The autumn season for Anime in 2012 is in full swing, and is possibly one of the strongest seasons in Anime for a couple of years now. With 15 brand new shows seeming very promising, and some sequels to other popular series, Anime fans have not been starved for content.
The question is, how have these shows shaped up over the last month?
Aoi Sekai no Chuushin de (Centre of the Blue World)
Starting in alphabetical order may have not been the best choice, as this series is a show stopper. You may have heard of it already, it’s a thinly veiled allusion to the 16-bit Console Wars where the “Ninterudo” Empire and the “Segua” Kingdom are at war with each other in a medieval/feudal setting. Fake Nintendo are championed by the knight Marcus (Fake Mario), and Fake Sega have just recruited a new warrior, the young, blue-haired boy Gear who can run really fast. Yes, this is Fake Sonic, leading a ragtag bunch of heroes such as Fake Alex Kidd, a human representation of the Opa Opa ships from Fantasy Zone, and Fake Nei from Phantasy Star II.
Unfortunately, it has a very erratic release schedule, with new episodes airing every month or two. This is a goddamn shame though, as the first episode was bursting with amazing little gaming references, such as Fake Mario stomping on a Battleship which makes it explode, and a human representation of Tetris talking about filling up holes in the lewdest way possible. It’s on CrunchyRoll, and I highly recommend watching it.
One of the best players of Btooom!, a made up online game, suddenly wakes up on an island and is playing it for real. On first impressions, this Last Starfighter and Battle Royale/Hunger Games mash-up is a beautifully animated show that explores the usual survival aspects from this kind of story. Thing is though, it comes off a lot more like Lost.
Now that’s fine, Lost was great, and it’s an interesting twist on this kind of story. Through extended flashbacks you learn about the characters backstory, hinting at the dark reasons they’re on the island in the first place. However, it is incredibly slow paced, and the backstories are not really that interesting. This show could pick up towards the end of course, but for anyone coming in to it fresh, it will be tough to get through the first few episodes.
Shinki are action figure sized robot dolls that are household assistants. Busou Shinki are battle versions of these Shinki, who fight in holographic arenas with jetpacks and transforming bike armour and other awesome things. While not affiliated with CLAMP, this sounds like the missing link between Angelic Layer and Chobits, explaining how tiny fighting dolls became walking talking computer assistants.
What it actually is though is an ecchi harem anime where the main character has a few dolls with different personalities and body types to appeal to different fetishes, with each episode revolving around the Shinki doing household tasks like unpacking his moving boxes, or cooking him dinner. Now, ecchi and harem are par for the course with Anime, the pioneer of this, Tenchi Muyo, was a fantastic series. Busou Shinki though is boring and unoriginal, avoid.
Chuunibyou demo Koi ga Shitai! (Regardless of My Adolescent Delusions, I Want a Date!)
Also known as Chu2Koi or Chu2, this is the latest series by KyoAni, who also made Haruhi, Lucky Star, K-On!, and the recent Hyouka. These guys tend to pump out great stuff time after time, and Chu2 definitely does not disappoint. Based on a light novel, our main character wants to forget about pretending to be an evil sorcerer in his old school, but his new upstairs neighbour finds out about it. She just so happens to be in the same school in the same class, and has these “eighth grade delusions” herself.
It’s a sort of comedy romance as the main character tries to keep the girl Rikka out of trouble, and secure a “normal” high school life. She wants nothing more than for him to join in with his old persona, and seems to be falling for him. It has the usual brand of KyoAni comedy, and is of course very well animated. So far, this is definitely a show you’ll want to keep up with.
Just to remind you that you’re watching Anime, the show starts with a mysterious new transfer student. The main character, a badass and well respected girl, saw him the previous night standing idly by as people were burning in blue flames. Apparently he caused it, and is part of a secret organisation that deems themselves above the law, dealing out their own brand of evil to combat evil.
Sounds dark, mysterious, intriguing, and other similar adjectives. It also seems like it should be a shojo (girls) anime, as it stars many bishonen (beautiful boys) around a single, plain girl. Overall, it’s an unbalanced mess of ecchi, high school slice of life comedy, and mystery. The animation can be quite poor, with characters being off model scene to scene, and the story is somewhat incomprehensible. Like Btooom! it may pick up, however it seems less likely that it will.
Girls und Panzer
There was an Anime earlier this year called Upotte, which was about a school for human representations of real life military guns. It was strange, funny, and actually quite informative about military firearms. Girls und Panzer is about an alternate world where Tanks are now only used in mock battles, and is traditionally a popular sport/martial art for girls. After the experience with Upotte, it was only natural to give Girls und Panzer a shot.
Well, it’s quirky, it’s informative, but it’s not quite as funny as Upotte. It’s still not bad though, with a pretty good start, however the story does lack a little substance. It’s not too late for a plot to emerge though, as is usual fare with this kind of Anime, but for now it’s worth a look.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure
Does this class as a new series? Based on the classic manga of the same name, JJBA has had OVA and Anime adaptations before, and even some great fighting games, however this begins with a clean slate. Starting from the beginning of the manga (which JoJo’s fans will know is very different from how the rest of the series plays out), it retells the story of Jonathan Joestar and Dio Brando in Victorian England in a tale of the occult, broken friendships, and manly tears.
