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The Anime of Winter 2016 in Review

Every season, we here at AniTAY do a list of Anime that You Should be Watching around the middle of the season, an article type that we blatantly stole from Richard Eisenbeis. While this article is an awesome collaboration and it’s a great help for those people interested in the currently airing anime season, it doesn’t cover everything. Welcome to the AniTAY Seasonal Overview, the article series that is here to help those who don’t watch seasonally see what’s worth their time from last season. If you want to see our past Seasonal Overviews, you can find them here.

Shows on this list aired between January and March of 2016. As this list is primarily focused on full-length seasonally airing shows, most Shorts and OVAs will not appear on this list and neither will continually airing shows like Naruto and One Piece. If available, shows are linked to The AniTAY Review.

Should you watch these shows? No. Don’t bother. Even if you are a fan of the their genre, there is almost nothing to redeem them. Whether it’s laughably poor writing, inexcusable plot holes, eye-gouging animation or a combination of these and other problems, these are shows best avoided.

I have long held that Active Raid is many things, but chief among them is that it’s as close to a Super Sentai anime that you can get without having the name. Active Raid rarely takes itself entirely seriously, and when it does it’s laughable at best. While Active Raid is not a very fulfilling or impressive anime, it has its moments when it’s viewed through a very narrow lens: it’s a Super Sentai anime. Complete with all the amusing and cliche moments that that can entail. It’s got action, team-building, tropes, and absurd plots, while staying away from the giant robots and sticking with the powered armor. The key issue being that it lacks the heart of many strong entries of the Super Sentai series, and that is a deal-breaker.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

When Funimation decided to promote the first animated GARO iteration as GARO: The Animation, they inadvertently ensured that society will swiftly forget the greatest horror any Makai Knight has faced—GARO: Crimson Moon. The first season of GARO enthralled audiences with its mixture of ribald yet witty dialogue, soft colour palette, nuanced performances, striking character designs and animation and near-perfect pacing. All of which led to an incredibly immersive tale about three people trying to reconcile their losses and failures in between the Horror-destruction. Crimson Moon is a complete devolution by comparison, content to simply be an average shounen, which would be fine, were the plotting and action not so dull and uninspired. Worse still, its one-dimensional main cast act either idiotically or irritatingly. It is frankly a waste of some solid voice acting by Romi Park, but even she cannot surmount the issues this series has. It may not be the worst series ever, but you can find better shounen elsewhere, and GARO: Divine Flame (the first season sequel) is only a few months away. There is no reason to go out of your way to suffer through Crimson Moon.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Oh Norn9. An anime with two almost distinct halves and two distinct tones that in the end, never does either one well. What starts as a seemingly bland reverse-harem for the first half, suddenly transforms into an apocalyptic tale about saving the world from its own rebirth in its second. To its credit, the reverse harem involves 3 separate girls and their adventures into finding love without harem hijinks. Unfortunately, Norn’s focus on the main couple backfires because the guy and girl involved are the most bland, generic and forgettable pair of the season. Half of their dialogue is just them speaking each other’s name! The other couples are much more entertaining, thankfully, so it wasn’t all bad. But then the aforementioned apocalyptic scenario hits and is so terribly explained and also paced really poorly. Instead of focusing on this and getting us invested in the drama, or focusing on the love stories of the main cast, Norn tries for both and it suffers because of that. Watch if you absolutely must, or if you’re a fan of the VN but otherwise, you can skip this rather easily.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Hulu.

Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle is a Frankenstein’s monster of the various magical high school and fantasy anime from the last 4 years. Throughout the series, it manages to cut and paste from multiple shows such as Chivalry of a Failed Knight, Danmachi and Infinite Stratos while going out of its way to make all the poor parts of those anime even worse. Every contributor that watched Bahamut on a weekly basis is in agreement that it should be avoided at all cost. Even the mild entertainment value AniTAY gained from watching it as a group was gone by the halfway point. It really says a lot for an anime when the best thing you can say about it is that “you can laugh at it’s ineptitude for a couple of episodes.”

Where to watch: Available in NA on Hulu.

These are shows that while enjoyable, have flaws that keep them from being good. Sometimes it is because of a mixture of both great moments and really bad moments, and other times they’re just unremarkable overall. If you are a fan of the genre they are in, you will probably like these shows.

