Five Must-Watch Anime For Summer 2016

Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Alright. You know the drill. A new anime season means new anime — 42 for this summer season to be precise. With so many, it can be hard to know what to watch, and that's why we've put together this guide. I have spent the past few weeks getting fully caught up on all of the winter 2016 season's most well-recommended anime (as well as several additional ones that just happened to catch my eye.) So here are the five you should definitely check out.

Of course, 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, and many that are downright enjoyable. The following, however, are the cream of the crop.


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Erased (Boku Dake Ga Inai Machi)

Studio: A-1 Pictures Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12) Genre: Time Travel, Mystery

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Satoru is a 29-year-old aspiring manga artist who works part time as a pizza delivery man. That part of his life is as normal as can be, yet he discovers he also has a supernatural power. Sometimes, without warning, he will find himself a few minutes in the past, at a point in time where he will be able to save the life of someone in his vicinity. While he finds the power a nuisance, he always does his best during one of these "revivals" to figure out who is in danger and how to save them.

But, when his mother is killed and he is being hunted as the sole suspect, he finds himself sent not a few minutes into the past but rather 18 years back to the world of 1988. Now, a 29-year-old man in a 10-year-old's body, he comes to believe that the key to saving his mother is to first save Kayo, a young friendless girl destined to be abducted and murdered in the days to come.

Why You Should Watch It: Erased is an amazing murder mystery that spans decades. The time travel aspect gives a welcome alteration to the murder mystery formula and allows for numerous innovative twists and turns. At the same time, the villain is meticulous, intelligent and able to adapt, making even knowledge of the future seem like not enough to stop the murderer's killings.

Erased doesn't shy away from the tough topics. It deals prominently with those on the edge of "proper" society, from the kind, yet anti-social man who seems to only be able to befriend children to the working-poor woman who can only find validation in life through beating her child. But more than anything, it's the story about just how much one child can do to help others, and at the same time, just how little.

Watch It If You Like: Steins;Gate, The Perfect Insider

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Daisuki, AnimeLab


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju

Studio: Studio Deen Currently at: Episode 7 (of 13) Genre: Historical, Slice-of-Life

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: At first glance, Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju is the story of Yotaro, a fresh-out-of-prison former yakuza thug who decides he wants to be the apprentice to Yakumo: a master of rakugo (traditional Japanese storytelling). There's just one problem, the elderly master has never taken on an apprentice in all his years. However, despite this, Yakumo takes the youth into his household and agrees to train him. All this takes up only two episodes, as it is but the framing device for the real story.

The actual plot of this anime is the story of Yakumo's life, telling how he began life as the crippled son of a geisha in pre-war Japan and grew into one of Japan's last great storytellers alongside his wild-orphan best friend Sukeroku.

Why You Should Watch It: On one hand, this anime is a look at the rise of modern Japan told through one man's life story. On top of that, we see this massive cultural shift through the eyes of a practitioner of one of Japan's most popular traditional art forms. It is also a personal story about life, love and art, and how to balance the three to find happiness.

The other great part of the series is the rakugo stories themselves. Every episode or two, we are treated to a short five-minute story showcasing the classic performance art in animated form. It's a fantastic look at an art form where one man plays all the roles and a simple fan can be used as a thousand different props across comedies, dramas and horror tales alike.

Watch It If You Like: Rakugo, Japanese fairytales, or modern Japanese history.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! (Kono Subarashi Sekai Ni Shukufuku Wo! )

Studio: Studio Deen Currently at: Episode 6 (of 10) Genre: Fantasy, Comedy

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: After dying while attempting to save a girl from being run over, teen otaku Kazuma finds himself on the doorstep to the afterlife. There the goddess Aqua gives him three choices: to be reincarnated, to move on to heaven (which is apparently incredibly boring) or to be transferred with his current body and memories into an RPG-style fantasy world (which its own denizens refused to be reincarnated into because of evil demon king problems). To sweeten the pot, Aqua even allows Kazuma to take any one thing with him into the fantasy world. His choice? Aqua herself. It's a choice both come to regret almost immediately.

