Time for episode eleven of APRs. This time, we have something a little bit different.
Being a relative newbie to anime, I’ve spent most of my time catching up with some of the best anime ever made! However, I’m now many shows into my time with the medium, and am now at a point where I’ve taken an interest in the latest shows!
A few particularly caught my eye before this round of releases (I think this is called the Spring 2016 season), so instead of our usual reviews I’m going to look back at the first six episodes of some of the anime being shown right now to see if they’re living up to the hype!
Also, check below to see us rank them from least to most promising show on air right now.
Kiznaiver (S1, 2016)
Action, Comedy, Dystopian, Science
“Everyone wants to be special to someone. Everyone wishes to connect. Everyone wants to carve their scars into someone else.”
Kiznaiver takes place in the futuristic Sugomori City, a place created to test what is known as the “Kizna System”. The idea is that if everyone can feel everyone else’s pain and share it with them, then the world will see reason and achieve peace. This is currently at a testing phase. Kiznaiver follows Katsuhira (bottom centre), a kid who cannot physically feel pain. He, along with several of his classmates – each with their own quirks – are chosen by the mysterious Noriko Sonozaki (top centre) to participate in the tests. They are joined as Kiznaivers, who split each individual’s pain evenly between them. The group of misfits are forced to become friends, and are set missions by Noriko to test their bond.
This was probably the most eagerly-anticipated release of this cycle, thanks to numerous promotions around popular anime streaming site Crunchyroll building to the premiere at the beginning of April. The first thing you notice with Kiznaiver is that it’s very bold, using bright colours and sharp edges to create a very dynamic feel.
While the idea of different people being forced to get along is fairly cliché, the way it is done by using such extremes of characters – from the emotionless boy to the girl who believes in fairies to the pretentious smart woman with a hidden past – means there is already some really interesting relationships and interactions developing between the characters. Also, the way the shared pain is shown on the screen (with an almost screeching noise and screen shudder) I think is as clever as the premise itself.
This is so far a really fun and interesting series to watch, and so long as it carries on in the current vain it will be an excellent show! It will be interesting to see if the character’s backstories hold up, particularly Noriko’s, as the quality of mystery will likely be the tipping point between this being a fun show and a great show. But this is definitely a case of so far, so good!
The Lost Village (S1, 2016)
Mystery, Suspense, Horror
“We will now become missing persons and start over in Nanaki Village.”
The Lost Village follows 30 people on a shady bus tour to a place called Nanaki Village, an urban legend that is said to be a utopia that can’t be found on any map. All of the people on the tour are leaving their previous lives behind, for a multitude of reasons. The story follows Mitsumune (left), a young, gullible boy who becomes infatuated with the mysterious and defenceless Masaki (right). With this being a mystery story, the plot isn’t fully known as of yet. So far the group have arrived at a village left completely uninhabited. As people start to see things, accusing groups start to form from the group, as people start to worry for their lives and sanity.
Since the very start The Lost Village has been building a really interesting mystery. It’s keeping its cards close it its chest, leaving the viewer trying to second-guess everyone’s motives. This is probably the best mystery anime I’ve ever seen, and by a considerable margin. The work has already been compared to that of film-maker M. Night Shyamalan, if you want to get a taste of what type of show this is.
As you would expect, there’s a wide range of characters here. While not necessarily the most colourful or developed, there’s enough in sheer numbers to make it interesting. I also really enjoyed the sadistic edge that the show hinted to at the beginning, and if I have one criticism it might be that the show is starting to lose that, swapping it out for a safer ‘who’s the killer’ style storyline.
This for me is the surprise of this anime cycle. I didn’t expect much going into it – in fact I wasn’t even planning to watch this at first – but it’s now showing an incredible amount of promise. I would recommend this show more than the others for someone who isn’t necessarily into anime, as it has plenty of story and plot twists to make up for a lack of interest in the style. Like Kiznaiver, you get the feeling that this is building to one big explosion near the end of the series, which I think this show needs to simply finish it off and make it one of the best anime of 2016, at least.
The Asterisk War (S2, 2016)
Action, Comedy, Harem
“The existence of this city is repulsive. Student’s fight, and the world watches.”
Check out our review for Season 1 here!
Season 2 follows on from S1, where the Phoenix Festa – a competition pitching students from the six elite Genstella schools against each other – continues.
We’ve reviewed season 1, and since this continues exactly on from the previous season, there’s not much to report here in terms of excitement or promise. The fight scenes are solid, but the rest of it feels very plain. It’s almost like it’s trying to be a harem, but is also slightly embarrassed about that at the same time. It’s very safe – not what you need when making anime, especially less serious shows like this.
I’m only really watching this because I’ve seen series 1. I’ve been ranking my anime as i watch it (as you may have seen on our Instagram a few months ago) and this show currently sits in 17th out of 22, without including the other shows in this review. That says it all, really.
Note: I know in my review for S1 I talk quite positively about how it plays its sexuality and its ‘ditzy fun’, however having seen many more anime since I know that what I saw in The Asterisk war I’ve now seen better in other places.
Hundred (S1, 2016)
Action, Mecha, Harem, Romance
“I think I’m going to fall even deeper in love with you.”
