Trying to guess which new series are worthwhile based on trailers is a bit of flawed system, no? How often has a promising show disappointed? And how often have dark horses come out of nowhere? You need to at least watch the pilot before determining if a series rocks or sucks. As such, it seemed best to wait until the Fall Anime Season was properly upon us before picking favs. And since over 25 new series have started this past month, there’s plenty of chaff to pry this wheat out of.
Now, if any selections entice you here, you’ll have a solid block of episodes to binge watch at your preferred streaming service. Brace yourself for some pickings, now!
YOUNG BLACK JACK
If you’re hyped on Victor Frankenstein‘s forthcoming revisionist take on a classic horror, how about an anime where the mad doctor makes a creature out of himself?
The legendary Osamu Tezuka’s best known creation may be Astro Boy, but the macabre Dr. Black Jack is just as enduring. Like a proto Mushi-Shi, or the unholy spawn of John Constantine and TV’s House, the rogue doctor is an uncompromising hard case who only takes on the strangest patients. As in, he’ll fit a malformed fetus into a plastic doll body, and then hire her as an assistant after the surgery. That kind of strange. Taking the Smallville approach, this extended prequel delves much deeper into the icon’s origins, detailing Black Jack’s days as an eccentric med student and rooting them in a very specific historical era.
It’s a compelling and utterly unique medical thriller (though definitely not one for the squeamish).
GUNDAM : IRON-BLOODED ORPHANS
Another re-visit of a classic franchise. To enjoy this, you really don’t need to have suited up with Gundam for any of its myriad jaunts. It has its own self-contained, but richly-complex, pocket universe.
Two young mech pilots in a quiet Martian military base are inexplicably ordered to escort the well-meaning, but naive, daughter of a noble family. She’s the figurehead of a liberation movement on Mars and before you can wiggle your nose about any of this smelling fishy, the trap snaps hard on the trio. Now, these child soldiers must fend for themselves in a perilous, multi-faction war.
No bones about it, this is classic “hard sci-fi.” People say Gundam is the Star Wars of anime, but it’s more like Star Trek; equally interested in taut philosophical conundrums and bombastic space battles. And Iron-Blooded Orphans continues that tradition quite adroitly.
Photo Credit: FUNimation
We all need to get a little crazy sometimes. On the total opposite end of the dial, we have the most outre of outre. Summarizing the plot almost seems against the spirit, but we’ll brave an attempt…
This takes place in some pop cultural, meta-fictional nexus where all of anime’s assorted genres, across every era, co-exist simultaneously. Of course, peaceful co-existence requires maintenance, so there’s a Supernatural Bureau to police these colorful characters whenever they clash. You could draw a comparison to Alan Moore’s comic series Top 10 (which was about a precinct of superhero cops keeping order in an entire city of superheroes), but even that madcap series doesn’t get as delightfully manic as this.
Not for the faint of heart, or the small of mind, Concrete Revolutio might even be too extreme for Adult Swim. Full disclosure: you may not know what to make of the first episode. But you certainly aren’t likely to forget it. Ever.
THE PERFECT INSIDER
If most of theses picks fulfill some stereotypes about anime being “too large for life,” then please note that this show grounds its drama much closer to Earth. It’s a patiently-paced mystery involving academics, and it allows plenty of breathing room for those academics to discuss big ideas.
The set-up unfolds thusly: an arrogant and apathetic professor indulges his protege/assistant/girlfriend while fighting through a big thinker’s slump. As she tidies up his office, she stumbles into a video chat with one of his colleagues–a brilliant recluse who may or may not have killed somebody–and then eagerly inserts herself into his visit to that recluse’s secluded island lab. What starts as a curious reunion steadily takes on much more ominous weight. You learn secrets as these characters learn them, and you grapple with the implications just as direly they do. Far from an open-and-shut whodunit, it’s a consistently-engaging Hitchockian thriller that always respects your intelligence.
ONE PUNCH MAN
The insanely-popular-webcomic-turned-insanely-popular-print-comic has been turned into an insanely-popular anime. Every season has its top dog, and there’s no disputing One Punch Man‘s current reign.
Even more off-beat than last year’s Samurai Flamenco, this show turns super-heroics upside-down by featuring a cape who’s so unfathomably powerful, he can defeat any villain with just a single blow. His power level isn’t listed too highly, though, because One Punch Man can’t be bothered to study for the written portion of a super hero ranking exam conducted in the first episode.
If that all sounds ridiculous to you, then… well, it’s meant to.
Believe it or not, the story spins into a more melancholic meditation on the existential malaise that comes with being the best in the world. Part of the reason One Punch Man bombs his test is that he simply finds it boring and, as he plows through a gauntlet of easily-defeated villains, his boredom only deepens. Where’s the fun in being a superhero if you have no worthy opponents? The show answers that question with plenty of hilarious (and surprisingly relatable) results.
Featured Image Credit: VIZ Media