Fall 2011 Anime Season Roundup

Every season Japan presents to us a slew of new anime to watch (over twenty this season, for those who were wondering) and every season I wade through these new shows to find out what’s worth watching. In this post, I do the wading for you so you’ll know what’s worth watching this fall. I’ve picked a handful of the interesting looking shows from the bunch and I’ve given their first episodes a stern viewing. Do you know what’s worth watching this anime season? Of course you don’t. That’s what I’m here for.

Shinryaku! Ika Musume (Season 2)

Squid Girl invades once again in the second season of this hit gag comedy. Ika Musume is a powerful humanoid squid with squiddy hair who is determined to take over the entire planet by any means possible, but in reality does absolutely nothing about it. The family that took her in runs a noodle shop on the beach and puts up with her zany antics in exchange for her help around the restaurant de geso.

This show is awesome. I knew I was going to like it before the episode even started. The opening song is just so catchy! Squid Girl is a very unique character and the show is very funny. Story is not very important in this series and is mainly composed of self contained plots in each episode, but this is forgivable as it is a comedy. I’ve not seen season one, but after watching this episode, I’m looking forward to checking it out. Ika Musume is squidding awesome de geso.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oMrKn2sjivQ']

Who should watch this show: People who like squid jokes and quality anime humor de geso.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: 100% de geso. I’ll be getting my hands on season one as soon as possible de geso.


Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon

In the distant future, humans have descended from the skies and down to Earth once again. In order to return to the skies, people have created a history book called Testament, and they follow its contents to reproduce events in history. However, the book only goes to the year 1648, which somehow means that the world will end then. People have mixed emotions as each nation of the world goes on reproducing history while exploring ways to open their future. But now the world has reached 1648 – the end of its fate.

Does this sound confusing and stupid to you? Well it is. I wanted to stop watching this show after five minutes. I had the feeling that it wasn’t going anywhere. I was right. The whole first episode explains little to nothing about the story and all that happens is one long extended chase scene that has no relevance to the story. That’s it. At the end, the main character shows up and has himself a little monologue, but that’s all.

Then, while the credits are rolling, a narrator tries to garner further interest by telling a brief and garbled history of the world. This description was near unintelligible (as I’m sure you gathered from the summary above). I don’t care about this show at all. The soundtrack was pretty good, but other than that – this show bites.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxd_CVbu1pg']

Who should watch this show: People who like silliness and mild fan-service.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: Zero.


Mobile Suit Gundam AGE

Faced with a mysterious “Unknown Enemy” that boasts overwhelming alien strength, a new Gundam arises, evolving itself through battle. Gundam AGE promises to be an epic Gundam saga spanning 100 years and three generations. Unusually for the franchise, it’s not just Sunrise that will be handling the show’s production, but the folks over at Level-5 will also be contributing a great deal.

Unfortunately, AGE seems to have prompted criticism from many fans for appearing “too kiddy” and lacking the gritty edginess that many regarded as critical to the series. As you can tell from the amount of dislikes on the video below, a lot (A LOT) of people are hating on this show. Hard.

While it may not be as “mature” as some of the other Gundams before it, I certainly wouldn’t describe it as “kiddy.” I was pleasantly surprised, actually. I had always wanted to get into Gundam before because the art style and the Gundams always looked so cool, but I couldn’t deal with all the thick dialogue and politics and government mumbo jumbo etc etc. I just couldn’t get into it.

AGE, however, doesn’t seem to be bogged down with all that thick story and seems like a much more digestible vision of the Gundam universe. The artistic direction may not be for everyone (I liked it), but the show definitely has promise and I think it deserves a chance. So forget any preconceived notions you have about this show and just give it a shot. It’s worth it.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=11DecXqdN7o']

Who should watch this show: Anyone who liked other Gundams but didn’t like the heavy story.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: I plan to watch the next couple episodes for sure, but there’s a good chance I’ll get distracted by the other shows I like more.


Working!! (Season 2)

The colorful employees of the Wagnaria restaurant return for a second serving of comedy in season two of Working!! These characters include the ridiculously tiny and hard-working Poplar, the violently androphobic Mahiru, the fetish-for-tiny-things and main character Sota, and their lazy manager Kyoko.

