So looking over the titles laid out on the seasonal chart, this upcoming summer is looking like probably the least interesting and smallest season of anime in quite some time, and in terms of the former for my tastes, possibly ever. That much isn’t that surprising considering the circumstances, with numerous delays and postponements due to a certain ongoing disastrous humanity-wide event you may have heard about. Similar things can likely be said about other major media releases, with for instance major video games and movie release schedules looking pretty barren for the next few months, outside of some standouts. Perhaps it could then be a good time to take a step back and sample from some of the vast array of art history we as a species have achieved thus far; though who am I kidding–half of us will probably just twiddle away at mobile gacha games or something.
One thing that may alleviate some of the drought for some is that there are in fact a few shows that have been delayed that will be returning for broadcast starting around now. I won’t be going through them with commentary again since I’ve already talked about them, but I will list those I’ve had on my previews before that are restarting below.
Toaru Kagaku no Railgun T (starting from episode 16)
Appare-Ranman (starting from episode 4)
Houkago Teibou Nisshi (starting from episode 4)
Digimon Adventure: (starting from episode 4)
Fugou Keiji – Balance:UNLIMITED (starting from episode 3)
Healin’ Good♡Precure (starting from episode 13)
What’s been announced so far for fall also looks more interesting already than this season, so we do also have that to look forward to. Nevertheless, there are a few new summer shows I’m being enticed by, even if there’s not much I would say that fits my tastes very well.
Nihon Chinbotsu 2020
Director: Masaaki Yuasa
Writer: Toshio Yoshitaka
Studio: Science SARU
First off is somehow yet another Masaaki Yuasa directed show, just two seasons removed from the last one. With the breakneck pace he’s been putting out highly accomplished and creatively engaging works lately, it’s not surprising that it seems he may be taking a step back for a while. But this time at least he and Science SARU are dropping an entire series at once on Netflix, with a noticeably diverse cast and a disaster scenario that sounds a bit like Tokyo Magnitude 8.0. Considering I put Yuasa’s last show as my top choice for Winter, you might think this spot was a shoe-in for whenever he directs anything, but that isn’t really the case. As I’ve said before, most of the time my ordering is based not only on the caliber of work I think a thing might represent but also on my personal tastes, and some of his other outings for instance would probably not have made it based on the latter, and this one also probably wouldn’t have in a larger, more appealing-to-me season. However, I’m thankful for seeing it at the last minute at least because otherwise I would’ve had to put up Re:Zero 2 (sequel to a show I haven’t even finished) or God of High School or something. Disaster movie type things may not be my go-to type of media, but Japan Sinks certainly looks as though it will be a well-crafted tale, and even though I might be rolling the dice a bit for someone’s who’s directed things like Devilman Crybaby and Kaiba, but I’m also hoping that it’ll maybe develop into a somewhat uplifting survival story in these trying times.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season
Director: Masaharu Watanabe
Writer: Masahiro Yokotani
Studio: White Fox
As I said above, I’ve never actually finished the first season of Re:Zero, so it might be sign of just how dry this summer is or maybe a testament to how intriguing I found the setup of what I did watch or some combo of both, that it still made it this high. While I haven’t found the show entirely brazenly original in its Groundhog Day meets fantasy isekai storytelling, it certainly stands out from your standard-fare isekai light novel adaptations in large part due to its upbeat, likable non-generic characters, the interplay between that and the gut-wrenching horrors sometimes inflicted upon them, an unusually sharp art-style for this type of work, fairly capable animation, and the way it teases out its mysteries in ways that make it consistently intriguing to watch.
Sword Art Online: Alicization – War of Underworld 2nd Season
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Continuing on in the theme of sequels to shows I haven’t finished but theoretically might like to someday, there’s not a lot for me to say on the latest season of SAO that I hadn’t already said in my write-up about the previous season that I haven’t watched yet, but I will say that the show does have some pretty fantastic looking poster artwork.
No Guns Life Season 2
No Guns Life season 1 continues to be that show with the guy with a gun for a head in cyberpunk-land I imagine well beyond the first episode that I watched, which I thought was pretty good. Considering as I stated in my season 1 preview that having a gun for head can make a show all on its own, and the second season obviously continues this tradition, it would be a travesty to exclude it from consideration now.
The God of High School
Director: Seong-Hu Park
Writer: Kiyoko Yoshimura
When it comes to genres of things I’m into, martial arts is one of those I definitely am and definitely feel we don’t often get enough of. On the other hand what I’m not always into that much are possibly cardboard cutout spiky haired shounen MCs and seemingly rote barebones plotlines. I mean, the premise seems to be basically “win the competition and you’ll be granted any wish” which comes off as nearly identical to the plot outline of Tower of God, another manwha based battle shounen adaptation, from just last season. Still, I do like battle shounen, and details matter, and so perhaps there’s more to it than it lets on. And even if not, if the PV’s anything to go by, this might be one case where the show could be worth it for the impressive looking animated fight scenes alone.
