The Summer 2016 season for me was definitely a surprise in many ways. And by this I mean there were quite a few series not really on my radar that turned out to be quite good! Some of the biggest surprises for me included Mob Psycho 100, Honobono Log and Tales of Zestiria the X. But even more than that, all the series I was expecting to be really good were, in fact, quite good – including series like Amanchu, New Game, the Planetarian ONAs and the Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito OVA. In addition, there were several series that were just plain GOOD for me – solid weekly week in and week out episodes, including Kono Bujitsubu, Orange, Alderamin on the Sky, 91 Days and others. Of course that is not to say that there were no disappointments – I felt uncomfortable with where the second half of the immensely popular Re:Zero series went, and Rewrite was a disaster in my book … but overall the season was quite strong, I thought.

Once again this year has a similar pattern as last for me: a strong Winter and Summer season and an only decent Spring season (though one that had some of my favorite series of the year so far). The Fall 2016 season this year looks really good in terms of the types of series I enjoy (at least % wise and at the moment). But I have come across many people saying that the Fall season does not look like it will be their thing overall. The strongest themes I can make out at the moment are the prevalence of two types of genres I enjoy quite a bit: Shinto-themed stories, and the Mahou Shoujo genre. As before, there are a number of sites that have well developed anime previews, including the sites at: livechart, anichart, and neregate.

On to the next season’s preview then!

My Most Anticipated Series....

First comes the section dedicated to my most anticipated series in the coming season.

Natsume Yuujinchou Go

  • Air Date: 4 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Shuka
  • Episodes: 12?
  • Blogging? No

The fifth season of Natsume's Book of Friends. The series follows Natsume Takashi, a boy who is able to see youkai. Natsume and his bodyguard Nyanko-sensei continue on their quest to release youkai from their contracts in the Book of Friends. Natsume comes to terms with his ability to see youkai and stops thinking of it as a curse. As he spends more time with his human and youkai friends, he realizes how much he values them both and decides he doesn't have to choose between the spirit and human

This series is probably the highest % sure-fire win for the season for me (I also follow the manga). I have greatly enjoyed each of the four seasons that have come before this one unreservedly. Watching the slow, drop-by-drop process of Natusme slowly growing into a more integral and balanced human being and finding his place in both the visible and invisible realms he inhabits is enjoyable and engaging.

Show by Rock!! 2

  • Air Date: 2 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Bones
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Yes

Metropolis of music, MIDICITY. A kitty girl wearing gothic lolita clothing named Cyan is scouted by Maple Arisugawa, the president of a music agency. From there, she meets Chuchu (a pun off of the sound that rabbits make) the honor student rabbit girl, a net geek dog girl named Retoree (from "Retriever"), and an alien sheep (?) girl named Moa. Together, they form the band named "Plasmagica," and aim for the top of the world.....

The first season was a shock to me in terms of how much I unexpectedly enjoyed it – so much so that it moved me to take up two 1 cour series in a single season (that was tough). Apparently it was a success in disc sales as well, selling over 8k! With the end of the first season, though, I had kind of expected the story to have “run its course”, with few places to proceed afterwards. But with the airing of the PV for season 2 it appears the direction is heading into … darker territory, which is something Bones studio can definitely pull off. Season 1 was marked by a main antagonist. From the PV material it looks like the opponents … well … appear to be quite a different sort. Am both very curious and very happy to be able to visit Sound World once again.

Udon no Kuni no Kiniro Kemari

  • Air Date: 8 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Liden Films
  • Episodes: 12
  • Blogging? No

Tawara Souta is a web designer working in Tokyo. When he visits his family's Udon place in his hometown Kagawa Prefecture, he discovers a young boy. Upon confronting the boy, Souta soon learns his secret and decides to quit his job in order to take care of the boy, whose name is Poko. The daily adventures of the two slowly enfold as Poko energetically navigates his way through Kagawa, the 'Udon Kingdom', along with Souta.

Another installment of a series that looks to be heavy on blending Shinto-themes with slice-of-life material, only this time the creature in question is a tanuki child, it seems, and it appears to have a sprinkling of both the Usagi Drop anime and summer 2016’s Sweetness and Lightning in terms of general themes. It is based on an ongoing manga series (there are 7 volumes already, it seems) that is apparently pretty popular and the PVs thus far look quite promising.

Flip Flappers

  • Air Date: 6 Oct 2016
  • Studio: 3Hz
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

How does the world look in your eyes? Papika and Cocona, the heroines of the story, hold the keys to open the door. When the two girls meet, their adventures in a different time and different overlapping dimension called 'Pure Illusion' begin. Many things in Pure Illusion will stand in the girls' way on their search for the mysterious crystal called the 'Shard of Mimi', an item that is said to grant any wish. However, when endangered, the Shard of Mimi shines, and they are able to transform...

