Our Most Anticipated Anime Of Winter 2022by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,
The Most Anticipated Anime of Winter 2022
Welcome to our most anticipated anime feature for the winter 2022 season. Below you'll find our editorial team's top (tentative) picks from the 35-odd shows slated to premiere in January. What are your favorite picks? Head on over to our poll and pick your top five. We'll publish the results before preview guide launches on January 5. Also, if you're still having a hard time choosing what to add to your queue, or you're just down for a good time, Anime News Network's Winter 2022 Trailer Watch Party is happening on YouTube on Monday, January 3, at 6pm PDT/9pm EDT with reviewers James Beckett, MrAJCosplay, and ANN Alumni Bamboo Dong!
Most Anticipated: The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt
Standing in contrast to the various isekai anime this winter season is this fantasy/comedy hybrid that doesn't involve any reincarnations or magical summoning to a world of sword and sorcery.The Genius Prince's Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt is the story of a prince who becomes the ruler of a tiny kingdom after his father falls ill. However, with him being a well-known genius, his subjects aren't particularly worried—they're actually rather excited to see him on the throne. Unfortunately, he chafes at his newly gained responsibility and wants nothing more than to be free to live his own life. In fact, he plans to sell out his own country and let it be conquered in a bloodless invasion as soon as the chance presents itself.
The trick is that he's not just a genius, he is also incredibly lucky. So lucky, in fact, that he can't lose even when he tries. No matter how inspired his plans, each attempt to get himself dethroned only ends up making him more popular as a ruler. From what I have read of the manga adaptation, it feels very much like the 90s classic The Irresponsible Captain Tylor—only if Tylor was both a genius and the luckiest man in the universe. And let me tell you, that alone is more than enough for me to give this one a watch.
Despite my tongue-in-cheek dig at the plethora of isekai anime, I am quite excited for the second seasons of Arifureta and How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom. Arifureta is one of those anime where I am invested in the adventure of exploring a new world. Each place our heroes visit lets us learn more about what is going on—and how it's quite different from what the students were told back when they were summoned. It's basically worldbuilding through mystery. How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom, on the other hand, ended its last season on a great political cliffhanger with our heroes on the precipice of war with the continent's most powerful empire. It'll be a joy to watch how they attempt to maneuver the situation—especially since with the looming demon threat, a war could very well spell the end of humanity as a whole.
Most Anticipated: The Orbital Children
Yeah yeah yeah, technically this isn't a TV series, but it's getting a global Netflix release in January so I'm counting it. After all, I did not wait over a decade to miss out on highlighting a new Mitsuo Iso project over a technicality. Nearly 15 years ago, Iso released the modern classic Den-noh Coil into the world, and I've been desperately waiting for him to make something – anything – ever since. I don't even care that we know basically nothing about the story besides a vague synopsis – this creative team has proven they can easily and effortlessly kick my teeth in and leave me begging for more, while constructing some of the most inventive near-future sci-fi settings in fiction. Inject this entire project into my ocular nerves.
Runner-Up: Sabikui Bisco
As for actual TV anime this season, the first thing to really catch my eye looking through the charts is Sabikui Bisco, a wild-looking kitchen sink sort of post-apocalypse. You've got wild character designs, a stark and intriguing setting, and also our hero rides a giant crab. It looks like a total blast, and having a JUNNA OP sure doesn't hurt. I know nothing about the original light novels, but in a sea of paint-by-numbers isekai worlds I'm just happy to have something that seems weird and energetic. It could very well turn into a trainwreck, but with so many neat visuals in the trailer alone, I can trust it'll at least be an interesting trainwreck.
Other than that though, there's not a ton that grabs my attention. Requiem of the Rose King sounds like some fantastic gothic cheese, especially with the Shakespeare connection, so hopefully that'll be a lot of fun. If not, I'll at least have more The Case Study of Vanitas to fall back on. My Dress-Up Darling sports a fantastic staff for a romcom, and the previews have looked positively stunning. I have no clue what Tribe Nine is about, but I'm certain it'll be as loud and chaotic as anything Kazutaka Kodaka works on. And hey, hopefully this time the “Final” in Attack on Titan The Final Season will be true and we'll get to see one of the biggest anime of the past decade actually conclude.
