Our Most Anticipated Anime of Fall 2017by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
The upcoming fall season is overflowing with promising new shows that our team of critics can't wait to sink their teeth into! Here are our most anticipated autumn picks, and be sure to share your own most-hyped new premieres with us in the forums!
Even though the Summer 2017 season turned out well, I wasn't expecting much from it. That won't be the case for Fall 2017, when my two most-anticipated titles of the year will both debut. One is the prequel/sequel split for Yuki Yuna Is a Hero, the 2014 series that I rank with Princess Tutu and Madoka Magica as one of the all-time greatest magical girl series. I am eager to see what both ends of this highly unusual continuation accomplish – I didn't see the compilation movies that have already been shown in Japanese theaters, and I prefer not to know anything about them in advance. My other top pick is almost unfair to call “most anticipated,” since I have already seen the first three episodes of The Ancient Magus's Bride at Crunchyroll's event screening, so I know that it will at least start out at impressive on both technical and storytelling fronts, by taking an already-strong manga and maybe even improving on it. Unless something else shocks me, it will be my top-priority view of the season. Other titles that have caught my attention at a much milder level because of an interesting premise or promo video include Girls' Last Tour, Dies irae, and Children of the Whales. As always, the real fun is going to be discovering what surprises the season has to offer.
I have been burned by anime adaptations of my favorite manga titles before, so you'd think I would have learned my lesson by now. Sadly, I seem to subscribe to what Calvin and Hobbes once referred to as “live and don't learn,” because both of the shows I'm most anticipating are just that.
When I initially read the first volume of Girls' Last Tour for the Manga Preview Guide, I did not expect to be as overwhelmed by it – not blown away, just quietly consumed by the magnitude of the series. It follows two adolescent girls in a post-apocalyptic Tokyo, as they explore the ruins of a place very much like the world we live in now. It's winter, and you can feel the hush of the snow as they ride their little tank and feel the bite of the wind. The lack of almost any other people along their journey makes the story all the more compelling – there's a very real sense that, while they may not be strictly alone in the world, they're also not likely to find help should they need it. Seeing this translated into a format with motion and sound could be fascinating, although I admit that it could also be very tricky. Ambient sound will need to play a larger role than usual, and the music will need to convey emotion without overwhelming us. There's some room for error with voices, but even the typical high-pitched cute girl tone will serve to emphasize the starkness of the backgrounds. There's also potential in the use of realistic ruins and the much cartoonier look of the girls themselves – it works well in the manga, and the anime can play that up with the addition of color, making the whole thing feel even more unreal than it does on the page. Girls' Last Tour's manga pulls you into its world. I'm hoping that the anime can do the same, while using the tricks of its trade to make our journey even more consuming.
I may hate Erina as a character, but I'm really looking forward to seeing her redemption (or at least justification) arc get the anime treatment as Soma goes up against even more powerful students. One of the things I've consistently enjoyed about Food Wars is the way that it uses its storylines not just to show us how amazing the chefs are, but also to develop each character as a person in their own right. That's done wonders for Megumi, Nikumi, and Akira, and it's more than time for Erina's horrible attitude to get the same treatment. Of course, I'm also excited to see the Chinese street food cart compete against the enormous campus restaurant, and for Soma's food to induce even greater levels of crazy foodgasms (provided the more exploitative ones from season one don't come back), but mostly I'm looking forward to seeing the anime's version of events continue the story. Food Wars is one of those franchises where I enjoy both the original manga and the anime equally, so I'm thrilled to be able to continue the story in living color. Don't let me down, Food Wars! Hopefully, I won't have to learn my painful lesson once again, but if I do, at least I'll have more ClassicaLoid to make me laugh.
Standing in stark contrast to this Summer's anemic lineup, the 2017 Fall Season is packed full of anime I'm excited to dig into. Despite its unwieldy title, Kino no Tabi – the Beautiful World – the Animated Series is easily my most anticipated show, and a lot of that has to do with nostalgia. Along with Neon Genesis Evangelion, the original 2003 adaptation of Keichi Sigsawa's light novel series was an incredibly formative viewing experience for me. The episodic adventures of the mysterious Kino and the chatterbox motorcycle Hermes stand as some of the most affecting and beautiful viewing experiences of my young teenage life, playing like an even more melancholy version of The Little Prince, crossed with the haunting strangeness of post-apocalyptic folk-tales. The 2017 Kino's Journey is something of a remake, produced by Studio Lerche with an almost entirely new cast and crew. While I like the idea of seeing some of my favorite episodes updated in glorious HD, I'm also eager to see what newly adapted tales we get to watch unfold. Honestly, any opportunity to join Kino and Hermes in their seemingly endless wandering is something I am more than ready to experience all over again.