This show is pretty average. It’s a pretty generic comedy, so there’s not much story to speak of. The two guys working the back of the restaurant (Sato and Soma) are consistently funny, but all the other characters are pretty hit or miss. It might have something to do with my not seeing a single episode of the first season, but oh well. The show’s definitely not a bad one, it’s just not really my style.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk-gI0k9sSI&feature=related']

Who should watch this show: People who like comedies involving tiny things and restaurants.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: I’d definitely watch it if a friend asked me to, but I’m not going to go out of my way to watch another episode.


Mirai Nikki

Social outcast Yukiteru Amano uses his cell phone to record a diary that he shares with his imaginary pal Deus Ex Machina. One day, Deus forces Yuki into a deadly game where each player’s phone shows their diary entries from the future, telling the future as they would have recorded it. And to top it all off, the only way to win the game is to murder the other contestants. Whoever wins gets to take over Deus Ex Machina’s post as the Lord of Time and Space. Pretty high stakes here, folks.

I feel like this show is going to end up being similar to shows like Liar Game and the like with all the deceit, cunning moves, and treachery. Plus it’s about a game that people got roped into and are now fighting for their lives. This is not necessarily a bad thing, I mean, I enjoyed Liar Game – I’m just not sure how long Mirai Nikki will be able to hold my interest when it’s up against much better shows this season. To be honest, my laptop ran out of juice about halfway through the episode and I didn’t really care (I finished it up a few days after).

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52P0DM-JDMg']

Who should watch this show: Anyone who thinks the premise sound interesting or likes thrilling, suspenseful anime.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: It’s kind of hard to tell exactly where the show is going just after the first episode. They throw a lot at you all at once. I’ll probably watch at least one more episode before I make up my mind.


Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai

In the city of Kawakami, second-year high school student Yamato has learned the value of a strong fighting spirit. He remains close to his friends, a solid group of four boys and three girls, but at the beginning of the new semester, two new girls join them, and things begin to change. Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai is a wonky action comedy that pulls no punches.

Okay, so this show is a lot better than I was expecting it to be. Keep in mind, however, I was expecting it to be terrible. It’s really funny, but the premise is absolutely ridiculous. I’m not really sure where to expect the story to go from here, but it’s definitely more than your average action comedy. I mean, the entire first episode is composed of two armies of high school kids beating the crap out of each other in the wilderness to resolve a class conflict. You don’t see that every day.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9Ka25zgGdWI']

Who should watch this show: People who like completely ridiculous ADHD anime comedy and action.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: I think I’ll watch another episode or two to see where things go with the story, but I’m not sure I can see myself sticking with this series until the end. Plus there are much better shows this season for me to occupy my time with.


Persona 4 The Animation

This show was better than I expected, but still pretty average. P4 is based on the Playstation 2 game, Persona 4. The story takes place in the fictional Japanese village of Inaba. Tha main character arrives in the village to live with his uncle because his parents are involved in a lot of work overseas. However he soon finds himself smack in the middle of a string of murders (not to mention climbing out of TVs and summoning otherworldly creatures) and must find the real culprit in order to clear his name.

I’m almost always wary of anime based on video games, but I really enjoyed Persona 3 (never got around to P4, sadly) so I figured I’d give this one a shot. I really liked the music in P3 and the tunes in P4 certainly do not disappoint. The animation itself is nothing special, however. And like I said before, the show was better than expected, but still pretty average. Nothing too amazing here.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ym4dgw6cRTI']

Who should watch this show: Anyone who liked the Persona video games.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: I’ll watch one more episode I think. I can’t really see the series getting any better than average.


Ben-To

This show is goofy. Like really goofy. Saving money on a half-price bento box is serious business here. Ben-To is one of those shows with a premise so insane and “only in anime” that you’ve just got to watch it, even if just for a single episode. In Japanese programming it’s not unusual for the financially strapped protagonist to pinch pennies and take advantage of the half priced bento boxes to scrape by. Well, in Ben-To that theme is taken to a whole new level. Bento-battles. I’m not kidding. Supermarkets are now war-zones.

To me, this show is just about as wonky as Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai (but I’m pretty sure I like Ben-To more). It’s unexpectedly entertaining in spite of the ridiculous premise. The timing of some of the jokes is just so perfect and unexpected. I was laughing out loud a lot during this show. The action however was a little disappointing. This is unfortunate considering how the show’s main focus is fighting, even if it is over bentos.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QSsDkFMKN2M']

Who should watch this show: People who like hilarious, ridiculous, easy-to-watch anime.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: I’ll probably watch at least one or two more episodes. The story obviously isn’t going to wow me, but the show is pretty hilarious (and I like it more than Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai).


