The winter season is here, and with the snow and the cold of the new year comes a fresh slew of new anime shows to enjoy. I’ve scoured through what’s out there to bring you the five best I could find. Five solid picks you can jump into right now.
Some quick points before we get to the list:
1. Only new anime seasons/series currently available legally count. Adaptations are cool, but no previously released animation that has been chopped up and repackaged as a regular TV series allowed. So stuff like Chain Chronicle is out.
2. I am focusing on shows that people can try and get into with ease. Maybe there is some long running series that is on a fantastic arc right now, but as great as that is, if somebody has to watch fifty plus episodes to be brought up to speed then it won’t making the list. I almost disqualified one of my picks because it was a second season, but I gave it a pass as the first season was a scant eleven episodes that I breezed through in a few hours and it isn’t required viewing to appreciate the show.
3. All adaptations are being judged as their own thing. I have not viewed the source material of anything listed. I’m judging the show on its own merit based on the episodes that have been released.
4. Ultimately, these are my picks. Perhaps you think some show, let’s say Hand Shakers (yes, that is a real show) is super special awesome. That’s great and I’m glad you like it, but it isn’t making MY list.
Honorable Mention: Little Witch Academia
I so wanted to put this on the list, if I had you can be sure it would have gotten the top spot. There is one teeny problem though, none of the episodes have been released in America. The series from Trigger, follows the misadventures of Akko Kagari and her friends as they train to become witches. I heard about the original short put out years back and how great it was, but I never watched it until recently. I watched the short and the follow up, The Enchanted Parade back to back and fell in total and complete love. Sadly, this list is about cool shows you can dive into right now, so as much as it sucks, I can’t give this show a proper spot on this list. Netflix already has the previous Little Witch Academia material available for streaming and the new show will drop there at some point this year. Get hyped, this is going to be awesome!
5. Akiba’s Trip
At first I was hesitant to even watch this show. As a general rule I am not that into fan service, there is this thing called porn that I can watch to scratch that itch so any show better have more to it than that if it expects my attention. This offering from Gonzo, with the suggestive title (I mean, just look at that logo) and the premise being a group of vigilantes who save possessed people by ripping their clothes off I was ready to write this series off. To be clear, I don’t outright hate fan service, but it is too often used to cover for crappy writing. However, if a show comes at me with enough wit, charm, self-awareness, and personality like this one or the anime adaptation of Keijo!!!!!!!! from the last fall season then I can find myself becoming a fan.
So while the story follows the group Electric Mayonnaise (not even joking) as they protect Akihabara from the evil of the “bugged ones”, that isn’t what the show is about. What the show is about is celebrating all the while skewering otaku/geek culture. Cosplayers, comic fans, anime lovers, gamers, audiophiles, toy collectors, and even tech junkies, nobody is safe. Akihabara is the epicenter of otaku culture and the team of Tamotsu, Matome, Niwaka, Arisa, and the Professor are as geeky as it gets. The show may poke fun at all these hobbies, but it never says that there isn’t value in them, instead showing the ridiculousness of those who take these things too seriously. This is geeks calling out geeks in a loving way.
There is a fair bit of product placement in the show, hell, episode five is all about the Street Fighter franchise, but it all makes sense given the location and the type of show this is so I see it more as a positive than a negative. I’ve also read some reviews complaining that it does follow the exact lore of the games it is based on, but if you are complaining about that with a show like this, then I hate to break it to you, you are the exact people this series is mocking. You can check it out the fun on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
4. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Kobayashi is just an average woman. After another boring day at her office job she, like most of us, goes and gets piss drunk, wanders into the mountains, meets and aids a super powerful female dragon who falls in love with her and now stays with Kobayashi as her live-in maid. Y’know, typical Tuesday night.
All joking aside, this show from Kyoto Animation is a blast. It does one of my favorite things, mixing the fantastic with the mundane to comedic effect. I was wondering why the humor hit me as well as as it did until I learned until I learned that this show was based on a manga from Coolkyoushinja, the same mangaka that brought us the hilarious I Can’t Understand What My Husband is Saying. Tohru (the dragon) and her other mythical beast friends can take humanoid form and can use magic to hide when in their massive true forms, which saves Kobayashi from having to calm people every five seconds. The show succeeds in humanizing these creatures, but never lets you forget that they could easily bring upon the apocalypse if they wanted to.
