The spring 2021 anime season, soon coming to a close, was an enjoyable one through and through. It featured a diverse and expansive group of series, with there seeming to be an anime (or two or three or ten) for everyone, with several standouts among them.
At first glance, this season’s line-up looks a little bland in comparison, with the usual glut of isekais, harems, and game adaptations. But on closer inspection, a few gems seem to be sparkling through—including, just maybe, some of those isekais! In digging into the production staff, it was also interesting to discover a few more women than usual helming new shows, as well as a number of new directors, writers and even studios emerging on the summer scene.
Claire and Twwk will be taking the reigns on this season’s preview, and we’re exciting to have you join us! We’ll be dividing the anime we plan to check out into four categories—Ohisashiburi! Nice to See You Again! (returning series); Ready the Popcorn! (series in which we have high interest); I’ll Give you Five Minutes…or Three Episodes (series in which we have mild interest); I’m Intrigued, Tell Me More (“wildcards,” or shows that have us curious but could potentially be trainwrecks, which is part of the fun!); and I’m Ready for the Second Cour…se (shows continuing from the previous season).
Please feel free to peruse the entire listing, section by section, or use the handy links below to jump straight to an anime that you want to learn more about. And let us know in the comments how you feel about any or all the summer 2021 anime series!
Aquatope of White Sand • The Case Study of Vanitas • D_Cide Traumerei The Animation • The Detective is Already Dead • The Dungeon of Black Company • Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist • Fena: Pirate Princess • The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated! • How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom • I’m Standing on a Million Lives • Idaten Deities in the Peaceful Generation • Kageki Shojo!! • Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story 2nd Season • My Next Life as a Villainess X) • Ore, Tsushima • Peach Boy Riverside • RE-MAIN • Remake Our Life! • Scarlet Nexus • Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles • Sonny Boy • Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai • TSUKIMICHI -Moonlit Fantasy- • Wonder Egg Priority Special Edition
Ohisashiburi! Nice to See You Again!
I don’t know the next time we’ll see something occur like winter 2021, when viewers proudly proclaimed it to be the best anime season on record even as it had barely begun, primarily, it seemed, based on the presence of a ton of highly-anticipated returning series. COVID had pushed so many productions back, and I imagine that those particular shows were prioritized as the safest financially to focus on.
Still, this season is sure to carry a pretty high level of excitement itself due to a few returning shows (and final episodes), too, including a number that we’re excited to watch! Twwk is looking forward to new seasons of Yamishibai and I’m Standing on a Million Lives, while both he and Claire can’t wait to watch new episodes of My Next Life as a Villainess, Wonder Egg Priority, and the just-announced Magia Record, season two.
There are also a number of returning series that we’re not planning on watching, but which I would be remiss if I failed to mention here, including Higurashi, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, and That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, while several spin-offs are also arriving, among them Love Live! Superstar!! and The Honor Student at Magic High School. A few of these might qualify as the very most anticipated series this season, in fact, so please enjoy them (even if we won’t)!
