Now that it's October we once again have a new anime season, and it's looking pretty good so far. As usual, I can't (and really don't want to) watch everything in a season, but here are my reactions to the shows that caught my eye this season. All the plot summaries here come from Anime News Network. I'll be categorizing them by how strongly I would recommend them based on the first episode. Without further ado, here's what's worth watching this season.
Watch: Shows That You Shouldn't Miss
Plot Summary: In 1939, the imperialist nation of Germania launched a sudden invasion of its neighboring countries. This conflagration engulfed all of Europe in one fell swoop, and the era was dragged into the maelstrom of war. Then in 1940, Germania set its sights on Elystadt, a tiny principality blessed with breathtaking greenery and water in the Alps. Izetta is a descendant of a clan of witches who had passed down mysterious powers for generations. Since she was little, she and her grandmother lived their lives on the road, traveling between European countries in order to hide these powers. Fiine is the sole daughter in line to succeed Rudolph III, the ruler of the Principality of Elystadt. Since her father has been stricken by illness, she has been busy preparing for Germania's invasion in his stead.
Review: I didn't quite know what to expect going into Izetta. The head writer has worked on plenty of well liked shows (Code Geas), but also some not so well liked shows (Guilty Crown). Luckily, Izetta's off to a strong start. The first episode did a great job establishing the alternate history World War II setting and introducing Fine as a strong lead and even had time for some political drama and action. The animation and music are both high quality, and the introduction of Izetta herself had a Ghibli-esque vibe to it. There are some hints of yuri, which I wouldn't mind, although it may just end up being bait. Still, I have high hopes for this.
Plot Summary: Shimazu Toyohisa is the real-life samurai who fought in the pivotal Battle of Sekigahara. In his dying moments, Shimazu is transported to a world of magic with other famous warriors throughout history. These warriors are forced to fight each other in an endless battle.
Review: Drifters is exactly what I expected from the an adaptation of a manga by Kouta Hirano, the creator of Hellsing — plenty of action, plenty of gore and some hit and miss comedy. The first episode did it's job introducing the lead characters and providing a hook for the rest of the show and did it well. Historical figures fighting in a fantasy world is an interesting, if not wholly original, idea and has a lot of potential. Drifters isn't going to amaze anyone with its deep story, but it still had one of the most entertaining premiers of the season.
Plot Summary: After young man, Atsushi Nakajima, saves a man from his wish of suicide, he and his friends join the "Arms Detective Company," a league of literary figures that also harness special powers. (from Season 1)
Review: Bungo Stray Dogs 2 starts out with Dazai's backstory, something that Season 1 hinted at frequently hinted but never showed. Episode 1 showed the same mix of solid action and comedy as the first season, but had some surprisingly strong direction. The use of mood lighting in some scenes was much more noticeable than any directorial choices from Season 1 and is a nice change. Bungo Stray Dogs isn't going to amaze anyone, but is still solid entertainment and is worth watching for anyone who liked the first season.
Plot Summary: The protagonist, Rei, is a 17-year old professional shōgi player, who lives by himself, not having a real family, and has scarcely any friends. Among his acquaintances is a family, which consists of a young woman, Akari, and two young girls, Hinata and Momo, and who also keep a numerous number of cats.
Review: March comes in like a lion (lower case is how it's officially written) is probably the most interesting anime of the season. Studio Shaft is known for creativity if nothing else, and this is no exception. The art is highly stylized without going overboard and the direction is excellent. Rei's depression is conveyed completely through coloring, facial expressions and shot framing at the start and he doesn't actually have any lines until nearly nine minutes into the episode. His depression is clearly the focus of the show, and it colors almost everything. The way it's portrayed is very realistic, with him just struggling to enjoy anything instead of just being sad all the time. The comedy comes off as somewhat jarring, but still provides a nice contrast with his inner thoughts. March comes in like a lion is guaranteed to be interesting if nothing else.
Wait And See: These Shows Have Potential
Plot Summary: Papika and Cocona hold the keys to open the door. When the two girls meet, their adventures in a different time and different overlapping dimension called "Pure Illusion" begin. Many things in Pure Illusion will stand in the girls' way on their search for the mysterious crystal called the "Shard of Mimi," an item that is said to grant any wish. However, when the girls find themselves in danger, the Shard of Mimi shines, and they are able to transform.
Review: Flip Flappers had a pretty good first episode, but I'm not entirely sure what it was a first episode of. Both characters were introduced and have pretty good chemistry (that may turn into yuri later on) and the art was creatively done, but I have absolutely no idea where it's going. There was very little done to establish the setting or the rules of that world, and I'm not entirely sure where the story's going. The animation was also an odd mix of smooth movement and jerkiness. There's potential here, but I'd rather wait to see what kind of show it turns into.
Plot Summary: A social game called The Magical Girl Raising Project allows one in tens of thousands of people to be a "magical girl" — possessing extraordinary physical capabilities and looks, as well as special magical powers that set them apart from the rest of the human race. But one day, in a district containing 16 magical girls, the administration announces that it must halve the number of magical girls to solve the problem of magical energy. At first, the 16 magical girls race to collect more "magical candy" than their competitors, but the rules quickly become twisted, and it quickly becomes a murderous battle for survival among them.
Review: It's basically impossible to do a darker magical girl show now without people instantly thinking of Madoka Magica. Magical Girl Raising Project was pretty obviously influenced by Madoka and probably wouldn't exist without it, but there are still some original ideas here. Koyuki's love of magical girls is endearing and all of the secondary characters at least have some personality to them. Sou is especially interesting as a boy who likes magical girls and actually becomes one. A lot of how this ends up depends on if it can do its own thing and avoid becoming a copy of Madoka Magica. It also needs to make sure not to just be dark for the sake of being dark and do it for the sake of the story. It could turn out well, but it could also become a generic Madoka clone. It's hard to tell which way it's going to go at this point.
Skip: Not Worth Your Time
Plot Summary: Nine idiosyncratic individuals are linked by the "Chōjō Kagaku Kirikiri Basara" occult summary blog run by 17-year-old second-year high school student Yūta Gamon. Little incongruities that occur around these nine eventually lead to a larger, unimaginable event that may alter what is considered common sense in this world.
Review: Occultic;Nine was the biggest disappointment for me this season. It has a strong staff — the director of Your Lie in April, from the creator of Steins;Gate (one of my all time favorites) and animated by A-1 Pictures. It had potential but the first episode didn't do much to impress. There was some impressive animation, but the storytelling felt like the writers had had too much caffeine. Characters were introduced rapid fire without much to connect them with the audience and half the cast talks at about x1.5 speed, which is both annoying and makes it hard to keep up with the subtitles. It has the seeds of a good supernatural murder mystery, but needs to relax a bit and do more to create an atmosphere instead of rush everything. Also, the character designer needs to tone it down with the breast sizes. Ryo-tas just looks ridiculous.
For alternate takes on the shows I covered here and first impressions of anime I didn't watch, Anime News Network's preview guide is a great resource.
Which of these anime are you most excited to get into?
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Everything listed here is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.