Once again it is that time of the season, where AniTAYers deliver unto thee glad tidings and quality recommendations! [What do you mean the tidings are too early and the recommendations are late? Shut up.]
Many of us have found ourselves overwhelmingly preoccupied this season, and for the ensuing delay we apologise. I have already set various metal implements on the brazier in preparation for next season, it’s cold these days after all.
This season is predominantly one of sequels, with 5 making the list compared to only 6 new shows. Notably, however, 3 more new shows have made it on as Honourable Mentions, having select merit in their favour yet critical aspects arrayed against them. Also, we have one Dishonourable Mention, a first, for a show which was strenuously argued for despite its flaws, as surely the show would have to address these issues going on. They’re too critical to the plot to just abandon... Yeah, not so much. Never assume, people.
The shows below are presented in no particular order, apart from One Punch Man being first, because One Punch Man is first. I would also like to thank Stanlick [Staaableeeeek] for providing the awesome header.
Note: Your favorite show of the season may not be on our list - you can’t please everyone - but as this collaboration involves voting and discussion among the authors at every step in the (very involved) process, we’ve found it’s the truest way to present this particular community’s take on the anime worth watching. Knowing that, please try to leave comments that are more productive than “No (anime)??”
The 6 New Shows To Watch:
One Punch Man
Written by: Unimplied
Genre: Action, Superhero, Parody
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Saitama is a “hero for fun” with the ultimate plot device: he can end a fight (no matter how big or small) with a single punch. Despite his aspiration to be a world-renowned hero, he never receives credit for his actions because of his plain appearance.
Instead, his self-proclaimed disciple, Genos, receives the praise and glory because of his compelling background as a cyborg, flashy problem-solving, and traditionally heroic appearance.
One-Punch Man takes place in a world where disasters are commonplace and cities are expendable to the point where each is assigned a letter instead of name. With this bleak, utilitarian setting, the series promises a no-holds-barred, action-packed adventure that follows a surprisingly relatable hero.
Why You Should Be Watching: For every show where you’ve seen the protagonist try, fail, and try again, there’s always the question of “what now?” after they achieve their goal. One-Punch Man flips that formula: Saitama is already the strongest, so what’s there left to do? This problem weighs heavily on Saitama, along with his unemployment, as he struggles to be taken seriously and recognized as a hero. He doesn’t have a tragic backstory (unless you count going bald), he just does what he can for fun.
Saitama’s internal struggles aside, the show is a brutal parody of the genre; it runs away from the typical action-show drama and fleshes out the other minor characters—namely the antagonists— to a ridiculous degree. Don’t get too attached to your favorite villain, they could be gone within the same episode.
Studio Madhouse has done an unbelievable job living up to the source material the series is based on. It’s a delight to watch and the level of detail in the animation cannot be described as anything short of incredible. Whether it’s the fast-paced action sequences, hilarious dialogue, or bizarre situations, One-Punch Man is the show that you’ll be waiting for all week.
Recommended by: EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken, Maelwys, Morie, Protonstorm, Raitzeno, RockmanDash12, RyomaNagare, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza, Unimplied
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
Written by: MementoMorie
Genre: Mystery, Psychological Thriller, Sci-fi
Spoiler-free synopsis: The Perfect Insider is an adaptation of Hiroshi Mori’s 1996 Mephisto Prize-winning novel of the same name. The serial killer mystery follows the intertwined stories of three characters: Sōhei Saikawa, an associate professor, Moe Nishinosono, the daughter of Saikawa’s late mentor, and Shiki Magata, a genius programmer and recluse. While on a college trip to the island where Dr. Magata’s labs are located, Saikawa and Moe become bystanders in a murder case. As details are slowly revealed, it becomes clear that the answers to the case lie not only in what actually occurred, but in the pasts and psyches of all three main characters.
