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The Most Anticipated Anime Of 2022

The COVID-19 pandemic played havoc with film and television productions everywhere when it swept the globe in 2020, and anime was no exception. 

Studios announced a spate of delays as Japan entered a state of emergency, with big shows like "One Piece" and "My Hero Academia" among the early victims. The outlook was bleak in terms of production, but the one silver lining was that anime consumption began to increase, a byproduct of people seeking out new things to watch during lockdowns and quarantines. "Streaming and COVID-19 have entrenched anime's global popularity," said The Economist, pointing out that the 2020 film "Demon Slayer: Mugen Train" broke the "box office record for a foreign language debut" in the States.

The appetite for anime has never been bigger in the West, and it's as huge as ever at home, where studios have been working hard to deal with the immense backlog. Thankfully, many of the titles that were put on hold because of coronavirus are finally set to drop in 2022, which is shaping up to be a banner year for anime. From new adaptations of old classics to long-awaited final seasons and feature length films expected to make an impact, these are the most anticipated anime confirmed for 2022.

"Uzumaki"

Anime fans got some welcome news in October 2019, when [adult swim] announced it was turning Junji Ito's horror masterpiece "Uzumaki" into a four-part miniseries. The beloved late-90s manga has been deemed unadaptable in the past, but if anyone can do it, Hiroshi Nagahama can. The director is best known for turning trippy horror manga "Mushishi" into a highly-rated anime series, and he has big plans for "Uzumaki." Nagahama intends to create "something that scares people and makes them laugh and that they'll watch over and over," he said in the teaser. "That's the kind of work I want this to be."

His words got lovers of Ito's manga excited, but the planned 2020 release date came and went with no sign of the anime. In 2021, [adult swim] confirmed that it was still in progress and would drop the following year. "I feel truly apologetic for the delay and ask for your patience just a little more," Nagahama said in a clip that preceded a sneak peek at the first episode. "Uzumaki" (which means "spiral") takes place in a small Japanese town where a supernatural curse is wreaking havoc. The first footage of the highly anticipated adaptation confirms that Production I.G. (best known for its work on the "Ghost in the Shell" series) has remained as faithful as possible to Ito's art style.

"Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero"

Funimation teamed up with Fox to release 2018's "Dragon Ball Super: Broly" in theaters across 18 different countries, and it proved to be a wise move. The film raked in over $115 million at the worldwide box office and earned rave reviews from critics, becoming a surprise hit — at least to those who don't follow the franchise. There's been a renewed interest in all things "Dragon Ball" since the sequel series "Dragon Ball Super" began airing in 2015, and the fanbase is now bigger than ever.

People who grew up watching the original '80s anime are "sharing it with their children," Funimation's Mitchel Berger told Deadline. "There's a multi-generational appeal at work here for the franchise." This was reflected in the response to "Dragon Ball Super: Broly," which gave the Saiyan a new and improved origin story. It was so well-received that a second "Dragon Ball Super" movie seemed inevitable, and in 2021, series creator Akira Toriyama confirmed that a new film was in the pipeline for 2022.

"Just like the previous movie, I'm heavily leading the story and dialogue production," Toriyama said in a statement posted to the official "Dragon Ball" website. "I really shouldn't talk too much about the plot yet, but be prepared for some extreme and entertaining bouts, which may feature an unexpected character. We'll be charting through some unexplored territory in terms of the visual aesthetics." The film's title and updated character designs were revealed at Comic-Con@Home 2021.

"Requiem of the Rose King"

The hit 2020 anime "Moriarty the Patriot" offered a new take on a classic literary character, and we're going to see a radically different version of another famous villain in 2022, one that actually existed. Aya Kanno's manga series "Requiem of the Rose King" follows a gender-fluid version of Richard III, who (rightly or wrongly) is one of the most hated monarchs in history. It takes place in the period known as the Wars of the Roses, a 30-year conflict between the noble houses of York and Lancaster. When we enter the story, Richard's father is closing in on the throne, but it's not to be: The Duke of York has the crown — and his life — snatched away before he can claim it.

The loss of his father hits Richard (who identifies as male) hard. The bloody conflict rages on, however, and with his beloved dad now gone, Richard's thoughts turn to revenge and, ultimately, the throne. Loosely based on the classic Shakespeare plays "Henry VI, Part 3" and "Richard III," the manga debuted in Monthly Princess magazine in 2013 and is still going. It's full of unexpected twists and turns (veteran mangaka Moto Hagio called it "more interesting than Shakespeare," via Indian Anime Network) and will no doubt make for a fascinating anime series. "Requiem of the Rose King" is being produced by J.C. Staff ("One-Punch Man 2") and is expected to drop in January 2022, per Anime News Network.

