Our Most Anticipated Anime Of Spring 2020
Our Most Anticipated Anime of Spring 2020
Things are dark right now - but that doesn't mean we can't all cozy up indoors and enjoy a new season of anime! Here are our reviews crew's picks for the shows they're most excited about - and don't forget to tell us your picks in the forums!
Most Anticipated: Kaguya-sama: Love is War 2
Kaguya-sama: Love is War was one of the best anime of 2019. The stark black-and-red color palette made the visuals pop, adding humorous gravitas to the objectively low-stakes “battle” of two stubborn high schoolers in love who both refuse to be the first to admit their feelings. The ridiculous lengths to which Kaguya and Shirogane go in order to feel like they've come out on top over the most seemingly trivial of matters make for side-splittingly good comedy. Not only that, but the two other characters who round out the high school's student council are hilarious in their own right, constantly opening up the show to more storytelling possibilities. The concept sounds like it could get old fast, but the series always manages to find a way to elevate its limited scope. With bigger emotional stakes likely in the new season, it'll be nice to bring some closure to this story—and to have a reliable laugh to look forward to each week over the next few months.
I read the first installment of the Arte manga a while back and was impressed by the detailed visuals and the way the historical setting leaps off the page. Judging by the anime trailer, the European Renaissance background pops even more in color, practically a work of art itself in this series that focuses on a young artist who'll go to any lengths to achieve her dreams. Naïve but determined Arte is instantly likable in the manga, as is her grizzled mentor, Leo, the only artist in town (reluctantly) willing to take on a female apprentice. With so many obstacles in Arte's way, I'm excited to see where the story goes. This series looks like it could be this season's historical escapist treat.
In a perfect world, my most anticipated thing to watch this Spring season would be a slam-dunk: BNA: Brand New Animal looks to continue Studio Trigger's trend of shows I'm an absolute sucker for, with writer Kazuki Nakashima coming off of the red-hot Promare to deliver who-knows what kind of conceptually-evocative excitement. Unfortunately, as has become increasingly, painfully clear, we do not live in a perfect world, and Netflix is locking BNA in jail for an unspecified amount of time even though they just primed us with BEASTARS to accept more of that sweet, sweet furry-bait. So thankfully, there's a smattering of seemingly-strong series to serve as secondary sources of interest. The biggest one's the easiest choice: The second season of Kaguya-sama: Love is War. The first season was one of my favorite shows of 2019, and it got there proving that it could consistently mine humor from its central setup of two too-proud doofuses trying to out-aloof each other. I bet it could even keep being funny here if it advances the relationship more or develops its delightful extended cast in new ways. And for the love of god let Miss Fujiwara dance again!
My other interests are spread across a sprinkling of promising concepts and curious fandom follow-ups. My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has an absolutely winning concept for someone like me who's accepted that isekai anime is just a part of our lives now and just humbly requests that we get some new spins on it more often. And hey, SILVER LINK.'s just coming off of redefining the VRMMO genre with my beloved BOFURI this past season. I'm also curious about Doga Kobo's adaptation of Sing "Yesterday" for Me, with staff who have impressed me in the past working on a project that seems a bit outside the studio's more well-known fare. As well, I can't not be intensely interested in the rebooted Digimon Adventure:, skittish as I am about Toei's handling of that most-revisited corner of the Digimon multiverse at this point. It's a remake of Digimon Adventure:! I've got to at least give it a look! And finally, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Argonavis from BanG Dream!. If you know me these days you know I simply will not shut up about the BanG Dream! franchise, and they took that and plugged in cute boys for a go-around! Even if it is absolutely nothing more than a glorified banner ad for a new mobile game to eat up my time, I'll still dutifully follow it for fandom posterity. Which is fine, since as outlined above, there should be plenty of more substantive anime for me to sink my teeth into as well this season. Even if I'm grumbling about waiting for Trigger's tanuki-girl while I'm doing it.
Most Anticipated: Tower of God
The Hunter Exam of Hunter x Hunter. The Chunin Exam of Naruto Shippūden. Some of the greatest shonen anime are at their best when working through a competition arc. What gets me excited about Tower of God is that "exam arc" describes the whole show: the titular tower seems to be a sort of crucible for the world's toughest, and only the most deserving will make it to the top. Apparently, that includes an everyman protagonist named Bam. This is the first anime I'll have watched that is based on a South Korean webtoon rather than a Japanese manga. Since the webtoon is complete and published, you can read all of the Tower of God webtoon legally for free to see if its tense shonen battle style is your thing before you invest your time into the anime. If it's as gripping as the comic, this will be a must-watch for me. My one concern is that the trailer features sparse, choppy animation, and rough, simple line art. It worked for the webtoon, but I wonder if it'll just make the anime look unfinished.
Runner-up: Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE Season 2
There are a lot of high-profile sequels coming out this spring, so Gundam Build Divers Re:RISE 2 might get lost in the shuffle. After a lackluster start, this show probably lost a lot of viewers in the first couple of episodes. But it picked up steam mid-season, and by the last couple of episodes, I was watching for the storyline just as much as for the super cool robot designs (if you can believe it)! Where we last left off, Hiroto and the gang, formerly friends only in their Gundam MMORPG, all met up in real life to discover that the so-called villain of the story wasn't as dastardly as he appeared online. With their digital personas unmasked, it's so much easier to care about these protagonists. Gundam fans love to say things like, “It's not about the robots, it's about the characters,” but it really is the characters that make me want to watch this second season. Well, them and the robots.
The spring anime season is actually looking terrific this year, with attractions ranging from high-profile sequels to a bunch of intriguing anime-originals, many of them with top notch directors attached. But for me personally, nothing comes close to matching my excitement for the third season of My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU! The jaded teenage loner archetype is wildly over-represented in anime, and SNAFU takes that character to task, sending its cynical protagonist Hachiman through an emotional gauntlet that challenges everything he believes about his fellow students.
