Melodius: After the flood of amazing series to come from the Winter 2016 season, it’ll be difficult for upcoming seasons to top what’s currently airing. Amongst my current favourites are the supernatural thrillers, Ajin and Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. I’ve also made no secret of my love for mysteries (see: Detective Conan, Gosick, and Ranpo Kitan amongst others), so it should come as no surprise that one of the series I’m most looking forward to in the spring is Bungou Stray Dogs!
Plainly, what I’m most eager about is seeing how the plot unfolds. Bungou Stray Dogs is based upon a manga by the same name, written by Asagiri Kafka and illustrated by Hirukawa 35. I have to confess I’m not much of a manga reader though - it’s too difficult for me to remember my progress in more than a few series - but there have been a few times when an anime has been so good that I’ve dived into a manga well before its run has ended. So, it’s as a clean slate I approach this series, hoping that the story, characters, and most importantly, the mystery, don’t disappoint.
I’m hopeful that it won’t be, however. Bones is the animation studio behind this project and they’ve been at the helm of several amazing titles in past years: Cowboy Bebop, Darker than Black, Fullmetal Alchemist, Ouran High School Host Club - and so many more. If their successful precedence is any indication, Bungou Stray Dogs may soon follow.
5camp: I’m just wary of the director. I know people have liked Takuya Igarashi’s works, such as Ouran Host Club, but so much of his latest work has bounced off me. His two latest pieces were anime original mecha material, Star Driver and Captain Earth, that I should have been all over. But Star Driver didn’t do it for me and Captain Earth was just not very good at all. Maybe he’s better with adapting existing material?
Enzo: No coincidence we both chose Bones series－their Spring alone looks like it would make a great year for most studios. Bungou is definitely right up there in my top tier for Spring－it looks like it’s going to be one of the best of the season.
Kami_nomi: I’m going to wait on this one－the only mystery (excluding Bokumachi) I’ve enjoyed over the past few years has been Detective Conan. Maybe the genre is just not for me, even though I would think it’d be something I’d like. But if enough people I know speak well of it, I’ll give it a shot.
Jankenpopp: I don’t generally go by studio when I look for anime to watch, because every studio is capable of doing good things (Studio Pierrot’s Tokyo Ghoul) and bad things (Studio Pierrot’s Tokyo Ghoul √A). That being said, I don’t remember ever hating anything Bones has done so far. There’s a lot of goodwill left over from Space☆Dandy.
Guardian Enzo: (A bit of a disclaimer: if it hadn’t already premiered, my answer this question would have been Boku Dake ga Inai Machi, which may be my favorite current manga. And at one time it probably would have been Sangatsu no Lion, because that’s an adaptation fans of the manga have been craving for years. But the announcement of Shinbou and SHAFT being in charge of that series has pretty much soured my expectations, so I turn to Boku no Hero Academia.
With that said, none of it is any slight against this series－Spring is looking like a great season, and the competition is stiff. Boku no Hero Academia is one of the greatest pure shounen to grace the pages of WSJ (Weekly Shounen Jump) in years. It’s full of the spirit and awkwardness of youth, but also a very smart take on the American superhero genre from a mangaka who clearly understands the subtleties of that topic very well. Main character Midoriya Izuku (Deku) is one of the best shounen protagonists you’ll see, easy to like and perfectly balanced between strength and vulnerability. He’s also surrounded by a great supporting cast of fellow students, teachers and villains.
In addition to all that the manga has going for it, this series is also the product of Bones－who look poised to have one of the great studio years of all-time in 2016. They’ve put together their usual stellar staff and cast (though Kaji Yuki is as usual miscast here). There are really no yellow flags with Boku no Hero Academia－it may not be the subtlest or most complex series of the year, but it seems certain to be among the most entertaining.
5camp: I really liked what I read of the manga. Although it’s not exactly very original, it has heart and a good central theme of never telling someone they are incapable of achieving their dreams.
Kami_nomi: Ditto. I’ll just add I can’t wait to see how they adapt the villains, because that’s when I think the series takes off.
melodius: I’m really picky about superhero/shounen genre-type series and the PV for this one didn’t really grab my interest. I think I would have been more intrigued if it were a story about the protagonist becoming a hero under his own power rather than a power bestowed upon him by someone during a “fateful meeting”. Someone like Adlet Myer from Rokka no Yuusha.
