The Ani-TAY collab is back with another edition for an excellent season. We’ve got 11 shows that you might want to check out, three of which are sequels. Come on by and see what we’ve got for you.
This list is a collection of recommendations from the people of the Ani-TAY community. After a short round of recruiting, the list was collaboratively built over the course of two weeks through three rounds, each designed to narrow down the anime of this season to watch. Each show entry is written by one of the collaborators.
Written by Grex
Genre: Fantasy, Action-Adventure
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The Kingdom of Pars basks in a long era of riches and prosperity under the rule of the aggressive King Andragoras, his beautiful Queen Tahamenay and their compassionate heir, the androgynous Prince Arslan. Unparalleled in military strength, and with a legion of slaves to its name, Pars is the uncontested juggernaut of the world. Despite this, their reign is challenged by the savages of neighboring Lusitania, a devout people that abhor slavery and preach the equality of all men - except for the Parsian heretics, who deserve a slow and painful death. King Andragoras rides to meet the Lusitanian army with his men and Arslan at his back, confident in their imminent victory. Of course, it isn’t long before trickery and deceit rock the stable foundations of Pars, and Arslan’s life is irrevocably altered.
Why You Should be Watching: Being adapted from the manga by Fullmetal Alchemist and Silver Spoon creator Hiromu Arakawa (which is itself adapted from a series of novels), The Heroic Legend of Arslan sets certain expectations. Luckily, Arslan is poised to be an exceptional fantasy tale. Its premise may sound archetypal, but nonetheless shines in its execution. The political intrigue and treachery between the warring nations of Pars and Lusitania could easily blossom into something greater than it already is, as Arslan attempts to restore a semblance of his former life while simultaneously fleeing the Lusitanians and dealing with fallout from the collapse of the Parsian army. Even better, Arslan also excels at good old-fashioned medieval violence. A hallmark of the series is its large-scale battles and sieges, sporting impressive production values that overcome a complete reliance on 3D computer imagery. The fighting is surprisingly gritty and brutal, making few attempts to censor itself for a lighter audience. As of yet, there are no mages and no magic, just armored soldiers wielding bows and steel. On top of that, Arslan’s cast of characters is memorable and mesmerizing, from Arslan’s loyal servant and friend Daryun to the brilliant strategist Narsus to the slippery bard Gieve and everyone in between. With so much to love, an excellent ending theme is just icing on the cake.
Recommended By: EvenSteven, Grex, kristof, KodaKazar, MaelwysSC113, MainProtagonist, MementoMorie, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stranger, XepherLord
Written by Meph
Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: One day a bubble appears around New York and a breach opens up connecting the city with another dimension, the Netherworld. New York is thus transformed into Hellsalem’s Lot, a city where creatures from the Netherworld and humans live together and the absurd becomes ordinary. Within the background of Hellsalem’s lot, we follow Leonardo Watch (Leo), an aspiring photo journalist who isn’t too sure of himself and his place in this world, but has a question he needs to get answered. Leo’s life quickly becomes interesting as he stumbles into Libra, an organization filled with super powered humans fighting to protect the balance of Hellsalem’s lot, and the balance between the Nether and human worlds. Leo is asked to join Libra as he has his own superpower, the All Seeing Eyes of God.
Why You Should be Watching: Blood Blockade Battlefront has several things going for it, that make it one of the most fun rides of the season to watch: It has an excellent world that manages to treat the absurd mix of the Netherworld and human world as common place. A setting of interesting and eccentric characters that make up the organization Libra, and a wonderful main character who exposes us to the world of Hellsalem’s Lot as as he begins to grow and find his place in it. Leo acts as a perfect straight man for the comedy that ensues from life in the city of Hellsalem’s Lot and the eccentric characters of Libra. Blood Blockade Battlefront has great action, excellent animation, and a wonderful sense of comedy that arises from the world and how the characters interact with it.
The anime studio Bones does a great job in bringing to life the city and its inhabitants through their animation. The quality is great, and you can feel the grittiness of the city every time the streets are shown. The place feels like an absurd version of New York. Not the glitzy New York of Times Square, but the grimey New York where the working class people live and work. Bones also does an excellent job in animating the fight scenes in Blood Blockade Battlefront, which brings us to talking about the action in the show.
Except for Leo, the members of Libra are all powerful kickass fighters. However, their otherworld opponents can pack a bunch as well. Each member of Libra has their signature fighting style and moves which are played up for great effect. The action isn’t limited to fighting either. Blood Blockade Battlefront contains excellent chase scenes as well and the use of music during these chase scenes will have you thinking of shows like Cowboy Bebop and Durarara!!.