We’ve included trailers for a few of the above-mentioned series below, before jumping into our picks:
I’m Standing on a Million Lives, Season 2
(Premiering July 9; recap episode of season one on July 2; Crunchyroll)
Living in the age of isekai overload, I tend to pick up no more than one or two a year, typically the ones accompanied by the most noise from the fan community. Thus, I wasn’t planning on watching season one of the more quietly arriving I’m Standing on 1,000,000 Lives, which also unlike many of the others, has a manga as its source material, but I tried anyway and was pleasantly surprised by how engaging the show was, how humorous it could be, and by—no joke—a S-class ED. The final few episodes dragged a little and I’m rarely engaged by the angry or revenge-focused protag, which Yotsuya has been quickly evolving into (though through an interesting Anakin Skywalker-type journey), so this isn’t a slam dunk for me—but I’m hopeful. ~ Twwk
Staff: Kumiko Habara (director), Takao Yoshioka (series composition)
Cast: Yuuto Uemura / Zeno Robinson (Yotsuya), Risa Kubota / Jeannie Tirado (Shindou)
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story 2nd Season
(Premiere July 31)
We rarely episodically blog through entire seasons of anime, but I did just that with season one of Magia Record because of my appreciation for the original series. I’m not sure if I’ll blog season two, as I’m considerably less emotionally involved in Iroha and the gang than I was with Madoka and the others, and the appearance of Mami, Sayaka, and Kyoko don’t necessarily make me care more about the story, since despite substantial roles, its only tangentially theirs. Still, the comparison here is between an all-time great series and one that I still did enjoy, with strong productions values and a group of characters that grew on me. However, I think my failure to grasp PMMM’s magical girl universe as a whole (I’m not wholly obsessed with the Madoka Magica franchise and did not play Magia Record when it was still available) has affected my interest in and understanding of the story, and I’m afraid that another season of blog posts full of questions that most readers know the answers to may not be a helpful thing to put out there in blogosphere. I suppose we shall see where my energy and interest lies once episode one comes around… ~ Twwk
Staff: Gekidan Inu Curry (director), Yukihiro Miyamoto (assistant director), Akiyuki Simbo (animation supervisor)
Cast: Momo Asakura (Iroha), Sora Amamiya (Yachiyo), Kana Hanazawa (Kuroe)
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! X
(Premiere July 2, Crunchyroll)
The Doom Flags are back! And so is the winner of Crunchyroll’s Best Protagonist of 2020 award,
Bakarina Katarina Claes. (I may have helped her win that one. Just saying.) Turns out there was a sequel game to the original Fortune Lover, and so a whole new gamut of Catastrophic Bad Endings are on the table once again for our good-natured villainess. And of course there’s the pesky matter of her engagement with Jeord that she needs to wriggle out of…Well, at least now that Katarina has graduated from the Academy of Magic she can get a job, right? That will help supplement her meager magical and horticultural skills should exile be her fate. There are a bunch of new characters fleshing out the cast this season, so prepare for more delightfully clueless comedy moments as Katarina no doubt expands the harem friendship ending. ~ claire
Staff: Keisuke Inoue (director), Megumi Shimizu (writer)
Cast: Maaya Uchida (Katarina), Inori Minase (Sophia Ascart), Saori Hayami (Maria Campbell), Shouta Aoi (Gerald Stuart)
Theatre of Darkness: Yamishibai (Japanese Ghost Stories), Season 9
(Premiere date TBD; no trailer available)
I threw this one in here not because I’ll be tuning in every week—I most certainly will not be—but because I will watch an episode or two here and there purely for enjoyment, as I do most every season, often along with my family, and also to let you know about this little gem in case you haven’t heard of it. Entering its 9th season, Yamishibai isn’t scary by my standards (and I’m pretty much a wimp, so that gives you a hint as to its level of fright), but what the series does do well is actually create a calming, macabre atmosphere. Yes, Yamishibai is a rather peaceful and ghoulish watch, providing tales of terror infused with Japanese culture and folklore in an animation style that might just be described as rather poor, but which I would rather optimisically call “purposely a throwback.” I certainly recommend the series as something to check out if you have a fascination with Japanese culture, both modern and old, and if you’re just looking to take a step away from the regular, frenetic pacing in most modern anime series. ~ Twwk
Staff: Akira Funada (director), Hiromu Kumamoto (script)
Cast: Kanji Tsuda (Storyteller)
Wonder Egg Priority Special Edition (episode 13)
(Airing June 29, Funimation)
It’s almost here: the final episode of the Winter season’s most creative and troubled series, CloverWorks’ Wonder Egg Priority. If I could only watch one thing from the Summer 2021 season, it would be this. At the end of the main run of the series, episode 12 took a turn I wasn’t expecting, and it was fantastic. But it also left an awful lot of loose ends—especially the more sinister ones, like those raised in episode 11. As yet, there is no teaser trailer for Special Edition, but there is this rather harrowing “climax trailer” to remind us of all the mysteries that have yet to be resolved. Will Ai overcome death? Will any of the egg girls be saved? Will Koito’s motivation for suicide be clarified? Or the mystery around Neiru’s sister? And is Sawaki-sensei a villain, a first crush, or a complete red herring? Can’t wait to find out! (Bring on the flowers.) ~ claire
Staff: Shin Wakabayashi (director), Shinki Nojima (script, creator)
Cast: Kanata Aikawa (Ai), Shuka Saitou (Rika), Hinaki Yano (Momoe), Tomori Kusunoki (Neiru)
Ready the Popcorn!
