With the winter holidays coming up, you may find yourself with a little free time and no anime to watch. Luckily, this season has several excellent anime you should already be watching. But what if you’ve already watched those? Well, luckily those aren’t the only great anime to come out this season.
Currently at: Episode 9 (of 12)
Genre: Comedy, Western Fantasy, Harem Romance
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: After taking an online test proving him to be one of the most “otaku” of otaku, Shinichi finds himself drafted by the Japanese government to be the ambassador to another reality. His task? To bring Japan’s greatest export (read: otaku fandom) to this medieval fantasy world.
Why You Should Watch It: Outbreak Company is a funny anime filled to the brim with slapstick and fish-out-of-water humor. It is also a celebration of otaku culture—especially anime and games. But beneath the surface, it is far deeper than it appears. It looks at the darkness of societal class systems and racism as well as the problems (and dangers) that occur when someone decides to challenge the Zeitgeist.
Why It Didn’t Make the “Should Be Watching” List: Much of the humor in Outbreak Company is focused on hardcore Otaku knowledge to the point of exclusion. Unless you know about things like the terminology behind boys love tropes or the history of dating sims in Japan, many of the jokes in Outbreak Company will go right over your head.
Watch It If You Liked: Ixion Saga DT
Currently at: Episode 8 (of 25)
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: One day, hundreds of thousands of people from across the world awaken to find themselves physically trapped inside the world’s most popular MMORPG. Unable to contact the outside world—or even confirm its existence—enchanter Shiroe and his friends set out to explore the online world that has become their new reality.
Why You Should Watch It: Log Horizon is a thought experiment exploring the implications of living in a video game world—a world quite different from our own. It is a world without death and a world without base survival needs (i.e., room and board). But more than that, it is a world where the inhabitants are suddenly forced to build a new society from the ground up.
Why It Didn’t Make the “Should Be Watching” List: Frankly, Log Horizon is one of those anime that is a bit slow to get started. At first, you might as well just be watching people playing an MMORPG. However, once the initial story arc is over, it quickly becomes far more interesting.
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Strike the Blood
Currently at: Episode 8 (of 25)
Genre: Modern Fantasy, Fighting
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In a world much like our own, three vampires, the “Primogenitors,” rule the world. Each serves to balance the others, creating a fragile peace that’s lasted for hundreds of years. However, in a small artificial island off the coast of Japan, a normal high school-aged boy finds that he has become the “Fourth Primogenitor” and that his very existence is bringing the world ever closer to the edge of disaster.
Why You Should Watch It: There’s a lot to like about Strike the Blood: It has great animation, cool-looking battles, and enjoyable characters. But its strongest point is its setting—one that shows just how easy it is for the world to go spinning out of control. Regardless of what Akatsuki, the Fourth Primogenitor, wants, there are few willing to let such a powerful player live in peace—not the vampires and especially not the humans who count on the endless stalemate for the world to survive. The only question is how Akatsuki will respond to everything going on around him.
Why It Didn’t Make the “Should Be Watching” List: While Strike the Blood started strong, after the first arc, the anime became all too willing to fall back on typical harem anime clichés and other well-worn tropes that sadly serve to dilute the story rather than enhance it. More than that though, for a fighting anime, it is important that the antagonists seem like a real threat—either physically or cerebrally. So far, the villains have all been painfully one dimensional and obviously outclassed—especially when Akatsuki has his friends on hand to help.
Watch It If You Liked: Blood+, Busou Renkin
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Currently at: Episode 9 (of 24)
Genre: Romance, Comedy
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Tada Bandri has entered a Tokyo law school in the hopes of starting a new life far away from home. Soon, he finds himself befriending pretty boy Mitsuo as well as Mitsuo’s eternal stalker with a crush Kouko. Together, the three of them struggle to define themselves, their feelings, and discover how they fit into the world.
Why You Should Watch It: Rare is the show that balances its comedy and romance as well as Golden Time. Indeed, while there is a lot of both comedy and romance to be found in this anime, the two stay separate—allowing for the show to steer clear of the vast majority of rom-com clichés. Add on top of that a few major plot twists and a collection of likable, interesting characters and you have a show that’s very much worth a watch.
Why It Didn’t Make the “Should Be Watching” List: Like more than a few 24-episode anime, Golden Time starts slow. While enjoyable on a basic comedy level, even six episodes in it's hard to tell where exactly the story is heading—or what kind of story is being told. The addition of a supernatural element to the whole story a few episodes in also seems more than a little unnecessary and out-of-place in an anime that seems bound to reality in every other instance.
Watch It If You Liked: NANA
Valvrave the Liberator 2nd Season
Currently at: Episode 8 (of 12)
Genre: Mecha, Sci-fi
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Valvrave is the story of a group of teens who become Gundam-piloting body-swapping space vampires after their country is conquered by the equivalent of space-nazis. This, the second season, deals with our heroes bringing their mecha to Earth in an attempt to contact (and hopefully rescue) their countrymen still trapped in their conquered nation.
Why You Should Watch It: Consequences. Valvrave is a series all about consequences. There are no easy outs and happy endings are few and far between. The supporting cast is painfully mortal and events can go from happily peaceful to excruciatingly violent in mere seconds. It is a series that always keeps you on your toes—only letting you get settled so it can knock you off your feet again.
Why It Didn’t Make the “Should Be Watching” List: With some of the main characters effectively written off the show and the removal of the first season’s unique setting, the start of Valvrave’s second season isn’t all that captivating. More than that, it takes a while before it get backs into the swing of doling out sudden crazy twists and heaps of emotional despair.
Watch It If You Liked: Gundam Seed, Valvrave the Liberator (Season One)
Now that you've read my recommendations for five more anime you should be watching this fall season, you may wonder why your favorite series is still absent. There are four potential reasons: (1) I think it is terrible (or at least not quite as good as the ten we've looked at); (2) it is the second/third/fourth season of an anime and I haven’t seen the first; (3) it is an anime continuing from last season; or (4) it simply didn’t cross my radar.
But if you feel I have left out an anime that’s something special, feel free to give me a heads up in the comments and tell me why you feel that way. Or pop over to Talk Amongst Yourselves: ANI-TAY and post your thoughts on your favorites.
Oh, and if you feel the need for even more anime to watch, be sure to check out the five anime of spring 2013 you should have watched and the five anime of summer 2013 you should have watched.
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