Our Most Anticipated Anime of Spring 2018by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
Are you ready for a spring slate packed with promising new shows? Our team of critics has picked out their most anticipated premieres of the new season, and you can share your own favorites with us in the forums!
Although the Winter 2018 season ended up having plenty interesting series to keep me busy, its offerings didn't initially excite me up front. That's definitely not the case with this coming season. More High School DxD is always welcome, so I'm looking forward to this DxD: Hero season. The expansion of the SAO universe with Sword Art Online: Alternative Gun Gale Online is also intriguing to me, as is the revival of the decades-old Cutie Honey franchise with Cutie Honey Universe. I'll also have to check out the Legend of the Galactic Heroes reboot, which may be one of the most ambitious remakes ever. Among new series, Magical Girl Ore and Golden Kamuy most intrigue me, the former for the perversity of its conceptual twist and the latter because it promises a period piece with an interesting concept and sharp artwork.
But the one title that truly has me excited is one of the season's last debuts: Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory. I have always been a big fan of the franchise, rewatching the various series many times on DVD. Like many fans, I was also left wanting for more after 2005's The Second Raid, as it threw out some interesting new story threads – especially concerning Tessa's brother – but never got around to exploring them further, so I'm very much looking forward to these being addressed. While I am a bit concerned about it the change in director and animation studio, FMP will unquestionably be my top-priority view of the season.
Every season I make the same foolish mistake – I most anticipate a series based on a manga I'm really attached to, and invariably I wind up disappointed. Well, not this time! Golden Kamuy, I love you and I can't wait to hear the Ainu language spoken and see how you adapt the various epic bear fights, but this time I am not naming you my most anticipated title. That way you'll be good, right?
In any event, despite what I just said above, I am especially looking forward to a series with a manga I enjoy, but the difference is, this time the story is deliberately being updated for a contemporary audience, so I know going in that there are major changes afoot. The title in question is GeGeGe no Kitaro, based on the manga of the same name by yokai mangaka extraordinaire Shigeru Mizuki. The original series dates to the 1960s, and the cultural references and level of gore are very much in keeping with that time. This means that while the basic plotline itself – a young yokai named Kitaro has adventures with other, more sinister yokai and occasionally “helps” humans – can remain largely unchanged, the way in which it is told can be significantly altered. This is what I'm really looking forward to seeing: how Kitaro and his companions can retain their basic characters while becoming scarier for a modern audience. In some cases entire plotlines will have to be rewritten, but in others, the story itself can stay true to how it was originally presented with new technology and sensibilities allowing for the “how” of the plot to be altered. It's not something that we often get to see, possibly because classic horror, or really just older manga in general, doesn't frequently get modern brush-ups. That does look like a trend that's reversing with last season's Devilman reboot and both this and the new Cutie Honey series this season, but I feel like there's both more potential for Kitaro and perhaps more reverence for the original manga and anime that will afford it a more thoughtful touch from its updaters. I'm certainly looking forward to finding out.
Along the same lines in terms of theme, I'm also more than a little curious about Kakuriyo Yadomeshi. For one thing, the fact that the heroine is a college student is immensely appealing – it not only lends a little more credence to the idea that some random guy wants to marry her immediately because she's actually old enough for that sort of thing, but it's also just nice to see a heroine with a bit more life experience under her belt. I'm also generally a sucker for fantasy romances, and this certainly fits that bill. There is a very real risk that the romantic hero may turn out to be an “alphole” (alpha asshole), which would be a major disappointment, although not necessarily out of character for an oni. That concern, as well as the pacing problems that often plague light novel adaptations, is why this is my number two, but unless it takes some major missteps in terms of consent and pacing, it really seems like something I'd watch…and probably like.
Finally, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to the Professor Layton spin-off, Layton Mystery Tanteisha: Katori no Nazotoki File. Not only is mystery another favorite genre of mine, this one has a talking basset hound. Okay, that could get annoying, and I don't love the character designs, but I'm always hopeful when a new mystery series rears its head, even if the games largely ignore both Knox and Van Dine in terms of the rules of good mysteries. I'm the least hopeful about this series, but I'm still looking forward to giving it a chance, and not just because I really like basset hounds. Really. I swear.
It's undeniably a predictable pick, but there's just nothing else that comes even close to my excitement for My Hero Academia's third season. I've loved this series since before the first season started airing, but my anticipation for season three isn't simply “I love this show, more of it is coming, I'll probably love that too.” I actually had somewhat mixed feelings about the first season of My Hero Academia, as I felt its pacing didn't really do the material justice and its animation highlights were too limited, but the show's second season significantly improved on its successor, leaving me hopeful that season three will be blessed with some kind of similar bump. On top of that, the arcs that are being adapted in this third season are my favorite stretch of the manga so far, beating out the high peaks of the sports festival arc through consistently dazzling fights and more empowering reflections on the nature of heroism. My Hero Academia has risen from a polished but largely textbook example of the Shonen Jump formula to an exemplar of the genre, matching the emotional acuity and action-focused creativity of titans like One Piece blow for blow. If you're somehow not already on the My Hero Academia train and have any fondness for action shows, I urge you to catch up and join me for this new season.
