Welcome to our Most Anticipated Anime feature for the Fall 2022 season. Below you’ll find our editorial team’s (tentative) top picks from the shows slated to premiere in October. It’s a stacked season with returning heavy hitters like Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War, Mob Psycho 100 III, My Hero Academia, and Pop Team Epic not to mention the long-awaited anime adaptation of Chainsaw Man. If you’re still having a hard time choosing what to add to your queue, or you’re just down for a good time, do check out Anime News Network’s Fall 2022 Trailer Watch Party!
The prologue episode of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury got off to a fantastic start, setting up a fascinating conflict around the over-commercialization of Gundam. “What’s the point of Gundams,” demands the antagonist, “when there are so many crises on Earth left to solve?” Also striking is the youthful protagonist (here a four-year-old girl) and her innocent adoration of the Gundam; this is contrasted with her mother’s pained awareness of its true purpose amid the brutal conflict that ensues. It’s both a commentary on Mobile Suit Gundam as a franchise, as well as a solid beginning of a modern war story. Coupled with its cinematic production values, The Witch From Mercury promises to be Gundam’s best TV anime in a very long time.
I greatly enjoyed the first part of the SPY×FAMILY anime—it’s simply a very easy series to like. Thanks to its almost total reliance on situational humor, it’s perhaps the most accessible anime comedy to date from an international perspective. The animation (particularly in the odd-numbered episodes produced by Wit Studio) also has a loving attention to detail that enhances every joke. I’m especially looking forward to the second part because it will kick off with one of my favorite stories from the manga. All in all, a very safe pick.
The core concept of The Eminence in Shadow is a fun one. Our protagonist, Cid, is in love with the idea of a certain fictional character archetype—not the hero, nor the villain, but the shadowy overpowered character who helps the heroes from behind the scenes and comes to the rescue in moments of great danger. He trains both his body and mind to fit this role as much as possible but is completely aware that his adventures are just play-acting. This continues even after being reincarnated in a fantasy world of knights and magic—though this time he gets his group of friends to play pretend with him. What he doesn’t understand is that they’re not playing: the stereotypical backstory he made up for this game of pretend is actually true. There is an evil cult trying to revive the Demon Lord and, thanks to his friends, he is now the head of a secret organization fighting a war in the shadows against them. Or to put it another way, he’s LARPing while the rest of them are actually fighting to save their world.
This dichotomy leads to a non-stop stream of comedic moments—especially due to his obsession with his role as “Eminence in Shadow.” He completely overdoes it, whether he is in his ultra-weak secret identity or as a dark and brooding mastermind, looking at the moon and drinking a glass of wine while uttering nonsensical, ominous words (that coincidentally happen to be applicable to the current situation). All in all, it’s a fantastic piece of entertainment that’s both a deconstruction of isekai and fantasy tropes and a love letter to them as well.
As a person who was first introduced to Gundam by watching Gundam Wing back in 1995, I’ve almost always enjoyed the AU Gundams more than the UC ones. I’ve like seeing the different ways the core aspects of Gundam can be reimagined to tell new, entertaining sci-fi stories. Based on the prologue episode, The Witch from Mercury conceptually and thematically feels like an evolution from Iron Blooded Orphans, with its Gundams that interface directly with the pilots and can permanently harm them. The mixture of man and machine—as well as the ethical and practical implications of that—looks to be at the center of what the series will explore.
Then there is the fact that the series revolves around a young female pilot. While there have been more than a few female pilots across the franchise, it should be interesting to see a Gundam story that is led by one. Add to that it’s being written by one of the creators of Code Geass, and I’m hopeful that we may just have another solid Gundam story on our hands.
Before I get into this, of course I’m looking forward to the second half of SPY x FAMILY. That goes without saying; not only do we get more Anya, but my personal vote for eternal anime best boy is coming in, and even if I wasn’t of the firm belief that a dog makes everything better, putting a dog into this story is guaranteed to make things amazing. So yes, SPY x FAMILY. Take it as read.
But for new series coming out, I’m really looking forward to Bibliophile Princess, which I suspect surprises very few people. Based on a series of light novels that I very much enjoy, the story follows Elianna Bernstein and her love of all books and reading, and how that helps her become a force to be reckoned with. Eli is what Sherlock Holmes called an omnivorous reader, and it’s a trait that she shares with her entire family, which has made them the understated support upon which the kingdom depends.
While Eli is marginally aware of this, it’s not really of great concern to her, because her main concern, besides reading, is why on earth Prince Christopher wants to marry her. Eli’s more comfortable with words on paper than with other people, and the main thrust of what the anime is likely to cover is that she needs to understand that she has value and appeal to people beyond just her extensive knowledge base. It’s a sweet story of growing into yourself with a lovely romance plot to boot, and the anime looks like it captures the delicate shōjo fairytale sensibility of both the novel illustrations and the manga art. While I’m not sure I love Eli’s voice from what I’ve heard so far, that can’t keep me from counting down the days until this premieres.
Most of my other picks are sequels – more Welcome to Demon School, Iruma-kun is always a welcome treat, and I’m really excited to pick back up with IDOLiSH7, which is consistently better than it has any right to be. I’m intrigued by Raven of the Inner Palace and My Master Has No Tail as well, so if all goes well, this could be a full season. I know better than to count those chickens, but as long as Bibliophile Princess does the novels justice and SPY x FAMILY continues to be amazing, I will be happy.