5camp: (to Melodius) From what I read of the manga he does indeed become a hero under his own power. That’s exactly why I really liked it. So long as it doesn’t change from that later on, which would be disappointing.
Kami_nomi: With each anime iteration of the Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure franchise, the more we get to see how Hirohiko Araki’s series has evolved, for the better I think. The first Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure was a lot of fun, even if it had some battle flaws. Stardust Crusaders was inconsistent－the first half was ok compared to its second half, which brought out a lot of creativity, some great animation, and was something I couldn’t wait to see every week. But you can tell in areas where David Production had some good material to work with, and others where you can see it’s certainly aged.
We will continue to see a bit of its age most likely, but in Part 4 of the long running series, Diamond is Unbreakable, we’ll also see brand new personalities, new battles, and hopefully an opening song that’s way better than the one for Part 2 of Stardust Crusaders and another awesome ending song from one of Araki’s music hit lists. This time the story picks up with Joseph Joestar’s illegitimate son, Josuke Higashikata, who is tasked with his friends to figure out why his town has a high number of homicides, and if he can find the culprit.
With David Production continuing to work on this series, I only expect a lot of stupid fights, unreasonable logic, and a ridiculously wide smile on my face every time I watch an episode. Can’t wait for this one.
5camp: Battle Tendency is one of my favourite manga of all time, so I am all for more Jojo’s. This is the Jojo’s arc I’ve heard the most wild praise about (apart from maybe part 7). It’s been described to me as similar to Stardust Crusaders but better in every way, in particular with the episodic storytelling. That sounds like it solves one of my major issues with Stardust so that’s great.
Jankenpopp: Everything I’ve heard about Jojo sounds great, especially to someone who loved Kill la Kill and Panty and Stocking. The crazier the better, although I probably won’t pick up another big series until I finally finish Code Geass.
melodius: I’ve heard a bit about this series secondhand from fans but haven’t had a chance to see for myself what the fuss is. From what people say, it’s a crazy, wild ride.
Guardian Enzo: I’m so far behind on JoJo that I couldn’t possibly offer any useful insight.
5camp: I’m enjoying this little sports anime renaissance that is happening these days. Some bright spark realised that the tight clothes, manly sweat, angsty teenage boys forming lasting relationships is the perfect breeding ground for yaoi fantasies. Which for a guy like me is great because it suddenly means we get all these sports anime with intense interpersonal relationships exactly as I like them. I particularly enjoy it when they focus on lesser known sports (in other words, not another ruddy baseball anime). I’ve been enjoying the volleyball anime Haikyuu!! a lot lately, and I love the idea of an anime about rugby.
Yup, All Out is a rugby anime. It helps that I’m Irish and we’re a nation that are pretty good at rugby, so I have innate interest here. I even played it for a bit as a teenager, although I was never particularly good. Japan had a fantastic showing at the rugby world cup last year, beating one of the favourites South Africa despite the South Africans being 1-500 favourites to win the game (so if you bet $500 on South Africa to win, you got back a measly $1). The staff are reasonably promising on this too, with Madhouse animating and the director of Parasyte on board.
The other noteworthy thing about this anime though is the promo art. As soon they released the main promo image, there was only one thing people could talk about: The Butt. Those are cheeks of steel. If the animation is even half as tight as that ass, we could have a truly special anime on our hands.
Guardian Enzo: I’m actually more looking forward to Days (same director as Ginga e Kickoff) but All Out looks like the one poised to be the next big hit with the Animate set. I hear the manga is pretty good, so I’ll definitely give it a chance.
melodius: I’m not hype about sports anime personally, but it’s nice to see another sport joining the raft of others that have already had anime made from them!
Jankenpopp: For some reason, I’m subscribed to a writer on Fanfiction.net who only writes Free! fanfiction these days. That’s as close as I get to sports anime.
Kami_nomi: I will definitely check this out since I’m always a fan of sports titles getting adapted. I just hope it’s actually...good though.
Jankenpopp: Makoto Shinkai refuses to be called Miyazaki’s successor. While humility is a virtue, I think it’s no overestimation to suggest that he’s currently the best at what he does. And what he does is loss and isolation, in situations more foregone and melancholy than I find Miyazaki tends to. The Place Promised in Our Early Days and Five Centimeters Per Second place present happiness directly at odds with one’s future in ways that anyone who’s ever been in love will keenly recognize.
