Fall 2019 Anime Preview

As the trees begin to wilt, the sky loses its colour and the seasons grow colder, it can only mean one thing: the slew of new seasonal anime!

Or, perhaps, not so new. I’m not here to sell you on sequels, so many of the most exciting upcoming anime are things I won’t be touching in the post. Join me, then, as I scour the depths of the seasonal anime to find the gems you might be missing!

Worth Checking Out

Title: Fate/Grand Order: Zetaii Majuu Sensen Babylonia / Fate/Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front – Babylonia
Length: 24 episodes
Genre: Fantasy, action


And, after all that spiel, here I am posting the anime adaption of the 7th chapter of a gacha game. I don’t mean to scare you – after all, the Producers themselves have stated that they want the adaptions (this and a movie series following the 6th chapter) to be accessible for newbies. I can at least attest to the fact that the Episode 0 (which has already been released) features a montage over prior chapters, as well as developing the shield-wielding Mash and the doctor, Roman. Even beyond that, there was an adaption of the Prologue chapter called Fate/Grand Order: First Order – and while it’s a little dry on excitement, it is a good introduction to Chaldea and the setup of the story.

That said, the setup is honestly quite simple despite its high-concept nature. The world is headed for disaster, as key moments in history that greatly affect the future are being altered. Mash and [Player Character] travel back in time to put things straight. In this case, we’re turning back time 2000 years BC, when humanity separated from the Gods. This chapter, as well as the prior chapter set in Camelot, were voted by fans to be the best stories of the Fate/Grand Order mobile game (which, due to the nature of writing around gameplay, is a fairly low bar).

But I want to backtrack a moment: it is precisely because of that tremendous Episode 0 that I am so excited for this anime. That half-hour special was beautifully rendered, using gorgeous audiovisuals to dig deeply and eloquently into its characters and inspire. While I am perhaps a little unsure the series will maintain that quality throughout the entirety of its run, it is already very clear that the staff are putting this together from a place of love. Will it be the best anime this season? With this much passion, probably.

Length: ?
Genre: Drama, fantasy


Immediately, you can tell Beastars is more than a bit different. Using Disney-like anthropomorphic animals for its characters and a safe, fluffy artstyle, you might be forgiven for thinking this is Japan’s answer to Zootopia. While similar in concept, challenging our inner-prejudices and wondering how much our fundamental characteristics affect our behaviour, the tone of BEASTARS is decidedly grimmer and more mature.

Studio Orange are a pure CGI studio who make infrequent work, but their last anime, Houseki no Kuni in late 2017, was pivotal in reshaping the anime community’s views on CGI. Much like that anime, BEASTARS is banking on non-human character designs to overcome the classic uncanny valley, and even a quick glance at the trailer shows you how far ahead of the competition their CGI work truly is.

This one’s locked behind Netflix, so legally watching this one any time soon could prove a challenge. If you’re up to the task, though, BEASTARS’ brand of social commentary might just make it of the most interesting anime of the entire year.

Worth Keeping An Eye On

Title: Azur Lane
Length: ?
Genre: Action


Director Motoki Tanaka doesn’t just have a pedigree for directing action girls – he set up his own studio and a crowdfunding campaign to greenlight even more Grisaia. So it’s no real surprise that the anime adaption of Azur Lane, one of the most popular anthropomorphised boat-waifu farming mobile games of today, has ended up in his hands at his brand new studio.

It’s actually hard to get a good read on this one. There’s some show-off animation in the trailers, but story and even genre are quite the question marks. Will it be more comic? Will it be a serious retelling of one of the game’s stories? Will it be an original story? Will it be fanservice? Who knows. My best guess is serious retelling of one of the game’s earlier stories, judging by Enterprise shaping up to be the protagonist (as she is so prevalent in the promotional material) and she is the protagonist of the first story.

But why is it high on my expectations? Well, the boat-women being hot can’t be the only reason the game has attributed such a huge fanbase! Bibury Animation Studios are perfect for the job, and seem to be making quite the statement with the trailers. This could end up being a disappointment, but I think it’s at least worth checking in with this one for the title’s pedigree alone.

