The Fall 2016 season for me was very curious mix. It was not quite as top-heavy as Winter, nor as packed with a high number of solid series like Summer, yet it also did not have as many disappointments like Spring did, but while having fewer A rank and B rank series numbers wise, the overall quality of the number of series that were “outside of the box” a bit was higher % wise than previous seasons. Some classic examples of this for me included Fune wa Amu, Udon no Kuni, Natsume Yuujinchou s5, Girlish Number and Flip Flappers. Of course there were a handful of series that were much more “standard” that I also felt were enjoyable watches, like Brave Witches and Show by Rock s2, but there were also some nice surprises of series that were a bit better than I thought they would be while not remaining “hits”. Many of these series seemed to “fly under the radar” of  a fair number of people, including things like Scorching Ping Pong Girls, Matoi the Sacred Slayer and Stella no Mahou. All three of the latter were remarkably consistent first while steadily drawing me in more and more.

Once again the past year has had a similar pattern as the previous one for me: a strong Winter, a solid and steady Summer, a fairly creative Fall season and an only decent Spring season (though one that had some of my favorite series of the year so far). The Winter 2017 season of next year honestly looks a bit weaker than that of the previous year, with many questions. There is a decent smattering of the type of series I enjoy as well as some manga adaptations of source material I also like, but nothing really jumps out at me in terms of television series. This is a big contrast to every season of last year, which always had a “flagship title” that I was extremely excited to see before it began. Well, we will have to see how things develop. 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 anime (note, there is only one series interestingly) in the coming season.

Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito OVAs

  • Air Date: 3 Feb 2017
  • Studio: Wit Studio
  • Episodes: 3
  • Blogging? Yes

Three-part OVA chronicling a story taking place before Chise meets the Magus. Chise Hatori has lived a life full of neglect and abuse, devoid of anything resembling love. Far from the warmth of family, she has had her share of troubles and pitfalls. Just when all hope seems lost, a fateful encounter awaits her. When a man with the head of a beast, wielding strange powers, obtains her through a slave auction, Chise's life will never be the same again.

When the first OVA (of three) came out last season many, including myself, were (rightly) floored and blown away by the absolutely beautiful work Wit Studio did. You can totally bet your boots that I will also review the second episode!

The series itself is based on a stupendous manga, and there is still some buzz and high hopes (of whom I am numbered) that this three OVA series will eventually bloom into a full fledged series. I can only hope so, and only hope that if it does it will be done by the same staff doing these OVAs. They “get it”.

Akatsuki no Yona: Zeno-hen OVAs

  • Air Date: 19 Dec 2016
  • Studio: Studio Pierrot
  • Episodes: 2
  • Blogging? Maybe

Two-part OVA covering the "Zeno Arc" of the source manga, which touches on the backstory of the fourth of the "dragons" who have given themselves over to Yona's service: the yellow dragon named Zeno.

This will be the second and perhaps final (alas! ;_; ) installment of the Akatsuki no Yona anime adaptation, which is truly a pity – the series is downright fantastic as for as adaptations go. In fact, it was my top series of 2015 as a whole.

For those who loved the series and are not following the source manga I can only vigorously encourage you to pick it up! I may review the two OVAs when the second one comes out – again, we will have to see.

Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito Movie

  • Air Date: 24 Feb 2017
  • Studio: David Production
  • Episodes: 1
  • Blogging? Yes

This is the film adaptation of a side story of the Planetarian visual novel, and in many ways serves to "wrap up the story" of the Planetarian franchise/visual novel/anime OVA adaptation proper. The "junker" is now an old man, and after tracing some of the elements in his long life since meeting Yumemi he finally comes to the end of his journey.

After reviewing the absolutely beautiful 5 episode ONA series you can be absolutely certain that I will do the movie as well! The adaptation by David Production was top notch in my book, and even one of the most lovely series produced in 2016 proper.

The source material is a justly famous visual novel, though it is a “static novel” with not a lot of choices per se, moreso simply the telling of a simple and poignant story. The themes it touches on are very simple and “down to earth”, and thus are easily accessible by many.

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen

  • Air Date: 6 Jan 2017
  • Studio: Studio Deen
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

When a certain man is released from prison, he knows exactly where he's heading first. After falling in love with a traditional comic storyteller's rendition of the story called "Shinigami", he is determined to become his apprentice. The performer, Yakumo, has never taken an apprentice before, but to everyone's surprise, he accepts the eager ex-prisoner, nicknaming him Yotarou. As Yotarou happily begins his new life, he meets others in Yakumo's life....

Season One of this series, which aired last Winter, was an absolutely stunning piece of work, with brilliant voice acting and artistically skilled animation (and a superb blogging effort at the hands of Dee). The second season certainly is a welcome addition to the Winter 2017 season!

