As I’m sure you can already tell, due to several strenuous issues I’ve been dealing with I’m obscenely late with this season’s write-up rather than just mild to moderately late as I have been for the last several, and it’s now already closer to the end of the season than it is to the start, but as with those I thought it was still worth posting this in its mostly intact form that I’ve been working with ever since December, as personally I have not watched much of these shows yet anyway, and it might still be worthwhile for posterity’s sake.
Heading into the new year, we have a fresh new season of anime to run through, and this one appears to be quite massive. Not only is this Winter season substantially larger in terms of sheer volume than last Winter, with ~47 new full-length shows premiering versus ~34 then, it also has more new shows than any season last year. Seemingly many of the delayed series from 2020 all decided to plop themselves down into this one, which might account for the discrepancy. It may be a good thing as well, because the start of the year for other mediums (particularly movies, video games, and live action TV) is looking a bit dry so far with the effects of Covid still making themselves apparent, so anime might need to pick up some of the entertainment slack, at least for me.
Part of the upswing in titles this season is the deluge of sequels, which accounts for around half of the shows I’m potentially most interested in. There are so many that I altered the format for this preview yet again, which is becoming fairly habitual. This time I put sequels into three separate tiers, which aren’t based necessarily on greatest anticipation, but rather on how much I’m caught up on prior seasons. Tier 1 shows are those I’m already fully caught up on (at least for their main TV shows). Tier 2 shows are those I’ve watched some of and enjoyed, but have not seen everything. Tier 3 shows are those I either haven’t watched at all or have only seen like one episode that I don’t remember well, but I’m still interested in trying. But even though sequels make up an an unusually significant portion of what’s airing, they are far from the only thing this season, as there are still a number of newcomers with potential, which I’ve broken into two blocks as well — these are more of my standard “most anticipated” and “the rest” lists that you can find mixed in below with the sequel groups. As usual, I like to highlight non-sequels that don’t have the benefit of overt familiarity first if possible, so the top list there goes first.
Most Anticipated New Shows
Ura Sekai Picnic
Director: Takuya Satou
Writer: Takuya Satou
Studio: LIDENFILMS, Felix Film
As I said in my previous Fall preview, having a new overt yuri anime airing will almost always be hard to beat in terms of my personal interests. It’s not insurmountable since I appreciate a wide variety of things, and especially shows from directors and other staff whose work I’ve liked in the past could often potentially eclipse it. But it just so happens that in this case, Ura Sekai Picnic has both going for it, since the director (and writer) handled the very good Kase-san and Fragtime yuri OVAs. Another thing that I didn’t mention was that shows that have a potentially compelling on-going narrative (particularly sci-fi/fantasy, like this one) alongside the lesbians aspect often makes for an even more enticing work for me to get invested in, and I have heard fairly good things about the source material.
Director: Junji Nishimura, Mamoru Oshii
Writer: Mamoru Oshii, Kei Yamamura
In contrast to previous seasons where we’d be lucky to get one girls love centered anime every few seasons or so, this time we actually have two to look forward to. Interestingly, legendary director Oshii returns to sort of helm alongside some other guy (nah, it’s actually fairly prolific director as well whose done things like Simoun and Windy Tales) in what looks to be a colorful zany romcom with a retro anime throwback artstyle and tone.
Soukou Musume Senki
Director: Keitarou Motonaga
Writer: Yasuyuki Mutou
Studio: studio A-CAT
As I said in my Fall preview, these kinds of shows with girls valiantly fighting the nefarious nebulous monstrosities tend to rank highly on my interest lists whenever they appear. This season seems to have isekais pouring out of every orifice, so of course in this case it actually looks like girls transported to an alternaworld where they must do battle. While the director does have a rather lengthy yet mixed track record, he was in charge of Katanagatari and several other shows of interest. While it doesn’t look as advertantly gay as last season’s Assault Lily on the surface, as previously indicated these types of shows can often provide not-necessarily-that-subtle subtext at least, so we’ll see.
Kumo desu ga, Nani ka?
