The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

There are a lot of new anime on the air right now—47 of them to be exact—and it can be more than a little difficult to know which ones to watch. Luckily, we at Kotaku East are here to help with our recommendations.

As we hit the half-way point of the season, it is time for me to finally pry my eyes away from my TV set. I have spent the last month getting fully caught up on all the most well-recommended new anime from this season (thanks to the readers of TAY and Ani-TAY)—as well as a few other ones that just happened to catch my eye.

Keep in mind as you read that these are simply the new anime that should not be missed this season. There are many more airing currently that are perfectly watchable. But that said, these listed here are the cream of the crop.

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

Witch Craft Works

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Modern Fantasy, Comedy, Romance

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Takamiya is your average high school boy who just happens to sit next to Kagari, the most popular girl in school—though he finds this situation troublesome, more than anything else. One day, he is suddenly attacked by a witch and her army of bunny golems—only to be rescued by Kagari who then informs him that she is also a witch as well as his magical bodyguard.

Why You Should Watch It: This anime is based on inverting typical gender roles in a classic fantasy structure. In Witch Craft Works it is the beautiful woman who is the ever vigilant "knight" and the young man who is the "princess" in need of constant rescue. Moreover, for the most part, the dialogue is written exactly the same as it would be if the "princess" were female and the "knight" male—which only adds to the fun of the gender inversion theme.

And beyond that, the anime is still quite enjoyable. The visuals are excellent, the humor light-hearted, the characters distinct, and the world more than a little crazy and over-the-top. In other words, Witch Craft Works is a lot of fun.

Watch It If You Like: Anime that play with gender roles.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

Sakura Trick

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Romance, Comedy, School Life

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Haruka and Yuu have been inseparable best friends all through middle school. However, upon entering high school, the two girls find themselves sitting on opposite sides of the classroom—causing Haruka to nearly go into hysterics, convinced that it is only a matter of time before Yuu moves on and replaces her with new friends. Thus, to prevent growing apart, the two girls decide to do something special—something that they have never done with another friend. The two share a kiss—and in doing so begin a relationship of another kind.

Why You Should Watch It: Sakura Trick is an anime that begins—not ends—with the start of a romantic relationship. It presents two young people clearly in love and dedicated to their relationship—but who have absolutely no idea what they are doing. Thus mistakes and misunderstandings happen often. Yet, instead of getting bogged down in heavy drama, the story is presented in a lighthearted matter—often alternating between the comical events of their school life and the romantic moments the two share. All in all, it makes for an enjoyable romantic comedy, full of the romantic payoffs most anime are so keen to hold back on.

Watch It If You Like: The idea of a light-hearted lesbian love story.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

Wizard Barristers

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Action, Mystery

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In a world much like our own, the most dangerous criminals are those born with magical powers. Common people live in fear of magic users and racial tension between them is always high. So, when a magic user is accused of a crime, the deck is very much stacked against them in the magical court of law. Thus enters Cecile, the youngest wizard defense attorney ever—and a girl with an impending destiny that even she is unaware of.

Why You Should Watch It: Wizard Barristers takes the idea of people having magical powers in the modern world and plays it straight—creating a world built around the fear that a single criminal with magical powers can kill dozens with little to no effort. On top of this is a varied cast with interesting mysteries and backstories all their own that are explored alongside the series' case-of-the-week.

Another other strong point of Wizard Barristers is just how beautiful it is—which is unsurprising as it comes from Yasuomi Umetsu, the man behind Kite and Mezzo Forte. The anime is almost worth watching on looks alone.

Watch It If You Like: Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Kite, and Mezzo Forte.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

The Pilot's Love Song

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Karl is a young man on a mission of revenge. To get it, he joins a flight school on a floating island city on a course for the end of the sky. As the days go by, he makes friends and even falls in love. However, the day is ever approaching when he will have to choose between his new life and the vengeance he seeks.

Why You Should Watch It: The Pilot's Love Song is an excellent tale of love, hate, and forgiveness. Told largely through an exploration of the characters' back stories, the anime has a deep and well-developed main cast, several great revelations, and a believable love story.

But the real star of The Pilot's Love Song is the setting and the art style that supports it. The flying island is stunning and the imaginative pre-World War II style airplanes steal practically every scene they are in—especially once the dog fights get started.

Watch It If You Liked: The Princess and the Pilot, Porco Rosso, or Laputa: Castle in the Sky.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

World Conquest Zvezda Plot

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 13)

Genre: Comedy, Superhero

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Asuta is a middle schooler who one day decides to run away from home. It is then that he meets eight-year-old Kate who invites him to become her henchman and help her take over the world. While at first thinking this is a game of pretend, he soon learns that she does indeed lead a team of superhero-battling villains who are conquering the world one small piece at a time.

Why You Should Watch it: World Conquest is a great comedic twist on Japanese superhero tropes and clichés—i.e., those common in shows like Kamen Rider, Power Rangers, and Gatchaman. By telling the villains’ side of the story, we get to see how they spend the down time in between battles, how they interact on a personal level, and the more mundane—as well as the more fantastical—problems they must overcome in the running of an evil organization.

But the best part of World Conquest is Kate herself. While indeed the unquestioned leader of the group, a lot of the show’s best humor comes in those moments when she acts like a normal eight-year-old girl. Though, in all honesty, it’s equally funny to see a child talking like a Bond villain about her plans for world domination.

Watch It If You Like: The idea of seeing a Japanese superhero show from the villains’ point of view.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki


Bonus Pick: The Short-Form Anime You Should be Watching

The Five Anime of Winter 2014 You Should Be Watching

Tonari no Seki-Kun: The Master of Killing Time

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 13)

Genre: Comedy, School Life

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Rumi is a responsible high school girl just trying to get the best out of her education. Unfortunately for her, the titular Seki sits in the desk next to hers and she can’t help but be distracted by the astounding ways he finds to keep himself entertained in class. You know, instead of learning.

Why You Should Watch It: Told entirely through Rumi’s point of view (complete with her running inner monologue) Tonari no Seki-Kun presents the most basic, yet perhaps most entertaining, anime of the season. Each seven to eight minute episode shows one of Seki’s ways of killing time—be that setting hundreds of erasers on end like dominoes or creating an intricate samurai war story using nothing but shogi pieces. Each episode is hilarious not only in what Seki does, but in Rumi’s reactions as she finds herself drawn into his antics despite her best efforts.

Watch it If You: Have a vivid imagination and/or have ever slacked off in class.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Now that you've read my recommendations for what anime you should be watching this winter season, you may wonder why your favorite series is absent. There are four potential reasons: (1) I think it is terrible (or at least not quite as good as the five above); (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 our picks for the top five anime of 2013.

Kotaku East is your slice of Asian internet culture, bringing you the latest talking points from Japan, Korea, China and beyond. Tune in every morning from 4am to 8am.

To contact the author of this post, write to BiggestinJapan@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.