Four Anime You Can Skip This Season

Four Anime You Can Skip This Season

Previously we looked at the five anime you should be watching this season. But what about all the other anime this season? Well here’s why some of the more notable ones didn’t make the cut.

Now, keep in mind that these opinions are based only on the first half of each of these anime. A great second half could turn any of the following anime into one of the seasons’ best. And that’s not to say that all the anime below are bad — though I’d argue at least one definitely is. Most just suffer from being average and don’t stand out when compared to other, similar anime in their given genre. So let’s dive in and take a look at four more of this season’s notable anime.


The Severing Crime Edge

Genre: Romance, Death Game
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 13)

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Kiri is a boy with a unique fetish: he loves to cut hair. One day he comes across a girl whose hair cannot be cut — except, as it turns out, by an ancient pair of scissors passed down through his family. But when he cuts her hair, he unexpectedly sets in motion a death game that puts both his life and hers in mortal danger.

Why You Can Skip It: On one side, The Severing Crime Edge is a lightly comedic, romantic tale about two teens who find the one other person in the world who completes them. On the other, it’s about their battling a score of psychopaths coming to kill them. The contrast between this cutesy love story and staggering violence is the strongest point of the show — but very little is done with it. So while the show is not bad, there are many far better realised romance anime out there. And if you’re looking for a good death game anime, you’d be better off watching Future Diary.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Flowers Of Evil

Genre: Suspense, Romance
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 13)

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Flowers of Evil is a slice-of-life tale about an average high schooler who, in the midst of teenage hormones and panic, accidentally steals the gym clothes of the girl he has a crush on. But before he can return the clothes, the school’s token female delinquent claims to be a witness to his theft and blackmails him into performing whatever perverted whims cross her mind.

Why You Can Skip It: Flowers of Evil has gotten a lot of attention due to its use of rotoscope animation — and, no doubt, it makes for interesting visuals. Unfortunately, it is a gimmick that only hinders the quality of the anime overall. Simply put, Flowers of Evil is a long, drawn-out mess of tedium that is more concerned with showing off the rotoscoped scenery of rural Japan than telling a story. And what little story appears is nothing but useless, agonizing suspense coupled with low stakes and little payoff.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Devil Survivor 2: The Animation

Genre: Sci-Fi, Apocalyptic
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Without warning, monstrous demons begin flooding into Japan. It’s up to a group of teenage friends, able to summon friendly demons from their cell phones, to save the world from the apocalypse. (It is based on the DS title Shin Megami Tensei: Devil Survivor 2.)

Why You Can Skip It: Devil Survivor 2: The Animation isn’t “bad” per say, but it is painfully run-of-the-mill. Teenagers summoning monsters to save the world has been done to death. And unlike Persona 4: The Animation, there are no compelling mysteries nor are there deeper psychological dilemmas being explored to give the plot a unique twist. If digital-based monsters is your thing, you’d be better off watching the better seasons of Digimon.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll


Henneko: The “Hentai” Prince And The Stony Cat

Genre: Comedy, Romance
Currently at: Episode 5 (of 12)

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: When your typical (if more than a little perverted) high school student decides his tendency to lie has gotten him into too much trouble, he wishes it away at a mysterious cat statue. Of course, this forces him to say every thought that comes across his mind in pure honesty — no matter how rude or perverted. Teaming up with a girl who wished away her ability to portray emotions, the pair try to find a way to get back what they wished away. Hilarity ensues.

Why You Can Skip It: While there is more than a little enjoyable humour in Henneko, there is really nothing you haven’t seen before. The basic setup is taken straight out of Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar and romantic aspects are pretty much par for the course for a fan service-filled moé/harem/romantic comedy made in recent years.

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll

And what about the anime that didn’t manage to make this or the previous list? Why haven’t I looked at them? Probably one of four reasons: 1) They were the second season of an anime and I haven’t seen the first, 2) they were far outside what I and the majority of Kotaku readers have shown an interest in, 3) I have already reviewed them, or 4) they simply didn’t cross my radar.

But if you feel I have left out an anime that’s something special, feel free to give me a heads up in the comments and tell me why you feel that way.


  • i watched the first episode of attack on titan because of your (kotaku’s) recommendation – i was bored. i will not be watching another episode.

    • Attack on Titan is actually pretty cool after the first few episodes and the story really develops after a while. You can’t really judge a book by its first chapter or in this case, the first ep of an anime imo

    • I watched the first episode, and before I knew it, I was on the last one.

      Maybe there’s not enough “cute” animal sidekicks, or pre-teens in it for some people.


