The flowers are finally blooming, but the world is not ready for a new dawn. Amidst panic of Covid-19’s deadly spread, we’ve got to put our chins up and look forward to the next season of anime. But, forgive me for not being able to find the enthusiasm that I had for prior seasons – and that’s not just the state of the world making me feel so apathetic.
There are revered sequels airing, sure, but I never cared for their first seasons. Frankly, there’s very few series that are in my ‘excited’ range, and I’ve been putting off writing this post for precisely that reason. Of course, there is Bakarina:
Title: Otome Game no Hametsu Flag shika Nai Akuyaku Reijou ni Tensei shiteshimatta… / My Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! / Bakarina
Genre: Comedy, drama, romance
Ever since reading the fun title of this show about a woman ‘isekai’d’ into an otome game, I fell in love. Katarina, voiced hammily by the wonderful Maaya Uchida, is the villainess of the female dating sim game, Fortune Lovers – but is actually an otaku who was a fan of the game! She has to use her knowledge of the game to avoid all the endings that result in her death or exile and find a happy ending for the villain.
But, really, the story’s a lot of fun. Otome games are brimming with tropes, and this fun little isekai pokes holes in them while creating its own, merry reverse harem (and she even woos the heroines!), and further demonstrating that villains are moreso setup than characterised – and at the same time brings an otaku out of their shell! By the looks of the trailer, it will be another affair from Silver Link – who most recently animated the charming BOFURI, so it’s easy to walk into this with expectations likely to be met. It’s got a lot on its plate, and all it must do is charm to succeed.
I’m super excited for this one, and I think it shows, but that’s the brunt of my feelings.
Beyond that, there are anime that pique my fancy mildly. For example, Yesterday wo Utatte and Arte have me intrigued:
Title: Yesterday wo Utatte / Sing ‘Yesterday’ For Me
Length: 12 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Drama, romance
I’m not intimately familiar with this one, I will be honest. It’s a manga from the late ’90s that ran for 18 years across 113 chapters, ending finally 5 years ago. Getting an adaption now means that this is firmly within the ‘passion project’ territory – and that’s an exciting prospect.
From studio Doga Kobo, one can easily expect great things considering their recent heights of charming character animation (we’ll overlook the hiccups of Koisuru Asteroid as the current Corona Climate was rumoured to explain this). Lots of things have changed in manga creation since the late ’90s, such as character designs which have lovingly been recreated in the PV, and speaking more narratively, there were very different trends and a more unobstructed dramatic landscape.
Seeing something old refreshened for modern audiences is going to be refreshing, then, if nothing else. But as I mentioned priorly – it ran for a long 18 years, and all those chapters will either have to be condensed into 12 episodes, or we’re not getting the full story. Pick your poison, because either can leave this story unfulfilling.
Genre: Historical, drama
A historical manga depicting a woman’s battle against patriarchal structures? Sign me up! I usually worry about historical or fantastical settings that depict feminism, as it’s easy to be written off with a pat on the back that ‘we’re not like that’ and feel good without approaching any of the real problems that still exist. But Arte is the kind of story that understands the problems and contextualises them smartly and with nuance; women tend to be given character depth moreso than shutting each other down, and there are numerous ways in which misogyny presents itself beyond ‘but you’re a girl!’ tropes. There’s even mention of privilege!
And, yet, there’s always the adaptational concerns. It’s very easy for directors without a keen eye to misrepresent a journey, overdramatising or exaggerating misogyny with audiovisuals, and the PVs suggest something akin to this. I hope I’m wrong on this reading, and that Arte goes forth to find an inspired message alongside a battle against the odds.
There are certainly anime to try, aren’t there? I’m hoping for pleasant surprises, but I’m not holding my breath. In any case, I am expecting a myriad of quality control concerns (relating to the international pandemic) for every anime, but there’s a couple in particular that quality control will entirely determine their fate:
Title: Digimon Adventure (2020)
Back in 1999, the West wrote off a kids show as a cheap Pokemon clone. Perhaps in concept there was much less excitement with video games defining a generation, but Digimon Adventure’s anime was a truly terrific coming-of-age show that touched deeply. Each of the DigiDestined grew immensely from beginning to end, and along the way the show crafted inspired morals. In the realm of children’s anime, Digimon Adventure 01 was amongst the best.