It is rare to get an insight into one of the “very Japanese” art forms such as this, though various series through the years have touched on other aspects of Japan’s past times – Karuta, Taiko, Shogi, Mahjong, Yosakoi, etc. In some ways this is special because it brings us into the lives of the artists in a masterful way. Hopefully season 2 will keep us the pace of what happened in the first season!

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:

Demi-chan wa Kataritai

  • Air Date: 7 Jan 2017
  • Studio: A-1 Pictures
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

Monsters of legend walk among us, going by the name “demi-humans.” Ever since he's discovered the “demis,” one young man has become obsessed with them. So when he gets a job as a teacher at a high school for demi-girls, it's a dream come true! But these demis, who include a rambunctious vampire, a bashful headless girl, and a succubus, have all the problems normal teenagers have, on top of their supernatural conditions. How to handle a classroom full of them?!

The first non-sequel series of the season I am most looking forward to, and a long time fan of the wonderful source manga as well, Demi-chan wa Kataranai might be my most anticipated new series this season. The art looks a bit “moe’fied”, but no big surprise. (Its still plenty serviceable for me.)

I think one of the big things that will make or break this series for me will definitely be the VA work on how the characters interact with each other, as this is in my opinion definitely a very character driven story.

Little Witch Academie (TV)

  • Air Date: 8 Jan 2017
  • Studio: Trigger
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

The story revolves around Akko, who as a child watched the witch Shiny Chariot perform a show, and from then on dreamed of becoming a witch. She enters the Luna Nova Academy, a school for witches that Shiny Chariot attended. In this new town she meets new friends and starts a new school life. At the school she has lessons on riding brooms and the wonder of magic, but Akko and her friends Lotte and Sucy keep getting wrapped up in tumultuous events.

Definitely another series I am quite curious to check out, having greatly enjoyed the OVAs (they came out in 2013 and 2015 as part of the Anime Mirai project respectively if i remember correctly). Interestingly it has already been announced that it will be a split cour series as well (!), so if it hits the nail on the head we will be treated to more than usual. ^^

Even from the short preview material, though, it looks like trigger (I wonder if this could technically be called a “sequel?”) is going to “go to town” with this one and thoroughly enjoy themselves. XD

Urara Meirochou

  • Air Date: 5 Jan 2017
  • Studio: J.C. Staff
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

Girls from all over the country come to live in Meirochou for one reason: to train to become the top uranaishi – the Urara. One day, a 15-year-old girl named Chiya enters the gates, but she has another, secret reason for wanting to become an uranaishi. Together with three very different girls, Kon, Koume, and Nono, Chiya gets started as a fortune teller's apprentice.

And yet another Kirara manga series (adapted by J.C. Staff, who has been doing excellent adaptations of late), but this one is serialized in the Kirara manga variant that also gave us things like Joukamachi no Dandelion (which I enjoyed quite a bit and still possesses quite a bit or “rewatchability”), Sakura Trick (which I did not enjoy much at all) and Koufuku Graffiti (again, which I thought was a magnificently done adaptation), so there threatens to be storyline and plot involved more than usual! Definitely interested to give this one a chance, as Kirara series in general work well with me.

Hand Shakers

  • Air Date: 10 Jan 2017
  • Studio: GoHands
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? Maybe

The anime takes place in Osaka in "AD20XX," and revolves around the Hand Shakers — partners who can summon "Nimrodes," weapons born from their deep psyche by joining hands. In order to grant the pair's wish, the Hand Shakers compete with and fight other Hand Shaker pairs. The top pair will then meet and challenge "God."

Okay … being one of those rare, odd people who really enjoys the entire “K” franchise I gotta admit that Hand Shakers look like a different story cut from the same delightful over-the-top cloth. I mean, just listen to this writing:

“They, the receivers of the Revelation of Babel. They, the challengers to God. They, who inevitably throw themselves into battle with their partners. What does God want from them? And did they want powers exceeding that of Gods? The chosen ones, their souls linked, join hand and hand for the Ziggurat where the fighting shall ensue.”

Even though the story premise sounds “misty” and hard to grasp, somehow, at least guarantees definitely giving the series a try! ^^

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:

Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon

  • Air Date: 11 Jan 2017
  • Studio: KyoAni
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

Kobayashi is your average office worker who lives a boring life, alone in her small apartment–until she saves the life of a female dragon in distress. The dragon, named Tohru, has the ability to magically transform into an adorable human girl (albeit with horns and a long tail!), who will do anything to pay off her debt of gratitude, whether Miss Kobayashi likes it or not. With a very persistent and amorous dragon as a roommate, nothing comes easy, and Kobayashi's normal life is about to end.