Set in a world under threat from monsters known as ‘Savage’, the story follows Kisaragi Hyato (middle right), a boy attending Little Garden Battle University where he learns to use ‘Hundred’, a type of weapon activated by special jewels and the only way to fight the Savage monsters. On his first day he is forced to challenge the strongest person at Campus, “Queen” Claire Harvey (middle). When fighting her he discovers that he has the potential to activate a special version of his weapon known as Variant, where he wields exceptional levels of power. Of course, with this being a Harem, he ends up attracting the attentions of Claire Harvey, and also his mysterious roommate Emil Crossford (bottom left), who seems to know who he is before they meet. As the story develops it emerges that it’s not just Savages that they need to be weary of, but a dark organisation who appear to be creating their own Hundreds out of the Cores of dead monsters.
Again, it won’t surprise you to hear that this is quite a cliché series. The plot is fairly predictable, and the characters are pretty one-dimensional. If you’re after a gripping storyline and deep-seeded characters, then you won’t find it in Hundred.
However, what this show does have is fun in abundance. It’s a classic harem, where the bumbling boy ends up getting hit on by girls seemingly way out of his league and he doesn’t really know what to do about it. It’s funny! There are moments where people will be stumblingly flirting one moment then talking seriously about the world being in danger the next. It’s that type of show, where the story takes a backseat for comedic relationships and fairly cool action sequences. While not necessarily recommended this is definitely a show I will be carrying on with, simply because it’s a lot of fun.
Bungo Stray Dogs (S1, 2016)
“I was trying to kill myself. But you just had to interfere.”
BSD follows Atsushi Nakajima (centre), a young boy who is homeless after being kicked out of his orphanage. One day he saves a man drowning in a river. As he saves him the man explains that he is Osamu Dazai (third from left) and is actually trying to commit suicide. He is introduced to Doppo (third from right), his partner at the Armed Detective Agency, who take him in as one of their own. The Armed Detective Agency is a group of people who each possess a certain superpower. These powers cover a wide range, from Dazai’s “No Longer Human” that cancels all abilities by touch, to Akiko’s (far left) “Thou Shall Not Die” which allows her to heal herself and others, to Kenji’s (second from left) “Undefeated by the Rain” which grants him superhuman strength when hungry. The story follows the Agency and their adventures, primarily involving altercations with the evil Port Mafia who look to claim the huge price put on Atsushi’s head following the discovery of his ability, “Beast Beneath the Moon”, turning him into an uncontrollable white tiger under moonlight.
It’s probably a bit unfortunate, this show. Pre-cycle my interest was on Kiznaiver, despite this also looking very good, and now the cycle is underway my interest is on The Lost Village, despite this show making just as strong an impact! Bungo Stray Dogs is a show that mixes fun and vibrant, deep characters with a gritty and genuinely interesting storyline in a great balance of classic anime hijinks and solid storytelling.
What is particularly beautiful about this show is that each and every character is inspired by a literary author of the same name. An example of this is Dazai Osamu, the suicide-attempting character who is quickly becoming one of my favourite characters in all anime with his laidback-yet-cool approach. Dazai Osamu, the real one, was a Japanese author considered to be one of the best fictional writers of 20th century Japan. One of his most famous works is “No Longer Human”, after which the character’s power is named. Dazai is famous outside of his books for failing many times to commit suicide, a trait that symbolises the character in BSD. Eventually the author Dazai succeeded in commiting suicide, drowning with friend Tomie. In the show, Dazai talks frequently about his desire to commit a double suicide.
The same applies for everyone else. Doppo (1871-1908, romantic poet, power called “Love Poet”), Ranpo (far right; 1894-1965, mystery & detective author, power called “Super Deduction”) and Akiko (1878-1942, poet who wrote “Thou Shall Not Die”) are just a handful of the many examples of this. It’s little things like this that make stories so interesting and memorable, for me personally.
Overall, this show already looks like it’s on its way to being a classic piece of anime! It has the fun that everyone looks for, the classically wacky characters with emotional pasts and has a story deep enough to keep you interested in its development. This is simply a must-watch for any anime fan!
So, there we have it! These are five of the biggest shows being shown right now, but how do they compare to each other? Here’s my ranking:
5. The Asterisk War – Probably the most cliché show on the list. A Harem that is scared to admit to being a harem, I really can’t see this developing into much.
4. Hundred – Again, quite cliché and probably won’t be very memorable past its conclusion. However, is comfortable just being what it is and is definitely good fun.
3. Kizainver – Really exciting and vibrant series that shows a lot of promise. Quality of final piece is likely to come down to how substantial the currently hidden mysteries actually are.
2. Bungo Stray Dogs – A classic in the making that possesses all the elements needed to make a great anime show. A must watch.
1. The Lost Village – A mystery being told with such care and attention you find yourself second-guessing the outcomes already. Depending on the result of said mysteries, this has the potential to become one of the greatest anime of recent years.
Also, what anime have we missed? Is there a show out right now we should be watching? Let us know!
Make sure you follow The Culture Cove to see the best anime reviews before anybody else! Look out for episode 12 of Anime Pocket Reviews, featuring cult classic No Game No Life!