Director: Shin Itagaki
Writer: Yuuichirou Momose, Okina Baba
Studio: Millepensee, exsa
We’ve had a lot of overpowered isekai protags of late, but not quite as many on the opposite end of the spectrum. This one though seemingly has us following the plucky underdog tale of a girl turned into a spider en route to her new reality, who must somehow fight to survive amidst deadly creatures with only her wits and the bare minimum of strength and tools at her disposal. While I haven’t seen much by this team other than the berserk comedy shorts of Teekyuu, and some of the CG use could be distracting, it looks like a possibly refreshing take on a fairly over-crowded genre that supposedly has some worthwhile source material behind it.
Director: Gorou Taniguchi
Writer: Kazuki Nakashima
Studio: Studio VOLN
While the PVs and promo images available don’t really seem to show this off much for some reason, this is actually supposed to be a large-scale fantasy mecha outing of some variety. Taniguchi is of course most well-known for the epic mecha anime Code Geass (which I haven’t seen) along with some older well-regarded shows I also haven’t seen, but I mostly just remember him from Junketsu no Maria, and liking one thing from a director is often enough to make me want to investigate any of their other work.
Tenchi Souzou Design-bu
Director: Souichi Masui
Writer: Michiko Yokote
Studio: Asahi Production
Another new comedy I’m looking forward to is one with a relatively unique premise in the anime sphere at least, which focuses on people in heaven creating the various creatures on Earth or something. I’ve heard some relatively compelling stuff about the source, and it’s being handled by the person behind a couple things I’ve liked such as Chaika and Scrapped Princess.
Wonder Egg Priority
Director: Shin Wakabayashi
Writer: Shinji Nojima
If you’ve been following these previews for long enough you know that I’m highly susceptible to girls chillaxing or pro-wrestling or whatever else girls tend to do in their spare time type shows, which seems like the very Engrishly named Wonder Egg Priority will be in the vein of. However, in this case it also seems to possibly have more to its story, with an outline that sounds a bit like something out of an Ikuhara work. This appears to be the first major directorial work for the person in charge, and the writer doesn’t seem to have done much either, so since it’s an original work it’s mostly a blank slate in that regards from my perspective, but it does have nice designs and a fairly enigmatic PV.
Director: Masahiro Takata
Writer: Touko Machida
This season brings with it not only quite a few shows with girls as leads, but a fair variety of genres with them as well. In this case, we seem to have an action thriller bloody death games type show with our main two fighting for survival in the unusual setting of on top of skyscrapers for some reason. The director has only done a few shorts I’m not familiar with as far as I can tell, I’m equally in the dark on most of the studio’s output, and even with the writer I’ve seen a smattering of her works, so I’m mostly basing my interest on concept, which is very much up my alley.
Director: Shigeru Ueda
Writer: Keiichirou Oochi
Studio: Hoods Entertainment
Gekidol is another one I’m having to base on mostly on surface level conceptual knowledge, since with this I haven’t seen any of the director or studio’s work if memory serves, and the writer has mostly done adaptations, whereas this is an original work. However, putting a sci-fi spin on idols, along with its intriguing association with the Alice in Deadly School zombie spin-off thing, definitely elevates my interest above the usual idol fare.
Director: Hiroko Utsumi
Writer: Ichirou Ookouchi
While I’m definitely not really into skateboarding or skateboarding culture, and so it might be a bit surprising for me to put this one up so high, it should be said that anime does have a tendency to make things we wouldn’t necessarily normally find appealing into shows we’re somehow really invested in. I don’t care about volleyball for instance, but I do like Haikyuu!!. These shows frequently do with this with things like the enthusiasm the characters show for the thing in question and exciting animation and music. These are the types of things the PV for this appears to show off, and both BONES and Utsumi are fairly known for their impressive looking works.
Director: Kazuya Iwata
Writer: Satoshi Sugisawa
Studio: project No.9
Another funny looking comedy comes in the form of this pint-sized CEO workplace romp with adorable designs that has the same issues as other shows with staff and source I’m not familiar with but with an energetically hilarious PV already working in its favor.
