Compared to last season, I feel like this season is lacking on some diverse romance options. As you can see, there are a four animes I can talk about, but definitely not as much of an offering as we saw last time. What I see lacking this year is our token shonen-ai series or the once and awhile shoujo-ai series. However, what we do have for options this season are a lot stronger than last time, and I can say now that I can recommend almost every show on this list. I’ll also list some other anime’s I’m watching outside the romance genre at the end or you can follow me on My Anime List to see what I’m watching and what I’ve dropped.
Recovery of an MMO Junkie (Watched: 4 episodes)
AKA: Netoju no Susume
Studio: Signal MD
Director: Kazuyoshi Yaginuma
I think I can tell you all right now that I will definitely be sticking with this anime. I was a little surprised at how much I liked this show and I’m interested in seeing how this contrast or dichotomy between online relationships and real life relationships play out. The story follows a woman named Moriko who quit her job and has become a stay-at-home NEET. She spends her time going to a convenience store and playing an MMO as a male character. We see her relationships begin to develop after she joins a guild in the game and begins making friends with her guild members. The original story was a created by Rin Kokuyō and released as a web manga on Comico.
Studio MD hasn’t done a lot of large productions, with a lot of their experience coming from doing key animation work for other series. So far, however, I don’t really have any complaints on how the animation looks. I think the character designs are fairly fresh looking and the backgrounds are fairly interesting. I think I would have liked to have seen more monster fighting and raiding, but I can understand that that is not really where the story is going. And that’s one of the big draws for me: seeing that interaction between MMO relationships and real-life relationships. I think this is an issue that is very important for our generation and generations of people who grew up with the internet and online gaming. Seeing the problems that come up from Moriko playing an opposite gender character and other people’s opinions of NEET’s adds a nice depth to this story and steers it away from the show becoming your typical MMO anime.
Just Because! (watched: 3 episodes)
Studio: Pine Jam
Director: Atsushi Kobayashi
Simulcast: Anime Strike
This anime is the only one on this list to be simulcast by Anime Strike, and the only one that is purely slice-of-life. It’s a sweet story about that in-between time that high school seniors find themselves in after entrance exams are over and before college starts. I think it’s a time that doesn’t really get that much attention in other school life animes and allows the writer to explore this unstable time in the life of students who are not yet adults. The story itself follows the life of a group of students in the semester before graduation and how their lives change with the appearance of a new transfer student. This kind of stereotypical story of the appearance of a transfer student can be seen in so many animes, but I think it all comes down to how it is handled. Just Because manages to integrate the new student into the group by giving him a history with the students, talking about how he used to go to middle school with them. I think this allows us to see how his friendships with those people have changed over the course of him being away and after he comes back.
This anime is unique in that it is not adapted from a manga, but the writer for the series is Hajime Kamoshida, the creator of The Pet Girl of Sakurasou (another series I’ve been meaning to review). The animation is done by studio Pine Jam who did the animation for Gamers last season. I think the animation is solid, but my continued interest for this show is going to hinge on where the story goes. I can see it possibly becoming a series full of stereotypical school episodes. I really hope the series sticks more to the history behind these friends and how their relationship with the transfer student has changed after he was away for so long. It will also be interesting to see how the emotions surrounding this in-between time is handled as they are all forced to grow up and think about their futures. It’s safe to say that I am cautiously optimistic about this series.
Ancient Magus Bride (watched: 3 episodes)
AKA: Mahō Tsukai no Yome
Studio: Wit Studio
Director: Norihiro Naganuma
I absolutely love this series as you can probably remember from my review of the manga a while ago. I got the chance to see the first three episodes in theaters not too long ago, and it was great. The manga is one of my top 5 favorite romance series and I was excited to see how they would translate the story into anime format. The story itself revolves around a young Japanese girl, Chise, who is sold into an apprenticeship with a mysterious sorcerer in England. After being abandoned by her parents and passed around from relative to relative, she has almost given up on finding a permanent home until Elias welcomes her with open arms. The story was originally created by Kore Yamazaki and picked up by Wit Studio for the animation.
You might remember this studio from their work on Attack on Titan and Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. So you can understand my excitement when they were put on this series. The animation quality is top notch and so far they have kept to the original character designs of the manga. I think the pass or fail moment for me will be how they handle the balance of creepy and fantasy that the manga does so well. If a lot of the creepiness gets downplayed in favor of romance, I feel like I might become disappointed. I’m also interested to see how the world-building and atmosphere gets handled. The world of the manga was full of magic and mythical creatures that lends a lot of weight to the fantastic atmosphere. I don’t want to be too excited about this anime — mostly because I don’t want to be let down if something does go wrong — but from what I’m seeing so far and the addition of the three OVA’s before it, I’m very hopeful.
Code: Realize (watched: 3 episodes)
Director: Hideyo Yamamoto
Source: Otome Visual Novel
This was one anime I was the most unsure of when I started watching it. I’m still not completely sold on it, but it’s interesting enough that I’ve decided to give it a few more episodes to see where the story goes. This series is based off of a PS Vita otome visual novel of the same name and follows the life of a woman named Cardia who has a magical jewel inserted in her chest in the place of her heart that causes her skin to excrete a deadly acid. She is rescued from isolation and abandonment by the gentleman thief Arsene Lupin and becomes involved in a dangerous plot with other literary figures such as Van Helsing, Victor Frankenstein, Impey Barbicane, and Count Saint-Germain. It was picked up for the animation by Studio MSC and is strangely getting a stage musical in the near future.
I definitely did not think this series would interest me as I seemed rather too strange or too flat of a story to keep me coming back for more. However, after being three episodes in, I’m starting to find myself intrigued by the weird steampunk, alternate reality England and the literary characters drawn into this story. Studio MSC has a long history of doing key animations and in-between animations for a variety of series, but this seems to be one of its first full productions. The animation is fairly strong, and I don’t really have any problems with it, but I also don’t think it’s the best animation out of all four of these animes. The story itself isn’t fairly unique: troubled girl is rescued and lives with cool and unusual men while trying to solve her family problems. I think the big draw for this series will probably be the steampunk aesthetic and literary characters. It will be interesting to see how the anime interprets their backstory and to see how this alternate England will function. So far we already have a history of genocide against vampires propagated by the government. I’m hesitant to say that I like this series because I still think it has it’s flat or not so good moments, but it could be a good casual watch.
Non-romances I’m watching: Food Wars, March comes in like a lion, Blend S, Elegant Youkai Apartment Life, and Anime-Gataris