Why you should be watching: While a good old-fashioned murder mystery can be a thing of beauty, The Perfect Insider offers something rarer, and perhaps, better: a well-paced and mature character study. This isn’t a procedural or a tale of Holmes style geniuses solving crimes with wit and finesse. The murder mystery serves as mostly context for three damaged, misunderstood, and self-isolating characters to explore why they see the world the way they do. While Saikawa and Moe are often unlikable, they aren’t unsympathetic and their flaws are ones you find in people. Moe especially is fully realized and vulnerable. The show’s writing also tends to be self-aware about how obnoxious its characters can be. Shiki Magata is an enigma of a character that you can’t help but want to crack, while the writing itself cautions viewers against putting her on a pedestal. There are some very clever bits of playing with different perspectives and the idea of the unreliable narrator, too.
Oh, and the actual mystery is pretty fun. This is definitely a show made for swapping notes and theories with your friends. There’s more that can be said about The Perfect Insider – about how it handles some very dark topics with fitting nuance and creepiness, about Inio Asano’s distinctive but understated character designs - it’s really an anime that’s best to discover on your own, though. Its slower pace may turn some viewers off, but if you’re looking to stop and mull things over, this is your show.
Recommended by: EvenSteven, Grex, Kinksy, Koda, Maelwys, Meph, Morie, Protonstorm, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Available on: Crunchyroll.
Written by: EvenSteven
Genre: Action, Mecha, Military
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Qwenthur and Havia are two soldiers in a battlefield dominated by giant heavy tanks called “Objects.” When they manage to destroy one through a combination of fast thinking and luck, they are tasked by the military to take on more cases involving Objects and the enemy forces that rely so heavily on them.
Why You Should Be Watching: Seeing two soldiers use their quick wits and materials on hand to destroy a 50-foot tank is fascinating to watch, and the rest of the show is certainly not lacking in tank-on-tank action. The constantly changing locales are also a nice diversion as the team travels to battlefields ranging from snowy mountains to scorching deserts.
There are a couple divisive points worth mentioning. Heavy Object feels the need to explain everything. While a lot of information can be helpful, at times the show comes across as too exposition heavy. Fanservice is also a major point of interest and some scenes are so ridiculously over-the-top that they make Monster Musume look tame by comparison.
Recommended by: EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, Kinksy, Maelwys, Protonstorm, RockmanDash12, Stanlick
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Written by: Koda
Genre: Action, Drama, Mecha, Military, Science Fiction, Space
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: Over 300 years after the Calamity War, a great conflict between Earth and Mars, Mars has been terraformed and colonized. However, the people on Mars crave freedom from Earth, as even though most of Mars’ nations are autonomous, the planet still depends on Earth for economic development. In this environment a young orphan named Mikazuki “Mika” Augus is part of a group of other castaway children, many of them orphans or child soldiers, who work for a civilian security company called Chryse Guard Security. They are entrusted with protecting Kudelia Aina Bernstein, a young woman with political power trying to help secure the nation of Chryse’s independence from Earth. One day, the CGS base is attacked by members of Gjallarhorn, a military organization from Earth, who are trying to capture Kudelia. During this attack, the leader of the children, Orga Itsuka, leads them in a rebellion against the adult members of CGS who fled, leaving them behind as decoys to fight Gjallarhorn. It was in this skirmish with Gjallarhorn that Mika started using an ancient relic from the Calamity War: the Gundam Barbatos.
Why You Should Be Watching: Iron-Blooded Orphans is already one of the better mecha series in recent memory, with the potential to possibly be the best one in years. The series is also a much needed shot in the arm for the Gundam franchise, which has had a few stumbles in recent times. The show doesn’t hold back on many of its topics, such as the use of child soldiers. It also has several well-written characters that defy the general expectations for their character archetypes. For example, Kudelia is one of the most fleshed out “princess” characters in a mecha show in ages. Additionally, the battles are intense and well choreographed, leaving some mystery as to how they will play out. Iron-Blooded Orphans is also a gorgeous series, with very few animation mistakes so far, and some stunning visual effects. The real key to Iron-Blooded Orphans, though, is its world building. Mari Okada is going to great lengths to establish a fully fleshed out futuristic world. The clincher is that Iron-Blooded Orphans is so far one of the best series to get into the Gundam franchise with, as it is not connected to the rest of the franchise, and thus has no required viewing.
