It's hard to believe, but we're at the start of the winter anime season already--since others have done excellent summaries of all the series coming out in winter I'm not going to create a sorry shadow of their work, but instead I'll focus on my preseason #1: Gakuen Utopia Manabi Straight.
There's a fourth promotional video up at YouTube now, and it looks awesome. The first episode airs this Sunday, and although my Japanese is somewhere near fetal-level, I may end up watching the raw anyway. What's so good about Manabi Straight, you ask? From watching the promo, the animation quality looks great (although granted, you're not going to put your worst frames in a promo), the atmosphere looks like it'll be good, and the story promises to be a mix of school life, drama, and sci-fi. The story is set in 2035 when birth rates are falling and schools are faced with closing, and transfer student Manabi shows up and causes some changes at a school that had been dying out. It looks like the focus will be on her and her friends, and from the promo it mostly looks like ordinary school life (albeit in the future). So why would I look forward to it more than any other winter series? Mainly because ufotable is involved, and while I haven't liked everything they've done, when they're "on", they're really, really good.
Ufotable is the animation studio that also did 2x2 Shinobuden, Dokkoida, Futakoi Alternative, and more recently Coyote Ragtime. While Coyote Ragtime's not my kind of show, and Futakoi Alternative had an incredible start with the first episode only to get muddled down the road, I loved Shinobuden and Dokkoida. They aren't perfect, but they're batshit insane in a good way, and they can be gut-bustingly funny at times. I'm looking forward to Manabi mainly because I'm hoping they can do it again, create a series with a good mix of laugh out loud insane comedy, drama, and action. Time will tell if Manabi Straight is going to be any of that, but based on the promos I've seen so far I'm optimistic.
The latest promo makes me think there may be more depth to the story than I'd expected, with what looks like an older Manabi standing in the ruined classroom that her and her classmates had been in years before. Is Manabi Straight going to show us any more of the older Manabi and what happened between her elementary school life and a post-apocalyptic future? I guess we'll find out soon...there are three other Manabi promos on YouTube too (hitotsu, futatsu, mitsu) and if you watch them you'll see why I REALLY want a scooter than can fly like Manabi's to commute to work with. In SoCal I could use it pretty much year round too, and just go right the hell over all the traffic.
Three more days...