Winter 2016 Anime Preview – A Milder Time

5 Jan , 2016,
Panther
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Velvet Winter by Cait

The new year is upon us, and with it brings the traditional end of the last season of anime. However, going by usual standards, I suppose winter is the first anime season of the year for most. Once again, the conventional thoughts surrounding winter anime seasons apply, in the sense that it usually has fewer shoes for people to watch, both in total and among the chosen. Will it be so once again this year?

This time round, I will only take from Random Curiosity’s winter preview post for the anime season. I thank the writers there for the hard work they put in. I will only select those I am watching and talk about them here, so for a full look, please refer to RandomC’s post.

As per anime preview posts I write here, sequels will come first before new shows, and they will be, where possible, in chronological order – whichever show airs first will come first.

The image above is titled “Velvet Winter” and is great artwork done by Cait.

*****

Sequels

Assassination ClassroomAnsatsu Kyoushitsu Dai 2 Ki
Assassination Classroom 2nd Season
Starts: 8th Jan JST

Little needs to be said about this series if you already know about it. It was among the most popular series of 2015, and ran for 2 cours, showing exactly why a teacher like Koro-sensei is perhaps indispensable. Rather than it being all about the students trying to kill the teacher, I found Assassination Classroom to be more of a good example of how a teacher should be. While it might not be possible to always follow in Koro-sensei’s footsteps when it comes to students, I feel that the teacher-student interaction, as well as the over-the-top crazy action available thanks to Koro-sensei’s antics and more, more than make for a good series when brought to the screen.

If you have not already caught Assassination Classroom’s first season, I highly recommend it a go before starting on this season’s if you are just even a little bit interested in the series.

GATEGATE: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri Enryuuhen
GATE: And so the Defense Force fought (Fire Dragon arc)
Starts: 9th Jan JST

GATE’s previous season hardly ended on a good note since it kept grating on what the protagonist, Itami, might do under similar circumstances if faced with a problem presented to several characters by the dark elf, Yao Ha Ducy. Further, there has been controversy surrounding the show, and there are expressions of concern that this upcoming season, if adapted directly from the manga, might raise more than a few eyebrows.

Still, I found the series endearing enough. It has its full load of anime tropes to be sure, but I have not seen many shows combining both the current technology of the Japanese military and the world of fantasy we are used to. This arc, as the name suggests, follows the fight against the Fire Dragon, in which Yao Ha Ducy will likely be a major factor to reckon with. Of course, the show is not for everyone, but if you do like what you just heard, you can give it a try and go through the first season. GATE was originally planned for 2 cours, but they decided to split the cours instead of running for 2 full seasons, hence its second season airing now.

Durarara!! x2 KetsuDurarara!!x2 Ketsu
Starts: 9th Jan JST

Including its first two cours in 2010, this will be Durarara!!’s 5th cour, and the final one concluding the series. Seeing how convoluted the plot is, surrounding so many characters, I am wondering how they are going to be able to bring an end to this series by now. It also hurts that they split the last 3 cours to be every other anime season, so every time I watch a new season, my head hurts trying to remember where they left off from the previous. Thankfully, this will be the last.

I do like the series, but the way it tells its story through the eyes of different characters each week, and sometimes jumping back and forth between time periods, or presenting the same time period but through different people in different episodes, kind of puts some off. I can understand how it can be hard to follow at times, so this series really is not for many, especially considering its length now. If you already watched the first 4 cours, then get prepared for this final one, but otherwise, I suppose I cannot recommend it now to anyone unless they are keen on starting such a series knowing what they are going to go into.

KoyomimonogatariKoyomimonogatari
Starts: 9th Jan JST

Another series that needs no introduction by now, Koyomimonogatari is all about Araragi Koyomi it seems, and it will be filled with various short stories throughout the entire series’ continuum featuring him. This was supposed to be in between Tsukimonogatari and Owarimonogatari, but somehow, it is only airing now. Each will be short, although how short I cannot say. Perhaps a few minutes long. An unusual feature of this series is that it will be released not through the usual media but through a smartphone calendar app.

*****

New Shows

Active RaidActive Raid -Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei-
Active Raid -Special Public Security 5th Division 3rd Mobile Assault Unit 8-Starts: 7th Jan JST

Another show with a long title. Active Raid follows the adventures of a new officer assigned to the 8th Unit in an ever-increasingly crime-ridden Tokyo. While the 8th are technically the police, they themselves might as well be criminals. Can the new officer, Kazari Asami, slap the 8th into shape, or will she fall to their criminal-like ways?

This show seems to be full of action and little else judging by what I can glean from it, but the premise itself is interesting enough for me to give it at least a 3-episode test. Most of the supposed main cast are relatively new, but there are some veteran names in there such as Sakurai Takahiro and Ohara Sayaka, along with the ever-lovely voice of Oonishi Saori. Still, whether or not this series will be a hit with me, or any others, for that matter, remains to be seen.

