“I think there are certain business matters which we must now conduct differently than we used to.” — Vince McMahon
Winter solstice is less than a month away, and I find myself amazed at just how quickly time’s flown by: it only seems like yesterday that the Fall 2015 anime season was beginning. Things have come quite a way since then, and since my last season preview, my model is mostly finished, with major bugs largely ironed out and most of the functionality is implemented. This means that I now set my sights on writing the meat-and-potatoes of my graduate thesis, as well as upcoming conferences in 2016. Only a month remains in the fall season now, and this term, I’ve only been following Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? with any semblance of regularity. It’s the first time I’ve done episodic reviews, and although they’re rather exhausting (each post takes around three hours from start to finish), they’ve also been quite fun to write. With that being said, I’ll get around to writing for Yuru Yuri San☆Hai in the two-reflection format, as well. I am going to miss Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? once the fall season ends, but with the previews for winter now available, it’s appropriate to consider what I will be watching over the course of the next season, which seems filled to the brim with anime that appear to have worthy premises. In alphabetical order, Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm, Dagashi Kashi, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar, HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru and Musaigen no Phantom World have caught my eye for weekly anime, and in the OVA department, Tamayura: Graduation Photo‘s fourth and final volume will be coming out on February 20. For movies, Glass no Hana to Kowasu Sekai will be releasing in January for Japanese cinema, although this will mean that for folks outside of Japan, the movie itself will make it to home release by around July-September 2016.
- As usual, clicking on the image will yield the full-resolution version, optimised for viewing in a 1080p screen (it actually looks quite fuzzy on the MacBook Pro). There are a lot of shows I’m finding that I’m watching after the season’s ended for them: at present, I’m watching Gekko Gurashi! and find that the series merits a proper review once I finish. Thus, rather than reviewing shows as they air, I’ll do that with one or two that catch my attention per season, and write about the others as time permits, if there are merits that make them stand out.
For the upcoming season, I will be doing things slightly differently: the shows I’m listing are the ones I’m expressing an interest in watching, rather than blogging. As noted earlier, episodic blogging is remarkably time-consuming, and Gochuumon wa Usagi Desu Ka?? was both a chance for me to try out the episodic format and intended to yield insightful articles into an anime that might otherwise be considered as purely “cute girls doing cute things”. So, during Winter 2016, I’ll watch the shows that capture my interest, and depending on how they turn out after three episodes, give it a review. This means that I could wind up blogging about all of the anime listed, anime I may have not listed, a combination thereof, or none at all. The basis for this is that my own schedule is going increase in intensity: I plan on graduating in the upcoming year, and if I need additional hours in a day to push my Master’s Thesis to completion, blogging will be the first activity to be set aside.
Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm
In a world where flying is as simple as riding a bicycle, there is a popular sport called “Flying Circus”. The protagonist once had a bright future ahead of him in that field of sports but due to an overwhelming defeat and a hitherto unspecified reason, he has left the sport behind. However, he meets the transfer student Kurashina Asuka and regains his passion as he teaches her how to fly. With his situation changed, he participates once again in the Flying Circus with Asuka at his side to test his limits. This is a love story about the two who met while soaring in the skies, and the friends surrounding them.
- Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm was based off a visual novel and consequently, will invariably feature a love tesseract. There appear to be science fiction elements that could add a new faucet to the love story, although whether or not Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm is able to retain its appeal will be tied to how the protagonist is presented. A character like CLANNAD‘s Tomoya Okazaki or Kanon‘s Yuichi Aizawa could make for a male lead whose easy to relate to and even create a highly engaging story. Conversely, a male lead resembling SaeKano‘s Tomoya Aki or Infinite Stratos‘ Ichika Orimura in character may cause me to rage-quit on day one.
Kokonotsu Shikada’s father owns a rural sweets shop, and his plan is for Kokonotsu to take it over one day. However, Kokonotsu wants to be a manga author instead! One day in summer, the cute but weird girl Shidare Hotaru, from the famous sweets company, comes to pay a visit. Apparently, Kokonotsu’s father is famous and she wants him to join her family’s company. However, he will only agree if she can convince Kokonotsu to take over the family business.
- I’ve always been a fan of anime in rural settings, and truth be told, Dagashi Kashi almost feels like an anime that focusses on Non Non Biyori‘s Kaede, who is known as “Candy Store” in-show. Pegged as a comedy, it’ll be interesting to see how the dynamics between Kokonotsu and Hotaru will play out: the setup strongly hints that romance might just be the outcome.
Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
Before Haruhiro had realized what happened, he was surrounded by darkness. Why was he here? Where was here? Even now, he still didn’t know. Those around him were the same as him, no one remembered anything other than their own names. And when they emerged from the darkness, the world that awaited them seemed like something out of a video game. In order to survive, Haruhiro forms a party with the others, learns fighting skills, and as a soldier in the reserve force, takes his first steps into the world of Grimgar.
- On the surface, Hai to Gensou no Grimgar feels like a variant of Sword Art Online: both anime are even done by A1 Pictures. However, from preliminary trailers, the world Hai no Gensou no Grimgar is quite enticing and conducive of adventure. Moreover, while this might be somewhat of a crude reason to watch it, I admit I am also pulled by the character and costume designs.
HaruChika: Haruta to Chika wa Seishun Suru
Haruta and Chika are members of their high school wind instrument club that is on the verge of being shut down. The two are childhood friends, and they spend their days practicing hard while also trying to recruit new members. When a certain incident happens within their school, they work together to solve it.
- Over the past few years, P.A. Works has consistently shined when their anime are set in the real world, free of any supernatural elements: anime like Hanasaku Iroha, Tari Tari and Shirobako have been critically acclaimed, while Glasslip and Charlotte have been less favourably perceived. HaruChika looks like there won’t be any supernatural elements, so if its focus is going to be about two friends in the music club who become involved in mysteries, it could be interesting. The premise suggests an anime that will be quite different than Hibike! Euphonium, despite the presence of instruments.
Musaigen no Phantom World
In the near future, spirits and monsters are in full sight. A boy leads a group of people with special abilities as they plot against a massive organization that takes advantage of a major incident and eventually, learn the truth about their world.
- While Musaigen no Phantom World does feel like P.A. Work’s Charlotte in some ways, it is derived from a light novel. Thus, I’m curious to see how Kyoto Animation will handle this: there is no doubt that the technical aspects of animation and sound quality will be exceptional, so it’ll boil down to how the narrative from the light novels are ported over. I am anticipating a reasonably well-done anime: in general, light novels always start out strong, but the narrative gradually weakens as time wears on. I do not know enough about Musaigen no Phantom World to accurately predict where it will go, but this one does merit checking out.