But in recent years, attempts to capitalise on their success has failed. Tri attempted to show the group as teenagers, but was disregarded by fans due to an unimpassioned approach. I would love to see Digimon Adventure’s reboot capture the spark that it had in 1999, but I’m more inclined to believe it will be closer to the more recent outings – despite relatively exciting animation for Greymon’s iconic Nova Blast.
Title: Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2045
Length: 24 x 24 minute episodes
Genre: Sci-fi, action
A Netflix anime that will be dropping in its entirety on the 23rd April, excuse me while I struggle to find the excitement. Netflix are keen on these sorts of dark thriller anime, and they’ve finally gotten the king in anime realms – Ghost in the Shell.
Sure, it’s coming from the director of the original Stand Alone Complex, a strong cyberpunk political thriller. But look at that CGI, and particularly, Motoko’s character design! The further the anime series has strayed from Mamoru Oshii’s capable hands in the movies, the less and less Motoko Kusanagi has seemed like an awesome and capable cop with an identity disorder, and more and more she has seemed like another battle-ready waifu.
Perhaps I’m being too harsh on the show for a design reason, because the trailer’s demonstrate some fun gun combat and exciting choreography, and a classic ’90s OST. The CGI looks consistently strong, too, if way too polished and shiny. But what even is the narrative? It seems like there’s going to be a villain doing something to disrupt society, but we’re not being shown much at all. I’m coming to watch, but I’m expecting disappointment – as with most entries in the Ghost in the Shell franchise for the past few years.
Still, even if this be a season of difficulty, there’s shows that look like they’ll deliver on exactly as they promise – even if that’s a low bar. I’m talking about Gal to Kyouryuu and Tamayomi, anime that will do exactly what they say on the tin:
Title: Gal to Kyouryuu / Gyaru and Dinosaur
Genre: Slice of life, comedy
The tin: ‘Gyaru and Dinosaur’; the underline: ‘a gyaru named Kaede lives with a dinosaur who eats human food and watches TV’.
A wacky comedy with an atypical animation style (more reminiscent of Western cartoons), this oddball slice-of-life anime charms with concept alone. There’s not much going on but normal life-stuff, which is perfectly enticing considering gyaru fashion is fun in itself – and, as somebody who enthusiastically studied paleozoology in their degree, dinosaurs are damn fun, but the more unexplained, the better!
All-girl baseball anime is something that has been done recently in the immensely disappointing Cinderella Nine, but this one is a little different. This one doesn’t just imbue a bit of sporting agency via reasonable outfits and sensibly tied-back hair – just check out them muscles! Damn, you girls are athletes!
Another big differential is that the manga’s author, Mountain Pukuichi, has a background in writing yuri. So expect some developed relationships (even if they’re unlikely to come to fruition) and solid drama.
There are other anime I may check out, but I’m struggling to find the words for them. I’ll keep you updated on their opening episodes for sure, but am I expecting anything great? Sadly not. Let’s cross our fingers during this unprecedented quarantine, and await some surprises.
5 thoughts on “Spring 2020: What I’m Watching”
Those look like interesting things to watch. I’ll check out the Stand Alone Complex thing and hope the show is better than the character designs.
It did annoy me how Digimon was considered a Pokemon clone when it came out in America. I watched both when I was a kid, and Digimon was it’s own thing and I kept going watching when I stopped with Pokemon.
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Here’s to SAC being better than uh… those shiny models!
I always find the Pokemon anime to be subpar fanservice for the games, whereas the Digimon anime was something really terrific. I watched the entirety of Adventure 01 a couple of years back and loved it. While I was less enthused with 02, I still really enjoyed that too!
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I sure hope so.
Definitely, and that’s a good way to describe it. Pokemon may have more marketing and games with that franchise, but Digimon had the better story and characters. At least the monsters in Digimon can actually talk and it’s not about catching them all. I saw the first three seasons. 01 was the best. 02 was good despite the low points. Tamers was a weird and dark series (it shocked me that Chiaki J. Konaka of Lain, Hellsing, and Texhnolyze fame was involved) though. Of course, I won’t talk about how a certain character became a punchline for a certain fandom [shudders].
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I’ve been really enjoying the My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! manga, so I’m excited to check out the anime. The manga is super fun, hopefully I’ll like the anime adaptation just as much.
I didn’t realize that they were rebooting the Digimon Adventures anime! I used to watch that all the time as a kid! I’ll have to check that out as well.
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Villainess Otome seems so good! My fingers and all my toes are crossed for its success.
Digimon Adventure is something I watched while in my 20s, so I don’t even have the nostalgia value attached haha. I’m pumped.
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