Boku dake ga Inai MachiBoku dake ga Inai Machi
The City in Which I Alone am not in
Starts: 8th Jan JST

Fujinuma Satoru has the strange ability to be flung back in time before a tragic accident occurs and repeats that particular period until he manages to avert the disaster. But when his mother becomes a victim, he tries to go back in time, and ends up back in elementary school instead, before the disappearance of his classmate Kayo. Can he solve the mystery that has hounded him for so many years?

While a very short synopsis there, the manga itself has received critical acclaim and some awards. This alone attests to its quality, and the mystery and psychological aspects of it certainly appeal to me. This is a show that has me anticipating it fully in lieu of its premise alone, and that is enough to keep me watching. If you are into mystery and/or psychological thrillers, this one would be likely for you.

Phantasy Star Online 2Phantasy Star Online 2
Starts: 8th Jan JST

I will not lie – out of all the shows I am thinking of picking up this season, I have the least expectations for this one. I played the Japanese version of PSO2 for about less than a year, and the story was shallow of course. Further, I had no prior experience with the Phantasy Star universe. While this anime adaptation will use concepts, weapons and those rappies (that yellow bird-like thing you see at the bottom in the above picture) from the second game, its story will be original.

That still does not sit well with me – historically, game-to-anime adaptations have never worked well. Rage of Bahamut Genesis was an exception, and even then I felt it was ok. Not great, but decent. Giving this one a go for me is more along the lines of “I played the game and should give this anime series a chance”, rather than actually being in it because I feel like there might be something good coming out of it. It might still be good, but unless you are a fan of the Phantasy Star universe and/or played PSO2,  I would suggest that if you want to pick this up, be prepared for utter disappointment just in case.

Dagashi Kashi

Dagashi Kashi
Cheap Sweets Candy
Starts: 8th Jan JST

The oddball of the season for me, because this manga has a huge following in Japan for some reason, despite it not having a lot of content at this point. Shikada Kokonotsu hails from a small town, and his family runs a traditional Japanese candy (called dagashi) shop. His father recognizes his talent for making good sweets, and presses him to take over the shop. Kokonotsu refuses, as he is more interested in becoming a mangaka. Enter Hotaru Shidare from the city, who wants Kokonotsu’s father’s skills in her own family’s big sweets-making company. He promises her to do so only if she can convince Kokonotsu to take over the family business, and so the hilarity begins.

That art is quite the strange thing for me already, but nevertheless, there is generally a good feeling about this series from what I read. Being comedy, I totally expect some romance as well between either the two, or that blonde you see up there. The blonde girl, Endou Saya, is voiced by Numakura Manami, whose most famous role by far, Takao from Arpeggio of Blue Steel, has me hooked on her voice. Incidentally, her unit formed from the three girls of Arpeggio, Trident, will disband after their final concert in early April.

Shidare is voiced by Taketatsu Ayana, and I will admit her voice irks me thanks to memories of a certain Kirino. Veteran Fujiwara Keiji will voice the father, and little else is known regarding the cast. I do, however, think that this will actually be quite the fine show if the comedy pulls it off, and that really is not so hard to do.

Did anyone notice the pun already? Dagashi Kashi, if read differently, also means a strong form of “however” (daga shikashi). This wordplay actually got me at first until I read what the series is about, since I read the latter method first.

Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no UtageReikenzan: Hoshizuku-tachi no Utage
Spirit Sword Mountain: Banquet of Stardust
Starts: 9th Jan JST

It is a rare thing to have the Chinese and the Japanese animation industries work together on a series, and the only one I really remember was an animation of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms several years ago. This time round, the source material for Reikenzan comes from a Chinese webcomic. In typical Chinese fashion, a falling comet will bring about great calamity, and the famed Reiken family has opened its entrance examinations to find the fated one. Lu Wang (Ouriko in Japanese), our protagonist, possesses a special soul that comes only once every thousand years, and with help from his mentor Oubu, challenges fate to become the one.

Some references to Chinese history are immediately evident, such as the imperial examination system that is no doubt the basis for the entrance examinations mentioned in this series. Further, it being a Chinese webcomic, it has automatically piqued my interest as I have read Chinese fantasy stories since young. With a lot of money on both sides poured into this series, it can be expected that the quality can hardly be bad. The show will air in both Japan and China at the same time, with Chinese dubs for the Chinese version. This is one show I may actually be more interested in watching the Chinese dubbed version of.

Dimension WDimension W
Starts: 10th Jan JST

The late Nikolai Tesla’s dream of a “World System” of electricity has taken shape with the discovery of a fourth plane of existence, from which Coils, cross-dimensional inductors, provide a seemingly infinite amount of energy. However, some of them are modified for illegal purposes, and our protagonist Mabuchi Kyouma, hunts those misusing the Coils. While on a mission, he meets the humanoid android daughter of the wife of the creator of the Coil technology, Yurizaki Mira. They are forced into a reluctant partnership with the disappearance of her father, and so their adventures begin.

