Every season brings with it dozens of new shows mixed in with returning and ongoing series with an already pre-established popularity and viewership. This mix always makes the initial rush a bit chaotic and some shows completely overshadow others, while some of the newer series go unnoticed or forgotten. Sure, we could have watched our favorite Anituber give a recommendation, but most of us live busy lives and we either don’t have the time to get around to it, or when we do, we have completely forgotten what that new great show could be.
Let’s put aside My Hero Academia and Sword Art Online and really explore what this season has to offer. I am going to be putting aside shows like Doctor Stone and Fire Force as well since they are continuations from the previous season and at this point have already established their viewership. But on the off-chance that you haven’t seen or heard of these shows, then I’ll break it down nice and quick for you. Doctor Stone is about a smug teenage genius who seeks to advance society through technological and scientific achievements back to the modern day after an apocalyptic event petrified all of humanity for over 3,700 years. Fire Force follows an elite squad of fire soldiers that seek to stop the incineration of humanity from a sinister organization known as the Evangelists. The Evangelists’ seek to return everything back to the god known as Sol. Written by the same author as Soul Eater, you can easily get the gist of what the story will be like. If these interest you, then I would highly recommend checking them out.
Now without further ado, let’s get right into the best anime that this season has to offer.
First up, Azur Lane; even if you have not yet played the original mobile game, it is not very difficult to explain. Imagine if naval ships could transform into waifus; that is basically what Azur Lane is at the core. The anime is also what you would expect; it has a lot of “plot” while not having much substance to offer aside from the fan service. There is a cohesive story in there somewhere, and it shows up occasionally, but otherwise the story is pretty much all over the place.
The reason I recommend this, despite being mediocre, is because the animation is really beautiful, and the story is actually enjoyable.
While not the best new series, Azur Lane is definitely one of the better of the season. This show is a recommendation from me if you enjoy fan service and quality animation, but do not mind when a show lacks a fascinating story.
Azur Lane can be streamed on Funimation with new episodes airing every Thursday.
While the humor in Azur Lane largely caters to those familiar with the game, Fate Grand Order welcomes all viewers. Fate Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia is an adaptation of the Seventh Singularity chapter in the game. While this is an adaptation of a much later chapter, the series supports new viewers with a recap and summary episode, titled “Episode 0”. The pacing and creative direction for this series deserves recognition. It is clear the directors do not plan to strictly appeal to those who having played the game; cutting out references that would be lost to newcomers, the series opts for a more seasonal form of storytelling. While cliche, the use of flashback sequences are woven in masterfully to create a powerful narrative that would otherwise be lost without that prior knowledge.
Despite being a huge fan of the Fate series myself, I had my doubts and concerns when this adaptation was announced. The Babylonia anime is created by the studio, Cloverworks: a subdivision of A-1 Studios, a studio I was not impressed by after their previous work on Fate Apocrypha. On top of a lousy soundtrack, the show was poorly animated and written. While the latter is the fault of the source material, the former two could have been avoided. I had my reservations about the current iteration because of Cloverworks’ relationship to A-1 as well as their portfolio that that lacks action-oriented works.
The Fate franchise is widely known for its fight scenes and battle dynamics woven into its fantasy/drama story. But now five episodes in and I can confidently state that my worries have dissipated as each new episode is better than the last. Cloverworks is pushing boundaries with their expertly crafted cinematography, animation and sound mixing that is all carefully arranged to make the anime a unique experience. With this series you can clearly see the love, passion and dedication that was poured into this project.
The anime avoids being rushed despite being adapted from a visual novel where there is easily too much content to adapt. Fate Grand Order keeps a solid pace while maintaining accuracy to its source without cutting scenes or cramming minor details into every scene which is a common occurrence in many adaptations. Fate Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia serves as a fantastic entry point into the franchise. Within the vast pool of new and continuing series this season, I strongly believe this one is setting itself up to be one of the best.
Fate Grand Order: Absolute Demonic Front Babylonia can be streamed on Funimation with a new episode airing every Saturday. If you do not have a Funimation subscription then you can also stream it on Crunchyroll starting in November.
Lastly, in the gacha adaptation department, I want to touch upon a series that has returned this season, Granblue Fantasy season 2. I have noticed that there is a lack or promotion and advertisement for this series. Despite being available on Crunchyroll, the company has not been promoting it like they have all the other series this season. Most people who knew of the first season two years ago didn’t even know the second season was airing, that is how little promotion there is.
For those who have never seen the first season, Granblue Fantasy follows an adventurer named Gran who encounters a girl named Lyria who is pursued by Knights of the Erste Empire. She is used as a secret weapon for militaristic purposes and wrestles with internal and external conflict of being her own individual versus being a tool for destruction. The first season encompasses Gran and Lyria forming their crew and avoiding the Empire while solving conflict in other countries. The series is similar to that of Xenoblade Chronicles 2 with the setting taking place on sky islands and the use of airships to travel between them.