Most Anticipated: Sasaki and Miyano
I can't quite believe that for two seasons in a row I'm putting a BL show as my most anticipated. For one, it means that there are two seasons in a row with licensed BL shows, but more than that, they are also based on existing manga that I already love. Unlike last season's The Night Beyond the Tricornered Window, the upcoming Sasaki and Miyano is very much a light and fluffy story. It follows two high school boys as they meander into something resembling a relationship, complicated by the younger Miyano's complex about his pretty features and his status as a fudanshi – a male fan of BL stories. Both things embarrass him, albeit to differing degrees, but both also contribute to the stumbling blocks in the path of his relationship with the older Sasaki. To a point, Miyano sees BL as strict fantasy, so when Sasaki begins to fall for him and isn't shy about saying so, he has to wrestle with ideas that he's relegated to the land of fiction, and to think about why he's put them there so firmly. While this may not sound “light and fluffy” – and indeed there's nothing cute about internalized homophobia – it's more about the way that the story handles these elements than anything. Miyano and Sasaki are gently working towards a better, more complete understanding of themselves and each other, and there's a real sweetness to their friendship even if it never becomes something more. Sasaki, despite his bad boy looks, is nothing but kind and supportive, and Miyano is thrilled to have a new friend, especially one who is willing to read His Favorite manga. It's a story about growing together and learning that nothing has to be set in stone – not your fears, not your prejudices, and not your friends, and when you add a slow burn romance to it, it's really just charming. There's a real risk that it will be too slow for anime format, but that's a risk I'm willing to take.
My second choice is a toss-up between My Dress-Up Darling and the second half of The Case Study of Vanitas. The latter needs little explanation – not only did season one leave us on something of a cliffhanger, but the alternate late 19th-century world of the story had built up to be something truly fascinating, and the relationships between Noé, Vanitas, Dominique, and Jeanne were all also constantly evolving and morphing into new and strange (and possibly deadly) configurations. With what looks like a Little Red Riding Hood retelling very much in the offing, I'm eager to get back to one of the only vampire stories to truly hold my attention.
My Dress-Up Darling, on the other hand, is an odd-couple story about a high school boy who makes Hina dolls for his grandfather's shop and the popular girl who asks him to help her make cosplay clothes. It's second to Sasaki and Miyano for two distinct reasons: the manga gets a little too caught up in the Wonders of Sewing at times and I'm very much afraid that they're going to take the fanservice element and run. That's really only problematic because of Marin herself: one of the best things about her as a character is how comfortable she is with her own body – she has no trouble desexualizing a situation such as Wakana having to measure her bust to fit a dress properly, which is in no way a sexy situation in real life. She's secure in herself, and I'd hate to see that exploited for audience titillation. Yes, it does happen to a degree in the manga, but that whole enthusiasm for sewing thing largely offsets it, something I don't entirely trust to happen in anime form. But Marin is such a joy of a character, devoted to her hobby, a nice person, and hard to keep down, that I'm still eagerly anticipating seeing her come alive onscreen. That the subject matter can be genuinely interesting when it doesn't get too complicated is also a draw, as is Wakana himself as he learns that just because some people think he's creepy for making dolls, not everyone sees him that way. If there's a theme to my top two choices, I guess you could say that that was it.
Most Anticipated: My Dress-Up Darling
I'm a little concerned about jinxing this one, honestly. CloverWorks' track record with their last few productions has been less than stellar; they've been stretched to breaking on multiple shows at a time, sufering everything from delays to disintegrations. So I've got concerns about how things might turn out for My Dress-Up Darling. But that kind of apprehension can be part of the anticipation process too, can't it? And based on what they've shown off so far, it looks like at least the beginning of this sweet-looking show will come off stellar. There's some stunning character animation in the clips they're using to promote this thing, importantly in service of what looks to be a cute, intimate character drama. It makes for the kind of flair I like seeing in anime adaptations, taking material off of a page and elevating it with the care that attentive animation can lend it. Of course, we've seen impressive first impressions like that before, with the reality of modern anime production necessitating some stiffening up as shows go on. But the time to be critical will come once the season has actually started. As for now, I'm quite looking forward to Dress-Up Darling's debut, and all the flourishes it's bringing out at the start.
Runner-up: Girls' Frontline
My good friend Will is a huge fan of the Girls' Frontline franchise, and since the anime was announced, he's been going on about it non-stop. I am hoping that once it actually releases, he will finally shut up.