Conversely, The Ancient Magus' Bride is a show I know very little about, outside of the general plot and a lot of gorgeous screenshots that have come from its three prior OVAs. Norihiro Naganuma is directing an incredibly talented team at Wit Studio, and the show's gorgeous aesthetic and general fantasy vibes plant it firmly within the realm of My Aesthetic™. The visuals alone would be enough to get me excited, and the fact that the OVAs and the manga have been very well received only make The Ancient Magus' Bride all the more appealing. This fall is set to provide shows that are both cozily familiar and excitingly new, and I can't wait for the season to get started.
The immediate post-Madoka Magica landscape was an interesting one for the magical girl genre. We got a lot of series trying to cash in on its darkness-behind-a-magical façade style to varying degrees of success, from Daybreak Illusion to Wixoss. So when the first season of Yuuki Yuuna came along, and you could see the signs it was heading down that road from the beginning, I was skeptical. The designs and action scenes were great, but was it really going to be worthwhile to sit through another variation on a concept that worked so strongly because it was surprising the first time around? In that respect, Yuuki Yuuna turned out to be a surprise all its own. Instead of taking the easy way out by having its magical heroines simply maimed or killed by scary monsters, it looked at the mindset of those that would ‘sacrifice’ themselves to save their world, and what that sacrifice might entail beyond simply putting their lives on the line.
The result was a series that pushed the still-fresh ‘dark magical girl’ concept in a different direction; a more uplifting one compared to the dour cynicism that some peers like Magical Girl Raising Project, reinforcing the positivity and earnest heroism the genre was founded on in the first place. The characters were put through the wringer, and the original series ended on a high note that rewarded them for their struggles. My question now is where that leaves this second season. It will be interesting to see what twists and turns this new entry can drop now that the truth about the girls' powers and the nature of their world are out in the open. However, with this show set to focus on different characters in the first half before grouping back up with the original team, it appears an expansion of that world will do well for its setup. Yuuki Yuuna was the best Madoka since Madoka for me, so I'm hoping this prequel/sequel can recapture that same magic.
This summer season has been a bit of an anime drought for me, but I've got a lot to look forward to this fall. Among all the sequels and adaptations and new originals, the top pick for me is definitely Kino's Journey - The Beautiful World. My excitement for this one is based pretty much entirely on the source material - the original Kino's Journey is one of my all-time favorite shows, and I have no reason to expect the sequel to dip in quality writing-wise. Kino's Journey was a wonderful combination of vivid travelogue and philosophical meandering, offering an arresting world that danced gracefully between beautiful countryside and landscape-as-metaphor. If this sequel can recapture any of the original's magic, it'll surely be an excellent time. All that said, I do have some reservations about this new season. My biggest concern is that in the time between adaptations, the original Kino's Journey's terrific director Ryutaro Nakamura passed away, and I'm not sure his replacement will be able to fill those shoes. I'm also not quite sold on the new version's visual sensibilities, which seem to hew closer to a not-necessarily-welcome realism, as well as its generally less distinctive character designs. But the show's PV still looks good, and the base material will almost certainly be the same. Kino's Journey is definitely my top show to watch for this coming season.
Following that up, my second-most-anticipated show is also a major adaptation: The Ancient Magus' Bride. I am a huge fan of the Magus' Bride manga, which perfectly captures the kind of whimsical fantasy exemplified by works like A Midsummer Night's Dream or basically any Dianna Wynne Jones novel. Those flights of fancy are married to a strong emotional core centered on the relationship between former slave Chise and bony caretaker Elias, making for a consistently rich and often painfully intimate drama. As with Kino, I'm somewhat worried this adaptation won't be able to capture the magic of the original, but even a so-so Magus' Bride adaptation should still make for a very fine anime. If either of these adaptations turn out well, I'll have little to complain about this fall season.