    • Episode one of plagued with bad animation, character writing (Seriously, the kids sound more grown up than the adults do) and one event. The real tension and drama behind the series kicks off with episode 2 and that’s where it grips you

      • i get what you are trying to say, but actually it was the fact that the main kid sounded so grown up that was one of the main reasons i was turned off – he shoulda copped a smack for being such a mouthy little bugger, but i supposed the guards were too drunk to care. also, all the eye widening and gasping in today’s anime leaves me with a a bad taste in my mouth. the ONLY good scenes imho were when the mega titan first appears, and then the kids mum gets eaten, thats about it.
        they needed to show more of the battle in the beginning and how they use their belt zipline things to get me intrigued enough to continue watching. instead they cut to a kid having a nightmare in a field with some other young girl…*yawn*

      • the way the kids talk isn’t unexplained though, in a way they are more grown up than some of the adults (especially when compared to a drunk like Hannes). those kids have seen some shit…

    • I usually give animes two eps to decide. First one’s usually a story/worldview setup, second gets more into characters and motivations and how you can expect the rest of the series to run. Eg: First ep of Muv-Luv Alternative led me to believe it would be some kind of Blue Gender style anime. Every ep after was basically Evangelion meets dating sim.

      Attack on Titan seems to change things up a bit each episode, always changing gears but always vaguely depressing.

  • Flowers of Evil (or Aku No Hana) is interesting though the creepiness & slow pacing might annoy some people. I’d hardly call it a must watch but its certainly watchable in a similar experience to Serial Experiments Lain

    • The creepiness was probably the hardest part for me to resolve and ultimately why I stopped watching. I hadn’t realized how much I rely on relating to a protagonist, even a little.

      I also haven’t stopped to psychoanalyze myself on why I’ll cheerfully ‘relate’ enough to watch stories whose protagonists are either cold-blooded mass-murderers or apparently dickless geeks who are by some quirk of dysfunction unhappy to have a ‘harem’ and unwilling to take advantage of it.

      • Your latter point has been a topic of discussion for my friends and I for a while.

        On the few instances as a teen we saw barely clothed female class mates, we didn’t get embarrassed or scared. Especially if they started coming into us.

        Makes no sense. Maybe a culture thing?

        • Maybe it’s even some kind of creepy social programming! Like… We want a nice, slow birth rate to avoid rampantly overpopulating some tiny islands… so let’s avoid teen pregnancies by conditioning young children to believe that the correct response to lust is shame and awkwardness instead of ‘fuckyeah!’ horny opportunism, on the basis that life imitates art.

          (Apparently this is also the explanation behind why their women seem to always cry in bed, like they’re being forced. Apparently that’s just ‘what’s expected’ from porn and such. Which is a damn shame, because wow that’s a turn-off and makes things VERY awkward.)

  • I’m currently watching 3 of the 4 series that you’ve mentioned here and I’m thoroughly enjoying each of them; it just goes to show how little stock people should put into articles like these.

    If you like anime, give all of these a go and if you find you don’t like them, then move onto another series. Don’t let articles like this stop you from watching a show you could potentially enjoy.

  • wish you would use the japanese names as well, apart from Flowers of Evil i have no idea what these are but im pretty sure ive seen at least one of them

    • Dansai Bunri no Crime Edge; Aku no Hana; DEVIL SURVIVOR II THE ANIMATION; Hentai Ouji to Warawanai Neko.

  • I started watching “Is this a Zombie?” after Supanova, I hope there is another series, I liked it….something about a boy turning into a girl in a dress……

  • Thanks for the heads up we really need lists like these, unfortunately these days its easy for them be quite long.

    • I wouldn’t mind more of them, really! Everyone’s into different stuff, sometimes the same person into different things depending on mood.

      A rough day with a lot of tough things to deal with iRL can sometimes benefit from the addition of some truly saccharine romcom anime, but you can only absorb so much watching awkward Japanese teens getting blue-balled into oblivion before you hit your saturation point.

      • Good point well delivered. what do you watch mostly if you don’t mind me asking? I’ve been searching for something for quite a while, yet nothing stood out. I loved wlecome to the nhk and that was the last thing I’ve watched in terms of anime.

        • I’d totally love to share my recommendations, so I’ll post a reply later tonight. Most of what I watch is stuff my truly otaku younger brother recommends, but occasionally I see snippets of something in YouTube compilations and go look up what it was because the animation quality seemed high.

        • What are you into? Pick a genre and I can probably make a recommendation from mine, my older brothers or my eldest brothers collections.

          • Slice of life. Sci fi. Not much I guess. Watched ghost in the shell was awesome. I really dislike anything to do with school and students other than azumanga daioh and evangalion. And code geass.

            cowboy bebop
            outlaw star
            Code geass
            welcome to the nhk
            Samurai champloo.

          • I’ll give it some thought and have a look through after work.

            As soon as you take out school students, life gets difficult.

            I just finished season one of “a certain magical index” which falls under sci-fi. Unfortunately it’s set up beautiful for season two to be completely harem. Contains school students and the harem plot is subverted in that the women are constantly mocking him about it. I liked season one, but it strikes me as not everyone’s cup of tea.

          • While it does sound unique, it still makes me question as to why was it done with school students? I’m not complaining, maybe it could’ve been pulled of better considering the idea does sound unique. Yet the way it is presented is I don’t know.. I guess the writers can relate to school years easier?

          • Well, it’s set in “Academy City” which is essentially a city of science and research consisting of a lot of high schools and universities. The overall plot is “science vs magic” where in science users Esper powers and others use magic.

