Five Must-Watch Anime For Q1 2015

Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

We are now half way into the Q1 2015 anime season. But with 35 new shows on the air it can be more than a little difficult to know which ones to watch. Luckily, we come bearing our recommendations.

Over the past few weeks, I have spent hour upon hour getting fully caught up on all the most well-recommended new anime as well as several additional ones that just happened to catch my eye.

As always, keep in mind as you read that these are simply the new anime that should not be missed this season. There are many more airing currently that are perfectly watchable. The following, however, are the cream of the crop.


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

Aldnoah.Zero (Season 2)

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Mecha, Sci-fi

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In 1972, Apollo astronauts discovered a hypergate to Mars that subsequently led to the colonisation of the red planet and eventually wars between the two worlds. Now, six months after the events of the first season, the Martian invaders in orbit around Earth once again set their sights on the resources of the planet below. With their mecha far beyond the technology of Earth, they look to be unstoppable. But the Earthlings, with their greater numbers and clever strategies, are determined not to go down without a fight.

Why You Should Watch It: On one side of the story, Aldnoah.Zero is a political drama. The Martians, while technically all under the command of one ruler, are immersed in a constantly shifting power struggle. Grand acts on the battlefield and duplicitous betrayals are methods used to get ahead of rivals. Of course, personal stakes and racial prejudices constantly enter the fray as well, making for a dangerously unstable -- and entertaining to watch -- political climate.

On the other side, Aldnoah.Zero is a series of mecha battles that are as intellectual as they are action packed. In most episodes, the heroes on Earth face off against one of the Martian mecha -- each of which has near magical powers. On the surface, each seems invincible. Thus, half the fun of the show is watching how, through clever tricks (and the repeated exploitation of the Martians' arrogance), the heroes topple one Martian giant after another with their far inferior mecha.

Watch It If You Like: Gundam, Madoka Magica, Psycho Pass, Fate/Zero

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Daisuki


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

Death Parade

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Fantasy, Death Game

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: When two people die at the same moment, they are transported to a mysterious bar. There, they must play a game against each other -- one designed to reveal the darkness in their souls. And all the while, the bartender is watching: deciding whether their immortal souls will return to the land of the living or will instead be cast forever into the empty void.

Why You Should Watch It: Death Parade is an anime that uses its setup to explore humanity's complex relationship with good and evil. Each character we see enter the bar has faults; many have done horribly immoral things, we learn, as we watch them play twisted versions of darts, twister, or arcade games. However, no one is completely evil. The question becomes at what point does someone's soul become irredeemable -- one unworthy of another chance at life.

Alongside the strong episodic character pieces is the show's overarching serialised plot revolving around the bartenders, their organisation, and its newest staff member, a nameless human woman. As the characters interact, we learn bit by bit about the greater world in which the story takes place -- including the mystery of the human woman and why she has been placed in the position of helping to decide the fates of the dead. It all makes for an incredibly intriguing anime.

Watch It If You Like: Mushishi, Hell Girl, xxxHolic

Where You Can Watch It: Funimation, Hulu, Madman (AU)


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

Maria the Virgin Witch

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Historical Fantasy, Comedy

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In the midst of the Hundred Years' War lives teenage witch Maria. Hating war in all its forms, Maria interferes in battle after battle -- ensuring no victory on either side. But when the heavens themselves have had enough of Maria's meddling, the angels decree that she may no longer use magic in public; and should she ever lose her virginity, she will lose her magic powers completely.

Why You Should Watch It: Despite all the magic, angels, and war, Maria the Virgin Witch is really a girl's coming-of-age story, replete with the certainties of youth clashing against the very nature of the world as we know it. To Maria, it's simple: War (and the killing it entails) is wrong. Stopping it is, therefore, the right thing to do. Of course, the real world is never as simple as all that; and Maria soon discovers that her actions have consequences far beyond her pure intentions.

The other side of the story deals with her becoming a young woman -- interested in love but completely ignorant of and embarrassed by anything sexual. Her innocence battling against her rising interest in what the angels have denied her is often the crux of the anime's humour.

Watch It If You Like: Kiki's Delivery Service, Slayers

Where You Can Watch It: Funimation, Hulu, Madman (AU)


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

Saekano: How to Raise a Boring Girlfriend

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 11)

Genre: Romantic Comedy, Harem

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: One day on his way home, hardcore otaku Tomoya encounters a beautiful girl in a scene seemingly torn directly out of a dating simulation game. Inspired, he decides to create his own dating sim based around this girl. There is just one problem: In reality the girl, Megumi, is normal and rather boring -- nothing like the heroine of his imagination.