Okay … while I have been a reader of the source manga for a long time now, and while it is pre-tty darn effective in it’s humor. The mangaka (named “Cool Kyoushinsha”) has a very specific sense of humor and when he is on he is totally on (one other work of his adapted into anime format is Danna ga Nani o Itte Iru ka Wakaranai Ken).

The problem is … I am honestly cringing a bit at the studio proper. While I really enjoy the “template art style” of the studio, KyoAni has a habit of not making the type of adaptations I am often fond of, which is adaptations that remain pretty closely faithful to the source material. If you do not know the material proper there is often no problem, but if you DO happen to know and enjoy the material … well. Yeah. You get the picture. Still, will give this one a try.

Kirakira PreCure a 'la Mode

  • Air Date: 4 Feb 2017
  • Studio: Toei
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

Frustratingly there is no official summary of the series yet from what we can gather the series seems like it is going to specifically focus on food prep. The website announced that the show's theme is a crossover of colorful sweets with cool and cute animals. The main characters run a sweets shop, and must face off against evil fairies to protect their beloved sweets.

Anyone else remember the Yumeiro Pâtissière series back in 2009-10? At the moment I have that combined with PreCure themes in my mind regarding this series, but even so, until something concrete comes out a lot of this is groping blindly in the dark. We do know that there is a return to a cast of five PreCure this time around, though, following the colors of pink, blue, red, purple and yellow. Something about it reminds me of Smile PreCure for some reason….

kirakira2

Seiren

  • Air Date: 5 Jan 2017
  • Studio: AXsiZ Studio and Gokumi
  • Episodes: 12
  • Blogging? No

The anime is an omnibus work that will consist of four-episode arcs focusing on each of the main heroines. The three planned story arcs will focus on Hikari Tsuneki, Touru Miyamae, and Kyouko Touno. The love stories take place in the summer of the main characters' second year of high school. The protagonist Shouichi is anxious about growing up, and his homeroom teacher calls him to talk about his career plans. Shouichi meets various girls and heads to an unknown future.

To anyone who ever saw Amagami SS and Amagami SS+ the premise of this series will immediately jump off the page – not that that is bad, in my opinion. I really enjoyed that series and thought it was really the only one the utilized the omnibus format effectively (as contrasted, say, with Photokano).

There has still be no announcement of a two or split cour format for this one, but it seems pretty guaranteed. Hopefully it will be able to pull it off as well or better than Amagami, but at the moment for me it looks rather … nondescript. Well, we will see!

ACCA 13-ku Kansatsu-ka

  • Air Date: 10 Jan 2017
  • Studio: Madhouse
  • Episodes: TBD
  • Blogging? No

The kingdom of Dowa, which is subdivided into 13 states, is celebrating its monarch's 99th birthday. These thirteen states have many agencies that are controlled by the giant organization known as ACCA. Within ACCA, Jean Otis is the second-in-command of the inspection agency. His agency has 10 people placed in each of the 13 states, with a central office in the capital city. They keep track of all the activities of ACCA across the kingdom, and keep data on each state's ACCA office....

This is definitely the sleeper pick of the season … at least it is for me, because this kind of setting is usually not one I would seek out. Grim or hard boiled police style stories of law enforcement reps going into the darker sides of society does not really have an appeal for me personally (or crime syndicates/organizations, etc., for that matter).

But together with all this there is an overall feel to the series and the previews that vaguely remind me of the ambiance of Cowboy Bebop, and on further inquiry both the studio and the staff they are bringing to the table look to be first rate. Definitely going to give this one a try at the very least!

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

In terms of carryovers from the previous season (although it is moreso one of those that ends mid way through the next season as per its common pattern) one that I should especially mention would be that of Mahou Tsukai PreCure – episode 43 recently came out, and it was filled with a boatload of reveals that completely changed how I looked not only at what I thought was a “weaker” second half, but even the whole series in it’s entirety. Consider me very, very surprised at the writing, and even a little on the edge of being blown away. I was NOT expecting that level of intricacy! If only this series can have a strong ending then it definitely could be one of my favorite ever. Probably the other two carryover tv series that I will continue to watch will be Sangatsu no Lion (alas for the things that “could have been” … so frustrating!) and the second half of the split cour of Tales of Zestiria the X (I really enjoyed the first half).

The Short series for next season look to be a decent selection one again, and include Piace: Watashi no Italian (curses for it being a short, but I will take what I can get), Nyanko Days (guaranteed “d’awwwws” with this one), yet another carryover in Nobunaga no Shinobi (which is turning out to be a bit more enjoyable than I expected) and One Room.

