Netflix has assembled an impressive slate of exciting anime TV series for 2019. The streaming giant has been busy grabbing up the streaming rights to various high-profile hits from the past. Most notably, Netflix outbid Funimation for the rights to stream Neon Genesis Evangelion. However, given its eagerness to build up a library of original content, Netflix has also been lining up some brand new anime content as well.
2019 is the year of the great anime war between the streaming titans. With Amazon, Funimation, VRV, Crunchyroll, Hulu, and Netflix all warring for a piece of the anime streaming market, we’ll be getting more big-budget anime adaptations of popular properties, as well as wholly original animated series.
All of the upcoming anime on the horizon can be a bit overwhelming, so we’ve assembled a few of the most interesting original series coming to Netflix that are well worth your attention.
- This Page: Seis Manos, Trese, and Yasuke
- Page 2: Cannon Busters, Carole & Tuesday, and Rilakkuma & Kaoru
Powerhouse Animation Studios has been around since 2001 and mostly made its bread and butter with short animation projects like cinematics for Epic Mickey and The Banner Saga as well as commercials for Old Spice. They are somewhat better known more recently for animating the acclaimed Castlevania series on Netflix. Following their huge success with that project, Netflix gave them a green light for an entirely original series: Seis Manos.
Seis Manos tells the story of three orphans who become martial arts masters in Mexico during the 1970s. The three team up with a DEA agent and a Mexican Federale to use their fists to clean up the streets and avenge the death of their mentor at the hands of the criminals who run their border town. Powerhouse CEO Brad Graeber co-created the series with Alvaro Rodriguez, known for his work writing Machete and From Dusk Till Dawn: The Series. Dan Dominguez, who previously wrote for Captain Underpants and Spongebob Squarepants, will write for the series as well. Directing duties fall to Willis Bulliner, who handled the storyboards for the successful Castlevania adaptation.
The project is being made in collaboration with VIZ Media, the veteran distributor of anime and manga in the US. Seis Manos will mark the company’s first attempt at creating an original series of its own. Apparently, the idea for this series has been floating around for quite some time with a handful of old assets of outdated posters and screenshots roaming the wild. The only up-to-date image available at this time remains the show’s logo.
No firm release date or window has been given for Seis Manos, but it is expected to begin streaming sometime in 2019.
An anime series about a woman going up against the seedy criminal underbelly of a bustling city definitely harbors enormous storytelling potential. Trese dives into that sea of narrative possibilities, but with a twist: the criminals of society are horrific creatures straight out of Philippine folklore. Living among the humans of Manila, they hide among the worst of society to inconspicuously sate their various demonic hungers; and Alexandra Trese begins a battle to the death with these creatures.
The series is based off of a graphic novel, also called Trese, crafted by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldissimo. BASE Entertainment produced Trese; if that company doesn't sound familiar, it shouldn't. BASE Entertainment operates out of Jakarta and Singapore and doesn’t have much of a history, having only formed recently in a merger of Salto Films, Million Pictures, and Kawi Content. While that might leave some doubt about how Trese might turn out, Jay Oliva, the storyboard artist on films like Thor: Ragnarok and Wonder Woman as well as anime series The Legend of Korra, has been attached to oversee Trese as an executive producer.
At the moment it seems a bit up in the air as to whether Trese will release at the tail end of 2019 or 2020.
A little history lesson: In the 1580s, a Jesuit missionary by the name of Alessandro Balignano arrived in Japan to spread the Christian gospel. Among his party was a slave remembered by history as Yasuke. His arrival in Japan at that time caused a stir. People traveled long distances to visit the mission and see the man with black skin. Among those who journeyed to see Yasuke was the legendary Daimyo, Lord Oda Nobunaga. Nobunaga took Yasuke into his service and eventually named him a samurai.
The anime series coming to Netflix takes the story of the historical Yasuke and steeps it in a world of mechs and magic. In a war-torn alternate version of feudal Japan, a retired warrior is forced back into service to protect a strange child who seems to be the target of malevolent forces.
