The COVID-19 outbreak has really done a number on the world, and with so many people self-isolating at the moment, now’s as good a time as any to stay entertained with new games, books, anime, etc. Some of the most anticipated releases of the season have been delayed (i.e. the second season of Re:Zero), while others remain shrouded in uncertainty (there hasn’t been a general Nintendo Direct in half a year). Still, I’ll do my best to sift through the releases that are likely coming in the next few months. In the following post, I’ll list off my most anticipated title for each medium, all releasing between now and mid-June.
Tower of God
Crunchyroll’s new “Originals” initiative is set to adapt some of the most high-profile manhwa, including “Noblesse” and “The God of High School,” and there’s no better title to start with than Tower of God. This tower-climbing epic spans multiple series and an entire cast of colourful characters, and is sure to be a huge success provided the production is strong enough. Based on the trailer, I’m definitely impressed with the vivid artstyle but will reserve judgement until I can get a better sense of the animation and overall presentation. This series is so popular and acclaimed for a reason though, blending the wondrous charm of classic shounen (think Hunter x Hunter‘s Hunter Exam arc) with the grittier subversions of manhwa and seinen. Of course, the spring season has plenty more to offer, including highly anticipated sequels like the second seasons of Kaguya-sama and Fruits Basket, as well as the third season of fan-favourite romcom Oregairu, and even a handful of promising new series, which I’ll dive into in a later post. As a side note, had Re:Zero‘s second season not been pushed to the summer, it would most certainly have been in the #1 spot.
Jump has already started running a few new series for the year (though expect most of these to be gone before long), and while I’m not super impressed with too many of them, Mashle does have potential. Reading almost like fanfiction, the series follows a young man with no magical powers who has to rely on brute strength alone to attain success at a prestigious wizarding academy (think One Punch Man‘s Saitama attending Hogwarts). While it’s been quite derivative for the most part, I’m willing to give it a dozen chapters or so to develop into something more unique and compelling. For now, it’s a nice, short read for fans of the “overpowered main character” trope and there’s some decent humour and action to be found. Aside from the debuting titles, keep an eye on heavyweights like Kimetsu no Yaiba, Attack on Titan, and The Promised Neverland, which are all still in their endgames.
The Last of Us: Part II
Final Fantasy 7 Remake should technically be here, but since it was delayed to April after I wrote my Winter 2020 post, I won’t be mentioning it again. Instead, I’ll highlight my second most anticipated game of the season, which is the sequel to 2013’s post-apocalyptic thriller, The Last of Us. The original game is one of my all-time favourites and I’m sure the cinematic storytelling and harrowing gameplay that made the first game so great will only be expanded upon in this new entry. The decision to put us in Ellie’s shoes this time around seems like a natural progression, and I’m expecting a ton of character development. In the back of my mind, I am slightly concerned about sequel fatigue, but I do have a lot of trust in Naughty Dog as a developer. I’ve held off on writing this post for a while in anticipation of the next Nintendo Direct, but we still have not gotten one all these months later. Going off of speculation and implied/leaked release dates, I would also add the Trials of Mana remake, The Wonderful 101‘s remastered edition and Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition to this list.
Of all of the mediums on this list, surely nothing has been more dramatically affected by the outbreak than movies. Likely, many of the films slated for the next months will either be pushed to the second half of the year or simply released via digital means. One such movie is Pixar’s Soul, a jazz-infused comedy-drama about an aspiring musician whose soul is separated from his body. The Pixar formula can get kind of repetitive, so I’m hoping this movie is akin to something like Coco, which I found more memorable and engrossing. Besides this one, there aren’t really any movies I have my eye on, but now that so many releases are going digital to dissuade theatre attendance, I’m looking forward to catching some recent titles, like Onward, Sonic the Hedgehog, and The Invisible Man.
The third season of this acclaimed sci-fi/western drama from HBO is now airing. I still haven’t started the show, but it’s definitely next on my list. The premise, which involves a futuristic park designed to cater to the whims of its guests (at the expense of the androids who work there), sounds like something straight out of Black Mirror, and I’m sure that the acting and writing are fantastic given that it’s an HBO production. Other than that, the schedule seems surprisingly scarce, but maybe we’ll get some surprise Netflix Originals to fill in the gaps. Speaking of, another show that seems promising is The Midnight Gospel from the creator of Adventure Time. It follows a “space caster” who possesses a universe simulator and uses it to travel to a variety of strange, new worlds. Unlike Adventure Time, this one is marketed for adults, so expect a lot more profanity and gore to go with the existential wackiness.
The City We Became
N.K. Jemisin is one of the most prominent voices in modern fantasy, and I’m excited to see her take on urban fantasy in The City We Became. Best known for her novel, The Fifth Season, Jemisin has established herself as a master of worldbuilding and one of the foremost flag-bearers of POC representation in fantasy literature. It’ll be interesting to see her bring this approach to urban fantasy, as stories in this subgenre tend to be quite tropey and uninspired. The City We Became tracks multiple POV characters as they unravel the mystery behind the “soul” of New York City, and is sure to spawn a multi-volume series, as is the case with many of her books. I’ve even read a comparison to Into the Spider-Verse, which is both intriguing and understandable.