Title: Hoshiai no Sora
Length: 12 episodes
Genre: Drama, sports


Anime originals are hard sells these days, unless you have really big names backing. Kazuki Akane, of Escaflowne fame, is coming in to direct this sports show, stressing that this series is focused moreso on adolescent drama than the tennis. But, perhaps it is fair to say that Hoshiao no Sora is playing it safe following in the footsteps of Yuri on Ice as a sports show about two men.

The drama is appropriately high, though, with domestic abuse entering the fold. But the measured, gentle approach that the PV really highlights that this isn’t going to be silly melodrama. How the different threads will come together is an interesting one, but with the solid colour design and surprisingly tactful animation, it looks like one to put a bit of faith in. Originals are always hard to put too much faith in, but I’m going to give this one a solid shot.

Title: Honzuki no Gekokujou / Ascendance of a Bookworm
Length: 14 episodes
Genre: Slice of life, fantasy


After a… semi-played for laughs death, our protagonist – who is, notably, not an average and/or shut-in man, but rather a shut-in woman – is reincarnated into the body of a 5 year old. Put your cautions back down, this isn’t that kind of story. No, this is the story of a book nerd waking up in a world where books don’t exist, and she decides the natural thing then is to just make some.

Naturally, developing somebody whose book nerdiness takes them to this degree is a point of contention for the series, but the light-hearted and heavily focused slice-of-life tales it weaves are no less magical. Even if you’ve got a bit of genre fatigue for other world anime or slice-of-life shows, this offbeat adventure is one that’s going to turn heads. Throw in some promising staffing and a strong PV, and I think this show is worth keeping an eye on.

Title: Watashi, Nouryoku wa Heikinchi de tte Itta yo ne! / Didn’t I Say To Make My Abilities Average In The Next Life!?
Length: ?
Genre: Comedy, fantasy


This is yet another reincarnated-into-another-world anime with one of the key twists being that the protagonist is female! Don’t rejoice just yet for the genre reinventing itself this season, because beyond this show’s rebirthing protagonist, it actually shapes up a lot like the usual cute-girls fantasy show with a key gimmick as its sales pitch – the protagonist trying not to be above-average.

We actually had a similar fantasy cute-girls show earlier this year in the form of Endro, but I’ve got a bit higher hopes for this one than that one turned out. While the studio have a pretty poor record, the director helming this has experience directing premiere cute-girls comedy Yuru Yuri. With this kind of genre mastery pulling the strings, this is going to best cute-girls show of the season (and we’ll just ignore how little competition it has).

Title: Babylon
Length: ?
Genre: Mystery, drama, comedy


Twin Engine are a Producing company that have been making a real name for themselves recently. Why I didn’t rate their recently produced Dororo, and could say more about their currently airing Vinland Saga, it’s clear that their shows have a certain shared tonal choice: serious, reverent, and surprisingly dark adaptions of niche manga that are the type of thing that catch on in the Western anime fanbase. Babylon is yet another one of these, trading in the historical sword wielders for a medically-themed law thriller.

Unfortunately, like some of their other recent adaptions, this one hasn’t exactly caught on. It’s a novel – not a light novel – that hasn’t been translated, so I’ve not been able to get a good reading on how good this one is. For that reason, it’s one to keep an eye on, because these kinds of stories have great potential to say something interesting, and are frankly quite rare.

Title: Null Peta
Length: ?
Genre: Sci-fi


If there’s one show I’m betting on to throw a wrench in the works, it’s this one. I know better than anybody else than to misjudge a show from a revered animation studio with minimum advertising material. When there’s cute-girls in the fold, I know that ‘there’s not a lot to go on this one’ is often because it’s going to play with your expectations. I mean, a character death is already noted in the synopsis!

Which, by the way, sounds awfully familiar. After her sister’s death, a genius (and awfully cute) inventor creates a robot friend. No matter which way you skim it, that’s Big Hero 6’s sales pitch without the hero motifs. The PV seems to be suggesting that ‘daily life’ is going to be the show’s aim, having a hard-to-take-seriously child scientist hanging out with a robot. Which, if true, will heavily rely on how strong the animation chops are to sell the minute gestures between (wo)man and machine.

