What Manga Should Become Anime Next? – This Week in Anime

Nick and Steve peruse the series competing in AnimeJapan’s “Manga We Want to See Animated Ranking” poll to find the next possible anime hit.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network.



Nick, you know how I’m always lamenting the current state of the anime industry? How more and more shows keep getting made with little apparent concern for the limited pool of animators who continue to be used and spread like too little butter on too much toast? Well, it’s time for us to get excited about all the new anime that could be on the horizon! Hooray!


Listen, Steve. We all have to compartmentalize to a certain extent, and there’s no better way to do that than speculate on the future. After all, nobody can prove things won’t improve and be good forever. So take all that wariness and pattern recognition, zip it up in a suitcase, and let the airlines lose it while we go to AnimeJapan!

(Note: we are not actually, physically going to AnimeJapan. That’s a job for our boss to get jetlagged over.)

Ah yes, nothing like a trade show to get one’s blood pumping about new grist for the mill. Anything could happen. A new Shonen Jump adaptation. A romcom that’ll wear its singular joke out in the premiere episode. Half a dozen more isekai. The possibilities are endless.

I’d tell you to lighten up, but these trade shows aren’t complete without a grumpy peanut gallery. Before E3 went extinct, half the fun of watching that whole mess was seeing which multibillion-dollar company beefed it live on stage each year.

And all surliness aside, I certainly wouldn’t still be writing for this site if I didn’t nurture the lone spark of hope still flickering deep in my soul. Good anime, against all odds, still manages to be made. Heck, the Ōoku adaptation on Netflix was featured in the last AnimeJapan, and I liked it well enough.

It’s easy to get cynical, but I find it useful to keep an ear out for exciting or surprising announcements, and AJ is probably the most bombastic by volume. I’ve mentioned it before, but watching the sheer confusion that spread across the internet when Uma Musume was first announced remains one of the greatest nights I’ve ever spent online.

You can’t get shit like that anywhere but the anime industry, man.

That year, I was literally at Sakuracon in a hotel room full of people hollering at that PV. It was majestic.

That’s where the fun of this whole thing comes in. It’s a shotgun blast of news, announcements, and trailers that exist solely to get anyone and everyone hyped for something. Granted, most of those are adaptations or long-awaited sequels, but there’s also room for less familiar stuff. Personally, I’m looking forward to finding out what new ways Mari Okada has concocted to hurt me.

You know I’m down for the Okada pain train at all times. Overall, though, I don’t follow the grander industry movements closely, so I’m more than okay with being surprised. But I still have my small Rolodex of stuff I’m eager to see updates on. Like, any word on what Tomohiro Furukawa is cooking with “Love Cobra” would be great, thanks.

Well I don’t see that anywhere on the website, but also that site has a listing for Votoms in the year of our lord 2024, so who knows what to expect from that.

Clearly, the youth yearn for more Votoms.
But speaking of sites, one of the cooler things AnimeJapan does is host an annual poll for people’s favorite manga that has not yet been graced with an anime adaptation. It ended a couple of weeks ago, but the list of nominees is still a good resource for folks like me who have no idea what the latest hotness is.
Oh boy, does that mean I have to try to explain what the hell happened with Kagurabachi?

If you wouldn’t mind! Like a completely sane person, I scanned through the samples provided for all 50 of the manga listed on that page, so a lot of that is a blur. I recall there being swords.

Okay, so do you remember last year when somebody made a joke about the movie Morbius, and that somehow turned into a meme so widespread and powerful it tricked Sony into re-releasing that piece of crap in theaters?

Of course, yes, the time of Morbin.

Kagurabachi basically had that happen to it before it even released. Some early pages of the first chapter leaked online, and the English-speaking manga fandom got so hot that people declared it the greatest thing ever to be crafted by man. In turn, that got adopted into an ironic memetitude where everyone was talking about Mr. Kagura Bachi taking out his sword and kaguraing all over those bachis. People made fake anime openings and then made reaction videos about those fake openings. It was a fustercluck that made me feel old in ways I didn’t think were possible.