This is probably the biggest sleeper series on my list of the season – it is 3hrz Studio once again (they did the past Winter’s excellent Dimension W and Sora no Method for those unfamiliar with them), and from the earliest PVs and key visuals I have been hooked into giving this one a try, with the surreal (and even a little creepy and eerie rainbow coloring style) definitely seeming to fit the story’s summary. If this one flops I will not be too disappointed, but I am really hoping it will succeed!

Series I am Mildly Anticipating...

There are also a handful of series that look mildly engaging that I am looking forward to trying out:

3-Gatsu no Lion

  • Air Date: 8 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Shaft
  • Episodes: 22
  • Blogging? No

This is a gentle tale about people trying to regain something. And it is a tale of battle. Kiriyama Rei had lost his family in an accident when he was young. Now he is a 17-year-old pro shogi player who is burdened with deep loneliness. Rei lives alone in an old town in Tokyo, but after becoming acquainted with three sisters, Akari, Hinata and Momo, he begins to change little by little...

Okay. First off and foremost – the source manga this adaptation is based off of is downright EXCELLENT. No, I’m serious – it is really, really good material here. And it appears that Shaft Studio is going to give the adaptation two cour of episodes (22, I believe?) to try and do it justice. The reason why this is not in my “most anticipated series” section is because I am among those who feel a little reserved regarding it being in Shaft’s hands (for various reasons which are mostly personal stylistic likes and dislikes), but I think if Shaft can “restrain themselves” (the PVs seem to hint that they will) and just try to let the story tell itself as much as possible this series could be a real winner.

Ajin s2 (2016)

  • Air Date: 7 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Polygon
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

For high schooler Kei—and for at least forty-six others—immortality comes as the nastiest surprise ever. Sadly for Kei, such a feat doesn't make him a superhero. In the eyes of both the general public and governments, he's a rare specimen who needs to be hunted down and handed over to scientists to be experimented on for life—a demi-human who must die a thousand deaths for the benefit of humanity.

The first season of Ajin … well … lets face it, the cgi animation style by Polygon (who also did Knights of Sidonia) is not everyone’s cup of tea. However! The storywriting was so strong and well told (even powerful at times) that it actually made me not pay a lot of attention to the visuals. The first season really deserves more attention than it got, and I can only hope that this second season continues to be written as well as the first!

Stella no Mahou

  • Air Date: 3 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Silver Link
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

The story follows Honda Tamaki, a first-year high school girl who joins a somewhat peculiar 'SNS-Bu' circle that makes doujin video games.

Hooray for yet another Kirara manga series getting an anime adaptation! Okay, okay – I know this sort of material is definitely not everyone’s sort of thing. In Summer we had New Game and in Spring we had Sansha Sanyo and Anne Happy, and in the Fall we are getting this series, focusing on an all-girl cast involved in a video game creation club in high school. But hey, I like this kind of material and am glad to see more of it. While I doubt it will surpass the excellent work Doga Kobo did on New Game, nonetheless it is Silver Link Studio this time around, and they are also generally pretty skilled in adapting this sort of material as well.

Luger Code 1951

  • Air Date: 14 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Deen
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

The story centers around the young linguistic genius and university professor Testa. He is introduced by his senior, Sergeant Rossa, to the Allied Cryptanalysis Department. There, he is tasked to break the enemy werewolves' code, which the werewolves are using to encrypt their radio transmissions. Testa is astounded, as the only sound the encrypted code produces is the howling of a wolf. His research yields no results, and he resolves to capture a live werewolf for better cryptanalysis.

Maybe unsurprisingly this series is barely talked about most everywhere I have looked (or lurked). There is a manga (adaptation? not sure) of the story that is available that I have read and I actually found it both creative, engaging and … pretty neat, to be frank. I wonder how much of the manga will show up in the anime? Sad thing is that the summary, when read, often makes readers react in ways I did when I first read it, which was: “…. Werewolf encryption??? O.o … err … ohhhhhhhkay….” But seriously, it is actually deserving of a chance. The manga was set in an alternate history setting around what seemed to be World War II and it is actually … well … interesting.

Series I am mildly curious about...

Then there are a fair number of series that I am mildly curious about, and way more than I can list in this article. A couple of examples of these, however, include:

Girlish Number

  • Air Date: 6 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Diomedia
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

A television anime adaptation of a novel project by writer Watari Wataru and artist QP:flapper that follows the lives of Karasuma Chitose, a college student who aspires to be an idol voice actress, and other young women in the industry.

