As I once again resurface to do a preview, I'm almost shocked at how stacked this upcoming Spring season is going to be. Big studios, big source material and even big returns - you know what I'm talking about - are all featured in this season. Almost to a frightening degree.
Much like every year, it's time for the Spring season to come in and bring with it a slate of high-end anime. Let's see just what the Spring 2014 anime season has in store for us.
Fairy Tail (2014)
Thoughts: For those of who may have forgotten - or you're genuinely unaware of this anime - the first Fairy Tail ended its run a year ago, racking up 175 episodes. It went on break for a year because the manga and anime had caught up to each other, but now with the manga nearing completion it's starting up again.
As someone who is very familiar with the series, I'll be the first to admit its shallowness. The series has a few moments where it's really fun and good, but at times it was just plain bad. Anyhow, I doubt I'll find the time to watch as I still haven't finished the original anime and I suspect people will have already made up their minds about this one. It has been around for long enough after all.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - Still have 40+ episodes of the original left and not a lot of time or enthusiasm for the series.
Studio: Production I.G
Thoughts: Being a regular reader of Weekly Shonen Jump, I'm all too familiar with Haikyuu!! and I must say, I really like this series. Unlike the other big sports manga in Jump KuroBas, this series airs on the side of reality, whilst taking a slower, more deliberative approach to story progression.
Production I.G is heading up this project, which is good news. They were the same studio which did KuroBas, which was very well done on production value. The director is still new and unfortunately only has Cuticle Tantei Inaba under his belt, but the scriptwriter for Gin no Saji and Usagi Drop is on board, and I'd consider that to be more important given that the source material is already good.
To those sceptical about the series, I'd advise to still give it a shot. Sure I.G may exploit certain elements for the fujoshi fans, but it should still be a fun watch in the end.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - Very good manga.
Thoughts: From the team who brought us Ouran Host Club and Star Driver comes BONES' sole original offering for the season. The studio is gearing up for a heavy 2014 by putting out three series this season, the most high-profile of which is arguably this one.
Having the writer-director combo for the two series mentioned above, signals a desire for the studio rake in the cash - lest we forget the commercial successes of those series - but it also doesn't take away hope from getting a good quality series. Perhaps the only problem is that it looks a little on the generic side, and recently there has been a slate of mecha anime which has brought about some fatigue.
I'll be the first to admit the genre doesn't do much for me, but I'll definitely give it a shot. As with all original series, some caution should be exercised. After all we don't have much to go on.
Will I Watch?: Likely - Not my genre but it's a great studio and team.
Studio: Brain's Base
Thoughts: Recently Brain's Base has been in the proverbial dog house with me. I keep hope every season and they somehow find a way to disappoint and downright piss me off. Even more annoying is the perception that they've given up, seeing as how they keep adapting an otome game a season - they have one this season as well.
Bearing all that in mind, I have a little more optimism in this one. The director is a complete novice, but he's been paired with a capable adapter who recently did a marvellous job with Uchouten Kazoku. Most importantly however, is that the source material is much stronger compared to what they've worked with before. Deeper, more emotional and exactly what the studio should be involved with in the first place.
I do hope they come through on this one, because otherwise we may have to wait for season two of Durarara!! before we get gold from them.
Will I Watch?: Maybe/Likely - Burned one too many times, but hoping for sunshine nonetheless.
Akuma no Riddle
Thoughts: This is perhaps the low hanging fruit of fan service for the Spring 2014 anime season. A combination of yuri and assassins, with a rather big cast of female characters isn't anything novel. We may not have seen something identical to it, but we have seen some variations close enough to it.
With the series being what it is it only makes sense that Diomedea is the studio producing it and the director is the man who helmed Asura Cryin' and Campione. That alone tells me what type of series this is going to be, and all I can say is: if you're going to do a series like this, do it right! Not that it's gonna be any good because the director hasn't impressed me once but for the fans of his work, this must be welcome news.
Will I Watch?: Very Unlikely - Not my genre, not my type of director.
