This fall is the most excited I’ve been for a season of anime in my (comparatively) brief love story with the medium.
Seasonal anime usually fail to excite me because they offer little more than a diversion, an opportunity for fanbases to collectively scream every week and then forget that anything ever really happened. I just don’t see the value in getting arbitrarily anticipatory of frequently forgotten works, especially if that particular work fails to excite me personally (poster children of this year’s seasonals “Re:Zero” and “ERASED” come to mind).
And yet, for better or worse, I can’t shake the feeling that this season, in particular, is going to make waves. Established directors and writers are few and far between in this season’s lineup of shows, which means the talent is unproven.
There’s one other important factor to this excitement: original shows. Not only are there relatively unestablished artists with their whole career ahead of them directing and writing anime, they’re writing original anime with premises and artistic vision that promise excellence. If the first episode of “Shuumatsu no Izetta” is anything to judge by, these are promises worth investing in.
So, here are a few of the shows I’m anticipating most this season:
“Shuumatsu no Izetta”
Studio: Ajia-Do (Dir. Masaya Fujimori)
Premiered: Oct. 1 (streaming on Crunchyroll)
Episode 1 of “Shuumatsu no Izetta” (English: “The Last Witch”) premiered Saturday, October 1st. The show is set in an alternate reality that roughly parallels the events of World War II, just with different names for the various countries (the least subtle nod to real world history being the totalitarian state of Germania). The direction seems to be deliberately stilted: character motion is not quite fluid and scenes are frequently presented in two or three select angles. The effect of this is that the action on screen is subdued, a carefully controlled level down from the usual bombastic personality of anime.
The first episode introduces the protagonist Fine, princess of a neutral Alpine state, as she travels undercover via train to seek support from the nation of Brittania as Germania knocks on her own people’s doorstep. Her character is firmly established as that of an independent thinker, elegant yet devoted leader, and bold woman. Her strength will undoubtedly be one of the show’s greatest assets, especially given how delicately nuanced as a character she has become within 24 minutes. Those stiff shot compositions are put to good use to emphasize Fine’s feelings and reactions.
I’m loathe to spoil the actual events of the episode, but rest assured, this one is worth checking out.
Studio: Studio 3Hz (dir. Kiyotaka Oshiyama)
Premieres: Oct. 6th (streaming on Anime Network)
Oshiyama has a track record working as an animator on some seriously zany shows: “Space Dandy,” “Bounen no Xandou,” and “Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann” are all high octane, vibrant, and stylized. Given the man’s track record, it isn’t surprising that “Flip Flappers” looks beautifully animated, brightly stylized, and like a hell of a lot of fun.
Premise and synopsis don’t hold much weight on this one, it’s all in the promise. The promise of a great time filled with adorable characters and artful animation cuts. Just look at the PV (note in particular the spectacular sakuga cuts at 00:27, 00:43, and 00:52) above. If the actual production carries half the energy of the ad, it’ll be a quirky romp worth embarking on this fall.
“3gatsu no Lion”
Studio: SHAFT (dir. Akiyuki Simbo)
Premieres: Oct. 8 (streaming on Crunchyroll)
Okay, sure this one’s not an original, and Akiyuki Simbo isn’t exactly unproven (more on him later), but my list would be incomplete without “3gatsu no Lion” (English: March Comes in Like a Lion).
My interest with this manga adaptation began in January of this year, when Rie Matsumoto’s “Kekkai Sensen” introduced me to J-rock band Bump of Chicken. I became a huge fan of Bump of Chicken, and that naturally means I’ve heard quite a few of their songs. One such song, entitled “Fighter,” is a promotional piece for “3gatsu no Lion.” Check it out:
It’s a beautiful song about finding the strength to cast away your own insecurities and protect those that you love. I was enraptured with that music video and watched it regularly for a time.
“3gatsu no Lion” itself narrates the life of an introverted shogi (a chess-like Japanese board game) competitor named Rei Kiriyama as he attempts to reconcile his life as a professional with his tumultuous personal circumstances regarding school and his adopted family. The manga has been in serialization in Japan since 2007 and it’s been very well received.
To top it all off, director Akiyuki Simbo is the man behind two shows that fall into my ten favorite pieces of not only anime, but art: “Monogatari” and “Puella Magi Madoka Magica.” His style of direction is surreal, evocative, and enthralling. Anyone who’s had the pleasure of watching even the first five minutes of “PMMM” can understand the defining aesthetic and beauty that Simbo brings to all of his projects.
And those are the three shows I’ll be watching this season. There are a couple other promising candidates (“Occultic;Nine” and “Drifters,” for example) along with some anticipated sequels (“Bungou Stray Dogs 2nd Season” and “Haikyuu!!: Third Season”), but personally, I tend to fall behind if I pick up too many airings.
But, if you’re bold enough to take on more of what this fall season has to offer, more power to you. I think you’ll like what you find.
Storyteller, student, and in the eyes of my cat, a legend, I’ve wandered through many an exotic land and treaded countless unbeaten paths to find myself in a swivel chair at my keyboard, spinning my own tales or engaging with and responding to anime and manga with my own words and thoughts. Someday, I hope to turn my love of writing into my profession. You can visit Riley’s blog here.
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