Our Most Anticipated Anime of Fall 2018
The new anime season is right around the corner! Anime News Network's Fall 2018 Anime Preview Guide begins October 1st, but in the meantime, we're counting down the shows we're most excited about. Once you've perused our staff picks, head on over to the forums and make sure you tell us yours!
Most Anticipated: SSSS. GRIDMAN
While it's true that my faith in TRIGGER may have just recently been burned by DARLING in the FRANXX, it's not enough to temper my unabashed excitement for the studio's newest project, SSSS.GRIDMAN. For one thing, this is gleeful tokusatsu looks to be a pure TRIGGER joint, and instead of Atsushi Nishigori (who I think can be credited for many of DARLING in the FRANXX's greatest failures), GRIDMAN is being helmed by Akira Amemiya. While Amemiya has a similar pedigree to Nishigori's, GRIDMAN's script has been composed by tokusatsu veteran Keiichi Hasegawa, who has written for many an Ultraman and Kamen Rider series, not to mention The Big O. Hasegawa's presence and the lack of the pressures that come from a multi-studio coproduction have me feeling much more confident in SSSS.GRIDMAN's prospects.
Also, every single bit of footage I've seen of GRIDMAN just looks incredibly fun – the CG being used for the titular mecha's battles looks fluid and engaging, and the whole production has a slightly more grounded vibe, while still carrying the quirks and charm of a TRIGGER series. Of all the studio's past work, GRIDMAN is reminding me the most of Kiznaiver, which is a boon for me, because I thought Kiznaiver was a lovely little series indeed. If SSSS.GRIDMAN can marry that underrated show's heart with the thrilling action that made Gurren Lagann and Kill La Kill such anime staples, then I think it stands a shot at being one of the breakout hits of the fall season.
Runner Up: Release the Spyce
I'll be honest, I'm coming in cold to almost every other non-sequel series that is premiering this fall. Goblin Slayer has potential, but I don't know if a gory dark fantasy is exactly what I'm in the mood for this season, and I figured Bloom into You would already be getting a few well-deserved nods in this list. So, in an effort to think outside the box and get out of my usual comfort zone, I've been scouring the season's PVs and previews just to figure out what else could be up my alley.
Eventually I narrowed my picks down to Zombieland Saga and Release the Spyce, and the latter won out for a couple of reasons. For one, that title is just goofy enough to get my attention. Also, the PVs have a peppy, musical verve to them that reminds me a bit of Princess Principal, and I dig the nighttime metropolis aesthetic. Studio Lay-duce doesn't have a lot of titles under its belt, but I've enjoyed the little bits and pieces I've seen of their Magi: Adventure of Sinbad series. Release the Spyce's character designs are distinct without being too broad or garish, and the show looks to be well animated and directed. The jury's still out on the plot, but something I'm trying to do more this fall is spend more time with shows I might not otherwise get around to. Release the Spyce has made a good enough impression that I'm eager to see what the full show has to offer.
Most Anticipated: Bloom Into You
If we're going to have another high school coming-of-age story, I at least want it to have a unique pull. That's why I'm excited about Bloom Into You. A Dengeki Daioh serial that looks like yuri at first glance, it's the story of Yuu, a high school girl who has never felt romantic attraction. When she opens up to upperclassman Touko, the older girl confesses her love for Yuu. You'd think this would automatically bloom into a romance, but many fans read Yuu as asexual. Their relationship is somewhere between friendship and romance, and it's hard to predict how it will end. The promotional video's gentle music and muted color palette evoke springtime, and the anime will thrive or fail by how it portrays the main characters' growth and relationship development. It's rare that we get a story centering around two girls and their feelings so I'm on board no matter how it culminates. I'm excited to watch this eclectic story take shape in animated form.
Runner-Up: Tsurune: Kazemai Koukou Kyuudou-bu
From Free! to K-On!, Kyoto Animation is great at depicting likeable characters in a variety of high school club settings. This story of an archery club appears to be an attempt to bottle the lightning that has brought them success in the past. It's about five cute guys, each of whom undoubtedly fit into a specific type of character moe, who deepen their friendships with one another as they overcome past trauma and train for the big tournament. Soft art and classic Japanese background music suggest a mix of modern appeal and an exploration of the roots of this traditional eastern sport. For the show to be successful, it's going to need to make us fall in love with not only the characters, but to help us understand why they're practicing archery instead of doing something else. This studio's track record of fluid animation and definitely has the technical chops, but will it have the storytelling prowess? Even so I predict that, for a good number of sports anime fans, this is sure to shoot straight for the heart, pun intended.