It’s a high budget project, and this shows in the animation. It also follows the manga incredibly closely, although it severely compresses the beginning to get the story going. Basically, it’s the best animated version of JJBA ever, and if you like anime with incredible fights, power levels, finishing moves, and all that other Fist of North Star and Dragon Ball Z stuff, then you will love this Anime.
Kamisama Hajimemashita (Kamisama Kiss)
The only shojo (girls) show on this list, Kamisama Kiss is about a girl that unwittingly becomes the new local shinto earth god. As one does. It centres around her adventures as a new god, but mainly her relationship with her familiar; a sexy, mysterious, rebellious human-form kitsune (fox demon). As the previous gods familiar, she renewed the contract with a kiss so that she can force him to help her when she’s being attacked.
It leads to an interesting story about whether or not she’s actually forming a meaningful relationship with her familiar, or if he’s ultimately being controlled by her and genuinely wouldn’t care to protect her like he currently does. It’s a little bit of a slow burn, but it’s a quality series for those that like a bit of romance.
Litchi DE Hikari Club
Supposedly this is based on a manga about a club building the ultimate AI/robot after a new leader comes to power, then they kidnap a girl, etc. The anime is a series of comedy shorts based on this, but probably not in the dark tone of the original manga.
It’s pretty funny, however it sounds like a proper adaptation of the manga would potentially be very, with these as bonus shorts for fans of it.
Take 1,001 Arabian Nights, mash together the stories and characters, and you have Magi. Aladdin is a small boy who can use a magical flute that contains a Genie, and goes on an adventure with Ali Baba to conquer mysterious “dungeons” that have appeared around the world as huge magical towers. There seems to be a lot of twists and turns to the plot along the way, with Aladdin being a special sorcerer that chooses kings and such.
Like Fullmetal Alchemist, it manages to mix comedy, drama, and action without any of it feeling out of place or forced. The overall story is interesting, with a classic anime set-up of establishing a world and characters before taking it off the rails in a different direction. With the current glut of high school anime, it’s refreshing to have something this different.
In the future, your mood is an indication of your criminal intent. So basically, if you have a mood ring, and it goes red, you’re probably about to go on a killing spree. The future police are able to scan people’s moods, and those diagnosed with having criminal intent are detained or killed depending on how severe. It’s 1984 meets Minority Report.
You can see from a mile off where this story is going to go: does this system work? It starts off though a lot more ambiguous, with apparent latent criminals being used by the Police to help hunt down the most dangerous people, and a rookie new detective who is new to it all. It’s another very well animated show, and the cast of characters is colourful and intriguing. A very strong show from this season.
Another one that sort of stretches the new series tagline, as it’s an alternate universe of a couple of popular shows called Chaos;Heads and Steins;Gate. Apart from a few brief references in the first episode, it’s so far completely separate though. This series is about a robotics club that is building a 1:1 replica of the lead robot in a popular in-universe super robot anime called Gunvarrel.
The show has a love for mecha anime, with one of the main characters continuously quoting Char Aznable from the original Gundam, and starts off with the club having to participate in a Robot Wars tournament to stop the principal from shutting them down. A deeper storyline is foreshadowed throughout the early episodes, hinting at the comedy and mecha reverence making way for a more substantial plot in the future. So far though, it’s been a pleasure to watch, especially for mecha fans.
Shin Sekai Yori (From the New World)
A weird and creepy mystery about kids discovering that their utopian future filled with telekinetics is not at all what it seems. Forgotten histories are discovered, lives are put on the line, and realities are shattered.
This anime has so far been very strong, doing a great job of putting out a vibe that something is not quite right, even when it’s just psychic kids being at school. Bits and pieces here and there are either subtly out of place, or outright wrong, and the sense of mystery and suspense that the main character feels is relayed to the viewer. It’s difficult to go into specifics without spoiling it, however the first couple of episodes should be enough to hook anyone.
Wooser no Sono Higurashi (Wooser’s Hand to Mouth Life)
Something lighter than the dark tone of Shin Sekai Yori, Wooser is a 3D animated series of shorts about a cute rabbit-like creature that is a foul-mouthed, gambling, womaniser. Those traits are not shown very extremely with Wooser though, and it turns out to be a pretty funny show with random video game references and quick fire jokes.
Zetsuen no Tempest (Tempest Blaster)
Very loosely based on the works of Shakespeare, the main characters best friend re-appears after going missing for a few months, only to now have magical powers. Also, everybody is turning to stone, and giant eyeballs are ascending from the bowels of the Earth. And the main character was totally hitting his best friends sister, and she died a year ago. You know, Shakespeare.
To be fair, this has so far been a really fantastic Anime. Great mystery and action revolving around the current situation, the death of his best friends sister exactly one year prior, and all the different factions involved. It’s presented deadly seriously, yet somehow really pulls it off, and a joy to watch each week.
That’s it for now. With only one drop-out and 14 shows remaining, this really is becoming the best anime season in some time.