This week is turning out to be a great one for anime! Countless series, tons of exciting content, and new information come out daily. Now, Netflix is getting a piece of the action too. They’ve announced some upcoming series at Anime Expo 2018. These, unlike a lot of other announcements recently, are not just for anime this season. The list they’ve begun to put out includes two new series, several complete versions of anime that have broadcasted in Japan, and some continuations.
As most anime fans have likely noticed, lately, Netflix is increasingly entering the world of anime. Shows like VIOLET EVERGARDEN and SEVEN DEADLY SINS both were massive hits and secured the faith of a lot of anime fans on Netflix. The platform is the most binge-receptive and Netflix tends to release full seasons rather than weekly episodes. That strategy has pros and cons, but it’s successful. That means cool anime projects like those on this list get picked up and given the attention that they deserve. Included with the new anime are also some American anime-inspired shows like CASTLEVANIA.
So, without further ado, here are the new and continuing series Netflix announced:
New Series: ULTRAMAN
ULTRAMAN is a series spanning nearly six decades of media. Starting off as a film and television series, ULTRAMAN was known as a tokusatsu sci-fi series. For those unfamiliar with the cinematic term, it essentially refers to live-action media that makes intense use of special effects. For a story as action heavy and fantastical as ULTRAMAN, it makes sense that plenty of effects were necessary. The ULTRAMAN being adapted is from a manga that followed the films.
While this may seem like a long continuation, the series’ story reconciles it. In the original, Shin Hayata wielded great power and fought as the legendary “Giant of Light.” He defended the world from dangerous kaiju and monsters of all kinds. Now, in the manga and anime’s story, he’s passed on that same power. His son, Shinjiro, also possesses the “Ultraman Factor.” The world seems to have forgotten about kaiju. But, there’s still plenty of danger for Shinjiro to defend against.
In the past, the ULTRAMAN manga storyline received some fan criticism for being a little abrupt and subtle. It’s hard to handle a time-skip properly these days. But turning a series from the 60s into a manga that suits today’s audience has some challenges. But, the anime is a great chance to tap into a whole new generation of watchers. Netflix is exposing new anime fans to a classic turned new again. Directing for the series will fall under the control of Kenji Kamiyama (EDEN OF THE EAST) and Shinji Aramaki (APPLESEED). The anime will be produced in 3D CG, which is a bit different than the style of most animation. Ultraman will launch worldwide in Spring of 2019. Check out its Netflix page here.
New Series: KENGAN ASHURA
Ever since the Edo era of Japan, there have been secretly-run arenas meant for combat. Gladiators face off in glorious, deadly unarmed conflict in a winner-takes-all match. For the commoner audience, this is a spectacle to behold. For the rich, this is a great profit opportunity. These wealthy business owners and merchants hire gladiators to fight on their behalf. One, in particular, nicknamed “Ashura,” is particularly deadly, crushing every opponent with little effort. He devastates the competition and draws the greedy eyes of the rich benefactors of gladiator fighting. Nogi Group chairman, Nogi Hideki, has Tokita Ohma, the man known as “Ashura,” fight in special arrangements called “Kengan Matches.”
“Kengan Matches” are a type of settlement created hundreds of years before KENGAN ASHURA. Businesses and private organizations essentially have a tribute fighter serve as their representative. The combatants of both sides of a disagreement fight it out until there’s a winner, and that sides’ organization ‘wins’ the relevant disagreement. Ohma fights for things like construction rights for new bits of land or valuable artwork. Series protagonist Kazuo Yamashita is a relatively normal fifty-six-year-old man until he’s introduced to the fights. Suddenly, he finds himself hired as a gladiator and forced to fight Ohma in a deadly brawl. Eventually, both men compete in the “Kengan Zetsumei” tournament to try and earn the spot of Chairman of the Kengan organization. KENGAN ASURA will launch in 2019. For now, you can check out its Netflix page here.
AGGRETSUKO Season 2
AGGRETSUKO is by far one of the most relatable slice-of-life series out there. Unlike a lot of others, which merely find real-life elements and throw in a fantastical or dramatic twist, the events of AGGRETSUKO are fairly commonplace. Retsuko, a gentle, hardworking twenty-something, just wants a fulfilling life. She has dreams of starting a family, having a career, and being adventurous. But it’s incredibly difficult for her to do it all. On top of that, the horribly sexist culture of her workplace relegates her to the position of cute, controllable assistant. To vent and have a constant source of catharsis from her frustratingly obstructive existence, Retsuko sings death metal — really well.
In Season 1, AGGRETSUKO encapsulated frustration and growth in real ways. Every character in the anime is an animal, and their animal traits often relate to real life ones. For example, Retsuko’s boss is literally a sexist pig. At the end of Season 1, we saw a new outlook for Retsuko. She began to understand her romantic side and came just a bit closer to knowing what she wanted out of life. Watching the outstanding characterization of the show was enough to make most binge season one. Season 2 will give our growing Red Panda even more death metal solos and problems to solve. You can check it out at the Netflix page here until the newest season releases in 2019. And, check out a teaser trailer on Youtube.
GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE
The only movie on this list, GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE is the follow-up film to the 2017 movie GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET. Both take the original Godzilla world in a massively more futuristic setting. Rather than struggle to repel the monstrous kaiju with conventional weapons, more futuristic ones become viable. In this re-imagining, humans and robots fight together against a Godzilla bigger than ever before.
As far as animated feature films go, this is the second one in the GODZILLA franchise. Overall, it the 33rd film featuring the iconic beast. In the first film, we learned about the unique setting. Following the appearance of Godzilla and other mythical beasts, humanity fled Earth. This version of the stories features a civilization surviving in space attempting to reclaim Earth for humanity. In the first movie, the humans began their assault on the planet to regain control, but the war is not yet won.
CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE is produced by Polygon Pictures and TOHO Animation. It is written by Gen Urobuchi, who penned popular series like MADOKA MAGICA. The animation in the last movie made for a very interesting take on the classic GODZILLA metropolitan setting. Having extinction at the forefront of the film makes it compelling, and for that reason, it’s definitely a saga to watch both parts of. The film released theatrically in Japan on May 18, 2018. For us Westerners, GODZILLA: CITY ON THE EDGE OF BATTLE will launch on Netflix on July 18th, 2018.
DRAGON PILOT is an emotionally satisfying and pure anime. The art style is very much meant to be soft, light, and cute. In some respects, it’s drawn in the gentler style of anime from the 90s, but with much better and modern animation. The story takes place in a mystical world not too different from our own, except this one has dragons.
The anime follows Hisone Amakasu, an earnest person with a penchant for causing discomfort for others. She struggles with this, feeling she’s doomed to unintentionally hurt people with her words. She tries to stay away from others to avoid hurting them. In pursuit of this goal, she joins the Air Self-Defense Force, keeping her away from the general public while accomplishing something. This enrollment as a Self-Defense Force Rookie at the Gifu Base eventually leads to Hisone’s chance encounter with an ancient dragon. This dragon, the special “OTF,” specially chose Hisone as its pilot, cementing her destiny. Dragons are the key to the future of the world, and she rides one of the most powerful ones around.
Because the anime has a military setting, it’s perfect for character development. This is because plots with cooperative missions and bases encourage lots of interaction. Characters develop via contact and learn about each other just as we learn about them. Studio Bones worked on the show, meaning the same quality we see in series like MY HERO ACADEMIA and FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST is in DRAGON PILOT as well. This might be one of the most slept on anime of the year, so you should definitely check it out! DRAGON PILOT will launch on Netflix on September 21, 2018. For now, check out the trailer here.
CASTLEVANIA Season 2
CASTLEVANIA will be returning to Netflix to double down on its strong performance in Season 1. The anime-influenced series builds upon a classic video game series by Konami. In the video games, the story focuses on a family of vampire hunters. The Belmont clan hunts vampires in a variety of side-scrolling, explorable, and fighting based titles. The anime takes this fantastic series of video games and transforms it into an anime worthy of its brand. Trevor Belmont is the very last survivor of his house. In the series, however, he manages to find some new comrades and form a team to save humanity. Dracula’s vampire war council fights back, however. The resultant conflict makes for a very interesting fantasy show that massively upgrades the video game experience.
While CASTLEVANIA isn’t strictly an anime, it draws heavy inspiration from anime stylings and animation. Warren Ellis, the writer of the series, chose to make the show its own story not taken point for point from earlier material. So, fans of the video games will have new stories and characters to explore throughout both seasons. CASTLEVANIA Season 2 will launch on Netflix on October 26, 2018. You can check out the first season on its Netflix page linked here.
CANNON BUSTERS also falls into the same mixed category of anime-inspired series. The show provides an interesting blend of animation done in Japan but writing done in America. The Japanese studio Satelight produces the series while creator LeSean Thomas writes and directs. The show follows the adventures and exploits of S.A.M, a high-end friendship droid. S.A.M forms a party with a quirky, discarded maintenance robot and a brash, deadly fugitive. Together, the unlikely trio embarks on an unforgettable journey in a fantastic and dangerous world in search of S.A.M’s best friend, the heir to a kingdom under siege.
Netflix’s Foray into Anime
Nowadays, there nearly infinite ways to catch your favorite shows online. The advent of the internet makes television seem almost extraneous now that the world of video is available with the literal click of a button. With Netflix, you get tons of shows, plenty of movies, and a decent catalog of binge-worthy options. As far as anime goes, Netflix is attempting to push a combined approach of shows inspired by anime and actual anime itself. This allows them to tap into multiple markets all at once. On top of that, it means Netflix gives its users a lot of options to choose from at competitive monthly rates.
Which of these new series are you most inspired to see? Let us know in the comments!
Featured image courtesy of Netflix.