Aokana is an adaptation from a VN developed by Sprite, similar to the Summer 2012 show Koi to Senkyo to Chocolate. Both are excellent VNs in my opinion, but Aokana is the worse adaptation sadly. The main problem with anime adaptations of a romance VN is the problem: Which girl/route do we go with?

Aokana answers this problem in the weirdest way possible, let’s go with none of them.

So what is Aokana? Simple answer would be that it’s a sport anime that teases romance. Being part of the audience that looks forward to the romance portion will only provide disappointment, yet there is still enough to Aokana’s sport-anime portions that will provide decent entertainment. Mind you, this isn’t a sports anime done a la Haikyuu, and there are times when the action and drama of the fictional sport Flying Circus, very well explained and criticized by Gugsy here, is just a bit short of getting the “good” score.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

BBK/BRNK (pronounced Bubuki/Buranki) follows a young man named Azuma Kazuki who lives on a floating island above Earth called Treasure Island that is not only home to his family, but a race of sentient mecha named Buranki. One day several Buranki suddenly awake from their slumber, forcing Azuma’s mother to send him down to Earth’s surface along with his sister and father in a Buranki named Oubu. Ten years later Azuma returns to Japan where he reunites with a childhood friend named Kogane Asabuki when she uses a sentient weapon that also doubles as a Buranki’s limb called a Bubuki. It turns out Azuma is also a Bubuki user, with his Bubuki being Oubu’s heart, making him the leader of a group of other Bubuki users whose Bubuki form the limbs of Oubu. Azuma and friends set out to get back to Treasure Island to find out the truths behind Bubuki, Buranki, and the mysterious Treasure Island, all while fighting off the Bubki users of various Buranki teams, chief among them being the seemingly villainous Reoko Banryuu and her team who form the Buranki Entei.

BBK/BRNK is a very ambitious series, and the sheer scope of its ambitions can be felt in the show’s pacing, which is at times, especially early on, really rushed, as the show throws various concepts and story beats at the viewer in a chaotic storm in the first couple of episodes. Around the halfway point, though, everything comes together and clicks, making for an extremely entertaining, if still a bit rushed, back half. Another thing of note that has caused the show to be rather divisive is its heavy use of CG animation, but after a while you may have to remind yourself that it is CG, plus the CG lends itself to creating some of the best action scenes in the entire season.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Japan has given the world the term “Otaku”, a pejorative undergoing reclamation, applied to those with enthusiastic and obsessional interests. In the West this is most often specific to Japanese media, whereas in Japan it not so limited in scope.

But I don’t mean “because it’s anime.” This is a show about an otaku. An otaku for Japanese penny-sweets, the titular dagashi. For our main character is the son of a generational dagashi store owner, though he has no interest in the family craft (instead aspiring to become a manga author). His everyday rural life is upended, however, when a passionate young woman comes looking for his father, seeking to recruit him to her family’s dagashi corporation. And so enters our otaku. For Hotaru is practically a yandere when it comes to dagashi, and every episode is a love story between her and her chosen (real world) product. Whilst formulaic, every episode displays a true adoration for something so simple and overlooked after the glory days of childhood, whilst at the same time packing a fair amount of insanity into the runtime as Hotaru seeks to open Kokonotsu’s eyes to the majesty of cheap sweets. Do not seek a character arc. Do not seek plot advancement. Dagashi Kashi provides the exact same content at the end of the series as it does initially. But if you find yourself being swept up with Hotaru’s fervour and seeing adventure in the ordinary (or you just want to see how the heck she can up her craziness from week to week) then it’s a nice timewaster.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Starting the season with a lot of promise, Dimension W appeared to be a fun sci-fi ride with an adult cast and an interesting world, this held for the first few episodes. Then the end of episode five came and the warning lights blinked on, by episode seven the wheels were off and we had descended into an incoherent and contrived mess of a plot, with an ending that made even less sense than the build-up. The shows saving grace would be its two leads, Kyoma and Mira, though most of the surrounding cast was forgettable at best, Kyoma’s gruffness and Mira’s charm kept the show watchable and their interactions made me care...a little bit. At least it looked pretty.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Yet another VN adaptation, this one was a personal hype show. With a scenario written by Romeo Tanaka, the writer for Rewrite, one of my favorite VNs of all time. (Anime in July wheeeee) Damn was this a let down.

