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Japanator's Fall 2014 Anime Preview Guide!

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Things Get Awesome In Autumn

As the leaves turn, so do the hearts of men, as humanity's collective consciousness casts its gaze upon matters of true universal importance: The next batch of animated offerings from Glorious Nippon.

This is Japanator's Fall 2014 Anime Preview, and we're here to tell you all about this autumn's newest Japanese cartoons, and which ones we'll be watching! Read on to see the latest and greatest in anime for the coming quarter, then let us know what you'll be checking out for yourself, as well as what you want us to give a look!

TERRAFORMARS

Studio: Liden Films (Senyuu, Miss Monochrome)

Director: Hiroshi Hamasaki (Steins;Gate)

Opens: September 26, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

TERRAFORMARS, also known as Terra Formars, Terra For Mars, and That Anime With The Super-Racist-Looking Monster Cockroaches, is pretty much the poster child for the fall season, and at first glance looks to be this season's contender for Attack on Titan's crown: A violent, bleak anime featuring humankind against an implacable, unknowable enemy.

But where Titan had a bunch of giant nude weirdos and Knights of Sidonia featured piles of fleshy tentacles, Terraformars has hyper-evolved cockroaches who just so happened to evolve into the giant, nude, spitting image of some truly unfortunate racial caricatures. I'm hoping the resemblance wasn't intentional, because you'll likely be hearing a lot about that imagery as the show enters the western consciousness.

Like Attack on Titan, it's also based on an obscenely popular, currently ongoing manga, licensed by Viz Media in the west. This first, deluxe-sized season will cover the "Annex 1" arc of the manga, when humanity sends a bunch of superpowered exterminators to reclaim Mars for mankind. 

The first episode's already aired on Crunchyroll, and I'll be giving it a look soon-ish.

 

Amagi Brilliant Park

Studio: Kyoto Animation (Free!, Beyond the Boundary)

Director: Yasuhiro Takemoto (The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya)

Opens: October 2, 2014

I hope you're not one of the dwindling contingent of KyoAni fans who was hoping that the studio's next adaptation would be from Full Metal Panic!, because if you are, it's time to be disappointed for the eighth year running: Amagi Brilliant Park, a story about a high school jerk made to take care of a crumbling amusement park alongside a bevy of beautiful young ladies, is not a Full Metal Panic sequel. 

That said, Amagi Brilliant Park IS written by Shoji Gatoh, who also wrote the Full Metal Panic! novels, so in the right mindset, you could say it's the next best thing! 

Right. 

 

Gundam Reconguista in G

Studio: Sunrise (Gundam Build Fighters)

Director: Yoshiyuki Tomino (Mobile Suit Gundam)

Opens: October 2, 2014 (Streaming on GundamInfo)

Despite being one of the best damn Gundam shows in years, I can buy the argument that some have put forward that Gundam Build Fighters isn't a "true" Gundam show. After all, Gundam as a fiction has always had a wartime edge, and while I don't think Gundam stories need to be war stories to be Gundam stories (hello, G Gundam), this new one certainly looks to be more in line with traditional expectations than Build Fighters was.

Yoshiyuki Tomino himself is said to be directing, though given his history he may not be as hands-on as one might expect from the position. Whatever the case, it's clear that Sunrise wants this to be their next big, all-new thing.

Speaking of all-new, have you seen that Gundam design, the hilariously named G-Self? It's the weirdest "lead" mobile suit since the Turn A Gundam! Look at those horns! That might be a good sign, given that Turn A was pretty awesome.

 

Gundam Build Fighters Try

Studio: Sunrise (Gundam 00)

Director: Shinya Watada (Gundam 08th MS Team Battle in 3D)

Opens: October 8, 2014 (Streaming on GundamInfo)

And for everyone else that doesn't care how "kiddy" Gundam is, there's Build Fighters Try, the sequel to Build Fighters. Set some years after the original, Try returns to the tournament/dueling structure of the original Build Fighters (apologies to the folks hoping for some weird "Arian War" arc to develop), and sticks with three new leads of Team Try Fighters, as they strive for the Japanese championship.

It's an interesting reduction in scale from the world-beating stakes of Build Fighters, now that Sunrise established the world and conventions of Gunpla Battle in the first season. And while simply shifting the cast isn't a radical departure, that's not what one really expects out of the Build Fighter series, since it's really a love letter to fans of Gunpla young and old. The best it can do is remain a thoroughly entertaining romp with a ton of new designs and mobile suit cameos. In the latter department it's already doing quite well, with stronger representation from G Gundam, Zeta Gundam, and SD Gundam in the three heroes' Gunpla.

That ought to scratch a few itches for fans who thought SEED was a tad over-represented in the first season.