As someone who enjoyed Sore ga Seiyuu from a few seasons back I thought I would give this series a try when I first heard about it, and then was surprised to discover that a manga adaptation of the novel project had also begun being released. I have only read the first chapter, but the series does seem to have potential to go places. The author is the same who wrote the OreGairu series and the manga focuses a bit on the irony of the voice acting industry through the eyes of the MC. His works are known for their mix of cynicism, character insight and portrayal of human psychology, so this series could be one to look out for, possibly a sleeper series.

Brave Witches

  • Air Date: 5 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Silver Link
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

In September 1944, allied forces led by the 501st Joint Fighter Wing 'Strike Witches' successfully eliminate the Neuroi threat from the skies of the Republic of Gallia, thus ensuring the security of western Europe. Taking advantage of this victory, allied forces begin a full-fledged push toward central and eastern Europe. From a base in Petersburg in the Empire of Orussia, the 502nd Joint Fighter Wing 'Brave Witches', upon whom mankind has placed its hopes, flies with courage in the cold skies.

Shakunetsu no Takkyuu Musume

  • Air Date: 3 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Kinema Citrus
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

The story follows middle school students Tsumuzikaze Koyori and Kamiya Agari as they enter the world of girls' middle school ping pong. Based on seinen sports manga by Asano Yagura.

Actual physical sports based series focusing on an all-girl cast are kinda rare in anime, actually (the older series Taisho Yakyuu Musume comes to mind), so I am a little curious to see what will be done with this one. Likely it will be nothing earth-shattering, but for some reason I am curious, although from the preview footage I would be hard pressed to imagine anything more different from the other recently aired anime (and really well done, by the way) about the same sport titled Ping Pong. So not quite sure about this one, but have not read the manga and must admit to being a little curious.

Fune no Amu

  • Air Date: 13 Oct 2016
  • Studio: Zexcs
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

Mitsuya Majime, originally from publisher Genbu Shobo's sales department, has been recruited by Kouhei Araki, a veteran editor of the dictionary department who is looking to retire soon. The dictionary department is known internally as the "money-eating insect," but Mitsuya uses his perseverance and attachment to the words in order to become a great editor. Mitsuya, who has poor social skills, finds himself working with another man named Masashi Nishioka, who is able to express himself better.

This is another series that appears to me like it could either be a sleeper hit or else a plain snoozer, but the premise is really … out of the ordinary and unique. I hope it will succeed, though, and that anime as a medium would branch out more into stories (assuming they were well done, of course) that are more focused on adults and their lives and struggles.

Shorts, OVAs, Movies and other things....

In terms of carryovers from the previous season the only one that I am following; that of Mahou Tsukai PreCure – after a brief transition period the series appears to be revving up again to its excellent first half. (You all should know I am a PreCure fan by now!)

The Short series for next season looks more promising than last season’s overall, and includes Kiitarou Shounen no Youkai Enikki (hooray for more Shinto themed material!) and an “updated” version of Chi’s Sweet Home 3D (although this one seems it will be in cgi, which I am not sure how I feel about). Mahou Shoujo Nante Mou Ii Desu kara s2 returns as well (I enjoyed s1 and follow the manga), while the series Sengoku Choujuu Giga (what a curious premise!) and Yasamura Yasashi no Yasashii Seikai both look interesting at first glance.

As far as OVAs and the like there are a few that catch my interest: the Non Non Biyori Repeat OVA (Repeat was definitely the better of the two Non Non Biyori seasons), the Nijiiro Days OVA (I really enjoyed the TV series and read the manga), the Girlfriend (Note) OVA (a variation off of the series Girlfriend Beta) and especially the Kiniro Mosaic: Pretty Days OVA (probably the most anticipated of the bunch).

Movies in the theatres looks interesting during the Fall 2016 season, with Koe no Kotachi (I enjoyed the manga quite a bit and the PVs of KyoAni’s work on this one look very good!) the Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito film (am soooo looking forward to this one), and Kono Sekai no Katasumi ni (am very much anticipating this one as well).

As far as blogging plans for next season, I plan to take up Show by Rock!! 2 (you bet your boots I will continue on this one!), and will also take up the the film Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito. I may blog Luger Code 1951 if it is a one shot or a couple episode OVA series too….

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About

Currently the “oji-san” of the staff members age wise (in his mid 40’s) yet the most recent addition, he is also a Japanophile from his teen years while not quite an “otaku” who lives in the United States. Came to actively following anime late in life (in 2008), but in general loves the traditional arts, history and culture of Japan as a whole, both ancient and modern.

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