But perseverance is only ever as futile as the persevere-er believes it to be; you just have to know what to persevere towards. Life goes on even after the love story ends. I suppose that’s what draws me to Kimi no Na wa: given an opportunity to experience their ideal lives, the two protagonists will have to decide whether what they want has been in front of them all along. It’s easy to lament a lack of closure for a personal loss. It’s harder to accept it as a formative experience. Shinkai’s characters remind me a lot of myself, or rather the sort of person I try to be.
5camp: I have a shameful admission: I...really dislike Makoto Shinkai movies. I did like Children Who Chase Lost Voices, but that was dramatically different from his previous works and the usual Shinkai fans didn’t like that movie at all, so it’s unlikely he’ll make another like that. So sorry, he’s just not for me.
melodius: I’ve been meaning to watch his other work, Kotonoha no Niwa, but I keep postponing it, so I can’t say whether he’s any good as a director/scriptwriter or not. Nevertheless, I think it’s unfair to hold him (or others) up to the same pedestal as Miyazaki－it sounds like Makoto Shinkai has a personal style and vision that isn’t comparable. This film looks beautiful and I’d happily give it a watch on some quiet night.
Guardian Enzo: I love Shinkai, but he doesn’t have a whole lot to do with the actual series, does he? I was under the impression that this was more or less an original expansion of Shinkai”s idea.
Kami_nomi: Because it’s Shinkai, it’s definitely worth checking out. But almost like Scamp, I’m not the biggest fan of his works, as only 5 Centimeters worked visually and emotionally for me.
...I should at some point watch Kotonoha no Niwa to see if that’ll make me think better of him though.
melodius: There are a few titles I’ve got my eye on for spring. I’m glad there are some mystery/drama series slated to broadcast next season, plus a couple of sequels that I’ve been looking forward to showing later in the year. All in all, it seems like we have a great variety of both adaptations and original work to look forward to in 2016.
5camp: I’ve been covering new anime seasons since 2008 and this upcoming spring might be the most excited I’ve been for a new season in a long, long time. Then again, the last time I got this excited about new upcoming anime was for Guilty Crown. I still haven’t lived that mistake down.
Guardian Enzo: Certainly in terms of sheer volume, there are more shows which seem to have potential this season than any since 2012 or so. The devil is in the execution, and the one thing that’s missing is that one show that’s basically a lock to be a classic, like Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. Still, there’s a lot to look forward to and this has the potential to be the best season since Fall 2012 (I think Spring 2012 is aiming too high).]
Kami_nomi: While I’m definitely looking forward to more Jojo’s, there’s still titles that I’d love to check out down the road: Trigger’s Kiznaiver, the adaptation of the Handa-Kun manga, which is a spin-off of Barakamon, Amaama to Inazuma (Sweetness and Lightning)...there’s a good amount of titles that I’m interested in seeing this year. Let’s just hope we can find time to watch all these anime.
Jankenpopp: I usually have time to follow two or three shows in a season if I’m not playing catch-up with a classic I’ve missed. The summer 2015 season remains my favorite, although nothing recent has grabbed my attention quite like Boku Dake ga Inai Machi. My housemate’s read the manga, so he’s got spoiler leverage over me until the end of the season. Really, I just want another season of everything from this past summer.
About the Writers
melodius: A media enthusiast based in Australia. I’ve been an anime fan since late high school and that love hasn’t abated over the years. My favourite genres of anime are the psychological thriller and slapstick comedy, but I enjoy anything with a good plot or characterization.
Guardian Enzo: I’ve been blogging for about five years now, but I’ve been an anime and manga fan for a lot longer than that. Having been lucky enough to live in Japan has only cemented my love for the country, its culture and people, food and history.
5camp: Writing about anime on the internet for the past 8 years, and has a soft spot for absurdist comedy and mecha. But it was only this year that he found an idol anime he actually enjoyed. S-E-K-K-O, B-O-Y-S, SEKKO!
Kami_nomi: I began life as an anti-social genius, but somehow this extended to starting an anime and manga blog. After literally relying on TV to watch most anime, once I got my own laptop and started a blog, I took the media that I liked more seriously, and do what I can to support it.
Jankenpopp: Writer, actor, and retail worker in Atlanta. I was raised on Dragon Ball Z and brought back into the community by Death Note in middle school. I firmly believe that anything is worth three-episoding, if only to say you’ve seen the worst of the worst.