See, I told you I’d be back! Don’t worry, I’m not going to spend several paragraphs explaining why this time is different and I am going to blog on the regular from this point on. We all know I won’t. None the less, I feel an urge to recommend some anime this winter!
The main reason for this is the absolute ridiculous cuteness of the anime this year. Unlike a lot of the anime that comes along and runs for a season or two, the really good ones this winter are Slice of Life anime. Anime that don’t really have a goal, but follow the lives and adventures of the main characters. We’re going to talk about three of these, then give a few more recommendations on top.
This winter has been great for anime. Clearly there will be some small spoilers ahead.
#1 TOP RECOMMENDATION: Yuru Camp
Before I go into an explanation of what makes the actual show its self so wonderful, I have to stop and bring attention to the opening song. This may be one of the catchiest openings since the open to Excel Saga. I’ve embedded the TV version here, but make sure you listen to the full version if you have a chance.
Yuru Camp (not to be confused with Yuri Camp, a version of which we’ll get to a little later) revolves around Shima Rin, Kagamihara Nadeshiko and their adventures winter camping; the latter of whom joins the school’s outdoors club with Inuyama Aoi and Oogaki Chiaki. Rin declines to join since she believes that being in a structured club will cause her to actually lose camping opportunities.
Even with that separation, Nadeshiko and Rin end up at the same campground on several occasions, respect and friendship abound!
Any more of the plot is irrelevant because the anime is just so damned adorable to watch. Nadeshiko is basically a puppy and behaves as such. She enjoys literally everything, and her positive mood and outlook is infectious. Rin’s seemingly anti-social nature is no match for her and it’s a ton of fun to watch Nadeshiko slowly chip away at her. The other characters are also fun to watch, seeing all three of the club members (Nadeshiko, Aoi, and Chiaki) interact with each other, go shopping for camping supplies and groceries on a limited budget is just – well it’s just fun.
There’s also helpful camping hints included in the show that you can use in real life!
If you like SoL and you’re not watching Yuru Camp, you’re doing anime wrong. It’s on Crunchyroll.
#2 – Mitsuboshi Colors
For someone like me who has no children, I often wonder what my kids would have been like if I’d ever bothered to settle down and become less fat, ugly, anti-social, and assholish. I think this show would be the template of how I’d like my kids to be.
This show follows three elementary school kids who have a group known around town as Colors. Yui, Sat-chan, and Kotoha run the group to protect the peace in the town, though how successful they are with that is anyone’s guess. Amusingly the townsfolk all seem to play along, making their adventures a bit more entertaining.
Yui is the leader, though I’m not sure how that happened, though I’d be willing to bet it was assigned against her will. She’s a bit of a crybaby and can be indecisive, but that’s part of her charm. Sat-chan is an example of why you shouldn’t give coffee to children. She’s amazingly hyperactive and for some unknown reason obsessed with poop (or at least saying it).
My favorite and who I would strive for my daughter to be is Kotoha. She’s a bit of a psychopath who thinks the easiest way to ensure peace in the town is the destruction of all mankind (maybe channeling her inner Bender). She’s obsessed with video games and plays her likely off brand Nintendo Switch nearly constantly, despite sucking at them.
#3 – Slow Start
So apparently in Japan if you’re sick on the day of high school entrance exams, you’re fucked and you have to sit that year out. At least that seems to be the premise of Slow Start, the final anime in our diabetic killing trio of insanely sweet shows.
Ichinose Hana is a first year high school student, but she really should be a second year! She’s quite shy and is under the belief that people will shame her if they find out. She’s also quite shy and finds it difficult to approach and talk to people (I can relate, poor thing). Luckily there is an
overly insanely friendly girl in her class named Momochi Tamate (hereinafter referred to as Tama-chan) who befriends her (whether she likes it or not!), along with Tokura Eiko and Hana-shyness-one-upper Sengoku Kamuri (who is basically glued to Eiko).
The central conflict is Hana’s fear that her friends will reject her once they find out that she’s a year older than the others, but that’s not part of the day-to-day antics of these girls. It’s a simple school based slice of life in which Tama and Eiko try to get Hana to open up to the other students and be less shy.
There also seems to be a weird ‘relationship’ between Eiko and the female teacher, but I’m not sure I want to even think about that right now. I’m all for lewding things up, but this show is so damned cute I feel like I’d need to go to confession afterwords.
Slow Start is on Crunchyroll.
#4 – Citrus
So from this point on we’re getting into a bit more adult areas. I know with a name like Citrus one would be thinking of more sugar and some Vitamin C, but no, this is all about the Vitamin Y – Y for Yuri!
Like any other heterosexual man, I’m a big fan of girlXgirl love stories. However as this one started, I started to get flashbacks to NTR: Netsuzou Trap – and that wasn’t necessarily a good thing. I mentioned NTR in my last review, but I’d not seen the whole thing at the time. It’s not cool. Citrus starts off with a lot of the same things that ruined Netsuzou.