But SNAFU is not a vindictive production; its reflections on the psychology of adolescence are insightful, and ultimately, its narrative is pushing all of its characters towards a happier, more honest relationship with both their friends and their own self-image. SNAFU is one of the most biting character dramas of recent years, but its psychological critiques come from a place of clear love for its mixed-up cast. From its human insight and compassionate worldview to its beautiful execution (led by the direction of the talented Kei Okawa), SNAFU is an incredibly rewarding production, and I'm eager to see season three finish off its story right.
Beyond SNAFU, I'm also very curious about a new production, Yesterday wo Uttate. Doga Kobo have a strong reputation for making beautifully animated slice of life productions, but their choices of adaptation tend to stick to familiar middle or high school stories. Yesterday wo Uttate is looking to change that, with its focus on genuinely post-college characters and more world-weary premise instantly grabbing my attention. Yoshiyuki Fujiwara is a talented director, and with the full force of Doga Kobo's animation staff hopefully supporting him, Yesterday is looking like it could easily be a seasonal dark horse, or even outright star. It's certainly one I'm keeping my eye on!
There are actually a lot of shows I'm excited about this spring – the return of IDOLiSH7, Woodpecker Detective's Office, The Millionaire Detective – Balance: Unlimited…all of these were major contenders for the two I'm most anticipating. But, true to form, I ended up going with two whose source material I love. I'm putting them in alphabetical order because I really couldn't decide which I'm looking forward to more.
Most Anticipated: Arte
Arte, adapted from the manga by Kei Ohkubo (currently available in English digitally), is loosely based on the life of Artemisia Gentileschi, one of the few renowned female painters of the Renaissance in Italy and the first woman admitted to the Accademia di Arte e Disegno in Florence. Today she's best known for her Judith paintings (and the horrors of her rape trial), but as a show, Arte looks like it'll follow the manga's lead and take a much…gentler view of her life. In this version, young Arte's father doesn't want her to pursue art as a career, and most of the men she meets agree with him – it's not a suitable pursuit for a young noblewoman. But Arte is not going to be kept down, and she eventually finds a master willing to make her his apprentice, the gruff Leo. Leo doesn't care that Arte's a woman; she has talent and he's going to work her just like he would any artist apprenticing under him, though of course that doesn't mean that everyone is going to just accept that he's taken her into his studio as a student. The story explores life in 17th century Florence from a variety of class and gender perspectives, with Arte learning not only art, but how to navigate life outside of her noble upbringing in pursuit of her dream. Even without the historical context of Gentileschi, the story's breadth is impressive, and I'm hoping that the anime can do the manga justice in this respect. Ohkubo's art could be difficult to adapt well, as it, like Kaoru Mori's work, trades in a lot of very fine details and the PVs have not convinced me that this will translate fluidly, but I'm not only liking what I've seen and heard, I also like the base story. The unusual setting could either make this stand out or slip through the cracks, but if it's half as good as the manga, then Arte should be worth it.
Runner-up: My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
No surprise here – I haven't exactly been quiet about my love for both versions of this story that I've read, the original light novels and the manga adaptation. (Although the novels are better.) My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! may not be the first of its genre – the “reborn in an otome game” form of isekai – but it eclipses a lot of them in its sense of humor and the sheer ridiculousness of its heroine's cluelessness. There's a reason why Katarina is popularly known as “Bakarina,” but a strength of the series is that while she may at times beggar belief, she never gets truly annoying about it. After all, her perception of her world is entirely based on her having played the game before being reborn, and that means that her focus is strictly on surviving the events she knows are coming. Romance never happens for Game Katarina, so based on her experience, there's no reason why it should for Real Katarina, and besides, she really, really doesn't want to die. This makes her constant misinterpretation of everyone's actions funny rather than irritating, and the fact that she's essentially building her own all-gender harem without realizing it is a lot of fun. That she's no wilting wallflower is another thing in the story's favor, as is the fact that in the source novels we do get to hear from all of the characters' perspectives at least once.
That bit was left out of the manga, so I'm fairly sure we won't get it in the anime, but the addition of voices could make it not matter as much. I'm a bit worried about the amount they'll try to cram into a single season, but even if this is only half as much fun as the books, we should be in for a good time.
Most Anticipated: Ascendance of a Bookworm 2
I am actually glad that the sequel for Re:Zero got pushed back to the summer season, as that makes what was otherwise going to be an impossibly-crowded season for me more manageable. In a season that seems dominated more than most by established anime titles, four that I have done episode reviews for are either continuing or returning: Black Clover naturally, but also Ascendance of a Bookworm 2, A Certain Scientific Railgun T, and the finale cour of Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld. (So yeah, my episode reviewing roster for the season is likely already set.) Fruits Basket is also returning, and that will be high on my priority list as well. Definitively saying that I am more anticipating any of those last four than the others is difficult, but since I have to pick one, I am giving a very slight edge to Bookworm 2. I absolutely adored the first season and am eager to see how the story progresses into the next stage. By comparison, I already know what's going to happen in SAO but still want to see what kind of adaptation choices get made for the animated version, Furuba is finally going into territory completely beyond the original animation, and Railgun T still has Mikoto, who's probably my all-time-favorite tsundere. Among other returning franchises, I am much more mildly interested in seeing if Tsugu Tsugumomo fleshes out its story more and seeing how the Sakura Wars reboot compares to the original. Pickings are slimmer amongst debuting franchises, but Arte (for its historical context), Gleipner (interesting-sounding twist on a basic concept), and My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! (same) have also caught my attention.
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