Winter 2020: What I’m Watching

The seasons change, the calendars change, and yours truly is also changing the way they write preview posts. The general format will be similar, but I’m going to have a more informal tone, as predictions are just too hard.


That Which I’m Excited For


Title: ID:Invaded
Length: ?
Genre: Sci-fi, mystery

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There’s something to say about ambitious anime. The kind that don’t clearly take safe routes and play to modern trends. Pretty much any sci-fi anime is bucking the trend right now, and here we have ID:Invaded which doesn’t just boast an eye-catching premise, but a star-studded roster behind it. My feelings are good that this won’t be an ‘it’s ambitious but‘ – it’s going to be the whole package.

I’ve been lauding TROYCA highly since I began blogging nearly a year ago, giving both of Makoto Katou’s directed works, Yagate Kimi ni Naru and Lord El Melloi II, very high ratings. Makoto Katou took the latter show under the wing of the former Fate/Zero director, Ei Aoki, who is main directing ID:Invaded. His works always have creative touches to smooth over exposition, while his action consistently delivers. With a trailer that looks pretty awesome anyway, ID:Invaded has all the cards to earn the top spot – the show I’m most hyped for.


Title: Natsunagu!
Length: 12 episodes (episode length: TBD)
Genre: Drama

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Not many anime can honestly claim to be government funded, but Natsunagu! is wearing that tag with pride. It’s a coming-of-age story, where a college girl travels the Kumamoto district after losing contact with her friend in the 2016 earthquakes.

This kind of story speaks to me. Just reading it, and considering its wide-eyed optimism in the face of disaster, is exactly what I come to anime for. There is tragedy, but there is something beyond that, and the humanistic message draws me in.

While there’s no trailer for it yet, the fact it’s governmentally funded means it will… hopefully be a passable production? Right?


Title: 22/7
Length: ?
Genre: music, drama

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I know many anime fans have tired of idol/anime cash-ins, but 22/7 looks the business. Where other shows are plagued by growing pains relating to their origins in video games, mobile games or one-off OVAs, 22/7 was created from the ground-up as ‘dimension crossing’ – meaning that it features live action idols who are also anime idols. Throw in A-1 Pictures’ idol heritage, adapting the runaway success iDOLM@STER, its picturesque but weakly written spin-off Cinderella Girls and the stand-out Side-M, it’s fair to say the studio has faciliated many artists bringing idols to animation with style. While the director and writer are new, it seems like other members of the ‘iDOLM@STER Team’ have been brought over, and it’s already clear from the many PVs that a lot of love is going into 22/7.

But you were already going to watch it, since it has ‘Meme Queen’ Sally Amaki, whose Californian English and ironic demeanour came across in many online videos, winning Western fans over in the dozens. Will the memer come across as an anime girl? God I hope. But even without her, there’s so many reasons to check this one out.


Title: Dorohedoro
Length: ?
Genre: Sci-fi, fantasy, action, horror

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Dorohedoro is one of those out there manga that has been green-lit for an adaption. Incredibly high-concept, but with the kind of layered, thick world-building to back up its wacky fever dream and minimal or absent exposition. While a more simple revenge story about a lizard man, Kaiman, going on a blood-drunk rampage against the ‘sorcerer’ kind for his condition, the manga has been compared to the likes of Mad Max or the Borderlands video games, both in tone/setting, but also in lighting imaginations with sheer backdrop development.

That’s an exciting sales pitch, and while I’m ready to jump into the crazy, crazy worlds of Dorehedoro, experiencing its rich multi-dimensional societies and comically horrific violence, I’m squinting sideways at the trailers. Studio MAPPA have been on a role lately, but their CGI ventures are less than ideal – and, well, there was quite a bit of CGI here. The backgrounds look stunning, mind you, and (K)NoW_NAME will no doubt provide a cracking rocky score like they did for Fairy Gone, but I’m sceptical. Not only that, but such depth comes at a time-cost, and I’m not sure how long this adaption’s going to be. It might just feel like it’s over as it’s begun.


Title: Magia Record: Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica Gaiden
Length: 24-26 episodes
Genre: Thriller, horror, magic

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Studio SHAFT aren’t the same studio they were when they made the original Madoka Magica, runaway success story, in 2011. They’ve suffered multiple, hard-hitting staffing casualties as important crew have left for greener pastures. The PV suggests there’s nothing to worry about, though: it’s all SHAFT, right down to the iconic screen composition.

Magia Record is a mobile game spinoff of the original Madoka Magica, featuring a simpler story for the grindy gameplay mechanics. While it hasn’t lit the world on fire like certain other mobile games, and while it isn’t held to the same high standard as the original Madoka Magic television anime, there’s still enough juice in the Madoka Magica formula to make this a worthy watch for any fan of the original.


That Which I’m Hesitant About


Title: Kyokou Suiri / In/Spectre
Length: ?
Genre: Mystery, comedy, romance, supernatural

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I always have to shrug my shoulders heavily when a romance is baited from before a story actually begins – much less so when it is spelled out in the damn synopsis, and spelled out that it’s literally not going anywhere. Alas, In/Spectre makes the first blunder that puts it down a grade in excitement, especially as the Not Romance between 17 year old youkai Goddess of Wisdom, Kotko, and an immortal 22 year old, Kuro, plays a major part in the character chemistry.