Blade and Soul
Thoughts: Gonzo's woes in recent years have reached new heights. The once epic studio is struggling to recapture its glory as it continues to put out one bad series after another. All of that may explain why their pick for an adaptation this time round comes from an unlikely source.
Evidently Blade and Soul is a Korean MMORPG, making it the most unconventional source material of the Spring 2014 anime season. As such, it's hard to gauge just how good the story is/can be. On the staff side, it's equally difficult to predict the effectiveness. Both the director and writer are decent, though not extraordinary. Both have amassed experience from different studios, but nothing that stands out.
If there would be any reason to watch this series, it would be for the sheer curiosity.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely/Maybe - Curious to see what it will be like.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders
Studio: David Production
Thoughts: When an anime was finally announced for JJBA in 2012, I was ecstatic. Finally the manga that had been largely ignored was going to get the recognition it deserved. No more being ignored by the masses. Much to my delight it sat well with the bloggers and then it surprised me by being such a commercial success. David Production kept the fans of the manga happy by doing this series justice and managed to line its coffers at the same time, a win-win to say the least.
It came as no surprise when David Production - who left the door for a sequel wide open with the series ending - announced a sequel in the works. Considering their abysmal performance last year (aside from JJBA), they must be need for some cash infusion. We'll be getting the same staff, but this time round the story will take a slightly different turn - unless you've read the manga, you'll have to wait and see.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - Sequel to one of the best series of 2013.
Kindaichi Shonen no Jikenbo Returns
Studio: Toei Animation
Thoughts: After shocking the anime fans with their splendid 2013 offering of Kyousogiga, the good people at Toei Animation are kicking it old school this season. They're bringing Kindaichi, which had a run from 1997 to 2000, and with it they're bringing back the original cast, and probably staff.
Whilst I've heard of this series, I've never made a conscious effort to get into it. Seeing as how it ran alongside Detective Conan and was a long-running series, I had little reason to do so. Because of that, I'll be skipping this one altogether.
Maybe if I had more time on my hands, I'd be more willing to at least watch the first few episodes of the original and decide to relegate this sequel to my backlog, but I can't even do that.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely Not - Sequel to long shonen detective series. Pass.
Hitsugi no Chaika
Thoughts: The second big project for BONES this upcoming series is the adaptation of this light novel which, for what it's worth, doesn't look so bad. Let's not forget that the studio rarely chooses poor source material, so the likelihood that they went for some crap is very low.
Looking at the staff, I'm not so sure what to expect. The director has a decent resume for a number of different roles, but has a single directing credit to his name. and the adapter has something of a mixed record which may or may not be because of the source material she was given to work on.
At this point, there's a question mark hanging over this series. I do trust the studio, but the staff is definitely not at the level of Captain Earth's.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - Could this be a good adapted LN?
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Thoughts: It's shaping up to be a very good year for sports anime, and another manga series which has proven to be a delightful read is Baby Steps. Being a series about tennis, you can imagine that the usual clichés of camaraderie don't crop up in this series. In fact, it's mostly about the character development of the male lead with a big chunk of the focus going to tennis.
What's interesting to me is the studio in charge of this adaptation. Studio Pierrot has been a long time stronghold for Shonen Jump anime adaptations and long ones at that. They've rarely gotten work from any of the other big manga magazines, much less from a direct competitor like Shonen Magazine. Whatever the case may be, the adaptation is being carried out by a relatively experienced director, who is stuck with an obscure adapter.
All a manga fan can do is hope it all turns out well.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - Great source material but the staff does make me a little apprehensive.
Gokukoku no Brynhildr
Thoughts: Usually I'd pay little-to-no attention to anime produced by Arms. As a studio, they're successes can be counted on one hand, and even then the biggest success they had was for a sequel to a great adapted manga. This time round however, I'm forced to pay attention since they're adapting a manga by the author of the infamous Elfen Lied.
