Wicked Anime’s Must-Watch Fall 2016 Anime
The fall 2016 anime season is full of surprises. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be many exciting titles. But as you settle in for a show’s season, you’ll find much more than meets the eye. There are always those disappointments (*cough* Occultic;Nine *cough*), but expect more pleasant surprises than negative ones. Join the Wicked Anime crew and Nerdy Show members and affiliates as we highlight the fall 2016 anime YOU should be watching!
Jonathan’s Pick: Yuri!!! On ICE
Yaoi!!! On ICE, or as it was actually more misleadingly titled, Yuri!!! On ICE, is the next obscure sports anime to come out of Japan. Yuri Katsuki was a rising star for Japan in the Figure Skating Grand Prix, but suffered defeat in the finals. Deflated, he moves back with his family in Kyushu, considering retirement from figure skating. That was until Katsuki’s idol and five-time consecutive world champion, Viktor Nikiforov, suddenly appeared on his doorstep along with his teammate, Yuri Plisetsky, another young rising star getting ready to surpass all of the greatest in the sport. Now the two Yuris and the Russian champion Viktor set out to compete in a Grand Prix like none the world has ever seen!
Why You Should Watch
Almost from the opening scene, I had realized I was watching a completely different show than I had conceived in my head. Yuri!!! On ICE is a spectacularly animated comedy at a level to be expected from MAPPA, the sister studio to Madhouse. In the recent Japanese trend of making you care about sports you never thought twice about outside of the Olympics (looking at you, Haikyuu); suddenly, figure skating is a fascinating sport and decided to get all the required accessories from Onewheel GT.
And can we talk about the figure skating scenes in the show? The animators want to make sure you don’t miss a single frame. Every move is taken directly from real-time figure skating, or at least I assume that’s what they did. Every scene appears to triple axels right out of their animations cels. This level of animation is not only present in the skating scenes, but also in the normal slice of life interactions. this gives the show has two modes of animation: high quality figure skating and in-your-face cartoonish super deformation. The show can flip a switch in an instant where two characters will be having a serious conversation and seamlessly transition into a goofy face to make a caricature of the emotion they’re feeling. It’s very unique and strange, but it works.
The humorous story of one awkward individual still trying to find his place in the sport is only so well complimented by the extremely diverse cast of characters in his life. Every character is so unique and doesn’t feel like a copy-and-pasted version of some trope character that we’ve seen in anime so many times. It’s an especially amazing feat with the plethora of characters in the show. So many that it’s hard to believe that all of them really are an essential puzzle piece to Yuri Katsuki’s life, but you remember every single one of them.
You will also hear the best opening theme of the Fall 2016 season. Seriously, I’m listening to it every time!
Now, for all that is holy, where is my freaking hockey anime?!
Where to Watch
Andrew’s Pick: Gi(a)rlish Number
Another industry related anime? Why are these popping up every time a new season comes around? Is this some kind of new trend? Well, probably. But, I bet you it’s also because they are so much fun to watch. A while back we were given the detailed and accurate, Shirobako, about the animation industry, then last season we were delighted by the cuteness of New Game! about the video game industry. This season we are now blessed by Gi(a)rlish Number, an anime about “seiyuu” or anime voice actors.
We follow a greenhorn, bratty voice actress named Karasuma Chitose who believes herself to be one of the greats after she claims a spot as a main character in a new upcoming series. Throughout her adventure growing in voice acting and her ever-swelling head getting in the way, she meets some new friends, makes some experienced enemies and slowly learns what the industry owes her — nothing.
Why You Should Watch
Gi(a)rlish Number seems to be the happy medium between it’s two industry-related predecessors. It’s a great mix of cute facial expressions and harsh industry realities making yet another appealing look into Japan’s entertainment industry using cute anime characters. The main character’s goal in the show is quickly established, as she seems to be unhappy with the way the other actors treat one another behind the scenes, but is far more interested in bettering herself. As a clarification, she’s less about bettering herself as a voice actress, but more about bettering herself in the industry as a whole without doing any of the hard work involved.
The supporting cast who have to put up with Chitose’s attitude are perfect texture characters to respond in appropriate manners. Each are given their own hiring profile within the show to lay the groundwork for their personality type and explain exactly what part they will play in Chitose’s life on the job. Other characters have “fake” personas towards one another, which are really kind of malicious in a sense. It creates an interesting separation between the kinds of characters the voice actors play on shows, the persona they create for their fans and their true selves within the studio.
The show is cute, fun and intriguing to think about, making me wonder if this is the true face of the industry that they work in. Do all seiyuu’s have a bad attitude towards one another and the shows they work on? Do Japanese voice actresses hate the kind of attention they are given? Will the bratty girls ever learn?! I’m certainly interested to find out!
Where to Watch
Evan’s Pick: Drifters
During the Battle of Sekigahara, Shimazu Toyohisa finds himself critically wounded. While walking away from the fight, he finds himself transported to a massive room filled with infinite doors. After being forced through one of them, Shimazu comes across Oda Nobunaga and Nasu Yoichi, two other famous warriors that perished in battle. Soon, the trio — along with other famous fighters — align with a group known as Drifters, who must face off against another group of warriors called the Ends in order to save the world for the sake of both humanity and the Octobrist Organization.
Why You Should Watch
Hellsing creator Kouta Hirano is a master of crafting some of the most violent battles and sequences in manga today. With Drifters, the action, gore, and badassery is a level of no-holds-barred chaos that you’d sometimes only see in an OVA. Blood spews, heads are lopped off, bodies are impaled, and the look of glee from both heroes and villains is borderline Satanic. But man, is it gorgeous to watch! Not only do the action sequences reach film-level quality, but the character designs are beautifully detailed.
