Ani-TAY is back for another season of recommendations in anime. It’s been a slow season and we’ve all felt it, but we’ve still got seven anime you should check out, and a couple that you should think about.
Want to see our picks for Spring 2015? Yes, we have some of those too.
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.
The Seven Anime To Watch:
Written by Koda89
Genre: Action, Comedy, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: One day an incredibly powerful yellow-skinned tentacle monster destroys 70% of the moon, leaving it in a permanent crescent shape. He then threatens to destroy the Earth after a year, but he allows humanity a chance to avoid this fate. He becomes the homeroom teacher of Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School. The creature teaches the students not only the usual school subjects, but also in the various ways of assassination, for they are humanity’s last hope. If any of them manage to kill the monster, they will be rewarded with 10 billion yen. But the task is easier said than done, as the creature can move up to Mach 20 speeds and is only harmed by a very specific material. As a result, his students started affectionately calling him Koro-sensei, a pun based around the sheer difficulty of killing him.
Why You Should be Watching: Much like Koro-sensei, Assassination Classroom, or AssClass as it is often shortened to, is a strange beast. On the one hand the various assassination attempts by the students of Class 3-E are both creative in their execution and predictable in their results at the same time. On the other hand it is becoming increasingly clear that having the students kill him is not Koro-sensei’s true goal, as his tips on assassinations can be applied to other areas as well. On top of that, there is a rather intriguing dichotomy between Koro-sensei’s treatment of his students compared to the teachers back on the main campus. But the real draw here is the interaction between the characters in general, not only how the students act around Koro-sensei, but how they act with each other. And all of this is interwoven with the series’ overall comedic, almost campy, tone that sometimes veers into dark comedy. Finally it must be said that Bitch-sensei (yes that is the actual nickname the students give this teacher) is an entertaining character in the “love to hate” mold.
Recommended By: DeadlyFatalis, Exile, Koda89, Krakken_Unleashed, Meph, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, SeanStan, Stranger
Written by Krakken_Unleashed and Nomadic Dec
Genre: Game, Psychological
Spoiler-free Synopsis: If you dare enter the fine establishment of Quindecim, be prepared for the bizarre. A mysterious, stoic bartender, partially amnesiac clientele, and over-the-top parlor games are just a few of the mysteries found within. However the games played in Quindecim are not your ordinary, run-of-the-mill parlor games, but are twisted games made to mess with the patrons minds. And with their very lives hanging in the balance, none who enter will leave unscathed...
Why You Should be Watching: At this point in time, a Madhouse production is almost a guarantee of quality, and Death Parade is no exception. With its follow-up to Parasyte, Madhouse has doubled its efforts to try and emotionally floor the audience each week with heart-breaking or heart-warming tales. Sustained emotional resonance often relies on allowing the emotions time to sink in and build on one another, and in this regard the show is at times hindered by its construct of unfolding a couple’s entire relationship within twenty-five minutes; likewise, some of the characters are short-shrifted. However, the general slickness of animation, foreboding atmosphere and engrossing world are enough to overcome this. Death Parade’s true strengths lie in its examination of facets of the human psyche and its finely tuned manipulation of the audience’s expectations. The intrigue is actually heightened as the series slowly reveals its cards—a feat rarely achieved in any medium.
One can see why Madhouse changed the name to Death Parade when adapting Death Billiards to a full series: the former not only captures pageantry and futility of the parlour games, but the juxtaposition of the nouns also hints at contrasting nature of the developing storyline and the episodic components, which are equally engaging. The title also justifies the use of BRADIO’s “Flyers” as the OP, which subtly highlights all the elements of the show brilliantly, while seemingly belying the series’ true nature at face value. Death Parade is deception of the most wonderful kind and should be seen by all this season. At the very least, please listen to the OP.
Recommended By: DeadlyFatalis, jonuiuc, Koda89, Krakken_Unleashed, MainProtagonist, Meph, Nomadic Dec, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, SeanStan, Stranger, thatsmapizza
Maria the Virgin Witch (Junketsu no Maria)
Written by thatsmapizza and SeanStan
Genre: Comedy, Fantasy, Magic, Ecchi
Spoiler-free Synopsis: War… war never changes. No matter what kind of being is involved with said war, people will die. This hundred years war is no different. Thousands of lives have already been and for what? I have no clue, but where there’s conflict, there’s coin and that’s all I need. But is that really the natural order of things. Fighting to live and living to fight… that’s just a sad way to live.