What’s most interesting about the following shows—the ones we’re most eager to try this season other than a few of the returning series noted above—is that we don’t have much prior experience with them, if any at all. There isn’t a lot of chatter in our circles regarding the source material for the adapted ones. There a particular reliance here for us on plot summaries and PVs and staff.
A few are originals, and the studios developing them give us a whole lot of hope—P.A. Works for Aquatope of White Sand and Madhouse for Sonny Boy. And then there’s the exception, Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan, which we know more of and have been looking forward to for quite some time, and should be quite funny (and perhaps quite good, too).
Aquatope of White Sand
(Premiering July 8, Crunchyroll)
A lush P.A. Works original series set in Okinawa featuring their trademark depiction of actual locations? Hints of Sakura Quest as a pair of young women seek to revive a dying aquarium? A promise of Shirobako-level enlightening educational moments (about penguins, for instance) mixed in with the workplace slice-of-life? From the director of Iroduku: The World in Colors and A Lull in the Sea? And all this enriched by the intergenerational dynamics of Hanasaku Iroha? Yes please and thank you very much. Though maybe not on Fish Night Fridays, if that’s possible, oh ye schedulers of anime simulcasts. ~ claire
Staff: Toshiya Shinohara (director), Yuuko Kakihara (writer)
Cast: Rikako Aida (Fuuka), Miku Itou (Kukuru), Lynn (supporting)
The Detective is Already Dead
(Premiering July 4, Funimation)
For three years, Kimizuka travelled the world with the renown detective codenamed Siesta, solving crimes. All that came to an end when the latter died and Kimizuka returned to life as a normal high schooler (!). Now, a mysterious young woman bearing an uncanny resemblance to Siesta suddenly appears, along with a series of mysteries in need of investigation. Will Kimizuka take up his magnifying glass once again, possibly with the same level of reluctance as Hotaro Oreki in Hyouka? I am a sucker for detective series, so I am looking forward to this one despite the outlandish premise (a high schooler with years of experience as an international sleuth?). It doesn’t hurt that it gives off the hint of an Id:Invaded or Un-Go vibe, what with the meta-mystery about Siesta and the seeming psychological and possibly supernatural dimension at the heart of it. Here’s hoping the young cast—both fictional and actual (this is the director’s first rodeo, and only series number four for studio ENGI)—can pull it off! ~ claire
Staff: Manabu Kurihara (director), Hitomi Mieno (writer)
Cast: Saki Miyashita (Siesta), Shin Nagai (Kimizuka)
Fena: Pirate Princess
(Premiere TBA, Crunchyroll)
Fena: Pirate Princess looks set to be a rip-roaring adventure perfect for summertime! There are pirates and ninjas, a daughter separated from her father, a quest to find the mysterious land of Eden, and tying it all together, a musical score by Yuki Kajiura, whose involvement alone would inspire me to give this a try. I like a good journey anime—the allegorical readings are endless—and an original story crafted by Production I.G, who gifted the world with Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, Psycho-Pass and WIT Studios (among many other things), is something to look forward to in my books. Also, Asami Seto (of Chihaya fame) is voicing Fena. Nakazawa is unknown to me as a director, being relatively new to the post (having spent most of his career as a character designer), and Crunchyroll productions haven’t yet wowed me, but there are so many other pluses going for Fena that I am getting the popcorn ready. ~ claire
Staff: Kazuto Nakazawa (director & creator), Yuki Kajiura (composer)
Cast: Asami Seto (Fena), Hiroaki Hirata (supporting), Aoi Yuuki (supporting)
Life Lessons with Uramichi Oniisan
(Premiering July 5, Funimation)
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You’re going to be seeing Uramichi Oniisan everywhere once it airs—screencaps and video snippets are sure to haunt your social media feeds. And certainly, there’s a poossibility here for a new classic, with the preview indicating a strong adaptation of the manga. The premise, for those unaware, is just perfect: the titular character, a former gymnast turned sardonic children’s television host, mopes through his show and life along with his similarly languishing co-stars. The humor and style is somewhat reminiscent of The Way of the Househusband, but Uramichi Oniisan is more personal and features humor that is far dryer, and perhaps even a bit painful for twenty-somethings. It’s equally a difficult and laugh out loud read in its initial chapters, at least before volume one makes a somewhat abrupt change of course, a bit away from the sometimes mean-spirited humor and toward a workplace comedy, as if the mangaka’s editor said, “It’s funny but the characters are too unlikeable. Why don’t you include a beach chapter?” Of course, the unrelenting dryness of the initial chapters is also what potentially makes the manga and anaime special, along with the perfect casting of Hiroshi Kamiya as Uramichi and Nana as Utano in the latter. So while I’m a bit unsure, and the director, Nagayama, doesn’t exactly inspire faith in me, I’m hopeful. At the very least, it will surely evoke fits of laughter and is likely to be what everyone is talking about—at least for a few weeks. ~ Twwk
