Greetings, and welcome once again to the seasonal effort we at AniTAY make to demonstrate how much our tastes
conflict agree with your own. It’s a season to move you this time—be it by rail, through the air, along the road with the wind rushing past you, back to the past, or just with the power of music victory. (Translation note: Katsu means victory cutlet). You’ll always have a shoulder to lean be carried on, though. So long as you don’t get lost in the mountains. Or in space. Or in your own mind.
The shows this time around have ranged from markedly divisive, with three Honourable Mentions creating strife within the community, to the unarguably well-received. Flying Witch has demonstrated levels of chill heretofore unknown since Aria blessed the world (I’m really looking forward to Amanchu next season) whilst Kabaneri of the Iron
Curtain Fortress shows that, yes, Attack on Titan can be done well. Just not by Attack on Titan. (Come at me.)
We also have two Trigger shows this time around, one full-length effort showing Trigger’s attempt at making an emo band, and one where Trigger have stopped pretending entirely and gone Full Trigger.
So, without further stalling, sudden rain
storms checks, or requiring the Stig to clean up after us (it’s not the Stig; it’s the Stig’s anime schoolgirl cousin), we shall make the mundane awesome and move to the recommendations!
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress - [Koutetsujou no Kabaneri]
Written by: Stanlick (Also responsible for the header image - Exile)
Genre: Action, Drama, Fantasy, Horror
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Set in a steampunk-based alternate world, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress depicts the lives of people and societies decades, or possibly centuries, after a zombie apocalypse. The virus’s origination, and what happened in the years between then and current times are unknown, but the zombies, otherwise known as Kabane, still roam the world. Humanity has had time to adapt to this threat and have built many small, walled-in cities connected via rail systems used to transport goods and people. These walls are fortified, and so are the trains that travel between them, but the Kabane are relentless. If something goes wrong, that may spell doom for a city, or in the worst case, humanity as a whole. Luckily, one young inventor in particular aims to create weapons that will assist in the defensive killing of Kabane. Kabaneri’s story begins with him.
Why You Should Be Watching: What happens when you take the studio that brought you Attack on Titan, and have them animate an original script written by the creator of Code Geass? You get one hell of a solid story fitted with arguably the most beautiful animation and character design in recent times. Kabaneri isn’t just an anime that sounds promising; it’s one that masterfully delivers everything from the fundamentals of animation to the complexities found beyond the story’s surface. It’s a show that is enjoyable because of its beautifully-structured action and well-timed plot execution, but it also leaves room for the viewer to think deeply if they wish to do so. In a sense, it has a certain openness for viewer deductibility while maintaining a fast pace. It delves heavily into the nature of humans and their thought processes when pushed into a corner. For instance, what do you do when everyone else has turned on you, even if you’re innocent of their accusations? Or, how can two opposing parties trust each other when forced to work together? No matter what your tastes are, and no matter what you look to gain by watching anime, Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress is sure to hold your attention.
Recommended by: Exile, Grex, Gugsy, jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, Nomadic Dec, Neryl, Protonstorm, Requiem, Ryoma Nagare, Shade, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Written by: Thatsmypizza
Genre: Comedy, Magic, Shounen, Slice of Life, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: 15-year-old witch Makoto Kowata begins her training as a professional witch by moving from Yokohama to Aomori to live with her normal cousins for a time. Although Makoto’s schedule isn’t too different from her cousins, her magical background adds some extra spice to her daily life.
Why You Should Be Watching: Flying Witch is such a great show to watch after a long and stressful day at work. The show has a nice pastoral feel and a slow pace that literally makes you feel all your negative feelings melt off you as continue watching. As you immerse yourself in the chillaxed world of Flying Witch, the show throws a one-two punch of endearing and cute characters to further get you into your happy place. Whether it be pulling weeds to pulling mandrakes, the show approaches its magical and normal parts with the same boundless curiosity and optimism that it’s impossible to not have a good time. If you need an anime to pick you and show you a great time, you can’t go wrong with Flying Witch.