Recommended by: EvenSteven, Grex, Koda, RockmanDash12, RyomaNagare, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Written by: Gugsy
Genre: Comedy, Parody, “Anime at one’s own responsibility”
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: The Matsuno sextuplets, led by the oldest, Osomatsu, are ecstatic to hear that on the 80th birthday of their creator, Fujio Akatsuka, their 1960s anime is being rebooted for today’s audiences. Yet, they quickly find that the gags they’ve always done don’t translate well enough, and they wonder how they’re going to be popular. They try many tactics to increasingly disastrous results, until they find themselves back at square one. Ten years later (in-anime), the Matsuno sextuplets are now adults, yet lazier than ever, and still without a clue about how to be popular.
Why You Should Be Watching: That Legendary First Episode. (RIP Episode 1*)
I’m being told that I can’t just end it here. If the most meta and parody driven episode in recent history isn’t enough (*So much so, that the episode has been pulled from streaming sites and will not be in the DVD/Bluray release due to strict Japanese copyright laws. You’ll have to find other means...) then know that Osomatsu-san is directed by the same guy, Yoichi Fujita, who has done a large part of Gintama. You’ll see a lot of similarities in joke styles between the two: parodies, silly humor, 4th wall breaking, etc. Episodes can vary from rapid fire jokes, to long skits that take up half an episode, and the voice actors for the sextuplets is an all-star cast with legendary characters under their belt. From the oldest, Osomatsu, to the youngest, Todomatsu, these guys have brought such characters as: Shougo Makishima, Tatsuya-sama, Araragi Koyomi, Lelouch Lamperouge, Shizuo Heiwajima, and Chinese Electric Batman Hei to life. And in so doing, we get to see the antics of six awful people and get to laugh along with, as well as at them when they get their just desserts. (Edit: It is being reported that the third episode of Osomatsu-san will also be partially altered for similar copyright issues due to a parody of a popular children’s show. In more recent episodes, Osomatsu has strayed away from parody and sticking to more comedic bits, probably because of these issues they are having)
Recommended by: Gugsy, Koda, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Available on: Crunchyroll.
Sakurako-san no Ashimoto ni wa Shitai ga Umatteiru | Beautiful Bones - Sakurako’s Investigation -
Written by: Ascendant - Izanagi, MementoMorie
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Japanese Anime CSI. That’s what Beautiful Bones is. Our MC, Shoutarou Tatewaki, has become involved with a bone-loving (not that way, perverts) lady called Sakurako Kujou, and follows her as she goes on investigations mostly pertaining to bones, bones, and more bones.
Why You Should Be Watching: Beautiful Bones is an anime that holds the title of “one of a kind.” What other anime is similar? Yes, it’s pretty similar to a lot of other mystery anime, but I feel the main distinction is in the details. Beautiful Bones uses real world forensic science to work out the mysteries behind the deaths, and the fact that they don’t place emphasis on the “whodunnit” part of the mystery and instead focuses on the “how” is another great way to distinguish itself from its peers. One problem would be because of the same reason it’s good. The simple fact is, Beautiful Bones is hard to really get. To be honest, half the time I’m watching it while also doing something else, and I don’t feel I’m missing anything. There simply isn’t enough development as of right now to make me feel invested in the story, which is episodic; nor in the characters, which are honestly lackluster.
Keeping in mind that this is a mystery, don’t expect any flashy action pieces. Beautiful Bones is all about finding out the truth behind the remains, and it’s accompanied by some above average visuals and sound. It’s definitely worth giving a try, especially if you enjoy mystery anime.
