time to prevent accidents reminds me of Early Edition, which I watched with my family as a teenager. An adult protagonist is another thing I appreciate, even if he’s going to get transported back to his childhood, where he’ll try to decipher the disappearance of a girl from the past. The only thing giving me pause is that mysteries of this sort lend themselves to binge watching much more than being watched weekly, but I’m going in. I’m hopeful.

Director Itou Tomohiko worked on Gin no Saji’s 1st cour, Occult Academy, Sword Art Online, assistant director on The Girl Who Leapt Through Time, Summer Wars, and Death Note. Even those who did not like Sword Art Online (which I’m not one of), should be able to tell the series is quite well directed, with distinct flair. Series Composer Kishimoto Taku worked on Gin no Saji, Haikyuu, and Usagi Drop; not a lot of stuff, but all good.
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. Adult protagonist, time-travel, mystery, good director and series composer, how will I not have high hopes?
Airing Date: January 7th. Preview.
Write-ups: Maybe I’ll publish the notes as I watch, but mysteries aren’t made for proper post-episode breakdown, in my opinion.

Active Raid Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei - Active Raid Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit animeActive Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei / Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit – Long before I was a prolific anime watcher, I read manga (we didn’t have streaming or even torrents back then, but we had comic shops), such as Ghost in the Shell and Silent Mobius, so I’m predisposed towards a show about a military force tackling opposition while wearing exoskeletons. The CG in this show seems very well done, but the character designs seem a bit too light and insubstantial for the tone I’d expect from the show. Anyway, mature characters, serious organization, and good mecha action are enough for me to buy in.

And if they weren’t, this series is co-directed by Akitaya Noriaki (Bakuman and Joukamachi no Dandelion) and Taniguchi Gorou (Code Geass, Infinite Ryvius, Planetes, Scryed, and Maria the Virgin Witch), and Gorou’s done a lot of stuff that I liked a lot. Composer Arakawa Naruhisa has done stuff such as Maouyu Maou Yuusha, Spice and Wolf, and Martian Successor Nadesico, but also stuff that fell apart such as Outbreak Company, and the divisive Yosuga no Sora and Gonna be the Twin Tails!!. So I’m gonna hope Gorou is the main director, and that Arakawa puts forth his better side.
Interest Rating: 2/3. This might be a case of me willing a show to be good in spite of some alarm bells, but man, please be good.
Airing Date: January 7th. Preview.

Almost In:

Shoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu / Girls beyond the youth KOYA animeShoujo-tachi wa Kouya wo Mezasu / Girls beyond the youth KOYA – Bored boy gets roped into helping make a GalGame. I guess after Genshiken Nidaime, Shirobako, and Saekano, “group working on [otaku media]” is in full bore. But we’re back to highschool, and highschool romance, and all that entails, especially when it’s based off of a visual novel and some of the almost inherent problems with adapting those. I know that the entire premise of this post is not to judge based off of the premise and source material, but we all have our barriers. Director Sato Takuya worked on good stuff such as Ichigo Mashimaro, Sukitte Ii na Yo (which I really liked), and was the lead Steins;Gate director. He also worked on WIXOSS (where the fault was mostly with the story), and the already-mentioned Seitokai no Ichizon, so, a split verdict there. Series Composer Ayana Yuniko worked on Denpa Onna and Kiniro Mosaic, two fine shows that weren’t really for me.

The “bored game” and the interactions depicted in the preview also rub me the wrong way.
Interest Rating: 1.25/3. It has a chance of being good, but I’ve been burnt too much by this sort of show, so I’ll let others test it for me first.
Airing Date: January 7th. Preview.

Dagashi Kashi animeDagashi Kashi – Boy wants to be a mangaka, but has to inherit the family sweets business, the selling of which he’s extremely talented in. Meet young sweets-loving rich lady who wants the sweets, but will have to convince boy to inherit and run the family business. Hijinks ensue. Taketatsu Ayana (OreImo’s Kirino, K-On!’s Azunyan) is the bossy girl, but I’ve seen this all before. In charge of direction and series composition is Takayanagi Shigehito who directed the beloved The World God Only Knows, but also the borefest that was Tokyo ESP, and who has no prior experience in series composition.

