Summer 2022 Preview and Video partner

Summer 2022 Preview and Video partner

Summer 2022 Preview and Video Companion

No question about it – Summer 2022 is the calm before the storm.
As I noted in my Spring preview, there were enough big matzoh balls out there that sooner or later 2022 was bound to explode. Since then most of them have declared their intentions, and it’s Fall 2022 that’s the main beneficiary. That looks as if it’s going to be one of the biggest anime seasons in a decade in terms of sheer hype shows, and it has a chance to be actually good as well. It’s really only Vinland Saga that missed the party, spilling over to a 2023 premiere (for my sanity that’s probably for the best).
That makes Summer 2022 very much a transitional season. There’s one legitimately huge prospect from that core group (Made in Abyss) that landed in summer, one venture spearheaded by two giants of the medium, and one more that would have been huge (for me) if it weren’t getting what looks like a grisly adaptation. After that the cupboard is pretty bare to be honest but hey, that gives me a chance to build up strength for what could be an exhausting fall. And this is not unusual – summer is typically not a splashy anime season, though there have been a couple of exceptions over the years.
As of this writing the docket contains 44 series, about average for a 2020’s summer. If you’re a veteran here you know about how many shows I’ll be previewing, then – and it’s right where you think it will be, 14. I never set out consciously to do it but I always end up at about a third of the schedule, and this season is no exception. I had to lower the bar a fair bit to get to that number – there’s stuff here that never would have made the cut five or certainly ten years ago – but this is pretty much the current normal. Usual service has been restored in the sense that “Modestly Interested” is the largest category by far – spring was the exception there, not the rule.
As noted, it’s the sequel to Made in Abyss that headlines the season by a country mile. It resides among one of the most formidable collections of sequels fans of artistically-ambitious anime have seen in a long time, but among that group it has the stage all to itself – the rest hit in autumn or later. It’ll be interesting to see if that causes MiA to stand out more in hindsight than its rivals, most of whom will be competing for attention in the steel cage death match of Fall 2022. It’s also likely to be one of only two sequels I cover (though not watch) this season, a somewhat rare occurrence.
As for categorizing the schedule as a whole, it looks pretty standard issue. There are multiple isekai adaptations so generic that I literally had trouble telling them apart after reading the descriptions. Everything you expect to see is here, in about the expected proportions. As for sleepers, only one really stands out – but one of the big reasons is because a trusted source did a good job selling it to me.
As always the LiA preview comes with a video companion (also embedded at the end of this post). If you enjoy that or any of my videos I would be enormously grateful if you’d consider subscribing – helping me reach that magic 1000 number is a great way of helping out LiA reach sustainability. I look forward to your feedback – please share your thoughts either here or over on YT. And as always, my sincere thanks for your support.

Let’s move on to the preview. As usual, the poll is in the sidebar – please go vote!

Highest Expectations:
Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou – Kinema Citrus: (PV) Without question, 2017’s Made in Abyss was a spectacular anime. It clawed its way into my 2010’s Top 20 list, and pretty comfortably. It soared on every level, not least its visuals, which would rank among my top five TV an anime of all-time. Kevin Penkin’s soundtrack might do likewise. And Tsukushi Akihito’s writing – which the adaptation was largely faithful to – is brutal, ruthless, and heartbreaking.
If anything, I was pretty surprised to see MiA become the major commercial hit it did. Frankly I thought it was too subtle and too weird to find a large audience, but it did so – both domestically and abroad. It’s spawned theatrical films, a good amount of tie-in merchandising, doujins and cafes. And now, of course, a second season – which took a lot of fans (including me) who thought the material seemed better suited to the theater by surprise.
That which makes Made in Abyss sometimes troubling – the almost fetishistic way Tsukushi-sensei tortures his young cast – is intrinsically tied to its allure. There are no limits either existential or physical – anything can happen to anyone, and often does. It’s a beautiful but terrifying world Tsukushi has created, and the anxiety we feel for its inhabitants is real. And Kinema Citrus brings all that to life in truly stunning fashion. This adaptation is clearly a labor of love in the best sense. There’s no reason to think any of that will change with the second season and if indeed it doesn’t, Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou will be part of a vigorous scrum for spots at the head of 2022’s Top 10.
Hoshi no Samidare – NAZ: (PV) The odyssey of Hoshi no Samidare is a long and strange one, and it hasn’t even aired yet. This was an adaptation I, along with most Mizukami Satoshi fans, have waited for impatiently and thought was probably never coming. Aside from the original (though later a manga) Planet With, this historically great mangaka has been completely snubbed by anime. The Lucifer and Biscuit Hammer is his most popular (though not best – that’s Spirit Circle) series, but it ended a decade ago. That it finally got an anime should have been cause for unbridled joy – and it was, for a while.
I struggled long and hard with where to place Samidare in this preview. My head tells me it’s “Mid-table” but my heart just wouldn’t let me do it. Still, that should tell you just how much expectations regarding this series have been deflated. It should have been at Bones, with a director like Matsumoto Rie. Once upon a time it was rumored to be Gainax (a deal reportedly scuttled by disagreements over licensing songs from The Pillows – oft-referenced in the narrative) for the soundtrack. But it ended up at a fourth-rate studio, NAZ, with a third-date director in Nakanishi Nobuaki. For a long time we didn’t even know the studio, never mind have a preview. It’s arrival just killed the mood ever more, as it’s truly ugly and cheap-looking (and this was the bit they wanted to use to show off).
It’s dangerous to project, and we don’t know Mizukami’s true feelings about this adaptation. I have to believe this was a hard choice for him – approve a sketchy adaptation, knowing that the alternative was likely to never get one at all? Or refuse and accept that none of his manga were likely ever to be adapted? If there’s any small grain of hope it’s that Mizukami is attached to the project supervising scripts, but until the series is confirmed to be two cour (which it desperately needs to be) you can’t even really draw much optimism from that.
All we’re left with at this point is blind hope and diminished expectations. Samidare should have been an AotY candidate in any year, and this certainly won’t be that. But it’s still a great story. The cast is generally fine to very good. Maybe it will get two cours and survive narratively without being cut to ribbons to save time. Even if this isn’t Mizukami finally getting the glorious anime debutante ball he deserves (and even if it isn’t Spirit Circle), it’s still Biscuit Hammer. It’s freaking Biscuit Hammer, in 2022. If nothing else, it’s a hell of a thing that it even exists.