Morie: While the formula of Beautiful Bones may not be reinventing the wheel, it does some things that really stand out in the landscape of anime; namely its protagonist, Sakurako. Anime doesn’t have a dearth of smart, misanthropic men, but it’s relatively rare to see a female character fill this role. Although Sakurako is beautiful - think more mature, way less moe Victorique from GOSICK - and Shoutaro is certainly attracted to her, she’s never made into a fanservice character. Instead, the focus is on her intelligence and competence that runs circles around everyone she meets. Her refreshing character makes the whole show stand out among episodic mysteries.
Recommended by: Ascendant, Kinksy, Maelwys, Morie, Protonstorm, RockmanDash12, Stanlick
Available on: Crunchyroll.
The 5 Sequels To Watch:
Haikyu!! Season 2
Written by: Krakken
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Shounen, Sports
Spoiler Free Synopsis: The resurgent Karasuno High School’s volleyball team is ready for more action. With the spring tournament behind them, and a new one ahead, Karasuno realizes that they need to evolve their play during the summer if they want their shot at the championship. With a new manager on board, and fire in their eyes, will Karasuno fly high at last?
Why you should be watching: Haikyu!! is a rare sports anime that manages to do so much. It combines excellent characterization, excitement of its volleyball battles, and emotionally charged pacing into one show in such a way that every step of their journey feels important. Every small battle, from learning new skills and facing new rivals, to acclimating to their new manager, feels momentous, giving cause for great exuberance, hysterical laughter, real dread, and so much more. Haikyu is a show that doesn’t drag its heels, but rather makes genuine progress every episode. It’s a show that for me (and others from AniTAY) is one of the biggest hype shows to watch every week, and one that has not failed to fire on every cylinder that made the first season so great.
Recommended by: Ascendant, Dexomega, Grex, Koda, Krakken, RockmanDash12, RyomaNagare, Stanlick
Both Seasons Available on: Crunchyroll.
Utawarerumono: The False Faces (MASKS)
Written by: Meph
Genre: Fantasy, Comedy
Spoiler Free Synopsis: A man wakes up in the middle of a snowy plain, with no recollection of who he is or how he got there. He is rescued by a young woman from a fearsome creature who attacks him as as he wanders the plain. After treating his wounds and finding out about his amnesia, she decides to take him in and act as his guardian. She is a wandering merchant and the story follows the adventures they and others they meet have along the way.
Utawarerumono the False Faces is based on the second game in the Utawarerumono series and is a sequel to the first game and anime of the series. While it is a sequel, no knowledge of the first anime/game is needed to enjoy this one.
Why You Should Be Watching: The Japanese have proven time and time again that they can do something Western media cannot, which is to make a great show based on a video game. They are able to extract great characters and a good setting from the game, and tell a story that keeps you engaged. Utawarerumono the False Faces is a great example of this.
The biggest strength of Utawarerumono is its characters. The main character, Haku, has a bit of the anti-hero about him. While he is nice, he is not your typical white knight. He is lazy and a bit weak, but has a sharp mind and puts it to good use when motivated. While Haku is the main character, the one that really steals the show is his female travelling companion and guardian, Kuon. Kuon is bright, sharp and independant and is a strong female character that can stand on her own. She can also be slightly devilish and when she is angry will kick your ass with a smile on her face. The others in the cast have their own unique personalities as well.
These characters play off each other very well and their interactions brings about one of the other strengths of the show, its comedy. Utawererumono is packed with great comedic interactions between the characters, especially the two main characters Haku and Kuon. The comedic moments feel like they naturally fit into the story and the comedy never feels mean-spirited or at the expense of a character.
Finally, the best reason for watching Utawarerumono is that it is a fun anime that leaves you with a smile on your face. Sometimes you need a break from feels, gritty or thought provoking anime and just want to watch something that is thoroughly entertaining and leaves you feeling good.