I say infamous because the series has caused a real rift between seasoned bloggers and the mass populace. Panned by critics but highly popular, the series has a reputation very few have managed to achieve. Even some of the critics admit it was, to say the least, shocking.
The downside may not be the material itself but rather the staff. It's being guided by a decently experienced director but the script is being handled by the creator of Hamatora. The latter could make it difficult to point the finger of blame.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - Likely to be a polarising series.
Abarenbou Kishi!! Matsutarou
Studio: Toei Animation
Thoughts: I will say once again that it's a good year for sports anime, but I'll also reiterate that Toei Animation is kicking it old school. Combining the both we get an anime on sumo wrestling based on a manga by the author of classic sports series Ashita no Joe.
No information on the staff exists yet, but to be honest it wouldn't change my mind. It's not often you get such an obscure sport - even ping pong is more mainstream - nor do you get an adaptation of a manga written by a legendary mangaka. To screw it up would likely take some effort and I don't think that good folks over at Toei could do that.
Will I Watch?: Very Likely - It's a rare type of anime.
Kenzen Robo Daimidaler
Thoughts: The plot for this anime sounds downright ridiculous - it has a Penguin Empire for crying out loud. What's more, I'm pretty sure that's the way it was intended to be. A bizarre comedy with ecchi and mecha, and what I presume will be a somewhat perverted male lead. What more could you expect from an adaptation of a manga running in the same magazine as Sakamoto desu ga?
Anyhow, TNK will be heading up this endeavour. They're the ones behind High School DxD which probably makes them a good fit for this series, though I hope it ends up being nothing like the aforementioned anime. Both the director and writer and have long but mediocre resumes, so a wait-and-see approach may be in order here.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - Curiosity for the most bizarre-sounding anime of the upcoming season.
M3: Sono Kuroki Hagane
Thoughts: An apocalyptic-sounding tale written by Mari Okada? This could be... interesting? Seeing as how I'm not exactly a fan of hers, I can't muster up much excitement for this project. You wouldn't guess by looking at the promo poster, but this actually meant to be a mecha anime which further complicates the issue.
Whilst Satelight has had a pretty decent run as of late, I wouldn't bet the bank on this one. Sure it's an original, hence making it hard to predict but even the choice of director for this project is unsettling. Junichi Sato is an experienced director, but not in the mecha genre. His call to fame is the Aria franchise, even though he has worked storyboards for a few mecha series. For the series, his involvement may or may not be a good thing.
Much like every aspect of this series, it remains to be seen how this series turns out. For the time being, I'm leaning away from it but am still very unsure.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely/Maybe - Too many things which could go wrong to predict.
Studio: Kinema Citrus
Thoughts: A light novel being adapted by Kinema Citrus doesn't exactly sound good, but a closer look tells another story. While it's true that the BONES sister studio has yet to produce an acclaimed series on their own - Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 was a joint project with the main studio - there are certain things to get excited about.
In particular I'm referring to the director and adapter, both of whom spearheaded Monster's adaptation. That alone hints at potential, but it should be taken into account that the team have also built up impressive resumes which include other hits. Aside from that, the story is one we've seen before but one that's easy to variate - post-apocalyptic series lend themselves to easy modification.
All in all, there could be something here.
Will I Watch?: Likely - The director-writer combo and the decent premise make it a good bet.
Fuuun Ishin Dai Shogun
Studio: J.C. Staff
Thoughts: Oddly enough this is another series which I would have overlooked completely. Just looking at the premise - old, tried and boring - I would have written off this series. It comes from a long line of the mecha-historical crossover which has never done much for me. God knows I've tried a few series, but I just couldn't connect to any of them.
What warrants another look here is once again the staff. An experienced director, the writer for Eureka Seven and Ergo Proxy and a top-notch animation director. I'll admit staff alone can't make a series good, but it's also hard to dismiss a series when the staff is good like with this one.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely/Maybe - For the staff and then we'll see.
Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei
Thoughts: Somehow MADHOUSE has managed to find a way to put up an enigmatic offering for the Spring 2014 anime season. Their pick: an insanely popular light novel which almost everyone, who pays attention to sales figures, expected to get adapted sometime soon. It's one of the top LNs currently publishing. Nevertheless, on paper there is a split between the pros and cons of this project.
On the one hand MADHOUSE tends to be a good studio. Sure they miss the mark sometimes, but if given a decent source material they should prevail. If popularity is any indication of quality - sometimes there is a strong correlation - this should be good series. On the flipside, the director is the man who handled Horizon on the Middle of Nowhere and the main Saki series, both of which failed to leave an impression on me. Also, the synopsis of the story found everywhere hints at a brother-sister relationship which is always an insufferable addition.
Quite frankly, this one could go either way. It could be good but then again there have been instances where popularity and quality are a complete mismatch.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - It's a real tossup.
No Game No Life
Thoughts: The studio's second offering this season is actually on a popular subject for the Spring 2014 anime season: NEET. It's something of an untold rule that seasons have certain trends, and one of the ones for this season is the number of anime featuring main charachters Not in Education, Employment or Training.
What's interesting here is how unlike the studio this project is. The writer being brought on board (Jukki Hanada) is a Kyoto Animation veteran who just finished up Chu2koi's sequel and the director is novice Atsuko Ishizuka, whose sole directing credit is Sakurasou no Pet na Kanajo.
Hard to see what the studio is going for with this one. This so unlike them it's not reassuring, though it could be that their experimenting with branching out. Either way, it'll warrant a first look but I must admit I'm not overly enthusiastic.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely/Maybe - Mainly to see why MADHOUSE is doing a project which they normally wouldn't do.
Mekaku City Actors
Thoughts: It's not everyday a vocaloid song series gets light novel, manga and anime adaptations. Most impressive, or should I say shocking, of all is that it managed to snag an anime adaptation by SHAFT to be directed by Shinbo.
The studio has been on a losing streak as of late. Aside from the always lucrative Monogatari series, they haven't been putting out stellar series and unfortunately that has made their reputation go down quite a bit. Nowadays hearing the words 'Shibo' and 'Shaft' doesn't give you the same wow factor.
It could be okay, but I'm not holding my breath.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - I'm not exactly pleased with SHAFT as of late, and I'm not sure this will be the series to bring me back into their embrace.
Ping Pong The Animation
Studio: Tatsunoko Productions
Thoughts: I already mentioned that it was a good year for sports anime, and having one in the noitaminA slot should signal just how good a year it is for the genre. Even as a sports anime, this one feels more like a noitaminA anime, seeing as how it's adapting a manga about ping pong (or table tennis) from the late 90's.
Tatsunoko Productions continues to be an interesting force in the anime industry. They'r colourful style definitely stands out, and I can see some potential for their artistic input in this series - the manga itself has a distinct style but leaves plenty of opportunity for creativity. Especially, when you Masaaki Yuasa to the mix. A man noted for his style more than anything.
There's a lot of potential here. Good director, interesting studio and a manga that's only 5 volumes long which could mean a full and faithful adaptation. Let's not forget the cherry on top: this looks more like a noitainA anime.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - The combination of director, studio and source material has me stoked for the potential.
Mushishi: Zoku Shou
Thoughts: Eight years after the first Mushishi aired, the legendary anime returns for another season. Unlike most anime, this one has the privilege of being the grand uniter in the world of anime. Beloved by all, you'll seldom here a bad word about it, which is close to impossible.
Even though some time has passed, the studio and director will be the same ones. Nagahama-sensei will also be shouldering the responsibilities of the writer, on top of his directing duties. A move I'd characterise as ambitious but also great, seeing as how he is just that good (we don't speak of Aku no Hana).
No doubt this series is number one in terms of anticipation for the upcoming Spring 2014 season.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - No doubt, this is the most hyped anime for those familiar with the first season.
