When anime franchises get rebooted, it’s fairly typical for the new staff to take it in a new direction and make something extra-special to celebrate the anniversary of a classic product. For examples of this done incredibly well, look no further than the 2012 Lupin III series or the 2009 Mazinger reboot. For the example of this done perfectly, take a gander at Kenji Nakamura’s take on the decades-old Gatchaman franchise and watch him take an already stellar skill set to a whole other level.
Meet the show with the year’s best villain, the year’s best protagonist, the year’s best two-person dialogue chain, the year’s most relevant-to-society themes, the year’s second-best opening (got Jaeger’d by the number one), the year’s best panda, and the best one-word BGM track in anime.
Before the episode, a point: Free’s first volume posted a combined BD/DVD sales figure of 25,000 volumes. If this stays above 20,000 copies per volume (it will), it’ll log in as Kyoto Animation’s best-selling TV title since Houkago Teatime planted their feet in London. If it gets a decent second week boost, there’s a non-negligible chance it passes Clannad’s 24,808 average and goes into the studio’s all-time top 5 behind Haruhi, Lucky Star, and the K-ons. Oh, and that mark is generally good for somewhere between the 40th and 60th best selling TV anime of all time. Those are some legit numbers. By accounts I’ve heard, the farm-system novel that birthed Free, High Speed, is playing out fairly directly on the screen and doesn’t leave much room for a sequel. That said, if I were an exec at Kadokawa I’d be doing my best trying to see if I could finagle one in. Remember, ignoring whether or not the ending is open or closed, 50 percent of anime that sell 4000 copies per volume or more get a sequel. I did some garbage calculations with a smaller sample of the 27 non-sequels to sell 20k+ volumes, and found that all but 8 eventually got movie or TV sequels of some kind. That said, 2 of those 8 were Kyoto Animation products.*