Let’s go through some checkboxes. Interesting and/or unique plotline? Cross. This show is basically a rehash of Saekano, and not a better one. Failing that, are the characters well developed and/or have interesting personalities/interactions? No. Every character seems to exist in one dimension, and relationships are the same. The only relationship worth mentioning is the almost non-existent one between the protag and the number one girl, Kuroda Sayuki, who is the SAME CHARACTER as Saekano’s Utaha Kasumigaoka, i.e. perfect girl who is secretly an otaku. Fine. What about the art and animation? It’s nothing special. Sure, it isn’t horribad, (damn you Denpa Kyoushi!) but it’s about one of the most boring in terms of color palette and style.

I could go on, but it would all boil down to one thing. Sure this show isn’t absolutely terrible in some cases, yet everything you’d be looking for in this show could be found elsewhere in better examples. For now I can only hope Rewrite doesn’t implode the same way.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Hulu.

P.A. works have been known for their habit of releasing shows of varying quality. In the last three years alone, they have gone from Nagi no Asukura, down to the terrible Glasslip and then up to the fantastic Shirobako and back down to the trainwreck, Charlotte. Following the pattern you’d expect Haruchika the next show in the sequence to be pretty good right? Unfortunately, it falls short of the mark as a mystery focused show. One of the shows main protagonists Haruta can come off as very unlikable and his mystery solving skills are frequently pulled out of his arse in non-sequiturs. However even despite its flaws, the other protagonist Chika and her frequent banter with Haruta and their relationship holds both the band and the show together and the music subplot ends up being the shows saving grace. While it wasn’t a good show, it wasn’t as appalling as some of the other shows on the worse side of P.A. Works output.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Luck & Logic is a fantasy action show centered around a sort of supernatural police force that consists of young adults that have formed contracts with otherworldly “goddesses”. Most of the usual tropes for this sort of show are in full effect here. For example, the main character once had this power, lost it, and then automagically got it back just in time for the anime. There’s some promise in the premise of the show, but the whole thing is perpetually bogged down in the move from fantasy action set piece to set piece. This is not a bad show, but a disappointingly inconsistent and predictable one.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Nurse Witch Komugi-chan R is one of the most overlooked anime of this past season; I don’t mean to imply that it’s amazing, or even good, but it’s certainly not terrible. The anime follows a few silly teenage girls that are idols-in-training, when one day they each meet a furball thing and become magical girls. The newborn heroes fight a different monster every week, but most of the anime’s focus lies on the jokes and antics that occur in between. The characters grow and so do their relationships with others, and everything progresses to a dandy ending. Overall, Komugi-chan R showcases low-key comedy and happy characters, so it’s perfect if you want an alright show that doesn’t take a lot of brainpower to comprehend.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Did you even know you wanted a yuri ecchi show about a loli cyborg and a loli cyborg cat-girl? Well now you do! Nene Nanakorobi and her cat-girl friend, Clarion, after arriving at Cenancle Island, try and enjoy their daily lives, but something terrible is brewing at the island that tests their bond. Don’t worry, the story isn’t that deep or complicated; you’ve seen the bare bones before. And the animation isn’t great. But do you want yuri between two cute girls, because if so, you’ll get it. Nene is the fun, happy, genki type who brightens the series up with her never-ending positivity. Clarion is the kuudere and a number of jokes require her to play the tsukkomi. Be warned though, the ecchi and fanservice can be very, VERY creepy. You’ll know what I mean when you watch the first episode. Later episodes will continue that, plus other, just as creepy moments as well. If you can block them out for your yuri, go right ahead.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Okay an initial warning, Phantasy Star 2’s first episode is probably among the worst first episodes in recent memory, as it comes off as a glorified advertisement for the game. This feeling never fully goes away, but the show does get much more entertaining as it progresses. Set within the prestigious Seiga Academy, student Itsuki Tachibana must balance his student responsibilities with his new pastime of playing PSO, making new friends online and off. I admit I gave this show more leeway than I normally give shows only for love of the Phantasy Star franchise. While I’m not much of a PSO player (I had the first on Dreamcast), I am a diehard Phantasy Star I-IV fan. While much of the “PSO” action does take place while the characters are playing the game, the real fun of the series lies in the very normal High School life drama and Romantic/Fish-out-of-water comedy that happens to the characters offline. This honestly surprised me, and is really the one part of the show that kept me returning week after week, despite the shows actual blandness.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Prince of Stride is a basic run-of-the-mill sports series, centered on “Stride” (essentially parkour relay racing). The show does little egregiously wrong, but neither does it do much particularly right. The characters and plot are rife with material that just about anyone has seen before: an underdog team that used to be the best in their field, a cast united by childhood promises, family rivalries and old grudges, a laughable emphasis on “connecting emotions” to achieve victory, that sort of thing. Even the music feels uninspired, reusing the exact same track for almost literally every climax. In short, Prince of Stride fails to break the mold and establish itself as something remotely different or better than its genre competition, and when that competition is the likes of Haikyuu and Ace of Diamond, that just won’t cut it.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