            I’d suggest trying before buying. Mileage may vary. I’m very tollerent of anime and I kinda glorified it. The teacher will wig you out at any rate.

          • I didn’t think “Index” was that great of a series (both season 1 and 2), but it’s definitely worth checking out the side story “A Certain Scientific Railgun” (To Aru Kagaku no Railgun). Railgun Season 2 is airing right now.

          • Hm. That’s some interesting variety and some interesting time periods. So are you looking for general recommendations over all anime ever, or just the stuff that’s airing right now? I may have to split recommendations up into multiple posts if we cover old stuff…

          • Anything really, preferably close to current date and still being released. The hype is always good and fun, though the anime doesnt always deliver, still alright. I’d say I’m looking for anything I haven’t seen yet, which there is quite a bit, but nothing seems to match the ones that I’ve watched and really enjoyed. While cowboy bebop and outlaw star had that sense of adventure and discovery into character pasts, welcome to the nhk and code geass had that battle of characters’ existence and requirements to change. Anything that is like that, preferably being released right now, though not necessary. Outlaw star is old, yet very good.

          • OK. Recommendations below. All done. If you found yourself into the sillier, more saccharine stuff, I’d probably also toss out:

            Kamisama Kiss
            Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate
            Medaka Box
            Muv-Luv Alternative – Total Eclipse
            Omamori Himari
            Ore no Kanojo to Osananajimi ga Shurabasugiru (OreShura for short)
            Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo
            Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun

            Summaries on demand, but they seemed slightly less up your alley.

          • Let me see. I’m probably going to go more the Sci-Fi than slice of life kind of route.

            Ghost Hunt ( – Absolutely brilliant. One of my personal favourites. Done in arcs and has a couple of school aged main characters. There’s three school arcs, but I assure you, the others will make up for it. It’s thriller/fantasy with a little bit of horror for kicks.

            Phantom of Inferno ( – A late teen is kidnapped, has his memory erased and is given a single choice: Train to become a master assassin and work for the company, or be killed on the spot. He is given the option, put into a knife fight for his life against someone else whom they’d done this, who agreed to become an assassin.

            Tsubasa Reservoir Chronicle ( – The group travel through space and time to search for the physical manifestations of the memories of Princess Sakura, without which she will die. The story evolves from there. The anime and OVAs don’t complete the story however. You’d have to read the manga to finish it. But it’s still really good.

            Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple ( – Here’s your slice of life. But unfortunately it’s school based. A teen with no natural martial arts talent and no confidence is sick of being picked on. He gets accepted into a dojo of masters and begins training in several martial arts. There’s a bit of school in there, but it’s funny as hell. I haven’t laughed at an anime harder than this I don’t think (episode six, seven or eight, that meal scene, most hilarious thing ever).

            Darker than Black ( – Set ten years after a phenomenon known as “Hell’s Gate” appeared in Tokyo, after which people known as “contractors” with special abilities appeared. Each time a contractor uses their abilities they must pay a ‘price’ (they are driven via compulsion to perform an action). The price is different for each contractor and must be paid soon after the usage of their powers. They’re also sociopathic and will do anything for anyone if it benefits them in some way. The series focuses on a specific contractor and his team as they do various assassinations.

            The Legend of Legendary Heroes ( – Nary a school to be seen. Each land has it’s own magic power and incantation. There’s also a “taboo” known as “Alpha Stigma”. Once unleashed (become mentally unstable), they release magical destruction on a nuclear scale. The story focuses on one of these. It’s a brilliant story.

            That’s all I can think of right now. See if any of them take your fancy.

            I’ll also back up @transientmind in his recommendations of Tower of Druaga, Trigun, Hell Sing, Death Note, Black Lagoon (especially this, (come back when you’re done) right now without hesitation, don’t even finish this sentence kind of this) and Fruits Basket.

          • Awhyeah, now this thread’s getting me some recommendations! Noice. I actually had Darker than Black on my ‘to watch’ list, but I’d better bump it up a bit.

        • POST ONE: Adventure! Epic! Fantastical stuff here. I’ll split them into high-school-located and non-high-school. I might sound cynical in the descriptions, but these are things I actually enjoyed despite healthy skepticism.


          Takes place in High Schools: (to varying extents – some of them end up veering wildly away)

          Regios – Alternate post-apoc world of habitable domes roaming a sand-planet under constant assault by rampaging bug-mutant things, destroyed by legendary weapon-wielders. One of them gets exiled/retires, does time-out in a training school, experiences awkward teen stuff but as a super-powerful demigod.

          Full Metal Panic – Vigilante/PMC outfit with mechs. One of their elite orphan child-soldiers ends up assigned to civilian infiltration to bodyguard a target . High school with the looming threat of terrorism and hidden giant mechs.

          To aru majutsu no index – Miminal high school, really. High school founded around training mutants/ability-users. Luckless tool whose only ability is to NEGATE abilities encounters child of destiny, spends his time babysitting/protecting.

          Freezing – Super Special Training High School for cold-ass superhuman bitches who are linked with males to augment their fighting ability against the dispassionate angel-like threats from another reality. Cold bitch learns to love. Or something.

