The winter 2016 anime season is underway, and as always with a new collection of shows, there are those that will stand out above the rest. Whether they’re sequels to pre-existing series, or new series, there’s always something for each person who goes looking. Here are my top five recommendations for winter 2016 anime.
ERASED (Boku dake ga Inai Machi):
An adaptation of the manga by the same name, animated by A-1 Pictures with a score by Yuki Kajiura, ERASED is a mystery focused on a struggling manga author by the name of Satoru Fujinuma. With an uncontrollable supernatural ability that allows him to go back in time and prevent horrible occurrences from happening, he finds himself framed for murder and ends up going back in time to when he was ten years old. Desperate to save the victim, he finds himself pulled into the mystery of his classmate, Kayo Hinazuki’s, disappearance.
With some of the best animation, and a compelling mystery to follow, ERASED is one of those series that should definitely be watched.
Sporting a classic Bandai style, and based upon a manga from the creator of King of Thorns and original character designer for Darker than Black, Dimension W is a high octane sci-fi thriller set in a world where unlimited energy was discovered and harnessed. Through the use of coils, access to this energy is prevalent for all people throughout the world. Focusing on a Collector, someone who hunts down illegal coils, by the name of Kyouma Mabuchi, the series follows him as he becomes entangled with a robot known as Mira and a greater conspiracy surrounding the coils and the unlimited energy present in the world.
Echoing Bandai’s classic series, like Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo, as well as more recent series like Darker than Black and Gangsta, Dimension W is using early 2000’s style with a modern animation team to great effect and is worth checking out.
Dimension W is streaming exclusively through Funimation.
With an amusing concept, a comedy centred on cheap candies, with excellent usage of the manic pixie dream girl archetype, Dagashi Kashi is another manga adaptation that is not a series that should be as good as it is. However, due to the wonderful art style, lending itself well to comedic expressions and reaction shots, and wonderful performances from the cast, with some genuinely funny humour, pushes this series above many other comedies. Following Kokonotsu “Coconuts” Shikada, an aspiring and talented manga artist, whose father wants him to take over the family sweets shop, the series kicks off with the arrival of Hotaru Shidare, a young woman who desperately wants Kokonotsu’s father to join her father’s sweets company. Unwilling to leave unless his son is willing to take over the family shop, Hotaru makes it her mission to convince Kokonotsu to take over his family’s shop.
A sweet, no pun intended, comedy that avoids being mean spirited, Dagashi Kashi is a nice breath of fresh air, and a worthwhile watch even if it’s not the genre one is most interested in.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash:
Stories about youths trapped in a fantasy game world, whether it is actually a game or not, have become quite prevalent over the past few years. Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is another addition to the genre, however its slower pace and attempt at a more realistic portrayal of what those caught up in these situations would go through, puts this one near the top of the pack. Add in the ensemble cast of misfits and an art style that seems reminiscent of charcoal art and watercolour art, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash would be hard pressed to be compared to the other series in the genre. Told from the point of view of Haruhiro, a youth who ends up taking on the role of a thief among his party, the tale has so far been focused on this hapless group of weaklings who couldn’t even down a goblin in the “starting area” of the world they find themselves in. A slow, slice-of-life feeling to the series makes it a refreshing watch.
With a different take on the genre its part of, a great art style, and plenty of opportunities for character development through its more slice-of-life approach makes this one to check out.
Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash is streaming exclusively through Funimation.
AOKANA: Four Rhythm Across the Blue:
It feels like it has been quite a while since there has been an adaptation of a romantic visual novel. With the increase in light novel adaptations, visual novels have seemed to disappear to the sidelines, but AOKANA is different. A charming, sweet and fun adaptation that moves at a decent pace and is quite nice to look at, AOKANA is definitely a stand out even among visual novel adaptations. Following a group of high schoolers, living in an age where the power of flight is commonplace, as they join the world of the “Flying Circus” sport, this series stands out due to its emphasis on slice-of-life elements mixed in with sports anime elements.
Primarily focused on recent transfer, Asuka Kurashina, former “Flying Circus” competitor, Masaya Hinata, and his friend, Misaki Tobisawa, the series is showcasing a strong sense of focus and is definitely a worthwhile, and relaxing, series to watch.
AOKANA is streaming exclusively on Crunchyroll.
Now, none of the sequels that started up this season were given any attention in the five recommendations. Due to the necessity to have seen the earlier seasons, I neglected to include them; however, here are a couple of the sequels that are definitely worth checking out.
GATE: Thus the JSDF Fought There! Fire Dragon Arc:
A continuation of the wonderful summer 2015 release, Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There!, season two picks up exactly where the first left off and continues First Lieutenant Itami Youji’s story as he works alongside the rest of the JSDF within the Special Zone.
GATE is streaming exclusively through Crunchyroll.
Assassination Classroom Season 2:
Picking up after the end of the first season, Assassination Classroom season two continues the misadventures of Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School as they attempt to assassinate their teacher, Koro-sensei, before he destroys the earth at the end of the school year.
Assassination Classroom is streaming exclusively through Funimation.