Seriously though, while it is indeed a mobile-game adaptation, the fact that Girls' Frontline is being released several years into the game's run, as opposed to launching alongside it, makes me think this one may have ambitions as a piece of entertainment on its own apart from being a mere promotional vehicle. It also means there's a decent backlog of story material for the anime to mine, so we could be in for something of a strong arc for these gun-girls. I know that Mica Team, the developers behind the original game, have a lot of love and care for the project beyond what you might expect from other mobile-game creations put together on a more work-for-hire basis. I think that, and the time they took putting this anime project together, could result in the irregular instance of one of these that works well as a show on its own. And if it's really good, I might finally be able to keep up with my friend Will as he goes on and on about the series.
Most Anticipated: My Dress-Up Darling
I'm a simple person who can walk away from each season feeling satisfied with a solid slice of life series or romantic comedy to distract me from the dreaded horrors of everyday life. However, I am also a cosplayer who loves finding new ways of expressing myself through costumes and socializing with others. So what happens when you present me with a show that seemingly combines those two things together? The previews for My Dress-Up Darling look positively gorgeous, and I've heard good things about the source material as well. A nice romance between two characters that have genuine chemistry together with a bit of a bend towards cosplayers feels like something that was perfectly tailor-made for me! While everyone else is watching Attack on Titan or Demon Slayer, I'm gonna keep my eyes glued every week to this show and pray to every deity I can that it doesn't disappoint me.
Runner-up: Love of Kill
As for my runner-up, I think I'll actually go with Love of Kill, one of the shows I was lucky enough to preview at Anime NYC. Of all the shows that are coming out next season, Love of Kill has to be one of the least predictable. The premise would make you think that this is some kind of romantic comedy, and while there are certainly lighter elements that lean into our awful protagonist not understanding social cues or boundaries, there seems to be a bigger mystery play here that ties our two protagonists together. Granted I am also cautious because there is a good chance the show will lean a bit too much into more uncomfortable territory regarding consent thanks to our protagonist's dubious character (even the voice actor admitted he's shady as hell). But I want to know more about this world where bounty hunting is the norm, and our other female lead seems to have a lot of history tied to her that I hope will get effectively fleshed out throughout the show.
The Orbital Children
This is one of those anime I'm so excited for that I've avoided as much information about it as possible, so this is going to be a short preview. But come on, it's Mitsuo Iso returning 15 years later with a proper spiritual (if not actual) follow-up to Den-noh Coil, one of the greatest and most criminally underappreciated shows of all time. He has a voice and vision capable of arresting prescience in regards to how we interact and evolve alongside technology, and he can make you cry and guffaw throughout the entire journey towards that point. What more do I need to be pawing at my Netflix queue for Orbital Children? I mean, the answer to that is a full season or two of new anime from him, but I won't turn my nose up at a six-part miniseries. And if you're not excited for this, your homework over the remainder of winter break is to watch Den-noh Coil.
Runner-up: Girls' Frontline
I tried and failed to pick up Girls' Frontline in gacha form (the gameplay just didn't click with me), but the reasons I tried in the first place were friend testimonials about the quality of its characters and writing. An anime adaptation, therefore, seems like the ideal way for me to finally find out why I saw so much M4 SOPMOD II fanart on my Twitter timeline. While I'm about as far-removed from gun culture as an American can get, I'm game for a hard-boiled sci-fi story about androids finding and questioning their humanity amidst a bleak backdrop of war, a la NieR:Automata. Or maybe it'll lean more on the hot anime babes named after guns angle. The trailer doesn't give me much confidence that the anime will look particularly good, but if it nails the story (and my friends weren't lying to me), then I can see myself getting invested. I Love Me a sad robot story. At the very least, I'll take it as a good aperitif for the eventual and similarly gritty Arknights anime.
Attack on Titan The Final Season Part 2
This one was easy. When it comes to anime that I'm excited for as we kick off the new year, nothing comes close to the hype that is accompanying Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2. Yes, I am well aware of the series' many controversies, and I've heard plenty of rumblings about fans having their bones to pick with the manga's finale (which I still have mostly avoided being spoiled on, thank goodness). C'mon, though: This is the grand finale to one of anime's great modern epics almost a full decade in the making, and for whatever other faults it may possess, Attack on Titan has never failed to thrill me and chill me to my bones with each passing episode, and I count it as one of the all-time greats, an anime legend that I have had the privilege to experience in mostly real-time. Come what may, the long and bloody saga of Eren Yeager is coming to an end, and I wouldn't miss it for the world.