Yofukashi no Uta – Lidenfilms: () We haven’t heard Bo Diddley about the Rurouni Kenshin reboot supposedly in the works at Lidenfilms, which was announced going on six months ago. But the studio has other shounen on its plate in the meantime with Yofukashi no Uta. It’s adapted from a manga by Kotoyama, author of Dagashi Kashhi (whose adaptation I rather liked, especially the first season). It’s the story of a boy with insomnia who takes to nocturnal sojourns, on one of which he meets a young girl who may be a vampire. She says she can cure him, but at what cost?
Call of the Night may the appetizer as far as upcoming insomnia anime are concerned, but I have pretty high expectations just the same. While it would always have been on my radar, my friend and former RC colleague Samu swears I’m really going to like it, and he tends to predict my anime tastes pretty well. Tomoyuki Itamura (Vanitas no Carte) directing is perhaps a bit of a yellow flag – Vanitas showed that he hasn’t completely flushed the Shaft out of his system – but if he restrains himself to the same extent here I don’t see it as a deal-breaker.
Hataraku Maou-sama! 2nd Season – Studio 3Hz: (PV) Hataraku Maou-sama! is notable for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, it ranks quite high in anime‘s list of “what took you so long?” sequels. It’s also one of very few true light novel adaptations I’ve ever really liked. Until it kind of stubbed its toe in its final few episodes the first season was a real contender to make my Top 10 list in 2013. I have no idea why it’s taken anime nine years to come up with a sequel to a series which sold a shit-ton of discs back when that was what most mattered most of the time, but here we are.
I should be excited, then, at finally getting a sequel. And I am – a little – but my enthusiasm is tempered with a couple of cautionary notes. First, I’ve found that my tolerance for LN tropism is a lot lower than it was then. And while I don’t remember a lot of that with this series, I don’t really trust my memory. Also, the anime returns with an almost entirely new staff (apart from Yokotani Masahiro handling series composition) at a different studio. 3Hz has shown they can be perfectly competent but the trailer and character designs strike me as a lot less punchy than the first season. From my perspective it’s better not to expect too much and (hopefully) be pleasantly surprised where this revival is concerned.
Shoot! Goal to the Future – EMT Squared: (PV) Anime has taken quite a Yen to reviving old franchises lately, and Shoot! is another example. The original series Aoki Densetsu Shoot! was a quite popular soccer manga in the 1990’s – it inspired a TV and theatrical anime adaptation. Now, 26 years after the manga ended, anime returns to the well with an original sequel featuring the protagonist Kamiya Atsushi returning from Italy to coach a high school soccer team in Japan (with a new MC).
As a soccer anime aficionado that should be right up Main Street for me, and I’ll certainly be watching. But the staff and studio are frankly uninspiring, and the trailer was strikingly generic – not awful, but with nothing distinctive about it whatsoever. As always with originals the writer is the key figure, and while Hiroaki Mitsutaka is certainly experienced there’s nothing in the resume to indicate whether or not he has the chops to pull off an original series based on an old chestnut like Shoot!.
Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru – Silver Link: (PV) For me nothing Yamamoto Souichirou has done comes close to capturing the charm of the original Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san (which itself was leveled up in its adaptation). But Soredemo Ayumu wa Yosetekuru would probably hold down the #2 slot – it’s a pretty solid romcom on the whole, with a somewhat different tone and style to it than Karakai Jouzu.
Yamamoto has aged this one up to high school, with a commensurate uptick in ecchi (though not to the levels of his rather vapid loli ninja series). First-year Ayumu quits the kendo club and joins the one-woman shogi club headed by sempai shogi master Urushi. Mutual attraction follows (obviously) but the strait-laced Ayumu promises himself he won’t confess until he beats Urushi at shogi – and it’s a hundred years too early for that. The manga has its charms to be sure and both leads are quite likeable, and there’s nothing in the staff list to indicate they can’t deliver a decent take on the story. This series may have the narrowest range of potential outcomes on the schedule – it seems easy to predict what we’ll get here. But then, I might have said the same about the Karakai Jouzu anime, so who knows…