Yasuke will be animated by MAPPA, the studio behind the visually stunning Yuri on Ice and two of the best anime of 2018: Zombie Land Saga and Banana Fish. Lakeith Stanfield, star of Straight Outta Compton and Sorry to Bother You, has been attached to voice the titular Yasuke. Grammy nominated rapper Flying Lotus will be composing music for the series as well as serving as an executive producer. All of this has been brought together by LeSean Thomas, known for his work co-directing the first two seasons of The Boondocks and being so talented that he became the first American animator to be hired as a permanent staff member for an animation studio in South Korea following his contributions to The Legend of Korra.
Much like Trese, Yasuke has no defined release date, which could mean it’s on track for a late 2019 or a 2020 release.
Back in 2014, LeSean Thomas (the same guy who pulled together Yasuke) launched a Kickstarter campaign for an anime pilot called "Cannon Busters: The Animated Series". The campaign proposed bringing together Thomas Romain, the character designer on Space Dandy, Tim Yoon, the producer of The Legend of Korra, and many other talented individuals from across the industry to create an original series with LeSean Thomas as the director. That dream, it seems, has become reality.
Animated by Satelight, the studio behind the legendary Macross series, Cannon Busters follows the adventures of S.A.M., a droid programmed for friendship, a maintenance robot in dire need of a tune-up, and a hardened fugitive from justice as they band together to search for Prince Toji, S.A.M.’s friend and the heir to a kingdom under siege by forces bent on destruction and conquest.
The core idea of the series has been described as a combination of The Wizard of Oz, The Hidden Fortress, and Escaflowne all laced with hip-hop and classic RPG influences. Making Cannon Busters an animated reality has been a longtime dream of LeSean Thomas since the creation of his first and only comic of the same name back in 2003; a comic that only received one published issue and released two years later in 2005. It’s clearly a project important to the veteran animator and seeing it come to fruition after 16 years will certainly be worth watching.
The Kickstarter campaign managed to raise over $150,000 to create an animated proof of concept episode. It seems that the episode impressed someone at Netflix because the series has been greenlit for a twelve episode run, and it begins airing on April 1, 2019.
Carole & Tuesday
The director of Cowboy Bebop, Shinichiro Watanabe, returns this year with a new series for Netflix animated by studio BONES. If that doesn’t immediately get your attention, you really need to go watch Cowboy Bebop and Mob Psycho 100.
Carole & Tuesday takes place 50 years in the future. Humanity has begun to migrate to Mars to settle the new wild frontier. Artificial Intelligence has largely replaced human beings as the main creator of culture and content for mankind. Into this world steps Carole, a girl working hard at a part-time job while dedicating herself to becoming a musician. Among riches in a totally different world lives Tuesday, a girl who dreams of strumming a guitar and singing – a desire no one around her appreciates. By chance, the two meet and decide to embark on a revolutionary journey together.
For Carole & Tuesday, Shinichiro Watanabe will serve as the supervising director while Motonobu Hori, known for his work on Sword Art Online, Steamboy, and Psycho-Pass, will be directing under his watch. Music will play a huge role in the story of Carole & Tuesday; to that end, Canadian artist Mocky composed the music.
Carole & Tuesday begins streaming sometime in April 2019.
Rilakkuma & Kaoru
Anime exists as a very broad entertainment genre medium. Nothing in the upcoming slate of Netflix Originals demonstrates that as much as Rilakkuma & Kaoru, a stop-motion anime series developed by San-X.
Over the course of thirteen episodes, Rilakkuma & Kaoru tells the story of Kaoru, a young woman who discovers a cuddly toy bear named Rilakkuma has moved into her apartment. Rilakkuma spends most of its time relaxing around Kaoru’s apartment with her pet bird Kiiroitori and a small bear cub named Korilakkuma who also just appears in the apartment one day. Together the group members learn from one another and eat delicious stop-motion food.
The animation is being handled by studio dwarf, the leading stop-motion studio in Japan. Naoko Ogigami, the celebrated director of Close-Knit and Kamome Shokudo, joined the production as screenwriter. Masahito Kobayashi will serve as the series director Kobayashi previously directed the 2013 series Outdoor Rock n’ Roll, a docudrama about office workers pushed out into nature to face the great outdoors.
Rilakkuma & Kaoru will begin streaming on April 19, 2019.