Staff: Nobuyoshi Nagayama (director)
Cast: Hiroshi Kamiya (Uramichi), Nana Mizuki (Utano), Mamoru Miyano (Iketeru), Yuuichi Nakamura (Mitsuo)
(Premiering July 2, legally on YouTube with Eng subs)
Did anyone else think that the cat from The Way of the Househusband should get his own series? (But with better cat art…) No? Just me then. Anyhow, my dream has come true! I think. This flash-style animated short follows a chonky tabby thug, Tsushima, and his disreputable feline friends as they disrupt the daily life of their human caretaker, who is animated with the same kind of (deliberate) disregard for anatomy that many animals suffer in anime. Based on a manga that started as a tweet, the animated adaptation is helmed by the visionary behind Pop Team Epic, so this is one to watch for the gags. Which may or may not be a little near the knuckle, as my gramma used to say. ~ claire
Staff: Jun Aoki (director, script)
Cast: Akio Ootsuka (Tsushima), Mayumi Tanaka (Ojii-chan)
Remake Our Life!
(Premiering July 3, Crunchyroll)
I’m a sucker for shows where the protagonist gets a chance to relive his or her life. If that storyline is a part an anime, I’m in (at least for a few episodes), and that’s exactly the case for the appropriately titled, Remake Our Life!, in which a game developer loses his job, returns to his hometown, and magically awakens ten years earlier with, much like Phil in City Slickers, a chance at a life do-over (Billy Crystal reference in an anime post? 1990s Achievement Unlocked!). I like that this puts the protagonist at what’s still an adult age, avoiding some of the stickier elements of reliving life as a teen. It also features some very pretty animation, as expected from one of my favorite studios, feel. I don’t know the source material at all, though, so maybe some of you know better what the show will be like, but I am encouraged by the choice of director, Kobayashi, whose work has often had a dreamy feel to it, and have been what I might describe as “surprisingly good.” I would happy with that ultimate review for this series, but am hopeful that the stars align and good moves to great. ~ Twwk
Staff: Tomoki Kobayashi (director), Nachi Kio (creator, series composition)
Cast: Masahiro Itou (Kyouya), Nao Touyama (Eiko), Aimi Terakawa (Nanakko), Aoi Koga (Aki)
(Premiering July 15, Funimation)
As much as I enjoy second chance stories (see Remake Our Lives! above), I trend toward feeling the opposite toward survival tales. And we don’t know much yet about Sonny Boy other than it being that type (For instance, is it a battle royale type scenario?), with 36 boys and girls sent to an alternate dimension where they must use the powers awakened within them to survive. So why am I so interested? Well, the little else we do know I like a lot, starting with the talent involved. The director is Natsume Shingo, known maybe most for his work on One Punch Man, but who I appreciate more for the admirable job he did with condensing so much material in Horimiya and especially for the wondrous mystery tale, ACCA 13—and there’s more than a passing resemblance here to the characters of that story, by the way, along with a unique animation style that seems to mix fantastical elements with sparser ones (Madhouse is the studio behind this work, as they also were for ACCA 13 and OPM). Shingo also wrote the script for Sonny Boy, which makes for the biggest wildcard of all, because there’s no history to show what he’s capable of in regards to screenplay, other than experience being a part of a number of strong productions. Here’s hoping that Shingo has taken all his time on those anime and is using it well in what appears to be an attempted jump from respected director to auteur. ~ Twwk
Staff: Natsume Shingo (director, script)
Cast: Aoi Ichikawa (Nagara), Aoi Yuuki (Mizuho), Saori Oonishi (Nozomi)
I’ll Give You Five Minutes…or Three Episodes
This category was the strongest one this season for me. Maybe it’s something about the slightly down-tempo nature of Summer programming—not just in anime, but Western television too—and the tendency for studios to reserve their flagship efforts for Autumn or Winter release, using the Summer season to test out less hyped projects by less experienced showrunners. (Also, this year, who wants to compete with the Olympics?!) But that in itself can make for some very good anime.