I admit, I don’t exactly know where to begin with Utawarerumono: The False Faces. Amongst the AniTAY authors, we nicknamed this series “Utawatermelon” as it was easier to remember and pronounce…. This series is an adaptation of a visual novel of the same name, which follows the adventures of a nameless, memory-less protagonist in a world populated by beast people (seemingly humans with animal ears and tails). While ostensibly set in the same world as the first series and bearing many similarities along with a smattering of returning character cameos, Utawarerumono 2 is very much it’s own beast altogether. Compared to its relatively more action packed predecessor, this sequel has a very harem/ecchi/slice of life feel to it, with no real plot progression for at least the first 12 episodes of its 24 episode run. This writer happened to pick this series up with no experience whatsoever and I will admit the first half meanders so much I was a bit lost. Having actually caught up with the original series, I can say it helps to know the backstory of the original. The show is hard to recommend, but if you are a fan of the original or just want to watch a mild ecchi show of cute animal girls doing cute things, this might be right up your alley.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

These are enjoyable shows that may have had some issues, but were generally well done. There’s nothing particularly horrible about them, but there’s just something that keeps them from being great, something that prevents them from going to the next level.

The escapades of the dead-end Class 3-E, and their tentacled teacher Korosensei continues on, with the class facing off once again against new school challenges, assassination attempts and new threats as they try to both finish their year off well, and kill their teacher before they graduate. If you enjoyed the first season, this second is more of the Assassination Classroom you fell in love with. But if you are new to this blend of action, comedy, life lessons and assassination hijinx, this is the perfect time to get caught up as Assassination Classroom is set to finish this spring.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Continuing the tale of the JSDF’s, and particularly Itami’s, operations in the Special Region, this season focuses less on the politics of the countries in our world with regards to the Special Region and more on the diplomacy and fighting between Japan and the Empire. While headway is made on the peace-seeking front, which allows the viewers to gain a better understanding of the inner workings of the Empire and the world in general or the Special Region, there is also a consistent pushback from some factions in the Empire against kneeling to another power. With more magic, fighting, and politics, this season is definitely of the same vein as the first, but maintains a better balance of world-building, character development, and nuance through toning down the jingoistic undercurrents and allowing the story of Itami and crew to shine.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

War has changed. Modern battlefields are dominated by “Objects”, massive vehicles adorned with enough artillery to level a mountain and enough armor to weather a nuke. The mere presence of an enemy Object sends infantry scrambling to surrender, before their foe launches an indiscriminate and unavoidable massacre. Sound like fun? Actually, it is. At its core, Heavy Object is the story of Qwenthur and Havia, two soldier buddies who manage to end up on the receiving end of an Object seemingly every other day of the week, forced to time and time again rely on their wit and luck to make it out alive. There are serious moments, but it’s not exactly a serious show, instead getting by on the duo’s charming chemistry and routine victories, as they repeatedly (and often unintentionally) challenge the world’s notion that individual humans are powerless in the face of sheer mechanical might. Some might get bored by the fair amount of technical jargon, or turned off by the unapologetic level of fanservice, but if neither of those sounds like a deal breaker, then Heavy Object is surely worth a look.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Four best friends have fun, give each other shit and generally act like high school boys as they find love. If a high school rom-com without magic, harems or other such silliness is what you’ve been missing, then look no further. Sometimes anime rom-coms rely too heavily on tsunderes, misunderstandings and “compromising” situations for their laughs, but so far Nijiiro Days has strayed far away from these. It’s also half as long as a regular show, which allows it to be paced nice and quick and not get bogged down like some of its brethren tend to do. And with four couples to pay attention to, you’ll be sure to find a favorite rather quickly. Nijiiro will continue to air into the Spring season, so we’re not done here yet. It’s light and fun, and certainly worth a watch.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation.

