It's the mid-point of the Autumn anime season and the perfect time to take a look at which of the season's 58 new anime you absolutely should not miss. After spending more hours than I'd care to admit watching your recommendations for the season's best anime, in addition to some additional ones that just happened to catch my eye, I'm finally ready to dish out my recommendations for the five you should definitely be watching.
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.
Re:ZERO -Starting Life in Another World- (Re:Zero kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu)
Studio: White Fox
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 25)
Genre: Fantasy, Time Travel, Ultraviolence
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: When coming home from a convenience store, teenage gamer Subaru finds himself magically transported to a fantasy world. At first, it appears to Subaru he's living the "otaku transported to a fantasy world where he is the destined hero" cliché. After a few hours, his new life takes on the shape of a romantic comedy making fun of the aforementioned cliché. It's about the time he finds his guts spilling out on the floor that he realises he's in a different genre altogether. Now he has no choice but to relive the same day again and again until he manages to survive it.
Why You Should Watch It: Re:Zero is an anime that takes a genre-savvy protagonist and puts him squarely in the wrong genre. As much as he wants to be the hero of a fantasy tale or the protagonist of a rom-com, he is instead a fish-out-of-water in a world where brutal violence is the norm. Yet his time travel ability allows him as many second chances to bend the story towards his goal as he needs — if he's willing to go through a painful death each time to achieve it.
This story wouldn't work if you didn't care about the characters, Subaru included. And thanks to great banter and likeable personalities, it's hard not to like every member of the extended cast. Of course, this is all part of the author's own sadistic trap. You can rest assured that you, alongside Subaru, will face more than your fair share of mental anguish watching these likeable characters meet their grizzly fates again and again. And the final twist of the knife? There's always hope that the next loop will turn out better — and the fear that it won't.
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress (Koutetsujou no Kabaneri)
Studio: Wit Studio
Currently at: Episode 5 (of 12)
Genre: Steampunk, Zombies, Samurai
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In a world where a zombie outbreak spread across Japan in the middle of the industrial revolution, the dwindling survivors live on in heavily fortified "stations". Their only contact with each other comes in the form of armoured trains. But when young engineer Ikoma's station falls to the zombies, he and a score of panicked survivors pray their damaged train can make it to the next station where they hope that safety can be found.
Why You Should Watch It: It's Attack on Titan meets Snowpiercer. This anime deals with all the social aspects you'd expect in a zombie apocalypse: mistrust in the ranks, a fascist government and the ever-present threat of zombies. Then pack all that expected unrest onto a train full of terrified people and you get a powder keg continuously on the edge of exploding, with our heroes doing everything in their power to stop it from going off — and often making the situation even worse.
The inclusion of the Kabaneri — human-zombie hybrids who have the unkillable body of the zombies but the mind of a human — add yet another layer to the train's plight. While the Kabaneri are perhaps humanity's only hope, the fear they elicit in the normal humans is both understandable and counterproductive. All in all, it makes for an anime that takes the best from zombie stories, sets it in feudal Japan and adds a steampunk twist.
Where You Can Watch It: Unfortunately it's currently only available on Amazon Prime Instant Video, so Australians will have to wait for it to get distribution.
Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto (Sakamoto Desu Ga?)
Studio: Studio Deen
Currently at: Episode 5 (of 13)
Genre: Comedy, Slice-of-Life
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: Sakamoto isn't your average high schooler. Rather, he is the coolest high schooler in existence. Everything he does, he does with such style that there are only two possible reactions to his presence: admiration or jealousy. Between the bullies out to bring him down a peg and the scores of girls vying for his affection, Sakamoto faces challenges around every corner — not that that bothers him. After all, he's far too cool to do anything other than just take it all in stride.
Why You Should Watch It: When it comes down to it, Haven't You Heard? I'm Sakamoto is one singular comedic setup repeated again and again in various situations: No matter what is going on, Sakamoto will have the coolest possible reaction. The fun of the series comes from discovering what "the coolest possible reaction" will be for each scenario.
Sometimes it's rather mundane — like posing in a window or baseball sliding under a teacher to make it to school on time. But more often than not, Sakamoto shows off the true meaning of "cool" by going completely over-the-top — be that flying through a hurricane on an umbrella or sword fighting with a hornet. In an anime that lives or dies based on the coolness of its main character, the anime, like Sakamoto himself, doesn't make a wrong step.
Watch It If You Like: Over-the-top, short-form comedy.
My Hero Academia (Boku no Hero Academia)
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 13)
Genre: Superhero, Coming of Age
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: In a world where roughly 80 per cent of the population has some sort of superpower, middle schooler Izuku does not. Despite this, he still dreams of being a superhero. And after a chance encounter with his idol (and the world's greatest superhero) "All Might", he gains the chance to turn his dreams into reality.
Why You Should Watch It: My Hero Academia is a story about what is most important in a hero: the heroic spirit. Though lacking in physical powers, when push comes to shove Izuku has what's needed on the inside. He runs toward danger rather than away from it, willing to sacrifice his body or even his future. He has the power to inspire and make those around him, even full-fledged heroes, give that extra bit of effort to do the right thing.
Moreover, this isn't an anime about solving your problems by hitting a villain really hard — though that's not to say it's lacking in action. Rather, it's about how the combination of brains and hard work can overcome any obstacle — even the strongest of superpowers.
Watch It If You Like: One Punch Man, Superman, Batman
Where You Can Watch It: AnimeLab
The Lost Village (Mayoiga)
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)
Genre: Mystery, Survival, Supernatural
Non-Spoiler Plot Summary: A group of 30 people decide to take a guided tour to a hidden town. There they hope to start anew, far removed from modern society and their old lives. But when they arrive, they find the town deserted and no easy way back to civilisation. Before long, the group faces not only the breakdown of their new society but something supernatural awaiting them out there in the woods.
Why You Should Watch It: The Lost Village is an anime about people: our flaws, our fears and how both can lead us to horrible things. While each of the 30 guests has the same noble goal to start — making a new life together — it doesn't take much for bodies to start to fall and sides to be chosen.
Alongside the societal breakdown are a score of mysteries to keep you occupied. There is the major mystery — that is, what happened to the previous inhabitants of the village — that becomes more and more complex as the supernatural elements start entering into the series. There are also a score of personal mysteries. Each person in the cast has a past they are running from. Figuring out these mysteries allows you to see why the characters act the way they do, adding another layer to everything that has come before.
Watch It If You Like: Btooom!, Lord of the Flies, Lost
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll