Why 2022 could be a big year for seinen anime series

Anime has never been as successful internationally as it is today. While you once had to be a savvy fan to watch the latest anime TV series with English subtitles, all fans need to do today is subscribe to at least one streaming service to watch the latest episodes in 24 hours. they are aired in Japan. Similarly, animated films are seeing more widespread localization, with recent blockbuster hits like the 2021 Western release of Demon Slayer: Mugen Train and this year Jujutsu Kaisen 0 showing the growing international success of theatrical releases.

Most of what makes up each season of 2022’s high-profile anime premieres is, unsurprisingly, the shonen genre. It’s the type of high appeal franchises that allow audiences to tune into their streaming service of choice and sit in theaters on par with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and both IPs above are excellent examples. However, with series like JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Ocean of Stone and Vinland Saga premiering this year, the older seinen anime genre is set to have a great 2022.

Follow Joestar’s colorful odyssey

When it comes to mass popularity, Hirohiko Araki is acclaimed JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure the manga – and now the anime adaptation – is undoubtedly number one. David Production’s series is all it takes to shine the deserved spotlight on Araki’s work, with many fans fully invested in continuing the colorful, violent and irresistibly stylish odyssey of the Joestar lineage. There was a considerable gap between the end of season 4, part 5 of the series, golden windand the current ocean of stone adaptation, but given the way the public flocked Netflix for anime despite the long transition period was impressive to say the least.

ocean of stone is also a special landmark for the JoJo franchise, as it is the first part of this great overarching story that features a female Joestar as the main character. There are several beloved protagonists in this series and ocean of stoneJolyne Cujoh, daughter of fan favorite Jotaro Kujo, has already proven to be a strong and charismatic hit with fans. Considering how each successive adaptation is greeted with thunderous applause is a testament to the long endurance of Araki’s work – and his love for Western music and movies.

Official art of Joestar protagonists through the generations.

The series surely gained popularity once the Stand characters/spirit powers were introduced into Stardust Crusaders. But even so, it’s hard not to love the allure of following centuries of Joestar bloodline adventures battling near-prophetic villains. Taking a look at the anime’s impact on global audiences, the only thing fans would have to worry about is Netflix’s painfully sporadic release strategy for ocean of stonethe episodes.

But even with the streamer’s difficult attempt to balance its binge strategy with the weekly release pattern, the season will no doubt maintain critical acclaim given animation studio David Production’s track record with the IP. One can only imagine the emphatic response that will come when the anime adaptation for Steel ball race is officially announced, as this arc of Araki’s manga is considered one of the best in the medium, not just in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.

Gripping Nordic drama and Japanese historical fiction

Split image of Vinland Saga and Golden Kamuy anime posters featuring the respective lead actors.

Even venturing outside the realm of the fantastic which is JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, there are some compelling seinen anime dramas possibly airing later this year. There are two, Vinland Saga on First video and Golden Kamuythat particularly stand out and have the potential for cross-appeal like Jujutsu kaisen 0.

Makoto Yukimura’s Viking-themed Nordic epic Vinland Saga arguably belongs to the same level of revered and grounded seinen manga as the legendary and late Kentaro Miura Berserk and Takehiko Inoue Vagabond. This series lacks the fantastical and supernatural elements of Miura’s dark fantasy world, but it has a similar level of resonant character-driven drama and introspection to both it and Inoue’s ronin-themed journey. With Studio — from The attack of the Titans glory from seasons 1-3 – adapted what is essentially the prologue to the rest of the place Vinland Saga is gone and will go until the end of Yukimura’s run in a rented 24-episode season.

The way the series has planted its flag in the mainstream anime community is particularly impressive, not only for being a story that skews older demographics, but also when looking at all the big name shows that have been created. at the time. There’s no doubt that 2019 was a big year for anime, with the likes of demon slayer, The promised never-never land, The attack of the Titans season 3, Haikyu!! season 4, and my hero academia season 4 all wrapped in the same year. Vinland Saga stood out even in a crowded field with its superior storytelling and clever animation.

An exhausted Thorfinn reaching out with the sky in the background in key art from Vinland Saga Season 2.

Vinland Saga tells an intimate story that begins as a Viking revenge plot – handy for those looking to see Robert Egger The man from the north this month – but gradually evolves into a tale about letting go of the past to live for the future and what it means to achieve peace in a world that revolves around war to prove its worth. In addition to the cathartic and brutal fight sequences, Wit excels in depicting picturesque landscapes of the Scandinavian countryside, and the writing that fleshes out the supporting cast of protagonist Thorfinn Karlsefni is both tragically beautiful and thought-provoking.

While it’s unclear when exactly Season 2 will air and if Wit Studio will return, or continue on Prime Video, the schedule suggests a late 2022 premiere date is reasonable. Season 2 is set to adapt one of the most emotionally and philosophically transformative story arcs in Thorfinn’s life, as well as the point in Vinland Saga where he really becomes the protagonist.

Sugimoto and his group trudging through the snow in Golden Kamuy key art.

Meanwhile, the anime adaptation of Satoru Noda Golden Kamuy is another anime that is equal parts thoughtful drama and thrilling action-adventure thread. For fans of the manga, Noda’s period piece is in its final stretch, with each character positioned against incredibly high stakes that should bode well for the anime adaptation to get a satisfying ending as well.

Golden Kamuy is set in the 1800s in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War, following veteran Saichi Sugimoto as he returns home in mental shock and attempts to financially care for the family of a deceased childhood friend . The main conflict revolves around various parties – ex-military and otherwise – all trying to find an ancient treasure from the indigenous Ainu people.

What’s most impressive about the series is how well it balances so many intertwining themes and plot threads full of fascinating characters, along with the attention to detail in the natural exploration of Ainu culture. . The treasure hunt adventure story is gripping, but the series complements that premise with heartfelt commentary on topics like survivor’s guilt, the mistreatment of soldiers when they’re no longer deemed useful in combat, and the complex spectrum of the “morally gray” zone. .

Ainu maiden Asirpa with Sugimoto prepared for the cold at Golden Kamuy.

Following a unique cast of such humanized characters with such believable and nuanced motivations is what will keep fans invested in this mad dash for the treasure at the finish line. However, Golden Kamuy also unafraid to embrace moments of genuine light-hearted optimism and tasteful comedic relief. Similar to Vinland Saga, Golden KamuyThe fourth season of could also see a late 2022 premiere date given the timing of its announcement.

A promising future

Luckily, anime is steadily and successfully expanding westward, and the shonen genre will undoubtedly occupy the lion’s share of the spotlight. But it’s series like these that will help ensure the genre retains a degree of creativity and variety.

Being able to swing exciting and vibrant adventures of JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure and the transition to equally compelling, yet grounded, personal stories of Vinland Saga and Golden Kamuy should give fans plenty of reason to be excited about seinen anime in 2022 and beyond.

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