Modestly Interested:
Yurei Deco – Science SARU: (PV) There are troubling signs that Science SARU is following the course of MAPPA – a studio founded by an anime legend to pursue creatively ambitious projects which slowly morphs into a black company which abuses its workers. As that happens the founder of course becomes less and less involved – certainly the case with Maruyama at MAPPA, and now with Yuasa at SARU. But of course MAPPA still does good stuff, and there’s enough talent at both it and Science SARU to command your attention when a new project is announced.
The director here is first-timer Shimoyama Tomohissa but again, it’s an original so the writer is the key figure. And that’s Satou Dai, certainly once upon a time a very big name in anime but someone who hasn’t done much of note in the past decade (or more). This whole setup of a junior detective troupe operating in a “digitally-controlled Tom Sawyer Island” sounds pretty silly to be honest, but maybe it’s just weird enough to work. Science SARU is anything but a guarantor of good production values these days but maybe this will be one of the good ones.
Isekai Ojisan – Atelier Pontdarc: (PV) Now that’s a studio name that’s never graced these pages before. Isekai Ojisan – that’s one “i” for “uncle” rather than two for “grandfather”- is not an LN adaptation, despite its title. It’s the story of a gamer guy who falls into a coma for 17 years and wakes up as a magical hero in another world. The staff is sort of decent and so are the reviews of the manga, against my better judgement I feel a slight sleeper vibe with this one.
Shadows House 2nd Season – CloverWorks: (PV) Not that it matters, but I never could quite figure out why Shadows House got a a second season. The manga isn’t hugely popular or anything, and the anime didn’t give it a big boost or move a lot of discs. I mean, it’s not bad – that’s why it’s here – but innumerable better series with bigger sales have been one-and-dones. In any event it reminds me a bit of Yakusoku no Neverland or Tokyo Revengers in the sense of being a clever premise the author doesn’t quite have the chops to pull off, but there was enough of interest in the final arc of S1 to get me to check out the sequel.
Fuuto Tantei – Studio Kai: (PV) Being based on a seinen manga doesn’t mean an anime is going to be good by any stretch – there are plenty of bad seinen out there. But it does give you the best odds if you’re going in cold (which I am here). This one hinges on USB devices which turn criminals into superpower-wielding monsters, and the brother detectives who combat them. The manga is a sequel to Kamen Rider W – which, to be honest, I’ve never really sampled in any format.
Engage Kiss – A-1 Pictures: (PV) Anime-original future comedy, possibly with some romance and mystery elements. The previews have looked pretty good and writer Maruto Fumiaki did the very engaging White Album 2 (along with some stuff that’s not so engaging). I wouldn’t go so far as to say it has a sleeper vibe but I do get a kind of competence vibe for this one – faint praise to be sure, but I suspect it will be watchable.
Bucchigire! – Geno: (PV) Another original, this time set in the past (Meiji Restoration, to be precise). It’s the story of seven criminals chosen to stand in for the Shinsengumi, who’ve been wiped out by an unknown attacker, as a means of maintaining order. Hirakawa Tetsuo is directing and writing Buchhigire!, which doesn’t tell us a whole lot as he hasn’t written much.
Kami Kuzu Idol – Studio Gokumi: (PV) I’m too lazy to check and see when I last had a series with “Idol” in the title in a preview, but I know it hasn’t happened often. This is the story of an incredibly half-assed male idol who pretty much everyone hates who gets possessed by the ghost of a super-genki and majime female idol. Kami Kuzu Idol may just embrace the idiocy of the Japanese idol industry wholeheartedly enough to be amusing – that’s the pretext for giving it a shot.
Saikin Yatotta Maid ga Ayashii – Silver Link/Blade: (PV) Yeah yeah, I know – it’s a series about a maid and an 11 year-old with the “Romance” tag, I must be nuts. And sure, I probably am. But the manga Saikin Yatotta Maid ga Ayashii is based on is actually pretty decent by reputation (it’s by the same woman as Jahy-sama, with whom this adaptation also shares a director). And after the Shounen Maid experience, one shouldn’t dismiss a series like this entirely on face value. After an episode or two, now that’s a different matter.