Despite having an enjoyable story, the first season weighed itself down by having the end of its penultimate episode cater towards its player base. While this has come to be expected it was still an immersion breaking moment due to the series setting the precedent that the game did not have to be played in order to enjoy the show. The final episode was also a non-canon filler that condensed the entirety of the season into one episode that replaced Gran for the female protagonist equivalent, Djeeta. Again, catered towards the player base and isolated its intended audience.
The second season seems to acknowledge these shortcomings and so far has more promise than the first. The pacing, story and animation are a massive step up from the first. I wholeheartedly recommend giving this series and season a watch and helping spread the word that it is airing. The second season takes a more simplistic approach and focuses solely on the character Katalina and delves into her past. This season replaces episodic villains and adventures with a magnificently crafted story that packs character development and internal struggles.
Granblue Fantasy season 2 can be streamed on Crunchyroll with new episodes airing every Friday.
So far I have touched on game adaptations that ranged from action to fantasy but lets change beats and shift focus to a hilarious comedy anime this season. If you have yet to see it, then I recommend none other than Oresuki: Are you the only one who loves me?
Now, after reading that title you would think it is a harem light novel adaptation. It could possibly be, it dances that thin line of being a harem series and not. I’ll let the My Anime List summary describe it.
Kisaragi Amatsuyu is invited out alone by the cool beauty upperclassman Cosmos and his childhood friend Himawari. Expecting to hear their confessions, he triumphantly goes to meet each of them in turn. But Cosmos and Himawari both instead confess to Amatsuyu that they like his friend. Amatsuyu fights this lonely battle, but there is another girl who is looking at him. She is a gloomy girl with glasses and braids. Amatsuyu finds that he hates her, because she’s always turning her sharp tongue only on him and finding enjoyment in his troubles. But it turns out that she’s the only one who actually does like him.MAL Summary
I’ll let that sink in first. Yes, the ultimate “friend-zone” treatment involving the one and only bench-kun. Scenes showcasing a bench serve as a nice comedic foreshadowing that you know something hilarious is about to happen. Oresuki is a quick, witted comedy blended with excellent melodrama elements. The first three episodes follow Kisaragi as he deals with this dilemma. What the summary doesn’t give away is that his personality is that of Jekyll and Hyde that is frequently hinted at through clever placements of books in the library. Sumireko Sanshokuin, the girl with glasses that the summary describes, serves the devious devil’s advocate that intentionally sets actions in motion. The comedic moments in this anime follow Kisaragi’s interactions with her while creating situations that make his two identities clash. While he acts like a selfless, happy and carefree kid on the outside, deep down he is always scheming.
If you are interested in giving Oresuki a watch, you can stream it on Crunchyroll with new episodes to add to your queue every Wednesday.
If none of these shows truly interest you and you want something more…unique, then I have discovered a true gem this season. No Guns Life is a gritty sci-fi story that follows a man with a gun for a head. Something that only works in anime. Studio Madhouse helms the project and delivers a unique story following this man named Juuzou Inui as he lives in a very impoverished city that is dominated by an evil organization called Berühren. Known as an Extended and outcast by society, Juuzou makes his living by solving criminal cases involving other Extendeds.
Ex-soldier Juuzou Inui has one question—who turned him into a cyborg and erased his memories? After the war, cyborg soldiers known as the Extended were discharged. Juzo Inui is one of them, a man whose body was transformed, his head replaced with a giant gun! With no memory of his previous life—or who replaced his head and why—Inui now scratches out a living in the dark streets of the city as a Resolver, taking on cases involving the Extended. When a fellow Extended showed up in Inui’s office—on the run from the Security Bureau with a kidnapped child in tow and asking for help—Inui should have just thrown the guy out. But Inui’s loyalty to a brother Extended makes him take the job. Keeping the child safe won’t be easy, since everyone seems to want to grab him, from street punks to the megacorporation Berühren, who have sent out a special agent that knows exactly how to deal with the Extended.MAL Summary
What sets the series apart aside from its unique concept is how the story is executed. Due to Juuzou’s past memories being forgotten and that the world is already established at this point, the story does not play out in the typical fashion were everything is explained as the world around our characters is developed. Despite saving and keeping the child safe, Juuzou never acknowledges himself as a good person nor does the story frame him to be creating an interesting anti-hero that puts his own survival over doing the right thing. That said, his actions allude to him having more compassion than he lets on. If you are someone who is tired of always watching the goody-two-shoes sort of hero characters then you might find this as a good series to make a priority on your watch list.
No Guns Life can be streamed on Funimation with new episodes airing every Thursday.