Recommended by: Ascendant-Izanagi, Exile, Grex, Gugsy, jonuiuc, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, Protonstorm, Requiem, Ryoma Nagare, Shade, Stanlick, The Gespenst, Thatsmapizza
Written by: Koda
Genre: Drama, Historical, Military, Mystery, Spy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Lieutenant Colonel Yuuki of the Imperial Japanese Army, who is also a skilled spymaster, founds a spy organization called D-Agency that, through a harsh training regimen, teaches its trainees a variety of combat, espionage, linguistic, and scientific skills, among other helpful tricks. He also drills into his spies three core tenets: “Don’t kill, Don’t get killed, Don’t get captured.” All three of these tenets go against the doctrine of the Imperial Japanese Army. After all is said and done, Yuuki is left with only 8 members of his training course, who are then sent on various deep undercover missions across the globe during the years encompassing World War II.
Why You Should Be Watching: Joker Game is one of the most impressive shows to focus on the Second World War. Not only does the show cover a large swath of locations and time periods, it also focuses on places not usually covered in World War II media, especially by Japan. Much like how D-Agency’s tenets go against IJA doctrine, this show goes against Japan’s rather jingoistic and nationalistic views of their involvement in World War II. For example, the show doesn’t pull its punches showing a glimpse into the Japanese occupation of China, a subject many Japanese people unfortunately like to plug their ears and pretend to not be listening about. As a result, this show is an absolute treat for history buffs, even if there are a few minor inaccuracies relating to certain things and the years they existed. The mere fact many of these things are even touched upon is great. Then there is the spy aspect of the show. Whereas the historical aspect of the show is pretty detailed, and for the most part, really accurate, the show takes more liberties with its espionage thriller side. This is not a mark against the show, as it is still extremely engrossing as a spy show, but the agents of D-Agency are decidedly less James Bond and more, say, Batman in a sweet-looking suit. Whether you are looking for a great look at history or a highly-entertaining, but somewhat silly super-spy thriller, Joker Game has you covered.
Recommended by: Exile, Gugsy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, MaelwysSC113, Nomadic Dec, Ryoma Nagare, Stanlick
My Hero Academia - [Boku no Hero Academia]
Written by: Ryoma Nagare
Genre: Action, Superhero, Shounen
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The appearance of superpowers has turned this world in a place where superheroes and villains are as common as pop idols, revered by the public. Our main protagonist wants to be a hero more than anything; however, as he is part of the minority without a superpower, his path towards superheroics will be a tough one.
Why You Should Be Watching: Based on a newish manga published in Shounen Jump, this show’s been sold like the next Naruto—that is, an action-based vanilla shounen. However, Studio Bones, who are in charge of this adaptation, had other ideas, turning MHA into a fun and emotional journey. Our protagonist and proxy into this world, Midoriya, struggles to fit into a society where not having a power or other outrageous abilities is treated as a disability. His journey will really make you feel for Midoriya, every setback is a tearjerker, and every victory is filled with righteous, boisterous excitement.
The production values are great, as expected from Studio Bones. This means everything is colorful and expressive, with great animation and solid direction. The music soars into great instrumental anthems that will make you believe the hype is real.
PLUS ULTRA! (DETROIT SMASH - Gugsy)
Recommended by: Ascendant-Izanagi, Grex, jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Ryoma Nagare, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- [Re: Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu]
Written by: Shade
Genre: Action, Fantasy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: On the way back from the local convenience store, high school student Subaru Natsuki is suddenly transported to another world and finds himself in a town straight out of your typical fantasy RPG. Burning with excitement, he explores the town, only to be attacked by a group of thugs. To his surprise, he is saved by a mysterious silver-haired girl, and Subaru decides to return the favor by helping the girl search for her stolen insignia. When they finally manage to get a lead, Subaru and the girl are killed before they can find the culprit or insignia. Subaru then awakens in the same place he started, except his injuries are gone and the girl is nowhere to be found. He discovers that by dying, he is able to return to a certain point in time—an ability he dubs “Return by Death”.
Why You Should Be Watching: Re:Zero manages to be impressive due to a number of factors. One of them is the time loop mechanic, where Subaru goes back to a sort of “checkpoint” whenever he dies. You could call him immortal, but he still feels the pain from his repeated deaths and wants to survive. Using time loops as a major plot point could have made the show dull, but it works because whenever Subaru dies and moves on to the next loop, he makes major differences in the actions he takes.
The show has some fantastic art and animation, courtesy of White Fox. Coupled with some solid action sequences, the visuals are a treat to the eyes. Its real innovation, however, is in the direction. Re:Zero excels in using cliffhangers effectively, having a satisfying conclusion for each episode, yet still stops at a point that makes you want to come back next week for more. Also of note is that the show occasionally (not for every episode) cuts the OP and/or ED to squeeze in some extra time for those conclusions to end as they do. This is something that isn’t done very often in anime, and when it is, it isn’t done as much as Re:Zero has so far. It’s a creative risk that benefits the show rather than hindering it.