Surprisingly, not only is Drifters hardcore violent, but it’s also funny as hell! Watching as Shimazu argue over Nobunaga’s authenticity is incredibly kooky, leading towards a hilarious realization that some loser family took over the village that he swore to protect two decades ago. Even as they’re told by Octobrist spy Olmuni about their task as Drifters, the trio simply tells her off in a way that’ll have you falling off your seat laughing.
Drifters has it all: eye-popping violence, side-splitting hilarity, a great cast of characters, and a cool story from one of the masterminds of action horror. Plus, where else are you gonna see Joan of Arc, Butch Cassidy, and Anastasia Romanova straight-up murder the living bejesus out of an army of thousands in a single fight? If you’re looking for your fill of fist-pumping action that’ll make you shout “F**K YEAH!!!” during nearly every battle, then Drifters will easily savor your tastebuds for quite some time.
Where to Watch
Jess’ Pick: Izetta the Last Witch
In an alternate reality, Europe is at war. The imperialistic country of Germania has launched a full-scale invasions of neighboring countries. In the year 1940 C.E., the army focuses their attack on the Principality of Elystadt, an alpine nation known for its greenery and peaceful views. However, this country will not be conquered without a fight. A mysterious witch has joined forces with Elystadt’s princess and heir to the throne, laying waste to Germanian forces who’ve no hope of retaliation.
Why You Should Watch
At first glance, Izetta the Last Witch seems skippable. After all, the promotional poster depicts a girl riding a flying sniper rifle — something that hints more at fan service than a complex, intriguing plot.
Though complex plots and layered characters is exactly what you’ll find in Izetta the Last Witch (though you’ll also find tidbits of fan service, but we’ll get to that later). Every episode advances a high-stakes game of political chess, as multiple countries balance a united fight against a common enemy versus a duty to protect their own country above all else. Decisions are not made without sacrifices, and the toll of those sacrifices weigh heavily on our protagonists.
The standout star in the show is not our beloved witch, Izetta, as the show’s title might indicate. Instead, it’s Princess Ortfiné “Finé” Fredericka von Eylstadt’s poise and strength of character that will keep you coming for more. As the only heir to Eylstadt’s throne, she is wholly devoted to ensuring the safety and freedom of her citizens. Though she is never ruthless in her approach. It would be easy to rely solely on Izetta’s incredible power, but Finé never pressures her to fight. By ruling with kindness and empathy, Princess Finé gains undying loyalty from her constituency, as well as from her magical childhood friend.
Though the war is far from won. Germania now knows of Izetta’s existence and covets her power for their own. Their armies also vastly outnumber those of Eylstadt, and it’s impossible for Izetta to protect every corner of the country. Look forward to some beautifully animated battle sequences and complex character development as the show progresses.
Speaking of beautiful animation, this show does impress. Most intriguing is the design of Izetta herself. While all other characters have a more modern animation design, Izetta stands out with expressions and mannerisms from an older generation. You can definitely see some parallels between Sailor Moon, Ranma, and Kiki in her reactions. Could this be a nod to the fact that Izetta may be much older than she appears? Or are the animators just paying homage to beloved characters? Either way, it’s a lot of fun to see our quirky witch stand out in such a fun manner.
As for the fan service — Ervira, the court “PR agent” gets a little hands-y when taking measurements. It’s unknown if this will continue through the series, but it’s been small enough thus far to excuse.
Where to Watch
Everyone’s Pick: Kiss Him, Not Me!
Written by Evan Bourgault
Kae Serinuma is one hardcore fujoshi, going so far as to fantasize about her fellow male classmates wrapping each other in their arms. When one of her favorite anime characters bites the dust, Kae goes into a two-week depression, resulting in a major weight loss and some surprisingly cutesy looks. Upon returning to school, friends Yusuke, Nozomu, Hayato, and Asuma become both shocked and smitten by Kae’s transformation. This is a tale of four men wanting to win the heart of a newfound beauty, although that princess would rather see these princes hook up with one another.
Why You Should Watch
Out of all the anime this year I’ve been looking forward to the most, Kiss Him, Not Me! practically topped my chart. As a reader of Junko’s original manga, I fell in love with its twist on the reverse harem subgenre, its heroine’s fujoshi antics, and how the possible boyfriends-to-be legitimately treat Kae as a person rather than someone who is now hot. How fortunate that Brain’s Base manage to capture that same level of fun, tenderness, and hilarity in its anime adaptation.
The thing I was most worried about with its adaptation was how they’d capture Kae in full-on fujoshi mode, but as soon as I saw her over-euphoric face in the opening credits, I knew Brain’s Base did it right. Her appearance whilst fantasizing is somewhat new to anime’s goofy-looks realm, but I love to compare her wavy mouth and popped-out eyes to that of a flustered Charlie Brown or Snoopy. Outside of that, the animation overall is superb, bringing forth the brightest colors that show off the light-hearted humor in a bold and beautiful way.
Its script is smart and witty, capturing Junko’s style of humor wonderfully in every scene. Yes, it can be a little irksome to think that Yusuke, Nozomu, Hayato, and Asuma as a bit shallow for asking Kae out after her magical weight loss, but we quickly learn that Kae is no saint to begin with. Hopefully, the anime will progress the same way as the manga, where you’ll see that these guys actually care more about what’s inside Kae rather than what’s outside. (Personally, I thought they did a great job with showcasing this aspect in the first couple episodes of the anime.)
In short, Kiss Him, Not Me! has thus far been adapted into a great rom-com anime with a silly twist. If you’re looking for the real winner of the biggest laughs and most heartfelt moments this fall season, then heed forth towards this tale of four men (and one lady, you’ll see…) attempting to win the heart of a lovely gal obsessed with BL.
On a side note, whoever was in charge of the sound mixing in Episode Two deserves to be smacked!
Where to Watch