As far as OVAs and the like there are only a few that catch my interest, such as the aforementioned Akatsuki no Yona: Zeno no Hen OVAs. Another interesting possibility are the two Ryuu no Haisha OVAs (aka “The Dragon Dentist”),

Movies in the theatres look only okay. Have already mentioned the Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito film. Other films that show promise could be the Yuuki Yuuna wa Yuusha de Aru: Washio Sumi no Shou franchise films, the three Ajin films, and Pop in Q, which seems to be one of those series that will either be a big hit or a disastrous miss for me.

As far as blogging plans for next season, I will also take up the the film Planetarian: Hoshi no Hito and will definitely do the second OVA of the Mahoutsukai no Yome: Hoshi Matsu Hito series. The two Ryuu no Haisha OVAs are also an outside possibility. As for which tv series I will pick up … again, at the moment the season is not quite clear to me. Possibilities as far as I can guess at the moment include Demi-chan wa Katarinai, Little Witch Academie (tv) or even Urara Meirochou.

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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

    Winter is looking to be a bit of an unpredictable creature this time around. It doesn’t look as strong as last winter, but in some ways I guess you could say that winter was abnormally good. Still, I can understand the feeling that there isn’t quite the same flagship for you as there has been in most seasons. This time might have to rely on the surprise factor.

    One thing I am glad is that we’re going to see what happens with the Little Witch anime. I did enjoy the original ovas and am glad they had enough popularity to just straight up turn it into a full series. Trigger is the kind of studio that can do some really fun things with original material.

    • TofuOnahole

      I have the opposite opinion personally. Winter January 2016 for me was this: I’ve
      heard Rakugo is amazing and I know it’s getting a new season this coming winter, but I’ve not watched the first season yet. I left the season loving Kono Suba, and
      thinking Erased, Grimgar, and Ajin were pretty good. I finished and personally
      didn’t care for Dagashi Kashi, Wimension W, Myriad Colors Phantom World, Luck
      and Logic, Pandora in the Crimson Shell, Four Rhythm, Girls Beyond the Wasteland.
      I dropped Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle, Divine Gate, Active Raid, Schwarzesmarken,
      Haruchika, Bubuki/Buranki, Phantasty Star Online 2 the animation, all my
      personal opinion of course but it was a rough season for me, however I’m glad
      you were able to enjoy the season. I’m just a lot more excited for the new 2017
      winter season because I read the manga for 3 of the new shows; I love Trigger,
      plus Kono Suba season 2 has me very excited, so everything else in the season is icing on the cake
      for me. I hope you find some shows that you enjoy this coming winter season,
      best of luck!

      • Flower

        It’s interesting to see over the past year how many people enjoyed KonoSuba as much as they did. For whatever reason I only thought it was “okay” and funny at times. Otoh Dagashi Kashi had me in stitches every single episode. Go figure. Humor is a weird thing.

        Still,it will be nice for the fans of KonoSuba to get a season two! ^^

        • TofuOnahole

          That’s fair, ya all of my friends that watched KonoSuba also thought it was just okay, so I honestly don’t know, guess it just really resonated with me. I don’t have anything against Dagashi Kashi, but the snack information and humor didn’t click with me as much as I hoped it would unfortunately, however I do really like the character designs for Hotaru and Saya. I hope you get a new season for the show for at some point.

          • Flower

            If a new season of the series ever comes along remind me and I shall eat my boots – while I and some others enjoyed the series it seemed to really rub a fair number of the manga readers the wrong way because of the directing choices made – have heard that the disc and manga sales didn’t really get a big jump since it’s airing either (though I could be wrong on these points).

            After devouring said footgear, though, I will happily watch season two. :p

    • Flower

      Will be interesting to see if ACCA works for me. At the moment that is the only potential “out of nowhere” sleeper I can see for the season.

  • GreyLurker

    I loved the first video of Ancient Magus so I am really looking forward to more. Demi-Chan and Little Witch are also high on my watch list as I love both series. Konosuba, Blue Exorcist, YowaPedal and Zestia are also on my list thanks to the previous seasons.

    Of the brand new stuff not a lot was catching my attention until the video previews started to appear. Youjo Senkai: Saga of Tanya the Evil looks fantastic.

    • Flower

      I have read the few chapters of Youjo Senki’s manga adaptation and a bit of the first volume of the novel. To be honest it does not do a lot for me overall.

      HOWEVER.

      Yuuki Aoi is going to voice the MC. That alone makes it worth it to give the first ep a try at least. This could be precisely the type of role she could absolutely GO.TO.TOWN. with and thoroughly make use of her talents.

      I’d be able to forgive a fair amount of nonsense (not endless amounts) for a chance to see Yuuki Aoi cut loose in another VA role. XD

  • The anime with the maid dragon looks cute and interesting. Will definitely try that out. ^^

    • Flower

      If the anime does not click for you then you might give the source manga a try. His sense of humor is not for everyone (like much humor in general), but its particularly good in the Kobayashi manga, I think.