Script is handled by Urahata Tatsuhiko and Yokote Michiko who’ve done basically everything, but a show is less in the script and more in how it’s actually carried out.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Been there, done that, want better. This has “a 6/10, was fine, nothing special show” written all over it.
Airing Date: January 7th. Preview.

Phantasy Star Online 2 The AnimationPhantasy Star Online 2 the Animation – Director Kawaguchi Keiichirou (Hunter x Hunter movie, SKET Dance but mostly Jinsei, Mayo Chiki!, Hayate no Gotoku, Minami-ke, Moetan, Nyan-koi, and OniAi) is directing three shows this upcoming season. Three. And his oeuvre seems heavily slanted toward fluffy comedy, not action. The first preview from 4 months ago is relatively fleshed out, so maybe they got work done on this early enough to allow for his schedule?

This is based off of a video game, but it’s going to be an anime-original story and everything. I’d have given all such shows a whirl before, but there’s nothing to distinguish this one over others. The CG is pretty good, but the mix of school hijinks with the action isn’t something I’m that fond of. Series Composer  Hirota Mitsutaka worked on Prince of Tennis and Bakumatsu Rock, take it or leave it.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Video game adaptation, not the most-fitting and overworked director? Pass.
Airing Date: January 7th. Preview reminds me slightly of Shingeki no Bahamut.

Didn’t Make It In:

Norn9: Norn+Nonet – Preview really reminded me of 07-ghost, which I liked (inexplicably?). This is a Visual Novel adaptation with too many characters (lead, 3 female love interests, 9 more male characters), and lacking a proper hook. Director Abo Takao’s directorial debut. Series Composer Takahashi Natsuko fittingly enough worked on 07-Ghost, and Brothers Conflict, and Ore Monogatari!!. Pass.

Ojisan to Marshmallow – The reason I’m highlighting this short is that it’s so close yet so far away. An older man hits off an office romance. But, it’s a short, and for some inexplicable reason his strange fascination with marshmallows is a plot-point… Come on, give me a bone, anime. Oh, I’ve got Boku Dake today? I guess that’ll do.

Overall Thursday Thoughts: This is an incredibly strong day. I remember when almost all the good shows of the week were concentrated on Thursday, back in 2013. This is close. Mysteries, comedies, action, romance, and action. Thursday has everything. Even amongst the three shows I’m not watching, it was a close thing, and I’m going to keep an ear out, and might end up picking more of them as the season progresses. I almost hate myself for not picking up KOYA, but my alarm bells, they’re warning me.


Friday:

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu animeShouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu – Another drama featuring adults, aimed at adults. Will wonders never cease? A historical drama, a man is released from prison and becomes an apprentice for a comic storyteller (a cross between a storyteller and a comedian, not a manga author). The storyteller has a charge, a woman whose father was also a storyteller, but she can’t follow in his footsteps, because she is a woman. The setup is rare enough that it immediately demands my attention, and the good-looking previews cemented it.

To top it off, it’s directed by Omata Shinichi, who directed Sankrea, Rozen Maiden (2013), which had really good direction, as well as various episodes within Studio SHAFT productions. Series Composition is by Kumagi Jun, who was in charge of Hamatora, the Persona 3-4 anime, and Aquarion Logos. I’m going to hope for the best.

Curiously, mangaka Kumota Haruko’s other works all focus on BL (Boy’s Love).
Interest Rating: 2.5/3. Strong director, strong source material. Drama. All the things I usually have to turn to western live-action for. Don’t mind if I do!
Airing Date: January 8th. Calmer Preview, more conflict-based preview. And great music.

Gate Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri - Enryuu-hen - Gate Thus the JSDF Fought There! Fire Dragon Arc - Gate 2nd Season AnimeGate 2nd Season / Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! Fire Dragon Arc – I watched the first season after it ended, and, you know what? It was well-done, amusing, and most importantly, fun! The action wasn’t much to write home about except when Rory was on the scene, Tuka Luna (the elf) didn’t have enough lines and presence even to merit a supporting character, let alone one designated as “main character”, and the nationalism did get overbearing at quite a few spots. But! I enjoyed the characters, the humor (except that involving Pina Colada, is that a way to name a foreign princess?!), and the experience as a whole.

