My Reactions To The Upcoming Netflix Anime in 2018

Just for clarification, I’m talking about the year 2018, and I’m only referring to the twelve or so anime that are on this article.

In case you weren’t aware, Netflix has recently announced that they’re doubling down hard on the anime market in a similar vein to Amazon with the revelation that twelve new anime will be arriving within the next year. And while I’m sure the few of you who just learned about said news are going to Twitter to cry injustice to the world, I’m going to be a little more diplomatic and preview the upcoming anime based on the trailers, premise, and whatnot. I have my reservations regarding Netflix anime as a whole, but I don’t have enough stakes in the matter to really care whether it’s killing the medium or not; plus I’ve made it clear in the past that I have a “don’t write about anything behind-the-scenes-related” rule because I believe anime writing should always focus on the actual anime and what they contribute as an artform. There are plenty of other places you can look to in regards to how Netflix and Amazon are killing the industry. Just look at who I follow on Twitter. Those guys have multiple conversations regarding big companies destroying anime.

Instead of joining them, let’s copy all the big regular news sites who wrote about this announcement and focus on whether these upcoming anime are actually worth complaining about in the first place. After all, no point in saying Netflix is killing da animu if said animu is doing a good job of it doing that itself.

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“You… are not human now.” Bones, the animation studio behind such world-renowned titles as “Psalms of Planets EUREKA SEVEN” (personal note: that’s the first I ever heard of E7’s “full name”) and “My Hero Academia,” and Kazuya Murata, director of “Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet” and “Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos” team up to present an original bio sci-fi action series.

In Japan in the year 2035, an accident known as the “Burst” occurs during a research project, spawning an out-of-control artificial life form called “Matter” that has spread throughout the Kurobe Gorge. The research city that was once hailed as the hope for humanity is cordoned off by the government. Two years later, 15-year-old Aiko Tachibana, who lost her family in the Burst, learns something unbelievable from Yuya Kanzaki, a new student at her school. A secret is hidden within her body, and the answer to the puzzle lies at the “Primary Point” that was the center of the Burst. When boy meets girl with the fate of humanity in their hands, what new truth will come to light? 2018 Spring only on Netflix.

Bones has always been a studio made of ups and downs since their beginning, so it’s hard to really predict how anything they make will go, regardless of their track record. I will say though that A.I.C.O. looks more like the stereotype of what you’d expect a Bones anime to be and the director’s resume is a bit iffy, but that’s no reason to dial down the excitement levels for it. From what I can gather according to the premise and that ridiculously long trailer, it’s about a girl who discovers that her body is artificial, and a lot of other action-heavy subplots are attached to that main narrative. Reactions to the trailer have been mostly positive, although they are obviously Bones-biased so take that for what it’s worth. I personally found it to be a bit nonsensical with the good production values mostly being there, but then again this is a four-minute trailer we’re talking about here.

The Youtube description says it’s coming out in Spring 2018, but is that for Netflix worldwide or only in Japan? I know most of these Netflix anime are simulcasting on Netflix Japan first before the entire thing gets released on Netflix in the US and Canada. Well I’m watching it regardless, so it’ll come when it comes.

Explore the fantastic land of Gearbolt as we follow a motley crew of travelers on an unforgettable journey to reunite 2 best friends. S.A.M. is a high-end, friendship robot, determined to reunite with her best friend Kelby, the missing heir to her Kingdom under siege. Casey Turnbuckle is an out-dated, spunky greasy-monkey repair robot, looking for an upgrade. Philly the Kid is a wanted, immortal fugitive just looking for a chance to shake them. Along for the ride is the greatest swordsman never known and a suped up, Cadillac Eldorado that transforms into a sentient, giant robot. On their own, they’re a lost cause. Together, they’re the hippest world travelers this side of 2D animation!

A dangerous journey is best measured in friends, not miles!