At least there’s still hope or… well a brief break to the fight thanks to that witch Maria. If any fighting happens near her or suffering happens she swoops in and saves the day. Hell she’s so good at stopping that I haven’t been able to earn a single coin in a week!
Hahaha. That girl sure is a miracle worker, but I wonder how long she can keep this up. There are so many people in need and only one of her.
Magic you say? Ha! Yes she maybe able to use magic, but even those have limits especially when it attracts the attention of the seraph Michael. Hahaha and apparently Michael was so forgiving that he allowed Maria to keep her life and her magic, but only as long as she says a virgin. HAHAHAHAHA! I wonder how long she can keep that up without getting down.
Only time will tell.
Why You Should be Watching: Maria is a show that plays out its given circumstances properly. Maria’s depiction of the Hundred Years War showcases the many factions that were involved, and how the outcome could be altered. The key question of the show is, what happens when a witch decides it’s her responsibility to disrupt and disband the daily wars? The gains are obvious, but what are the consequences? Sure, people in front of you won’t die, but when the mercenaries don’t bring home the projected spoils, their families go into poverty, poverty leads to disease, then next thing you know, the whole city is dying. How do the gods feel? This witch is is almost playing the role of god; simple tolerance clearly states how unallowable this situation is for a real god. How about the children that just want their dads to come home safe? The witch would be a hero! Many more cases are at hand here; the side of the war benefiting, the side of the war suffering, other witches, priests, royals, the old, the list goes on, but in any case, a new stance is taken.
Alongside mature comedy (but not entering the realm of the typical Ecchi), Production IG’s animation that delivers, and characters that have meaning, Maria’s story takes a concept that alters from standard Japanese animation and executes it well.
Recommended By: jonuiuc, Koda89, Krakken_Unleashed, MainProtagonist, Nomadic Dec, thatsmapizza
The Rolling Girls
Written by Meph
Genre: Adventure, Slice-of-Life
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In a world of super-powered Bests and average Rests, four girls with no superpowers of their own hit the road in an adventure of self discovery. The backdrop for this story of self discovery is a Japan that has dissolved into a number of regional districts, with each district based on the cultural views of its citizens. Vigilante squads led by a Best keep the peace for a district and settle disputes between different districts. Can four Rests make a difference in a world where disputes are settled by super-powered Bests?
Why You Should be Watching: Rolling Girls is a colorful, vibrant show that delivers a wonderful slice of life tale in a world that is anything but ordinary. The art style for Rolling Girls draws comparisons with the over the top style and of Kill La Kill. While it does share the over the top style, the quality of the animation and art work is a notch above Kill La Kill and it has maintained a high level of quality throughout the episodes. The colors and art in the anime are a real feast for the eyes.
The anime also doesn’t rely on fan service to bring viewers in. While the main characters are four adolescent girls, there is basically no fan service whatsoever in Rolling Girls. The story is about their journey of self discovery and fan service would only distract from the story. It is one of the few anime that you can sit down and watch with your kids and have no qualms about it.
A lot of shows focus on what it is like to be the superhero, but few, if any explore the experience of being a “normal” person in a world where superheroes exist. Can an average person make a difference? Should an average person even try? Is becoming a “best” something that is desirable? These questions aren’t just important for the four main characters, but they are questions that are important for a lot of us as well. Hiding behind this entertaining and sometimes zany anime, is four girls discovering answers to questions we often have ourselves. Can I do something the way I am?
Recommended By: Exile, DeadlyFatalis, jonuiuc, Koda89, MainProtagonist, Meph, Rockmandash12, thatsmapizza
Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend
Written by Protonstorm
Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Harem
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Tomoya is a hardcore otaku. He reads manga and light novels, watches anime, and reviews much of this otaku media on his blog (whoa, this guy sounds a bit familiar for some reason). One day, he has a fateful encounter with a girl that inspires him to create the greatest dating sim of all time. In order to do this, however, he will have to recruit team members, including the famous author Utaha Kasumigaoka and doujin artist/childhood friend Eriri Spencer Sawamura. With a team made up entirely of girls who have romantic feelings (as if there is any other kind of feelings) for Tomoya, what could possibly go wrong?