The show really drove home how many shounenonsense shows don’t have enough content for an episode-by-episode watching, so I’m very likely to wait for this cour to end before watching it all in one go. And how much can they milk fighting off against one dragon anyway?
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. Not expecting the best show in the world, just one I’d enjoy, with caveats. That’s good enough.
Airing Date: January 8th.

Ajin animeAjin – The newest fully-CG production by Studio Polygon, the studio behind Knights of Sidonia, and directed by Seshita Hiroyuki and Ando Hiroaki, who were respectively, the director and assistant director of Sidonia’s 2nd season. I’ll be honest, I’m mostly in this for the premise, of a boy who suddenly finds out he’s immortal, and the government and population turn against him as a valuable specimen.  The horror and self-questioning is something I like quite a bit in my stories, even if neither Tokyo Ghoul nor Parasyte: the Maxim managed to nail it perfectly in the past couple of years. But I’m hopeful. This show was very close to “Almost In,” as such horror benefits a lot from close attention to facial expressions, which the Studio Polygon treatment sadly is incapable of providing at this point.

Series composition by Seko Hiroshi, who worked on Attack on Titan and Seraph of the End, the former also tackled the same issue, but focus more on action, and well, Attack on Titan had pacing issues, which might’ve been forced on from high. But we’ll see.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. More premise-based, more me looking forward to it than expecting it to be good. It should be decent though.
Airing Date: January 15th. Preview.

Almost In:

Divine Gate animeDivine Gate – The premise of this show is pretty much normal Light Novel nonsense, with Heaven, Hell, and our world all connected via a mysterious gate, which those with special powers can reach to remake the world. But this show has an extra thing going for it, in that it is directed by Abe Noriyuki, the man behind Bleach (and its movies), Great Teacher Onizuka, Flame of Recca, Kuroshitsuji seasons 2 and 3 (2 had quite the flair), and Yuu Yuu Hakusho. The man knows how to do action. Series Composer Takahashi Natsuko who’s also working on this season’s Norn9 is more uneven, having worked on Ore Monogatari!!, The count of Monte Christo, Brothers Conflict, and Yuyushiki.

If I didn’t already have so much shounonsense I were checking out this season, this would be in. I’m still likely to give it a whirl after the season ends. It’s also based off of a video game, which is a clear warning sign.
Interest Rating: 1.5/3. I want to check it out, but shounonsense for me is better in one go after they finish airing, and the preview left me colder than the other action shows I’m checking out this season. But, I’ll keep my ear to the ground about it.
Airing Date: January 8th. Preview.

Reikenzan - Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage animeReikenzan – You know how many LNs are based off of anime, so anime based off of these LNs is like 3rd-generation anime? Well, Reikenzan is based off of a Chinese Web Novel, which is itself an offshoot of Light Novels. I’ll admit I’m still curious as to what idiosyncrasies this would introduce, but not enough to watch a show whose premise is “A comet appears which portends calamity. Follow our young hero with the “special soul” as he trains to help avert said calamity,” while directed by Suzuki Iku, the director behind DearS,  Bucky: The Incredible Kid, and a bunch of shit OVAs from the 90s. No preview, no series composer… too much of a gamble.
Interest Rating: 1/3. Curious to see what an anime adaptation of a Chinese Web Novel is like, but the answer is “likely nothing good.”
Airing Date: January 8th.

Didn’t Make It In:

Sekkou Boys – If while watching Glasslip episode 1 last year, when Touko dreamed of David you went “Yes, more of this!” then you’re covered here. A short about classic bust statues as idols and the human managing them, for fans of absurdist humor (Osomatsu-san) or short anime skits (Miss Monochrome), neither of which I am. Have a preview, you crazy people.