Woman likes man. Man likes marshmallows. Hilarity ensues. That’s really all you need to know about this series. Like the marshmallows Hige-san likes so much, and the enamored co-worker Wakabayashi tempts Hige-san with, these episodes are light, short and fluffy (each episode lasts only 3 min). Its really an endearing series, and good for a laugh. Definitely a show for those who enjoy love, marshmallows and love of marshmallows.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Many people would see Galko-chan as a comedy, and though it is often funny I would have to disagree with the classification. Instead, I consider Galko-chan to be something much rarer and more laudable: it’s a show about girls which shows that being a girl is a normal thing. Worries about your body, worries about your identity, worries about others and what they think of you... it’s rare for these pervasive issues to ever get addressed in such an anticlimactic way that they don’t seem like things heralding the End Of The World. Galko-chan presents being a girl not as something special, not as something mystical, not as something terrible or lamentable, but just as something ordinary. Which is good for both genders to see. That it does so whilst managing to be quite so amusing (Narrated question: Is it true that really big boobs will float in water? [cut to Galko in a pool, wearing a bikini and looking somewhat discomfited] Answer: It’s true!) only makes the underlying message of normalcy easier to subconsciously accept. It’s a short, you’ll get a laugh, and maybe you’ll feel more at ease around other people for some reason you can’t quite explain. Go for it.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Sekkou Boys is a short about a new producer named Miki Ishimoto as she begins her first job in the industry. On Miki’s first day, she’s given an assignment as the head producer of a new group named the Sekkou Boys, a group made up entirely of sculptures named St. George, Medici, Mars, and Hermes. The core of the series revolves around Miki and the Sekkou Boys’ attempts to break into the industry, often to comic effect with everything varying from one of the Boys being absolutely awful at telling jokes to the group realizing that their music is terrible. Sekkou Boys has a lot to enjoy in its short form, allowing for brief watches and plenty of amusement.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

The show may be a scant 30 minutes across its four episodes, but is still manages to portray the beautiful relationship that can exist between an owner and their pet. Simple in its presentation and accompanied by music that would best be described as pleasant and soothing, this bittersweet tale is one that will touch the heart of any animal lover. If you were to somehow manage to get through this one without experiencing the feels, you either really hate cats or are just dead inside. It’s an easy recommendation, so go and take the half hour needed to watch it, it will leave an impression.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

These are shows that are great, full stop. They are always entertaining, have fantastic writing, and execute their goals extremely well, leaving fans satisfied with what they’ve just seen. They may not be appealing to everyone, so they aren’t must watches, but if you’re into the genre, you really can’t go wrong.

With so many characters, relationships and storylines, Ryohgo Narita’s tale of Ikebukuro’s complicated underworld can often leave those watching disoriented, this wasn’t helped by the three month breaks between the three parts of this, the show’s second season. But in spite of the various issues plaguing the first two cours, and there were quite a few, including some pretty cringe worthy animation, Durarara!!x2 manages to pull off a spectacular and satisfying conclusion, fixing many of the issues from its first two parts and executing the same dynamics, intrigue and tension that made the first season so great. If you enjoy a show that will force you to pay attention to everything that is occurring on screen or just happen to love the supernatural mixed into your gang warfare, Durarara is the show to watch. And it is one that actually gives you an ending, not something that you get to say about anime all that often.

Where to watch: All released episodes are available in NA on Crunchyroll here, and on Hulu here (S1) and here (Durarara!!x2).

Must Watch vote from: Grex and Kinksy

Erased is a “mystery” supernatural show that focuses on Satoru Fujinuma, a man who has the power to travel back in time. Satoru uses this ability in attempt to prevent murders of those who are close to him and this attempt leads him to try to solve a serial killing in his childhood. While it does this well, with great characters, solid visual directing and an intriguing premise in general which lead it to be a solid show that had the majority of the anime community enamored with it, it wasn’t all amazing. The mystery was an utter letdown and it rushed it’s ending, which are just a few of the things that kept it from maintaining that 9 it had on MAL at one point. It’s a great show, keeping you compelled and engaged throughout its run-time, but when watching, keep in mind it doesn’t really stick it’s ending.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll, Funimation and Hulu.

