The Winter 2017 season for me was very curious mix. There was a series in particular that was so … downright incredible and artistic it eclipsed most every other series airing in terms of “objective greatness”, and that was season 2 of Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju. However, as sometimes happens there were other series I enjoyed more; series like the darkhorse hit of the season for me in ACCA 13-ku, the unexpectedly detailed Urara Meirochou, the excellently executed adaptation of Demi-chan wa Kataritai and the eerily marvelous Dragon Dentist OVA/Specials. However, as I look ahead to the Spring 2017 season it seems that a rather different buffet is being prepared for viewers to try out – including a nice smattering of manga adaptations and anime original stories (there are a number of LN adaptations too, and for some reason I seem to be more familiar with the storylines of the ones coming in Spring). If you were to ask me about the Spring season one season ago – i.e., at the beginning of the winter 2017 season – my descriptions and anticipations for the season would have been laced with a rather bleak outlook. Interestingly, something that I am also experiencing with regards to the Summer 2017 season at the moment … though NOT with the upcoming Fall 2017 season. That is already, even this early in the game, looking quite promising!

I think that last year’s Spring, Summer and Fall seasons all had series I was looking forward to with great anticipation a long way ahead of time, and those handful of series each season colored my perception and anticipation of those seasons as a whole. But not so with Summer 2017 at the moment or with Spring 2017 at the beginning of the current Winter season. The announcements for series I was interested in came relatively recently in comparison. Using Spring 2017 as a template hopefully Summer 2017 will also be a “late bloomer”. But until then we have the Spring season ahead of us, and while it looks “average” at the moment, just like the current Winter 2017 season there will no doubt be some pleasant surprises as well (Kemono Friends unexpectedly hit some sort of “sweet spot” over in Japan and became extremely popular, for example) – though hopefully there will be no flops (like Winter’s Hand Shakers). As before, there are a number of sites that have well developed anime previews, including the sites at: livechart, anichart, and neregate.

Well then, let’s get to next season’s preview:

My Most Anticipated Series....

First comes the section dedicated to my most anticipated anime (note, there is only one series interestingly) in the coming season.

Alice to Zouroku

  • Air Date: 2 Apr 2017
  • Studio: J.C. Staff
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

A group of young girls possess a mysterious power known as "Alice's Dream," which gives them the ability to turn their thoughts into reality. Detained and experimented upon, these youths are locked away in secret until one of them manages to escape. Her name is Sana—a girl with the power to ignore the very laws of physics. When this willful powerhouse crosses paths with a stubborn old man named Zouroku, his carefully-ordered life will never be the same again.

It would be no exaggeration to say that this is probably the series I am anticipating the most and that I am (at least for now) the most likely to be blogging.

This is not just another “moe product”. Although there are some moe style characters and what not, the series is serialized in a seinen magazine and has as it’s main focus the interaction between Sana and Zouroku. Both of them cross-polinate the other with just the aspects of their personality and character that the other … not only perhaps needs, but even yearns for? It is an example of a harsh character becoming gentle while another character who has been dehumanized and treated as a lab rat of sorts becomes … human.

In other words … JUST my cup of tea!

Tsuki ga Kirei

  • Air Date: 7 Apr 2017
  • Studio: Studio Feel
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

Azumi Kotarou and Mizuno Akane became third year students at junior high school and are classmates for the first time. These two, along with fellow classmates, Nishio Chinatsu and Hira Takumi, relate to their peers through mutual understandings and feelings. As their final year at junior high school progresses, the group overcome their challenges to mature and become aware of changes in themselves.

Studio Feel has been producing some very good things of late – between Kono Bujitsubu and Dagashi Kashi last year I was quite impressed. They are not really like larger studios in the sense of being able to work on several things at once (at least that is how it seems recently), but they do good and careful work. This is an anime original work of theirs, and looks quite promising to me.

I could see this one having potential to be blogging material as well….

Natsume Yuujinchou Roku (Season Six)

  • Air Date: 11 Apr 2017
  • Studio: Studio Shuka
  • Episodes: 13
  • Blogging? No

The 6th 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 both worlds.

Once again, 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 five 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.

Koe no Katachi Movie

  • Air Date: 17 May 2017
  • Studio: KyoAni
  • Episodes: 1
  • Blogging? Maybe

I wish we had never met. I wish we could meet once again. A boy who can hear, Shoya Ishida, and a transfer student who can't, Shoko Nishimiya. One fateful day, the two meet, and Shoya leads the class in bullying Shoko. But before long, the class shifts its target from Shoko to Shoya. Years later, Shoya feels strongly that he must see Shoko once again.

I read the one-shot and then the follow up manga some time ago, and while I actually thought the one-shot packed more punch in it’s focus and power I certainly would not mind seeing a movie adaptation of the lengthier manga series proper! Much of the buzz amongst those over in Japan who had the opportunity to see this one in the theatres has been quite positive, with KyoAni again being able to deliver their usual high standard of visual animation skill; this time, however, it seems to have been lovingly handled on an all-around level.

Series I am Mildly Anticipating....

