“What? It’s not like we went out of our way to get you these recommendations! A few days past the 14th is good enough for you anyway!”

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[Hmm? What do you mean ‘AniTAY isn’t tsundere.’ Oh, right, um...]

“... Here.”

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[Not kuudere either. Right... W-we’re not yandere, are we? ‘Not overall’ Good. Well, the Valentine’s thing is just coincidental anyway. Let’s move on]

This season has been an interesting one; many attitudes regarding various shows have changed from their initial-episode stances, in both directions. Discussions over some shows were occurring even as close as a few days ago. The two most contentious find themselves as Honourable Mentions, where the struggle to keep what can be said about a particular point of view of reasonable length is sometimes like fighting an overwhelming horde of oncoming words. (I wrote an essay in favour of Schwarzesmarken, and people complained so much. Many thanks to Dexomega for cutting the swarm to a more manageable size. And as always, Stanlick for the excellent Header).

In terms of numbers 12 might be on the higher side, but it breaks down into 4 New Shows, 4 Sequels and 4 Shorts, as well as the 2 HMs. In particular, the shorts have been amongst the most popular shows airing and really encapsulate the broad range anime can have as a medium.

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We’re now going to start squabbling over something new, and I in particular am going to start preparing for a select few, special shows (Hundred) coming in the Spring that are going to inevitably be worth particular disdain attention. Speaking of disdain attention, one show that much of AniTAY has been watching consistently week-to-week has not made this list, and yet perhaps deserves mention. Undefeated Bahamut Chronicles is another Magic High School Fantasy Battle setting, but really tries to save the viewer time in this busy modern world of ours, by being a blend of every other such show from recent seasons. If you want a show to watch with friends to collectively tear apart, or even just a show to make other shows look better, enjoy Bahamut. I’m fairly certain our resident Animasochists are going to excel themselves when they find the time to lovingly embrace it.


The 4 New Shows To Watch:

ERASED

Written by: Koda

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Genre: Mystery, Psychological, Thriller, Supernatural

Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Satoru Fujinuma is a seemingly unsuspecting man who works in a pizza shop. However, despite his rather plain appearance, he actually has the power to travel back in time before tragic, life-threatening events can happen and uses this to prevent the events from happening. When Satoru’s mother is murdered, he is flung 18 years into the past before a horrific string of kidnappings and murders rocked the quiet town he grew up in. Now Satoru must figure out how to prevent his mother’s death and how the kidnappings might tie into this future event.

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Why You Should be Watching: ERASED is one of the better constructed mystery series in a long time. The show has left plenty of clues over the course of its episodes, but is still keeping its biggest reveals close to its chest, resulting in many people making theories that implicate just about every character introduced in Satoru’s past. ERASED is also incredibly enthralling, drawing the viewer in and making them want to watch the next episode immediately, a feat helped by an expert use of cliffhangers. Another thing of note is how the show handles the parts where Satoru is in his past. The show literally frames it like it was a movie, but besides just the presentation of the past, how they deal with Satoru’s memories of the past is phenomenal. Usually when a character is sent to the past, they remember everything perfectly. In ERASED, Satoru has holes in his memories, oftentimes only remembering specific key moments, and not really the details or events around them. He even sometimes forgets things wholesale, only remembering them as they happen in real time for him. This is a great twist on works with time traveling characters, and is one of the many signs of the amount of care that went into making what many regard as the best show of the season.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MementoMorie, Messy, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, RockmanDash12, Stanlick, Unimplied

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu

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Written by: Nomadic Dec

Genre: Drama, Historical

Available on: Crunchyroll

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Spoiler-free Synopsis: Framed as a recount to an ex-convict and aspiring pupil, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is a character drama revolving around two budding performers of Japan’s oral comedy tradition—rakugo. Primarily set in the post-WWII Showa Era, the starkness of the period heightens the struggles of the friends as they attempt to make rakugo not only an emotional release, but also a livelihood. With life increasingly fraught with the tribulations of adulthood, they discover what it takes to truly succeed in this art form of “fallen words”, and the harsh sacrifices that must be made.