Re:Zero also succeeds at creating entertaining and likeable characters. Subaru has an eccentric and outgoing personality, and tends to be really positive. With his knowledge of anime and video games, he sometimes pulls out some jokes on common stereotypes in both mediums. But the best humor definitely comes from the snarky comments he receives from some of the supporting cast.
Recommended by: Grex, jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Requiem, Ryoma Nagare, Shade, Stanlick
Written by: Neryl
Genre: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Thriller
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Set in a slowly dying city, Kiznaiver follows a group of high-school students who were chosen to take part in an experimental program—called the Kizna System—that links their minds together, forcing them to feel one another’s pain. These students are forced to join together to complete a series of tests given to them by the Kizna System, and to protect themselves in an effort to avoid danger and pain. Through these tests and struggles, the group learns more about themselves, and about the dwindling city around them.
Why You Should Be Watching: The first thing anyone will notice is that the visuals are fantastic, largely due to Trigger’s involvement. Each character has his or her own unique and distinctive style, making each of them incredibly memorable right from the moment of their introductions. The vibrant colors and the smooth animations make the series worth it for the visual aspect alone.
But apart from the visuals, Kiznaiver’s plot is the perfect storm of odd circumstances. It takes the typical high school setting, placing it in a “dire group situation” plot, and gives it just the right amount of good humor. Rather than the plot being driven by the characters’ situation, however, the main force is character development and interaction. The mystery behind the Kizna System and Sugomori City are instead an interesting aspect that keeps the narrative fresh, but it also gives plenty of excuses to explore the characters further. Admittedly, the city itself is filled with mystery—and it’s certainly something that is intriguing in its own right. But the mystery is completely outshone by a cast of enjoyable characters and light-hearted humor—which certainly isn’t a bad thing.
Truly, it’s hard to go wrong spending time with an anime displaying this level of character development and polish.
Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Neryl, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Ryoma Nagare, Shade, Stanlick, The Gespenst, Thatsmapizza
Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto - [Sakamoto desu ga?]
Written by: Protonstorm
Spoiler-Free Synopsis: Amongst the throngs of boring high school students, there is one who stands out from them all. The girls love him, the boys admire him, the teachers respect him. He’s
Protonstorm Sakamoto, year 1 class 2-B. He’s stunningly handsome and completes even the most mundane tasks with the utmost style. Nothing can stand in the way of Protonstorm’s Sakamoto’s stylish life. However, such perfection comes at a cost, as various people in his life are jealous of his apparent superiority and seek to defeat him.
Why You Should Be Watching: Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto’s premise centers around Sakamoto and his perfect behavior serving as a magnet for mischief makers who seek to best him in some way. Essentially, the show focuses around the visual gag of Sakamoto passing every challenge put in front of him in the most extravagant and stylish ways possible. While the risk inherent in this approach is that the joke can get old, Haven’t You Heard? I’m Sakamoto manages to keep everything fresh through the numerous and surprisingly diverse scenarios that Sakamoto gets thrown into. The catchy soundtrack and amusingly ridiculous behavior of Sakamoto makes for an incredibly entertaining comedy series.
Recommended by: Ascendant-Izanagi, Grex, jonuiuc, Koda, Kristof, Protonstorm, Requiem, Ryoma Nagare, Stanlick, Thatsmapizza
Tanaka-kun Is Always Listless - [Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge]
Written by: Krakken_Unleashed
Genre: Slice of Life, Comedy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The epitome of slothfulness, Tanaka is a high school boy who dreams of nothing less than expending the least amount of energy every day. Helping him in his endeavor is his best friend Ohta, who attempts to keep the lethargic Tanaka healthy and happy. Together, they navigate through the bizarre world of new friendships, school, and everyday life.
Why You Should Be Watching: Tanaka-kun is Always Listless is a peaceful, joyful comedy whose laid-back sensibilities make for an relaxing anime experience. Tanaka and Ohta are an amazing lead pair, with Ohta’s loyal commitment complimenting Tanaka’s adamant listlessness, perfectly making an entertaining and consistently funny bedrock for the show. Add to this the extensive ensemble supporting cast of classmates who are far more nuanced than normal anime stereotypes, and what you have is an incredibly amusing comedy that will just make you smile every time you watch it. Beautifully understated with excellent art, this is not one to miss.
