Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』 on Twitter
There are 55 new TV anime airing this season, so it can be hard to know what to watch. So here are our recommendations.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent dozens of hours watching anime that caught my eye—along with the anime you all recommended and those that Sarah, Toshi, Kat, and Ken insisted I watch. With all that watching and the subsequent discussions out of the way, here are our recommendations for the five you should definitely be watching.
Now, keep in mind that these are simply our picks for the five anime we feel you should not miss out on this season. That in no way means that the anime that didn’t make this list are bad; it just means that we feel the shows below are the best of the best that this season has to offer.
[Note: The list below is presented in alphabetical order.]
Image Source: TVアニメ『魔法使いの嫁』 on Twitter
The Ancient Magus’ Bride
Studio: Wit Studio
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 24)
Genre: Modern Fantasy
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Teenage orphan Chise has spent her childhood being passed from one reluctant family member to another—all the while plagued by visions of monsters walking amoung us that no one else is able to see. Tired of her meaningless existence, Chise elects to sell herself into slavery in the hopes that someone will, at least, be able to find a use for her. However, she finds herself purchased by an inhuman ancient magus who doesn’t seek to make Chise a slave, but rather his apprentice—and bride.
Why You Should Watch It: The Ancient Magus’ Bride is a visually stunning anime that presents the beautiful world of magic hidden in the shadows of our own. Watching as Chise learns about fairies, magic, spirits, and dragons in her various adventures builds a world you can’t help but want to explore in wide-eyed wonder.
It is also the personal story of a young woman suffering from the lingering effects of prolonged child abuse who takes the first steps toward healing thanks to her relationship with Elias, the ancient mage. And on his side, it is about how he, for the first time in his immortal existence, finds someone that he cares about on an emotional level instead of a purely academic one. It makes for an unlikely-yet-wonderful love story, even as certain doom for the couple draws ever nearer.
Watch It If You Like: xxxHolic, Mushishi
Image Source: 「アニメガタリズ」公式 on Twitter
Studio: Wao World
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Comedy
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Minoa is a freshman in high school who has no interest in the various sports clubs at her school. However, one night, she has a dream—a memory of watching an anime as a child. Searching for what this anime could be, she discovers that the prim and proper rich girl in her class, Arisu, is actually a closet anime fan. Unfortunately, even she doesn’t know about Minoa’s mysterious anime but decides that the best way to solve the problem would be to ask more people by making an anime club. Soon a group of six, the burgeoning anime club struggles to survive as the student council tries time and again to shut them down.
Why You Should Watch It: Anime-Gataris is an anime for anime fans, by anime fans, about anime fans. Each episode focuses on one part of otaku culture and explores the idea. One episode is centered around an anime’s relationship with its source material (and the fights that can come from it). Another looks at what an anime convention is like for a complete newbie. If you want to know what it’s like to be an anime fan in Japan, then don’t miss out on Anime-Gataris.
Watch It If You Like: Anime-Gatari, Lucky Star, Genshiken, Shirobako
Image Source: アニメ「いぬやしき」公式＠2017年10 on Twitter
Inuyashiki: Last Hero
Currently at: Episode 5 (of 11)
Genre: Superhero, Sci-Fi
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Ichiro Inuyashiki is a mid-level office worker in his 50s—though he looks and feels like he’s in his 70s. Trapped in a loveless family and without a friend in the world, Inuyashiki is diagnosed with terminal cancer. Lamenting his life that night in a park, he is killed by a crashing UFO—whose inhabitants elect to rebuild his body using spare weapons technology before continuing on their way. Now with powers far beyond anything on earth, Inuyashiki must decide what to do with his new life—as must the teenage boy, Hiro, who was also killed in the park that night.
Why You Should Watch It: Inuyashiki is a story filled with deep, philosophical exploration. Inuyashiki and Hiro (and those who discover what is going on with them) are forced to wonder if they are still “human” or if they are just robotic facsimiles. Thus each of the pair must find their own way to try and connect with their humanity.
For Inuyashiki, he’s able to find that connection in the moment when he helps a person—saving them from danger as he always wished he could before the accident. For Hiro, on the other hand, he only feels truly human when he is killing people—watching as they struggle to stay alive.
Through the two, we are then able to explore the idea of what makes a hero and, in turn, what makes a villain. And surprisingly, the answer is far from clear: for even the villain can help a friend and the hero fail to save someone.
Watch It If You Like: GANTZ, Parasyte, Ajin: Demi-Human
Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike
Image Source: テレビアニメ「十二大戦」公式 on Twitter
Juni Taisen: Zodiac War
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)
Genre: Death Game, Fighting, Modern Fantasy
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Every 12 years, 12 fighters gather to fight it out in a killing game. Each fighter is based on one of the twelve members of the Chinese zodiac and the final one alive gets to have their greatest wish granted. Now’s the time for the 12th tournament where the combatants have 12 hours to be the last one standing—or die from the poisoned jewel each has been forced to swallow.
Why You Should Watch It: While at first glance you may think that Juni Taisen is simply about fighting in a death game, it’s far more about the people who have become participants in this game than the tournament itself. Who they are, where they’re from, and why they’d join such a fight in the first place is what elevates this anime. Each person is basically a mystery waiting to be solved.
To add to this, most episodes focus on a single character. On one hand, this lets us hear that person’s thoughts and back story while we see how they interpret current events. On the other, this means we see the other characters only through the lens of our viewpoint character, leaving all the other characters actions mysterious—well, until they become the viewpoint character in turn that is.
Watch It If You Like: Fate/Zero, Monogatari Series, Zaregoto
Image Source: TVアニメ『宝石の国』 on Twitter
Land of the Lustrous
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In a world where a few dozen immortal gemstone girls work with a solitary monk, the youngest and second most fragile of them, Phosphophyllite, struggles to find her place. What she wants more than anything is to fight the cloud-like people who come from the moon to abduct the gem girls, but as even a normal fall can shatter her (requiring a lot of glue and time to fix), she is barred from combat. Given the order to begin making an encyclopedia of all the living things near to their compound, Phos comes across the literally toxic—and habitually alone—Cinnabar and discovers her true purpose: to find the place where Cinnabar truly belongs.
Why You Should Watch It: On the visual side, Land of the Lustrous is nothing short of spectacular. It’s full of great-looking and dynamic 3D animation which both perfectly suits the surreal visuals and shows off just how this non-traditional style of animation can be expertly used.
Moreover, despite the fantastical setting and characters, Land of the Lustrous is really about the human condition. Each of us, like Phos, wants to find the place we truly belong—where we love what we do and do what we love. The flip side of this is the jealousy that lurks within us all when we see someone who has already found their place. Through Phos’ various adventures we see how each of the gem girls deal with the eternal job they have been given and learn that whether at the top or bottom, the grass always seems greener on the other side.
Watch It If You Like: Steven Universe, Haibane Renmei