Why You Should be Watching: Much like its OP, Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu enthralls the audience with a unique blend of background tension created by its music and quiet atmosphere, as delicate, seductive performances take literal centre-stage . For a series dedicated to immersing the viewer in the experience of rapid-fire, amusing rakugo storytelling, the laconic and captivating characterisation allows the subtleties in animation and direction to inform the characters, as well as generating the delicious ambiguity that most prestige dramas crave. Were that not sufficient, Rakugo is a compelling story of time’s passage, and infuses the tragedy of this rarely explored period through its illustration of all strata of society, while still giving in to moments of levity. Life takes its toll in the most emotionally gripping of manners, yet the series manages to be a therapeutically calming experience. This masterful balancing act is one that propels Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu into a higher echelon of anime. Go now; the strings of shamisen beckon you.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Grex, Gugsy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MementoMorie, Messy, Nomadic Dec, RockmanDash12, Stanlick, Unimplied

Konosuba - God’s Blessing on this Wonderful World

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Written by: Kinksy

Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy

Available on: Crunchyroll

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Spoiler-free Synopsis: Kazuma Sato was just an ordinary hikikomori NEET until he decides to leave his house, quickly finding himself killed and in front of the goddess Aqua. She then gives him the non-choice to either be reincarnated as a dog or be swept into a parallel fantasy world on a mission to defeat the devil king. He is allowed to take one powerful item or ability with him to help even the odds. He sarcastically remarks that he should just take Aqua herself, which immediately binds them together, much to both their chagrin. Aqua, despite being a powerful goddess, is more of a hindrance than a benefit to Kazuma, but she cannot return to the heavens until the devil king has been defeated.

Why You Should be Watching: Yes you read that right, there are TWO anime by Studio Deen on this list (the first being Rakugo mentioned above). KonoSuba takes common fantasy and game world tropes and flips them on their head for the sake of a good laugh. Our protagonist, Kazuma, is not an overpowered master combatant. In fact, apart from his ridiculously high luck stat and decent intelligence, the rest of his stats are average at best and he ends up with the lowest class of an adventurer. However, Kazuma ends up more or less playing the straight man for the rest of his massively dysfunctional party. Aqua, conversely, has completely broken stats except for her E rank luck and her low intelligence (which both make her practically useless in combat). The last two party members that join this duo are the Chuuni Archmage Megumin and the Crusader named Darkness, who is the least accurate tank a party could ask for. Of course Megumin and Darkness have slightly bigger flaws than I have mentioned above, which are an endless well of jokes, but they are better seen for yourself. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo! is probably the funniest anime that is airing this season and it is certainly a worthwhile watch for any fans of fantasy and comedy.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Exile, Gugsy, jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Messy, RockmanDash12, Stanlick

Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash

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Written by: Unimplied

Genre: Fantas(h)y, Action, Adventure, Drama

Available on: Funimation, Hulu

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Spoiler-free Synopsis: Waking up with only faint memories, an unlikely group of young adventurers is forced to find their way in the unfamiliar world of Grimgar. Having no money, a bargain is struck to join a volunteer army in exchange for a basic wage. With no prior combat experience, the group must learn their roles in the heat of battle or face the harsh reality of destitution.

Why You Should be Watching: Unlike most “trapped in a fantasy world” series, Grimgar takes a slower, more realistic approach to the matters at hand. Daily life is an uphill struggle, and the threats of even the weakest monsters are very real. The protagonists are not natural-born killers and sympathize with the creatures they encounter along the way. Even with the formidable challenges, Grimgar shines at highlighting the small victories people often take for granted. It also starkly portrays the toll the type of fantasy action that we’re so desensitized to in games would take on the human body and mind in reality.

The bleakness of the characters’ lives is often contrasted by the idyllic visuals of the world of Grimgar. Each shot is filled with watercolor beauty, and each episode contains a sequence that highlights the fantasy and brings the environment itself to life.