If I were to stick with safe picks, I'd slot in Golden Kamuy right here - as a high-profile adaptation of a widely lauded manga, it's almost guaranteed to be some kind of infield hit in my mind. But Academia already took the safe pick slot, so instead I want to highlight Tada Doesn't Fall in Love, which could either fall on its face or be my favorite show of the year. Tada's not-so-secret weapon is its director Mitsue Yamazaki, who directed some of the most compelling episodes of Mawaru Penguindrum before turning her Ikuhara-honed skills to the very different, equally excellent Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun. Nozaki-kun possessed an ear for comedy and character voice that put it head and shoulders above most high school comedies, and I'm eager to see its director handle a fully original production of her own. As for Tada's own qualities, the show's lighthearted setup, excellent promotional trailers, and strong studio backing all seem to indicate it'll be a romantic comedy to watch out for, with perhaps just a dash of that mopey character drama I love so much. Tada's a bit of a wildcard, but its recipe contains so many ingredients I love that I'm very eager to sample the result.
Okay fine, Golden Kamuy gets third billing. Golden Kamuy's adaptation staff list doesn't quite excite me, but starting with a thrilling blockbuster of a manga certainly helps. Golden Kamuy's turn-of-the-century premise might make it seem a little stuffy, but in practice, this is a story about a nearly invincible soldier named Saichi and his new Ainu companion Asirpa fighting friggin' bears and stuff, hunting down a legendary treasure through the wildest wilderness of the north edge of Japan. The story is already great, so if Golden Kamuy's adaptation can deliver, it's primed to be the new hit of the season. Here's hoping it succeeds!
The two anime I'm most looking forward to this season are continuations of stories I've come to love, albeit at wildly different times in my life as an anime fan. My Hero Academia wriggled its way into my heart just last year; I was pretty "meh" on its first season, but the second season was so clever, emotional, and wildly entertaining that it left me chomping at the bit for more through the six months to follow. Conversely, Full Metal Panic! was an early favorite of mine, one of the very first anime that I had to buy-to-try in my teen years as an anime fan, (after I had disposable income and found myself out of options that had aired on TV). Fortunately, the gamble paid off, and I've had a soft spot for FMP's endearingly idiosyncratic flavor of popcorn entertainment ever since. I can't believe the show is coming back after twelve years with Full Metal Panic! Invisible Victory, and I'm eager to see how Kaname and Sousuke's adventures (and romance!) play out.
There are a few other sequels I'm looking forward to with more muted enthusiasm, like the continuations of Food Wars! (which reeled me back in with its truly despicable new supervillain) and Lupin the Third: Part 5. (I'm always up for more post-Koike Lupin adventures.) But if I can pull a little switcheroo on this section for a second, I also want to bring up two sequels I'm kind of dreading, despite enjoying their source material. (Since I'm gonna watch them anyway, I guess I'm "anticipating" the need to bitch about it for three months.) Everything I've heard about Tokyo Ghoul: re sounds like a convoluted retcon-fest that continues the story long past its expiration date. I already had mixed feelings about the incredible highs and ghoulish lows of Root A, but I was happy with its tragic conclusion, so I'm kinda dreading whatever comes next. Same goes for Steins;Gate Zero. You could technically keep that franchise going forever with alternate timeline jiggery-pokery, but milking the cow dry in time-travel-heavy stories tends to leave a sour taste in fans' mouths. So fingers firmly crossed on those two.
When it comes to brand-new stories though, I gotta go with my gut, and my gut always yearns for stuff involving monsters and animals. From the bear-punching wilderness of Golden Kamuy to the anthropomorphized racehorse girls of Uma Musume Pretty Derby to a family of genetically-altered kids in Creatures Family Days, I'm hoping at least one of these promising premises gives me something wild and fuzzy to enjoy this spring.
As much as I've enjoyed the abundance of quality slice-of-life shows that aired during the winter season, all that warm fuzziness has left me hungering for something more intense. Perhaps that's why I've got my eye on Golden Kamuy, which looks like a very in-your-face blend of historical fiction and gory survival action. While I haven't read the original manga myself, everything I've heard about it has been remarkably positive, and I'm curious to see if that will carry over into this adaptation. Enough of cute girls doing cute things, I'm ready for some good old-fashioned fight scenes with angry dudes trying to kill each other (and maybe the occasional bear or wolf for good measure).
Keeping with the theme of action titles, I'm also excited for the return of My Hero Academia. The previous season made it onto my Top 5 list for 2017, and I'm hoping the series will be able to maintain its winning balance of smart writing and entertaining battles. Speaking of big-name franchises, I'm also intrigued by the upcoming Sword Art Online spinoff. I neither loved nor hated the original series, but the basic premise of virtual reality gaming always seemed like it could be a good starting point for all kinds of stories. With a fresh cast of characters on tap, this seems like as good a time as any to give the SAO universe another try. If nothing else, it looks well positioned to capitalize on the current trend of battle royale shooters. Cue the endless stream of Battlegrounds and Fortnite jokes.