Why You Should Watch It: Saekano is a romantic comedy built on deconstructing many of the tropes common in romantic comedies. The show goes to great lengths to explain how romantic leads are supposed to act in cliché rom-com situations, all the while bucking the expected trend with Megumi -- who really is as unobtrusively normal as she seems. Her strikingly blunt, well-measured reactions clash hilariously with the over-the-top anime personalities of the rest of the cast.

Beyond the comedy, Saekano is also a coming-of-age story as Tomoya is embarking on the first major project of his entire life. To make the game he dreams of making, he needs to not only get himself motivated but also to convince other people of his vision so they will give their all to the project as well. What follows is a lesson in responsibility that many of us learn when growing up, making his struggles easy to sympathise with.

Watch It If You Like: Monthly Girls' Nozaki-Kun, My Teen Romantic Comedy SNAFU

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll, Hulu, Madman (AU)


Five Must-Watch Anime for Winter 2015

Yatterman Night

Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)

Genre: Sci-Fi, Post Apocalyptic, Comedy

Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: When ten-year-old Leopard's mother gets sick, Leopard tries to get medicine from the prosperous Yatter Kingdom -- only to be shot at by the supposedly heroic Yatterman. As she grieves over her mother's death, she discovers her legacy: Her ancestors were the age old enemies of the Yatterman and the villains of countless stories. But if the Yatterman are actually the evil ones, Leopard decides, then perhaps the stories were wrong and her ancestors were the heroes. Thus, Leopard sets off with her two companions -- vowing to teach the Yatterman the error of their ways by giving them the forehead flicking they so richly deserve.

Why You Should Watch It: Yatterman is one of the most well-known classic hero anime of the 70s in Japan. It has spawned both a subsequent anime series as well as a live-action film in recent years. However, Yatterman Night stands apart from the other renditions of the story by inverting the common heroic narrative. This time it is the "heroes" who are doing great evil and the "villains" who must rise to the occasion and save the world.

While essentially a comedy, the world of Yatterman Night is disturbingly dark -- often using the slapstick humour carried over from the original to unsettle the audience instead of giving it a laugh. What keeps the anime upbeat and hopeful despite this is Leopard herself. Being a child, she always believes in the best in people -- even if her faith turns out to be misplaced. And despite what she has suffered, she doesn't seek vengeance: All Leopard wants to do is teach the Yatterman that they are in the wrong. Her pure innocence makes you root for her all the more even as her "villain" status makes it far more likely for her adventures to end in defeat rather than in victory.

Watch It If You Like: Power Rangers, Masked Rider, 70s Anime

Where You Can Watch It: Funimation, Hulu, Madman (AU)

Now that you've read my recommendations for what anime you should be watching this winter season, you may wonder why your favourite series is absent. There are four potential reasons: (1) I think it is terrible (or at least not quite as good as the five above); (2) it is the second/third/fourth season of an anime -- and I haven't seen the previous seasons; (3) it is an anime continuing from last season; or (4) it simply didn't cross my radar.

Oh, and if you feel the need for even more anime to watch, be sure to check out the five anime of the Q4 2014 you should have watched as well as our picks for the top five anime of 2014.


Comments

    Death parade is like persona in a way, by in a way, i mean THE BARTENDERS ARE SO OUT OF TOUCH WITH REALITY & the assistant is like the male p3 protagonist in that she already knows that she is dead & decim has wiped memories, plus these bartenders are sort of similar to the velvet room attendents, who are again so out of touch with reality except elizabeth, because at the end of p4au, pilemon gives her the wild card, after she starts believing that she has a purpose. Oh & fyi, the higher ups in death parade wanted an assistant due to the high ammount of worthy people who want to be reincarnated end up going to hell & vice versa, so yeah, possibly a good anime

    I remember Death Parades' pilot episode Death Billiards. Good to see it got its own series, but if the series is anything like the pilot it is going to be a freaky ride.

    I might give Death Parade a try.
    However I can't agree with the other 3 options (Ald0 is a second season, I dismiss it since I didn't see season 1).
    Swap Maria The Witch with Assassination Classroom
    Throw Seakano away and give Shinmai Maou no Testament a try
    Yatterman I guess is ok, but it has been done better in the past

      Really? Maria actually has character development and narrative progression, whereas Assassination Classroom is a bottle of tired shonen tropes. The latter has some nice visuals on occasion, but Maria is by Production I.G. and has some excellent depictions of an uncommon time period, so that advantage for Assassination Classroom isn't worth much.

    Aldnoah Zero while a mess and over the top plot and interested mecha fights is still damn awesome. Gen 'Urobutcher' is the original creator of it after all.

    Death Parade is by the far the most interesting series I have seen in a while. While it has a slice of life element and themes and explores death, it has got one of the most misleading OP's I have ever seen. Hell, it's THAT catchy, I never skip it.