Must Watch vote from: Ascendant-Izanagi, Ryoma Nagare, Kinksy, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, The Messiah and Stanlick

Anime portraying characters trapped within a game or magically transported to a fantasy world from our own have become increasingly common in recent years. Despite belonging to a sub-genre that is quickly becoming crowded, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash stands out among its contemporaries by choosing to follow the road less traveled. Focusing on band of characters waking in a world not their own and having no knowledge of how they got there or from where they came, though it is made obvious to us that their original world is Earth. They must face an existence where life is cheap and coming to terms with death and mortality are required to survive. With a much slower and more contemplative pace than the shows one would be inclined to compare it to, Grimgar still manages fights that are both brutal and beautiful, all while surrounding us in its stunning watercolor world.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Must Watch vote from: Ascendant-Izanagi and Ryoma Nagari

If you’ve noticed, the rest of the (full-length) shows in this section are story-driven shows that often have theme-rich narratives and will usually include a moral or two. When did anime become this heavy?!

Thank god for the light hearted and purely entertainment focused Konosuba! The loosest of overarching plots is joined by over-stereotyped characters and general irreverence, and it tallies up to make for a good time. This may be a bad thing, but I don’t think I needed to turn on my brain while watching this show, and that felt great.

Watching this show makes SAO seem more ridiculous just for being waaaay too self-conscious. Being stuck in a fantasy world has never been this entertaining.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Must Watch vote from: Joniuic, Kinksy, Koda Kazar, Raitzeno and RockmanDash12

Following the struggles of the fledgeling security company, Tekkadan, one made up primarily of children, Iron-Blooded Orphans is an example of Gundam done right. Focusing primarily on the trio of the Gundam Pilot Mikazuki, Tekkadan’s boss Orga and the voice of Martian independance Kudelia, the show still manages a wide, varied and excellent cast. Accompanied by spectacular set-pieces, animation and music, IBO is one of the most accessible iterations of the venerable franchise. If you have ever thought to watch Gundam, but have been daunted by the wall of choices available, this is a great place to start.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll, Daisuke, Funimation and Hulu.

Must Watch vote from: Ascendant-Izanagi and Ryoma Nagare

Snow White with the Red Hair 2 is the second season of the fantasy romance with the same name, and it’s a sequel that keeps everything that made the first season great, with our pair Zen and Shirayuki having finally come to terms with their own feelings for one another. That romance didn’t disappoint either, as it was an incredibly sweet relationship that put a smile on your face any time you saw them together. It’s a show that is almost solely focused on the cast, and it does its characters exceedingly well, with the interactions being rather enjoyable. While it wasn’t action packed or anything, it never ceased to put a smile on my face and that’s worth the recommendation in my book. Definitely worth the watch if you’re into romances.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Funimation and Hulu.

Must Watch vote from: Ryoma Nagare and Stanlick

Tabimachi Late Show is an emotional ride that gives a brief look into the lives of four different groups of people as they learn to say goodbye, reflect on past regrets, and learn to live life to the fullest. Despite only being a mere four eight-minute episodes long, each one is used to their fullest to convey the stories they want to tell. The choice in animation style may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but the writing excels enough to get over that potential hurdle.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Must Watch vote from: Nomadic Dec, Koda Kazar, Krakken_Unleashed and MementoMorie

Every season, there are shows that blow you away, the ones that make you go and tell all your friends to watch them immediately, because they’re that good. These are the must watch shows of the season, the shows that people hype up and really love. These are the ones that will be remembered fondly by fans long after the season passes, and are pretty accessible to most people.