I can't help but root for URAHARA. Most of its core staff is female (a rare feat for anime), and it's a co-production between Crunchyroll and bilibili, two of the world's largest anime streaming websites. As a testament to the growing diversity of talent within the anime industry, URAHARA is significant. For me, this show represents the future of anime. But more than that, URAHARA just looks like it'll be a fun show. Directed by Amica Kubo, an award-winning short animation film director, URAHARA has enough artistic quirks to stand out in the crowd while also being generally pleasing to look at. The character designs in particular are lovely; the girls are drawn with rough lines in a way that's unusual for anime, giving them a sense of individuality not often seen in the medium. The vibrant color scheme also gives the impression that anything could happen in this screwball universe. The trailer doesn't reveal much about the story, but URAHARA is slated to be a two-cour show, so I've got my hopes that it will develop into something very interesting.
Calling The Ancient Magus' Bride my “most anticipated” fall series feels a bit like cheating, since I've already been to a screening of the first three episodes. Still, I'm picking it anyway because what I've seen so far has left me very excited for more. I like the idea of placing magic into a more modern context, especially in a story that doesn't involve a high school full of teenagers with superpowers. The Ancient Magus' Bride looks like more of an old-school take on fantasy, with little pieces of wonder and danger hiding in the shadows of an otherwise familiar setting. While I've only read the first volume of the original manga, everything I've heard about it leads me to believe that we're in for a good story with this adaptation. It also doesn't hurt that the art and animation look really darn good.
I could also go on and on about all the upcoming sequels that are already on my watchlist, from the crazy comedy of Mr. Osomatsu to the cheesy goodness of Love Live! Sunshine!!. However, I think I'll take a shot in the dark instead by picking a series I know almost nothing about for an honorable mention. Depending on how it's presented, Girls' Last Tour seems like it could be a fascinating little show. School-Live! proved that it's possible to blend a post-apocalyptic setting into a slice of life series if you get the balance right, and the image of picking through the ruins of civilization always seems to be a compelling one. A lot will depend on how Girls' Last Tour combines its different elements, but the premise alone makes me want to give it a chance.
So there are quite a few interesting tentpoles coming out next season. Ancient Magus's Bride has been hyped up for what feels like forever, Blood Blockade Battlefront (& Beyond!) is back baby, and Kino's Journey - an explicitly philosophical travelogue through a fabulist's world - is getting a reboot. With so many juicy artistic offerings on the table, I'm still most excited for the crazy comedy that people keep making incest porn about. That's right – Osomatsu-san is coming back, and I'm so hyped for more wacky adventures with these sex-crazed sextuplets. As a Rugrats All Grown Up! style reimagining of a 60s gag manga, the series was an immediate hit with the fujoshi crowd, who ate up its stunning raunchiness and loving parody of modern otaku culture. It was a hit is what I'm saying, so I'm sure the money men behind this anime are eagerly awaiting this second season as much as its fans. Fortunately, the show itself lives up to all the hype – it's just a standout comedy. Frequently filthy, always insane, and starring a wonderful cast of lovably shitty boys, I can't wait to fall into their arms (only to slap them away for doing something awful) all over again. Let's also see if they can top that first episode, which is so funny that it got copyright threatened into nonexistence.
Continuing the trend of “Gaby likes loudmouth fujoshi comedies,” Hōzuki no Reitetsu (Hozuki's Coolheadedness in English) is also back next season! I put this on my top five of the year way back in 2014, and I've been waiting for it to come back since then. It actually sold pretty well (around 10k in disc sales), so I'm surprised that they waited so long to make more. Starring the demon ogre Hozuki as Hell's top administrator, the show depicts his adventures solving routine problems in the Japanese underworld. As an uber-competent straight man to all of demonkind's nonsense, Hozuki's eccentric interests are a constant source of humor, as are the strange sights that make up mangaka Natsumi Eguchi's vision of hell run like a government agency. Featuring hot boys, cute pets, and some top-tier anime comedy, I can't wait to get back to this (literal!) bureaucratic hell. Also, those uggo-cute goldfish plants are great.
Apart from looking forward to a lot of second seasons for shows I already enjoyed (from Mr. Osomatsu to Blood Blockade Battlefront), my most anticipated upcoming show is a remake. I love the 2003 adaptation of Kino's Journey, a title that rolls off the tongue much more easily than this year's Kino no Tabi – the Beautiful World – the Animated Series. I suppose we've all become so accustomed to the strange and not always wonderful world of light novel titles by now that 46 characters and two dashes is not something anyone would balk at. As a big fan of the road movie genre and allegorical storytelling, Kino's Journey was one of those shows that clicked with me at first sight and never disappointed, so the chance of getting more of that is both surprising and exciting.