Sequels I’m Caught Up On
Yakusoku no Neverland 2
Director: Mamoru Kanbe
Writer: Toshiya Oono, Kaiu Shirai
As you may or may not remember, I had the first season of The Promised Neverland at the top of my list the season it came out, and it certainly turned out to be one of my favorites of that season and year. For those unfamiliar, this is a tense and constantly engaging show about intelligent kids overcoming near impossible circumstances and harrowing losses. And they’re not out of the woods yet, literally speaking, as it’s still up in the air how exactly these kids are going to be able to continue on in this world that’s still brimming with mysteries.
Yuru Camp△ SEASON 2
Director: Yoshiaki Kyougoku
Writer: Jin Tanaka
Likewise, even though I hadn’t started this blog back when Yuru Camp originally came out, it’s first season was one of my favorites of its release year, as it was a spectacularly relaxing, cozy, and warmly funny comedy about girls enjoying their time camping.
Non Non Biyori: Nonstop
Director: Shinya Kawatsura
Writer: Reiko Yoshida
Studio: SILVER LINK.
But Yurucamp isn’t the only sequel to a very enjoyable slice of comfy show this season. I’m not sure who in animeland that rubber stamps new releases decided it was time for follow-ups to two of the most noteworthy of these kinds of shows ever made in the same season, but here we are. This one covers the lives of girls of varying ages chilling at an extremely tiny school in the countryside, and while it’s not as aesthetically refined as some others in its genre like Yurucamp, it makes up for it I think with a more prominent comedic focus.
Dr. STONE: STONE WARS
Director: Shinya Iino
Writer: Yuuichiro Kido
Studio: TMS Entertainment
As with the previous three sequels I’ve covered, the new season of Dr. Stone benefits from the fact that it carries over the same staff the previous season. Along with something like The Promised Neverland, I appreciate that this is a shounen that focuses on its characters’ intelligence and battle of wits type scenarios rather than just power level battles for a nice change of pace.
Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season
Director: Yuuichirou Hayashi
Writer: Hiroshi Seko
If there’s one show that’s by far the most hyped of the new season, it’s unsurprisingly this one. Coming off a third season that completely upended everything we knew about this world, where exactly they’re going with this is kind of a mystery to anyone not versed in the manga, but seems to be taking the conflict set up at the end of last season to a much wider scale. Although the series is exchanging studios for the first time, MAPPA does seem like a capable choice based on some of their recent works. Personally, I’m down about some of the spoilers I read a while back, and so I’m somewhat dreading what’s to come as much as I’m interested in seeing how the series will unfold, but I’ve come this far so I’ll probably end up seeing it through to the end.
Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu 2nd Season Part 2
Director: Masaharu Watanabe
Writer: Masahiro Yokotani
Studio: White Fox
The latest season of Re:Zero comes as yet another sequel this season that has kept it’s major staff and studio unchanged from prior ones, which is good news since the sharp direction and animation from those past seasons has been one of the show’s highlights. But while I’ve kept up with the show and will very likely watch this as well, in terms of story although still relatively entertaining I felt the second season was a bit too wordy and plodding and felt like it opened up seven different new plot threads without really addressing any of them, so I think this part 2 has a lot to prove to make up for that.
Nanatsu no Taizai: Fundo no Shinpan
Director: Susumu Nishizawa
Writer: Rintarou Ikeda
Studio: Studio DEEN, Marvy Jack
The previous season to Natatsu no Taizai I feel had the opposite problem of Re:Zero. While the storyline actually became probably the most engaging and emotionally resonant the show has ever been, the animation was passed off to a new studio who did a very average job. While it’s not remotely horrible the way some would have you believe and I would probably call it “serviceable,” there are some choice moments and it did lessen the impact of especially some of the big action scenes, which became more apparent in the latter half as it escalated into a colossal battle between the remaining opposing forces. Since usually I’m more into story and characters than production values though, I enjoyed the season and am still eager to find out what happens in the new one, since the former one ended right in the middle of that major battle.
Sequels I’m Behind On
Show By Rock!! Stars!!
Director: Takahiro Ikezoe, Daigo Yamagishi
Writer: Touko Machida
Studio: Kinema Citrus
So with this season of Show by Rock, I’m actually not 100% sure I can say that I’m not caught up with previous seasons, because I did in fact watch the first two seasons of the main show, but I didn’t watch all of the spin-off Show by Rock Mashumairesh. While normally I would say spin-offs don’t really count, this new season is an oddity since it’s apparently a combination of the main series and Mashumairesh, with characters from both seemingly getting equal screen time as they rock out in their Precure meets girls rock bands with SD mascot chara shenanigans. Since that’s the case, and because I’d probably like to watch the rest of the spin-off anyway, I’m bumping Stars down to not-entirely-caught-up on a technicality.