Although recognized as anime and produced by Satelight, this show is more along the lines of Afro Samurai in regards to labels and such. It was born out of a Kickstarter project by LeSean Thomas, one of the The Boondocks’ co-directors, and apparently it’s his mission to bring black people into the anime world as more than a walking punchline. Having seen the first episode of his Children of Ether thing at the Magus Bride showing, I can say right now that he’s not selling me on his vision for what animation should be so far. The trailer for Cannon Busters isn’t getting me excited either. It looks like it suffers from the usual problems that happen when the West tries to make something in the style of anime (i.e. the recent Castlevania) in that they just see animation as an aesthetic rather than a viable method of storytelling. Hell, a lot of actual anime do the same thing. And when most of the comments are praise for how the upcoming project reminds them of other (most likely better) anime, that’s generally not a good sign.

Also, maybe the voices are different in the actual product, but the English voice acting in that trailer was bad. Like really flat. Not that I’ll know if that’ll get solved anytime soon because the current July release date for this anime is only available to the people who backed it, with the actual Netflix release date being unknown at the moment.

Nobody knows the real Devil.

To mark the 50th year of Go Nagai’s career, his hit series “Devilman” returns as “Devilman Crybaby.” Lauded as an “eternal masterpiece” that could never be completely recreated in moving images, the entirety of Devilman will finally be portrayed in Devilman Crybaby. The director is Masaaki Yuasa, the world-renowned creator known for his work on many high-quality titles such as “Ping Pong the Animation” and “Mind Game.” The series will also feature a screenplay by Ichiro Okouchi and music by Kensuke Ushio. A team of Japan’s top creators gathers to take on the anime adaptation of a legendary manga.

I think I’ve seen like one Devilman anime in my life, but I remember nothing about it, so I might as well have not watched it at all. Anyways, you can easily tell it’s a Yuasa anime just by looking at the trailer, and it seems I can at least take comfort in the fact that this adaptation will be visually interesting. Most people in the Youtube comments seem to agree with me regarding the style as well, although there’s the occasional person who says it looks cheap. There’s still the substance of Devilman itself though, which I know nothing about and have no interest in looking up. I do find it funny that one of the Geass train-wreck writers is being chosen to realize a Go Nagai product for the modern age, but other than that, this version of the property is a wait-and-see.

An unprecedented Great Holy Grail War begins…

Fourteen Heroic Spirits gather for an apocryphal Holy Grail War. In a city called Fuyuki, seven magi and their Heroic Spirits once clashed in a Holy Grail War. But amid the chaos of the Second World War, a magus made off with the Grail. Decades later, the Yggdmillennia clan holds the Grail high and secedes from the Mage’s Association, declaring their independence. Angered by the move, the Association sends assassins after them, only to have them wiped out by a Yggdmillennia Servant. The choice is made to fight Servants with Servants, and the Holy Grail War system is expanded to two factions of seven Servants each. A Holy Grail War of unprecedented scale — a Great Holy Grail War — begins in Trifas, Romania.

I’m sure most of you know by now what this anime is, so I won’t bother talking too much about it. Apparently it’s getting released in Netflix on November 7 (and then December for the non-US countries), but given how it’s two-cour, I’m assuming they only mean the first half. On another note, I never watched this show, but I can’t say I like how overly-flashy the trailer makes it seem. Fate fans don’t seem to mind though.

Live. Bet your life on it.

There is one absolute rule in gambling — at the end of the day, there is a winner and a loser. The winner gains riches and prestige, while the loser is branded a failure and left with nothing. In the silence leading up to the moment that separates winners and losers, instincts are sharpened and desires reach the point of ecstasy. This is a harsh microcosm of life in a capitalist society. Why are people captivated by a world filled with risk? What lies beyond the madness? As the class system of modern society crumbles, an unprecedented adrenaline-pumping anime sweeps the world.