    If anything, Death Parade reminds me of the anime series Bartender and Mushishi combined.

    Aldnoah is intellectual? really? It's the dumbest show I've seen since Mahouka.
    For the sake of brevity I'll just talk about the actions scenes. The "near-magic" powers that the martians mechs have all come from this resource called Aldnoah. Nobody on earth knows how Aldnoah works, including Inaho our protagonist, and yet EVERY fight that he wins is dependent on him knowing the detailed inner workings of how every mech operates, information he could not POSSIBLY know.

    "Well it has shield that stops solid matter, so clearly it stops light"
    "It has blades that made out of super heated plasma"
    "it focuses all the atoms into a single atom at the front, so we should attack from the back"
    "It can't charge it's shield if it's touching solid surfaces"

    How did he know any of these things? did he read the script? Sometimes (only sometimes) the series pretends that Inaho worked out how the mechs work. But there is absolutely no basis for him to do that from because nobody understands how aldnoah works. It's like trying to reverse engineer a computer without understanding how electricity works.

    Most fight in aldoah zero consist of inaho shooting at a martian mech and then declaring a rule about how the enemies mech works, and because they're good sports I guess, they comply to the rule and get killed.

    Even ignoring the impossibility of Inaho working out how the enemies mechs work, the fights are still nonsense. When Inaho goes up against the guy with the plasma swords he uses reactive armour to disperse the plasma blades which:
    1. Doesn't make sense because reactive armour would work on kinetic impact (Rayet says it's used to deflect enemy projectiles) and thus wouldn't be triggered by the heat of the plasma blades
    2. He clearly wasn't equipped with one minute earlier when he started up the mech but is now somehow covered completely in.
    3. It shouldn't fit his mech anyway because the series goes out of it's way to explain that Inaho uses a junked up training mech instead of one of the military grade ones.

    Well this spiraled from a short comment to a full blown rant with alarming speed, so i'll just finish by saying that I like Aldnoah Zero, but it's nowhere near intelligent as it pretends to be.

      Just want to quickly comment that you don't need to know how a mechanical system works to have knowledge of it's effect.

      I may not know how an internal combustion engine works, but if I have enough knowledge of physics I can determine from observation that the engine creates torque that pushes it's wheels allowing it to gain momentum and speed.

      I could similarly make observations about how it steers, brakes and generally handles all from observation. I could theoretically force it to take a turn hard enough that it rolled, laid spikes to damage the vulnerable wheels or force a crash by judging braking distances.

      Despite seeing all those vulnerabilities, I still don't know how to make an engine.

      That said, some of Inaho's observations do seem to be on the verge of unbelievable, or made up of leaps in logic or possibly just general scifi writer science. If you have an issue with that fine, but similar issues plague almost all scifi, shows like Star Trek or Stargate in particular were a bit egregious.

      His ability to observe and surmise does make sense in universe. Though it's scope does seriously border on the super powered side.

        True, but you can work out the limits of an internal combustion engine because it works within the limits of physics, a system that you have either an intuitive or educated knowledge of. Aldnoah on the other hand is near magical, it can and does break the laws of physics and the limit to which it can do that is completely unknown, so there's no larger system to frame it in. There are no rules that the mech definitely follow, so there is no base on which to form the first "if it does X then it means it must do Y" statement.

        Also I don't know about other western scifi shows, but I have seen a few episodes of TNG and while I guess it had a similar problem but it didn't really bother me because the conclusions were being made by scientists who studied dilithium crystals or whatever. If Inaho had a degree in pseudoscience I probably wouldn't have minded as much. I guess I have less of a problem with the crazy deductive reasoning and more of a problem with the (in my eyes) self insert, audience pandering, obnoxious characterization that it helped facilitate. I haven't disliked a character as much as Inaho in awhile, but I am actively enjoying my dislike of him so I guess I can't really hate on the show.

          The idea behind it is that Aldnoah doesn't really break the laws of physics, just gives a hand waving explanation for things that although they have a grounding in real physics they are impractical to do with any level of technology.

          The reason he is able to assess those aspects is because of the limits of physics.

          At least so far as a handful of Japanese tv writers understand physics.

          All that said, I had to nitpick one of your criticisms because I didn't think it was valid. By no means do I think that it's a reason to change your opinion of the show if you don't like it and I've heard a fair number of people who don't like Inaho as a protagonist.

          Personally I enjoy him because I assume he's on the autistic spectrum somewhere, it gives a good motivation for his distanced near mathematical mindedness. It also stops me from seeing him as a direct surrogate for myself.

          As for the science... It's all fridge logic. If you can be immersed long enough that you don't question it till well after the show, you will probably enjoy it. If you immediately pick up the errors they'll distract you and prevent that enjoyment.

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