Why You Should be Watching: Saekano is at face value exactly how it sounds: a stereotypical rom-com with trope-filled characters and scenarios. However, what makes it so appealing is the fact that it knows what it is- and takes advantage of it. Of course on the surface the fights between characters though slightly cliche are entertaining, but the point that propels Saekano to the top is its extremely self-aware humor. At one point in the first episode, Tomoya goes into an internal monologue to introduce the characters but is interrupted by Utaha, who comments that there is nothing lower than opening with an long internal monologue.
That is just one example of the show’s meta behavior, but other heavily ironic elements are laced throughout the story as well and are even incorporated into basic character behaviors. The girl whose encounter with Tomoya prompted him to create the visual novel is actually as bland and ‘underdeveloped’ as they come, and is not only is the opposite of a good heroine but also bluntly points out flaws in the other characters in normal conversation. If you are looking for a witty performance for amusement, I highly recommend you give Saekano a try.
Recommended By: Dexomega, Exile, DeadlyFatalis, Koda89, Meph, Protonstorm, Rockmandash12, SeanStan, Stranger, thatsmapizza
Written by Rockmandash, and Nomadic Dec
Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama
Spoiler-free Synopsis: In an inspired twist on the original Yatterman formula, Yatterman Night presents a dystopian stand-alone story far removed from the light-hearted fare that was the 1977 series. On the outskirts of the Yatter Kingdom, the righteous Leopard lives with her mother and two companions, spending her days playing with her pet pig Oda-Sama and reading stories of the inspiring Yattermen thwarting of the evil Doronbow Gang. When her mother falls ill, Leopard and her motley crew naïvely travel to the Yatter Kingdom looking for help, only to find that the world is much crueller than the one presented in legends and fairy tales.
Why You Should be Watching: Have you ever wondered what would happen if Team Rocket were the good guys and Ash and the gang was the bad guys? Yatterman Night handles the inversion with it’s universe’s equivalent amazingly, creating an extremely well executed dystopian world that just pulls you in, getting you to question the nature of what’s good or bad, what it means to be a hero. As a master of juxtaposition and tone, straddling the line between it’s Saturday morning cartoon roots and it’s new world, Yatteman Night is a show that demands to be seen: it engages the audience at all times with both humor and drama, and it’s complete blast.
Also, It’s a completely standalone show, so don’t worry if you have no prior knowledge of Yatterman, it’s still an engaging show without it. If you’re a fan of hero shows like this but want to see it with an interesting twist, this is a must watch. I absolutely adore this show, and I hope you do too.
Recommended By: FruityDrinks, jonuiuc, Koda89, Krakken_Unleashed, MainProtagonist, Meph, Nomadic Dec, Rockmandash12, SeanStan, Stranger, thatsmapizza
Written by Rockmandash12
Genre: Action, Mystery, Supernatural
Spoiler-free Synopsis: Half a year after the events the first season, peace has returned to Ikebukuro, but things are as frenetic is it always is: the cops are still recklessly chasing the “Black Rider”, the Hollywood Killer is out on the run, the russian sushi place is still serving questionable food, and everyone we know is still as eccentric as ever. With a hectic story that captures the feeling of a hectic city, Durararara!! X2 Shou is a hectic show, and fans love it because of it.
Why You Should be Watching: Durarara!! X2 Shou continues everything that was great about the first season, and it’s just as fun as ever. From the extremely awesome and entertaining characters, to the insane action that goes on in the show, it’s as fun as ever, and is just a joy to watch. It’s not for everyone, so those who didn’t care for season 1 won’t really find much new here, but for those like me who just adore the insane actions and interesting interactions, this show is as stellar as ever and easily a must watch for the season.
Recommended By: FruityDrinks, jonuiuc, Koda89, MainProtagonist, Meph, Nomadic Dec, Rockmandash12, SeanStan, Stranger
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.
Contributors in Alphabetical Order:
- Dexomega (@Dexomega)
- EvenSteven02 (@EvenSteven02)
- Koda89 (@KodaKazar)
- Nomadic Dec
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.