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Recommended by: Exile, Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, MementoMorie, Messy, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Stanlick, Unimplied, RockmanDash12


The 4 Sequels To Watch:

GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There! (Season 2)

Written by: jonuiuc

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Genre: Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Military

Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: When an invading army emerges from a magical gate that suddenly appears in the middle of Tokyo, the Japanese Self-Defense Force are tasked with repelling the invaders and following them through the portal into their world. Gate follows Lieutenant Itami Yoji of the JSDF on the expeditionary mission to the so-called special region. The second season of Gate begins closely on the heels of the first, continuing exactly where the previous leaves off. This season picks up the Dark Elf Yao’s storyline, which was teased at the end of last season and introduces more political intrigue within the Empire.

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Why You Should be Watching: Chances are if you enjoyed the first season of Gate last summer, you have already started watching this second season. If you haven’t watched any Gate yet, I’d encourage you to do so if you are a fan of the fantasy or military genres. Gate does a good job of juxtaposing a modern military force with a fairly standard fantasy setting. So instead of a person being plucked/reborn into a fantasy world and seeing how they adapt (which seems to be all the rage lately), Gate shifts the premise a little and shows how the cultures of a fantasy world deal with the appearance of a technologically sophisticated army. The first season isn’t very long (12 episodes) and you should know within the first 3 episodes if you’d like to continue.

While there are no changes to Gate’s visuals or production, this season’s spotlight is less on the 3rd Recon Team and more on the special region cast members. The storylines do get more personal and individual characters are given more moments to shine. Pivoting away from the “real world” politics and espionage highlighted in the first season, this season focuses on the power plays within the Empire as well as the JSDF diplomatic operations. While the “modern vs. fantasy” military confrontations of the first season were entertaining, some people felt they came off as too one-sided. If you were critical of Gate’s first season, you may find this second season more to your tastes, as more nuanced plotlines and mature content are explored. If you have had any hesitation about continuing from the first season, I’d say give it a try.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Stanlick

Snow White with the Red Hair (Season 2)

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Written by: Krakken_Unleashed

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Romance

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Available on: Funimation, Hulu

Spoiler-free Synopsis: With Zen and Shirayuki having finally come to terms with their own feelings for one another, life for the two finally seems to have stabilized. However, when an invitation arrives for Shirayuki to return to her homeland Tanbarun, a series of forces, both friendly and malevolent, arise that could rupture their recently established relationship.

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Why You Should be Watching: Snow White season two takes all the aspects that made the first season enjoyable, and twists the formula around. Now instead of Zen and Shirayuki learning to work together, and working out how much they care for each other, they instead now have to work independently to keep their relationship alive and well. Shiraiyuki is now faced with challenging the very prince she once ran from, while Zen now has to juggle all the burdens of his position with the added hurdle of dealing with ever more dangerous foreign enemies. The stakes are raised even higher this time, with a genuine sense of uncertainty and drama building, rivaling the tensest parts of season one. Anyone who enjoyed the first season should definitely come back for this return, whilst anyone wanting a good romance with a touch of action and a cast of willful, independant characters should definitely check this out.

Recommended by: Exile, Grex, jonuiuc, Krakken_Unleashed, RockmanDash12, Stanlick

Assassination Classroom (Season 2)

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Written by: Grex

Genre: Action, Comedy

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Available on: Funimation, Hulu

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Koro-sensei is an excellent teacher, working hard to foster an atmosphere of growth and collaboration among the students of class 3-E. He also happens to be a yellow, smiley-faced octopus, capable of reaching Mach 20 speeds, who has declared his intention to destroy the earth if his students cannot kill him before year’s end. Knowing the difficulty of their task, the Japanese government has promised a reward of 10 billion yen to whomever can take out the creature, and provides assassination lessons during class time to bolster their efforts. Will the kids be able to team up and take down the best teacher they’ve ever had, or is the earth well and truly doomed?

