The summer 2018 anime season is upon us, and with 42 new series and 11 continuing from the spring, there is a lot to sift through. With such a massive slate, we’ve decided to highlight some that might be interesting for anime fans and non-fans alike. (Many of these shows are available for viewing internationally a day after they air in Japan, thanks to streaming services like Crunchyroll, Netflix, and Amazon.)
If you like action, horror, and political drama
Attack on Titan Season 3
On an alternate version of Earth, humanity has retreated behind three tiers of 160-foot-high walls to protect themselves from giant humanoid monsters called Titans. These creatures don’t seem to be sentient, and appear to exist only to kill and eat humans. For over a century, humans lived this way, protected by the walls — until a 200-foot-tall Titan appeared and broke a hole in them. The series follows protagonists Mikasa and Eren, as well as the other new recruits of the Survey Corps, as they work to stop the newly adapted Titan invasion.
Attack on Titan debuted in 2013, but it took a four-year hiatus before returning with a 12-episode second season in 2017. Due to its combination of bloody horror, action, character drama, and politics, the show has been responsible for getting a lot of people hooked on anime (or lured them back). Unfortunately, it’s not really a series you can just drop right into, but the previous seasons are streaming in a number of places, including Netflix and Hulu.
If you like sports drama and sports action
Kitakomachi High School’s badminton team doesn’t have enough players to take part in competitions, so Kentaro Tachibana, the team’s coach, sets out to find someone to join the team. He finds a girl named Ayano Hanesaki, who has a natural talent for the sport, but who also isn’t interested at all in playing.
The series compositions for Hanebad! is being handled by Taku Kishimoto, who not only did the series composition for the best modern sports anime Haikyu!, but also for Erased and 91 Days, which are both excellent manga adaptations. Expectations are pretty high that Hanebad! will be a particularly gripping and dramatic sports show.
If you like crime dramas or Yuri!!! on Ice
Banana Fish is an adaptation of a manga that ran from the mid-‘80s to mid-‘90s, following NYC gang member Ash Lynx as he tries to uncover the secret behind a mysterious drug that might have driven his brother mad while he fought during the Vietnam War. He receives some unexpected help from Japanese photojournalist Eiji Okamura, who has arrived in NYC to report on the gangs there.
While the original manga is set in the 1980s, this new adaptation is moving the story to the present, but otherwise, it seems like it will be pretty faithful to the original material. The show appears to be in very good hands: it’s being animated by MAPPA (Yuri!!! On Ice) which means we can expect a pretty consistent level of very expressive animation. Directing is Hiroko Utsumi, who also directed the first two Free! series, and series composition is Hiroshi Seko, who did the same for Ajin and Mob Psycho 100. The series is also set to run for two cours through the fall, which is a big sign of confidence for a series in a time when most shows only run for one.
Banana Fish starts streaming July 5th on Amazon Prime Video subtitled. It will run 24 episodes.
If you thought the characters in Osmosis Jones needed to look more human
Cells at Work!
Cells at Work! reimagines the human body as a city inhabited by anthropomorphized versions of cells. The story follows a red blood cell delivery person, appropriately named Red Blood Cell, as she works together with the other cells to keep the body they inhabit healthy and fight off any foreign microbes.
The series is being animated by David Production, who animated the four seasons of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure that have aired so far, and the director Kenichi Suzuki directed the first three of those JoJo seasons. With the strange conceit of the show, this seems like a potentially ideal pairing, given not only how well-animated those seasons of JoJo are, but also because of Kenichi and David’s ability to take a weird story and make it interesting beyond just being strange.
Cells at Work! starts July 7th on Crunchyroll (subtitled.)
If you ever wondered what 1970s James Bond would be like as a thief
Lupin III: Part 5
I didn’t include Lupin III: Part 5 in the previous season preview, mostly due to the fact that I wasn’t sure if it’d be accessible to new viewers. It turns out that I was wrong about that, as this new series actually makes it pretty easy for new viewers to pick up. Despite being “Part 5,” Lupin the Third (aka Lupin III) has been airing since the late 1960s, with numerous movies and around 300 episodes, but they don’t tell a continuous story.
The titular Lupin is the great grandson of author Maurice Leblanc’s gentleman thief Arsène Lupin, and the series follows his exploits as he and his gang rob from those who typically deserve to get stolen from. Over the decades, Lupin has changed based on whoever was writing each season, shifting the tone of the show from stoic to dark to slapstick comedy. This new series manages to keep the silly charm of Lupin, while also still grounding things fairly realistically like a modern mystery show. For example the first arc is about Lupin trying to evade capture when everyone in the world with a cellphone camera is tracking him. The series also throws in one-off episodes that are homages to older, much more comedic, versions of the characters.
Lupin III: Part 5 is currently at 12 episodes and is available for streaming subtitled on Crunchyroll, with 12 more to run this season.
If you watched a lot of Toonami in the ‘00s
This second sequel to the original FLCL (aka Fooly Cooly) series follows Kana, a 17-year-old junior in high school who spends most of her time hanging out with her friends. But all their lives change when a giant mech and a strange woman named Haruko fall from the sky.
FLCL Alternative is being animated by Production IG, which co-animated the original series and is also animating FLCL Progressive. Much of the main staff who worked on Progressive is also working on Alternative, with seemingly the only differences being the character designer and directors. Even so, it’s hard to guess what Alternative will be like; despite Progressive and the original series being similarly full of absurd levels of spectacle, they are immensely different in the stories they tell and how they tell them. Alternative seems to be going a different way, as well, with how it interprets what an FLCL series is.
FLCL Alternative will start airing September 6th on Adult Swim, and will run for six episodes. It’ll be dubbed in English, while a Japanese dub with English subtitles will stream on the Adult Swim site starting in November.
If you like stories about mysterious death games
Angels of Death
After waking up in the sub-basement of a strange abandoned building with no memories, 13-year-old Rachel stumbles upon a serial killer named Zack, who’s covered in bandages and carries a large scythe. The two work together to escape from the strange predicament they find themselves in.
Unfortunately, it’s hard to get a read on the show outside of the trailer and synopsis, since it’s only the second show the director Kentaro Suzuki has run, and the first for the series writer Yoshinobu Fujioka. Also, the work of the animation studio behind the show, JC Staff, can vary greatly, so going by their history, it’s hard to tell. Even so, it seems like it could be a show that, come the end of the season, is one of the surprise standouts.
If you like completely absurd comedy
Chio’s School Road
Chio, a typical high school student, commutes to school. This show is about the problems she encounters along the way, like construction sites, needing to suddenly use the bathroom, or fights with giant robots.
This show seems like it will be completely ridiculous, but in the sort of way that lets the animators have a lot of fun with it. It’s being animated by Diomedéa, the studio behind a number of comedies like Squid Girl and Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! and the in-between animators for Gintama, Hinamatsuri, Watamote, and Osomatsu-san. So it certainly seems like the team behind this has the chops to really make this show as weird and well-animated as it will need to be.