Why You Should Watch It: The comedy in KonoSuba largely stems from subverting RPG and "hero from another world" fantasy tropes. Far from being the destined hero of this fantasy world, Kazuma starts at the very bottom. Aqua, a pampered (and not too intelligent) goddess, causes far more problems than solutions. Add to that a mage obsessed with magic too powerful for her own good and a paladin who has masochistic tendencies and you have a setup running over with comedy. And to cap it off, Kazuma is the perfect straight man to be surrounded by these crazies. His reactions play off theirs to create a cycle of hilarity that rarely allows you time to catch your breath for all your laughing.

Watch It If You Like: Ixion Saga DT, Bikini Warriors, Sword Art Online, Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, AnimeLab


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Schwarzes Marken

Studio: ixtl and Liden Films Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12) Genre: Mecha

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In an alternate version of the 1980s, the Cold War rages on even amidst an invasion of alien creatures. Set in communist East Germany, Schwarzes Marken follows the country's strongest mecha unit as it fights against the aliens, and shows the West the superiority of communist doctrine.

Why You Should Watch It: While it appears on the surface to be just your run-of-the-mill mecha anime, Schwarzes Marken stands out from the crowd thanks to its setting. It's as much about the hell of living within a totalitarian communist state as it is about fighting aliens with giant robots. The people live in the fear that a wrong word can send the secret police to your door and your family to be tortured as traitors. Thanks to this, you're never sure which characters are trustworthy and which are informants.

The anime's other strong point is the supporting cast. While all are part of the heroes, they are far from being a unified group of friends. The leader of the unit killed her own brother when he was accused of treason. The political officer completely buys into the party doctrine and propaganda spread throughout the country. One pilot suffers from severe PTSD which causes her to react erratically in battle. Another, a defector from the West, believes that everyone can get along if they just sit down and talk — an idea that will likely get her killed either by her companions or by the secret police.

Watch It If You Like: Muv Luv, Gun Parade March, Cold War stories

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Ajin: Demi-Human

Studio: Polygon Pictures Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12) Genre: Sci-Fi, Thriller

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Seventeen years ago, a new race of immortals was discovered. They look like us. They sound like us. They act like us. But they are not human. As they have no human rights, they are captured and subjected to inhuman testing, killed again and again in the pursuit of scientific knowledge and simple profit. Worst of all, even you could be one and never know it — not until the moment you died and then came back to life. Such is the fate of high school student Kei who, after discovering he is an Ajin, flees across Japan from a fate far worse than death.

Why You Should Watch It: When it comes down to it, Ajin is all about how much it would suck to be immortal. Suddenly being declared non-human and subsequently hunted by former friends and strangers alike is a daunting prospect for anyone to face. Can you trust anyone when the stakes are that high? And can you really escape if a whole country is looking for you?

Another cool aspect of the anime is the constantly evolving tactics to capture an immortal, and the subsequent counter tactics that the Ajin use to avoid capture. And once it becomes clear that the Ajin have another power beyond that of coming back to life, stakes in battle reach a whole new level.

Watch It If You Like: The Fugitive, The Incredible Hulk

Where You Can Watch It: Netflix (From Autumn 2016)


Bonus Pick: The Short Form Anime You Should Be Watching

Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2016

Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan (Oshiete! Galko-Chan)

Studio: Feel Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12) Genre: Comedy

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: This anime is the story of three high school girls: Galko, a popular and beautiful fashionista; Otako, a nerdy otaku who has somehow become Galko's best friend; and Ojou, a naive and sheltered rich girl who likes spending time with the other two. Most episodes deal with Otako's hobby of using clever wordplay and leading questions to trick Galko into revealing some piece of embarrassing information about her body in front of the rest of the class.