Recommended by: Ascendant-Izanagi, Exile, Grex, Gugsy, Krakken_Unleashed, MaelwysSC113, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Requiem, Shade, Stanlick
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable - [JoJo no Kimyou na Bouken: Diamond wa Kudakenai]
Written by: Grex
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Shounen, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Josuke Higashikata is just your normal teenager with a gorgeous hairdo, living an ordinary life in the town of Morioh. Well, except the fact that he can summon a Stand, a supernatural personification of his soul. Oh, and his father’s grandson is around, this guy calling himself Jotaro Kujo, who has a Stand of his own. Right, and there’s been this string of murders, involving some artifact called the Bow and Arrow, which is somehow connected to a man named Dio. It’s probably important to mention that a bunch of enemy Stand users are popping up, too, most of them eager to attack Josuke and his friends with their insane abilities for one reason or another. Hm, that’s not an ordinary life at all. Really, that’s downright bizarre. Some might even go so far as to call that the beginning of yet another bizarre adventure.
Why You Should be Watching: It’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure.
What, you need more than that? Fine. I would describe Diamond is Unbreakable as a breath of the old and a breadth of the new. Besides the perfectly over-the-top personalities, creative Stand battles, and awesome ending theme that we’ve all come to expect from JoJo, this season builds on what came before to create a highly-entertaining package right off the bat. Unlike Stardust Crusaders, whose plot meandered and slowed once it settled into the routine of weekly battles, DiU has so far managed to constantly keep things fresh with routine introductions of new characters and developments, while maintaining the gleefully stupid (or perhaps wonderful) charm that the series has been known for. What’s more, DiU is even aesthetically a notch above its predecessors, making constant use of interesting scene transitions and eye-catching color work (although the art style itself can be a somewhat jarring change from seasons past). Chances are, if you’re a JoJo fan, you’re already watching this, but if you aren’t, there’s really no reason to wait any longer.
Recommended by: Grex, Gugsy, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, Neryl, Shade, The Gespenst
Concrete Revolutio: Choujin Gensou - THE LAST SONG
Written by: Kristof
Genre: Supernatural, Drama, Action
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Taking place in an alternate version of post-WWII Japan, one filled with all manners of supernatural creatures and individuals, Concrete Revolutio follows the exploits of the Superhuman Bureau, an organization created to regulate all those with special powers, protecting them and keeping them from the public eye if they are found harmless or helpful, eliminating them if they are deemed a danger to the nation. But the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and those who were once friends now find each other as enemies, both fighting for a peace that none know how to obtain.
Why You Should Be Watching: When you first see Concrete Revolutio, it is impossible to miss its beautiful pop-art inspired visuals, but what makes the show truly stand out is the cavalcade of interesting multidimensional characters contained within, that are just as varied and vibrant as the color palette being used by the animators. The show also makes great use of the setting that the characters are placed into, corresponding in time with our own cold war. It was an era of great technological change and sociopolitical upheaval, one made all the more complex and chaotic with the addition of super-powers thrown into the mix. Taking a much more linear approach to storytelling than the first season, The Last Song utilizes the dynamic and history built up between the characters during the previous arc to create a compelling and unique narrative, without relying on many of the tropes and clichés you often find in the medium. It is surprising how nuanced ConRev can be in regard to its themes of social justice, political freedom, and national safety, all while a bombastic cacophony of both sight and sound assaults its viewers. This is a show that revels in being different.
Recommended by: Gugsy, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, Ryoma Nagare, Thatsmapizza
Ushio and Tora 2 - [Ushio to Tora 2]
Written by: Requiem
Genre: Shounen, Action, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Behold, Season 2 of the adventures of centuries-old tiger-demon-thing Tora and his partner/prospective lunch, rough-hewn hothead-with-a-heart-of-gold Ushio, master of the uber-MacGuffin Beast Spear. This second season picks up immediately from where the first left off, with our heroes headed towards the home stretch in the battle against the minions and machinations of big bad (and owner of one of the creepiest faces in anime) Hakumen no Mono.
Why You Should Be Watching: The hot 90’s-style shounen goodness from U&T continues, with everything you loved about season 1 still intact. With a solid roster of likeable characters, fantastic action set pieces, kinetic fight scenes, and excellent animation with that nostalgic 90’s character design (featuring some of the most expressive faces in recent memory), Ushio & Tora remains a damn good time. The show dials back the comedy somewhat in favor of a bit more drama, and the narrative heads into some interesting and unexpected directions while always keeping you invested in our hero’s struggle against the seemingly overwhelming odds. It’s shounen in its purest form, and it’s awesome.
