When the fall 2013 anime season started early last month, I told you a little bit about each anime and where to watch them. However, with 49 new anime to watch this fall, one can’t help but ask: Which of them should you be watching?
Now, as we have hit the half-way point of the season, I have finally emerged from my deep, dark cave fully caught up on all the most well-recommended anime (thanks to the readers of TAY and Ani-TAY)—as well as a few others that just happened to catch my eye.
Keep in mind as you read that these are simply the anime that should not be missed this season. There are many more airing currently that are perfectly watchable—in fact, of the sixteen anime I watched, I’d only call one “below average.” But that said, these listed here are the cream of the crop.
Kill la Kill
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 25)
Genre: Comedy, Fighting, Magical Girl
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Searching for the person who killed her father, Ryuko enters a high school where the student council rules with an iron fist thanks to their superpower-granting uniforms. Armed with a superpowered uniform of her own, Ryuko must fight her way through the student body and defeat the student council president—the one person who knows the identity of her father’s killer.
Why You Should Watch It: If you’ve seen Gurren Lagann or Panty & Stocking, you know what you are in for with Kill la Kill. On one hand, it’s a slapstick comedy, mocking everything from the Japanese school system to fanservice in anime. On the other hand, it’s a series that embraces over-the-top action and uses it to take a magical girl anime to its most absurd extremes. Add in an amazing original soundtrack and it becomes a crazy ride that is just fun to watch.
Watch It If You Liked: Gurren Lagann, Panty & Stocking with Garterbelt.
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, Hulu, Aniplex, Wakanim (UK)
Beyond the Boundary
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 13)
Genre: Modern Fantasy, Fighting, Romance
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: There is a world hidden within our own—one filled with supernatural creatures and the spirit warriors who battle those who get out of control. When Mirai, an outcast blood-bender, arrives in town in search of vengeance, she reluctantly befriends an immortal half-human—an act that changes her life forever.
Why You Should Watch It: Beyond the Boundary is the story of two outcasts finding true friendship for the first time in their lives. It deals with what it’s like simply to be born different and to be ostracized for it. But as interesting as their budding friendship is, it’s the setting that is the star of the show. Beyond the Boundary builds a compelling modern fantasy world by throwing you right into the middle of it—it forces you to figure out the rules of this supernatural world by watching the characters’ interactions instead of overloading you with exposition. And as it’s topped off with some of the most beautiful-looking animation this season, it’s definitely one to watch.
Watch It If You Liked: Red Data Girl
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu
Nagi no Asukara
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 26)
Genre: Coming of Age, Modern Fantasy, Romance
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: There are two towns that border the ocean: one above the waves and one below. As the population of the underwater town begins to wane, their middle school is forced to close—causing the four remaining sea-human students to attend school on dry land.
Why You Should Watch It: While set in a fantasy world where some humans live underwater, Nagi no Asukara is an anime that tells a universal story: It’s about growing up. The kids in the story try to cope with the awakening of new emotions, all while learning the greater implications of how the world of adults actually works. On another level, it’s a story about racism and segregation and how the two perpetuate each other. It also gives insight into the problems stemming from a low birthrate and the gradual extinction of a native people. All in all, it’s a series that uses a personal story to which we can all relate to explore societal problems.
Watch It If You Liked: Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, Gargantia on the Verdurous Planet
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
My Mental Choices are Completely Interfering with my School Romantic Comedy
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 10)
Genre: Comedy, Supernatural, Romance
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Normal high schooler Kanade finds himself under a devilish curse. Randomly, throughout his day, he is confronted with a series of multiple choice questions where he is forced to pick an option and then carry it out. Of course, the possible choices are never good and range from the embarrassing to the downright perverted—and they are completely ruining his life in hilarious ways.
Why You Should Watch It: Simply put, this anime is funny as hell. What makes it great is that it is full of layered humor. The first layer is the obvious joke—the absurd choice he has to make and then the awkward humor as he enacts it. The second layer of humor is how the people around him react in ways you would never expect. This makes nearly every scene doubly funny. And thanks to its crazy premise, you never quite know where it’s heading next.
Watch It If You Liked: Henneko – The “Hentai” Prince and the Stony Cat, Bruce Almighty, Bedazzled
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Arpeggio of Blue Steel
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)
Genre: Science Fiction, Military
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: One day, a fleet of mysterious AI-controlled ships appeared in the Earth’s oceans and drove mankind from the sea. Now, seven years later, a former naval cadet finds himself the captain of one of these mysterious ships and wages a one ship war against the others to retake the seas.
Why You Should Watch It: Arpeggio of Blue Steel is a classic one-ship-against-the-world-style naval adventure with a sci-fi twist. It also has a great mystery: where did this nearly invincible fleet come from and why have they not only forced mankind off of the ocean but also destroyed all our satellites as well?
Beyond that, this is also the story about the evolution of AI as some of the ships have created a human-looking avatar for themselves in an attempt to understand humans (and thus retain an edge over them). Of course, this has countless interesting implications as the ships begin to experience humanity on a personal level.
Watch It If You Liked: Yamato 2199, The Hunt for Red October, Gene Roddenberry's Andromeda.
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Now that you've read my recommendations for what anime you should be watching this fall 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 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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To contact the author of this post, write to BiggestinJapan@gmail.com or find him on Twitter @BiggestinJapan.