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Why You Should Be Watching: Assassination Classroom’s second season is basically more Assassination Classroom, in a good way. It won’t do much to win you over if you dropped out last time, but there’s plenty of fun to be had if you’re already a fan. As we’ve come to expect, AssClass juggles a number of different setups, some episodes focusing on the comedic day-to-day assassination hijinks and profound life lessons (or otherwise) imparted by Koro-sensei, while others revolve around short bursts of drama from both within and without the school, be it the work of class bullies or hostile enemy assassins. Whether it’s sheer absurdity or action-packed excitement, AssClass finds something to excel at, and is an easy recommendation if you’re looking for nothing more than an entertaining time, in the purest sense of the word.

Recommended by: Exile, Grex, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Messy, RockmanDash12, Stanlick

Durarara!!x2 Ketsu

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Written by: RockmanDash12

Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural

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Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Half a year after the events of the first season, peace has returned to Ikebukuro, but things are as frenetic as always: the cops are still recklessly chasing the “Black Rider,” the Hollywood Killer is out on the run, the Russian sushi place is still serving questionable food, and everyone we know is still as eccentric as ever. With a hectic story that captures the feeling of a hectic city, Durarara!! X2 is a hectic show, and fans love it because of it. Ketsu is the third cour in the X2 anime season.

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Why You Should be Watching: After waiting nearly a year since Durarara!! x2 started airing, with Durarara!! x2 Ketsu, we’re finally on the last arc of this season, and boy is it good. While some may have seen the other seasons as slow, or may have skipped them because of the split cour nature of the show, now that we’re on the final stretch, it’s a show worth watching and recommending. Along with continuing everything that made Durarara!! great in the first place, like the awesome and entertaining characters, or the insane action, it also adds new characters and has a totally different dynamic to the show that makes it that much more interesting. Yes, there’s a fair bit of stuff to watch here, and if you didn’t like S1 or the arcs before, this won’t change your mind, but if you’re into this type of show, you’re only getting greatness - a show that is fun to watch while being wacky and engaging throughout.

Recommended by: Grex, Kinksy, Koda, Messy, RockmanDash12, Stanlick, Unimplied


The 4 Shorts To Watch:

Ojisan to Marshmallow

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Written by: EvenSteven

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

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Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Hige is a middle-aged office worker with an insatiable hunger for marshmallows. Wakabayashi is a younger co-worker with an insatiable hunger for Hige. Each episode focuses on Hige’s obsession with marshmallows, Wakabayashi’s obsession with Hige, or both.

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Why You Should be Watching: Each episode is like a marshmallow. Small, sweet, and fluffy. The budding relationship between the two leads is mostly played for laughs, but there’s a sincerity to each character that makes this show all the more endearing. Wakabayashi’s obsession with Hige might seem a bit extreme, but it also brings some of the biggest laughs. To say she wants Hige is like saying Saitama is good at punching things.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Gugsy, jonuiuc, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MementoMorie, Nomadic Dec, RockmanDash12, Stanlick, Unimplied

Sekkou Boys

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Written by: Gugsy

Genre: Comedy, Idol

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Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Idols Giorgio, Mars, Hermes and Medici have teamed up to form their own super group. There’s just one catch: they are actually marble busts! Will they make it in the competitive entertainment industry, or will they crumble under the pressure?

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Why You Should be Watching: If that synopsis seems like a hilarious premise to you on first glance, you’re probably going to love this unabashedly. It was only a matter of time before an anime came around to poke fun at the tropes that abound in the idol genre, given how many have come out in recent years. It takes some incredible voice acting to draw an emotional response because they’re...you know...statues, and thankfully, they’ve got some great ones. While the first episode is relatively straightforward, each successive one has been getting crazier and zanier. With only 7 minutes per episode, it’s easy to find out if Sekkou Boys is your kind of humor or not.

Recommended by: EvenSteven, Grex, Gugsy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MementoMorie, Messy, Nomadic Dec, RockmanDash12, Stanlick, Unimplied

Nijiiro Days

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Written by: Gugsy

Genre: Comedy, Shoujo, Slice of Life

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Available on: Funimation

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Natsuki has been recently dumped by his girlfriend (and on Christmas Eve, Ouch!). But the actions of a certain girl he quickly meets afterwards help him get over it. While his three friends may lovingly tease and meddle with this budding romance, they too will find similar events coming into their own lives.