Recommended by: Grex, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, Requiem
Space Patrol Luluco - [Uchuu Patrol Luluco]
Written by: Gugsy
Genre: Action, Comedy, Space, JUSTICE
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Our titular Luluco lives in Ogikubo, where she lives with her father. She’s, in her own words, a “super-normal” girl, trying to live a “super-normal” life. Even while the Earth has been invaded and subsequently assimilated with aliens. In the midst of this, an accident with her father forces Luluco to seek help from the Space Patrol and its leader, OVER JUSTICE. Against her will, she gets drafted into the Space Patrol and made to help them with their investigations. Insanity ensues.
Why You Should Be Watching: Trigger. This is the most Trigger thing to ever Trigger. Which makes sense because it comes from the mind of Hiroyuki Imaishi, who directed past Trigger hits like Kill la Kill and Inferno Cop, as well as Gainax’s infamous Gurren Lagann. And it’s really clear that this is a huge labor of love from everyone involved. There’s lots of little references to those series throughout the entire show, as well as really overt references, like our Patrol leader, OVER JUSTICE. While it isn’t as wacky and crazy as Inferno Cop was, it certainly does get very wacky. And it does it all with that unique Trigger sense of insanity but fun all at the same time. If you’re a fan of any of the three shows I mentioned, give Luluco a whirl. It’s in my opinion, the most fun and entertaining show of the entire season, short or not. In the meantime, excuse me while I need to JUDGEMENT GUN MORPHING.
Recommended by: Exile, Grex, Gugsy, Jonuiuc, Kinksy, Koda, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, Nomadic Dec, Neryl, Requiem, Ryoma Nagare, Stanlick, Shade, The Gespenst
Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou
Written by: Ryoma Nagare, Koda
Genre: Slice Of Life, Gag Comedy, Sports, Music
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Agetarou is the heir to a “Tonkatsu Empire”. However, our protagonist wishes to have a more glamorous lifestyle, but that’s until he discovers the unsuspected parallels between fried pork and electronic music after he sees a legendary DJ perform live.
Why You Should Be Watching: As a short-form anime, there’s only so much you can do to convey the core of your story. Tonkatsu DJ manages to be a fantastic slice of life, a gag comedy full of funny jokes, and, at the same time, a parody of sports anime. Our protagonist will go through several training montages, that use “focused practice” (that is doing one thing that actually makes you better at another bigger thing like in Karate Kid’s “wax on/wax off”) to improve both his Tonkatsu frying prowess as well as his ability to heat up the dance floor. The selection of electronic “trax” will keep you on the groove for the duration of the episode; meanwhile, the expressive art is perfect at conveying the lysergic nature of this show’s premise. Tonkatsu DJ is a great example of the sheer variety and creativity that anime can have, as the show is unlike virtually any other anime in existence. The animation style, short length, and bizarre sense of humor makes the show have far more in common with the cult hit “stoner” cartoons that air on Cartoon Network’s late night Adult Swim animation block than it does with other anime series. Make no mistake, despite first appearances, Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou is not merely a show, it is an all-out experience, and one that you would be remiss to overlook at that.
Recommended by: Koda, MaelwysSC113, Ryoma Nagare, Stanlick
Written by: jonuiuc/Gugsy
Genre: Comedy, Seinen, Slice of Life
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Some say that this is a comedy series about a group of high school girls who love motorcycles and form a club. Still, others say that this series is a thinly-veiled, gender-bent, motorcycle-focused anime reinterpretation of the BBC’s Top Gear, complete with snarky banter and crass, irreverent humor. All we know is that the show is called Bakuon!!. The show even features the Stig’s little sister from Japan, the Stig-imouto.
Why You Should be Watching: Congratulations, you have reached the section of the article containing the strongest comedy of the season, Bakuon!! A provocative statement to be sure, especially for a show that incited enough debate amongst the small collab authorship to merit an honorable mention, but a statement I stand behind. This show is not what many have guessed it would be, based off its looks, it could easily be some sort of moé, cute girls, slice of life comedy. Surprisingly, this is not the case. Bakuon!! is, at its heart, a comedic love letter to motorcycles and the riders who love them, it really gets across the joy of riding and the loyalty some riders feel towards certain brands. There is a lot of variety in the humor, and you don’t have to worry about growing tired of the show’s jokes or its set-ups. Bakuon!! throws the most absurd, off-the-wall situations at you time and again (reminiscent of Sabegabu!) and keeps the laughs fresh.