Most of our picks in this category are isekais. We may have hinted already at a slight dip in our enthusiasm for isekai, but actually, no matter how familiar the fish-out-of-Earth’s-water premise might be nowadays, isekai still hooks us. Something about the promise of new life and hope for second chances, perhaps? Or maybe just a need for a little escapism these days. Either way, we’re secretly hoping these four isekais below will turn out to be winners, and manage to hit that sweet spot between relaxing fluffiness and substantive commentary on life as we know it, told through the allegory of life as we’ve never seen it. Which actually applies the rest of our “mild interest” picks as well, with their unfamiliar historical, cultural and post-apocalyptic settings.
And Re:Zero fans, keep an eye out for Twwk’s teaser of a potential re:start for Subarem in How a Realist Rebuilt the Kingdom!
The Case Study of Vanitas
(Premiering July 3, Funimation)
The plot summary of the manga on Wikipedia includes the phrase “during a blimp ride to Paris” and references to a book that heals vampires from their (unwanted) predatory natures, that is, from their sins. It pretty much had me at “blimp ride,” but the added dimensions of historical France and a quest to redeem vampires through the power of the word is just too good to pass up. (Watch this space for a potential future post!) So I’ll be tuning in to see what this vampire salvation story from Bones and Monogatari/Madoka veteran director is all about. Plus the trailer music is very funky. (Yuki Kajiura, is that you???) ~ claire
Staff: Tomoyuki Itamura (director), Hitomi Mieno (writer), Yuki Kajiura (composer)
Cast: Natsuki Hanae (Vanitas), Kaito Ishikawa (Noé), Ironi Minase (Jeanne)
Drugstore in Another World: The Slow Life of a Cheat Pharmacist
(Premiering July 7, Crunchyroll)
I haven’t read the light novels for Drugstore in Another World, about an isekai’d young man whose acquired skill in his new world is making pharmaceutical drugs, leading to a profitable and peaceful business, but I did read volume one of the manga and found it to be exactly what it’s aiming to be: calming, cute, and comedic. Lots of fluff here, including a cute wolf girl named Noella, but a substantial kind of cute in that the jokes hit really well. But I’ve been burned almost continually by these more peaceful isekai series in a “I think I just wasted a couple of hours of my time” way as I grow bored of them, and I’m afraid the same will happen here. The studio is EMT Squared, which produced Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, another series along that same “super cute but kinda boring” vein, while there’s not much to write home either in regards to the director and writer, though perhaps none of that matters too much with material like this. For me, it’s largely about whether the original source material can set itself enough apart to make the show worth watching through an entire season, when so much else is competing for my entertainment time. ~ Twwk
Staff: Masafumi Sato (director), Hiroko Kanasugi (script)
Cast: Jun Fukushima (Reiji), Risae Matsuda (Noella), Akane Kumada (Mina), Satsumi Matsuda (Elaine)
The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated!