Sidonia no Kishi
Studio: POLYGON PICTURES
Thoughts: This is definitely an interesting one. Adapted from a manga, the story is set in space - always an interesting setting - and it happens to be aimed at an older audience, which hopefully means a more mature tone attached to the mecha plot.
The studio and director is where their may be problems. Polygon Pictures is a studio specialising in 3DCG, which can only mean a fair amount of it in this anime, something that put me off Kingdom's anime permanently. That said, the director is still the weaker link, seeing as how he's only worked on Hyakka Ryouran and a bunch of Detective Conan works.
It's still worth checking out, but I wouldn't get my hopes up too high.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - Source material may be enough to carry this series.
Escha & Logy no Atelier: Tasogare no Sora no Renkinjutsu
Studio: Studio Gokumi
Thoughts: Boy oh boy, is this one filled with red flags. Firstly, it's an adaptation of an RPG which in my experience is almost never a good source material for anime adaptations. Next up is the director (Iwasaki-sensei) whose biggest accomplishments are the first and last Zero no Tsukaima and Love Hina. And finally, we have Studio Gokumi. They who have yet to shake off their reputation as being mostly 'moe' focused anime.
The one silver lining in all of this is the writer. Urahata-sensei is working on this along with Black Bullet and, as we've already discussed, has a good resume. She may make something of this series, but even so I'm guessing she'll be limited by the source material itself.
Not much hope here.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - It just doesn't look good.
Bokura wa Minna Kawaisou
Studio: Brain's Base
Thoughts: Brain's Base's second non-reverse harem anime for the season looks like it has a ceiling of better-than-average it just can't overcome. That's not necessarily a condemnation, since any story which sounds generic can still be rather entertaining.
Case and point: Blood Lad, which incidentally was the same series worked on by the director and writer attached to this series. They did a pretty decent job in my opinion, which is not to say that the source material was bad, but rather a little stiff at times. By adding little touches, they managed to make a generic-sounding vampire series into a fun adventure, and perhaps they could do something similar here.
Will I Watch?: Maybe - Never underestimate the generic-sounding ones.
Soredemo Sekai wa Utsukushii
Studio: Studio Pierrot
Thoughts: Studio Pierrot's second interesting move this season is adapting a shojo manga. Another potential hint that the studio is breaking with its long-time agreement with Shonen Jump. To tackle this series they've brought in Kamegaki-sensei, an old-school director, whose most relevant experience to this project is heading up Fushigi Yuugi's adaptation.
He's been stuck with an inexperienced adapter, but that may not be a problem for a veteran director. It's even less of an issue, since the source material is well-regarded and may not have to be rewritten extensively for the screen - one can hope.
Being the only real shojo series this season, I'm inclined to hope more for this one's success.
Will I Watch?: Likely - Shojo series with an experienced director....kind of an easy sell for me.
Break Blade (TV)
Studio: Production I.G
Thoughts: Unfortunately this isn't a revamp or a sequel, just a remaking of the movies into TV format with some new content mixed in. Definitely a disappointment, but given how much I enjoyed the movie series, I'll take whatever I can get.
All the staff have worked on the movies in some way, so they know the material. Hopefully, this adaptation can take care of some of the flaws of the movie series and thus give fans a little more satisfaction. Depending on the person, there is one movie which let us down.
The one good thing about this, is that existing fans and those unfamiliar with the series can enjoy it.
Will I Watch?: Absolutely - Hoping for some improvements with the new added scenes.
Soul Eater Not!
Thoughts: A while back the co-founder of BONES announced that they would be making a 'new anime with a familiar name.' An announcement which led many (myself included) to hypothesise that Soul Eater was going to receive the Brotherhood Treatment - something that became even more hyped when the manga ended.
What we're actually getting is an adaptation of the spin-off. A series which is unlike the original, and as far as I can tell, is more about the slice-of-life than the fantasy action. Which is not to say it should be - spin-offs differing from the source is a good thing - it doesn't seem like a particularly original take. Talk about a letdown from the studio which is pushing two big projects this season and whose sister studio also has a relatively big project coming up.