As for the rest of the season, I'd be lying if I said that this winter was chock full of big-name shows that I'm especially excited for, but at the very least, we'll be getting another season of Teasing Master Takagi-san! It's by far my favorite ongoing slice-of-life/romance anime, mostly because it manages to be sweet and funny and charming while never forgetting that its main characters are, y'know, children. This means that they act like genuine kids without being annoying or precocious, which is practically a necessity for me, an almost 30-year-old man who has to watch a lot of cartoons about annoying and/or precocious children. Also, I can't stress enough how much I appreciate how the show avoids getting creepy/fan-servicey with its characters (unless you've got a thing for big foreheads, I guess). In any case, bring on more of this diabetes-inducing goodness! Lord knows I'll need something to offset the gloom and doom of Attack on Titan this year.
Most Anticipated: The Case Study of Vanitas Season 2
Some of you may know that I found Vanitas to be one of the most entertaining anime I watched last year. Studio Bones colors us into this rich fantasy world where the eccentric Vanitas and company try to cure the mysterious illness plaguing the vampires. Vanitas' first half is a romp with plenty of action, mystery, and character-based comedy to always guarantee a good time. However, as much as I loved the first cour of this show, my one gripe was how much it left us hanging as one part of an obviously much bigger story. Not only does the first half set up a lot of bigger vampire-related mysteries to be solved, it also explored a myriad of character backstories as well as their relationships with each other that could unfold in any number of different ways as we continue to see them interact. But mostly, I'm just excited to spend more time with them, laugh with them, and cry with them. Also scream. Lot's of screaming. Screaming at my screen as I watch all these emotionally constipated idiots try to sort everything out in their weird little heads. I'm very much looking forward to it.
Runner-Up: Sasaki and Miyano
Even with a season full of stuff to watch, it's hard to feel a little excited sometimes, but for some reason winter 2022 has me feeling simply “whelmed”. It's a new year, and a new season. We got Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer, which I think will look good and I'll probably enjoy them when I watch them, but I personally couldn't make myself hyped up about it. Maybe it's because I already well know what to expect from those shows, or maybe it's because 2021 kicked my ass and all of my friend's asses in ways I didn't even know possible and I'm still recovering from that. Really, who can say? I'm not very impressed with everything else airing this season, at least not yet. I'm sure some of them will turn out good, but I think the thing that struck me the most is how low the bar for production quality seems to be getting with each successive season. I was looking forward to Tribe Nine and Requiem of the Rose King but even those felt a little shaky to me.
There is one show I could see myself enjoying: a small little romance called Sasaki and Miyano. It's a simple story about two boys falling in love, but it's been a while since I've seen a series in that genre with confident execution throughout its run. Most BL shows come off as low-budget even compared to other romance stories. A simple romance might not be super ambitious, but Sasaki and Miyano seems like a very considerate adaption of it's source material. The colors look soft and vibrant, and the character designs strike me as distinct. Having a nice low-key show is sometimes just what I need to lift my spirits. So here's to lifting in 2022!
Most Anticipated: Requiem of the Rose King
This show is like a perfect sandwich made just for me. It combines my interest in historical drama (I'm currently wrapping up a multiple-season excursion in Roman history which has turned me on to reading about the Gauls) and King Richard is no exception. You could probably consider it a facet of my overall interest in true crime (don't @ me), and King Richard is a figure has been reinterpreted in multiple ways already, thanks in no small part to The Bard's play. The 1995 film adaptation starring Ian McKellen remains one of my favorite interpretations. Aya Kanno's version, which trades Shakespeare's physically deformed Richard for a troubled youth grappling with his gender as an intersex prince, looks to humanize a character often depicted as a villain or antihero. The anime adaptation was delayed from its initial air date, which hopefully gave the team the time they needed to create something worthy of the source material. I'm nervous, but hopeful.
Runner-Up: Sabikui Bisco
Sabikui Bisco sold me on its promotional video alone. Post-apocalyptic worlds are one of my favorite settings, the character design work is impressive, and the color design is very eye-catching. It also looks weird and its plot synopsis places a large emphasis on fungus, which might be my second biggest obsession outside true crime (seriously, don't @ me). The two-minute PV includes attack hippos, attack crabs, and attack OCTOPODS with mouths full of rifles. There's a shady politician-gangster voiced by Kenjiro Tsuda who I'm ready to devote my life to as part of an ill-timed midlife crisis. Here's hoping it delivers in both absurdity and action.
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