(Premiering July 31, Crunchyroll (rumored))
This is the second isekai of the season from SILVER LINK to make my list. This time, it’s a reversal! Instead of an awkward teenaged otaku or NEET from our world, it’s a powerful demon leader (second only to the King) who has fallen on hard times that gets isekai’d at the hands of a magical girl. (Hmmm…anyone notice the distinct lack of magical girls this season, apart from returning series??? But I digress…) Once in our world, the Great Jahy has to learn her way around a kitchen sink and hotpot, and figure out how to file paperwork for her part-time job. Welcome to 21st century Japan, Jahy! This looks pretty funny, and cute too, so I’m hoping it will be a pleasant heir to the spring season’s I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level. And like that show, there may just be a few deep moments of insight into the absurdities of modern life and how we can navigate them in a healthier, more wholehearted way. Also, this is one of the series this season with a team of female showrunners, which is cool. ~ claire
Staff: Mirai Minato (director), Michiko Yokote (writer)
Cast: Naomi Oozora (Jahy), Mikako Komatsu (supporting), Kana Hanazawa (supporting)
How a Realist Hero Rebuilt the Kingdom
(Premiering July 3, Funimation)
I read volume one of the light novel source for this series for our light novel club, and enjoyed it very much, but I had to dig back into my memory (and into that particular post) to remember why. With so many isekai out there that even ideas like “college guy is transferred into another world where he becomes a statesman” are no longer unique, it’s important to consider the source. And this is a series that’s pretty well liked, and I know is among our light novel club prez’s top tier books—that alone would encourage me to try it out, even if I didn’t already have a pleasant experience with volume one (and if our club also didn’t enjoy volume two). Director Takashi Watanabe is as veteran as they come, and the voice actors are going to draw attention with the leads, Yusuke Kobayashi and Inori Minase (who sings the OP), also known for voicing Subaru and Rem in Re:Zero. That’s right, we might get our Subarem connection by starting life in another other world! Well, that aside, I’m not at all sure whether a state-building series will translate well to anime, but for the other multitude of reasons, I’m very willing to give How a Realist Hero a chance. ~ Twwk
Staff: Takashi Watanabe (director), Hiroshi Oonogi (script)
Cast: Yusuke Kobayashi (Kazuya), Inori Minase (Liscia), Ikumi Hasegawa (Aisha), Reina Ueda (Juna)
(Premiering July 3, Funimation)
Not to be confused with the upcoming sequel movie for Shoujo Kageki Revue Starlight, this series follows the efforts of “Red Flower Opera Company” hopefuls as they train at the all-female company’s high school. The recent interest in female musical theatre inspired by the Takarazuka Revue has made for some good anime (Starlight Revue), and some odd fare as well (Gekidol), but it is nevertheless a relevant theme for anime, given the Revue’s influential role in shaping modern manga and anime. Osamu Tezuka, the “Father of Manga,” grew up in Takarazuka going to the famous theater with his mother, and credited these childhood visits with inspiring his stories and style, including those big sparkly eyes that now pervade the art form. The blurb for Kageki Shoujo!! evokes a sense of the history of the female performance tradition in Japan, so it will be interesting to see just how much cultural reference it will make, if not necessarily in the dialogue, perhaps in the artistry. Looking forward to seeing what PINE JAM does with it, especially since they’ve brought in a writer with a background in live action television and film rather than anime. ~ claire
Staff: Kazuhiro Yoneda (director), Tadashi Morishita (writer)
Cast: Sayaka Senbongi (Sarasa), Yumiri Hanamori (Ai), Kana Hanazawa (supporting)
(Premiering July 1, Funimation – early release of first episode now available here)
The sudden arrival of monstrous Others sparking an apocalyptic scenario; psionic powers blossoming in the remaining human population; technology that links minds, enabling super-powered teens to fight seamlessly as a team; the barest of hints that all may not be what it seems. We’ve definitely heard all this before (*cough* most recently with 86), but that doesn’t mean it won’t be any good. The animation in this video game adaptation is pretty slick and studio Sunrise has produced its fair share of classics over the years, so it’s worth a look in my books. ~ claire
Staff: Hiroyuki Nishimura (director & character designer), Youichi Katou (writer)
Cast: Asami Seto (Kasane), Junya Enoki (Yuito)
TSUKIMICHI -Moonlit Fantasy-
(Premiering July 7, Crunchyroll)
Not every anime has to intensely change my world. Sometimes, I just want something nice and lovable, and I think Tsukimichi might just be that. The storyline is nothing to write home about—high school student is summoned to another world where it’s goddess tosses him away, but he becomes OP and gathers a team together—but the trailer looks fun and features some sharp action scenes. And the director is Shinji Ishihira, who is a master of compelling you (or me at least) to fall in love with series that might at first glance seem unremarkable, like Log Horizon and Fairy Tail. And really, here’s the key thing: I have no knowledge of the source material, so I’m judging this mostly based on his involvement and that of the scriptwriter, Kenta Ihara, who contributed to the screenplay for Death Parade and was the scriptwriter for Vinland Saga. Let’s see where he and Ishihira can take us. ~ Twwk
Staff: Shinji Ishihira (director), Kenta Ihara (script)
Cast: Natsuki Hanae (Makoto), Ayane Sakura (Tomoe), Akari Kito (Mio)
I’m Intrigued, Tell Me More…
And now, the wildcards, those series that pique our interests for one reason or another (sometimes literally for just one reason). There could be a big name involved, a neat trailer, a fun description, a passionate fan base, or some other reason that these series made it to our watch list.