Now here is the point of contention. While not overt in the same way as, say, Seitokai Yakuindomo was, the humor of Bakuon!! can be risqué, and it brazenly panders to the audience. One particularly wanton scene earned its honorable placement, I will say the scene in question contains no nudity of any sort and everyone is in bikinis. If you happened to see last season’s Konosuba’s ninth episode, you already have seen much racier, more sexualized content. This show is not afraid of using visual innuendo for a punchline and is definitely more PG-13 than G-rated. That as a given, for anyone with any interest in motorcycles or any love of Top Gear’s original foursome, this show is a sure bet. If you are looking for a laugh-out-loud comedy that contains some wicked humor and is full of surprises, I can’t recommend Bakuon!! more.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: Of all the “cute girls doing cute stuff” shows (of which there are many this season) Bakuon!! is the one with the crudest, most sexual humor. Not that this is a bad thing, many shows in seasons past have made their bones doing sexual humor. But in Bakuon!!, it can sometimes do this with its air-headed, utterly oblivious main character which makes the jokes feel off-putting and a little unsettling at times. And the fanservice. The camera can tend to linger and shoot their characters from positions that accentuate its characters’ “assets”. And of course, one scene in a recent episode that was so egregious, so gratuitous, that it had nearly all the authors involved in this collab in a furious debate about Bakuon!!’s place on this list. My co-writer mentioned Konosuba and while that particular scene… made sense in the show, and led to a laugh later on, this one barely even winks at you as the scene itself is a joke. And a not really funny one. Which can be a problem because with jokes this sexual, if they aren’t immediately hilarious, they can feel incredibly awkward instead. So while Top Gear fans will enjoy the banter here, make no mistake that the original creator, director, and all of us viewers know that these girls are sexual objects to be gawked at in between the motorcycle jokes. Make of that what you will.
The Lost Village - [Mayoiga]
Written by: Nomadic Dec/MaelwysSC113
Genre: Drama, Mystery
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Thirty people have signed up for an unofficial bus tour that promises to take them to Nanakimura, an unmapped village deep in the mountains. All participants have chosen to cast aside their old lives in hope of starting anew, free from the tribulations foisted upon them by society and its expectations. Yet when they arrive, Nanakimura is not the paradise they expected, nor are the bus passengers quite as amiable as one would hope...
Why You Should Be Watching: Detractors have likened The Lost Village (Mayoiga) to the unfulfilling randomness that was Lost. A more apt comparison would be Agatha Christie’s And There Were None (with hints of William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, not Lost). The eponymous lost village is the isolated destination for thirty conflicting personalities who come together through an anonymous message board. All are seeking escapism from their present circumstances; all are hoping for a “fresh start”; none are united by a common goal. And somebody’s seemingly trying to kill them. Much of the disappointment with the series surely stems from an apparent lack of urgency to kill its characters with episodic regularity, leaving the audience to contend with selfish people for far longer than they expected.
To think like this is to miss the beauty of Mayoiga. This is not just a horror show. It’s a deliberately-constructed series, replete with at times emotionally-disquieting flashbacks that draws empathy for these potential victims. Make no mistake, however; these are odious characters. Much like in Christie’s novel, the draw of the series is seeing horrible people reveal themselves. They interact with one another solely for their own benefit, trying to build a semblance of comradery out of necessity, yet are unable to overcome their own self-absorption and arrogance, all while gripped with the heightened paranoia that could only be induced by ominous sounds emitted from a dark, encircling forest. As the fear increases, it becomes apparent that the only thing leaving this uncharted village is rationality.