To sum it up, Blood Blockade Battlefront is a fun show filled with likeable characters set in an absurd and interesting world. The main character Leo acts as an excellent guide to this world and the adventures of Libra. The show even takes time, amidst the comedy and action, to touch upon issues you encounter in life, whether you are in your own hometown or a place like Hellsalem’s Lot.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, EvenSteven, Grex, Kinksy, kristof, KodaKazar, MaelwysSC113, MainProtagonist, Meph, MementoMorie, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stranger, thatsmapizza, XepherLord
Written by Protonstorm
Genre: Music, Slice-of-Life, Drama
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Kumiko Omae isn’t sure about joining the high school band; in fact, she attended a completely different high school from her previous friends for a change of pace from her band-oriented middle school days! However, she is once again sucked into the band program and into playing the euphonium. The band program at Kitauji High School is changing, both with a more energetic freshman class and a more forceful director, and Kumiko’s high school career will be largely shaped by the competition and companionship she has while spending her days as a part of this driven group.
Why You Should be Watching: Sound! Euphonium is an interesting show because it differentiates itself from other musical anime. Instead of a (rock) band, it’s a BAND, a full concert performance ensemble. It manages to perfectly capture the complex social structure of such a group, where every section of instruments has a different pecking order and different style yet come together to perform. The character interactions capitalize on this by being both amusing at times and dramatic. Conflicts between the different instrument groups, capability levels, and competitiveness of the students serve for an exellent and intriguing slice-of-life anime that I would highly recommend to anyone that is a fan of the genre or music performance in general.
Recommended By: Dexomega, Grex, jonuiuc, Kaizival, kristof, MaelwysSC113, MainProtagonist, MementoMorie, Stanlick, thatsmapizza
Written by MementoMorie
Genre: Romantic Comedy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: High school first year Takeo Gouda has a huge heart, and a huge…well, everything. With his superhuman strength and size, Takeo is revered by his male classmates but tends to scare girls away, who flock to his bishonen best friend Makoto Sunakwa instead. However, Takeo’s luck changes when he saves the kind and demure Rinko Yamato from a train groper. Will Takeo finally get to experience his own love story?
Why You Should be Watching: It’s no surprise that My Love Story!! won the 2013 Kondansha Manga Award for Best Shojo Manga. As far as romantic comedies go, this is the freshest story in quite some time. The story constantly plays with what anime fans have come to expect from the genre. Takeo himself is of course very unique among romance heroes for not being the typical pretty boy, but it goes much deeper than that. While most romantic comedies build up to the couple getting together, My Love Story!! is about the day to day joys and worries of a relationship. This is a change of pace after countless romantic comedies that don’t dare to progress beyond the love confession. The heroine, Yamato, is also a pleasant surprise. Although she is as dere as they come, she is unexpectedly take-charge and courageous when it comes to her feelings and her interactions with Takeo. Takeo’s longtime bro Sunakawa, who is apathetic to most things but has a soft spot for his best friend, completes an excellent trio of main characters.
The comedy also never fails to impress. From physical comedy and Takeo getting himself into odd situations thanks to his uh, relaxed boundaries and endless quest to help others to Suna’s deadpan reactions, My Love Story!! is consistently hilarious. It’s also an almost unbearably sweet show. At heart, the story is about the beautiful things that can happen when people look past appearances and are honest with their feelings. If you decide to watch this gem of a romance, don’t be surprised if you find yourself grinning ear to ear during each episode.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, Dexomega, EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, kristof, KodaKazar, MainProtagonist, MementoMorie, Protonstorm, Raitzeno, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, thatsmapizza
Written by EvenSteven
Genre: Romantic Comedy, Magic
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Switching bodies has never been more inviting. After Yamada discovers he can switch bodies with anyone he kisses, he starts attracting the attention of the other oddballs and super-powered teenage girls (the titular “witches”) at his school. Very quickly, he forms a harem consisting of both guys and girls, working to discover the limits of his powers and the other witches around him.