 

Garo: Mark of the Flame

Studio: Mappa (Rage of Bahamut Genesis, Terror in Resonance)

Director: Yuichiro Hayashi

Opens: October 3, 2014 (Streaming via FUNimation)

Garo is an odd duck of an anime, seeing that it's explicitly based on a live-action tokusatsu series. Usually that sort of thing tends to happen the other way around, but then again, Garo is very much the kind of tokusatsu series that would translate easily to the exaggerated manner of late-night anime series. That's exactly what's happening here, as young Makai Knight Leon Lewis fights demons and seeks the power of the Gold Knight.

All things considered, the one thing I do worry about is just how well Garo will be able to distinguish itself as an anime series. It's one thing to be the dark-tinged big fish in tokusatsu's typically kid-friendly pond, but there's plenty of anime that target the same slightly older demographic. However it turns out, our resident toku junkie Salvador G-Rodiles will be checking the show out when it airs.

 

World Trigger

Studio: Toei Animation (Pretty Cure, One Piece)

Director: Mitsuru Hongo (Outlaw Star, Sakura Wars: The Movie)

Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

Manga adaptations have always been part and parcel of every season's anime offerings, but a more recent trend of the past few years has been to give the long-running, Shonen JUMP-type manga the seasonal treatment, adapting single story arcs over a shorter period than is typical for the usual, run-forever Naruto and Dragon Ball types of series. In effect, seasonal treatments make a given show more like an extended ad for the source material rather than its own thing.

Add to that the fact that World Trigger is also a supremely popular JUMP manga about kids defending their city against interdimensional aliens (called the "Neighbors") with special powers called (you guessed it) "Triggers", and you've got a winning formula. Hiroko will be giving this one a look-see,

 

Cross Ange: Rondo of Angels and Dragons

Studio: Sunrise (Gundam Build Fighters Try)

Director: Yoshiharu Ashino

Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

Strangely enough, Cross Ange might be the most straightforward new series of the Fall season, seeing as pretty much everything about it can be inferred from reading the premise. Angelise, Princess of the Misurugi Empire, is outcast after it's revealed that she is in face a "Norma", a weird person who can't use "Mana", the power source that's turned the world into a utopia.

Exiled to an island with other Normas, she dons what has to be one of the most ridiculous pilot suits ever devised, then jumps into a giant robot to go and hunt a bunch of dragons that are invading for some reason. 

Sounds like a show that knows exactly what it's about, and promises to provide nothing more or less than that. Fans of idol voice actress Nana Mizuki can also look forward to hearing more of her in the lead role, as well as singing the show's theme.

 

Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works

Studio: ufotable (Fate/zero)

Director: Takahiro Miura (Fate/zero)

Opens: October 4, 2014 (Streaming via Aniplex USA and Crunchyroll)

If you're not the type of anime fan to follow Type-MOON's works very much, you might be thinking "Wait, wasn't there one of these already?". You'd be right, since there is indeed an existing adaptation of Fate/stay night's "Unlimited Blade Works" story arc. Unfortunately, that movie was done by Studio Deen, who, while competent in their own right, have fallen out of the favor of Fate fans for dropping the ball when it came to the original Fate/stay night TV series.

This new series is a do-over from ufotable, the top-notch studio responsible for Fate/zero and The Garden of Sinners. And when it's done, it'll be followed up by an adaptation of the "Heaven's Feel" story arc as well. It's gonna be a good few months to be a Fate fan, that's for sure. I'll be checking this show out, seeing as Unlimited Blade Works happens to be my favorite of the three Fate storylines. Rin is best girl, after all.

 

The Seven Deadly Sins

Studio: A-1 Pictures (Persona 4 The Golden Animation)

Director: Tensai Okamura (Darker than Black, World Conquest Zvezda Plot)

Opens: October 5, 2014

I hope you weren't thinking that the next big thing from the director of Darker than Black would be a show that was just as dark, because The Seven Deadly Sins looks like a real colorful romp. Then again, considering that that same director's work in the meantime has included the likes of World Conquest Zvezda Plot, I can't think of anyone who would.

That's to be expected from a star manga aimed at the shonen-loving set, and to be perfectly fair, the show looks pretty interesting, striking out for medieval fantasy territory as a young princess sets out to unite a group of legendary warriors called The Seven Deadly Sins, in order to oust the Holy Knights that have taken over her kingdom. Initial preview spots suggest a pretty lighthearted production, with character designs reminiscent of a more modern Dragon Ball and a friendly character who is in fact a 30-foot tall giant girl. Color me intrigued!

On a side note, that kind of mortal sin motif leaves some big shoes to fill, since the antagonists of Fullmetal Alchemist used it as well. I can't help but wonder how their "Lust" archetypes will compare with each other.

 

Rage of Bahamut Genesis

Studio: Mappa (Garo: Mark of the Flame)

Director: Keiichi Satou (Tiger & Bunny)

Opens: October 6, 2014

For this season's entry in the "It Could Go Either Way" category, we've got Rage of Bahamut Genesis, which is based on the Rage of Bahamut social card game.