But I can’t get the idea out of my head that there’s something darker here. It could just be that the lack of advertising means the show’s in development crisis.  Will Null Peta stagger out of the studio half-made, enter nihilistic levels of cyberpunk, or be a well-done take on human-robot interactions? I’m not sure, and that’s… not necessarily inspirational, but definitely exciting.

Title: Houkago Saikoro Club
Length: ?
Genre: Slice of life, comedy


Now this is a nice little manga. There’s very little to it other than a shy girl having fun, but, as the season’s start getting colder and I find myself itching for a warm mug of soup, that’s plenty. The characters are exactly as you’d expect, and the gimmick – board games – is perhaps a little more developed than you might expect, so I doubt this show will be able to bring in non-cute-girls genre fans unless they’re fond of board games, but for those fans it’s a sweet treat.

That said, LIDENFILMS is the studio behind this one. If you ask me, they’ve had a very rocky year, really unable to bring the needed pizazz to their cheesy romps. The PV of this one has a particularly warm palette and a comforting use of lighting, and there’s the fact that a board game show probably has little need for lots of kineticism, so I don’t see their weak track record negatively affecting this show.

Title: No Guns Life
Length:? episodes
Genre: Action, sci-fi


O anime. O anime. Sometimes you’ll scroll through the seasonal anime and come across something like this and it hits like a truck how absolutely wild the anime/manga/light novel market can be. We’ve got quite the concept here, folks, where a show is entirely dominated by how utterly out-there it is.

Inui Juuzou is a man with a head. Well, more precisely, he’s an ex-soldier, which means he can only serve in 1 of 2 stories, and in this case, we get the Noir story, where he detective-style deals with cases involving people similar to himself. The story seems to be bringing in the usual ideas that you’d expect – a bit of otherness, human evolution, yada yada. The thing is that it’s action first-and-foremost, and the manga has a lot, so the quality by which this show makes-or-breaks is going to rest entirely on how Madhouse handle it. I’ve had few positive things to say about them this year, but we know from their storied history that they can bring the goods, so the question is: will they? The PV looks promising but I’m not holding my breath for this dark-yet-cheesy action pomp to turn bitter, but if they manage it, it could be a solid romp.

Title: Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth
Length: 12 episodes
Genre: Thriller, drama, reverse harem


So this is a mobile game adaption. Another one. This one isn’t nearly as popular, but it has the usual basic setup of husbando farmers: a woman recruits a bunch of gimmicky pretty boys to help her solve cases for an anti-drug crime force. Seriously gimmicky, by the way, some of the boys are yakuza or university lecturers. Because the game blends in visual novel elements, many of these boys can be romanceable. Gameplay is puzzle based, so the team are going to have to get creative.

While I’m not too sold on how this will play out as a story, studio M.S.C. have provided a fun enough thriller-style PV here with lots of dramatic action. The studio most recently did the acceptable Code:Realise anime adaption, so they at least know a thing or two about reverse harems. This one is unlikely to have anything for fans that aren’t genre fans, but I can foresee it being fun enough. I’ll keep you posted.

Title: Chuubyou Gekihatsu Boy
Length: ? episodes
Genre: Comedy, reverse harem


I’ll hold my hands up: this one was likely to go in the category below, but my fondness for reverse harems whisked it out. Just.

Studio DEEN are in a sore spot and the PV could showcase more promising signs, but the show looks like it has a funny-bone or two to work at. A straight-man around many chuunis sounds like a recipe for success, even if it’s unlikely to aim higher than a few good gags. This looks like one of the few non-sequels to offer a few light laughs that should serve that quota.

I’m Struggling To Stay Positive About These

Title: Rifle is Beautiful
Length: ?
Genre: Slice of life, comedy


There’s been a lot of cute-girls shows that blend in educational jokes, and Rifle is Beautiful isn’t really very good at doing that. But its gag-manga is quite funny and relaxed, making it a decent cute-girls show that should be worth your time if a fan of the genre.