Director: Shinichi Matsumi
Writer: Nanami Higuchi
From the few episodes I watched of the first Beastars, it had a lot going for it with very competent and naturalistic directing and atmosphere, and impressive CG work by the stalwarts at studio Orange. Personally, the show’s school drama nuances didn’t necessarily seem like my cup of tea even with its off-kilter bestial dynamics and proud hastening of the furrypocalypse, so I don’t know if I’ll actually come back to it and this second season, but what I remember of its inherent qualities make it seem as though I could potentially be more enamored by it than I was if I do end up returning.
Uma Musume: Pretty Derby Season 2
Director: Kei Oikawa
Studio: Studio KAI
On the other hand, a show I very much want to get back into that I also only watched a couple episodes of is this one. I admit that at first I was quite weary of what this show would bring on a conceptual level, as you would think this would be a creepy fetish show based on the premise, but it’s actually surprisingly wholesome, with not much in the way of fanservice from the little I watched, and a very lively and capable sports pedigree that looks like a lot of fun.
World Witches Hasshin Shimasu!
Director: Fumio Itou
Studio: Acca effe, Giga Production
In terms of shows that I’m significantly far behind on, the Strike Witches franchise is certainly high on the list by volume at least, since I’ve only really seen the first season if I recall and there are like 5 sequel seasons/spin-offs I haven’t, which makes this short spin-off unlikely to be viewed anytime soon and is a serious blow to the allied pantsless forces everywhere.
Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki 3 Satsume
Director: Hisayoshi Hirasawa
Writer: WORDS in STEREO
Studio: Saetta, Creators in Pack
While I haven’t seen more than a handful of episodes of these fairly amusing 3 min comedy shorts, the fact that them being so short means I could basically knock out all the seasons in an hour or two leads me to believe I might possibly do that at some point.
The Rest (New Shows)
Director: Yoshikatsu Kimura
Writer: Tommy Morton
Studio: Visual Flight
I’m not entirely sure what to make of the PV I watched of this latest sci-fi anime. Conceptually it sounds very much like something I’d be into, but it mostly sports a bunch of fast-paced robot/mecha fight scenes with CG that’s like early PS3 level graphics, if that. I guess it could have some propulsive action pieces in the vein of something like RWBY, but personally the biggest draw for me is that it has an opening and ending by two excellent goofy punk bands.
Director: Masashi Ishihama
Writer: Takao Yoshioka
This on the other hand seems like something I would not necessarily be into, but it’s manga’s reputation in the community seems quite high and it does feature direction by the person behind Shinsekai Yori. I do occasionally tolerate more hetero-focused romcoms depending on the circumstances so it’s certainly worth a shot.
Director: Gorou Taniguchi, Toshinori Fukushima
Writer: Noboru Kimura
Studio: J.C. Staff
I originally left this off this list completely, but I put it back on when I realized that Gorou Taniguchi, who I mentioned earlier, is also co-helming this ice skating boys sports production. As opposed to the skateboarding boys sports show, this one does look decidedly less immediately remarkable and fluid, and possibly more by-the-numbers as sports stories go, but as I’ve said before I do usually try to give people who’ve done things I’ve liked in the past more leeway, and J.C. Staff has often done well at making entertaining material even with less than stellar animation.
Tatoeba Last Dungeon Mae no Mura no Shounen ga Joban no Machi de Kurasu Youna Monogatari
Writer: Hitomi Mieno
This season definitely has fairly sizeable selection of comedies. While this is the director’s first work, the writer has scripted a few enjoyable shows I’ve seen, and the PV does look rambunctiously off-the-wall-enough to be worth a spin.
Director: Yasuto Nishikata
Writer: Rintarou Ikeda
I can’t really claim that anything about this makes it look like much more than a blandish medieval JRPG fantasy type show, but I do think the PV at least makes it appear like it could possibly be a competent, well-executed take on the formula.