Most will probably get dropped to the wayside, but chances are that at least one of the following—and maybe more—will turn out to be a bonafide gem.
Here they are, those series we only know enough about to go “Hmm….”
(Premiering July 10)
As a child, Ryuuhei watched his beloved older brother die. But it’s okay, because by high school, he’s a cheerful kickboxer who doesn’t let the end of the world faze him. Then one day, while enjoying some cardio, he’s bitten by something called Tris and starts dreaming. So goes the MAL synopsis for this (as yet unreleased mobile game) adaptation. It’s kind of too nonsensical not to try, right? It may just be a marketing stunt, and the fact that there isn’t an anime trailer yet has me worried, but the art and particularly the visual world-building have caught my eye: a giant whale dancing in the sky? Also, we have here the pairing of a newcomer director with the writer who adapted Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood. As the heading says, I’m Intrigued… ~ claire
Staff: Yoshikazu Kon (director), Hiroshi Oonogi (writer)
Cast: Youhei Azakami (Ryuuhei), Haruna Momono (Tris), Aoi Yuuki (Jessica)
The Dungeon of Black Company
(Premiering July 9, Funimation)
Workers of the isekai, unite! Summoned to another world, Kinji thinks he knows what to expect. (Maybe it’s all that isekai anime that’s been doing the rounds.) But he’s in for a nasty surprise when he’s greeted—not as the super-powered savior of the land, but as a mere cog in the wheel, strong-armed into working at a terrible job for a mining company. I cannot pass by this series with its potential parallels to Protazonov’s masterful early Soviet avant-garde film Aelita: Queen of Mars (1924)—thematically speaking, not aesthetically!—without at least giving it a try. Plus it offers a welcome twist on the isekai genre. And it makes for a cool hat-trick of isekais from SILVER LINK this season, as well as the second offering from director Minato and the third from writer Mieno, whose other series have all peaked my interest (see above). This could spell otherworld overload for me, but with these dynamic women heading up production, I’m willing to be convinced! ~ claire
Staff: Mirai Minato (director), Hitomi Mieno (writer)
Cast: Katsuyuki Konishi (Kinji), Misaki Kuno (Rimu), Hiro Shimono (Wanibe)
Idaten Deities in the Peaceful Generation
(Premiering July 22 in Japan, date TBD on Crunchyroll)
Two names: MAPPA and Noitamina. They sound like nonsense to a casual fan or outside observer, but for otaku, the earlier evokes the possibility of something grand while the latter was once a guarantor of something profound. That combination has me wondering what might come out of this series about demons being released from captivity and a battle royale involving gods taking place. The trailer is a lot of fun—I’m down with the animation style and it seems quite humorous, despite a plot that sounds relatively empty. There is some some hype regarding this series, too. Could it actually be something special? I want to respond, “Probably not,” but something is telling me that it could just be the series of the season (And that “something” might just be Hiroshi Seko, whose scriptwriting I very much appreciate). ~ Twwk
Staff: Seimei Kidokoro (director), Hiroshi Seko (script)
Cast: Yui Horie (Paula), Romi Park (Hayato), Megumi Ogata (Essly), Akemi Okamura (Rin)
Peach Boy Riverside
(Premiering July 1, Crunchyroll)
Princess Sari (Saltorine) is bored and wants to go on an adventure, when one arrives right on her doorstep in the form of a horde of demons! Luckily, an enigmatic boy adventurer, Mikoto, arrives in the nick of time to slay the monsters. Now that she knows just how terrifying the outside world can be, Sari is determined more than ever to venture forth and slay her some giants. Gotta hand it to her, she’s got gumption. From the creator of Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid and adapted by the same expert pen that gave us Hinamatsuri, The Demon Girl Next Door and the latest season of Twwk’s favorite, Oregairu!, I’ve got high hopes that there’s enough wit in the mix to liven up the run-of-the-mill premise. ~ claire