Koukaku no Pandora - Pandora in the Crimson Shell animeKoukaku no Pandora / Pandora in the Crimson Shell – Hard to imagine that this uninspired and unpopular manga is by SHirow Masamune, the person behind Ghost in the Shell, isn’t it? Directed by the person behind Da Capo Second Season, Fortune Arterial, Locodol, NakaImo, and Kiss x Sis, and Series Composition by the person behind the BlazBlue anime and In Search of Lost Future. The only good thing is that the preview (15 second commercial, it didn’t even merit a full preview) looks bad enough that I have no desire to watch this and end up disappointed.

Overall Friday Thoughts: If you like action, then Friday’s got you covered. Psychological horror action, Chinese Web Novel action, nationalistic army action, or just action. Most of the shows today have something to make them stand out, whether it’s an ace director, or a psychological element, but me? Even if it were the only show airing today, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, a drama with adults, for adults, would be enough to make this day worthwhile for me. That I’m actually a big shounonsense day means I’m not going to be bored on Friday. Something for everyone, except romance lovers. Even comedy-lovers got a short.


Saturday:

Durarara!!x2 ShouDurarara!!x2 Ketsu – And so comes the end on Durarara!!’s second season, split into two parts. The first part had various production issues, but also had bright moments that reminded me of what Durarara!! is all about, atmosphere wise. The 2nd cour came in Summer season where I sadly became surprisingly busy, and only managed to watch the first two episodes. I will catch up before this season begins airing. I’ve been hearing split stuff about it, but it’s Durarara!!, and those first two episodes were very good indeed. You can find my content about Durarara!!’s second season here, which will be updated rapidly as I catch up.
Interest Rating: 2/3. My excitement has been dampened somewhat by the first cour and split reports on the 2nd, but it’s still Durarara!!, which is special to me.
Airing Date: January 9th.
Write-ups: Post-episode mini-editorials, bank on it!

Utawarerumono Season 2 / Utawarerumono: The False Faces / Utawarerumono: Itsuwari no Kamen – I started this last season, and the Kuon faces are very cute! I got busy and it didn’t arrest my interest, especially as it kept on light and weightless slice of life non-action, but it’s there for when time permits it. Kuon’s faces are very cute.
Current Rating: B. Cute and haremish. I expect 2nd half will drive forward a plot, but it’s not there yet.
Episodes Watched: 3/25. School-work and end-of-year anime catching up, don’t judge me.

Almost In:

Luck & Logic animeLuck & Logic – Gods invade our world, “Logicalists” fight them off by bonding with goddesses, now a power-less man bonds with a goddess! That exceedingly Light Novel-esque premise isn’t actually taken from a Light Novel, but is anime original. I checked, twice. Director Chigira Kouichi at the helm was in charge of The Tower of Druaga and Full Metal Panic, both of which bored me somewhat and the comedy and action mix therein didn’t sit well with me. He also did Last Exile and Brave Story which are better spoken of. Series Composer Takahashi Yuuya worked on Donten ni Warau and Lupin III (2015), so not a lot to go by.

I’m going to wait for testimonials on this one. It seems bland. Bland backgrounds, Doga Kobo’s signature character art-style, and a director with big pacing issues.
Interest Rating: 1/3. When you thought you can’t get enough Light Novel adaptations, you get an anime-original LN adaptation.
Airing Date: January 9th. Preview.

Didn’t Make It In:

Bubuki Buranki – Another anime-original with a bland LN-esque plot – super-powered kids, kidnaping, childhood friends, fighting against the establishment and the adults, and a magical quest to waken the sleeping titan! Komatsuda Daizen’s directorial debut, in which he is “aided” by Kitajima Yukinori, series composer of Brynhildr in the Darkness and Hamatora’s original creator. Please excuse me as I find a place to hurl. Anyway, the CG in this show looks good, but I’m not taking a bet on this. Sorry. Preview.

Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R – Remember Kawaguchi Keiichirou, Phantasy Star Online 2 the Animation’s director, who’s directing 3 shows this season? This is one of those 3, and much better suited to his directorial experience (Jinsei, Mayo Chiki!, Hayate no Gotoku, Minami-ke, Moetan, Nyan-koi, and OniAi), a mix of magical girls, idols, and slapstick humor spin-off for a series of OVAs from 2002-2005. I bet a lot of my friends will like it, but it’s not my sort of thing.