There are a lot of great shows returning for another cour this spring and a number of brand new anime that caught my attention, too. However, the one that's most intriguing to me at the moment is Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku. Not only does it star adults instead of the typical high school (or maybe college if pushing it) anime cast, but it involves two geeks falling in love while trying to keep their love for manga and games a secret from the company they work for. With so much emphasis on the workplace, I have to wonder if the vibe will be less geeky than it was in a recent series starring adult otaku falling in love over an MMO. This one is sure to involve more secondary characters who aren't into pop culture too, as opposed to focusing almost solely on the geeks themselves, so the clash between these people might prove interesting. I don't know much about it yet, but the presence of Tomokazu Sugita as the male lead makes me wonder if Watakoi will prove less schmaltzy than Recovery of an MMO Junkie. He often plays rude characters, and I could see this one venturing into the hate-turns-to-love territory, which is overplayed in shojo and josei stories, but it's a tired trope for a reason—it often makes a fictional love story more fun.
If it weren't for the arresting visuals of a piano surrounded by a lush forest, I'm not sure if Piano no Mori would have caught my eye. A piano competition story could be interesting in and of itself, but I have to be in the right mood for a competition-based anime. However, the main character who's born with fewer advantages than his rival apparently grew up practicing his craft on an abandoned piano in the middle of a forest that only makes sounds for him. That hint of magic elevates what could be another friends-turned-rivals-in-the-arena (or concert hall in this case) story into something special, but I wonder if it'll be able to sustain that magic in a story based on a relatively long manga series. Though with so many visuals focusing on the two main characters as children, perhaps it's less of a competition series than I think.
“Gundam Build Fighters was OK, but it didn't give participants the chance to be furries,” said probably no one. Even so, the upcoming Gundam Build Divers will remedy that problem with an extremely anime solution—a Gundam battle system that resembles an MMORPG. In Gundam Build Fighters and Gundam Build Fighters TRY, players competed face to face, putting their model kits in a physical interface while they operated the controls. In this series, players will participate in Gundam fights around the globe using digital avatars over the internet. There is some precedent to this scenario in shows like Log Horizon and Sword Art Online, but how is it going to pan out for Gundam? We've received a bigger-than-usual hint through a prologue video available on the GundamInfo YouTube channel. TRY director Shinya Watada will be reprising his role here, meaning we can expect a similarly comedic take on Gundam tropes. When ferrets are piloting mobile suits, the show will need to have a sense of humor about itself to succeed.
Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii comes from an author known only as Fujita, an amateur who began posting this story as a serial manga on Pixiv in 2014. It soon became the most popular work on Pixiv! For an amateur to cut through that much noise must mean this material has promise. (I can't help but draw parallels to another amateur webcomic artist who made it big, ONE of Mob Psycho 100 and One Punch Man fame.) This story centers around a fujoshi and a game otaku who were friends as middle schoolers and reunite as adults when they both end up working for the same company. It's refreshing enough to have an anime about adult characters falling in love for me to get excited, even if that's the only plot point I know about it. I'm hoping for a reprise of Recovery of an MMO Junkie with a cute romance and mature characters, and maybe this time the director won't turn out to be a Nazi sympathizer!
The huge amount of new anime hitting this Spring brings with it a large ratio of follow-ups to franchises I both love and do not love (but hey, that Sword Art Online spin-off does look like it could be cool!). So of course what's getting me pumped most would have to be another shameless round of toy-advertisement exploitation from the Gundam Build Fighters series. These shows are always pure entertainment, throwing ridiculous remixes of rad robots against each other for fight scenes that aren't limited by silly things like ‘plot’ and instead can just go nuts with the over-the-top animation and action. Gundam Build Divers' new online virtual-reality setting may remind me too much of that aforementioned Sword Art Online (to say nothing of a certain new movie about one player getting ready), but I think I'll just mitigate that by taking the shameless advertisement angle to heart and comparing it to Digimon instead. The prologue episode features a blond shonen hero passionately mecha-battling a weasel in a military uniform, as they both shout about how seriously they're taking this. That'll convince me to buy at least a few toys.
Just as shameless, but possibly less for the kids, I'm also looking forward to Cutie Honey Universe. Maybe Devilman Crybaby just has me chomping at the bit for more Go Nagai goodness, but hopefully Honey doesn't turn out to be quite as much of an exercise in affecting nihilism. It certainly looks like it'll be a colorful and crazy good time, and I'm here for anything that includes an element like ‘delinquent detectives’. Finally, for something mostly new, I'm definitely excited to see what the Nozaki-Kun staff turns out with Tada-Kun wa Koi o Shinai, and if it can match the earlier show's otherwise unique charms. It's also become apparent that no one does contagiously cute comedy like Doga Kobo, so at this point I'm pretty much on board for anything they do. If Tada-Kun can flex the same amount of charm as gems like Nozaki-Kun and New Game!, while also carving an identity of its own, we could be in for a fun ride. There's a lot of raw excitement coming out of this season in general.
What are your picks for the hottest new shows of spring? Share your thoughts with us in the forums!
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