I see Weekly Shonen Jump diehards continuing to be extremely normal about everything. Because of that pedigree, I’m also assuming that Kagurabachi will rank high when the results are announced.

The wild thing is that it actually might. Personally, I think that series is a 6/10 on a good day, but unlike those that Morb’d before it, Kagurabachi is actually selling quite well for a new series, placing near the front of the magazine on a regular basis. Six months after the meme wave, it still performs excellently on MangaPlus’ public metrics. Kagura really did Bachi all over those guys.

Good for Mr. Bachi! And for what it’s worth, I liked its first chapter. It didn’t really hook me—it felt very familiar, but it has some appreciable craft. And given that context, I guess I’m glad the author was able to wrangle some genuine momentum out of a movement fueled by shitposting.

I don’t pretend to understand it, but I am happy to see the enthusiasm! I’ll certainly take it over Nue’s Exorcist, another Jump title on the poll list that is frankly so embarrassing that I hesitate to bring it up because I don’t want to talk about it.

Do not ask me to explain why this one is popular; I don’t get it. It’s like Bleach without any style, charm, or impressive artwork.

Oh, that one exited my brain the instant I finished reading the sample, so you’re in the clear there.

So what did catch your eye then?

While we’re going through the Jump titles, I’d be remiss not to mention Cipher Academy because I know how fond you are of NisiOisin‘s oeuvre.
As out of touch as some of these titles make me feel, I take solace in the fact that I could never miss the boat as hard as Cipher Academy, which published a story about the value of cryptocurrency in November 2022.

Difficult to say that it aged like milk when the milk in question was expired to begin with. And Cipher Academy was one of the few series I was previously familiar with because I think we covered it when we did that column on WSJ last year. Honestly, it’s not a manga I’d be scrambling to watch in anime form, but I enjoy the inherent friction of adapting NisiOisin‘s verbosity for the screen, so I’d be curious to see them try, especially with shit like this.

That nonsense made the original English translator resign so I can’t imagine what a potential anime would do to the people working on it.

Un(?)fortunately we’ll probably never find out since after the poll was announced, Cipher Academy called it a career, and Shueisha isn’t exactly in the business of adapting a short-lived series that they canceled. So we’ll probably never see what horrors this particular brand of NisiOisin could inflict in motion.

Alas. As for actual crowd-pleasers that might stand a reasonable chance of getting an anime, I laughed the most at Kindergarten WARS.

I knew you’d like that one the moment the main character killed a man for saying he skips the credits when watching movies.

It’s such a good setup and punchline. The rhythm of the questions, the guy’s interior monologue, the flip to the huge and graphic two-page spread. It has exquisite comedic construction.

If you get the right team to adapt this, it is going to slay, much like its protagonist.
Having read most of the series, I can confirm it’s a good time. I’d prefer a Sakamoto Days anime first because I prefer its particular brand of John Wick meets Looney Tunes. Also, it has more hot women smoking on motorcycles.

Well, if we’re going to base our decisions on the characters’ hotness and their propensity towards tobacco (which I am delighted to do), then I’m going to jump in and toss Gokurakugai out there.

Oh, hell yeah. That’s another one where it’s just a matter of time, but I look forward to everyone discovering this unfortunate bit of terminology.

If she’s there to kill some Maga then you can go ahead and call me Maga. Big Maga guy over here. I love being Maga and everything involved with that moniker.

Steve, down. Please don’t make me get the spray bottle.

Hssssssss, okay fine. And more seriously, its first chapter alone is oozing with style, so it seems to me it’s got the juice to be animated. This is extra good for me because I’ll then have the opportunity to change my Twitter avatar to a new woman with round glasses and a cigarette in her mouth.

Incidentally, I’d like to send a big “hell yeah” to Call of the Night‘s season 2 announcement. That’s a tough act for AnimeJapan to follow.
While the Shonen Jump extended family of publications is heavily represented there and the bulk of what’s available legally in the US right now, there are also some interesting titles far outside that bubble. For instance, I was happy to see I Think I Turned My Childhood Friend Into a Girl.