Game "adaptations" like these are usually story-light and more often than not come across as really cheap tie-ins, but the trailers look surprisingly good, and with some tempered expectations it could be a pretty good action outing. After all, if there's an upside to adapting a card game, it's that you're pretty much free to go anywhere you like in the narrative department.

 

Wolf Girl & Black Prince

Studio: TYO Animations (Tamayura, Utakoi)

Director: Kenichi Kasai (Love Stage!!, Bakuman)

Opens: October 5, 2014

Ah, blackmail, what could be more romantic? 

Well, a lot of things, if you ask me, but Wolf Girl & Black Prince's premise is ripe for a good rom-com romp. Appearance-obsessed Erika's been bragging about having a boyfriend without actually having one, and snaps a photo of some random hottie as "proof" of her relationship. All goes well until it turns out that said hottie is her classmate Kyouya, after which she needs to convince him to act the part out to keep up the charade. Adding insult to injury is the revelation that Kyouya's a real dom of a boy, and power-play antics ensue.

If this sounds a bit too on-the-nose to make for a truly interesting romance show, there's a good chance you're right. But that's hardly a problem in the grand scheme of things. Romance is romance, and cliches live because they work. Not everything needs to be a postmodern deconstruction, and if nothing else, Wolf Girl seems to be going for laughs rather than creep-out, so if TYO can stick the landing on the right rom-com notes, shoujo romance fans can be happy.

 

Lord Marksman and Vanadis 

Studio: Satelight (Bodacious Space Pirates, Macross Frontier)

Director: Tatsuo Sato (Bodacious Space Pirates, Martian Successor Nadesico)

Opens: October 4, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

The winner for this season's "Difficult Title To Pronounce" award is Madan no Ou to Vanadis, which, besides the terminology-wank of a header, seems like a perfectly decent  medieval fantasy story. There may be too much in the way of boobage for Vanadis' story of an expert archer taken in by a group of warrior-queens to be taken too seriously, but you never really know in cases like this.

Last season's Blade and Soul turned out surprisingly well for an adaptation of a Korean MMO whose lewd female character models was considered a major selling point, and I thoroughly respect both Satelight and Tatsuo Satou for their recent work on Bodacious Space Pirates. 

If only the could've come up with a show title as memorable as Bodacious Space Pirates, though, we'd be golden.

 

Gugure! Kokkuri-san

Studio: TMS Entertainment (Yowapeda, Hero Bank)

Director: Yoshimasa Hiraike (Wagnaria!!, Kaleido Star)

Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

It's almost surprising that there are fewer 4koma comic strip adaptations being made these days, though I suppose it's not that surprising when light novel adaptations have taken their place, with the 4koma gigs moving out into the growing field of 2- to 5-minute shorts.

Still, this is one of fall's few 4koma-based full-length shows, and it's likely to be about as shallow as you might expect, with the minor spirit Kokkuri-san summoned by a helpless little girl named Kohina. What's implied to follow is hijinks, hilarity, and maybe a bit of tenderness. 

 

Orenchi no Furo Jijou 

Studio: Asahi Production (Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector)

Director: Sayo Aoi

Opens: October 6, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

Well, who'd have thought it. Despite the growing popularity of the whole "monster girl" concept of young men living with moe-fied personifications of famous monsters and mythical beasts, I wouldn't have expected one of the first such anime series to actually be a monster boy show. 

Yup, Orenchi no Furo Jijou is the touching tale of an ordinary guy and the merman* living in his tub. Of course, they'll be playing it up for laughs, and if I were to editorialize for a bit, Orenchi seems to promise a more engaging level of humor than Kokkuri-san above, if for the sheer novelty of having a merman in the tub (as opposed to the well-trodden territory of having gods in one's home).

*To be fair, mermen are probably the least "out-there" form of monster-person anyway (catgirls and "animal-eared" types don't count), so this show isn't exactly pushing the frontier at the moment.

 

Karen Senki

Studio: Next Media

Director: Hiroi Ohji (Sakura Wars)

Opens: September 27, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

Depending on who you ask, Karen Senki isn't actually an anime. It definitely talks the talk and walks the walk as far as anime-lookin' TV cartoons go, but much of the production is in fact being handled by Taiwan-based studio Next Media, in a partnership with Sakura Wars creator Hiroi Ohji.

Then again, going by that logic, The Simpsons and Family Guy are Korean cartoons, so I'm of the opinion that the show's creative roots are definitely still anchored in Glorious Nippon, which is just fine for our purposes. The first episode's out on Crunchyroll, and they pretty much had me at "from the creator of Sakura Wars".

