Our Most Anticipated Anime of Fall 2019
It's the end of the summer - and the Fall 2019 Anime Preview Guide is right around the corner! As per tradition, we asked our reviews crew to let us know the shows they're looking forward to most. Don't forget to tell us your picks in the comments!
This fall season is set to bury us in a deluge of high-profile sequels, with My Hero Academia likely standing as the most popular among them. And though I'm also very excited for the new season of My Hero, my own top pick is a very different sequel: Chihayafuru S3.
I've only caught up on Chihayafuru within the past couple years, but the show's mix of charming character drama and tactically grounded sports action has rocketed it up my list of personal favorites. Chihayafuru is centered on karuta, a card game involving memory, matching, and physical dexterity that allows for a broad range of uniquely talented competitors. We're first introduced to the karuta-obsessed Chihaya, who soon builds a team of schoolmates for competitive five-on-five competitions, while simultaneously fighting to be the best female karuta player in Japan.
Over the course of its first two seasons, Chihayafuru has pulled off a thrilling string of close matches and punishing tournament arcs, as the show's cast has expanded, and its characters have grown ever more formidable in their play. Every new match in Chihayafuru feels simultaneously novel, strategically gripping, and enriched by the strong personalities of its competitors; each new enemy keeps both Chihaya and the audience on their toes, and each new victory feels totally earned. If you're a fan of strategy-minded sports drama, I highly recommend you catch up on Chihayafuru in time for the fall!
Most Anticipated: Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of the Underworld
The second half of Alicization being my most anticipated for the Fall 2019 season likely isn't a surprise to anyone who's read my reviews over the years. I have read the first two of the four volumes that this part of the arc are based on, so I know that some really cool twists will becoming eventually (including the long-awaited return to action of Asuna), even if it might take a while to get to the best of them. The adaptation choices so far have mostly been solid, so I am eagerly anticipating how various parts of this more expansive story will be handled. This continuation is hardly the only title on my radar, however. Probably my next most-anticipated choice is the most promising of the season's isekai titles: Didn't I Say to Make My Abilities Average in the Next Life?! The first volume of its manga was cute and fun, so I'm expecting a lot out of this one. The Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia series is also of great interest; while I never got far with the mobile game version, I did see the original movie put out for this branch of the franchise, and that got me interested enough to want to see more. I must admit to also being mildly interested in seeing what Rise Up! Animal Road is like based on its quirky variation on the isekai genre and how trashy Val x Love turns out to be. Let's also not forget that more Seven Deadly Sins is technically on for the season, though Netflix probably will claim it and (based on past treatment of the franchise) not release it until sometime next year. Sigh. . .
It's a damned shame that I won't actually get to watch my most anticipated series of the Fall for a good long while, because we live in the cruelest of timelines, where, among other things, we have Netflix holding great shows hostage for months on end in the US, because the binge-watching model is supposedly the only way us Americans can consume media anymore. Nevertheless, there is no anime I'm more excited for this season than BEASTARS, and no manner of cagey distribution deals will keep me from singing its praises from the rooftops. As an avid follower of the manga, I can already attest to Paru Itagaki's story being one of the most creative and diverse out there: In a world where anthropomorphic carnivores and predators living in tense proximity with one another, Legoshi, our supremely dorky hero, is a socially awkward wolf who finds himself obsessed with a rabbit named Haru, a social pariah who has her own complex relationships with some of the other animals at Cherryton Academy, including the enigmatic red deer, Louis. What I love about BEASTARS is how its deceptively simple premise manages to shift between being a high-school drama, a coming-of-age story, a riveting murder mystery, a modern teenage romance, a battle manga, a quasi-noir thriller, a crime procedural, and a complex social allegory, all without missing a beat. Plus, with the inimitable Studio Orange at the helm, I'm convinced that all of BEASTARS' wild weirdness will survive the transition from page to screen intact; it might even end up being an improvement over the source material.
Along with BEASTARS, it seems like this season will be a good time for fans of thrillers and mysteries. Kabukichō Sherlock comes to us from Production I.G and Ai Yoshimura, the director of Dance with Devils, I'm always eager to see new and creative takes on the classic Sherlock Holmes formula. Likewise, we've got a third season of Psycho-Pass coming out, and while I've been steering clear from the franchise ever since the major dip in quality that occurred with Psycho-Pass 2, I remain cautiously optimistic that the series can course-correct, and recapture the magic of that wonderful first season.
As luck would have it, the show I'm most looking forward to is all but guaranteed to be stuck in Netflix Jail for the entirety of next season. Regardless, there's no way I'm not letting myself get hyped for an offbeat high school thriller starring a bunch of anthropomorphic animals animated by one of the premiere contemporary 3D anime studios. BEASTARS is going to be quite the ride, based off the little bit of the manga I've read. But beyond the strong source material, I'm excited to see how Studio Orange flavors its adaptation. Their treatment of Land of the Lustrous set the gold standard for televised CG anime, and if these animators bring that same level of creativity and dynamism to BEASTARS, it's going to be something to watch out for. Please, Netflix, I'm begging you: start streaming your anime weekly. I promise it won't upend your entire platform.