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Why You Should be Watching: The last couple of seasons have given us a dearth of light hearted Rom-Com’s that don’t involve Ecchi/Harem/Magic HS. But if you’re anything like me, Nijiiro Days will fill that void fantastically. The four main guys tease and banter with each other, much like I would with my own friends. And with not just one, but four potential couples being teased, chances are you’ll find something you like in these developing relationships. Finally, each episode is only half as long but the series will run for two cours. This means Nijiiro Days will have the same total airtime as a full show but without the slow pacing that sometimes ruins shows like these.

Recommended by: Gugsy, Stanlick

Tabimachi Late Show

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Written by: MementoMorie

Genre: Drama

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Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Tabimachi is, to put it simply, about transitions. The theme, like its subtitle, is “awaiting my journey.” This short form anime consists of only four episodes. These self-contained stories give us very different perspectives on the idea of journeys, from an apprentice chef leaving to train in Italy to an elementary school teacher reflecting on her career as she prepares for retirement.

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Why You Should be Watching: Watching all of Tabimachi will take you about half an hour. In that half hour, the short manages to pack more honesty and human emotion in than many anime fail to do with an entire season. The writing is subtle, but Tachimachi has an incredible strength at pinpointing experiences that we all have, but often don’t acknowledge - like the too-late realization that our pride kept us from forming a relationship, or the burden of being someone’s role model. Tabimachi also manages to make the cornerstone of Japanese aesthetic sensibilities, mono no aware (tl;dr the gentle sadness of life) very accessible. Your own experiences will inform how you engage with the show, so I can’t guarantee you’ll be a sobbing wreck at some point like I may or may not have been, but I’m willing to bet this gem will make you take a step back and think about the people, places, and events that shaped your own journey.

Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MementoMorie, Messy, Nomadic Dec, RockmanDash12, Stanlick


Honourable Mentions

Dagashi Kashi

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Written by: Messiah, Protonstorm

Genre: Comedy

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Available on: Funimation, Hulu

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Out in the countryside, the Shikada’s have run a sweet shop for generations. However, the latest generation, Kokonotsu Shikada, is more interested in pursuing his manga dream than running the shop, until Hotaru Shidare, the daughter and heir to a giant sweets business, comes knocking on his door asking if Kokonotsu’s father would join her company. He refuses, but will change his mind if Hotaru can convince Kokonotsu to run the family business. Little does Kokonotsu know to what lengths Hotaru will go!

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Why You Should be Watching: Dagashi Kashi is an odd type of show. Dedicated to lovers of Japanese sweets and snacks (dagashi), most of the comedy and time spent during each episode focuses on one or more certain types of dagashi with a little countryside SoL sprinkled in to boot. While those interested in anything Japanese culture-related will find lots to love here, everyone else should probably look elsewhere for their comedy fix. Make no mistake, this show is at times deeply funny, but it’s probably not enough to keep the casual watcher interested. That aside, as a show dedicated to foreign snack items, there’s a lot to learn about here for us junk food freaks.

Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Dagashi Kashi’s biggest issue can be summarized in one sentence: the joke gets old. The series is primarily driven by Hotaru’s eccentric personality as she tries to get Kokonotsu to take over his father’s business. Each week features a new set of Japanese candies, but the series is marred by a feeling of sameness. This is due to the static and underdeveloped personalities of much of its cast, and is compounded because of the lack of a larger plot or significant events. While Hotaru herself is interesting due to her bizarre mannerisms, the other characters are dry at best and merely serve as a background for the continuing joke that is her odd behavior. Coupled with the awkward fanservice, the repeat of the same joke over and over again makes it difficult to keep watching the show past the first couple of episodes.

