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Japanator's Spring 2015 Anime Preview Guide!

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The latest and greatest of the season

Spring is in the air, folks! First-semester romance, flower-viewing parties, and the first blooms of the season!

And like those youngest, prettiest buds, we here at Japanator are ready to scope out the brand-newest (and brand-nudist for Triage X, by the looks of things) Japanese cartoons for your eyeball pleasures!

Get on below and behold what's in store for you and otaku like you this spring!

New Series:

The Heroic Legend of Arslan (Arslan Senki)

Studio: Sanzigen and Liden Films (009 Re: Cyborg, Terra Formars)

Director: Noriyuki Abe (Bleach, Flame of Recca, GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka)

Broadcast Date: April 5, 2015

Sorry, Narnia fans: The Heroic Legend of Arslan is sadly not a misspelled title for a story about everyone's favorite leonine Christ analogue (and it would've been such good timing, too, since the debut date of April 5th lines up exactly with Easter Sunday).

That said, there might be a reason to rejoice all the same, because this show's based on Hiromu Arakawa's (she of Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon fame) manga adaptation of Yoshiki Tanaka's (he of Legend of the Galactic Heroes fame) long-running fantasy novel series.

It's also being run by a passel of veterans assisting Liden Films and Sanzigen. Unfortunately, the weak point in this chain of talent might be the last part, at least going by Liden Films' somewhat lackluster work on Terra Formars. If nothing else, the trailers look alright, and it won't be long until we find out if there's hope to be had. Perhaps the real question is if the material can stand being compressed into a standard TV cour size instead of a more Galactic Heroes-esque 110 episodes.

 

Food Wars! (Shokugeki no Soma)

Studio: J.C. Staff (Golden Time)

Director: Yoshitomo Yonetani (GaoGaiGar: King of the Braves Final, Tiger & Bunny The Movie)

Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015

I have one standard when it comes to watching anime about food: Cooking Master Boy. Thanks to nostalgia - and the fact that Cooking Master Boy is fuckin' awesome - it's a pretty high bar to clear, especially these days that cooking shows have gotten a bit more realistic. Judging by early looks and buzz about the manga, though, Food Wars! looks like it might be able to scratch that longstanding itch. Director Yoshitomo Yonetani's no stranger to hot-blooded action, either, and J.C. Staff are reliable, if rarely exceptional. If it can keep up that sense of drama, we might have something really cool on our hands this go-around.

 

Kyoukai no Rinne

Studio: Brain's Base (Kamisama Dolls, Penguindrum)

Director: Seiki Sugawara (D-Frag!)

Broadcast Date: April 4, 2014

Fact: Rumiko Takahashi, she of Urusei Yatsura, Inuyasha, and Ranma 1/2 fame, is one of the most influential manga artists in history. Fact: She hasn't put her name on a new anime production in a very long time. Fact: Her name is on this adaptation of her latest manga, Kyoukai no Rinne.

Speculation: It's intriguing to see Takahashi's name out in the field again after so long. You have respect someone who's helped define so much of the anime and manga landscape, and only the obnoxious would refuse to acknowledge that. That said, the manga itself reads a bit like Bleach by way of Noragami, and lacking the unique charms of both. With its after-school time slot the target market for this anime's probably not in my demographic, so I can hardly begrudge teen-stuff for what it is, but Brain's Base has its work cut out if it's going to attract jaded otaku not interested in the gravity of Takahashi's name.

 

Denpa Kyoushi: He is a Ultimate Teacher

Studio: A-1 Pictures ([email protected] Cinderella Girls)

Director: Masato Sato (Detective Conan, Fist of the North Star: The Legend of Kenshiro

Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015

What do you need to do to make an anime like GTO: Great Teacher Onizuka for the modern, otaku-dominated age? Biker gangs are as archaic as non-smart phones, and the kids of today aren't about to be motivated to greatness by that old stuff. The solution, of course is to use otaku, or more specifically, the biker gangsters of the internet era: Anime bloggers. Yeah, I said it! 

Denpa Kyoushi stars Junichirou Kagami, a housebound physics genius press-ganged into teaching a high school class full of girls. Finding the "teaching" part of being a teacher boring, he resolves to use his otaku knowledge to help his students out in other, more life-lesson-y ways. Far be it from me to question the usefulness of a shut-in's life experience, there are several shades of The World God Only Knows, and other meta-humorous comedies coloring Denpa Kyoushi's prospects.

 

Seraph of the End (Owari no Seraph)

Studio: Wit Studio (Rolling Girls, Attack on Titan)

Director: Daisuke Tokudo

Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming via Funimation)

Seraph of the End feels a bit generic when you boil it down. A mysterious disease has killed off everyone over the age of thirteen, and the remaining children have been enslaved by vampires for use as livestock. Now one escapee, Yuichiro Hyakuya, joins the Moon Demon Company, a former Japanese army unit dedicated to ending the bloodsuckers' reign for good.

