♪ Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back~ ♪
While the fall premieres haven’t been quite as dismal as I’d originally feared, this is one season where most of my excitement was reserved for sequels, and so far they’ve done a solid job of not disappointing. Two 2014 favorites are back and just as fun as ever, campy vampire fiction makes its triumphant return, and we head to a familiar setting after nearly a decade away.
This season’s a little odd in that we have some sequels in the traditional sense (i.e., stories that pick up right where the previous season left off) as well as some “sequels”: stories taking place in the same universe but with different characters, locations, and time lines, making them fairly accessible to newcomers. I’ve divided them up accordingly below, so hit the jump for familiar faces, or locations, or both.
Sequels I’m Watching
Based On: The manga by Adachitoka
Sequel to: Noragami (12 episodes)
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)
In a Sentence: A near-death accident renders ninth-grader Iki Hiyori stuck between the human world and the afterlife, capable of seeing and interacting with kami and spirits—including the down-on-his-luck “delivery god,” Yato.
I’m covering this one in weekly episode posts over on Anime Evo, so clearly I’m a fan. As I said in my Episode 1 recap, Noragami is close to my ideal action series, and this Season 2 premiere slid us seamlessly back into the world, story, and characters, as well as began setting us up for the next major story arc. So, yes. Noragami is still Noragami, and that’s a very good thing.
Haikyuu!! – Season 2
Studio: Production I.G.
Based On: The manga by Furudata Haruichi
Sequel to: Haiykuu!! (25 episodes)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll
In a Sentence: Undersized spiker Hinata Shoyo joins the Karasuno High School volleyball team, where he and a group of lovable dorks must learn to work together in order to return their school’s team to its former glory.
Like Noragami, Haikyuu!! returns with an episode that hops right back into the lives and trials of our Karasuno team and never skips a beat. Expressive body language and fantastic sports animation add to the characters’ already distinctive personalities, and the series (like its protagonist) continues to barrel ahead with optimism and sincerity.
I enjoyed the first season an awful lot (it even made Honorable Mention for my best of 2014 list), but I don’t think I’d realized how much I’d missed my Sakuga Volleyball Dorks until I pressed play on this one and spent most of the episode with a big, silly grin plastered across my face. New rivals and new matches await, and I’m looking forward to every one of them.
Seraph of the End – Part 2 (Owari no Seraph: Nagoya Kessen-hen)
Based On: The manga by Kagami Takaya (Legend of the Legendary Heroes)
Sequel To: Seraph of the End (12 episodes)
Streaming On: Funimation (U.S./Canada)
In a Sentence: After a virus wipes out most of the human population and unleashes monsters on the world, vampires come out of hiding to capture children as their own personal blood farm.
Seraph is back with its usual blend of clunky exposition, amusing character interactions, stylish (if not always well-animated) action sequences, and gorgeous backgrounds. It is what it is: A campy vampire drama that takes its cast just seriously enough and its story just facetiously enough to make for an entertaining ride. Also, Shinoa. Any story with a Shinoa is worth having around in my book. If you didn’t like it before then this episode isn’t going to change your mind, but if you’re like me then you’re happy to have the dumb thing back, and excited for whatever twists and turns part two will bring.
“Sequels” I Might Be Watching
Utawarerumono The False Faces (Itsuwari no Kamen)
Studio: WHITE FOX
Based On: The tactical RPG/visual novel by Aquaplus
“Sequel” to: Utawarerurmono (26 episodes)
Streaming On: Crunchyroll (click here for the full list of regions)
In a Sentence: A young man gets “adopted” by a traveler named Kuon after he wakes up in an underground bunker with no memory of who he is or why he’s there.
I barely remember the original Utawarerumono except that it featured a dude with a mask, animal people, a surprisingly entertaining combination of harem humor and battle strategy, and a twist at the end so absurd my brain has wiped the details from memory. But, hey, this sequel takes place so far into the future (probably?) that it doesn’t seem to matter if you’ve ever seen the original, so we should all be okay, here.
For now, I’m in a place where I liked it but didn’t find myself actively excited for the next episode. It was mostly pleasant and occasionally quite funny (even the normally creepy “peeping” scene sort of worked because it avoided leering manservice in favor of a helicockter gag) (yes, really). The two leads have enough personality and quirks to make their interactions snap with chemistry, and the story is more mystery than proper plot at this point, but hey, at least that gives us some questions to answer in the coming weeks. Again, nothing that wowed me, but good enough that I’ll stick around for another couple, see where this one wants to go.
Garo: Crimson Moon (Garo: Guren no Tsuki)
This one’s more spin-off than sequel, taking the central magical concept and moving the story from medieval Europe to Heian Japan. In truth this premiere didn’t do all that much for me: The story was a rote “defeat the possessed dude who’s been killing women” affair, the art is old-school but not particularly attractive, and the animation is pretty flat at times.
That said, I didn’t give the original Garo more than an episode either, and based on fan chatter, ended up wishing I’d tried it for longer. Plus I dig the Heian setting, I like the studio (MAPPA) and creative team, and it’s hard to say no to a series with a female lead full of swagger played by Romi Park and a scar-covered villain voiced by Seki Tomokazu. I’ll give it at least one more to see if it can weave a story worth sticking around for.
Carryovers I’m (Probably) Watching
Just one: Ushio & Tora, and even as I type this I’m already two episodes behind and wondering when (read: if) I’ll have time to catch up. I spent a lot of last season almost dropping it and then coming back and enjoying it again, so it’s straddling the fence, but assume I’m more-or-less keeping up with it until I tell you otherwise.
Sequels and Carryovers I’m Not Watching
So many they aren’t worth naming. All of them are in the “didn’t see the previous season(s)” status (so, sorry, no Monogatari hot takes from me), with the exception of K. I didn’t love the original but I did finish it (I think? I may never have seen the finale, actually…), so I figured I’d at least give the sequel a fighting chance. Then I stared at the season two premiere episode in my queue for the better part of a week, and every time I went “…Nah, let’s watch something else.” So unless I hear rave reviews, it’s looking like K and I will be parting ways here.