Why You Should be Watching: Yamada-kun’s main focus is on fanservice and humor. While not as complex or character driven as other body-switch anime (see Kokoro Connect), it does manage to draw you in with its charming characters, its brash but well-meaning protagonist, and its goal of having Yamada make out with every member of the student body at least once. And if you don’t immediately fall in love with Yamada’s main love interest, Shiraishi-san, well, there’s always Hestia.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, EvenSteven, Grex, MainProtagonist, Protonstorm, Stanlick, thatsmapizza
Written by SeanStan and Exile
Genre: Food, Comedy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Soma Yukihira works as a cook at his family’s restaurant. This may seem simple on the surface, but he and his dad have made the restaurant one of the best in town. To improve Soma’s abilities, his dad sends him to a high school specialized in cuisine. Soma thinks he knows everything about food, so it’s only natural that this high school seems like a waste of time. What he doesn’t know, however, is that many of the students of this facility have been brought up in families of the highest prestige in cuisine. They’ve come from all over the world and they don’t believe someone of Soma’s rank deserves a spot in the school. On top of that, only ten percent of the people who enroll are allowed to graduate. Food means everything here, so much so that if you can prove your abilities, you may even control the faculty members and their decisions. To decide who’s on top, the students face off in cooking battles and wager whatever they can, even if it means getting expelled if you lose. Soma’s goal: to come out on top.
Why You Should be Watching: A cook or chef is said to be the most satisfying occupation; even if you’re having a bad day, you’ll assuredly brighten someone else’s with the meals you create. Shokugeki no Soma is the anime embodiment of this gratification. Across the countless masterful meals from the makers, and the unchained reactions of the takers, the show leaves your mind in awe and you stomach in anticipation. Now, that’s only just the appetizer. Our main course features an over-the-top shounen presentation, and a side of ambition, all garnished by stellar animation. For dessert, you can actually eat something. Many of the meals in the show are so intricately explained that you can take what was fiction and bring it into real life. If you regularly eat food, this show is at least worth a try.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: First off, you shouldn’t be watching Shokugeki no Soma if you are hungry. Bad, bad idea.
Ultimately, the primary issue with Food Wars! is how it... comes over. If you are made uncomfortable by people really enjoying something in their mouths, this is not the show for you. It manages to espouse the literality of “Food Porn” by ensuring both words are equally as applicable as each other, and I would point out that “Food” is in the title. Seeing a woman being driven over the edge, having the meat she was initially reluctant to accept but is now begging for denied her until she agrees to a proposed course of action is perhaps not an uncommon plot, but the majority of the cast being 15 years old removes one from the immersion of the story I feel, for any number of reasons, and as the story progresses and Soma’s interactions with the ladies grow that “15” gets ever larger and harder to ignore, becoming quite distracting from other events and indeed painful at times.
Soma slides itself into the same group as stories like Yakitate! Japan or Addicted to Curry, but positions itself to straddle the middle ground between those two: having similar “reaction” scenes to the food cooked as Yakitate! Japan had for its bread but with the overwhelming focus on garment-exploding full-body sensations perhaps keeping it more bound and restrained in contrast to Yakitate’s progressingly reality-warping insanity, yet being far less serious than Addicted to Curry’s levels of dramatic tension.
At least the fanservice is egalitarian. Unfortunately, on occasion. Really though, this show is brilliantly ridiculous.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, Dexomega, EvenSteven, Exile, Grex, jonuiuc, kristof, KodaKazar, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, thatsmapizza
Written by SeanStan and Thatsmapizza
Genre: Fantasy, Action, Comedy, Romance
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Bell Cranel is a denizen of a world that seems very much like your standard RPG. There are dungeons, black smiths, demons, gods, and even a levelling system that denotes the skill of an adventurer. Bell had always heard stories from his grandfather about life as an adventure, but it wasn’t until his passing that Bell decided it was time to begin a story of his own. Fuelled by this decision, Bell finds a goddess who offers to take him in and oversee his adventuring. This is where the tale of Bell, the puny and insignificant newbie adventurer, with a heart made of kindness and ambition, begins.
Why You Should be Watching: Remember playing your first RPG? Remember levelling up for the first time and receiving its benefits? This was something truly special. You experienced growth and enlightenment, and got a glimpse into what you might grasp at the next step. It was as if a whole new world of purpose had flushed out your thoughts. This likely captivated you, reeling you into endless hours of entertainment. At this measly level, you saw everyone around you who were already miles ahead, and the effort they had put forth, but you were not deterred. You didn’t say that you’d never get there, you instead asked yourself, “how do I get there?” This caused a rush of ambition; you didn’t just want to look at heroes, you wanted to become one.