Pretty generic, yeah? Personally, though, that might be a good thing, as this might just be the thing to help Wit Studio smooth out its record. Ever since they popped up with Attack on Titan, everything they've made has so far shown a tendency towards wild overreach. Even Rolling Girls, a show that started out utterly gorgeous, ended on an awful slideshow of unfinished production. Imagine if Shirobako had gone full BAD END, only it's in real life and happened to the last episode of Rolling Girls. Forget "PuruTen Hell", we've got "Rolling Hell" right here. 

Anyway, Seraph of the End might just be generic enough to allow Wit to concentrate on getting 'er done properly this time, lest their most consistent production end up being Hozuki no Reitetsu. I liked that show, but it was a snoozefest. You don't want to be known for only being able to produce snoozefests reliably, y'know?

 

Is It Wrong To try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? (Danmachi)

Studio: J.C. Staff (A Certain Magical Index)

Director: Yoshiki Yamakawa (Kill Me Baby, Little Busters!)

Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

As a person who picks up all his lady friends in various dungeons, I find this anime series' titular question o-ffensive! Ban this sick filth immediately!

While I await a positive resolution on my Change.org petition to have the title changed, I may as well describe it. The protagonist is Bell, an adventurer who, while plumbing the local labyrinth for treasure, while pining after a lady that's out of his league. Y'know who's in his league, though? A goddess with no followers, like Hestia, the Lolita God. Yes, that's actually what she is. 

I find it difficult to believe a lolita god wouldn't have any devotees, not in Japan, at least. In any case, this here's going to be our fantasy harem deal for the season, unless I've severely misread the nature of The Heroic Legend of Arslan.

 

The Disappearance of Yuki Nagato

Studio: Satelight (Bodacious Space Pirates, Log Horizon Season 1)

Director: Junichi Wada 

Broadcast Date: April 3, 2015 (Streaming via FUNimation)

Hey, Haruhi's back! Time to rejo- Oh, it's a spinoff. More specifically, it's a spinoff based on the alternate timeline created by Yuki Nagato in the Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya movie. It's been a long time since then, and the landscape has changed. When Haruhi was still around, light novel adaptations were to be the savior of anime. Now they're a punchline. 

In any case, it's not even Kyoto Animation that's doing this one, having passed the buck to Satelight. That's not necessarily a problem, though. Satelight are perfectly capable of making a light everyday-life series, which is what this is. Chasing that Prisma Illya money isn't a terrible idea; I hear it was actually quite watchable. If nothing else, if this happens more often, we might even get that holy grail of weird drama-to-slice-of-life conversions: Evangelion. I could totally see a rom-com adaptation based on that one scene from Shinji's subconscious happening.

 

Gunslinger Stratos

Studio: A-1 Pictures (Seraph of the End)

Director: Shinpei Ezaki (Guilty Crown, Sengoku Basara)

Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki, and Viewster)

"Gen Urobuchi" might go down in the history of Japanese cartoons as a name that rose to prominence..and was quickly run into the ground. And it might not even be entirely his fault. He still does decent work, but from the looks of things he's been far too cavalier about letting people slap his name on projects for extra street cred.

Like this thing, an adaptation of a Square Enix arcade game whose main claim to fame is every player getting to use a pretty cool set of combining gun-shaped controllers. Butch himself provides the "main scenario" for the series (and the game), which sounds like he handed them a page from his idea journal about weird diseases and fighting your alternate-universe counterparts, and said "Good luck!".

Well, it could still be good. This is a pretty nice time for weird, random-ass arcade and cellphone games to be getting decent adaptations. Last season's Rage of Bahamut Genesis was proof of that. Let's hope that upward trend continues.

 


Plastic Memories Ep.1 Preview by pKjd

Plastic Memories

Studio: Doga Kobo (Majestic Prince, YuruYuri)

Director: Yoshiyuki Fujiwara (Engaged to the Unidentified, GJ Club)

Broadcaste Date: April 4, 2015 (Available on Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Daisuki)

It's funny: Doga Kobo is actually a pretty prolific studio, but most of their credits are for helping out with other studios' series. Their own shows, like YuruYuri, GJ Club, and Majestic Prince, have largely passed without making much of an impact (though YuruYuri has been pretty fertile as a spawning ground for memes). 

Plastic Memories, though, might be a little different. This story about a guy who joins a nonprofit dedicated to retrieving lifelike androids - Giftia - at the end of their service lifespans feels like an anomaly in Doga Kobo's typically light fare. If anything, the premise feels like it could be a more bittersweet, rom-com-esque take on Blade Runner, even. Instead of "retiring" Replicants with a big ol' pistol, protagonist Tsukasa Mizugaki tries to bring 'em home.