Yeah, that one’s cute! It’s kind of unfortunate that it’s more well-known over here for the translation debacle in its first volume. But a nice anime adaptation could certainly help it make more legitimate inroads.

It’s a fun series that, while not what I’d call revolutionary about gender or sexuality, plays with themes of identity and presentation in a cute and relatable way. Whomst among us has never been here before?

Just a couple of bros being bros, bro. Genre-wise, romance/romcoms probably comprise the most significant slice of the nominee pie. Two past poll winners are Komi Can’t Communicate and The Dangers in My Heart, which both received extremely popular anime after their placements.
One that caught my attention with its title alone was Even If You Slit My Mouth, which makes more sense once you see the heroine is a kuchisake-onna.

It struck me as more saccharine than I’d like out of my monster girl romances, but there’s potential here. The gist is that she’s in danger of disappearing because nobody believes in/thinks about kuchisake-onna anymore, so her solution is to get engaged to a high schooler. It makes zero sense, but I’ll allow it. And now she has to scare him to get him to call off the wedding while he tries to get her to fall in love with him. It could be good, dumb fun. And regardless, I remain a proponent of the monster girl agenda.

There are almost certainly some other pleasant surprises in this list, though finding them is complicated by the fact that most aren’t licensed or officially translated yet. Sadly, one of the other reasons fans often want anime announcements is that they’re really helpful in getting licensors to sit up and take notice.

Yeah, I’m sure there are well-written ones that I glossed over because the art didn’t grab me. And I’m sure the opposite happened, too. Like, I can’t speak at all to Junket Bank’s quality as a piece of storytelling, but I can tell you that it looks insane, and I want more of it.

Hell, for all we know, none of these series are going to get jack and/or shit announced this year. That’s the wild ride of speculation and expectation! We’re like football fans putting up mock drafts for comics we’d like to see made into cartoons while desperately hoping the cruel hand of fate doesn’t ruin the final product. Which I guess makes Gokurakugai the Caleb Williams of manga.

That’s a salient point: an anime announcement alone doesn’t get me excited anymore. At the very least, I need to see some core staff names attached to it so I have an inkling of whether we’ll be getting something beautiful or boilerplate. We’ve all had beloved books or manga suffer the slings and arrows of a shoddy adaptation.

That’s just the nature of the game. Even before the current overproduction bubble, getting an anime adaptation of something you love was a gamble. Nowadays, the stakes are just a whole lot higher, and the odds of getting a Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer are a whole lot higher.
That’s why I stick to sensible predictions that have little chance of disappointing me. Like, once Hiroshi Nagahama is done putting the finishing touches on Uzumaki, I know he’s going to get right on rotoscoping his way to season two of The Flowers of Evil. It’s guaranteed.
At the same time, speculation is fun. It’s exciting to imagine what could be, might be, or most likely won’t be. This time two years ago, I don’t think any of us expected to get a film adaptation of an Inio Asano work. Yet Dead Dead Demon’s Dededede Destruction is right around the corner.

Quite true! Even Look Back‘s recent film announcement caught me off guard. Not merely that we’d be getting it but that Kiyotaka Oshiyama would be directing it. Like, that’s a dream project I didn’t dare dream of.
It just goes to show that, even when being cynical is easier than ever, passionate folks are doing their damnedest to make cool shit happen. So long as you keep believing, nobody can tell you it can’t happen. Just ask all the Psyren fans who have been putting it in the poll for over a decade.

As the old saying goes, you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. Now, I want to say that quote was regarding basketball and not the need to keep your heart open to the possibility that passion and creativity can indeed puncture a hole through the capitalist slime that eats into the nook and cranny of our rotting society. But who’s to say they didn’t mean that? I’m still riding the high that inexplicably got us Sonny Boy years back. As long as people continue to give money to weirdos, there will be a place for me here.
But also keep in mind that if they screw up the Witch Hat Atelier anime, I will end up on a no-fly list for how I’ll respond. So tread carefully.

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