Why You Should Watch It: Please Tell Me! Galko-Chan is an anime largely centred around sexual humour. Each eight-minute episode deals with at least one commonly known (but highly dubious) "fact" about women and/or their bodies. In short, they're stereotypes, such as certain panty colours denote sexual proclivity — and that is one of the tamest examples. The truth or absurdity of these "facts" are lampooned as Galko, her friends, and often her clueless male classmates try to get to the bottom of each.

Watch It If You Like: Shimoneta

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Comments

    I'm really enjoying Erased and Konosuba. I'll have to check out the others. Also; Lupin III continues to be excellent this season.

    Erased sounds amazing. I'll wait for the entire season to be out and then binge-watch it. :D

      Yeah seriously... sounds like exactly what I want to watch.

      it is, so much so my girlfriend is watching it with me and she doesn't care for anime

        I have a friend who doesn't care for anime, yet absolutely loved One Punch Man and Overlord, so take those as possible recommendations if you want. :)

    Dimension W is good too.

    I think it's a bit subjective to say these are the "unmissable" anime. KonoSuba looks like it could either be good or absolutely terrible. The write up currently puts it in my "RPG trope subversions that are becoming cliche, contrived sexy situations and annoying female partner" basket which contains other titles like Is It wrong to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon and The World God Only Knows. I'll probably still give it a go though, unless reviews convince me otherwise.

      Konosuba differs from the usual RPG trope/subversion animes by largely being a comedy. It's rare that an anime can make me laugh out loud but this is a genuinely funny show with some great delivery from its voice actors.

    I started watching Erased and it looked good but I figured out who the killer was the moment I saw him. Completely ruined it for me.

    This was in episode 2 btw.

    I'm beginning to wonder whether this is still a "must watch" list or just whatever Richard likes list. While both ultimately are opinions I feel titling some a must watch implies these are anime that are actually significant within the greater whole of the medium, whether it adds to it, has cultural impact, or lots of hype. Furthermore, such a list should be something that one can possible refer their casual anime watcher friends to and they're very likely to find the suggestions palatable. But hey, his article and Kotaku hired him so yeah.

    My second opinion: KonoSuba is far from a must watch. Sure it does what Richard says it does (and I actually do like it because of those things) but it's standard mediocre anime fare at best (in terms of art style, tropes, plot), you're not going to miss out anything by not watching it. Same goes with Schwarze for similar reasons (again, I enjoy it for what it is).

    If you want something that actually subverts the "Finds themselves in RPG world" genre, I suggest Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash. As for Schwarze alternatives, take a look at Dimension W. Its art style is far more modern (Schwarze looks dated in comparison to modern standards), while evoking an aesthetic reminiscent of Cowboy Bebop.

    Ajin needs to prefaced with the fact that it uses CGI, and it's actually because of that that I myself have been slow in watching in, but it is interesting.

      Honestly there's nothing at all this season I'd call a "must watch". There's some great shows (I am loving Konosuba) but they're all fairly subjective as to whether you'll like them or not and none of them are doing anything particularly amazing.
      It shows in the season's sales too. From all appearances Konosuba has had the highest preorder numbers (at least on amazon) for quite a few weeks now and while I'm glad a show I like is doing well, it does show how lackluster the season in general is when a show like that is on top.

        Erased is probably one of the more stand out ones this season and what I'm recommending people who ask what they should watching this season, but as you say, there's actually nothing stellar about any of the premiering titles this season. That said though I am so happy for Shirayukihime season 2 because I love good shoujo lol and it is a solid series if you're into that genre.

        Last edited 26/02/16 1:03 pm

    I second Grimgar of Fantasy. It should definitely be on the must watch list.

    Konosuba is a fun anime, really enjoying it. I agree with Grimgar being a must watch

    I'm not watching any show that starts with the work boku, I've been had before.

      Boku just means "I"

      Why for you mad at I?

        There's in a joke in it, and if you're not aware of it I would not recommending finding out either haha.

    I thought I was the only one watching Rakugo thing. Wonderful show.

    No Assassination Classroom 2?

      They're probably just leaving out continuations. Shirayukihime S2, Durarara S3 and Gate S2 weren't mentioned either.

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