          Air Gear – Well. Mostly takes place AFTER school. Air Gears are roller skates which basically let you fly. Ridiculously difficult to control, the protagonist finds/binds a pair by accident and is introduced to a very indie world of underground street-racing.

          [K] / Project K / or just ‘K’ – Superhumans were achieved and perfected, but only a handful. They dispense power to their subordinates as Kings, which ends up more like a gang/political system, all carefully held in check by civility and wariness while everyone else goes about their daily life. Except one peculiar child of destiny falls out of the sky and screws up the precarious balance.

          Macross Frontier – No, you don’t need to have watched all the 80s/90s Macross series to get it. Only the background lore pulls from those, plus the occasional reference to the old characters who are now little more than figures of legend. Rolling epic, sweeping up a jetpack stunt pilot into actual mecha-piloting against the threat of aliens, and the women he loves are involved in changing the course of human destiny. So, y’know. Business as usual.

          No High School:

          Shangri-La – Post-apocalyptic earth has been reclaimed by the forest and the oceans, and climate change and carbon credits are the new stock market. Cities squatting on the few safer places on earth are very rustic and rural, but live in hope of winning the lottery to the magnificent tower of civilization, the ark. Magically-athletic rebel-leader daughter unknowingly pings the magical prophecy which holds all the science together, so dark corporate forces get cracking their knuckles and she pluckily fights back.

          Tower of Druaga – Imagine a typical JRPG dungeon-crawler made real, and turned into an anime. The eponymous Tower squats on the countryside as testament to the most epic dungeon design ever, with hundreds of ‘levels’ all of which might as well be self-contained worlds, with entire towns and economies strung through the safe ‘levels’. Reaching the top is held by legend to yield riches and rewards, or simply vanish the whole bloody thing altogether, which wouldn’t be too bad since there are Monsters. Plucky young hero goes up the top, meets the Party of Destiny, adventures are had.

          Trigun – Utter shithole dustbowl planet is wild west gone wrong. Dusty crap, the few pockets of civilization turn out to be the descendents of a crashed colony ship, and they eke out a miserable living off the few remaining bits of the epic sized space ship that still work. The $$60 man Vash The Stampede is stalked by a pair of lady insurance claim investigators to try and figure out why he wrecks so much shit and to mitigate the damage he’s doing to their company’s bottom line. Which is even more puzzling because it turns out he’s a pacifist and mostly just shoots to disarm. Whacky, touching gunfighting in style.

          Rideback – Mildly depressing, actually. Failed/injured ballerina girl discovers she has a knack for riding ‘ride-backs’. Contrived motorcycle-meets-mecha things, which are apparently responsible for a military new world order. Her hobby turns dangerous when she gets too heavily into it and the people she hangs out with get swept up in political crap.

          Chrono Crusade – Wheee semi-victorian-era fantasy. A magical order of nuns wards trips around the world demon-hunting, with the aid of their very own pet demon. Think Hellsing Lite.

          Kingdom – Ancient China War Epic. Played Straight as a semi Romance of the Three Kingdoms war epic, following an orphaned urchin who dreams to be the greatest general under the heavens, and might just do it due to sheer ballsiness. Interesting animation style which seems to awkwardly blend 3D, but after you get into it you totally stop noticing and get wrapped up in the non-main character characters.

          La Storia Della Arcana Famiglia – If Italian City States of the renaissance were actually on islands, and this particular island was guarded by a mafia family who basically act as the police state, using the super-powers assigned to them by pledging their souls to various ‘cards’ of the Tarot. Anime arc basically revolves around the Don needing to retire, and holding a competition for all his subordinates to see who can a) replace him, and b) marry his daughter. (She’s not really cool with that, so she competes too.)

          Magi – Rollicking good fantasy fun, only this time the fantasy setting is something out of Arabian Nights. A complete bastard of an untrustworthy layabout street-rat with vague dreams of breaching magical treasure troves that litter the landscape somehow accidentally befriends a mystical child of destiny who has his(her?) own personal genie and magic carpet. Wacky hijinx ensue.

          Sword Art Online – Imagine the perfect low-fantasy MMO, converted into a virtual-reality brain thing. OK, so they did this, and on launch day all the preorders get shafted more than usual by revelations from the creator that the whole thing is a trap, and anyone who is forcibly unplugged or who dies in the game, DIES IN REAL LIFE as the VR equipment fries their brains, and no-one’s getting out until someone beats the penultimate boss of the game. While all the players are located and moved to palliative care units in real life, in-game they all try to figure out how to play hardcore mode in a game which wasn’t designed for it. Or DIE. Months (/years?) pass, but it’s a good story anyway.

          Valkyria Chronicles – Alternate WW2 with much less grey and mud and blood. Imaginary countries of Evil-and-Competent Empire and Goody-but-Inept Federation face off, and little nation of Gallia gets caught up in the middle of it because of its super-fuel vibranium deposits. An exceptionally bright (if aloof) pacifist son of a famous general gets swept up in it as the family home is wrecked, leaving him to drive off with his adopted sister and GIANT TANK (of relatively advanced tech) to go join the Federation and win the war for them. Up until high-fantasy deus ex machina valkyries turn up and turn the whole war on its ear, per the box art.