Most Anticipated: Jingai-san no Yome
After viewing a number of anime where young women are whisked away and/or wooed by supernatural creatures in modern day homages to Beauty and the Beast (The Ancient Magus' Bride, Kamisama Kiss, etc.), I'm intrigued by the upcoming series in which a young man is instead the titular bride of a supernatural being. The cute art style of Jingai-san no Yome features a bright color palette, and the PVs make it clear this is a comedic tale, with high schooler Tomaru Hinowa acting as a traditional housewife for adorable oversized thing Kanenogi. The “non-human creature” (“jingai”) perpetually chomps the top of its “wife”'s head with its gummy jaws. Aside from that, I don't really know what to expect from it. There're another supernatural creature shown briefly in the trailer, though it's not as large as chompy Kanenogi. There's an actual marriage certificate, too, so this marriage seems legit—signed with the creature's little pawprint and everything. Also, Kanenogi seems quite fluffy, with Tomari cuddling up with it as if it were a giant teddy bear. Both in art style and tonal execution, there are hints of How to Keep a Mummy, with the strange added element of marriage. Mummy was one of my favorite series of the winter season, so I'm hoping this is similarly charming and fun.
Runner-up: Gaikotsu Shotenin Honda-san
A skeleton working at a bookstore. That premise alone was enough to grab my interest. I don't know why a skeleton is working at a bookstore and why he seems like a well-meaning hard worker who doesn't freak everyone who encounters him out, but I'm eager to find out. The PV reveals a heavy “comic book” style to the artwork with bright, bold colors that make this odd series seem even more fantastical. The trailer also contains limited animation, which might indicate these episodes are going to have shorter running times, but I don't mind. Short comedies allow for more rapid-fire humor without the need to sustain a story for an entire episode (or half of one). However, I'd gladly sit down for a full-length version of this series, too. The titular Honda isn't the only strange person working at this bookstore, with the other humans all for some reason wearing a variety of coverings on their heads, including a paper bag, a motorcycle helmet, and a bunny mask. Whatever's going on here is sure to provide plenty of laughs.
After a summer season that saw me dropping all but three airing anime, I'm looking forward to a genuine bounty of shows for the fall. Not every season is a particularly Me season, but this one certainly is - not only are we getting continuations of several of my favorite franchises, but we've even got an entirely new Kyoto Animation property to anticipate, along with a variety of other intriguing-looking adaptations and anime-original productions. Any number of shows might turn out great this fall, but for me personally, I don't need to speculate - when it comes to the top two, I'm happy to celebrate two of my favorite series in modern anime.
First off, my top spot is very easily Zoku Owarimonogatari, the next stage in what has steadily become my favorite anime franchise. Though it's billed as the third and final segment of the Owarimonogatari “season,” Monogatari actually sorta reached the climax of Araragi's personal journey last season. And oddly enough, the fact that Monogatari could theoretically just end anytime now actually makes me even more excited for what comes next.
Monogatari has pretty much always emphasized the ongoing and often cyclical nature of emotional growth and overcoming personal drama - heck, even the last arc of its first season centered on Hanekawa suffering a sort of emotional relapse. Our process of growing up, coming to love ourselves, and ultimately extending that love to the people around us proceeds in fits and starts; as Monogatari itself has repeatedly stated, it's just not that easy to become happy. On top of that, Monogatari frankly doesn't need major conflicts to be compelling; the show's characters are complex, deeply flawed, and tremendously sympathetic, and many of Monogatari's best moments have come not when it was resolving some dramatic external threat, but simply letting its cast be a bunch of quirky friends. With Araragi's own journey having reached a key breakthrough, I'm hoping to see more of that quirkiness and camaraderie from a bunch of characters who've clearly suffered enough already. Regardless of how where the season takes us, Monogatari has established such a sturdy dramatic platform, and maintained such a high standard of dialogue, thematic inquiry, and characterization, that I'm beyond confident I'll be happy to stick around for the ride.
While Owarimonogatari will hopefully be filling out my character study/human drama quota for the season, I'm counting on JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Vento Aureo to just be a riotous good time. After Stardust Crusader's predictable formula and often lukewarm episodic adventures chilled my interest in the franchise, Diamond is Unbreakable rushed in to restore my faith entirely, offering an arc as funny and thrilling as Battle Tendency while embracing the Stands and longer arc lengths of modern JoJo. If Vento Aureo leans more towards the former than the latter, we've got plenty to look forward to.