Schwarzesmarken

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Written by: Exile/Dexomega, Nomadic Dec

Genre: Action, Drama, Mecha, Military, Sci-Fi

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Available on: Crunchyroll

Spoiler-free Synopsis: Early 1983. For the past ten years the Earth has suffered the attentions of an invading alien force, termed BETA. Now, the Western Front abuts East Germany, riven with political infighting and oppression. The key to their defence is the 666th Tactical Surface Fighter squadron, Schwarzesmarken; the “Black Marks.” So called for the fact that they routinely ignore allied distress calls on the battlefield in favour of accomplishing their mission: to break through the enemy lines and destroy the BETA anti-air units, allowing bombardment of their otherwise-overwhelming numbers. But East Germany is a country where the people around you could be far greater a danger off the battlefield than any alien monster upon it, and the more successful a soldier you are, the more of a threat to those in power you might become...

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Why You Should be Watching: Schwarzesmarken is a story about conviction: personal and national conviction. How do you fight with people you don’t trust? How can you die for a country you hate? But what if you’re so desperate to have something to hold on to, you tie yourself to the wrong thing? Or you’re so scared of losing whatever you have left, you refuse to take hold of what you could?

The real Stasi were possibly the most effective secret police the world has ever seen through their soft power, as they could drive people to suicide without ever appearing to be involved, but this GDR was never at war as in Schwarzesmarken. The Stasi of Schwarzesmarken are zealots who have their own perception of the world and protect that with visible force. This repression shows through in the fear and oppression they spread among the cast and art style: making the cast unemotive and ill-tempered and the muted visuals. In addition to these elements of a political thriller, Schwarzesmarken is also explicitly about a global war. The action is fast-paced and dynamic, reflecting the highly mobile nature of TSF warfare and the “laserjagd”. The targets of a laserjagd, Laser-class, those kinda-cute combinations of a jumping spider and a scrotum, will render any aircraft or even artillery bombardment ineffective, which requires their destruction before such methods can be used to deal with the tens of thousands of BETA in a swarm.

In sum, Schwarzesmarken is a show about two conflicts in one: a political thriller and a war story. Aliens and mecha aside, it is brutally realistic in the depths people can sink to, whilst still maintaining some small reason to have hope. It is an unflinching demonstration of humanity failing to rise to its potential when faced with adversity, but individuals still striving to. The vessel the show provides this story within is not bombastic or welcoming to newcomers or veterans alike, and it could be said that it is not there to entertain. Schwarzesmarken is not a show you’re supposed to watch to enjoy, it’s a show you watch because it provides a view of a world we should be glad we do not have to live in, and that can make us appreciate ours all the more.

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Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Aside from a name that you are liable to misspell as much as the characters mispronounce German, this series is simply poorly executed. Granted, existing Muv-Luv fans will probably appreciate the extension of the series, but from an outsider’s perspective, this adaptation flounders most opportunities to be emotionally resonate by couching the potentially engaging scenes in hackneyed dialogue that would not be out of place—and that you have undoubtedly heard—in your average harem high school show. It is particularly frustrating as the East-West German conflict is a fertile setting that the series even tries to take advantage of before reverting once again.

The balance admittedly improves a bit and begins to move away from paper thin stereotypical characterisations in later episodes, but not sufficiently to convince you to stick with the series if you are not on board quickly. Some people will be put off by the fanservice as well, no matter how much they try to justify its presence in universe, as the camera roams. Viewers may also want to keep an index as nonsensical jargon is thrown around with little context.

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The fight scenes are fairly well done, but the presumed gravitas of the conflict is somewhat undermined when your main enemy is a battalion of leaping hairy ballsacks and other phallic monsters. Actually that doesn’t sound too bad. It is still a kick to the crotch, however, if you are trying to convince people to take this anime as seriously as these teens take their war.


Contributors in Alphabetical Order:

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This article was a collaboration by several people of the Ani-TAY community on Talk Amongst Yourselves. You can join the fun on our Sunday Cafes or by posting your own articles on Kinja with the Ani-TAY tag.


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