        • POST TWO: More adventure! Only this time, DARKER. This stuff spends more time verging on the border of depressing than the anime in Post one. It’s far less high-school focused, so I won’t bother with sections.

          Last ExileAbsolutely gorgeous cross of 40s deco aesthetic and steampunk with flying ships and skypirates. Future-apoc reverts us back to steam tech, while a so-high-tech-it’s-mystical civilized/barbaric society called ‘The Guild’ watches from on high, to fuck with the lives of mortals and adjudicate the wars between nations. A scrappy pair of virtuoso mechanic/pilot kids join up with a uniquely-advanced pirate/independent group who seek to bring down the status quo.

          Attack on TitanHumanity lives a peaceful, idyllic life behind towering, impenetrable walls that encompass their entire society. Because the entire world outside it is full of lumbering, super-regenerating giants which look like nadless naked humans, and who eat humans exclusively. If humanity had made it out of the gunpowder age, they might’ve been OK, but they didn’t, so they’re not. One day, a supergiant turns up and kicks the main wall in. Panic, human-munching, despair, human-munching, valiant-but-pitiful resistance and more human-munching ensues, and the drama that goes with.

          Full Metal AlchemistAnother low-fantasy/renaissance/victorian-era setting. The world operates on a delicate balance of science, and ‘alchemy’ which is more like magic, but with a ridiculous number of catches and drawbacks, to the point that you need special training. Mostly this is used to be turned into a horrifically effective war-weapon. A pair of young brothers accidentally break the rule of ‘don’t try to bring someone back from the dead’ and inadvertently fuck themselves up in the process, turning the youngest into a walking suit of armor, and the eldest arrogant one into a cyborg. The kids embark on a journey to study up to try and undo the fuckery, but politics and wars and romance get in the way.

          HellsingFanservice from the manga, it feels like, but beautifully well-done. This is one of the few anime where the English dubs actually surpass the original Japanese voice-acting. Vampires turned creepy and wrong – English secret society aimed at policing the world’s unnaturals has its own pet vampire, and most episodes are en excuse to show off how badass a non-sparkly vampire really can be in this worldview.

          Death NoteI hope you like thinky political headgame stuff. You said you liked Code Geas, so I’m guessing so. Simultaneously less and more grand scale, it’s about a magical book which writing the name in kills the named. A supergenius high schooler with no morals gets his hands on it and decides to right the world, but has to contend with being tracked down by law enforcement and the supergenius of their own who they bring on board. Utterly dark and depraved, headgamey second/triple/quadruple-guessing fun.

          BlassreiterMankind kind of shot itself in the foot. Near future which is mostly happy, but with a catch. A weird techno disease warps and distorts people into contagious killer bio-robots. Follows the disturbing tale of a special forces unit tasked with responding to the emergencies, and all the players who brought the whole mess about – they use motorcycle mechs, so it has a strong bike focus. Gets pretty heavy, and No Character Is Safe From Death. Be prepared.

          GungraveThe game came first, would you believe? So obviously this thing has to descend into batshit crazy gunmadness at some point, but thankfully it happens at the very start, then the very end, with the majority of the series being a flashback which tells a thoughtful, mature coming-of-age gangster/mafia story. Reflective and tragic, up until it turns batshit insane.

          JormungandLargely focuses on a dead-inside child soldier killing prodigy who is semi-conscripted/recruited into bodyguard/troubleshooting duty for a notorious arms dealer girl who happens to be more than a few twists on your average fruit loop and secretly pursuing some personal grand designs. A largely cheerful group of sociopaths welcome him into the family and show him why they’ve been so successful so far.

          Black LagoonJapanese wage-slave gets put on a boat which is intercepted by pirates in the south china seas. Instead of getting his ransom paid, he’s thrown to the wolves, and decides to throw his lot in with the pirates to do their accounting for them. The pirates/mercs are a small but talented group with more morals than most, but the place they live in corrupts and it corrupts absolutely. The dead-set killer chick with no scruples gradually gains humanity in the man’s presence, just as he loses his own. A vaguely depressing spiral, with one of the more haunting end-credit music sequences.

          BTOOOM!A teeeeensy bit fucked up. The world is swept up in a bomb-flinging video-game craze – BTOOOM. It’s like if Call of Duty and Bomberman had a baby. In a sick twist, some powerful corporation gets it in their heads to make the world’s most popular secret snuff TV series by soliciting requests from the public to ‘make people disappear’, then disappearing the country’s most hated individuals who no-one would miss to a tropical island where they secretly play BTOOOM for realsies. Japanese teen BTOOOM prodigy tries to figure out a way off the island without becoming a wanton murderer.