Again, you should know what this show is considering it’s one of the most popular anime this season. Also, it’s getting released on Netflix in 2018? Fuck me. Looks like I’ll have to watch the illegal streams, because otherwise I won’t be able to account for it on my top 2017 list (well, I’m assuming it’ll get on. I liked the first three episodes, but a lot can change in the remaining time, especially with anime).

Alright, that’s all the anime with official Netflix trailers. Now for the anime without ’em.

B: The Beginning

In a world powered by advanced technology, crime and action unfold in the archipelagic nation of Cremona. Koku, the protagonist. Keith, the legendary investigator of the royal police force RIS. A mysterious criminal organization. A wide variety of characters race through the fortified city as it is beset by the serial killer, Killer B, and a chain of crimes in this suspense drama by director Kazuto Nakazawa and Production I.G.

The series is comprised of 12 episodes and is a Production I.G. series that is set to debut globally on Netflix in Spring 2018.

This is that Perfect Bones thing that got announced a year or so ago under a new name. Some people have been excited for this based on the studio, mature premise, and overall circumstances, but I’ve seen Production I.G. tackle mature premises in the past and they either did not turn out well (cough Joker Game cough) or I don’t find them very appealing (Ghost in the Shell, Moribito). Last time I ever liked anything from them was the first Psycho-Pass now that I think about it, and that was half a decade ago.

Either way, there’s not really enough information about B: the Beginning to decide whether it’ll blow people away or flop hard. It seems like it’ll lean towards the former, but you never know with anime fandom.

Baki

The protagonist, Baki Hanma, trains with an intense focus to become strong enough to surpass his father, Yujiro Hanma, the strongest fighter in the world. Five of the world’s most violent and brutal death row inmates are gathering to face Baki. Their objective is to taste defeat — their unmatched strength and skill have led them to grow bored of life itself, and they now seek out Baki in the hopes that he can overwhelm and utterly crush them. In this crisis, other underground martial art warriors gather to fight by Baki’s side: Kaoru Hanayama, Gouki Shibukawa, Retsu Kaioh, and Doppo Orochi. An epic showdown between violent death row inmates and Baki and his friends begins!

More than 63 million copies of the original manga series have been printed and the series will be comprised of 26 episodes for Netflix, produced by TMS Entertainment.

Never touched Baki the Grappler because it didn’t look like my kind of thing. Not really into this kind of brutal violence story and I don’t know many people who are.

Children of Whales

In the 93rd year of the Sentence of Sand…

In a world covered by oceans of sand, 513 people live in complete isolation on the “Mud Whale,” an island-like ship adrift on the sand. Children of the Whales is an adaptation by director Kyohei Ishiguro and anime studio J.C.Staff based on Abi Umeda’s hit manga of the same name (serialized in Akita Shoten’s “Monthly Mystery Bonita”). Chakuro, the island’s archivist endowed with special powers, meets a mysterious girl named Rikosu as he investigates an abandoned ship that drifted up to the Mud Whale one day. It is the first time anyone on the island has made contact with someone from the outside world, but is it an auspicious sign that a new world awaits?

Children of the Whales stars Natsuki Hanae, Manaka Iwami, Yuichiro Umehara, Nobunaga Shimazaki, Mikako Komatsu, Daiki Yamashita and Hiroshi Kamiya. The series will debut everywhere except Japan on Netflix in 2018.

I should probably point out that this is one of those Netflix exclusives that’s going to be airing on Japanese TV next season, so there’s a chance you might be watching it illegally before it gets on the platform. Having gotten that out of the way, I honestly do not know what to think of this show at all. Never read the manga and I’m too lazy to look up who Ishiguro or Umeda actually is, although I’ve seen their names met by praise from the elite side of the fanbase on occasion, so I’m sure there are people who are hyped for this based on their names. Or maybe they’ve read the source material itself. The premise has potential and the artwork looks a lot better than what JC Staff usually churns out, so it looks like it’ll be a good adaptation. Now we’ve just got to see if the actual project is good itself.

