This summer is shaping up to be one of the most exciting anime seasons in recent memory. Those trying to keep up with every good new series will have their viewing schedules packed, especially when you take into account shows continuing from the spring, like Fruits Basket and Demon Slayer, as well as Netflix's sporadic binge releases.
Here we highlight the cream of the crop of this season's new anime. Note that these judgments are based on premiere episodes, and naturally some series will rise or fall in quality over the course of the season. From hyped-up shonen blockbuster series to under-the-radar gems, there's something for every anime fan this summer.
What is it with anime about firefighters this year? In addition to Fire Force, the movie Promare focuses on firefighters, and this summer also sees the premiere of the firefighter romance show Yubisaki kara no Honki no Netsujō. Whatever the reasoning behind this trend, Fire Force seems destined to be a major hit as one of the most stylish productions of the season.
Fire Force shares some sensibilities with Atsushi Ōkubo's previous hit, Soul Eater. Both series deal in typical shonen tropes, but stand out through both the weirdness of their world-building and the sheer impact of their visual style. Animated by David Productions and directed by Yuke Yase, Fire Force contains some of the most jaw-dropping and, at times, borderline experimental animated action of the season.
Fire Force is streaming subbed on Crunchyroll and dubbed on FUNimation Now.
The most heavily promoted premiere of the season, Dr. Stone is the latest popular Shonen Jump manga to receive the anime treatment. The series sticks out for its original and instantly compelling premise. Thousands of years after humanity has turned to stone, science whiz Senku and his jock classmate Taiju reawaken and set about rebuilding civilization from scratch.
Dr. Stone finds excitement in the trial and error processes of the scientific method. While it's obviously a fantasy, more effort's gone into accuracy than your typical "mad science" story. The two main characters make an entertaining duo, and the possibilities of this post-apocalyptic setting promise an adventure that will keep viewers hooked.
Dr. Stone is streaming subbed on Crunchyroll. The dub will premiere July 19 on FUNimation Now.
ASTRA: LOST IN SPACE
The first episode of Astra: Lost in Space is a bit of a time investment as anime premieres go, running 48 minutes instead of the typical 24. The double-length episode just happens to be the right way to set up this sci-fi adventure. The first half introduces its cast of space campers and throws them into unexpected danger. The second half then gets to provide the show's true focus: how they work together in order to survive.
It's that sense of teamwork and problem-solving in the face of the empty depths of space that makes Astra so appealing for sci-fi fans. The characters are common anime archetypes (the energetic, naive new girl, the brash pilot with tragedy in his past), but this adventure offers plenty of room for development as it progresses.
Astra: Lost in Space is streaming subbed on FUNimation Now and Hulu. The dub premieres July 24 on FUNimation Now.
The mecha and magical girl anime genres have a lot in common when you think about it. Both were heavily shaped by the influence of Go Nagai, tend to feature young heroes plucked out of ordinary life to save the world, contain elaborate transformation sequences, and in recent decades have been popular grounds for darker deconstructions. Yet for all their commonalities, the two rarely meet.
Granbelm is both a mecha show and a magical girl show. Fans of both will have plenty to enjoy. Directed by Re:Zero's Masaharu Watanabe, this genre hybrid is aesthetically appealing. The first episode lays the world-building groundwork and offers some fun action scenes. These sorts of shows tend to take a few episodes to prove their greatness, so we're curious how it will develop.
Granbelm is streaming subbed on Crunchyroll.
O MAIDENS IN YOUR SAVAGE SEASON
The funniest anime of the summer is also its most brutally realistic. O Maidens in Your Savage Season is written by the prolific Mari Okada and adapted from her own manga. The series centers around a high school literature club ... in which all anyone talks about are the graphic sex scenes in the books they read.
The girls don't yet have any experience with the subject matter their literature and seemingly the whole world is obsessed with. There's plentiful comedic misunderstandings and general teenage awkwardness. The rare anime that uses sexual content not for titillation but for a realistic coming of age story, O Maidens in Your Savage Season is already promising to be one of the year's most memorable shows.
O Maidens in Your Savage Season is streaming on HIDIVE.
As if Astra: Lost in Space's double-length premiere wasn't long enough, Vinland Saga launches out of the gate with three full episodes. All this time for set-up is necessary for the telling of this epic story. Even after three episodes, we've yet to arrive at the true inciting incident in Thorfinn's journey. These early episodes, dealing with the protagonist's early childhood and the strident pacifism of his former warrior father Thors, are thankfully as entertaining as set up episodes get.
Based on the manga by Makoto Yukimura, Vinland Saga is impressively researched historical fiction about Vikings. Yukimura's manga artwork is astonishing, and when news broke of an anime adaptation, there was concern whether it would end up like Golden Kamuy or the 2016 Berserk, beautifully drawn manga turned into ugly anime. Fortunately, Wit Studio's efforts on this adaptation do the material justice, with detailed artwork and fluid, thrilling action scenes.
Vinland Saga is streaming subbed on Amazon Prime.