Recommended by: Exile, Koda, Meph, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Written by: Grex
Genre: Action, Adventure, Supernatural
Spoiler Free Synopsis: In modern Japan, traditional gods are alive and well. They deal with pesky Phantoms, take wandering spirits under their wing as Regalia, and otherwise just generally live their lives. The first season of Noragami introduced us to our main characters - Yato, the penniless god of calamity, along with his teen Regalia Yukine and the human school girl Hiyori. Thus far, Aragoto has focused on the conflict between Yato and Bishamon, a war god with whom he has a more than troubled past. The story quickly escalates beyond mere tension, as Regalia die, Bishamon’s forces fracture, and Yato’s friends fall under attack, all of which pushes the brewing hostility between the two gods to its breaking point.
Why You Should Be Watching: The strained relationship between Yato and Bishamon has always been a focus of Noragami, and that seed is now bearing fruit. If the first season of the series was the setup, Aragoto is the payoff, and a damn satisfying payoff at that. Prior characters and plot threads are coming to fruition in a way that is nothing less than riveting. The stakes feel higher, the action is as solid as ever, and the strong cast of gods and mortals ties the whole thing together into a very engaging package. Even as someone who thought the original season was only fine, Aragoto has managed to pull me in and command my attention. This is Noragami at its best.
Recommended by: Ascendant, Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Maelwys, Meph, Morie, Protonstorm, RockmanDash12, RyomaNagare, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza, Unimplied
Both Seasons Available on: Funimation.
Written by: RockmanDash12
Genre: Mystery, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Owarimonogatari is another arc in the popular Monogatari series, dealing with aberrations that our protagonist Koyomi Araragi encounters. This time, the anime focuses on the new transfer student Ougi Oshino and the issues that ensue with her arrival.
Why You Should Be Watching: The Monogatari series is one that has become well known for its masterful use of dialogue that’s constantly engaging throughout, helped by the artsy visuals from Studio Shaft, and Owarimonogatari continues this. It’s not for everyone, as it’s not the friendliest for those who haven’t watched a lot of anime or have a distaste towards otaku culture, but for those who like it or have enjoyed Monogatari in the past, definitely give it a shot. Owarimonogatari is one of the best in the series thus far, handling its themes and characters with style.
Recommended by: Dexomega, Meph, RockmanDash12, Stanlick
Current Season Available on: Crunchyroll, Daisuki.
Other Season’s Info, in Order: Bakemonogatari, Nisemonogatari, Nekomongatari, Monogatari Series Second Season, Hanamonogatari, and Tsukimonogatari, are available on Crunchyroll. Many are also on Hulu, and some are on Daisuki. (Yeah, there’s a lot).
Yuru Yuri San☆Hai
Written by: Stanlick
Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life
Spoiler-free Synopsis: What are you supposed to do when you’re planning to start a club, but don’t know what it should be about? The answer is simple: make the club description as vague as possible, yet fun-sounding at the same time! The girls of Yuru Yuri saw that the old Tea Club room was unoccupied, so they decided to form a brand new club and came across the problem just mentioned. Their answer: the Amusement Club - a club whose only purpose is to have fun. However, there is a problem for anyone outside of the club. The members will stop at nothing to fulfil this purpose. Also, you’re not ready for this.
Why You Should Be Watching: Yuru Yuri is a comedy that makes its jokes using familiar bases, but it’s unique because it deliberately provides the blocks needed to viably interpret it from psychological perspective. It leaves you laughing at the situations, but you’ll often find yourself thinking that what you just saw might have actually been the dream of one of the characters who might not even exist in the first place. You can either enjoy the show for its comedy and funny character relations, or you can actually ask why everyone keeps forgetting about the main character. Why are there no males in the show, period? How come the characters do the same activities every year as if they’re in a loop? At what point did time travel nonchalantly enter the mix? Who really is Akari?
Recommended by: Stanlick
All Seasons Available on: Crunchyroll.