          Psycho-PassFuture society is ruled by the benevolent Machine, who only asks that everyone take due diligence to keep themselves in good mental health. Because she’s watching. And she can tell. People’s ‘psycho pass’ is a biometric aura that lets the Machine know if you’re naughty or nice, and the truly, desperately naughty are roped in to hunt down their fellow naughty-thinkers. Only the most well-adjusted of the Nice are kept on hand to leash the delinquent hunter types, with the powers to techno-dispose of them if need be. One young lady of prodigal mental health bucks the trend by letting a condemned go free, only to have her rehabilitated against all odds – from there, she begins to suspect that maybe the system isn’t all its cracked up to be, and plays the game of finding out without becoming suspect herself. (Or, for a long time, even knowing that’s what she’s doing.)

          Robotics;notesThis is actually an adaptation from a visual novel – so there are many different ‘routes’ you could take, and they decided to fold ALL OF THEM into the anime, so the plot veers between cutesy, inspirational, and fucking horrifically dark. In the end, darkness taints. A teen who doesn’t give much of a shit for anything except playing his future-tech DS discovers a virtual AI hologram who leads him on a merry chase through conspiracy theory land, of earth-cleansing proportions.

          ClaymoreMonsters roam the lands! They are hunted and kept in check by ‘Claymores’. Young women who are, unfortunately, part monster themselves. Pretty standard hacky-slashy stuff, but it’s done pretty well and gets pretty dark.

          BerserkAhh, the series that practically forces you to read the manga if you want to know what the FUCK just happened. It’s actually one of the few anime series that tracks a youth from, well… youth, to adulthood, showing gradual aging and growth. The story of a young boy who takes in with a mercenary company whose savant leader has designs on being one of the only commoners to ascend to his own throne. ‘Guts’ the protagonist follows him, struggling on his own to keep up.

          Zetsuen no TempestFollows the story of two high school boys who get swept up in a global apocalypse of the trees of genesis and exodus, duking it out over whether to destroy humanity or preserve it. Mages who draw power from the trees get involved, but our poor, non-magical lads have to try and somehow influence things without any powers except borrowed ones, and some really, really, really, really, brain-melting logic puzzles and arguments. These are kind of important because the trees themselves act and draw power from logic and reason, themselves, such that figuring out what the hell is going on is actually a kind of superpower on its own. Romance, tension, love triangles, and intellectual smugness. If you like that kind of thing. Like I do.

        • POST THREE: Saccharine Sweetness. This is the home of RomCom, fan-service, and by GOD there’s some High Schoolery in there. This is the stuff you should keep on hand if any of the above bums you out too hard and you need a mental insulin shot.

          And some of them are actually very worthwhile even on their own for being cynically self-aware and humorous.

          Ore No Imouto ga Konna ni Kawaii Wake ga Nai (‘My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute’ or something.)Yeah, the title might freak you out, but don’t worry, it’s not a pervy siscon thing. It’s about a regular teen guy who discovers that his hyper-athletic/popular/fashionable bratty younger sister (who is independently earning a living as a teen model) is a closet Otaku. Story revolves around trying to bring her out of her otaku closet, hang out with friends she can actually relate to, whilst bearing under her abuse. Worth watching if only for a relatable protagonist who is self-aware but still has enough integrity to unashamedly take on the burdens for familial loyalty. (Also, second season restores faith in humanity as he gets a proper girlfriend and is normal about it.)

          Kore wa Zombie Desu KaTeen guy sacrifices himself to save a girl who turns out to be magical but in hiding. She’s a necromancer, so she raises him from the dead to be a zombie. A very HEALTHY looking zombie with very few drawbacks, and she mends him up when required, so he can be strong enough to support a harem of magical hangers-on. He borrows ‘magical girl’ powers by accident, which allows him to transform into a cross-dresser for powah. Not entirely silly as it sounds, has some funny and warm characters and generally feels good.

          Eyeshield 21I hope you like grid-iron! Actually, for a complete novice, this anime does a REALLY GOOD job of explaining American football. An absurdly long-running series which follows a runtish high-schooler who pretends to be a team manager, whilst donning a masked helmet to unleash the power of cowardice and a strong back to become the legendary Eyeshield 21. No prodigy stands alone, though, and its a team anime built up arond him. Compelling stuff.

          Ben-toIn the modern day, minutes before closing, supermarkets around the city mark down their ben-to boxed lunches by ridiculous amounts, and starving students and otherwise underprivileged gather around them like hungry wolves. Which is what they call the members of their resultant informal FIGHT CLUB. A bunch of folks kicking the shit out of each other for discount ben-to. Again, curiously compelling.

          Working’!!A light-hearted slice-of-life anime revolving around a cafe and its quirky employees, with very low-grade drama and romance subplots.

          Zero no TsukaimaHigh fantasy, with a Japanese teen accidentally transported into it. Magical wizard students have to summon creatures, and a complete royal fuckup of a wizard girl summons a Japanese teen during an eclipse. Turns out the summoning actually leaves him with a slight bit of superpoweredness, in that if he holds a weapon, he becomes absurdly, magically super-proficient with it. Which would be cool, except as a summoned familiar, he’s got the social rank of ‘pet’, not even slave. Four seasons of semi-harem fantasy fun.