There are also a handful of series that look mildly engaging that I am looking forward to trying out, including some source manga adaptations, these include:

Hinako Note

  • Air Date: 26 Mar 2017
  • Studio: Passione
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

Hinako is poor at speaking and lives in a rural part of Japan. She wants to improve her speech to be able to talk to people freely, so in high school, she transfers schools to Tokyo and plans to join a theater club. When she arrives, it turns out her boarding house is a secondhand bookstore, and a girl who eats books lives there, together with an assortment of other odd characters. Her new life is beginning in unexpected ways!

The preview bespoke of a series that seemed like an odd mix of Anne Happy, Hidamari Sketch and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka, and when I was able to get a glimpse of an early previewing of the first episode proper that impression carried itself out. It was a semi surreal feeling, almost like having the dim haunting feeling that one was being secretly watched via a hidden camera. It was not bad per se, not at all – it was just … weird. XD

Zero kara Hajimeru Mahou no Sho

  • Air Date: 10 Apr 2017
  • Studio: White Fox
  • Episodes: 12
  • Blogging? No

The "grimoire fantasy" series follows a witch named Zero who is ignorant of the world and a half-beast half-human mercenary who longs to be human. Witches who practice sorcery exist in the world, however, in this era no one knows how about the art and study of witchcraft. Zero is going on a journey to search for a magical tome called "The Book of Zero" that hides a power that can destroy the world. The mercenary travels with her as her guard.

This one very interestingly has a bit more anticipation from me than I expected to find … I have read a couple of the manga chapters some time ago, and enjoyed it, but there was just something about the preview material and the feel that this is exactly the sort of material that White Fox could potentially handle magnificently. Their work on Matoi the Sacred Slayer was quite good, I thought (an underrated series in my opinion), and their adaptation of Re:Zero was also very well done (although I did not like aspects of the source material), so I am hopeful. Ah … by the way. This series has absolutely NOTHING to do with Re:Zero other than having the word Zero in the title and also being adapted by White Fox.

Kabukibu

  • Air Date: 7 Apr 2017
  • Studio: Studio Deen
  • Episodes: 12
  • Blogging? No

The series revolves around Kurogo Kurusu, a high school student who loves kabuki so much that it's annoying. Kurogo yearns to perform kabuki as part of a club at his school, but currently his school doesn't have a kabuki club. So Kurogo sets out to create a kabuki club, and his first order of business is to gather members.

I generally like series focusing on the Japanese arts (mahjong, karuta, yosakoi, shogi, etc., etc.), and this one focuses on the art of kabuki. As an extra bonus for me the designs are by the manga group Clamp. Kinda have the feeling that this series may be one of those that “fly under the radar” and get ignored by a fair number of viewers while turning out to be a hidden gem, but hey – plenty of times my guess about such things have been totally off before!

Sakurada Reset

  • Air Date: 5 Apr 2017
  • Studio: David Production
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

Nearly half the population of Sakurada, a small town near the Pacific Ocean, has some sort of unique power. These powers range from being able to enter the mind of a cat, to resetting the world back to a certain point in time in the past. There is a group known as the "Kanrikyoku" that controls and monitors the use of these powers. Asai Kei and Haruki Misora work for their school's club called "Houshi" club, which execute any missions received from the Kanrikyoku....

Biggest question mark and Darkhorse candidate of the season for me. The announcements of the staff working on this one look quite promising, and to my great surprise it seems to be already slotted for 2 cour! One of the biggest uncertainties of the entire project for me, though, is the element of time manipulation. That story telling device is a really, really hard sell for me – there have been too many times when I felt it just did not click for me, even while others were singing the accolades of the series’ execution of that element. I guess I am just a cranky geezer that is hard to please with such story devices.

Series I am Mildly Curious About....

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

Sakura Quest

  • Air Date: 5 Apr 2017
  • Studio: P.A. Works
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

The story centers on five girls who work in the tourism bureau of their small provincial town. The town revives its "micro-nation" tourism program, which originated from a nationwide movement during Japan's bubble economy period, and hires the five girls as "monarchs" (tourism ambassadors). The anime will depict one year in their jobs in the tourism industry, and show how they change and grow.

Curious … could be good. This series’ predecessors by the same studio are regarded as Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako, and while I enjoyed Hanasaku Iroha, I thought Shirobako was just “pretty good”.

But I can definitely relate to the theme of the disappearing life of the countryside and the recognition of the traditional, agrarian based lifestyle and worldview being something absolutely necessary to … not just preserve and protect, but even to cultivate as much as one can to the degree one can in the circumstances one finds themselves in.

It could be good – my expectations are quite low, but I would love to be surprised.

DanMachi: Sword Oratoria

  • Air Date: 15 Apr 2017
  • Studio: J.C. Staff
  • Episodes: 12
  • Blogging? No

Sword Princess Aiz Wallenstein. Today, once again, the strongest female swordsman heads to the giant labyrinth known as the "Dungeon" along with her allies. On the 50th floor where mysteries and threats such as a decayed dragon's corpse that crumbles to ash and an irregularity that creeps ever closer to the party loom, Aiz calls for the wind and heads deeper into the darkness of the Dungeon. Eventually, she finds herself meeting a boy for the first time. "Um, are you OK?" Their tale begins!