But the problem is that…. well, there’s no PV. The voice actresses did a skit where they wore their character’s outfits to advertise a real-life shooting range, and that’s what I’ve had to link. Studio 3hz burst out onto the scene with the impressive Flip Flappers and Princess Principal, but then their Black Fox anime switched out its TV format for a short movie to be fair on their animator’s workload, Princess Principal’s second season was going to be released as movies some point in Winter but… here we are, with 3hz next project looking like it’s going to be released without fanfare. Are they preparing us for the worst? I somehow can’t imagine the quality will dip too hard, and the required animation for its jokes and shooting isn’t absurd, but it has me panicked for the studio as a company.

Title: Keishichou Tokumubu Tokushu Kyouakuhan Taisakushitsu Dainanaka: Tokunana / Special Crime Investigation Unit – Special 7
Length: ? episodes
Genre: Action, thriller


It’s hard to get a particularly good read on how an anime original’s going to turn out – especially when so many of the staff are relatively unknown. We’ve got a somewhat vague synopsis and a PV to go on here, folks!

I’m struggling to say much, but thankfully, the PV is one of the better PVs here. It’s no real secret that anime PVs are information overload, trying to throw as many namedrops as possible with awful editing, but this one’s measured and finds a good couple minutes of pacing. Animation looks like they’re trying to show off but not necessarily succeeding, and the tone seems to be finding a fairly serious take on the adult crime drama. Seems so… could be… maybe… Who really knows with this one? But I’m giving it the benefit of the doubt since few warning signs have cropped up this early: it’s one to stay aware of as the premiere happens.

Title: Kandagawa Jet Girls
Length: ?
Genre: Sports, Ecchi


Heard of Senran Kagura? It’s an action game with lots of boobs, basically. From the Producers of Senran Kagura comes their new venture: Kandagawa Jet Girls, a multimedia project (read: a nearly-simultaneously releasing anime and PS4 game) that features a sci-fi twist on jet-skiing and lots and lots of boobs.

Bless them. Together with animation studio TNK, high levels of sleaze and strictly female characters are a recurring theme though-out both franchises. There’s no real reason to expect this show or its breast-focused PV to change things up from cheap excuses for bouncing boobs, but if that’s your thing then dinner is served. Even if it’s your thing, it seems like a middling entry, and for everybody else, it’s one to avoid.

Title: Kabukichou Sherlock
Length: 24-26 episodes
Genre: Mystery, drama, comedy


All the way back in Spring’s Preview Post, I mentioned my low expectations for this one. Here we after that out-of-the-blue 6 month delay and the feeling is only exasperated. Character designs are still borderline offensive and utterly redundant in an attempt to revamp some classic mystery writing. Am I going to check it out? The mystery fan in me has to, frankly. Am I going in expecting to drop it? Of course.

Title: Africa no Salaryman
Length: Likely short episodes
Genre: Comedy, slice-of-life


This work-place comedy received an adaption in 2017 and is appearing to be remade. I haven’t had the chance to see that, but seeing as it flopped, I’m struggling to see why this one will be any different. The idea is similar to a couple of cult-hits like Aggretsuko and Bookseller Honda-san, but very mediocre animation and an abundance of OTT-situations in its PV has me thinking that this one is going to lack the nuance that makes office-worker allegorical anime so successful with viewers. I’ll keep you posted in the unlikely event it even gets subtitled, but my expectations for this turning into the next entertaining and relatable office drama are very, very low.

Final Pre-Season Thoughts

Right – let’s try and keep positive about this rather top-heavy season. Yes, there’s a lot of sequels and continuing anime, so I understand many of the community won’t be dipping their toes in this far, but let’s be honest – digging didn’t inspire much hope. Many of the shows here seem just-about-worth checking out, but there doesn’t seem to many with that wow factor, you know? Even the ones that potentially do are hiding it, like Null Peta and Azur Lane.

The good news is that the Fate/Grand Order anime has a big, fat seal of approval on it in its Episode 0, which I’m once again going to recommend. Studio Orange handling BEASTARS is also reason to celebrate. I’m hoping that there’s going to be some pleasant surprises beyond those two, but I’m not holding my breath.

One thought on “Fall 2019 Anime Preview

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