Mushoku Tensei: Isekai Ittara Honki Dasu
Director: Manabu Okamoto
Writer: Manabu Okamoto
Studio: Studio Bind
Another one that seems to fit well on the generic-o scale, in this case for your standard fare fantasy isekai, but looks even more highly polished would be Mushoku Tensei. I’ve heard a few questionable things about the source material, but I have to admit that from a production standpoint the PV makes it look like it may be one of the best animated shows this season.
Maiko-san Chi no Makanai-san
Director: Youhei Suzuki
Writer: Susumu Yamakawa
As for new shorts, the only one the caught my eye upfront other than Youjou Shachou was this one about geisha, or in this case about girls wanting to become maiko, or apprentice geisha. Oddly enough I can’t recall too many anime about geisha or such, so it may make this that much more interesting.
Sequels to Shows I Haven’t Really Watched
Log Horizon: Entaku Houkai
Director: Shinji Ishihira
Writer: Toshizou Nemoto
Studio: Studio DEEN
I’ve said before that I do have a propensity for liking VRMMO-type anime, and I’ve heard a lot of people recommend this series even though I’ve personally never really got around to trying it. Apparently this show seems to focus less on high stakes permanent death situations or fun adventuring and more on world building and political maneuvering or something inside its trapped-in-an-MMO bubble. This is already the third season so I’d have a lot to catch up on, but it does have a pleasant almost welcoming aesthetic if I ever do decide to jump in.
World Trigger 2
Director: Morio Hatano
Writer: Hiroyuki Yoshino
Studio: Toei Animation
Back when the first season of World Trigger came out, I distinctly remember being motivated to check it out as it seemed like one of the bigger shounen action titles to come out at the time, but perhaps due to a less than stellar reaction to it and possibly some other reasons I’m not recalling, I never really did. I still think the sci-fi setting premise and designs, despite not being especially unique, holds a certain appeal to me, and so I may well eventually find the time to go back to it.
Director: Hirofumi Ogura
Writer: Yuuko Kakihara, Yuuko Kakihara
Studio: David Production
To join the comedy ranks this season, we have a sequel to Cells at Work, a show about anthropomorphic immune cells fighting diseases and such in the human body from the studio behind JoJo. While I actually believe I watched the first episode of the original season back around when it aired, I don’t remember it well enough to claim to have started it. I do feel like I thought at the time it was skewing towards a younger audience, though that may have just been a momentary impression, and I’m still intrigued enough by the premise to possibly give this another try.
Hataraku Saibou BLACK
Director: Hideyo Yamamoto
Writer: Hayashi Mori
While Hataraku Saibou appears mostly comedy focused and lighthearted, this spin-off takes a more sinister route as it focuses on immune cells inside what seems to be an extremely unhealthy person possibly fighting a losing battle. Whether this means more of a black comedy direction or more of a serious action/horror(/tragic?) direction I’m not entirely sure, but it seems like another distinct take on an already relatively uncommon idea.
Tensei Shitara Slime Datta Ken 2nd Season
Director: Atsushi Nakayama
Writer: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu
While the other shows in this final category of not-watched sequels are mostly ones I’m not necessarily in too big a hurry to try to get into at the moment with everything else this season already has on offer, one that I might be a bit more likely to get invested in sooner rather than later is this one, because even though when the first season came out it didn’t look like I would care for it at all, but I’ve since actually heard some fairly decent things about it that sound more like I might, like some pretty engaging storytelling and world-building in this slime-centered isekai, supposedly, and on second look from the promo materials at least the animation and character designs do seem pretty striking and crisp.
WIXOSS DIVA (A) LIVE
Director: Masato Matsune
Writer: Gou Tamai
Studio: J.C. Staff
Lastly, I’ve never remotely gone near anything WIXOSS related but this latest incarnation has magical girl idols doing magical girl idol things presumably or something, so it could certainly catch my time based on that fact alone.
So there you have it, a pretty monumental looking season when you look at it from a distance, that I only wish I had gotten around to covering closer towards the beginning. With any luck this year, hopefully I’ll be able to find more time to actually watch some of these and any other stragglers I may have missed.