Written by: Gugsy, Ryoma Nagare
Genre: Action, Superhero, Science Fiction, Drama
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: Set in an alternate-universe Japan 20 years after the war, all kinds of “Super-humans” live amongst the “regular” population: Aliens, ghosts, cyborgs, kaiju/beasts, and magical girls straight out of Japanese lore. Some of them live as heroes, protecting the populace from threats, while others hide their identities. The government has created the Superhuman Bureau to find, protect, and administrate over these people. Over time, tensions have risen and certain organizations are starting to operate against super-humans and the Bureau.
Why You Should Be Watching: Concrete has a feel similar to Gatchaman Crowds regarding the tensions between Super-humans within the rest of society but it also has themes similar to “The Watchmen” where we see these heroes doing great things, and also the consequences of said actions afterwards. The world Concrete is set in also evokes a lot of similarities to Alan Moore’s work, only with Japanese characters while broadly deconstructing a lot of tropes that other “Super-Human” anime do. At the same time, everything that’s happening in the show has real life corollaries with events that happened in Japan during the 1940s, 1960s and 1970s. (The war is a clear reference to WW2, and a musical performance in a recent episode is hinted at being the Beatles, for example) Each week, we spend some time with different types of heroes and monsters, exploring several themes related to those heroes and monsters. Simultaneously, the show is slowly unraveling bits and pieces of this tumultuous time for the Bureau. There’s a central mystery going on around the main character, Jiro Hitoyoshi, and his future relationships with several Bureau members, and many factions outside and also within the Bureau are starting to show that not all is as it seems. Where we the viewers are at right now, the plot is very intriguing and hints that something big is about to happen that will change the Bureau and the lives of Super-humans forever.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: The writer and director have chosen to tell this story in a non-linear fashion, which works to keep each episode contained towards the superhumans and themes of that episode. However, a central tenet of most non-linear stories is to keep it simple so as to not confuse the viewer, and Concrete has chosen to make the plot as hard to follow as possible. Only brief flashes on screen of written text gives us clues as to when we are supposed to be. In the same episode, we may start in July, flashback to January of the same year, come back to August, then move to October the following year. But don’t forget that in previous episodes, we have scenes between those August and October dates that have effects! This is an anime that you’ll have to pay a large amount of attention to just to keep up with the story. Hopefully in the end, all this work will pay off but in the meantime it feels as if the writer got a bit too ambitious, and so Concrete is hard to recommend.
Available on: Funimation.
Written by: Protonstorm, Pizza
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Mecha, Action
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: If there is one thing Sogo Amagi learned from his deceased mother, it would be that diamonds are forever. After hard day’s work looking for gems, Sogo returns home only to get wrapped up his friend, Kaon’s crazy new scheme of becoming a run away bride. Unfortunately for Sogo and Kaon, the flamboyant groom in question is a doofus and accidentally knocks the unlucky duo off the road and into a deep dark pit known as trouble. Stuck who knows how far underground, Sogo and Kaon try to find their way back to 50 feet above sea level, only to find an under ground lake with the biggest brilliant gem Sogo has ever seen, but then the giant crystal turns into a girl, Felia. Even worse, a mysterious organization wishes to capture the future member of Jem and harness her powers and Sogo happens to be in the way. Thus, Sogo must learn to use Felia’s power to protect himself and those around him.
Why You Should be Watching: Comet Lucifer has a great initial appeal in its celestial aesthetic style and its futuristic setting. The early stages of the series seem to set up for a mecha anime with both government-controlled machines as well as the mysterious robot-like creature Sogo discovers underground, and the interest of seemingly multiple factions in the magically powerful girl Felia is an interesting, impending conflict. While the series has not yet reached its climax, the dazzlingly advanced setting and amusing character interactions are fun to watch, and along with the excellent opening theme by the band fhana they prepare nicely for what might be one of the better shows this season.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Admittedly, I actually like Comet Lucifer quite a bit, but the show also has many flaws that could make it unappealing to most people. For starters, the tone of the series is fairly eclectic because it has a habit of jumping between light subject matter to the main characters getting pursued by a pedophilic mega hacker with little build up. This tonal whiplash often makes it feel like the show is forcing itself to contort in a specific way to create fantastic action scenes.