Godzilla

Since it was first released as a feature film in 1954, “Godzilla” has become a colossal cultural icon loved by millions around the world. The 2016 release of “SHIN GODZILLA”, directed by Hideaki Anno, reinvigorated the franchise with a novel and realistic depiction of the iconic monster story, earning 82.5 million US dollars at the box-office and capturing the imagination of new and old fans alike. Now in 2017, GODZILLA evolves in an unexpected direction as a feature-length animated film.

The animated movie takes the franchise into uncharted territory — a harsh world of the future in which Godzilla has dominated the Earth for the past 20,000 years, and a fateful final confrontation with mankind looms. The animated film stars Mamoru Miyano, Takashiro Sakurai, Kana Hanazawa, Tomokazu Sugita, Yuki Kaji and Junichi Suwabe. Prepare for the earth-shattering roar of a brand new GODZILLA, unlike anything heard or seen before.

Polygon Pictures may not be good in terms of actual animation, but when it comes to visual storytelling, they’re definitely upper-class as far as production studios go. I also notice they always have the same director attached to their projects, which doesn’t really surprise me given how they’re more of a passion project studio than a corporate slave of the industry if you catch my drift. Anyways, it’s more Godzilla, and I tend to like Godzilla movies as long as we pretend the Emmerich version doesn’t exist, so I’m up for seeing Polygon’s take on the creature. The writer is Gen Urobuchi, which doesn’t surprise me in the least because the guy is always called in to write something whenever Japan is in the mood to revive an old trend. I think this is the first part of a movie series, but I’m too lazy to check. Either way, I’ll definitely watch this. It’ll be atmospheric at least judging by what this studio did with Blame and such, and that’s always worth one watch in my eyes.

Knights of the Zodiac: Saint Seiya

KNIGHTS OF THE ZODIAC: SAINT SEIYA follows modern day adventures of young warriors called “Knights”, who are sworn protectors of the reincarnated Greek goddess Athena. Each Knights wears a powerful armor based on their chosen zodiac constellation, and are called Knights of the Zodiac. They aid Athena in her battle against powerful Olympian gods who are bent on destroying the humankind. The series is comprised of 12 episodes and is produced by Toei Animation.

All I know about Saint Seiya is that it’s an old Shonen Jump series from the 80s and (might be a spoiler:) that the main character dies in the end. Also, it had the most ridiculous contrivances to make sure all fights were one-on-one the entire runtime. Well now it’s back as a twelve-episode series, so I hope all you old-school fans are happy. A good chunk of you seemed to like the new Lupin show from 2015, although I’m also aware that a lot of the elitist fanbase found it to be shit.

Lost Song

An all-new, classic fantasy starring Yukari Tamura and Konomi Suzuki as the two heroines.

Rin (Konomi Suzuki), an energetic girl who loves to eat, lives in a verdant frontier village.

Deep within the royal palace in the bustling capital city, the songstress Finis (Yukari Tamura) spends her days in solitude. Both share a special power no other person has. A miraculous power that can heal wounds, create water and stir the wind — the power of song. Guided by destiny, the two young women each face an arduous journey with the power of song. The shadow of war looms over the kingdom, tainting even the miraculous songs with the blood of innocents. Loved ones meet their deaths as silent screams echo through a stone prison. As two destinies intersect, will the final song be one of despair, hope or…? The series is comprised of 12 episodes, and is a LIDENFILMS x Dwango co-production.

Is this supposed to be the fantasy version of Macross or something? Hell, the main female duo look kinda like Sheryl and Ranka from Macross Frontier or whoever the two main females were in Macross Delta. And yet this is a Lidenfilms production instead of a Satelight one. Greeeeeeaaaaatttttt.