Director: Yuzuru Tachikawa
Writer: Hiroshi Seko
In terms of other shows in genres I’m usually very down for, high concept sci-fi tends to score well on my personal scale, and that’s what we seem to be getting in the oddly named Deca-Dence. But as with the last one, I’m also a bit weary of the fact that it already conceptually resembles a large swath of similar themed sci-fi anime. There’s nothing wrong with taking an oft-used premise and giving it new life in some way of course, or recombining ideas to make at least an amalgamation of something halfway novel. That’s what this show seems to be going for, and luckily it also comes from a director who has done fairly commendable work on shows like Death Parade and Mob Psycho.
Director: Hiro Kaburagi
Writer: Ryouta Kosawa
Studio: Wit Studio
On the other end of the spectrum, there’s shows like this one that do almost nothing for me on paper, but in terms of execution looks to have some charismatic animation stylings and smooth music choices, and admittedly it does offer a relatively unique premise with which I wouldn’t mind seeing how it plays out.
Director: Hiroyuki Hata
Writer: Hajime Asano
Studio: Studio Mausu
Rounding out the scattered few full length shows I’m interested in this season is another new idol show, this one with reportedly over 57,000 new idol girls to idol over, which will probably mean by proxy that it’s the closest we might get to anything yuri-adjacent this season (in addition to possibly the couple of shorts below). Apparently there’s also some magic school related shenanigans included, which could theoretically liven this up a bit depending on how it’s implemented.
Director: Seiya Miyajima
Studio: W-Toon Studio, DMM.futureworks
So the main series this short is based off of, Uma Musume, which if you couldn’t guess from it’s English translation “Horse Girls”, is about a cast of horse-racing girls, or rather, horse girls who race for sport. I’ve only seen the first episode, and despite what you might think from the concept, and disregarding the moral issues with real life horse racing, it actually came off as fairly innocuous? Maybe even low-key empowering and exciting? Yeah, anime is weird (and that can be partly why I’m into it). I definitely would’ve liked to watch more, since it at least seems to fill the vacuum a smidge of the lack of competently made girls sports shows. Anyway, this chibi short will likely have not much of that, since it’s probably just the cast goofing off like most of these, but it could certainly be an amusing way to pass a few minutes now and then.
Chou Futsuu Toshi Kashiwa Densetsu R
Director: Shinya Murai
Writer: Shinya Murai
Last and probably least in terms of production values is another short very clearly based on a true story and real life events and locations. I’m honestly hoping that this has the kind of berserk absurdity that has characterized some similar looking shorts in the past, but really I have almost no idea what to expect out of it at all.
Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045
Director: Kenji Kamiyama, Shinji Aramaki
Studio: Production I.G, Sola Digital Arts
I realized a bit late last season that I completely forgot to mention this new Ghost in the Shell sequel to the Stand Alone Complex series, as it kind of landed a bit abruptly on Netflix at the end of April. I haven’t watched any of it yet, and I will say I’m not sold at all on the new composer (pretty damn hard to follow up on a soundtrack by Yoko Kanno of all people) or the fully 3DCG transition. The original Ghost in the Shell movie is widely considered a seminal work of 2D animation (not to mention of cyberpunk fiction in general). The second movie isn’t quite as highly acclaimed, and does have some 3DCG, but still contains some lavishly animated 2D work. The SAC TV series also uses 3D for various things sometimes, but was also mostly a 2D affair highly regarded for its notable production values for a TV show for its time. So I don’t think it was good idea to suddenly go full 3D without any warning at the very least unless they were intent on making it look very impressive, or at least very good, like as good as some of the efforts by studios like Orange. But it doesn’t, at least from the trailer. While on a technical level it may not be entirely unimpressive, the way it looks, even if not nearly as bad as some claim, is just plastic-y and off-putting. However, there’s more to anime than just animation. I’ve enjoyed pretty much all of the Ghost in the Shell stuff I’ve seen, but some of SAC strained my tolerance with its police procedural type leanings (I’m not often really fond of procedural TV in general, besides comedies). So I’m kind of liking the idea that 2045 seems to be based on a shorter length with one continuous story arc. In addition, they at least were able to get Kamiyama to direct again, and I’ve been pretty enamored with most of the shows he’s been behind (although Aramaki is co-directing, so that accounts for the blatant CG I guess). In other words, I’m still invested in checking this series out, and with the lack of many alternatives this season it might very well be a good opportunity.
So that’s the entirety of what I’m possibly looking at watching this season, although as usual, I’ll keep an eye out for any stragglers dangling out there that I might’ve missed.