Though these actions scenes may be worth the payoff, the mess made to get there makes the entire story feel like a collage. The anime starts off strong by quickly introducing the main characters, antagonists, and the overarching story within 2 episodes, but after this it starts to falter. Within the next few episodes, we’re introduced to a myriad of new characters and we’re given barely enough time to digest their place in the world and how their actions will impact the world around them. With so many element that are barely fleshed out, it can be quite difficult to grasp what the heck is going on in Comet Lucifer and why it matters.
Comet Lucifer is a show that places its scenes above its story. Everything in the show is dedicated to making a fun and interesting action scene, but with so much attention focused on this one aspect, the scenes between these action scenes become sloppy. The story behind the show is messy and the fluctuating tone can be a turn-off, but if you can overlook these flaws, you might have a good time with this show.
Available on: Crunchyroll.
Chivalry of a Failed Knight
Written by: Exile, Morie
Genre: Magic High School, Action, Ecchi, Harem
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Returning to his room after a typical run, a black-haired swordsman opens the door upon a pink-haired girl clad only in skimpy lingerie, caught in the process of getting changed. Ikki Kurogane has encountered Stella Vermillion. As it turns out, the two have been assigned as roommates, as Stella has just transferred to the academy where the story occurs; a place of training for those individuals who can manifest a weapon from their souls, known as “Blazers”. Still incensed, Stella challenges Ikki to a duel where the loser will serve the winner for life (she’s a princess, it’s how they think). Perhaps surprisingly, Ikki accepts. Surprisingly, as he is known as the “Worst One” due to his scores and ranking in the school, whilst Stella is ranked at the highest level. This marks the start of the relationship between these two seemingly-contrasting individuals and the challenges both will face.
Why You Should Be Watching: Yes, it’s yet another Magic Highschool show, with a similar colour pallette and involving the ‘seemingly’ weak beating the strong, but Chivalry manages to forge its own identity from these oh-so common tropes, arguably making it distinct from the rest of the glut in material if not in origin. There’s a certain charm to Chivalry sometimes: for example, after the typical walking-in-on-girl-changing scene outlined above, Ikki’s immediate reaction is to strip himself so things would be fair. Dumb, but characterful. And the characters are what carry the show. Ikki is your typical underdog-but-highly-skilled protag, but he really is flawed and those flaws come out in the story. He’s so used to being maligned, so expectant of being hurt, that that bias causes him to overlook ways of acting which might avoid it. Stella is lonely and insecure, craving human contact (in many ways) and the relationship between these two is far from the typical stupid harem BS so often found. This is not a harem show, despite the trappings. They confess their mutual attraction pretty early on, and from that point actively avoid most of the unnecessary drama that populates these kind of shows, allowing for a more realistic immaturity and growth that teens learning about each other can express. (A screaming match about how they both want the same thing and why are they fighting, for example). Another character, Alice, is a laudable presence as a transgender woman whose status simply isn’t a big deal; after the initial “You’re a guy?” “On the outside” she is treated by the material as a female without any raised eyebrows. That said, there is as much poor about this show as the things which deserve to be celebrated for their scarcity. For example, note I said there “the material” and not “the show”. In many ways this is a poor adaptation, in addition to the usual flaws these shows habitually include. Morie?
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: I’m not going to deny the existence of the good points Exile brought up about Chivalry. The romantic leads seem to, shockingly, respect each other as people and there is a surprising amount of straightforward conversations between the two. And yes, I did laugh when Ikki decides to strip for equality. But here’s the thing. These factors (uh, stripping aside) should be givens and bare minimums for a show to throw our endorsement behind. “But Morie,” you say, “so few anime have those things.” While it is unfortunate that many shows lack romantic development and mutual respect, that’s not a reason to lower standards for what makes a “worthwhile” anime. For everything Chivalry does well, it does something stupid - often in quick succession. The episode with the most touching romantic progression is also the episode that begins with Stella being naked in a locker room for...reasons? Chivalry has a way of shooting itself in the foot and demeaning the good things it does do. Ultimately, if you must watch one magic high school anime this season, you might as well go with Chivalry, but it’s not like the bar has been set very high.