Seeing as how this is their lowest-profile show for Spring 2014 anime season, the studio has attached the director of Tari Tari to the project and have given him responsibility for the series composition also. Not a big reason to skip this series, but hardly a vote of confidence on the project.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - The spin-off being nothing like the source is admirable but I'm not too interested.
Ryuugajou Nanana no Maizoukin
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Thoughts: There's a lot to be said about this project, which in may explain why and if it should be running in the noitaminA time slot. First of all, it's another A-1 Pictures anime. The studio is launching a full-frontal blitz on the anime world this season, which happens to include another series planned for noitaminA's Fall 2014 slot, bringing them to a total of three for the year.
Next there's the director-writer duo. Kamei-sensei enjoyed success with the great Usagi Drop and failure with OreGairu, while Kurata had the same deal with KamiNomi and OreImo respectively. I'm willing to chalk those up to strengths of source material, however that brings us to the final point: source material.
Yes it's another NEET protagonist for the season, and what's more there is some resemblance to anohana. The latter does nothing to convince me, nor does the premise itself, thus leaving me a little baffled. I doubt it would be as shallow as a series not running in the time slot, but there's no way of telling. Yet another series which could be good but has some apparent flaws holding it back.
Will I Watch?: Maybe/Likely - Because it's noitaminA but there are some red flags.
Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu ka?
Studio: White Fox
Thoughts: A part of me is convinced that White Fox are intentionally slumming it for another season, so that they can focus all of their attention on Akame ga Kill. It's yet another season in which they're not putting out anything strong, or at least based on appearances.
Nothing about this series stands out. It looks like its about cute girls, doing cute things in a cafe, and that's about it. The director and writer also happen to be unimpressive - a few decent series between them, but nothing exciting - which makes this series a dull choice on paper.
It would take something very surprising to change my mind about this series, though based on the premise it's difficult to see that happening.
Will I Watch?: Very Unlikely - Nothing really looks good about this project.
Seikoku no Dragonar
Thoughts: The studio which split off from Bee Train is putting out its first series and it's......not all that exciting. Putting aside my ambivalence to most Bee Train anime, the choice of a light novel which sounds like a cross between Zero no Tsukaima and How to Train Your Dragon is far from great.
Whilst C-Studio nabbed got a good director in Tada-sensei (Bungaku Shojo, KuroBas), they weren't as lucky with their script writer. A man whose resume can be reliably summed up by the word 'mediocre.' If that weren't enough, the source material sounds very generic and a type of retro that's not very good.
For a first anime, I'm not sold.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - Source material and script writer are a big drain on the project.
Mangaka-san to Assistant-san to
Thoughts: A while back I tried reading this manga series after hearing some good things about it. Alas it was a 4-koma, which make for worse reads than they do anime adaptations. Not that there aren't good anime adapted from 4-koma (Working!!), but they come rarely.
Part of the reason is the difficulty in adapting 4-koma manga. You need a good writer who is capable of filling in a lot blanks left naturally by the source material, and this series may have gotten one - the adapter of Aku no Hana. Say what you will about the anime itself, it was well-adapted and that could be a good sign for the series.
That said, the adapter only has that one project under his belt and the director is a newbie. Combining the two makes me wonder if there is enough experience behind the project to pull off a good adaptation.
Will I Watch?: Unlikely - 4-koma adaptations have a bad track record.
Selector Infected WIXOSS
Studio: J.C. Staff
Thoughts: Mari Okada's second original series this season is being directed by a different but more impressive Satou-sensei. Thanks to that fact, there is a little more to be optimistic about. It's still a Mari Okada original but with an all-girl cast. Something that's becoming a regular theme for a number of anime, not just those written by Mari Okada.
Just reading the synopsis, one gets the impression that this has been done before - by Okada herself no less - and that we're not getting anything new or original. For that reason, I'd say this is a less interesting project than M3 and I'm not sure there is anything to get excited about.
Will I Watch?: Very Unlikely - Zero that interests me.