Though I've heard some worrying things about staff turnover in the time since Diamond is Unbreakable, the fact that Hirohiko Araki's fundamental storytelling ability, as well as his understanding of how to dramatically abuse Stands, improved so significantly across our last two arcs means I'm still not too concerned. Diamond is Unbreakable had both the far-and-away best cast and many of the best battles of any JoJo arc so far, and as we move into later JoJo arcs, it seems like the importance of a sympathetic main crew only becomes more and more central to the narrative. JoJo combines a dynamite visual style, gleefully melodramatic storytelling, and wildly creative action setpieces to arrive at a formula few anime can match. Here's to Vento Aureo doing its legacy proud!
Most Anticipated: Bloom Into You
Aside from After the Rain (which was really more of a character drama) and Wotakoi (which was really more of a comedy), I haven't really seen any good romance anime this year. That's why I'm looking forward to Bloom Into You, which seems like it could be a good, simple love story that just happens to feature two female protagonists. The premise has the potential to play into some interesting themes without the dysfunctional relationship baggage that sometimes accompanies yuri titles, and the buzz around the original manga seems reasonably positive. The anime adaptation also happens to share a writer with A Place Further Than the Universe, which is the leading candidate for my favorite series of 2018. I've passed on all of this year's other yuri shows, but I'll be keeping an eye on this one. Here's hoping all of its promising pieces add up to a good romance series.
Runner-up: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime
Whether it's because of the surplus of mediocre shows or the prevalence of stale power fantasy plots, I'm having an increasingly difficult time taking the isekai genre seriously these days. It's a category in desperate need of a good parody to shake things up, and I'm hoping That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime will be able to offer us some laughs with its goofy premise. The visual of a cartoonish blue blob in place of the usual teenage protagonist is already enough to make me giggle, so this one should be a slam dunk as long as the writing is smart enough to take the premise in a fun direction. I'm sprinkling plenty of caution into my optimism on this one, but I'd love to see this show deliver some slimy satire along with the usual sword and sorcery action.
It's apparently all about the game adaptations for me this coming season. Merc Storia, based on a strategy role-playing game, is at the top of my admittedly short list for most anticipated titles of the fall. By this point you've doubtless figured out that I have a soft spot for children's and family shows, and this looks like it could be a nice one. The fact that it's a game adaptation doesn't necessarily mean that it won't be good, but more importantly, I love that this is starring a healer instead of the more usual warrior or battle mage figure who dominates the RPG landscape. That he heals not just wounds but full-out conflicts sounds like it could take some interesting directions as well, offering us a different take on the genre in general. I'd also be lying if I didn't say that the adorable designs aren't a factor; Merc in her plain old canning jar (instead of a genie bottle) is cute AND practical, and the giant bunny monster in the official trailer also made a favorable impression. There's definitely a risk of this becoming far too cheesy for human consumption, but that's one I'm willing to take.
The other title I admit to looking forward to will have to wait for the dub – the second season of Ace Attorney. While the sub is still a lot of fun in its over-the-top lack of regard for any and all legal systems, the English dub is just the extra push the show needs to be pure goofy entertainment. Objectively, it isn't a great show. But from a fun standpoint, I'm really looking forward to more loony legal antics.
Finally, I have a tentative excitement for Goblin Slayer. I very much enjoy the original novels, but the manga added explicit sexual violence (as opposed to the implied sexual violence of the novels) and the trailers aren't assuaging my fears that the anime will follow them rather than the prose books. If it's more in line with the novels, it will still be darker than most LN adaptations, which is fine. It's how it choses to show that darkness that has me more concerned than eager for its debut.
Most Anticipated: Jojo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind
Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has always been the most fun part of whatever season it's in, and it just keeps topping itself in that endeavor. I thought the first three arcs were wild rides, and then Diamond is Unbreakable blew me away with both its insanity and surprisingly heartfelt core. So I can't way to see what David Production and Hirohiko Araki have in store with Golden Wind, as we journey to Italy and the boys get more fashionable and more bishie. This arc is often considered a least favorite by the American fanbase, which made initially less eager than I was for previous storylines. However, I've since learned that it's one of the favorite arcs of much of the Jojo's fanbase in other countries, and the American distaste for it may be the result of sketchy, unreliable fan translations. I also enjoyed the hell out of Phantom Blood, both anime and manga, so that says to me that even "least favorite" Jojo's arcs are still stellar. All that aside, I'm excited about the Italian setting, the fashion, that Giorno is a Dio descendant (but still technically a Joestar and a Stand User because of that whole Dio's-head-on-Jonathan's-body thing), weirder and weirder Stands, and maybe most of all, the music. Jojo's Bizarre Adventure has consistently had one of the best soundtracks in anime, living up to its rock-inspired title and character names. Plus the new OP is by Coda, who also did what I consider the best of the series' opening theme songs so far ("Bloody Stream" from the Battle Tendency arc), and I absolutely cannot wait to hear what they give us this time.