We start off with gyaru Aihara Yuzu starting to attend a high school where such things are not allowed. She immediately gets into trouble with the student council president, Aihara Mei. Odd that they have the same last name? Surprise! Yuzu’s mom married Mei’s dad! This makes the following a bit more… uncomfortable…
Things happen and Mei forcefully kisses Yuzu (and here is where the Netsuzou creepiness comes in). This happens more than once and it leaves Yuzu with some odd feelings. Without spoiling things too much, a romantic relationship (kind of) develops and Yuzu is left conflicted between her romantic attraction to Mei and her desire to give Mei something else she desperately needs; a family.
Despite making me quite skittish early on, the show is a gem, which is why it’s my number four. The best girl of the series, Taniguchi Harumi, steals every scene she’s in and helps make the show fit not just in the romance category, but solidly in comedy. One of my favorite parts of this anime is that they don’t stick the characters in a single outfit. Yuzu’s outfits change daily, as does her hairstyle. Don’t know if this is a holdover from the manga or creative license by the animators, but regardless it’s fantastic. Like most great anime, you can find this one on Crunchyroll.
#5 Darling in the Franxx
Mech shows aren’t really generally in my wheelhouse and I normally ignore them unless someone recommends them or I find out they have nudity in them. This one actually caught my attention due to the animation studio. Trigger.
Trigger did Kill la Kill and Little Witch Academia, both of which had Trigger’s unique animation style, which I love. While I certainly can appreciate the kind of animation that makes you go “wow”, there’s something to be said for Trigger’s style which really looks like a comic book come to life.
Darling in the Franxx isn’t anything too special when it comes to the plot. Everyone is living on plantations, they run off of magma, the extraction of which has caused monsters to attack them. A group of kids from each plantation run a set of mechs, one male, one female for each, which require a very odd driving position to operate. There’s something about flowers and none of the kids have names, but numbers (even though the kids we care about do have names based on their numbers).
Long story short, 002 is a half girl, half monster who kills anyone who partners with her, except for some reason 016, Hiro (who couldn’t work with any of the other kids in the group). None of the kids have any concept of love, relationships, whatnot since they have been raised for the sole purpose of running the mechs, which is why of course 015 Ichigo, the leader of the group, is in love with Hiro – and doesn’t understand why he won’t love her (or something).
Despite the disinterested way I describe the plot, I do recommend this anime. The premise is interesting enough to hold my attention, 002 is an interesting character and I look forward to knowing what her deal with and why Hiro can interact with her. The animation is great, it’s paced well, and there is enough fan service to make it fun, but not gratuitous. It’s on Crunchyroll!
Fate/Extra: Last Encore
The most recent Fate series, this one is based on the game of a similar name. So far so good despite being a little hard to follow (but that seems like a commonality between all Fate series). The one nice thing about this one is that for the first time there aren’t a bunch of smug assholes on Reddit spreading their knowledge from the visual novels or light novels. While the universe is based on the game, it’s an entirely new story and only the writers know what’s going to happen!
Plus it’s done by Shaft, another studio with a distinct animation style. It’s fun to watch but the jump cuts and over the shoulder looks can get a little tiring. Fate/Extra: Last Encore is not currently available for streaming in the United States. Smart people will figure out where to watch it, though.
Mahou Tsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride)
I’ve mentioned this anime before. Chise ends up being bought by a mage name Elias because she’s a special human known as a sleigh beggy (there’s a thousand different spelling for this, so I will go with this one). Explaining all that happens would be to time consuming and give away the story. What you should know is that it’s an amazing anime and the only reason it’s down here and not at the top is because it’s not technically a winter anime.
The world building in this anime is amazing. It’s one of the most beautiful works of animation that you will ever see that isn’t a movie with a large movie budget and a million movie animators. The characters are fun, Chise, once she starts to develop some self-worth becomes an amazing young woman.
This is a much watch, even if you’re not big on fantasy anime.
This is the worst anime I will recommend. It’s one of those anime that is really so bad that you have to enjoy it on some level. Basically you have a fight club among the Zaibatsu in Japan, but instead of people they use people who have been genetically altered to also be animals.
The story follows Hitomi who can become a Honey Badger for the fights. Honey badgers can apparently kill every other animal in existence, because she’s basically unstoppable (except by some pheromones which makes her a horney badger…) In case you didn’t click that, there is an insane amount of fan service in the show. As well, I am not entirely sure who the bad guys are. No one involved really seems like someone you want to root for (except maybe the idiot rabbit girl), even the main character (who met Hitomi while hanging out with some people who were trying to rape her).
I still feel compelled to recommend it as a counter to the kawaii sweetness from earlier. I’m still watching it as well, maybe because unlike with Pop Team Epic, I wasn’t able to bail out before investing several episodes into it. It’s on Amazon Video.
Here’s hoping that I remember to do a mid-season recommendation for the spring! Might be the next time I post! Have any suggestions for me? Tweet them or throw them in the comments!