Overall Saturday Thoughts: Saturday is carried on the weight of continuing and returning shows for me, but just like Friday, if you want action, especially of the Light Novel-esque variety, then it’s got you covered. A day of action, following a day of action, and preceding a day of action,this Saturday is a good example of this season’s boiling-blood battler focus.


 Overall Season Thoughts:

14 shows on my docket, of which 5 are continuing or returning shows. Even though this season has 19 newly airing shows fewer than last Fall, I find my position now much more exciting than last time around. Is it because last season I didn’t follow the hyped sequels, but this season I am? It might be. Of course, my excitement over “shows containing adults” should be tapered, as we’ve seen last season’s Beautiful Bones: Sakurako’s Investigation and Perfect Insider both turn out rather underwhelmingly. Or perhaps it’s because my deeper-than-usual research this time around has revealed more works should be worth a second consideration.

Or perhaps I’m just picking up shows I wouldn’t have last season, because I’m parched after that underwhelming season, while I should be turning towards my backlog. Regardless, this season has less moe slice of life, less fan-service, and more dramas, more “honest battlers,” and I’m excited. I guess in a month and a half we’ll see how much I’ve soured of the season ;-)

Which shows are you excited for? Anything you think will be terrible but can’t avoid checking out? Anything you’d like to see me cover in particular?

25 comments on “Winter 2016 Anime Season Preview and Expectations

  1. Thanks for writing this super helpful piece! I didn’t know all that much about what was coming down the pike, and your article helped kind of orient me, as we tend to care about some similar things. Again, much appreciated.

    • Guy says:

      I’m glad it’s proving useful to you! I’m still wondering where I went wrong, from 2-3 sentences about 10-20 shows, to writing 1-3 paragraphs about ~30. But I’m glad all this work is paying off, for other people!

  2. marklol says:

    another edgey shitlord with shit taste and a blog

  3. R says:

    Very critical, but much appreciated so I don’t have to waste my time on some potentially very bad anime lol

    • Guy says:

      Well, this is just a way to try and make an educated guess, but filtered through my taste. I hope it works out for you. Part of the reason I explore the “Didn’t Make It” shows is because I know plenty of my readers do like shows such as these, so I’m giving them enough information to know that while I’m not a fan, they’ll likely be. The goal is to give people enough information to make their own decisions, as well as explaining mine.

  4. Artemis says:

    I’m probably most excited for the second season of Shirayuki and the continuation of Durarara – I don’t expect either show to be mind-blowingly awesome, but I do fully expect to enjoy them which is all I need. I’ll also be checking out Boku dake ga Inai Machi, Dimension W, Divine Gate, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, Nijiiro Days, Norn9, Prince of Stride, Shounen Maid, and Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu. Out of all of these I’m guessing that the very first and very last of them will be above average. The rest, I’m just giving a go out of plain curiosity and don’t really expect anything out of at all. That way if any of them do impress me it’ll be a bonus, and if they don’t there’ll be no disappointment. Combined with my ongoing shows from the fall season (Osomatsu-san, Iron-Blooded Orphans, and Lupin) I should have a satisfyingly full week of anime either way.

    • Guy says:

      That’s a whole lot of shows, especially compared to how many you usually pick up. Ironic how a season with considerably fewer shows can have considerably more shows we care for, eh? But the seasons feel quite different in their make-ups. Shouwa and Bokue Dake are my most looked forward to non-sequels, I actually suspected they’d be the only ones I’d check out this season from the new shows, and even after my research, there’s still a relatively large gap between them, Dimension W, and the shows that follow. But while I agree with the “no expectations,” in principle, can it truly be true? Would we watch the shows if that were true? But real disappointment to me can only come from sequels or adaptations, otherwise it’s mostly the disappointment any show isn’t as good as it could be in a perfect world, heh.

      Norn9 does feel like your show, but something tells me that it’s going to be slow, and I’m less sure it’d lend itself to weekly watching.

      • Artemis says:

        Yeah, I’m used to initially picking up around 10 shows for any given season and then ditching around half of them, so I guess this is a little more than usual.