If it can avoid falling into the usual rom-com or harem show pitfalls and milk the premise for all it's worth, we could end up with a sci-fi sleeper hit. 

 

Show By Rock!!

Studio: Bones (Captain Earth, Space Dandy)

Director: Takahiro Ikezoe (Arad Senki, Ozma)

Broadcast Date: April 5, 2015 (Streaming on FUNimation)

Speaking of weird adaptations of cheap videogames, here's Show By Rock!!, Bones' take on a Sanrio cellphone rhythm game. That's about as shallow a videogame to adapt as has ever existed, at least until someone produces an anime based on bouncing superballs or playing Teks/Slipstream. 

Beyond that, this is actually a significant step for Sanrio, as it's the first anime they've made targeting the late-night audience, more specifically otaku and other cute-girl-loving portions of the demographic. It's not hard to see their efforts, in the form of animal-eared moe girls in a band being  all musical and adorable, without a glimpse of Hello Kitty for miles. Only time can tell if the venture will prove successful, but I do have to say that it's been a while since we've had a show so earnest in its attempt to be cutesy. The trend these days is for moe anime to be more self-aware and have a bit of parodic/satirical edge, after all.

 

Sound! Euphonium

Studio: Kyoto Animation (Nichijou, Amagi Brilliant Park)

Director: Tatsuya Ishihara (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nichijou, Clannad)

Broadcast Date: April 7, 2015

And lo, the Great Beast slumbered, until it heard The Words. The Words that would awaken It. The Words "Cute Girls In A Band". And lo, they were uttered into the void. Springing to life, it made its own proclamations. Opening its endless maw, it sent its own exclamations into the ether.

"Cute Girls In A Band, you say? Let's do that!"

"How about a brass band? Like with the horns and tubas and whatnot?"

"Alright, put it on for Spring."

And so did the money river begin to flow, once again filling The Great Beast's treasure room. And all was well.

 

Punch Line

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

Director: Yutaka Uemura (The Mystic Archives of Dantalian)

Broadcast Date: April 9, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

When I first heard the title "Punch Line" I was hoping Mappa's first original program would be a kickass show about stand-up comedians, or perhaps some weird dark sci-fi boxing thing. Unfortunately, the "Punch" in "Punch Line" turned out to be a pun on the way Japanese pronounce the English word "Panty". Accordingly, the trailer was chock full of a guy catching glimpses of lady's underwear. 

I guess I can't blame Mappa for not wanting to go too high-concept with their first outing, and concentrate on something pretty but potentially dim, but when you're a young studio out to impress, ambition is key! If nothing else, it'll be worth the look to see if the visuals hold up, and if all those ex-Gainax staffers Mappa snapped up can throw their weight around.

 

Ninja Slayer From Animation

Studio: Trigger (When Supernatural Battles Became Commonplace, Kill la Kill)

Director: Akira Amemiya (Inferno Cop)

Broadcast Date: April 16, 2015 (Available via FUNimation)

Speaking of young studios out to impress, for me Trigger's been by far the most reliable of the new up-and-comers. Kill la Kill was great, and they even managed to elevate the otherwise pedestrian Inou Battle to new heights, purely through strong production and direction that made the material far more engaging than it had any right to be.

And then there's Inferno Cop, which is frickin' brilliant. They've given the madman responsible for that his own show, and here it is: Ninja Slayer: show based on a story that started out as a Twitter prank by two Japanese "translators" who tweeted out some absurd thread about "translating" the work of two fictional western comic book authors. The result is a series-length parody of what Japanese anime fans think American anime fans - ones of a certain age at least - think anime "is all about". It's all wild colors, action-lines, low framerates, '80s-style deep shadowing, violence, gore, and manliness, a perfect take on what is "anime" to the kind of fan who only knows anime from watching Ninja Scroll, Robotech, Akira, or other dark and gritty '80s standbys. 

I'm hoping they don't play it too straight, though. Most "parody" anime has the unfortunate tendency to become the things they purport to mock or subvert, but at least going by Inferno Cop and Trigger's record, we should be in good hands.

 

Triage X

Studio: Xebec (Rio Rainbow Gate!, Argevollen)

Director: Takao Kato (Gdleen, Sorcerer Hunters),  Akio Takami (Busou Renkin)

Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015

All you really need to know about Triage X is three things: It's based on a manga by Shoji Sato, author of Highschool of the Dead, it's by Xebec, and its premise goes as follows:

"What if all the busty nurses and doctors at your local hospital were secretly bike-riding vigilante murderers, like if The Punisher were adapted as a Boobs Anime?"

If that's enough to grab you, Triage X is your anime for the season. If it's not, perhaps it's best to pass. 

