The current Winter 2016 anime season is already kicking off with several shows premiering today. The question always seems to go back to, "What should I watch??" Well, there is a slew of new shows as always and I'm going to give a rundown of the ones that I will be keeping an eye on as the season progresses. I tend to look for a few things when deciding how to spend my precious free time watching anime: An interesting premise,gorgeous art, a respected studio, or writers/directors known for producing quality work. So, lets get started!
Myriad Colors Phantom World
Studio: Kyoto Animation
Synopsis: The story takes place in the near future, in a world born of human imagination. What humans would call ghosts or monsters appear, and they come to be called "phantoms." The main character, Haruhiko Ichijo, is a first year at Hosea Academy along with his upperclassman Mai Kawakami, who fights phantoms with the ability "Spirit of Five Elements," Izumi Reina, who has the ability "Phantom Eater," and Koito Minase, who fights phantoms in solitude. They experience the ups and downs of high school life before a certain incident leads them to the truth of this world.
Thoughts: My first reaction to watching the teaser was, "Wow, so this will be this seasons action packed eye candy". Then I noticed that Kyoto Animation was producing the show and just how much different the show looks. It doesn't have the distinctive look we've come to associate with the famed studio since the days of Haruhi Suzumiya. It has sharper angles and even a different color palette from what we have come to expect from their shows.The premise looks interesting and the animation means that they are pumping a decent amount of money and talent in the hopes that it pays off. This might be my anime of the season, but it could also fail spectacularly.
Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit (Active Raid: Kido Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hakkei)
Studio: Production IMS
Set in a part of Tokyo that has descended into a quagmire, the story follows Unit 8 of the 5th Special Public Security Section's 3rd Mobile Assault Division, popularly called "The Eighth," who don powered armor "Willwear" exoskeletons to counter the rise in crime.
Assistant inspector Asami Kazari is assigned to The Eighth with the task of assessing the unit's status and reporting it to her superiors. But her true goal is to rehabilitate this sloppy, haphazard, justice-less group.
Thoughts: It looks pretty generic and I'll probably drop it after one or two episodes, but sometimes a show can surprise you. This is an original anime,a rare thing nowadays, so there isn't any manga or light novel to gauge the quality of the story. We'll see.
Erased (Boku Dake ga Inai Machi)
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Synopsis: Struggling manga author Satoru Fujinuma is beset by his fear to express himself. However, he has a supernatural ability of being forced to prevent deaths and catastrophes by being sent back in time before the incident occurred, repeating time until the accident is prevented. One day, he gets involved in an accident that has him framed as a murderer. Desperate to save the victim, he sends himself back in time only to find himself as a grade-schooler one month before fellow classmate Kayo Hinazuki went missing. Satoru now embarks on a new quest: to save Kayo and solve the mystery behind her disappearance.
Thoughts: This premise honestly sounds really cool. Not to mention that A-1 Pictures tends to make nice looking anime. The only thing that has me worried is the premise of an older dude inhabiting his younger self and possibly falling in love with a much younger girl. It has the potential for the creep factor, but I'm hoping that it doesn't focus on any romantic aspects and instead focuses on the murder mystery aspect of the show.
Synopsis: In the year 2071, the world's energy problems seem solved by a network of cross-dimensional electric-field inductors- "coils" -that extract energy from a seemingly infinite source. That source is the W dimension, a fourth plane that exists beyond the X, Y, and Z dimensions. In this world, unofficial "illegal" coils harness powers that the police can't hope to counter. Dealing with these coils is the job of coil-hating repo man Kyoma, whose run-in with the unique coil android Mira leads the two to form a reluctant partnership.
Thoughts: The action scenes look fluid, the story seems interesting and the director has worked The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Ergo Proxy and Blood: The Last Vampire. The whole thing is based off a manga which usually leaves us with a lackluster ending when the manga is still ongoing. I'm giving it a shot and will see where this goes.
Studio: Studio Pierrot
When the Divine Gate opened, the living world, the heavens, and the underworld became connected, ushering an era of chaos where desires and conflict intersect. To restore order, the World Council is formed. As peace is restored, the Divine Gate becomes an urban legend.
In that world, boys and girls deemed fit by the World Council are gathered. They are ones who aim to reach the gate for their personal objectives. Those who reach the gate can remake the world.What lies beyond the gate? When they reach the door, will the world change? Will it be the past that changes, or will it be the future?
Thoughts: Another show that I will probably drop after one or two episodes. The plot sounds super generic, the animation looks average and the previews that are available don't really feature anything that catches my eye. The director has worked on Bleach which is a negative in my book. So why am I watching the first episode again? I'm a sucker for fancy promo art.
Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There! Fire Dragon Arc
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Synopsis : The second season of the Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri anime which will cover the Fire Dragon Arc.
Thoughts: If you didn't dig the first season then there's no reason to watch the second. I'm conflicted when it comes to this series. The premise is utterly awesome. Take a modern day army and pit it against armies and foes ripped from fantasy based world. The premise isn't the problem, it's the constant portrayal of Americans as Japanese hating villains who are inferior in every way possible. Don't get me wrong, American media has no problem depicting other cultures as the villains and Americans as the only competent ones. It just seems odd when so many of us actually love Japan and consume its media. That isn't the only problem, the harem premise and ancient loli character detracts from the premise. Watch it if you're looking for an interesting experience.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash
Studio: A-1 Pictures
Synopsis : Living, isn't easy.When Haruhito awakens, he's in the dark.
He doesn't know where he is, why is he here, and where he came from.
Around him there are several men and women who have the same circumstances.
Together, they advance forward away from the darkness, and a world they've never seen before called "Grimgar" spreads out before them.
Memories, money, special powers — This is the reality we who have none of those things have obtained.
Thoughts: This certainly looks promising. The backgrounds have a water color look and the animation seems pretty good. The character designs are a bit generic and there is one character who is wearing shorts that barely cover her rear, but the fantasy setting and pretty artwork is a definite reason to check out the first episode.
Naruto: Shippuden - Itachi Shinden - Hikari to Yami
Synopsis: The series will center around the past life of Itachi, the older brother of Sasuke Uchiha.
Thoughts: Love it or hate it, the Naruto franchise is a giant financial success. The manga ended last year and we were treated to two great movies that take place after the final chapters of the comic book. There has been another series announced for Boruto, but fans of the older characters will be getting an anime focused on Itachi Uchiha and his super tragic past. The characters border on the emo side of things at times, but I can't get enough of the world created by Masashi Kishimoto.
Prince of Stride: Alternative
Studio: Madhouse Studios
Synopsis:The series revolves around a closed-down "Stride" club at Hounan Academy. First-year high school students Takeru Fujiwara and Nana Sakurai attempt to restart the club, but they must recruit six members for the team. They ask Riku Yagami to join, but he turns them down by saying that Stride is the one thing he doesn't want to do. However, Takeru and Nana drag Riku into the clubroom to try to convince him.
Thoughts: Based off a visual novel, this seems to be this seasons appeal to those who can't get enough pretty boys on their screens. Madhouse Studios never fails to produce beautiful work and this is no exception. This also has the distinction of being directed by one of the few women the directors role in the anime industry, Atsuko Ishizuka. If the name doesn't sound familiar, she worked on No Game No Life just a few seasons ago. This will hopefully turn out great.
This current season doesn't seem to have anything on par with the hype train for One Punch Man and Attack on Titan season 2, but there will hopefully be one or two that will be worth watching to completion. Whether or not these will be remembered in five years remains to be seen, but being forgotten tends to be the fate of most anime.