 

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace

Studio: Trigger (Inferno Cop, Kill la Kill)

Director: Masanori Takahashi

Opens: October 6, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace (aka Inou Battle) starts with an interesting question: What if you and your closest friends had superpowers....and nothing happened? That's pretty much what happens to the literature club, who are convinced that they will one day be recruited to fulfill the epic destinies promised by their talents. Hijinks ensue, I guess.

On balance, that doesn't actually sound like an especially promising show, but I will admit that I like the way it twists on the old Spider-Man canard:

Great Power, No Particular Responsibilities.

 

Celestial Method

Studio: Studio 3Hz

Director: Masayuki Sakoi

Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

Had your fill of sad girls in snow yet? Didn't think so, but Celestial Method is promising relatively cheery girls under blue skies. Not that the differences in setting matter all that much, since this is coming from the creator of Kanon, that most iconic of visual novels designed to jerk a tear out of the withered hearts of otaku.

 

The Fruit of Grisaia

Studio: 8bit (Tokyo Ravens, Aquarion Evol)

Director: Tensho (Kinmoza)

Opens: October 5, 2014 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

You know you've got a winner when the show you're looking at refers to a girls' school as an "orchard" designed to cloister young ladies away from the world "because of reasons" (this is literally one of the ways to translate the premise). And then you know what you're in for when you realize it's a dating sim adaptation. This rarely turns out super-well, you have to admit.

Perhaps I'm a little less hopeful about this one because the plot promises to be one of the kinds of stories where the male lead is the catalyst to help traumatized girls get over their tragic pasts, and for me stories like that only work from the usual first-person perspective of a typical VN. I suppose it'll have to depend on how 8bit approach the structure of the thing, though. It's not as if VN adaptation jobs are automatically doomed to failure.

 

Parasyte

Studio: Madhouse

Director: Kenichi Shimizu

Opens: October 8, 2014 

Parasyte seems like the kind of show that can really catch newcomers off-guard, especially if they're not the type to follow anime previews and trailers and that sort of thing, and if they're completely unaware of the source material.

That is exactly what happened to me because HOLY CRAP THAT GUY'S HAND TURNED INTO A FACE. I honestly don't even want to know any more about the show, but I can tell you that I'll be watching it only in the daytime, lest all this body horror infect my dreams.

 

Shirobako

Studio: PA Works (Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari)

Director: Tsutomu Mizushima (Girls und Panzer)

Opens: October 9, 2014

I haven't been especially attached to the output of P.A. Works since Angel Beats!, but their new ntry into the "anime about making a manga or anime" field might be the thing that tips me over the fence, especially since it's got the director of Girls und Panzer at the helm.

Now, it doesn't look like these pretty girls will be driving too many tanks around as they pursue careers in the anime industry, but Mizushima's shown himself to have a knack for finding the right approach to anime about people engaging in their jobs and hobbies and whatnot, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he can do with a premise as mundane as making an anime.

On a more political note, it'll also be interesting to see how (or if) Shirobako will be taking on some of the touchier topics affecting Japan's animation industry today, like the cultural dependence on otaku, labor practices, outsourcing, censorship, and other hot buttons. I somehow doubt they might, but I'd admire it all more if it did happen.

 

Ronia the Robber's Daughter

Studio: Polygon Pictures (Knights of Sidonia) and Studio Ghibli

Director: Goro Miyazaki (From Up On Poppy Hill, Tales from Earthsea)

Opens: October 11, 2014

Despite the fact that this show's being made mainly by Polygon Pictures, most folks are going to refer to Ronia the Robber's Daughter as "The Ghibli Anime Series", in large part due to the involvement of director Goro Miyazaki, son of Hayao Miyazaki. For folks who've already said their goodbyes to the not-quite-closed-though-it-looks-to-be-going-that-way Ghibli, this adaptation of Swedish author Astrid Lindgren's fantasy story symbolizes a continuation of Ghibli's legacy, of sorts. After all, if this turns out well, Ghibli will never truly be gone.

That's a lot of expectation to pile onto a family show, and already some have turned their ire onto Polygon Pictures' CGI work. I can't entirely blame them, as for almost half the series Knights of Sidonia's weakest point was its own CGI animation work. That said, Ronia is looking far more lush and smooth. I'm hoping this quality rubs off onto the next season of Sidonia as well, for its sake.

And that's it for our preview! Beyond these newer productions, there's quite a bit to take in this season, including the continuations of Selector Spread WIXOSS, Log Horizon, Yowapeda, Chaika the Coffin Princess, Psycho Pass, Mushishi, Sword Art Online and more! Tell us in the comments what you're watching, and what you'd like to read about from us!


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Josh Tolentino
Josh TolentinoManaging Editor   gamer profile

Josh is Japanator's Managing Editor, and contributes to Destructoid as well, as the network's premier apologist for both Harem Anime and Star Trek: Voyager For high school reasons, he's called "u... more + disclosures


 



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