Ace of the Diamond Second Season begins with the fallout of the Summer tournament covered in the first season. In particular it focuses on Seidou readying for the Fall tournament with a new roster as the seniors cycle out and begin preparing for life after high school. This is a new Seidou, a...crappier Seidou, as many of the new players to rotate into the first string are freshmen players still rough around the edges. They have lost the explosive offense they had in the Summer and now are more of a team focused on defense. It is in this situation that Ace of the Diamond reaches a new level that many didn’t think it was possible for it to achieve. The games are more tense, as any run can change the tide of the game dramatically. Every pitch, every catch, every hit carries more weight than before. Especially for the players of Seidou as the stakes are greater than before, as the players aren’t just playing for themselves anymore. Ace of the Diamond was already one of the best entries in the sports genre in its first season, Second Season elevates the series legendary heights as not just one of the best in its genre, but one of the best shows you can watch, especially when it comes to long running shows.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Must Watch vote from: Ryoma Nagare, Koda Kazar and RockmanDash12

Haikyuu!! Season 2, picks up immediately after the first 25 episodes of the show, that as you might remember we highly recommended during the Spring 2014 season, as this is still a sports manga adaptation, you won’t be surprised to learn it’s a middle child, continues from the first 25, and will be succeeded by a 3rd season later this year.

We pick up with our heroes after the exciting and heart wrenching matches of the first season. The team needs to be rebuilt from the ground up, creating tension between the closest of friends, and pushing everyone to their limits.

Plot wise, the show stands among the best of sports anime genre, alas that’s not saying much, since you pretty much know all the beats, underdog team fights against insurmountable odds, and prevail thanks to hard works and guts. What sets this show apart is the fact that Volleyball requires amazing teamwork and chemistry, ergo, you won’t see the usual selfish or aloof character, everyone on every team is warm and friendly, and the show shines with characterization, while each and every character is likeable, the main character’s friendship manages to turn even the most cynical soul, into a screaming fujoshi.

Production I.G, pulled no stops in making this show memorable, the huge staff and contractor list involved in this show makes sure you’ll get quality animation on every single match. The Music by Yuki Hayashi is one of the best soundtracks from last year.

If you’ve never watched a sport anime, and figure you don’t like this or that sport, know that the the matches are all metaphors the show focuses on friendship, and achieving your dreams. And this is certainly the best sports anime to come in a long long time.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll and Hulu.

Must Watch vote from: Ascendant-Izanagi, Grex, Koda Kazar, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, RockmanDash12, Ryoma Nagare and Stanlick

Oh Osomatsu-san… Where do I begin… Held aloft by one of Gintama’s directors/storyboard planners (Fujita, Yoichi), and an all-star cast of male voice actors, Osomatsu-san was this, and last year’s smash hit comedy anime. Osomatsu-san follows the Matsuno brothers and their daily struggles to adapt to an adult life. As the brothers were previously stuck in never-ending boyhood in their 1980’s show Osomatsu-kun, you could probably guess that this transition wouldn’t end well. Holy crap does it not. From active boys to so-called “shitty NEETS” by each other, their old friends and acquaintances, AND their parents, the Matsuno brothers are a mess, and the show is made much more enjoyable for that. The comedy style varies from episode to episode, and you can never be sure what to expect next. One thing you can be sure of, the brothers are terrible people, but always hilarious to see their comeuppance.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Must Watch vote from: Gugsy, Koda Kazar and The Messiah

Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu is a unique treasure. The post-WWII Shouwa era, rarely touched by anime, pervades the atmosphere of the tragic tale at its centre. The traditional Japanese oral storytelling tradition of rakugo, also often overlooked, serves as a fascinating vector through which to watch three flawed human beings trying to achieve happiness. Perhaps watch is the wrong word; as an audience, we are completely embroiled in their plight and story, which are befitting of the theatrical subject matter. Yet for a series devoted to performances so reliant on projecting expression to its audience, the charismatic voice acting, animation, and direction capture the subtle shifts in the characters expertly. It is a rare anime that makes a man kneeling and orating for half an episode such a riveting, emotionally complex scene—one that can elicit genuine laughter or tears. Every moment of this series is deliberate and thoughtful, in aid of creating a layered, satisfying experience. Let yourself be seduced by the delicate tones of the OP. Hear the sounds of the shamisen. Envelop yourself in Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu, and you will be rewarded by one of the finest anime series to have been produced. It is a spectacle in every sense.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Must Watch vote from: Ascendant-Izanagi, Grex, Gugsy, Koda Kazar, Krakken_Unleashed, Kristof, MaelwysSC113, MementoMorie, Nomadic Dec, RockmanDash12 and The Messiah

When half of the community says it’s shit and the other half sings its praises, we know we have a divisive show on our plate. These are the ones we tend to discuss the most because our opinions of them vary so widely. Often, they are some of the most popular shows of the season.