But, really, In/Spectre is a mystery show. This unlikely buddy-cop duo go mystery problem solving, using their powers to fix youkai issues throughout their world. With a solid horror base, it seems like In/Spectre could be a charming show – it’s just how it gets around that eyeroll setup at its core that will balance this one’s core strength, I think.


Title: Kuutei Dragons
Length: ?
Genre: Steampunk, fantasy, action

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‘Draking’ is a Kuutei Dragons original term that is much like whaling, but instead of hunting giant sea creatures, the crew of a zeppelin-like aircraft, the Quin Zaza, take to the skies and hunt dragons. Mostly for their meat, and then the manga likes to dwell on all these different recipes that you can cook dragon meat into, but the manga also delves into the political situations of its steampunk world with relation to draking, and the little personal dramas of the crew.

Polygon Pictures are one of the premiere CGI anime studios, and while the tech still leaves something to be desired in the face of the well-trodden 2d space, you can see why they’re so valued: Kuutei Dragons is a pretty good looker. With a sharp trailer, and an interesting premise, I must say I’m intrigued by this one – but there’s just that little piece of gimmick making me wonder how much this one will carve lasting value with.


Title: Somali to Mori no Kamisama
Length: ?
Genre: Fantasy, Slice-of-life

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Somali is a young girl discovered by the Guardian of the Forest, Golem, who then looks after her in a father/daughter relationship. The pair travel the fantasy world, indulging in high-fantasy world-building, spiritualism and develop their sweet bond.

Looking at the gorgeous art, I was tempted to put this in the higher category, but then I reeled back for a second. This is going to be a slow journey, where charisma and heartwarming emotions are the essence, with world-building, while nice, a mere catalyst. So it’s one to watch play-out, particularly as the father/daughter relationship can be a stumbling block for far too many anime.


Title: Darwin’s Game
Length: ?
Genre: Battle Royale, Isekai, Mystery, Action

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Kaname is your average everyday anime protagonist who gets sucked into a video game he can’t quit, forced to live out a battle royale amongst other players who are bestowed unique powers. Usually I’d read that sort of setup, see the yandere waifu on the cover, and walk away, but this one has me interested. It seems like the ‘Darwin’ in the title has been earned, because the game allows for some complex rules and ‘survival’ really is more complex than than what first meets the eyes. There are even battles that are won without fighting back, because of outsmarting. Does it have setup to be a thought-provoking action series, with an underlying thriller aspect to become compelling across the whole series, or will it get dragged down by modern day characterisation trends, focusing on servicing audience stand-ins?

Still, Studio Nexus is taking this one, and its being handled by the director of Comic Girls. Nexus’ prior two anime, Granbelm and Comic Girls, were both technically impressive without being bogged down by overimpressing, and I’m keen to watch the studio’s output. A solid looking, exciting sounding and smartly edited trailer for Darwin’s Game is the key to my excitement here.


Title: Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu.
Length: ?
Genre: Cute-girls, video games, action

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‘It’s Shield Hero but with a girl protagonist!’ is a thought you might be thinking, but you’re off base. This is a high-gimmick cute-girls show, where the synopsis gives away its best gag and the series then relies on charm to keep you invested. Kaede Hounjou isn’t a classic gamer, who picks up a virtual reality game and maxes her defence stats because she doesn’t want to get hurt. This causes her to be excruciatingly slow and poor at fighting, but she unlocks a ‘special’ power that allows her parries to instantly kill opponents.

You might be wondering what else there is to go by, and it’s hard to tell. It really depends on how much charm the folks at Silver Link manage to imbue this anime with. If it falters, it could end up being a one-dimensional, one-gag show which fails to earn its runtime. Get the feeling right, and it could be a solidly good time, but I’m not expecting anything exceptional. For a season low on original cute-girls shows, this is likely a choice for many, but considering Heya Camp (Yuru Camp’s sequel) is airing alongside it, I would personally redirect others there.


Title: Nekopara
Length: ?
Genre: Comedy, ecchi

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We already have a good idea of what this anime is going to turn out like, since it’s had two preceding OVAs and the same crew is handling the full TV version. There’s no reason it to suggest it will differentiate itself from its sickening sweet rendition of a cute-girls show, spiced up with cringe-inducing sporadic displays of lesser-seen fetishes like girls peeing themselves, random mentions of periods, bowl-perspective views of girls furiously licking milk, and the more common one: children. Any cute atmosphere it provides is ripped up and thrown to an uncomfortable beg of libido.

At this point you’ve gotta be wondering… ‘why are you even watching it, SpaceWhales?’ Well, to be blunt, it’s simple. I can follow it without paying attention. Why not check in on the off-chance the folks at Felix Films commit to cuteness? If they can let the girls be cute and independent, it might just stir the heart. But I’m not holding my breath.


Final Thoughts


Conjuring up too much excitement was a little difficult this time. It’s been a full year since I began covering seasonal anime, but I don’t think this is burnout. There’s just not that much jumping out at me.

But, as always, I look for pleasant surprises. And I am regularly caught off-guard. Kuutei Dragons and In/Spectre look like they have the potential to shock me, and aside from those, I’ve got high expectations for ID:Invaded in particular.

What are your thoughts about the upcoming season? Any shows that I missed out? Comment below and I might just find something I’ve missed!

2 thoughts on “Winter 2020: What I’m Watching

    1. I used to pick up quite a lot of anime, but now I tend to restrict myself to about 10-15 maximum. Girl Shield Hero looks watchable enough but I just worry it doesn’t have much beyond the premise, you know?

      Liked by 1 person

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