This is a spin-off story from the original DanMachi series, focusing on the “Sword Princess” herself. I have read the manga (not the source novel) and found myself enjoying it more than I expected. Someone has pointed out an interesting take on the relationship it has to it’s original story – in some ways the material might be a bit more “suited” to an anime adaptation, and I can get where they were coming from. This could be a promising thing, and while I don’t think it is absolutely necessary to watch DanMachi proper before watching this I do think the experience would make it … richer.

Uchouten Kazouku Season 2

  • Air Date: 9 Apr 2017
  • Studio: P.A. Works
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

One day, “The Junior”, estranged son of Professor Akadama, who disappeared after losing a fierce father-son dispute, has returned home after a century, now an English gentleman. The big news spread in and out of the Kyoto area in the blink of an eye and shake up both the Tengu and Tanuki worlds. The paths of Humans, Tanukis and Tengus intertwine in Kyoto as the second volume of the furball picture scroll unravels!

This series is one of those weird twists of the universe that I cannot wrap my head around. Everything about it tells me I should love this series way, way more than I do. But for some reason I do not. For me it was one of those works that I saw had very good things to say and was extremely well done, but one that I only found mildly engaging. And no – I have no idea why. I generally adore series that focus on “shinto mythogical creatures” in contemporary Japan’s society … but … well, perhaps season two will help the franchise to “click” more intensely for me and help me “get over the hump” as it were. XD

Clockwork Planet

  • Air Date: 7 Apr 2017
  • Studio: Xebec
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

Everyone on the Clockwork Planet considers Naoto Miura a machinery nut. Every moment of every day, he has his mind on gears and his hands tinkering with delicate mechanical motors, but nobody understand how he can hear and feel gears in operation, even from a long distance away. Then one day, a clockwork maiden falls from the sky, presaging events that would shake the whole world...

The source novel for this series is from the same author that created the currently ongoing No Game, No Life series, and there are some general similarities – mainly in the creating of a marvelously detailed and engaging setting for the events of the story to take place in on the one hand while having characters therein being both themselves and yet sprinkled with their fair share of “standard light novel patterns” at the same time. The difference here is that the setting is … steampunk’ish, and pretty dark. And for me it worked better than No Game, No Life’s setting and characters. So yes – I am curious to see what Xebec will do with this one….

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

There are a few carryovers from the previous season that I will continue watching in Spring. First and foremost there is Little Witch Academia, which has turned out to be pretty good on the whole for me with some “high points” that I thought were well done. Another I will continue viewing is Kirakira PreCure a la Mode, which is just beginning to rev it’s engines and loosen its muscles at the starting line not that all the members of the five-member cast are assembled.

The Short series for next season look rather … sparse. Nobunaga no Shinobi: Ise Kanegasaki-hen looks like a sure-lock (I enjoyed season one), and Cinderella Girls Gekijou looks pretty good too. But other than that? Not much….

As far as OVAs and the like there are only a few that catch my interest, namely the Amanchu Special; the Himouto! Umaru-chan OVA; the Brave Witches’ “Petersburg Daisenryaku” episode; and the Gochuumon wa Usagi desu ka s2 Special.

Movies in the theatres look only okay. I have already mentioned Koe no Kotachi above, but some of the releases that will be made by Anime Tamago this year look like they could have some potential (specifically Genbanojou and Red Ash: Gear World)

As far as blogging plans for next season, Alice to Zouroku looks to be the most likely I would choose. However, should that fall through other possibilities I can guess at for the moment include Tsuki ga Kirei, Kabukibu and Hinako Note. Nothing wrong with being surprised, though!

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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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  • FlareKnight

    So far Spring looks pretty good. Here is hoping the shows we expect to turn out well do….and we get some surprises on top of that.

    Natsume will be good of course, that series is consistency itself.

    There are a fair amount of intriguing shows to be sure. Glad you found a handful of potential shows to blog. Always nice to go into a new season with options.

    • Flower

      Of course there are a some other series I am faintly curious about that I have not listed here as well:

      – Granblue Fantasy; whose image graces the header image of this post.
      – Frame Arms Girl; I read a few chapters of the manga and it reminds me a little of Busou Shinku and Angelic Layer.
      – Fukumeki Noise; am a sucker for shoujo series.
      – Twin Angel Break; the OVAs were decent.
      – Shingeki no Bahamut s2; the first season was pretty intense.

      Then three other series that seem other potential darkhorse candidates together with Sakurada Reset:

      – Re:Creators; already confirmed for two cour?! Wha?!
      – ID;0; this is more of a dim vibe rather than being based on anything tangible.
      – Shuumatsu Nani Shitemasu ka?; I have been getting sleeper vibes from this one ever since it was first announced for some reason, but sleeper vibes in terms of my liking it, not sure about a more “objective greatness” factor.