Guilty Crown

Awesome. This show has so much potential. Guilty Crown is from the director of Death Note, the screenwriter of Code Geass, and the studio who brought us Ghost in the Shell. Talk about an all-star team.

In the year 2029, Japan is part of the GHQ multinational organization, which was formed after the outbreak of a terrifying disease. Everything changes for the high school student Shu when he inadvertently gets involved with a resistance group and obtains strange powers. It’s an alternate future, and Japan has been conquered and robbed of national identity by a monolithic, warlike organization. A disaffected youth encounters a mysterious girl, and later involves himself in freeing the country because he has “The Power of Kings.” Okay, so yeah, it sounds a lot like Code Geass, I know – but Code Geass was incredible, so, I’m not complaining.

The animation is fantastic, the action is brilliant, and the music is superb. This show definitely has what it takes to be my stand out favorite of the season. It’s been a while since I’ve been this hyped up about an anime (the last one was Code Geass and before that Death Note – so hopefully Guilty Crown’s team doesn’t let me down here) and I can’t wait for the next episode to air. I am very, very excited.

[yframe url='http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hfspu4r9P3A']

Who should watch this show: Everyone. But mostly those who liked Death Note, Code Geass, and/or Ghost in the Shell.
Likelihood of me watching another episode: Most definitely. I’m really pumped about this series.


So what anime are you most looking forward to this season? Think I got it wrong with one of my reviews above? If you want my opinion on one of the shows I didn’t include in this post, feel free to inquire in the comments below!

P.S. Hate anime? Might as well take that anger out on Tofugu’s Facebook “Like” button.
P.P.S. Love anime? Share your favorite series with us on Twitter.

  • John

    Happy to be of service :D

  • J Gaston

    John, you are my hero!

  • John

    Why thank you!

  • RajN

    Dude, you have got t o see an no exorcist, it is amazing and also, check this out, Nurarihyon no Mago: Sennen Makyou, another great show. and if you guys want a good place to watch anime, check out animeultima.tv,  AuEngine video had amazing quality

  • John

    Thanks, Ao no Exorcist looks pretty cool – I’ll have to check it out.

  • Drake

    I am little surprised that Un-go wasn’t mentioned on here. I know can seem like a pretty typical detective story, but if you think about it form it’s origins it is pretty cool (Ango was an author during the world war 2 era and the original story is set in the meiji era), so although the anime is set in the future you can see a lot of pieces of the anime that reference the prior era’s (i.e. clothing, references to war, censorship).
    also phi brain, a couple of us in Japan really like this one, because the story seems relatable to something from our childhood (i.e. yu-gi-oh, etc.) except it really is it’s own story.

  • John

    Yeah I tried to watch the first episode of Un-go but I couldn’t really get into it. That’s mostly due to me not really caring for strictly mystery/detective anime. I like my shows to have a bit more action and/or humor.

    Is Phi Brain more mature than Yu-gi-oh? Or is it pretty much on the same level? I just dismissed it because it looked too kiddy for me from the previews and such.

  • John

    I never got into the first 2 seasons so I wasn’t sure if I could fully appreciate the 3rd.

  • Anonymous

    I wish winter break was here already, I’ve been waiting to watch these titles for a while now!!!

  • Chabz_05

    I really love watching anime because the stories are not common, it is something unpredictable. I hope you can give me some advice on what are the best anime to watch.

    thanks

  • John

    My all time favorite animes are Death Note, Code Geass, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ergo Proxy, and Xam’d. If you haven’t seen one of them you should check it out – they’re all really good.

  • Anon

    apparently you didn’t see the last 2 action-filled episodes

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • John

    Nope! I did not.

  • EmmaVirus

    Finally someone who loves Guilty Crown as much as I do!! I’m so excited to know there are people out there who appreciate it even though it’s basically Code Geass all over again… but like you said, no complaints, ‘cuz Code Geass was amazing! I’m surprised Ben-To and Squid Girl got such good reviews. I’ll have to check them out now ^^

    I thought PhiBrain would be good, and the first couple of episodes were okay, but somehow it got boring quickly so I just stopped….

  • Thamer Binoyed

    All of those mentioned are either Shounen or Shoujo.

    Make a thread exclusive with the latest (and best) Seinen animes