I think it’s a fair assessment to say that the Winter 2017 anime season hasn’t been as thrilling as past seasons. Not that anything is particularly bad, just nothing really seems to be standing out. And the fact that there’s already been some pretty exciting news for the rest of the year has kind of thrown a shadow over this season.
First off an honorable mention goes to prison comedy Nanbaka (Satelight), or at least I thought it was going to be a comedy until it began throwing some seriously dark stuff my way while still managing to be damn funny at the same time. While still a Fall 2016 show and therefore technically disqualifying itself from this list, It’s well into its second season now and is worth checking out. This is a show that surprised with some strong character development and surprisingly well written plot me as I went into it expecting nothing beyond some cheap laughs and artwork that kind of looks like the inside of FMA’s Alexander Louis Armstrong’s head (all those sparkles!)
I also want to give special mention to Blue Exorcist/Ao no Exorcist (A-1 Pictures) and it’s incredibly patient fan base, who waited 6 years for their second season. While this isn’t a show that I’ve picked up this time around as I feel like I’d be better off starting from the beginning this is an awesome achievement considering the number of fantastic shows that never get second seasons despite their respective fanbases crying out for one.
Saga of Tanya the Evil/Yōjo Senki
Starting things off, this is easily my favorite new show of the season. And it has one of the more unusual premises that I’ve ever come across. Saga of Tanya the Evil, by relatively new studio NUT, is the tale of a selfish Japanese salaryman who only cares about advancing his own position in life no matter who he hurts along the way meets an untimely end. And at the moment of his death a Being that he refuses to acknowledge as God passes judgement on him, which he promptly rejects. As punishment he is reincarnated into another world as a baby girl named Tanya Degurechaff. This new world strongly resembles WWI era Germany, only magic is in common use. And since young Tanya has a strong talent for magic she decides to enlist in the military at the age of 9 in order to regain the status and position that she previously had using her memories of being an adult to give her an advantage over her peers. Only God, or Being X as Tanya stubbornly sticks to, doesn’t plan on making things as simple as that. If Tanya can’t die a natural death, or she refuses to have faith in God, her soul will never be reincarnated again. Instead she’ll be sent to Hell to answer for her sins in all of her past lives. Still with me? Thankfully the show takes its time to explain itself and make sure that you understand before going ahead. The first episode doesn’t even touch on the reincarnation aspect, instead presenting itself almost like a typical military themed magical girl show like last season’s Izetta the Last Witch. What truly sets it apart is that Tanya is by all accounts an awful human being, completely selfish and manipulative to everyone around her and completely unable to see that the majority of what befalls her is her own doing as she’s simply too selfish and stubborn to accept what’s plainly in front of her.
ACCA: 13-Territory Inspection Dept.
At the start of the season this one hit the top of my most anticipated list. A political thriller from Madhouse set in the kingdom of Dowa, which is divided into 13 separate states all overseen by the ACCA Inspection Department. The story follows Jean Otus, an ACCA inspector tasked with auditing the different departments across the 13 states. While this is going on the King of Dowa is celebrating his 99th birthday and rumors of a coup d’état against the state are rife. This is a show that you’re either going to love or hate, and it’s slow pace has been enough to put many people off. Admittedly I have high hopes for this show. Slow burning and tightly plotted stories are some of my favorites. The risk here is in investing too much into something that doesn’t pay off (like last year’s Joker Game) and how well ACCA does still remains to be seen
WHY ARE THERE ONLY TWO EPISODES OF THIS!!! Seriously? A-1 Pictures have, at the time of writing, only aired two episodes of this show and I am personally very frustrated at this as I liked what I saw and was looking forward to seeing how it went. But since there’s only two episodes I don’t know if this is going to be really good or if it’s going to go the whole ‘style over substance’ route that tends to happen to game adaptations. Granblue Fantasy is an adaptation of the mobile RPG by Cygames, and has a very Final Fantasy feel to it. Complete with cute mascots and Summons. I want to like it but I honestly don’t feel that I have enough to go off yet.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
There have been plenty of light hearted comedies to choose from this season, but this show will live on forever in my heart as the show that had me belly laughing at the line ‘Stop licking the laundry’ while my poor, long suffering other half edged slowly out of the room looking worried. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid from Kyoto Animations is a light hearted comedy show about Miss Kobayashi. A typical Japanese IT worker who, while drunk one night, finds an injured dragon in the woods. The dragon, Tohru, then falls in love with Kobayashi and moves into her home as her maid in order to repay her kindness. It’s a little thin plot wise, seeing as the original Manga was a 4-Koma, and tends to go a little more situational comedy as more and more dragons join the cast. Still, it’s an entertaining enough show that does a better job than some other shows that were pushed as comedies this season. And little dragon Kanna is the cutest thing ever.
KONOSUBA – Gods Blessings Upon this Beautiful World – season 2
My binge watch of the season. I’ll admit that things pass me by occasionally, which is what happened with KONOSUBA last year as I was kind of burned out over the number of ‘average guy wakes up in fantasy world’ shows there were. Plus its by Studio Deen, who I have mixed feelings over due to their early efforts on the Fate/Stay Night series (People die when they are killed!). I missed out, this show is hilarious. And the second season is just as great. For those who don’t know KONOSUBA follows shut in loser Kazuma who is offered a chance to be sent to a fantasy world after dying a humiliating death with anything of his choosing by a Goddess named Aqua. Fed up with her condescending tone, he chooses Aqua herself to accompany him only to find that she’s a pretty useless spoiled brat. The two are soon joined by Arch Wizard Megumin who only loves Explosion Magic and nothing else, and Crusader Darkness, who’s more interested in her own questionable ‘hobbies’ than anything else. I honestly regret letting this one pass me by the first time around.
And that about wraps it up. Although the hype for Spring 2017 has already begun, with new seasons of Attack on Titan, My Hero Academia and against all reason Berserk fast approaching. While I’m looking forward to the first two it worries me that Berserk is coming out so quickly as they may not have been able to take on board all the criticism that the last season had thrown at it (seriously, we know JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure will get Part 5, but at least David Productions have the commons sense not to rush). And there may also finally be more Ancient Magus Bride! There has been one episode of this and I was hooked on its Ghibli-esqe charm, so more of this is welcome!