That leads to a fascinating look at humans. The self-involvement is not caricature—it is one of the more realistic portrayals of self-involvement and preoccupation in anime, which, as a medium, is prone to softening narcissists for the sake of story resolution and happy endings. Mayoiga is clearly devoid of happy endings, and likewise does not shy away from committing to explore the egotistical and the vainglorious. The depravity of human mentalities, moreso than the eerie environment, creates a foreboding atmosphere. There is consequently a uniqueness to Mayoiga that makes it readily engaging. Watching murder is just schadenfreude, really; Mayoiga offers much more than that.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: Mayoiga/The Lost Village fails in regards to anything it could be trying to do or be. Do you think of it as a mystery show? It fails to build and maintain any suspense, there are no clues for the viewers to follow to point towards some culprit (other than some sort of ass-pull of a reveal like a government conspiracy that is secretly dosing the people with hallucinogens a la Sherlock’s Hounds of Baskerville or something similar), and there is no compelling “mystery” to be solved as none of what any character says or sees can be considered reliable in any sense of the word. Each person is irrational in one way or another, and often only cares about their own well being and has no qualms with a witch hunt. Is it a thriller? It in no way makes your pulse race, any turns feel utterly impotent as they come often and have no real lasting repercussions, and one of the few enjoyable ways to watch the show is to watch it with a friend and complain about how it is continually failing in so many different ways. Is Mayoiga a psychological anime? No. Absolutely not. The only thing that could be considered even minorly insightful into the nature of humanity is the idea that “if you take a bunch of internet people and put them together into a real world town, it will function just as the internet does.” Mayoiga isn’t even a horror anime, as it lacks the elements to frighten the viewers, without violence, intense actions by the characters indicating a loss of humanity or otherwise socially-shocking trait, or any other horrific building blocks.
Some would argue that “the characters aren’t supposed to be liked” by the viewer, but that is completely missing the point of the argument. The characters get little to no explanation, nor any real insight to justify their actions until halfway through the show when there are a few short backstory flashbacks. Not even 5 of the 30 characters get one of these crucial insights into the inner workings of each individual, though. Without developing characters, there is no way to take in their actions and ascertain any deeper motive to them. Now, this could have been played to build tension through the growing list of unknowns surrounding the town, but instead, things are continually glossed over in order to add more items to the list. If you substituted every “unknown” as a character death, Mayoiga would be Attack on Titan, with its overuse and concurrent devaluation of a potentially-compelling aspect of the show. Mayoiga began with much potential and subsequently squandered it in an effort to point out something that everyone already knows: on the internet, everyone but you is wrong. Even with a few of its issues starting to be addressed in the most recent episodes, a show should not be recommended on the merits of “it may somehow pull itself together and be mediocre.”
And You Thought There is Never a Girl Online? - [Netoge no Yome wa Onnanoko ja Nai to Omotta?]
Written by: jonuiuc/Ascendant-Izanagi
Genre: Comedy, Ecchi, Romance
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Whether in English or Japanese, the name of this show pretty much says it all (though for everyone’s sake it will be referred to from here on out as Netoge). Teenager Hideki Nishimura’s life gets a lot more interesting when he agrees to meet his guildmate and online waifu offline and he is shocked to find she is actually a real girl, who also attends his high school. Nishimura, who has resolved himself to always keep his game and real life separate, struggles to deal with Ako Tamaki, who can’t or won’t distinguish the difference between offline and online relationships.
Why You Should be Watching: I have to admit, my initial impressions of the show was wrong. Despite Netoge’s premise and, uh, voluptuous character designs, the show did not fall neatly into the ecchi harem genre like I thought it would. Instead, it is a surprisingly sweet romantic comedy that is less like Haganai and more reminiscent of Love, Chunibyo & Other Delusions. The characters’ development and relationships drive the story, and rather than a group of cute girls fighting over a milquetoast protagonist, you have different people with very real hang-ups trying to sort out their feelings and decisions in ways that are very high-school-appropriate. I have to admit, Netoge has turned out to be a very funny, entertaining, pleasant surprise.
Why You Shouldn’t Be Watching: As much as I like this show, there really is a lot going against it. Past the near-transparent attempt at a story (that’s about as cliché as you can get anyway), nearly 1-dimensional (so close to 2!) characters, and the fact that it’s a fanservice show anyway, Netoge doesn’t offer enough besides what you already see! (Although those are really visible wink)
Typical romantic comedy jokes and the usual “will-they-won’t-they” shtick put up by these type of shows usually leave pretty much nothing to twist, so watching practically any other show with the same genre tags as Netoge will net you the same result. Another thing would be about how mindless this (or these) show(s) is(/are), and how that makes it (them) really pale in comparison to other shows this season, either in jokes (Sakamoto or Tanaka-kun) or story (Kabaneri).
Contributors in Alphabetical Order:
- Ascendant - Izanagi
- Nomadic Dec
- The Gespenst
This article was a collaboration by several people of the AniTAY 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.