          Ao no ExorcistTroublesome youth discovers he is actually the child of satan, and that his ‘father’ is a priest who took him and his non-demonic brother in, after failing to save their mother. Dark times are coming, and the boys must train in a very civilized secret society which seems to live in a conveniently accessible but secret pocket dimension, to better safeguard the world against unseen devils.

          Boku ha Tomodachi ga SukunaiA fairly diligent mature young man is mistaken for a ‘yankee’ (delinquent) because of his ill-fitting clothes and foreigner genes, which have turned his hair blonde. He meets a similarly outcast stern young lady, who ropes him into a high school club which holds – at its focus – the goal of ‘learning how normal people act, to make friends’. Other friendless outcasts are recruited to this club/unacknowledged harem. It’s pretty self-aware and plays everything straight most of the time, and the characters are fairly endearing, so it’s worth a watch.

          CampioneSilly. And it knows it. One young man becomes the scion of destiny after a chance encounter with a guardian of relics. He’s got one, and it turns him into the CAMPIONE, which is basically a god-killer. Yeah. He kills gods from myth and legend, and steals their powers. To use against other gods. And so on and so forth. One master manipulative god is the big bad. WILL HE WIN? Of course. It’s silly fan-service, but fun.

          Fruits BasketUnexpected tear-jerker. Largely fluffy, inoffensive silliness revolving around a girl who becomes orphaned and homeless and tries to eke out a semi-respectable living in a tent in a forest, but accidentally stumbles across a secluded mansion, where she is taken in by its masters to serve as housekeeper/babysitter. Turns out all these people are part of a large family who are cursed to hold the ‘aspects’ of the Chinese zodiac. And they sometimes turn into their aspects – like when hugged by a girl. GUESS WHAT HAPPENS A LOT. Surprisingly warm and endearing, with many moments of almost cloying sweetness resolved by the girl being just so genuine and sincere all the time.

          Hagure Yuusha no EsteticaFollows a ‘Rogue Hero’ (antihero) who is the MarySue of the series, and the main reason to watch it. Watch when you’re sick of bumbling, apologetic, awkward Japanese teen boys, and when you want to see one with some unashamed ALPHA. Story goes that children go missing all the time, and it’s usually because the hand of fate has plucked them out of modern day reality and deposited them squarely in fantasy-land, with dragons and castles and elves and magic. IF they survive, they eventually come back, and serve as the weapons/police of modern society, in a school of their own, dedicated toward training them properly. Our Hero decides to come back of his own accord, and sneakily brings the daughter of the Demon King with him because he’s taken a shine to her. But they’ve got to keep it a secret. Others want to find out, and people from the Other Side want to pursue. Hijinks ensue.

          Ixion Saga DTTeen shut-in MMO-playing pervert is deposited into a fantasy world by accident (or design?) and manages to develop a reputation as a powerful warrior by pure, dumb luck. Foiling an attempt by a shadowy organization’s elites to kidnap a princess before she can seal some political deal through marriage, he gets recruited as bodyguard and learns that he is one of a rare few who can wield magic weapons – one of which he has stolen from the antagonist. By pure, dumb luck. There’s a lot of that. More humorous than anything, much of the gags play off the fact that he’s a virgin – which the Japanese call ‘dotei’ and abbreviate to DT. Which is what everyone calls him, now, due to a mistake in translation. It’s actually not bad for some slapstick/puns/awkward humour

          Kaichou wa Maid-SamaMoe. Basically a supertough female school president has, due to family circumstances, found herself in a very low-tuition former all-boys school, and sets herself the task of cleaning it up and making it a safe, friendly place for delicate flowers of girls by being the biggest ball-buster she can. Unfortunately, to make ends meet, she also has a part time job as a maid in a maid-cafe, which she has to keep secret in order to retain her air of authority. Deus Ex Machina GOOD AT EVERYTHING school prettyboy finds out, and plays games with her head. Ostensibly a love story, and the gender relations thing isn’t as bad as it sounds. It’s nice to see a genuinely strong female protagonist, even if she does get confused to the point of idiocy about these funny tingly feelings she’s getting for her ‘tormentor’ every episode.

        • I’ll probably make this the final post, because there’ s a lot there. I’ll split it into two sections.
          1) Mindfuckingly dark – either for the sake of it or as psychological thriller.
          2) Philosophical/political/slow-paced thinky stuff.


          Ergo ProxyDystopian future held in place on a class-based system. An upper-class investigator tries to figure out a string of murders of the lower-class, and links it to some tech nightmare springing from the hellish wasteland outside their relatively utopian dystopia walls. A sole witness/survivor mild-mannered tech-lad from the underclass gets dragged along into the fiasco, only to discover that everything is fucked.

          Serial Experiments LainTeen girl gets a message from a fellow student who apparently committed suicide before sending it, which is puzzling. She’s told that ‘god is in the Wired’, which means some kind of Matrix-like virtual space/entity. Lain goes delving into it to try and figure it all out, discovering she has something of a knack for this hackery stuff, only that as she becomes incredibly obsessed with it, the line between reality and the Matrix seems increasingly blurred and everything is fucked.