Dungeon illustrates this emotion, this ambition. It puts you into a world of a fantasy RPG without needing to start a console. Bell’s actions, aspirations, and experiences make you feel like this concept is as new to you as it is to him. It’s as if your friend is experiencing an RPG for the first time and you’re watching him do so. You get to relive through all of the amazement again, using Bell as a medium. Dungeon captivates the raw essence of the RPG-esque adventure genre, and does so without having to see it through the eyes of characters who are trapped in a world like this. You get to see the daily life of an array of characters and the world they live in, not the world they have to live in. Most importantly, we get to see the positive and light-hearted Bell, and the hell of an adventure that waits ahead of him.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Dungeon is a show that fundamentally lacks an identity. It doesn’t know what it wants to do or what to focus on and so it fumbles about trying to give the viewer something that resembles a story by throwing out just about anything in fiction. It has some action, but none of it is terribly memorable because of the poor fight direction and the boring monster designs. The story of Bell, main character, growing into a person who is equal to Aiz, a powerful swordswoman, is hampered by the fact Bell’s goal isn’t defined enough for the audience to understand why he is working so hard. To compensate for these failings, Dungeon has some fun character interactions and relationships that fairly well voice acted. Unfortunately, most of these interactions are weighed down by the show’s fan service laden character designs, which are both impractical and distracting.
Dungeon is like a McDonalds hamburger, it’s moderately filling and moderately tasty, but ultimately nothing special. It will give a taste of just about every genre in fiction, but it will never commit to one thing. So, if you’re looking for something that is decent in a large variety of areas, then this show might be worth watching. But if you want to invest your time in something memorable, I would recommend looking elsewhere.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, EvenSteven, Kinksy, MainProtagonist, Protonstorm, Raitzeno, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stranger, XepherLord
Written by KodaKazar and Protonstorm
Genre: Adventure, Comedy, Mystery, Sci-Fi, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Yuta Iridatsu is a boy with a peculiar superpower; whenever Yuta sees panties, he essentially goes Super Saiyan. Yuta nearly drowns after foiling a bus hijacking by the QMay terrorist group. After being pulled from the water, Yuta’s soul is forced out of his body by another spirit. Now Yuta is essentially a ghost and begins training in the ghostly arts under the guidance of a spirit cat named Chiranosuke. There’s just one problem; Yuta may have lost his body, but he still retains his superpower, only now whenever it activates, a meteor will crash into Earth, killing every human on the plant. Luckily for Yuta and everyone else, in his spirit form he has the ability to go back in time, giving him the ability to undo his actions. However things aren’t as they seem, as multiple mysteries surround Yuta and everyone else in his life.
Why You Should be Watching: As was said at the end of the synopsis, there are several mysteries at play here that belie the series’ initial presentation as a whacky semi-episodic comedy hijinks ecchi series. Going into the details of these mysteries would be a spoiler, hell it’s already enough of a spoiler to say that the show isn’t what it initially looks like. Needless to say, the show is rewarding those patient enough to stick around with a show that is vastly more clever and intriguing that what it presented itself as. It also doesn’t hurt that this series is being written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, the writer behind many well received visual novels, the two most prominent being 999 and Virtue’s Last Reward. There’s no telling where the series will go, but one thing is for certain, given the writer’s previous works, wherever the series is headed, it will be an engaging ride filled with plenty of twists and turns.
Why You Shouldn’t be Watching: Punchline is a show that is very difficult to recommend from the get-go, especially considering a premise that, most simply, is ‘if he sees panties, the world will explode’. The problem with Punchline is multi-layered, and primarily begins with this premise, as it is already strange enough to turn off most potential viewers. Make no mistake, at least in the beginning the show IS about how the main character cannot see panties lest his arousal causes the planet’s demise. This issue compounds quite easily, since as you can imagine the events of the first episode are pretty confusing and fanservice is rampant. Punchline was originally hyped because it is written by Kotaro Uchikoshi, and while having a good lead for an anime project is generally a good sign, it can also result in a confirmation bias in informed viewers who might see what they expect. Punchline is very different from Uchikoshi’s previous works, and all other arguments aside it is difficult to recommend merely because of the writer, especially when considering the other flaws previously mentioned.
Recommended By: KodaKazar, Meph, Raitzeno, Rockmandash12, Stranger, thatsmapizza, XepherLord
Written by Dexomega and Thatsmapizza
Genre: Action, Comedy, Science Fiction
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Set in feudal Japan, Gintama is all about how aliens have landed and taken over the world. Yes, that’s what it is. In a world like this, how can our main character Gintoki be expected to hold down a normal job? Instead of normalcy, Gintoki opts for the freelancer lifestyle, getting money by holding down odd jobs. This isn’t normal feudal Japan though, and there’s plenty of danger and excitement in the world of Gintama.