Yojouhan Time Machine Blues – Science SARU: (PV) On merits alone, Yojouhan Time Machine Blues would be in the “Highest Expectations” category to be sure – it’s an adaptation of Morimi Tomihiko directed by Natsume Shingo. It’s a sequel/spinoff (focusing on Ozu, the “mischievous friend” character) of Yojouhan Shinwa Taikei, which I personally consider to be a slightly lesser Morimi work – a bit too self-aware at times. But that bar is about as high as it gets, as Morimi is one of Japan’s finest novelists and any Morimi is still pretty much one-percenter material. As for Natsume no anime fan should need to be convinced that his involvement matters – the resume loudly speaks for itself
The issue is strictly logistical. We know that Yojouhan will be released in theaters as a compilation film on September 30, but it’s also going to be streamed on Disney+ as six episodes (including an “original” ep, which we don’t even know if Morimi-sensei is writing). Presumably that will happen sometime during the summer season but the truth is we just don’t know, because no one is telling us yet. As such I can’t even officially call it a summer series, so it wouldn’t feel right to place it up at the top of the preview – nevertheless it seems likely to air in the summer, at least in Japan, so this may be the only chance I get to include it. And with that pedigree it’s way too important not to preview it.

Will Definitely Blog: Made in Abyss: Retsujitsu no Ougonkyou, Hoshi no Samidare, Hataraku Maou-sama! 2nd Season
Sleepers: Yofukashi no Uta (if it’s not too hyped to be a sleeper), maybe Isekai Ojiisan or even Bucchigire!

Tonikaku Cawaii: Seifuku – 7/2022: (PV) As we await news on the announced second season, we get another Tonikaku Cawaii OVA to tide us over. I haven’t seen a synopsis for this yet – “Seifuku” means “uniform” but that’s not much of a clue – or even confirmation as to whether it’s adapted or original material. But more Nasa and Tsukasa is always welcome – they’re probably anime‘s sweetest married couple of the past few years.

Not a summer of blockbusters by any stretch, but a few interesting titles are headed for the big screen.
Osomatsu-san: Hipipo-Zoku to Kagayaku Kajitsu – 07/08/22: (PV) The Osomatsu-san empire lumbers on, not the cultural behemoth it once was but persistently popular nonetheless. I rather enjoyed the somewhat more reflective (well, that’s relative) tone of the third season, though whether there will be a fourth is anyone’s guess. This is the first of two movies planned to celebrate the 6th anniversary of the anime – I’ve yet to see any announcement as to the content.
Tsurune Movie: Hajimari no Issha – 08/19/22: (PV) On the surface, KyoAni’s decisions on which of its properties to give sequels to can seem puzzling. But almost without fail it comes down to whether or not the studio owns the material outright, because that makes a bigger difference in terms of profitability than actual popularity (as we Hyouka fans know, to their melancholy). Tsurune is a Kyoto Animation property part and parcel, so it gets a movie (after getting an OVA) despite being one of their lower-selling titles.
For me it’s actually among their better works, though the qualifier there is that I’m not generally a fan of their stuff in spite of its technical brilliance and their relatively enlightened labor policy. In the end I rather enjoyed this archery anime for its sincerity, and the admirable depiction of a male mentor relationship (a rarity in anime these days). It’s hard to say what the content will be based on the trailer, but one can guess it’ll be pretty consistent with the TV series. It’s nice to see Kyoto Animation continue its return to normalcy in the wake of the unspeakable tragedy they suffered, whatever one might think of the material itself.
Ame wo Tsugeru Hyouryuu Danchi – 09/16/22: (PV) Studio Colorido is earning quite a reputation, both for its production quality and its working environment. This original fantasy is helmed (and written) by 34 year-old phenom Ishida Hiroyasu, who directed Colorido’s superb Morimi adaptation Penguin Highway. The story follows two childhood friends who’ve drifted apart, and wind up being pulled into an alternate universe along with an entire housing development. I’m neutral on the premise but Ishida is one of anime‘s brightest young stars, and if Ame wo Tsugeru Hyouryuu Danchi is a good one he’ll be on the cusp of cracking anime‘s creative top tier.


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