"The Rising of the Shield Hero" Season 2

"The Rising of the Shield Hero" was one of the most popular anime of 2019, but it was also one of the most controversial. On paper, it's just your standard isekai, a fantasy subgenre in which the protagonist is suddenly (and often inexplicably) transported to a strange new world. The isekai boom began in 2012 when "Sword Art Online" became a huge hit, but it has reached saturation point in the years since. It's now difficult for new isekai shows to stand out from the crowd, but "The Rising of the Shield Hero" achieved this by doing something incredibly bold — after arriving in his fantasy world, the protagonist is falsely accused of sexual assault.

Socially inept otaku Naofumi Iwatani is one of four regular people summoned to the kingdom of Melromarc to save it from impending doom. Dubbed the Four Cardinal Heroes, each gets handed a legendary weapon to help them in their quest, though Naofumi pulls the short straw. There's a sword, a spear, a bow, and a shield, and he ends up with the latter, making him something of a laughing stock. When his training partner falsely accuses him of rape, he becomes a virtual outcast, setting out to combat the Waves of Calamity on his own. Many took issue with the show's use of a rape accusation as a plot device, but there's been a clamor for a second season ever since the first one wrapped.

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).

"A Couple of Cuckoos"

The fact that "A Couple of Cuckoos" has become one of the most anticipated anime of 2022 is quite remarkable, considering how new the manga that it's based on still is. "It's been less than a year since the series' first volume hit store shelves," Otaquest said when the anime was announced in April 2021. "That just goes to show how unprecedented this adaptation is." 

Written and illustrated by Miki Yoshikawa, who learned the tricks of the manga trade from "Fairy Tail" creator Hiro Mashima, "A Couple of Cuckoos" is massive in Japan. Two volumes of the cutesy rom-com were being sold every single second during the height of its popularity, and fans can't wait to see how director Yoshiyuki Shirahata ("The Great Pretender") handles the story.

As the teaser trailer for the anime reveals, "A Couple of Cuckoos" is a love story about a shy boy and an internet-famous girl. Introverted high school student Nagi Umino is on the way to meet his biological parents for the first time when he encounters Erika Amano, a social media star trying to escape an arranged marriage. She proposes that Nagi become her fake boyfriend so she doesn't have to go through with it, and he reluctantly agrees. They soon discover that Nagi is actually her intended husband — they were accidentally switched as babies, and the parents believe a wedding is the perfect solution. Unfortunately for them, Nagi has his eye on someone else.

"Spriggan"

Another show that was pushed back to 2022 because of the coronavirus pandemic, "Spriggan" is a co-production between Netflix and David Production, one of a handful of anime studios that the streaming giant has a partnership with. "Netflix aims to be the most compelling and attractive home for anime fans, creators and production studios," John Derderian, the company's Director of Content for Japan, said after the deal with David Production was announced. "We are creating an environment where production houses can do their best work, and deliver their shows on a service where we connect anime fans from over 190 countries to content they love."

For those unfamiliar with the title, "Spriggin" is a shonen sci-fi manga that ran from 1989 to 1996. It takes place in a world where mankind has discovered the existence of advanced tech hidden by an ancient civilization, triggering a race to find them. Making sure they don't fall into the wrong hands is Yu Ominae, a member of an elite unit that takes on the militias and assorted bands of bad guys that seek to use the technology for nefarious purposes. Netflix has already dropped a couple of teaser trailers for the anime, and they look great. David Production knows all about flamboyance (this is the studio behind "JoJo's Bizarre Adventure" we're talking about), but it's wisely keeping things sleek and simple here. Hiroshi Kobayashi (who has directed episodes of "Kiznaiver" and "Tiger & Bunny") oversees the action.

"Made in Abyss: The Sun Blazes Upon the Golden City"

At a glance, it looks like the kind of show you could comfortably watch with kids, but 2017's "Made in Abyss" is far from a family-friendly anime. Based on Akihito Tsukushi's manga series of the same name, it follows an orphan girl living in a town built around a giant, gaping hole, commonly referred to as the Abyss. All manner of strange wonders are said to be found inside, though few are brave enough to explore its depths. 

Those who are brave enough are known as Cave Raiders, which is what Riko's mom was. The mother of the aforementioned orphan vanished during an expedition in the Abyss, though it turns out she may not be gone. When Riko receives a message from her mother urging her to meet her in the Abyss, she decides it is time to explore it for herself.

Season 2 of "Made in Abyss" was announced in 2019, and a film entitled "Dawn of the Deep Soul" dropped the following year, set after the events of the first season. The story is set to continue in 2022, when the second season — officially titled "Made in Abyss: The Sun Blazes Upon the Golden City" — will come to air. Plot details are under wraps, but we know that one previously unseen character will appear, because she's featured in the promo art. Manga readers will no doubt recognize the four fluffy white arms of Faputa, Princess of the Narehate.

"Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2"

The global phenomenon that was "Attack on Titan" came to an end when the final chapter of the manga shipped in summer 2021, bringing its 11-year run in Bessatsu Shonen Magazine to an end. For anime viewers, however, the journey doesn't reach its conclusion until 2022, when the second part of the fourth and final season is set to air. "Attack on Titan" fans became worried when it was revealed that Wit Studio would no longer produce the show after Season 3, but MAPPA (the studio behind "Dorohedoro" and "Jujutsu Kaisen") stepped in and exceeded expectations.

Season 3 of "Attack on Titan" ended on a rare high note for our heroes (they even got to see the ocean for the first time), but things were far from rosy when we caught up with them in "Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 1." There's a four year time jump between the seasons, and protagonist Eren Yeager isn't the same man. Noticeably older, the Survey Corps veteran has been worn down by the rigors of war, as have his comrades. There's trouble with Marley (the country across the sea) as well as the Eldians (descendants of the first Titan), and Eren also has an old acquaintance to worry about — the Part 1 finale ended just as he was about to face former friend Reiner Braun in battle.

"Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2" will begin sometime in the Winter 2022 season.

"Tiger & Bunny 2"

A live-action movie adaptation of the original anime series "Tiger & Bunny" was announced in 2015, with Ron Howard attached as producer. Despite the fact that superhero movies have only grown in popularity, there's been little movement since. Fans of "Tiger & Bunny" need not despair, however, because their decade-long wait for a second season of the show is becoming a reality. According to Anime News Network, the studio behind "Tiger & Bunny" (Sunrise) has confirmed that the highly-anticipated follow-up season (entitled "Tiger & Bunny 2") will come to air at some point in 2022, bringing the title characters into the modern age of superheroes.

The story takes place in a far-future city called Stern Bild, which was "modeled after Manhattan," Bandai Namco Pictures' Masaaki Nozaki confirmed (per Anime News Network). It's rife with crime, but there are more than enough superheroes to go around, and they need to pull their weight if they want to maintain their popularity.

Wearing costumes plastered in sponsors, they all take part in a show called "Hero TV," competing against each other by earning points for every crime tackled. Whoever earns the most points is crowned the "King of Heroes," but not all of them care about the show. We follow veteran hero Kotetsu "Wild Tiger" Kaburagi and his rookie partner Barnaby "Bunny" Brooks Jr., two men who have very different opinions about what it means to be a superhero.

"Ao Ashi"

Influential '80s anime "Captain Tsubasa" got a brand new season in 2018, reigniting interest in soccer titles. In 2022, another fictional Japanese player will make the leap from the pages of his manga to the small screen. 

Aoi Ashito, the protagonist of Yugo Kobayashi's "Ao Ashi," has plenty of raw talent but needs some work if he's going to make it all the way to the J League, Japan's premier soccer division. Luckily, coach Tatsuya Fukuda is willing to put the work in. After recognizing his potential, the former pro invites Aoi to a training camp for Tokyo City Esperion FC's youth team. Like all the animated soccer stars that came before him, Aoi revolutionizes the sport in Japan. What makes "Ao Ashi" different is that it's relatively new (the ongoing manga began its run in 2015), and is therefore very much in tune with the modern game.

The action in "Captain Tsubasa" is often so exaggerated that it barely resembles real soccer, but "Ao Ashi" takes the sport seriously, with characters learning formations and executing plays that you would see in an actual real-life game. It's the manga that soccer fans had been waiting for, and the anime adaptation (which Kobayashi has known about for a while but had to keep secret, per The Anime Daily) is dropping at the perfect time — it is scheduled for release during the Spring 2022 season, meaning it will be on air in the run up to the FIFA World Cup.

A "Laid-Back Camp" movie

From calligraphy and mineralogy to fishing and ballroom dancing, there's an anime for just about every hobby in Japan. Based on the slice-of-life manga of the same name, "Laid-Back Camp" caters to lovers of camping, following a group of friends who travel to different sites across the country. 

It's a delightfully simple story that made for a charming anime when studio C-Station adapted it for the small screen in 2018. The first season of the show was highly-rated and the second season did even better, scoring an impressive 8.55 on My Anime List. There's been a live action TV remake for fans to consume, but what they really want is more anime, and that's exactly what they're getting.

As the promotional poster (via Tokyo Otaku Mode) reveals, the "Laid-Back Camp" girls are returning for an anime movie in 2022, and so are the people that made the anime series such a success. Screenwriters Jin Tanaka and Mutsumi Ito are back, as is director Yoshiaki Kyogoku, whose work on "Laid-Back Camp" earned him an award at the Tokyo Anime Film Festival. 

"I like to think that the award went to the show and not to me," the humble director told Anime News Network. "While the show was good, it's not mine. It was all the staff's hard work that made it possible. I would like to think that the award came to me as a representative of the show and not me personally."