The arrival of the new season comes with the start of a new academic year. It is an agony for some of us who diligently follow the seasonal anime calendar especially when the coursework starts bearing down on you. But this is where I come in to help navigate you amongst the many series out this season! I’ve shortlisted the top 5 anime series I deem worthy of your time to squeeze into your busy schedule. This list will not be including sequels and leftovers from previous seasons to avoid the pre-requirements of watching them (I’m doing your productivity level a favour here).
The Ancient Magus’ Bride (Mahoutsukai no Yome)
The Ancient Magus’ Bride is set in modern-day England where magic persists alongside creatures from English folklore. Chise is a 15-year old orphan who lacks the will to live due to the unfortunate consequences her powers have brought to her. She is then persuaded to sell herself to the magical world via an auction. However, Elias Ainsworth the Thorn Mage purchases her to become his mage apprentice and later future bride. The high production value and lovely animation (Studio Wit is notable for animating Attack on Titan) is apparent in scenes that involve the display of magic use and mythical creatures – a factor that attributes to its current raging popularity. The visuals are also thoughtful during scenes that demand emotional weight – appropriate lighting and framing constructs that evoke a character’s emotions rather well. Chise and Elias’ relationship bears something similar to a Beauty and the Beast dynamic. Their humour can be poorly timed and awkward at times, but I suppose that is the charm of their interactions. I’ve also enjoyed the soundtrack, albeit seldom played, that capture the mystical essence of the anime. Though Magus Bride is a rather conventional fantasy story with a slow pace, it’s charming character interactions and compelling English folklore would be sure to engage you.
Inuyashiki: Last Hero
We had One Punch Man. Now we have One Old Man (please laugh). Jokes aside, I consider Inuyashiki one of the best gems anime has to offer us this season. In the introductory episode, we are introduced to Inuyashiki Ichirou, a 58-year old man disrespected by his family and diagnosed with terminal cancer. The arrival of an alien ship, however, reconstructs him (think Captain America) to become an android capable of combat. The rebirth of Ichirou is juxtaposed with Hiro, who is also rebuilt by the aliens to become an android. While Ichirou fights for good, Hiro is evil incarnate and abuses his newly gifted powers. You may have enjoyed the pleasing visuals of Magus Bride but if you’re looking for some grit – look no further for the best realistic action sequences this season. That and the fact Inuyashiki is created by manga artist Oku Hiroya whose most notable work is the heavily violent cult classic, Gantz. Expect lots of fighting, psychological horrors, and trembling emotional moments. Director Satou Keiichi (noteworthy for Rage of Bahamut: Genesis which I highly recommend) crafts tasteful suspense-filled scenes and utilises sound at the appropriate timing to layer it. If you prefer psychological action thrillers or feel like you can only commit to just one series this season – this is it.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Netojuu no Susume)
Maybe you’re looking for something lighter. Maybe a simple rom-com to relieve you of assessment stress. Well then, check out Recovery of an MMO Junkie! The virtual world is a frequent setting for action-adventure stories but in this case, it is a place that explores the relationship between two avatars and their real life personalities. Moriko, a 30-year old elite NEET [Not in Education, Employment, or Training] installs the MMO game ‘Fruits de Mer’ after quitting her job. Her avatar Hayashi, an ikemen (good-looking guy), befriends a super cute healer, Lily. Unbeknownst to her, the healer is Yuuta, an ikemen in real life. The series explores how the characters handle their real-life world while seeking refuge as well as companionship in a game. This series isn’t graphically striking but it is light-hearted with a touch of comedy that doesn’t try too hard to be funny. A good example of this is the scene where Hayashi starts fighting a giant hamster with a tree branch. It is a repetitive sequence that plays with anticipation and the flatness of a moment. While the plot may seem directionless in the course of the first few episodes, thte question remains: how will Moriko and Yuuta’s relationship progress from its virtual form to real life? Recovery of an MMO Junkies seems to ask: do we actually know how to separate our virtual world and our reality?
Girls’ Last Tour (Shoujo Shuumatsu Ryokou)
Girls’ Last Tour is your fall anime flavour this season, if you’re into shows that explore post-apocalyptic worlds. The series is set in the bleak atmosphere of a post-war civilisation and centers on two young girls, Chito and Yuuri. Travelling across the world on their motorbike, they explore the remains of the world in an attempt to survive it. The show’s solemn tone is highlighted through the muted colours of the world’s decay. Though the world no longer gives them a reason to live, they find meaning in being together and doing insignificant activities. As the episodes progress, the girls find that even though the future of this civilization remains uncertain, there is still life hidden underneath these ruins. Its philosophical attempts end up rather surface without continually begging the question, enough to give the viewer an idea or director as to the purpose of this show. Perhaps if you’re in need of something uplifting during depressing times – I would recommend Girls’ Last Tour. Its graphics and over-reliant usage of CG may not be to everyone’s cup of hot chocolate but the show certainly shifts my perspective of life for the day.
Land of the Lustrous (Hōseki no Kuni)
If you’re one for a wider cast of characters or something that bears a hint of Steven Universe’s wide and diverse range of figures, this is the series for you. Land of the Lustrous is a fantasy setting that explores gems as genderless characters in the form of humanoids. Not only are the gems people per se, these people take on the physical properties of their respective gemstones. The conflict emerges in the introductory episodes detailing how gems are at war with the moon people, or Lunarians who want them as decorations. Phos (short for Phosphophyllite), who lack the hardness to fight, are relegated to work on an encyclopaedia collection information. What’s interesting about this is the lore and the history behind it, or the mystery of their existence. There is more than meets the eye as questions regarding the gems grow. The challenging aspect of watching this is its striking CG visuals. It is not easy on the eyes at times. However, it does make the fighting sequences a mesmerizing, elegant watch. While the anime experiments with visuals, the narrative proves its worth as it explores of the question of self-identity and even fantasises the origins of our own world.
Garo: Vanishing Line
Jūni Taisen: Zodiac War
It’s good to catch up with some recent series but don’t let it take too much of your time! If you have another titles worthy of your Top 5 list, do share it in the comments!
Written by Kristine Rimas Lee