Last season, anime streaming service Crunchyroll broadcasted subtitled simulcasts of 40 of the 46 new anime debuts from Japan, but here in Canada, those free, ad-supported streams only stay up for 13 weeks after they air. So before those episodes are locked away behind the $6.95 per month vault door of Crunchyroll Premium, here are four great shows you should watch from winter 2017.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
From Kyoto Animation, the studio that brought you Sound Euphonium and Free!, comes another slice of life story with a magic realism twist. Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid follows the escapades of Tohru, a shapeshifting dragon who’s come to roost in a Japanese city after running away from her own dimension. She wriggles her way into working as a maid for Kobayashi, a bachelorette software programmer, and as Tohru acclimates to the human world she attracts some of her dragon friends to join her. This masterfully animated show displays a wide range of emotions as Tohru and Kobayashi’s relationship develops, and it’s impeccably paced narrative will consistently bring enjoyment to anyone who watches it.
You can also check out Enthuse’s upcoming full review of the series if you’d like to learn more.
ACCA: 13 Teritory Investigation Department
The longtime peaceful Dōwā kingdom is a bird shaped continent divided into 13 districts that are independently governed by autonomous branches of ACCA, a giant organization named after a red bird that symbolizes peace. Charged with defending that peace as an ACCA: 13 Teritory Investigation Department auditor, Jean Ortus travels between the fantastically diverse districts, accompanied by a jazzy original soundtrack, and flippantly trading in highly regulated cigarettes along the way. His latest round of audits uncovers much more civil unrest than the government is willing to admit exists, and coup d’état rumours permeate every corner of this political mystery drama. The most comparable recent work to the studio Madhouse-produced anime is Alderamin on the Sky, and while the animation in this show won’t blow you away, the artistry in the intrigue its writing and direction creates is worth watching from start to finish.
KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! 2
Taking the “trapped in a fantasy world” trope that was massively popularized by Sword Art Online, KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! 2 goes all-in with a the comedic take on the scenario. Kazuma was a teenage shut-in back in his previous life, but now he’s tasked with defeating the Demon Lord as a heroic adventurer. Problem is, the only party members he could gather to get the job done are a masochistic knight, a glass-cannon magician and a wasteful water goddess. They’re exceptional strong in some categories, but woefully deficient everywhere else that counts, so Kazuma has his work cut out for him as his party takes on dangerous quests to pay off the massive debt they accrued in the first season of this raucous comedy. Exaggerated animations make the twisted personalities of KonoSuba’s cast a joy to watch, and their self-referential gags are the best I’ve seen in years.
Saga of Tanya the Evil
Outwardly, Tanya is a pre-adolescent child that stunned her superiors as she rose through the military ranks of definitely-not Nazi Germany from the Second World War era. On the inside, she’s a ruthless, 21st century salaryman who had his soul transposed through timelines by the mysteriously god-like Being-X. Tanya uses the knowledge she shouldn’t possibly possess to lead her empire against allied forces, and she does it as a levitating soldier that uses magic spells as weapons. Saga of Tanya the Evil is the first show from studio NUT, founded by former Madhouse producer Takuya Tsunoki, and while this series’ story is mostly a more gritty rehash of themes already covered in other TV anime, the animation of things like explosions or magical spell effects are stunning. You should watch Saga of Tanya the Evil if you’re hankering for a beautiful action show, rather than a philosophical exploration of the meaning of war.
(Featured images: Saga of Tanya The Evil, NUT; ACCA: 13 Territory Investigation Department, Madhouse; Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Kyoto Animation; KonoSuba: God’s Blessing on This Wonderful World! 2, Studio Deen)
You can read more of Kevin Pennyfeather’s work including weekly episode reviews of streaming anime on KevinPennyfeather.com