Since it's helmed by a new team, this adaptation could still turn out either way, but even if the previous version's art style had a uniqueness to it that the remake might be lacking, this isn't the kind of show that character designs could ruin for me (and they're certainly still pleasant enough). I'm curious to see old stories retold by a director and series composer I've barely seen anything from, but much more than that, I look forward to seeing adventures from Keiichi Sigsawa's novels adapted that haven't made it onto the screen yet, which will undoubtedly have equally moving and frightening glimpses into the beautiful world Kino and Hermes travel through. Aoi Yūki sounds good in the PV, and her apparent emotional attachment to the original show is reassuring, as is Sigsawa signing off on all the scripts.
From the moment I read the first volume of The Ancient Magus' Bride manga, I was hooked. There's something about this enchanting setting that's somehow simultaneously uncanny and comforting. By all rights, Hatori Chise, the Japanese schoolgirl thrown into this world of magic after being sold off at a secret auction to the highest bidder, should be terrified and depressed—but she's actually the happiest she's been in her life. With her dark days in the human world behind her, the idyllic English countryside home where she studies magic from her master/fiancé is the first place she's actually felt at home. The story admittedly unfolds slowly, but the relaxed pacing gives you time to take in the visual marvel of magical creatures and beautiful landscapes. Plus, the manga can be quite funny too. I read in an interview with the mangaka that she wanted to write a Beauty and the Beast-style story where when the “beauty” falls in love with the “beast”, he stays a beast. (That's not to say he can't use magic to appear human when necessary, but he doesn't even come up with his own unique face.) That's something I've rarely seen before. Then again, the romance, if you can even call it that, is understated, slow-burning, and far from the focus of the show. Having seen the first three episodes in theaters thanks to Crunchyroll's special event, I can honestly say my high hopes have been met in this production so far. The visuals, the acting, the pacing—everything is on point. The only drawback to having experienced the sneak peek is that now I have to wait four weeks after the premiere to see a new episode.
It seems almost impossible for me to write one of these “best of/most anticipated” takes without including Gintama. whenever possible. It's my second pick this time around because I have little idea what to expect from the new season, even this close to its debut. I'm crossing my fingers that it's the few remaining comedic arcs from the manga that everyone who's kept up with the manga release says never made it into the anime adaptation, after Gintama. dove straight into its end-of-series seriousness back in late 2015. It might seem strange to go back and adapt skipped stories after the show has already adapted three more dramatic arcs with greater repercussions on the story's world, and after some long-running secondary characters are now out of the picture. However, Gintama. is never shy about breaking the fourth wall, so there would be nothing strange at all about the characters outright explaining they're simply waiting for the manga to end before they continue with the main storyline. I hope this is the case, because comedy-focused Gintama. is my favorite version of Gintama. (not that even the more serious arcs are without humor).
I had high hopes for URAHARA even before I saw its cotton candy visuals or heard its bubblegum pop theme. That's because the show's director Amica Kubo, writer Natsuko Takahashi, and character designer Mugi Tanaka were all at Crunchyroll Expo where their enthusiasm, drive, and fashion sense shone in each of their panels. It's no wonder Crunchyroll would want to feature this charming creative team—for one thing, they're producing the anime. For another, it's a rare bird in the male-dominated animation industry: most of the major creative roles are filled by women. It's fitting for a show that is themed around “girls' feelings,” as Takahashi said in an interview. “It's a story about girls who want to create things,” which is itself being created by a female-dominated team.
URAHARA will be loosely based on the manga PARK Harajuku: Crisis Team!, written by Crunchyroll's Patrick Macias and drawn by walking anime character Mugi Tanaka, whose mannerisms and fashion sense are very much like those of her character designs. Tanaka's quirky obsessions, like eggplants, airsoft guns, and fried shrimp, appear to play some major roles in the pastel post-apocalypse where URAHARA will take place. It looks to be a magical girl show of sorts with serious streaks of weirdness, and I'm always ready to see something original when the industry too often gives us more of the same stuff that sold last time. This promotional video's blend of wacky-cute gives me high hopes that we're in for something different.
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