Runner-Up: Bloom Into You
I'm a yuri fan, and so I'd already bought and started reading the first volume of Bloom Into You before I even learned it was going to be adapted into an anime this coming season. It's a pretty standard, sweet story about a new freshman who stumbles into a new friendship with her senpai on the student council, only to find out that said new friend is in love with her. A lot of it is pretty standard for the genre, if some pleasant wish fulfillment for the lonely teenage girl I used to be. What I really appreciated about Bloom Into You, though, is the more realistic way it deals with emotions. As flattered as Yuu is by Nanami's feelings toward her, she isn't ready to return them right away. She "blooms into" them, as the title indicates, as she spends more time around and gets to know Nanami. When so much anime involves out-of-nowhere love-at-first-sight, I appreciate a yuri title that offers a more realistic take on things. If the anime is anything like the manga in that regard, we're in for a treat.
Most Anticipated: Tie – Sword Art Online: Alicization and A Certain Magical Index III
Wow, this is a tough choice this season, as two long-awaited sequels from major franchises that I've been a fan of since their anime inceptions are both debuting this season, and within a day of each other to boot. Hence I ultimately decided to cheat and put them both here. My anticipation for the animation of SAO's Alicization arc isn't as high as it could be because I already know where at least the first half of the series is going, but I'm still plenty excited to see how certain parts get handled and am really looking forward to more of Yuki Kajiura's signature musical score. On the other side, the third A Certain Magical Index series has been practically begged for over the course of most of a decade, although honestly I'm more enthused about seeing best-girl Mikoto Misaka back in action than seeing what Toma and Index are up to. Regardless, the universe of Academy City is never dull, so I'm expecting a lot of pop and flash.
Runner-Up: Jeanne d'Arc and the Alchemist Knight
There are enough other titles which I anticipate being interesting enough to check out that making a single runner-up pick is also very difficult. I've read just enough of the source material for That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime and Goblin Slayer that I'm interested to see how certain parts get handled, while the oddly perverse-looking Zombie Land Saga has me intrigued just on the basis of its trailer. Bloom Into You should fill the yuri itch, while Ms. Vampire who lives in my neighborhood looks enticingly cute. And of course there's also Conception, an isekai series apparently about the protagonist actually fathering children by several different girls in a fantasy world. Yeah, that could be total trash, but hey, How NOT to Summon a Demon Lord greatly overperformed this past season, so it's possible it could be decent, right? I'm making the listed title the winner here because I've been fascinated by the story of Jeanne d'Arc ever since doing a report on her in my high school days and am very curious to see how they handle this take on her story.
Most Anticipated: JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind For me, the most anticipated show of the Fall season can't be anything but JoJo. After an extended, uncertain wait, it was probably for the best that David Production waited until barely a cour before the premiere to reveal their animated version of Part 5. Too much anticipation then might have done terrible things to us. It's been very entertaining to watch Jojo's Bizarre Adventure grow into a proper global phenomenon as the anime seasons have come out, and if the elated reaction to Vento Aureo's reveal is anything to go by, the hype is only going to continue. For me, this will notably be the coldest I've ever gone into a JoJo entry- Part 5 isn't as talked about through pop-cultural osmosis quite as much as other entries in the super-popular franchise such as Stardust Crusaders. And this season may have its work cut out for it, following up on the Diamond is Unbreakable anime, which might be the best JoJo ever, if you ask me. But the Joestars always seem to find ways to overcome any obstacles, so a tough act to follow probably isn't too high on their list of worries. I'm extremely excited to see what these crime-boys have in store for me, and of course you know I'm dying to find out what they choose for the ending song.
Runner-Up: SSSS.Gridman There are a smattering of other series coming that don't garner as much anticipation from me as JoJo, and I definitely don't want to impose too high expectations on anything, sight-unseen. Still, I've got a lot to look forward to. The mash-up of a semi-obscure tokusatsu franchise with dynamic mecha animation from TRIGGER naturally means I'm itching to check out SSSS.Gridman. The designs have always been great, and these new animated takes on them push the cool factor even further. I'm also in love with the title, an esoteric reference to the old show's western adaptation, the equivalent of a Super Sentai anime called 'MMPR.Zyuranger'. But mostly I'm hoping to be surprised. This past Summer season wound up with several shows that were better and more interesting than I would have given them credit for. Who knows, perhaps a seemingly-rote series will wind up being the next Phantom in the Twilight or How Not to Summon a Demon Lord. I'm hoping that surprising trend in quality can continue with all the interesting concepts coming our way next month.
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