        I suppose by “no expectations” what I literally mean is that I go into almost any brand new show assuming that it’ll be about average. I expect that it won’t be truly rock-bottom awful (because I can normally tell from the screenshot and a basic synopsis what /those shows are gonna be), and I also expect that it won’t be the best thing since [insert favourite anime here] (since most things just aren’t). But saying “no expectations” is a lot quicker, and gets my general feeling across just fine for the most part. XD

        • Guy says:

          :) “Almost In” are my “I expect this to be about average. Not a waste of time, but it could be better spent” shows, and the ones I pick up are those I hope to be better than that. I moved to doing that after I realized I have too many backlog shows, and that I end up unhappy watching so many average shows, and I’m too slow to drop them. I mean, there’s nothing wrong with those shows, except it’s time that could be better spent. I don’t have time for most average stuff. And yet, I had a lot of fun watching the averagish Gate after Summer ended. So “almost in” also stands in for “I might check it out as a light watch to marathon.”

        • Artemis says:

          Yeah, I promptly drop any shows that do turn out to be average (and/or just not my thing). I don’t have time to watch a bunch of things I’m not fully invested in, and like you there are always plenty of backlog stuff I could otherwise be watching.

  5. Feels weird that the only show I’m actively interested in so far is Dimension W (and Dagashi Kashi as the cute, fluffy popcorn). Backlog time, I guess.

    • Guy says:

      To be honest, it’s almost always backlog time. “Almost in” are shows that usually turn out 7/10 at best, but more likely to end as 6/10, which is well enough, but it’s time that could be better-spent. Half the shows I let in this time, at 1.5/3 should likely have been “almost in” as well, with me turning to backlog shows that are likely to end at 7/10 at worst. I mean, a show’s crop can rarely compete against the top shows of several decades. But we make bad decisions, for fun.

  6. Draft says:

    Was looking for a writeup on the shows for the winter season. Filled in quite a bit of the background on the creative teams behind series, which is information you don’t generally immediately glance from a plot synopsis or on anichart. Thanks for putting the time in to write this up!

    • Guy says:

      Glad it’s helpful! And yeah, I sometimes almost don’t bother with the premise at all, cause it’s so easy to find, but I try to get it in somewhere to make life easier for people after all :)

  7. djoe1990 says:

    Bubuki Buranki have 2 Series Composers, if you only look at Kitajima Yukinori of course it sounds bad, but the other one is Jiro Ishii, the director of 428: Fūsa Sareta Shibuya de, Time Travelers and producer of 9 Hours, 9 Persons, 9 Doors. Also Jiro Ishii and Kitajima Yukinori both wrote 428’s plot.

    • Guy says:

      Here we run into several issues, some showing the limitations of my research, and others are points of basic disagreement:

      I go by MAL first and foremost. It’s just easier to incorporate into my workflow. There only Kitajima Yukinori is listed. If MAL has nobody, I go over to ANN, where Jiro Ishii is listed, but not Kitajima Yukinori. At this point, who do you go by? But ok, let’s assume it’s both.

      So, I go to the ANN page and look at Jiro Ishii’s profile, and the only two lines that strike me of relevant are “Monster Strike ONA Story, Wooser S3 Script”. And here is where we get into disagreement, and I also reveal some other stuff – script is more like premise. It can help the material be smart/not dumb, but it doesn’t make for a well-constructed show. That’s Series Composition. When I have Series Composers listed above and list their past experience, I try to limit it as much as possible to past series composition experience only. I only list Script Authors when there’s no Series Composer on hand.

      Furthermore, VNs and anime aren’t the same. I’m not deeply interested in Bubuki Buranki, and I certainly don’t have the time to look up every name in the ~40 shows I researched. And even so, a producer for a VN? That’s not at all of interest to me when I hear he’s going to work on series composition for an anime. And even his VN writing experience doesn’t interest me much. Script, VN, just not all that relevant.

      • djoe1990 says:

        It’s both according to…well, official site, they are both Series Composers(sharing same position), so actually you can expect both will write different episode scripts.