What sets this series above the many series like this is the heart at its core. Too many other shows like this either focus solely on the gags and/or treat the potential relationship in a cheap and sleazy way. You will not find that here. The show is a laugh riot, but it peppers in those little moments of kindness people do or say for those who are important to them. It is a show that can sneak up and kick you right in the feels. You can watch the series on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
3. KONOSUBA -God’s blessing on this wonderful world! 2
If you took It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia and blended it with a fantasy JRPG you would get something a lot like KonoSuba. Teenage Kazuma, a do-nothing of the highest order dies rather unceremoniously in modern day Japan. His spirit meets the goddess, Aqua who offers to reincarnate him as he is into a parallel world full of swords and sorcery while also making fun of him incessantly. She even says he can bring one thing with him. Tired of her crap, Kazuma agrees with the condition that the one thing he brings with is her. Aqua, not really paying attention grants his wish without thinking only to have it dawn of her after it’s too late. The pair then form their own group of adventurers in the new world adding the wizard Megumin and the crusader Darkness.
All that happened in the first season, and while it is super easy to quickly watch the original eleven episodes, they aren’t required to understand KonoSuba. All you need to know is it the worst group of selfish, misguided, self-serving misfits to ever go adventuring. Aqua (the healer) is an idiot who prefers getting drunk and learning party tricks to doing anything useful. Megumin (the mage) is an incredibly powerful wizard that only knows how to cast explosion magic which once cast leaves her immobile for the rest of the day and refuses to learn any other skill. Darkness (the knight) might be the noblest and can sure tank a hit, but she also can’t hit anything and is a masochist so all the pain and humiliation she takes is really about fulfilling her fetish. Kazuma (the adventurer) is the most competent and relatable, but his classing severely limits his combat ability and is a world class jerk and a bit of a creep. Through the occasional halfway decent plan from Kazuma and a whole bunch of dumb luck these four manage to stay alive.
KonoSuba began as a web novel and has been adapted and expanded into several other media forms including this anime from Studio Deen. I do wish they would lay off the boob jiggling as the show doesn’t really need it and characters can get a smidge insufferable at moments, but KonoSuba hits way more than it misses. You can join the craziness on Crunchyroll.
2. ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.
Ah, now we get to the cool and slick anime of the season, this time brought to us by the people at Madhouse. ACCA: 13 follows the life of Jean Otus, a member of the ACCA inspection agency in the kingdom of Dowa. Dowa is comprised of thirteen loosely affiliated districts with ACCA acting as the police as well as other government services. Jean and his departments job is to audit the branches of ACCA in each district to make sure they aren’t corrupt and to get a sense of what is truly going on in each particular district. Jean, known across ACCA for his smoking habit (cigarettes being an extremely costly luxury item in Dowa) begins to find himself further and further involved in the political machinations of high powered people both in and out of ACCA. Seems Dowa isn’t as peaceful as it seems and a coup d’état could be right around the corner.
This manga turned anime has been a slow burn so far, and that’s what makes it so interesting. The series is already four episodes in and we still have no clue who are the real good or bad guys are or where Jean’s true allegiances lie. Watching each new layer be peeled away to reveal more of what is going on is damn entertaining as you watch every look and bit of dialogue trying to piece together the truth about where everyone stands. I don’t know where this series is going to go, but I’m fascinated to find out.
The slower pace, political intrigue, and lack of anything flashy like big action sequences may turn some folks off, but there is so much to like here and if you give it a chance you may very well end up like me and be in for the long haul. Give the series a go on either Crunchyroll or Funimation.
1. Saga of Tanya the Evil
You make think upon a quick glance you know all that’s going on in Saga of Tanya the Evil, but you couldn’t be more wrong. To properly talk about this show based on a light novel series and animated by newcomer studio NUT I am going to give away a slight spoiler from the second ep, so if that’s an issue just go ahead and skip the rest of this and get right to watching the show. You can come back and thank me later. Tanya von Degurechaff is in fact the reincarnation of a modern day middle-aged Japanese salaryman. As he is dying, he meets and manages to piss of God who reincarnates him as a baby girl with all his memories intact into an alternate reality version of what is essentially Germany in the 1910’s to teach him/her some humility.
Orphaned and with no prospects, Tayna decides to join the military, her ability as as magical adept allowing her join at an extremely young age. The Empire is involved in multiple border wars building to what will be an all out world war. The series picks up in 1924 with the now nine year-old Tanya ruthlessly trying to climb the ranks, crushing friend and foe alike, to secure a safe position in the rear where she can live in comfort.
As evil as Tanya is, and man is she evil, she is, at least so far, a very understandable brand of evil. She isn’t a jerk for no reason, she is simply a stickler for the rules and has zero tolerance for anyone questioning her authority. Also keep in mind that Being X, which is what Tanya calls God isn’t some benevolent being as it continuously screws with Tanya to try and force Tanya into doing its will. This doesn’t excuse her actions, such as the high she gets from killing people, but it does allow to perhaps see a little of ourselves in Tanya.
The deck is stacked against Tanya. Her ability to use magic is what allowed her to escape poverty, but it also is what keeps her on the front lines and God is decidedly NOT on her side. Wonderfully animated with a unique and interesting protagonist, this is one to watch. Tanya’s evil can be felt over on Crunchyroll as well as Funimation.