With dozens of anime being pushed on you every season by competing streaming services looking to pilfer your eight dollars a month, not to mention the hundreds of manga in serialization at any given moment, how could you ever expect to know what’s worth spending your hard earned dollar and precious free time on? We hope, with this list, to point you towards a varied selection of upcoming animation releasing in the next few months or shortly after, and unique comic offerings that keep audiences engrossed across the Pacific.
1. Blue Lock
Sports series haven’t traditionally performed well in English speaking markets despite being a fixture of Japanese manga and anime. “Haikyuu” in the 2010s was the first to truly buck that trend, growing a cross-cultural fandom even giants like “Slam Dunk” and “Touch” failed to do.
Muneyuki Kaneshiro and Yusuke Nomura’s “Blue Lock” is poised to burst international floodgates open even further, with a huge Japanese readership and a 2022 anime adaptation on the way. Adding a ‘death game’ style elimination twist has kept this soccer story unpredictable, readers constantly kept on their toes. All the cool boys and its impactful motion-capturing illustration style don’t hurt either.
2. Chainsaw Man
Much buzz already surrounds “Chainsaw Man,” winning over all readers who subscribe to Weekly Shonen Jump or its English online equivalent. Tatsuki Fujimoto’s tale stands at odds with current Jump darling “Demon Slayer,” as the way its inherent gritty concepts manifest as visual poetry on every page seems unconcerned with “Dragon Ball”- derived shonen formulas of old. An adaptation by MAPPA, one of the last prestige studios in the industry, is set to come sometime in 2022, so get in on the manga before it returns from its hiatus.
Already having premiered at this year’s Venice International Film Festival, and later domestically at Tokyo’s biggest festival, the latest by animation superstar Masaaki Yuasa, known for his cartoonish and fluid approach to the craft, has albeit unsurprisingly been delighting audiences and critics alike. Animated at Science SARU, and tangentially related to their recent and recommended historical drama “The Heike Story,” this tale of a boy with uncommon physical characteristics born into an age of warring clans opens in Japan early next year with confirmed screenings across Europe and North America to follow.
4. The Continuing Works of Yama Wayama
Without a doubt, Yama Wayama will be the manga artist to look out for in this coming decade. Since she debuted “Captivated, By You” just two shorts years ago, everything she’s done racked up awards and earned spots on critic’s best of lists, so much so it and “Let’s Go Karaoke!” are already appearing in translation. Coming from the world of “Boys Love” doujin comics, she’s perfected the art of capturing the subtle charms and eccentricities. She’s currently serializing “Onna to Sonna Hoshi,” pictured above, and has a collaborative book with underground manga legend Usamaru Furuya hitting Japanese bookstands presently.
5. The Orbital Children
Hardcore fans of Sci-Fi cult classic “Den-noh Coil” have been waiting since the late 00s for prolific key animator, and occasional director, Mitsuo Iso to come through with another original project. Behind some of the most memorable cuts from End of Evangelion, Perfect Blue and Only Yesterday amongst many others, the man’s directorial efforts deserve our attention. Late January will see the first of his two-part film series, The Orbital Children whose near-future sci-fi premise has a lot in common with the previous “Den-noh Coil” though with an added survival element, hits Netflix January 28th.
6. Oshi no Ko
Perhaps it’s a gamble naming “Oshi no Ko” one of the manga to look for in 2022, but this left-field tale about idol-siblings, a secretly reincarnated doctor patient pair, has been both so critically and commercially successful in Japan since it launched in spring of 2020 that our gut tells us either an anime announcement or word of an official English translation can’t be far off. A team-up comic from Aka Akasaka, creator of the beloved “Kaguya-Sama,” and “Scum’s Wish” artist Mengo Yokoyari, this dark-side-of-idol-culture manga promises to stun and shock all who read its pages.
7. Goodbye, DonGlees
MADHOUSE continues to be every bit as relevant to the anime medium as it was when four of the all-time-greatest animators teamed up to form the studio in the early 80s. Known for crafting animated adaptations of seminal manga like “Hunter x Hunter,” “One Punch Man” and “Trigun,” with the love and polish they deserve, the studio finds great success with their artsier pieces too, like 2021’s boundary-breaking “Sonny Boy.” The February 2022 film Goodbye, DonGless, baby of the soulful “A Place Beyond The Universe’s” director Atsuko Ishizuka, is shaping up to be a welcome example of the latter.
8. Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2
At the time of writing, Shinjuku Station finds itself plastered with giant “Attack on Titan: The Final Season” ads featuring Eren, Levi, and co in streetwear, ringing in the enormously anticipated grand finale of one of the most popular and subversive fixtures of the last decade. With its reputation and built-in fanbase, one could argue the show doesn’t need additional exposure. Consider though, certain audiences might have written the show off after its first season in 2013, deciding the grotesque premise alone wasn’t for them. “Attack on Titan” blossomed beyond action with each passing season, however, with its oeuvre encapsulating horrific atmospheres, engrossing political machinations, and bold meditations on race and war alike.