          Deadman WonderlandA kid gets framed for the actions of a supernatural serial killer, and gets sent to a very, VERY unconventional jail. Think, uh… Super Jail. The inmates all have timed detonating collars, and they have to perform tricks like trained animals to get candies which prolong the timers on their collars. Some of these involve participating as an attraction in a theme park, where gag obstacle courses are run, in which EVERYTHING KILLS YOU for the amusement of onlookers who are led to believe that the inmates don’t actually die. Turn out that the whole thing is a front for housing super-humans who have the ability to work terrible dark supermagics using blood as a weapon. Often their own. Kid gets his eyes opened to this world to discover everything is fucked.

          Elfen LiedGovernment is housing teen girl superweapons in a kind of prison. They’ve got these invisible hands which sprout from their heads, see, and which can vibrate to such incredible speeds that they can slice through anything. Including people. Which they do a lot. Anyone who survives this kind of contact is cursed in the gonads to only give birth to similar freaks. One of the more lethal ones breaks free, gets amnesia, and rooms with a teenage boy. Eventually the government comes looking for her, and everything is fucked.

          GantzHorrible, horrible teen guy with a bad attitude toward everything gets dragged into being a hero for once in his life, which doesn’t exactly work out very well for him, since he gets killed in the process. Only when he and his more idealistic fellow hero come to, they’ve been reassembled at the whims of a solid, black ball in the middle of a room, which taunts them and a group of fellow no-good recently-deads, then forces them all to pick up weapons, don suits, and hunt aliens in a timed game for its amusement. Turns out failure means FINAL death, and success is a temporary reprieve. Til the next game. Misanthrope tries to figure out what’s going on, but swiftly and accurately concludes that everything is fucked.

          Blue GenderThe future’s OK, but they still haven’t cured cancer. So, our pretty average petrol-station attendant hero goes into the big sleep in cryostasis until he can be awakened in a better age where they have a better cure, only to be rudely awakened to watch his fellow pod-sleepers being munched on by alien bugs in the ruins of post-apocalyptic civilization. Turns out gaia got pissed and reclaimed the Earth from the humans by tossing waves of The Blue at them to eat them and everything else. But humanity has an orbital space station. And MECHS. So hero boy decides to join up and fight the good fight, but pretty quickly discovers that it doesn’t really matter because everything is still fucked.


          Jin Roh: Wolves in human armorKind of a crime-investigation story, meets slice-of-life for a special forces recruit. Only these particular special forces wear semi powerarmor, and instead of using rifles, use MG42 WW2 era machineguns. It’s a slower-paced thing and fairly thoughtful, but not very cheerful.

          Ghost in the Shell (series, not movie: S.A.C. or, Stand Alone Complex)There is a LOT of talkytalky in this one, but it’s maybe not quite as slow as the movie. All the same, try to watch it in as few sittings as possible, because shit DOES get complicated as the boundaries between humanity and cyborgs/robots/AIs is explored, and the virtues of the regulation of cyberspace.

          Patlabor (the movies, not so much the aged TV series)The TV series was basically a light-hearted cop-show. ‘Labors’ are basically mechs/robots which perform manual labor. To prevent man’s natural inclination to go on a fucking giant robot rampage all the time, there are also police-bots. The Patlabor series follows that crew. As the movies roll around, the labors are entering a fairly weird stage of social disapproval, and there’s less need (and budget) for them. Unfortunately, there’s terrorism, so the patlabor crew gets their asses back into gear in a crime story which highlights the powerlessness of certain agencies in the face of politics and bureaucracy. And they do it again in a second movie. Which is ALSO good.

          HyoukaA fairly light high-school based TV series, but the main character is a vaguely disaffected youth committed to laziness, who uses some pretty impressive deductive reasoning to solve problems presented by the hyper-inquisitive girl who he can’t say no to. (Hint. Every time a tingle sound effect plays and he finds himself illogically compelled to assist her despite himself, just mentally note that the tingle corresponds to a boner or something. It’s more realistic that way.)

          Usagi DropA Japanese salaryman in his 30s is living alone, and his grandfather dies. On visiting the funeral, he learns the family scandal – there is a young (like… 6yr old) girl there who was rumoured to be the maid’s daughter, but is actually his grandfather’s daughter. Kind of technically making him her son. The familiy is scandalized and concerned with what to do with her or how to foist her off somewhere, and the protagonist is so disgusted by the insensitive talk happening RIGHT NEXT TO THE GIRL (who is clearly distraught over the rejection and grieving for her Dad) that he offers to take guardianship of her. Despite having no wife or girlfriend. SCANDAL! Anyway, the series is a touching, slow-paced over-the-years journey of discovering and adjusting. For both parties. As a young man in my 30s without child myself, it makes me vaguely wistful sometimes.

          • I’m gonna have to check these out after work. thinky thinky section and sci fi section. Thanks.

  • Because of your recommended 5 anime to watch this season post I watched the first episode of Attack On Titan, and before I knew it I’d watched all the eps that were out. Cheers

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