This is more of a science fiction show than anything, and what is more important, it delves into the ugly side of technology and its misuse. I like these shows because they try to show you that every cause has an effect, and there are always two sides to the same coin. Without much more knowledge of this series, I can say that I really think this might be a good hit of the season for those who like to dwell on such matters. Veteran Ono Daisuke will voice Kyouma.

grimgarHai to Gensou no Grimgar
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Starts: 11th Jan JST

Our protagonist, Haruhiro, and others wake up surrounded by darkness, and walk into a fantasy world right out of a video game, or so it seems. A guide appears and brings them to the reserve force office, where they learn that they must do what MMORPG players have been doing – form parties, and survive. So begins Haruhiro’s struggles in this world, and perhaps, he will learn that when the MMORPG world becomes real, it just suddenly is not so fun anymore.

The harsh reality of the new world will probably sink in either by the first or second episode, and I am kind of looking forward to how Haruhiro will work his way through the menaces of the world’s environments and inevitable treachery that he will encounter. I expect deaths in this one, which is often no longer the norm in anime series nowadays. Hopefully, with the potential in its backdrop, this will turn out to be a good series, if not a great one.

Hosoya Yoshimasa will voice Haruhiro, and supporting him are great veteran voices such as Noto Mamiko, Yasumoto Hiroki, Namikawa Daisuke and the powerful Seki Tomokazu, who actually teaches seiyuu how to be seiyuu. Komatsu Mikako is the only name I recognize on the list that is not considered a veteran. However, voices do not make the whole picture, so while we can be assured the characters will be brought to life by their respective seiyuu, the story still has to be good for this to become more than just another MMORPG-based series.

Ao no Kanata no Four RhythmAo no Kanata no Four Rhythm
Four Rhythm Beyond the Blue
Starts: 12th Jan JST

A visual novel adaptation, mankind is now able to fly freely due to the discovery of anti-gravitons. Such freedom inspires its own flying sport called the Flying Circus. Hinata Masaya aspired to the professional circuit, but retired after a devastating defeat due to personal reasons. Along comes Kurashina Asuka, who needs someone to teach her how to fly. As he begins coaching her, Masaya begins to rediscover his love for the sport. Will he be able to return to flying?

A flying sport anime? Sign me on…wait. A visual novel adaptation? Hmm. While a strong favorite in 2014, the fact that Gonzo is animating this makes me hesitate. They may have tried to revamp, but Gonzo’s trademark ending syndrome remains a not-so-distant memory for me. Because of the flying sport theme, I will be picking this up and giving it a 3-episode test, but I am not too optimistic at this point in time for its overall quality.

KonosubaKono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!
Blessings upon This Wonderful World!
Starts: 14th Jan JST

Satou Kazuma has his hikkikomori life ended in an abrupt way after saving a stranger, and wakes to find a goddess called Aqua. In exchange for his short life-time, he is granted one chance to go to another very different world and start life anew. The problem? There is a Demon King in that fantasy world, and Kazuma has to take care of it if he moves there. He is allowed to bring one thing with him, and hardly skipping a beat, he decides to bring the lovely goddess herself. Comedy ensues when Kazuma just wants to live peacefully, but Aqua keeps egging him on to take down the Demon King. What makes matters worse is that Aqua herself, outside of doing the deal exchange, seems to have no other knowledge of the world or be able to do anything! How will this comedy duo play out?

Fantasy magic swords and lovely goddesses yes please. According to the preview on RandomC too, the cast is totally atrocious at whatever they are supposed to be doing. This cast could be quite the kicker. Big names are also in this one – Kazuma is voiced by Fukushima Jun, Aqua by Amamiya Sora, and Kayano Ai also makes a main appearance. Add to that Horie Yui and Yasumoto Hiroki in the supporting cast, and I am sure we will have a fantastic time with the characters in this one.

AjinAjin
Demi-humans
Starts: 16th Jan JST

Ajins, basically humans who cannot die, are a newly-discovered life form in a world not unlike ours. No matter what injury they sustain, what illness they take on, they will definitely regenerate themselves, even their own lives. The only way to know if you are immortal is to sustain an injury you could possibly not recover from, and yet be completely fine, which is what happened to Nagai Kei after being fatally hit by a truck, and then realizing he is completely healthy afterwards. Thus begins the deep, dark look into the world of immortality and its impact on humanity.

The dark premise itself and the psychological implications have already hooked me on to this show’s possibilities. Are the Ajin, for example, immortal because of a creature that resides in them, as the above image suggests? Or are they truly immortals that might even have been around a long time? How will Kei view himself and others from now on? These are questions that will likely be raised in the world of Ajin, and there will likely also be questions that only have either answers that come from the dark abyss of hell, or lead the way down itself into said abyss.

Miyano Mamoru is an excellent choice for the protagonist, I must say. Hosoya Yoshimasa seems to be the other main character, and veteran Sakurai Takahiro together with Komatsu Mikako will be in the supporting cast. This series looks to be a really, really good psychological thriller.

*****

And there you have it, the winter anime season preview. Which ones are you looking forward to out of this list? Perhaps some, perhaps all, perhaps none. In any case, we all watch what we believe will be something up our alley, and my representation of what I think is going to be up my alley will hopefully allow you to discover even more series as they air, and to share in the joy, laughter, pain, sorrow, or fear as they progress through the season. Will this winter be a cold one, or a mild one for you, in terms of the anime season? Only time will tell. But do brace yourselves – (the) winter (anime season) is coming.