Can I do both? Say it’s shit and sing its praises? Cause it’s fun AND shitty at the same time. Myriad Fanservice: Limbo World front-loads the worst of its jiggle physics into the first episode, which makes the rest of the bouncing the entire way through the series not seem quite as bad. Once you get your mandatory ecchi vaccination, the rest of the show is mostly a fun slice-of-life with occasional bits of shounen action, until the actual plot appears (or falls apart, depending on who you ask) in the last two episodes.

It’s set in a world where both ‘solid’ mythology and more vague wishes and memories have coalesced into enigmatic beings called Phantoms, which humans can now perceive thanks to a widespread biohazard outbreak a few years ago. (Wait, what? Yeah.) Our ‘heroes’, Ichijo Haruhiko and Kawakami Mai, are members of an anti-Phantom squad within their school, where they are leading the pack in terms of abject failure. The introduction of several new team members … really doesn’t quite gel for a good while, partly because of power overlap / utterly awful party balance, and partly due to everyone but Koito being absolutely terrible at what they do, but eventually it gets less obnoxious as they finally start getting good at the whole ‘not getting wrecked by Phantoms’ thing.

It’s lighthearted and fun, there are plenty of genuinely funny scenes, and there’s even moments where you almost feel for the characters. But it’s also tropey, fanservicey as all hell, shoddily written, and poorly paced. All in all, it’s almost more disappointing because of the good parts, since there’s so much bad in between them that they can’t save it. I really wanted to fully enjoy this show, but I had to settle for anger while stifling a few chuckles.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Schwarzesmarken is definitely an odd show to be sure, but not without good reason. Part of that reason is that Schwarzesmarken, conceptually, is a mix of gritty cold-war political thriller with some stereotypically “anime” conventions that on a surface level seem to have nothing to do with the show’s tone and style. This combination ultimately has created a show where some political-thriller fans have difficulty with the female-heavy squad composition and the risque design of the Tactical Surface Fighter (mech) flight suits. Of course both of these issues stem from Schwarzesmarken being a stand-alone piece of the greater Muv Luv franchise, from which both these and the overall world context of the show stem. However Muv Luv’s more Rom-Com nature has been greatly reduced in Schwarzesmarken, resulting in less context for those new to this series.

From the other side, those who come unexpectedly to this series believing that it’s fanservicey anime tropes require a more light hearted tone will also be disappointed as the political thriller nature of the plot begins to drain out the fun of the series. This series is not in that sense fun. Engaging? To some of us, yes. But fun? Very few, if any, consider this show fun.

If you are going into this show for the first time, realise that Schwarzesmarken is not a typical anime war story. While its characters may physically resemble normal fun and quirky characters you expect from Anime, the world they live in is one of spies, secrecy and distrust. It’s a tense thriller set in one of the most thoroughly and meticulously designed visual novel franchises to date, that can justify, in-world, most, if not all, the tropes it uses. Those who watched and enjoyed this series had to come to enjoy it on its own terms. (I myself found this show to get ever more engrossing the further into the show we got.) While those who disliked this show either found the tonal dissonance too great a hurdle, or found the setting too dry for their tastes. Schwarzesmarken in that sense may be the most unique war anime out there, simply in the material it tackles, that is, if you can manage to stomach it.

Where to watch: Available in NA on Crunchyroll.

Either because it was not simulcast or simply that no one in the AniTAY Collab group watched it, there are usually several shows that aired in the previous season that we cannot place on this list. Whether the show was good or bad has no bearing on this, we just don’t have an opinion. So, did you watch any of these shows and would like to tell us about it? Please comment below.

This article was written by members of the AniTAY community. Here’s a full list of the contributors, and what they did:

Ascendant - Izanagi | Nic Liow - Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue, Girls Beyond the Wasteland, Konosuba

Exile - Dagashi Kashi, Please tell me! Galko-chan

Koda Kazar - Babuki Buranki, Ace of the Diamond Second Season, Tabimachi Late Show

Kristof - Article Coordinator, Dimension W, Durarara!!x2 Ketsu, Grimgar of Fantasy and Ash, Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans, She and Her Cat - Everything Flows -

MaelwysSC113 - Gate: Thus the JSDF Fought There 2

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