Why You Should be Watching: Do you like fun? Then Gintama will be a great show for you. Gintama is easily one of the funniest anime to date because it understands how comedy works. The show is constantly churning out different varieties of jokes throughout each episode, while also keeping the audience grounded in the comedy by presenting a baseline that the audience can view each joke. It’s astounding how Gintama can consistently output such fun comedy without getting stale. If you haven’t checked out this season of Gintama or have never watched any of this series, I highly recommend that you rectify that now as you are missing out on one of the funniest anime to date.
If you’re interested in watching any more of Gintama, you should check out the Gintama viewing guide created by The Messiah here.
Recommended By: Kristof, KodaKazar, MainProtagonist, Messiah, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stranger, thatsmapizza
Written by Protonstorm
Genre: Action, Thriller, Fantasy
Spoiler-free Synopsis: The Fifth Holy Grail War, a battle fought between seven masters and their summoned familiars from humanity’s greatest heroes, drags high schooler Shirou Emiya in when he unwittingly summons a servant of his own. Trying to become a hero of justice by saving others, Shirou decides to win the Holy Grail with the help of his classmate and fellow master, Rin Tohsaka. As the fighting begins to climax in this second season, Shirou is faced with impossible decisions as he comes to realize that he cannot save everyone.
Why You Should be Watching: Fate/stay night is a really excellent action show, both because of the animation during battle sequences (which is top-notch) and the consequences that result. The Holy Grail War is the perfect setting because it combines both show-original characters and historical figures and manages to make viewers care about them all. However, in a battle such as this there are very few survivors, and the series reflects this in the events that take place. While the first half of the show might have seemed slow to some, the second half picks up the pace substantially, intertwining break-neck fighting with intense character development, and will likely draw most viewers in as they witness the events of the Fifth Holy Grail War’s conclusion unfold.
Recommended By: Cheroro, EvenSteven, Grex, Kinksy, KodaKazar, MainProtagonist, Meph, Protonstorm, Raitzeno, Rockmandash12, Stanlick, Stranger, XepherLord
Written by Maelwys
Genre: Romantic Comedu, School, Satire
Spoiler-free Synopsis: SNAFU 2 continues to follow Hikigaya (Hikki) Hachiman, Yukino Yukinoshita, and Yui Yuigahama in the Volunteers’ Club at their high school, a club specifically for helping anyone who asks for their assistance. The girls are fairly straightforward in their approach to helping people, but Hikki finds his own ways to get the desired results, often by sacrificing himself and people’s view of him. In essence, SNAFU weighs the merits of doing the wrong things for the right reasons and how it effects society.
Why You Should be Watching: If you enjoy social commentaries, deep, meaningful, multi-faceted relationships, and character progression, this show is absolutely a must (with the caveat of having seen the first season).
Starting from exactly where the first season ended, SNAFU continues to impress, now with a larger budget and a new look. Aesthetics aside, this season is an improvement on an already solid show. If the first season was 70% comedy and laughs and 30% serious introspection and social commentary from Hikki’s perspective, this season flips those numbers around. There are still some great times to laugh and enjoy, but the writing has directed the characters towards a more meaningful end based on a few events that lead to what could be the dissolution of the Volunteers’ Club as we know it. Overall, this season will make you think more about the value and substance of interpersonal relationships and responsibilities.
Some who watched the first few episodes of this season were put off by how the events seemed contrived to them, but in the end it comes down to how well you relate to the situations and feelings displayed in the show. The portrayal of how one person’s actions can effect an entire group’s dynamics is spot on in SNAFU 2. As a group of friends and a club of people longing to understand and be understood begin to drift away from the way things used to be, they are faced with the very real fact that the past cannot be regained and that the present will not last forever. If you enjoyed the first season, especially Hikki’s monologues, then the second season is a must. If you found the first season lacking in deeper meaning and wanted more moments where you get to peer into the inner workings of Hikigaya Hachiman and general views of society and relationships, then the second season is perfect for you.
Recommended By: Ascendant-Izanagi, EvenSteven, jonuiuc, kristof, KodaKazar, MaelwysSC113, MainProtagonist, Meph, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, Stranger, thatsmapizza, XepherLord
Here are our honorable mentions; these are the shows that had some significant support in the discussions, but for one reason or another fell off the list. We explain both why should and shouldn’t be watching.
- 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.