        And it’s not like i’m forcing you to like this show already, since it’s original show so we know nothing about, but at the same time it’s original show, i think it’s fair to give it 1 episode chance, same for Active Raid and Luck&Logic(btw if Active Raid is not original i’m not gonna even check it out because the 2D part is by IMS lol).

        • Guy says:

          My point was that this person has next to no relevant experience, so my opinion on the show would not change. I didn’t clarify that, which is my bad.

          Likewise, I hate this “You should give this show X episodes!” which is exemplified in the “3 episode rule”. I give shows as much time as I think they’re worth, which means I’m going to drop quite a few shows after 1 episode if I were to sample them all, or two episodes.

          In this case, I don’t have anything against the show in particular, just that my time is very precious, and I’m already checking out more shows than I’m comfortable keeping up with, and this show is far down the pole of shows I find interesting, so what do you do when you have time for X shows but have X+10 shows? You cut the 10 you find the least interesting. Luck and Logic is unlikely to be anything beyond what’s packaged, and I don’t have any inclination to give it any time, not even 1 episode, unless people say it’s worth it, after they’ve watched it for a few episodes.

          “Fair”? There’s no fair. And it’s not like I’m being “unfair” to the show. This whole terminology doesn’t belong here. It’s a hobby. We watch what we enjoy, and what we think we’ll enjoy, and I guess it’s not fair to me that Bubuki Buranki looks so unappealing and is helmed by inexperienced people, if it turns out good. But of the two sides, it’s the responsibility of the anime-makers to make it look appealing, and as far as I’m concerned, in a show with 44-esque shows, they failed, by having their show not even be in the top 30.

          About Active Raid: 1. Quite a few of the best shows out there don’t look that good at all. So that’s not going to stop me, but a good-looking show that’s boring might survive an extra show over one that’s both boring and bad-looking. Furthermore, while I too am more likely to give anime original shows a chance, there are countless examples that it’s not necessarily going to give you better shows, only shows with closure, which doesn’t matter if you drop the show before it ends anyway.

        • djoe1990 says:

          So let’s say if Bubuki, Luck&Logic turns out good, can i come here and tell you about that?(not saying you have to pick it back, just give you some info.)

          And IMS show is not just “not good looking” though, it will become very bad in animation after first few episodes, let’s hope this time things will change.

          “so what do you do when you have time for X shows but have X+10 shows? You cut the 10 you find the least interesting.”<-oh well, i don’t cut shows since i watch most of them live(unless there are 2 shows have a schedule conflict if they air on different channel.)

        • Guy says:

          Sure. I usually ask people how the shows they’re doing fare around ep 3 and 6. I prefer picking up shows I didn’t pick up originally around 5-6 episodes, when they’re done with the first “arc” in most cases. 1-2 episodes, even 3, isn’t usually enough.

          I mean, I always keep an ear to the ground in case I miss out on something really good, which has been known to happen. This is after all a preview, I’m only making educated guesses.

          But it doesn’t mean I’d pick up the show, even if it’s really good, it might be really good doing something I don’t care for, which is the case with most “moe slice of life” shows, or anime comedies.

          About cutting shows, it doesn’t matter how I watch them. Time is time. And this is time I could spend watching backlog shows, reading books, playing video games, studying, or going out with friends, or whatever. I don’t have time for crap on my plate, and how one watches shows doesn’t really make a difference. I mean, it’s not like you’re forced to watch what’s on TV, right?

  8. DK101010 says:

    I hope the winter season can be a nice send off into 2016.

    • Guy says:

      I hope so too, but I hope we don’t have a repeat of 2015, with an amazing Winter season, followed by an underwhelming rest of the year.

  9. iblessall says:

    I read it! Normally I just clock through season previews to see what other people are interested in, but your research helped me decide on a few more shows to knock in/out of my list of things to check out. Glad to hear you’re getting views on this, you deserve it for all the work you put in.

    • Guy says:

      Well, we don’t always get what we deserve, but it sure is nice this time. I always put a lot of effort into my preview posts, but I did put a bit (as in, about double) the effort into this one.

      And glad it’s proven useful! It actually proved useful to me too, finding all these shows I wouldn’t have glanced at otherwise. Though not so helpful for my backlog and non-anime activities, heh.

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