Since I'll mostly likely be waiting several extra months for BEASTARS, my runner-up pick would be the mouthful that is Fate/Grand Order Absolute Demonic Front: Babylonia. I've been a prisoner of the mobile game for the past two years, and Babylonia is one of the stronger story arcs, so there are a lot of cool moments and characters I can't wait to see in motion. The Fate series' ability to be a sandbox for nearly every culture's mythology and history is one of its most interesting points, and Babylonia leans into that hard. Most of all, however, I'm excited to see the fruits of a very talented team of animators putting their weight behind a presumably grand-scale effort that's been in the works for a good while. The prologue episode looked fantastic, and the show itself is sure to have even more dazzling feats of movement and mise en scène to come. Plus, on a personal level, I need this anime to be good so that I can feel less bad about all the money I've turned into gacha currency.
Hope you're ready for never ending Zootopia jokes! Personally, I can't say I am, but if that's the price we've gotta pay for BEASTARS so be it. Studio Orange are the reigning kings of CG animation and while Paru Itagaki's story of animal life may not be as visually out there as Land of the Lustrous, this remains a very strong combo. As a fan of the manga I'm really looking forward to seeing these characters and their mannerisms brought to life in such a unique way, and the story, while hitting the predictable notes of its subject matter, manages to go beyond those basic tendencies into a full-fledged world and, excuse the language, more human motivations. With such a solid pedigree in all aspects of production I fully expect this one to be a big hit, at least once everyone gets their furry jokes out of their system.
I know it probably won't be the most thrilling show out there, but after careful consideration, I was forced to admit to myself that the series I'm most looking forward to this fall is Granblue Fantasy 2. This doesn't stem from anything but a genuine enjoyment of the first season as a light, decently put together fantasy show – the adventures of Gran, his weirdly hovering dragon, and his occasionally mysterious companions were simply good fun. Plus, the world design was consistently beautiful, and that doesn't look to have changed from the previews of the second season – the skyships, the gorgeous nature, and the interesting cityscapes give the series its sense of place and help to differentiate it from other similar shows. Add in that Gran never got where he was going in the first series and that makes things more exciting – one of my consistent issues with shows is when they don't complete a story, and while Granblue Fantasy didn't do a terrible job of cutting things off, the idea of reaching an actual, solid end this time around is very appealing. Even if Gran never fully reaches his goal, though, learning more about the world and the characters is something I'd like to do, and with this upcoming season looking rather darker than the first (which still had its moments), I feel like we may get closer to some closure and answers. It also looks like there will be an increased focus on Katalina, Lyria's knight protectress, which could have some major implications for the group dynamic and both Lyria's and Gran's quests, and Eugen's reaction could also be interesting. Finally, I'm looking forward to meeting the girl with the horns from the previews – she looks like a lot of fun, and the party was lacking a beastperson and her inclusion may expand the series' lore.
Most Anticipated: Mairimashita! Iruma-kun
There are a number of shows I've enjoyed that are coming back this fall, including Food Wars!, My Hero Academia, Sword Art Online, and Chihayafuru. However, as far as new-to-me series that have piqued my interested go, Iruma-kun looks like a comedy that might prove my cup of tea. Send-ups of the fantasy genre are often hilarious, and though the gimmick that protagonist Suzuki Iruma is sold to a demon could prove problematic, the fact that the demon decides to adopt him as his grandson is an interesting take compared to the usual servant or romantic partner in that kind of situation. Sent to a demon school, Iruma is likely to participate in plenty of hijinks, and it'll be interesting to see whether the series leans heavier on the wacky school setting or the fairy tale environment. I'm hoping for a diverting mix of both.
Runner-up: Hōkago Saikoro Club
When the characters are memorable and the banter humorous, club shows are a fun genre to watch, so I'm looking forward to Hōkago Saikoro Club. A new girl at a high school makes friends who take her to a specialty board game store, and soon they're all part of The Dice Club. I'm looking forward to seeing what types of games they play and how those games inform the themes of each episode from week to week. Though club shows often have the same character types, it'll still be interesting to see if the girls make more of an impression than simply “the shy one,” “the new girl,” “the wacky girl,” “the foreigner,” and the like. However, even if it proves to be similar to other shows of its ilk, as long as it entertains, I'm sure it'll prove a relaxing, comforting iyashikei watch this season.
Now that you've read our critics' top picks, let us know what series you can't wait to watch this season. Head over to ANN's poll and cast your votes!
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