Staff: Shigeru Ueda (director), Keiichirou Oochi (writer)
Cast: Haruka Shiraishi (Saltorine), Nao Touyama (Mikoto)
(Premiering July 3, Funimation)
I love a good sports anime, but Haikyuu aside, I haven’t watched one in a long time. That doesn’t mean I haven’t tried—it’s just that nothing feels original or particularly well crafted (or both), especially those that feature beautiful, muscular boys. All splash, and no depth, as it were. As such, I wouldn’t typically even give RE-MAIN, the upcoming water polo series, a shot, except that Tiger & Bunny writer, Masafumi Nishida, is doing pretty much everything for the show (see below), even “supervising” the director. It’s quite obviously a passion project. Also, as with Idaten, this is animated by MAPPA. But I swear, if it isn’t superb, I’ll just switch the station to cable and watch the real thing happening in Tokyo. ~ Twwk
Staff: Masafumi Nishida (co-creator, chief director, series script supervisor, scriptwriter, audio director), Kiyoshi Matsuda (director)
Cast: Yuuto Uemura (Minato), Subaru Kimura (Jou), Koutarou Nishiyama (Eitarou)
Seirei Gensouki: Spirit Chronicles
(Premiering July 5, Crunchyroll)
Isekai, body swaps, revenge, awakened powers—there’s a lot at work in Seirei Gensouki. And I don’t understand any of it. Hopefully, the series itself will be clearer than the summaries out there of this adaptation of a pretty popular light novel series, which is part of what has me intrigued but not overly excited because, hey, LIGHT NOVEL ADAPTATION. That meh-ness applies to staff, too—you’d think with how much I’ve been decrying the lack of experience with directors this season, I’d love that Osamu Yamasaki, who has it in spades, is directing, but I’m just not that familiar with his work. So basically, I know nothing, but wouldn’t be too surprised if this all of the above trends toward something quite good (or at least entertaining). ~ Twwk
Staff: Osamu Yamasaki (director), Hirota Mitsutaka (script)
Cast: Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Rio), Akane Fujita (Celia), Sayaka Harada (Miharu)
I’m Ready for the Second Cour…se (and Concluding Thoughts)
If everything, everything goes awry, and none of the shows above live up to hopes or expectations—and to be frank, there could certainly be a dip in quality this season compared to the last two—we can bask in the warmth of returning series, of which there are a couple of strongs ones this coming season.
My Hero Academia had a nice, calm first half to season five, but don’t expect the same in the second cour, with the much-talked about Meta Liberation Army Arc about to go into full swing. I haven’t read the manga, but know of this arc, and this is the type of impactful, challenging material I’ve been waiting for from this series. Meanwhile, what’s possibly been the best show of the spring continues its run in To Your Eternity, which has been such a heart-filled and challenging journey of its own. Some will also continue with Welcome to Demon School, an under-the-radar show that has many proponents (I’ve only watched a couple of episodes myself).
EDENS ZERO and Shaman King, two Netflix properties, are in a weird spot as they continue their shows. Some of you will be watching cour two, and some of us will be tuning in to cour one as it gets released on Netflix—a real pain. I’m not-really-but-really hoping for the worse, that Netflix’s metrics demonstrate that its losing viewership on what were once very highly-anticipated series because of their roll-out plans. As for me, I think I’ll dip my toe into both, as I was a fan of Fairy Tail and havee heard wonderful things about the original version of the latter. ~ Twwk
PS – And let’s not forget Tokyo Revengers, for which a second cour has just been announced on Crunchyroll!
And that’s it for our seasonal preview, folks! We hope you enjoyed this journey into what’s coming up just a week or two down the line. In the meantime, let us know which of these series you’re looking forward to! What are we missing out on? What diamonds in the rough are out there for the summer?
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Happy seasonal viewing!