Rilkakkuma

Ever since its merchandise first went on sale by San-X in 2003, the “Rilakkuma” character has enjoyed immense popularity especially among women. After being featured in many merchandising and industry campaigns, it is now widely recognized both in Japan and abroad. To mark its 15th anniversary, Dwarf Studio now brings to bear its world class stop motion animation skills to produce the first animated series featuring “Rilakkuma.”

Rilakkuma is a soft toy bear who showed up one day to live with an office worker named Kaoru. He spends his days lounging around the apartment. Although there’s a zipper on his back, what’s inside is a mystery. He loves pancakes, rice omelets, custard pudding and “dango” rice dumplings. His friends are Kaoru’s pet bird Kiiroitori and a small white bear cub named Korilakkuma who also showed up out of the blue.

The series, comprised of 13 episodes, is produced by Dwarf and is the first stop motion animated series featuring “Rilakkuma”.

Do I even put the effort to bother talking about this? I don’t know anything about the mascot and it looks like a cheap kids’ show.

Sword Gai: The Animation

A weapon that has drawn the blood of countless victims becomes legend, and at times takes on a life of its own. When such a weapon’s human host is filled with hate and murderous intent, he becomes a demonic combination of weapon and man that thirsts only for slaughter.

An organization has faced these dangerous beings over the centuries. A young man named Gai is destined to live as a weapon. As humans are enthralled by their weapons’ power, epic battles unfold with the fate of humanity in the balance in this battle action fantasy. The series will debut globally on Netflix in Spring 2018.

I remember when this anime got announced for Japanese TV years ago, then suddenly disappeared like Savanna Game as a “wait and see” production. Well, looks like the wait is finally over. And judging by the summary and visuals, it looks like Sword Gai (haha I see what you did there) will be one of those violent anime that bases a lot of its appeal around being cool. An appeal which, let’s be honest, a lot of the Netflix announcements share. Being cool isn’t an inherently bad thing. It all depends on how it does the coolness at the end of the day, and I don’t see anything about Sword Gai that’s an immediate turn off, so who knows?

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All I can say overall is that Netflix definitely owns the license to a lot of interesting looking stuff, but until I can actually watch them, I won’t know whether their refusal to acknowledge the existing anime fanbase is worth getting more mad about. I will say that despite me wanting to watch most of them, none of these anime look amazing. The new Devilman definitely has the most potential in regards to being an anime I’d adore, but like I said, I don’t know anything about the property (plus Yuasa anime are hard to watch anyways, so I don’t think you can use it as an example to decry Netflix’s policies). And everything else seems to be kind of typical for the studios making them, only with a (mostly) guarantee that it’s not going to be one of their cheap efforts. That’s not an inherently bad thing, but I don’t think it’s a good thing if you can’t separate the anime from the studio in any aspect. It doesn’t have to be a big aspect, but it does have to be something not arbitrary.

It’s fun to speculate on the future, but in the end, the present will catch up and betray those speculations. As such, I’d rather spend less time thinking about the future and more time on catching up to Compulsive Gambler. Thank god the trailer only showed scenes from the first three episodes, which I’ve already watched.

3 responses to “My Reactions To The Upcoming Netflix Anime in 2018

  1. Pingback: Anime Blog Posts That Caught My Eye This Week: August 4, 2017 | Lesley's Anime and Manga Corner

  2. The Devilman anime is going to adapt the original manga ending, which is fairly controversial in its own right (spoiler, it’s not a happy one), but Mr. Yuasa has enough cachet among sakuga fans and general critics alike to get even the snotty side of anime twitter interested in the visuals of what is otherwise liable to be classified as yet another one of Go Nagai’s projects. I will add that the writer is pretty good at adaptations and you wouldn’t really need to blame him for all the strange stuff in Uncle Go’s cabinet (even Violence Jack is distantly connected to Devilman after all).

    • If I’m being honest, I find the attention the fandom gives Yuasa to be really annoying. It’s gotten to that “he can do no wrong” level that I always find obnoxious to hear, plus when it comes to his anime, people tend to focus on him rather than what the anime contains.

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