 

Etotama

Studio: Encourage Films and Shirogumi, Inc. (Moyashimon Returns, Ontama!)

Director: Fumitoshi Oiazki (Astarotte's Toy)

Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015 (Streaming on Crunchyroll)

In all honesty, Etotama is less of an anime series than it is a vehicle for showing off some pretty good CG and improving the bad rap CGI has gotten in the anime field. While I'm sure there are quite a few otaku out there who would like nothing more than for all CGI to go away and never come back, that's not an especially productive mindset to have. And to be frank, most of the reason why people think CGI in anime is bad is because anime studios aren't very good at CGI. Unfortunately, CGI is here to stay, and it'll need to get better if it's going to be more effectively meshed with regular 2D anime or carry more shows on its own.

Going by the trailers, at least, Etotama looks like good sign of progress, though the narrative conceit of the Chinese zodiac being turned into cute girls is hardly original. But that's not really a problem when your show is a showcase for CGI, so hey, whatever. I kind of wish this thing had come out in time to improve Knights of Sidonia's framerate, though. That would've been helpful.

 

Yamada-kun and Seven Witches

Studio: Liden Films (Terra Formars)

Director: Tomoki Takuno

Broadcast Date: April 12, 2015

If you're a witch, what good is it to have your magic powers only work when you kiss someone? You'd have to be locking lips right and left just to get anything done. Then again, being normal except when kissing people is a decent enough way to hide your nature...at least if you don't go to school where Yamada-kun does. If so, you're in for a rom-com "witch hunt" of harem-ic proportions.

As Japanator's resident harem apologist I can't bring myself to dislike the show, but I have to say that the genre's gotten so rarefied that they have to sneak its tropes into other shows just to keep the torch lit. I suppose hunting witches is a more original premise than being the only male student in a girl's school or some other BS, but if harem is to grow and thrive once more it'll need to innovate.

 

Re-Kan!

Studio: Pierrot Plus (Beelzebub, Sabagebu!)

Director: Masashi Kudo

Broadcast Date: April 2, 2015 

As ever, Studio Pierrot (or one of its subsidiaries), gets the drop on the season with Re-Kan!, the first new late-night show of the season. Unfortunately, as ever, a Pierrot-made show enters the field with little fanfare. Then again, there doesn't seem to be that much to talk about, this being a 4-koma adaptation in the daily-life vein, starring a schoolgirl who can (wait for it) see ghosts

That's not a problem in and of itself, but the season's got a number of seemingly better-produced low-key "healing" shows already, so it feels a bit unnecessary right about now.

 

Ore Monogatari! (My Love Story)

Studio: Madhouse (Chihayafuru)

Director: Morio Asaka (Galaxy Angel, Cardcaptor Sakura: The Movie)

Broadcast Date: April 8, 2015 

Chihayafuru was one of the most underrated shows of its time. Or rather, it was a show that seemingly everyone that did watch loved, but no one seemed to watch. And this latest story, not about competitive card-flipping but about a big ol' dude who finally finds love, is from the people that brought you that. Sounds like a good time to me!

 

Blood Blockade Battlefront (Kekkai Sensen)

Studio: Bones (Heroman, Xam'd)

Director: Rie Matsumoto (Kyousogiga)

Broadcast Date: April 4, 2015 (Streaming via FUNimation)

Ah, Yasuhiro Nightow. That's a name I haven't heard in quite a bit, basically since he lent his Trigun cred to a weird PS2 game a long, long time ago. Now he's back, and attached to this adaptation of his manga, wherein New York is blown up and quarantined behind some kind of magical barrier. Renamed "Jerusalem's Lot", the remaining humans in NYC must live alongside demons and other monsters in a strangely Shin Megami Tensei-esque existence.

Among them are the Libra, self-appointed peacekeepers/superheroes who've got powers and stuff, and it's all extreme and too cool for school and everyone's wearing huge coats with too many buttons and has giant shoulders and arms and it's like the '90s again. Seems cool!

 

Sequels, Spinoffs, and Continuations:

On the sequel front we've got a good many returners, including new seasons of Teekyuu, Uta no Prince-sama, High School DxD, My High School Rom-com SNAFU, I Can't Understand Why My Husband Is Saying!, Baby Steps, Kin-iro Mosaic, Ace of the Diamond, Nisekoi, and even Robot Girls Z.

Fate/Stay night: Unlimited Blade Works gets its continuation this season, as does Knights of Sidonia, though viewers in North America may need to wait for Netflix to batch-release the show again, as what happened last time. Grisaia fans will get more of that, with Eden of the Grisaia as well as Labyrinth of the Grisaia

Gintama is getting a seeming reboot for folks that missed the legendary show in its original run (the trailers even seem apologetic for doing this), and Ghost in the Shell: Arise is getting a TV broadcast, with new material designed to link up with the next movie.

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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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