I’d (Exile) like to add my own part here quickly by specifically calling out the ED. Whilst I consider the OP for Chivalry one of the best and most stylish of the season, the ED is the exact opposite. For no thematic or acceptable artistic reason, the visuals of the ending involve the four main biologically-female cast members completely naked on a background of roses, aside from their respective blades and some strategically-located petals. Not only is this entirely gratuitous, but it also manages to greatly undermine the source material’s treatment of Alice, as a non-biological female who is not present. This is sadly just the worst example of the anime altering the material in pandering and shallow ways, where both Alice and others are involved. Many of the most egregious faults the anime has are specific to the adaptation, which is sadly a trend which is showing no sign of diminishing as the popularity of non-original productions continues. Speaking of which...
Available on: Hulu.
Gakusen Toshi Asterisk
Written by: Raitzeno
Genre: Action, Ecchi, Light Novel, Magic, Sci-Fi, School
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: The children of the Starpulse Generation, known as the Genestella. The Academy City, Rikka, known as Asterisk. Intense magical combat tournaments, known as Festas. The cast, the stage and the event have all been set. But our heroes, the transfer student Amagiri Ayato and the princess Julis-Alexia von Riessfield, form an unlikely duo that will take the stage by storm! Each having their own personal goals in both the Festas and the school, Ayato and Julis aim for the championships together.
Why You Almost Should Have Been Watching: Asterisk comes from a pretty decent pedigree. The light novel it’s adapting is pretty entertaining, and it’s got this flashy sci-fi aesthetic that sets it apart from most of the fantasy-based magic high schools recently; Irregular had this too. I was expecting great things from it.
When the show first started, I was actually pretty pumped. They NAILED the art style and they had fantastic sound direction, giving the world a really neat futuristic feel. There were flaws, yeah, but I knew what was coming and was willing to look past them for a few episodes. The opening and ending themes are both great. At least a few of the characters (like Yabuki, and especially Saya!) were lots of fun and could bring the other somewhat generic cast members along for the ride. It should have all worked out, right? Well...
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching After All: ... Yeah, it hasn’t worked out. I think the underlying problem is that the show’s target audience is fans of the LN, so it focused on flashy fights and fanservice. Unfortunately, in their rush to animate the scenes they liked, or thought fans liked, they forgot to make an engaging anime for people unfamiliar with the source material. The conversations are awkward and stilted, the ‘main’ characters, Ayato and Julis, are honestly pretty boring, and they really don’t bother to explain a goddamned thing, ever.
From the perspective of a fan of the LN, they’ve dropped the ball in ways the general viewer will never know about, and it’s a major disappointment that they’ve flubbed the adaptation so badly. They’ve skipped major plot points, they’ve failed to show off the world around them, and they’ve gone with some of the most cringeworthy camera angles possible over and over and over for scenes at a time.
From the perspective of the general public, it’s even worse. The lack of worldbuilding leaves you wondering if you were supposed to care about these other schools, let alone the side characters in their own. The fanservice has been horrendous, especially on the youngest cast member. The fight scenes, which should have been major highlights, are pretty but unsubstantial. This is partly because they don’t explain anything and partly because, well, the fight choreography blows. Overall it feels shallow at best and pretty damn stupid at worst.
The show has consistently failed in basically every aspect, and the few redeeming features are VASTLY overshadowed by Chivalry of a Failed Knight, which still deserves to be an honorable mention this season. I have been an Asterisk apologist the whole season up till this week (episode 7) and I just cannot defend it anymore. It’s failed me, and it will fail you, and for that I can no longer recommend it.
Contributors in Alphabetical Order:
- Ascendant - Izanagi
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.