We’re well into the fall anime season and it’s full of lovely things. The second season of Haikyuu!! is here, for a start, and it’s exactly as wonderful as season one. Noragami Aragoto is kicking into high gear with the start of a widely-anticipated arc for its return to TV, and the Monogatari juggernaut is rolling again with Owarimonogatari. We’re also getting a solid dose of wacky, weird, and just plain strange, from a manic 1960s revival in Osomatsu-san to the time-jumping mishmash of Concrete Revolutio. And then there’s the (not one, but two) anime featuring boys breaking into impromptu musical numbers, and the (not one, but two—really, you can’t make this up) harem anime featuring pink-haired girls with flame powers. I watched all of these and more, dear readers, in order to pick the best of the best for your 2D consumption. With simulcasts a click away, there’s no reason to wait. Settle down with your pumpkin spice latte and check out these three top picks for fall season.
One Punch Man
In a modern Japan plagued by monsters, super villains, and aliens that appear suddenly and cause huge amounts of destruction, Saitama (voiced by an excellent Makoto Furukawa) was just an everyday guy who dreamt of being a hero. Determined to overcome his own limitations, he put himself through grueling training to achieve his dream—and unfortunately, it was a little too effective. Saitama can take even the most powerful enemy out with only one punch, and that makes hero work, well…pretty boring. Overcome with superhero ennui, Saitama spends his days sitting around his tiny apartment, clipping coupons for supermarket sales, and waiting for an opponent strong enough to break up the painful monotony of his existence. Along the way he meets new allies like the cyborg Genos (Kaito Ishikawa), who begs to be taken as his disciple, and a slew of colorful and comical enemies.
This action comedy was undoubtedly the most hyped show of the season, and from what I’ve seen in the first three episodes, justifiably so. One Punch Man began life as a webcomic drawn by the artist ONE in what is presumably the Japanese equivalent of MS Paint. When the series took off, mangaka Yusuke Murata (Eyeshield 21) proposed a collaboration, redrawing ONE’s series for publication in Young Jump Web Comics, where, being no slouch himself, Murata made the series notorious for detailed art and flip book-style panels like this. Luckily for old fans and new viewers alike, director Shingo Natsume (Space Dandy) and Madhouse (Hunter x Hunter 2011, Death Parade) are pulling out all the stops for this adaptation, treating us to plenty of gorgeously animated and creatively choreographed fight scenes in between absurd episodes from Saitama’s comically mundane existence. If a hilarious take on superhero tropes mixed with bouts of all-out sakuga battles sounds like your thing, One Punch Man is a must-watch this season.
For fans of: Gintama, Tiger & Bunny, My Hero Academia, Samurai Flamenco
Mobile Suit Gundam: Iron-Blooded Orphans
Three hundred years after a disastrous conflict between Earth and Mars called the Calamity War, Mars has been colonized and terraformed, but suffers poverty and unrest under Earth’s rule. Mikazuki Augus (Kengo Kawanishi), our protagonist, is a member of a company of orphans that have found employment operating mobile workers for the private security firm Chryse Guard Security (CGS). When CGS is hired to provide bodyguards for Kudelia Aina Bernstein (Yuka Terasaki), the daughter of a prominent Martian politician and advocate for independence, Mikazuki’s squad is picked to accompany the young lady on a diplomatic mission to Earth. Before they can set off, CGS is attacked by forces that want to stop Kudelia and suppress the Martian revolutionaries. Abandoned by their commanders, Orga Itsuka (Yoshimasa Hosoya), the leader of the orphans’ squadron, struggles to hold their attackers back as Mikazuki fires up their last resort: a Calamity-War era mobile suit that just happens to be—you guessed it—a Gundam.
Iron-Blooded Orphans is, of course, yet another entry in the venerable science fiction/mecha Gundam franchise—but don’t worry, no knowledge of Gundam is required to enjoy this standalone series. In fact, while Iron-Blooded Orphans may walk and talk like your run-of-the-mill Gundam series, there’s a somewhat unusual creative team lurking behind this one: director Tatsuyuki Nagai (Toradora!, Ano Natsu de Matteru) and writer Mari Okada (Aquarion Evol, Nagi no Asukara), who are probably best known for their collaboration on the tearjerker drama AnoHana. How this will affect the course of the series remains to be seen, and they’ve got a full two cour (24 episodes) in which to make their mark on the franchise. In the meantime, Iron-Blooded Orphans is hewing close to the usual Gundam formula—space politics, child soldiers, a princess advocating peace, and the all important giant robots—and doing it pretty darn well. The first three episodes have introduced a cast of intriguing characters and a plot that feels fresh despite the familiar trappings. I’m guessing this will be a fun one to follow weekly as events unfold, so whether you’re a Gundam veteran or you’re not sure if Ramba Ral is a person or a location, now’s the time to jump in.
For fans of: Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam ZZ, Mobile Suit Gundam: Char’s Counterattack, Mobile Suit Gundam 0080: War in the Pocket, Mobile Suit Gundam 0083: Stardust Memory, Mobile Suit Victory Gundam, Mobile Fighter G Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, Mobile Suit Gundam: The 08th MS Team, After War Gundam X, Turn A Gundam, Mobile Suit Gundam SEED, Mobile Suit Gundam 00, Mobile Suit Gundam Unicorn, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, Gundam Reconguista in G, Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin, Aldnoah.Zero
Subete ga F ni Naru: The Perfect Insider
Moe Nishinosono (Atsumi Tanezaki) is a spoilt heiress and college student that spends her days hanging around the office of Souhei Saikawa (Yasuyuki Kase), an associate professor who was her father’s student and mentee. Saikawa is fascinated by the work of genius programmer Shiki Magata (Ibuki Kido), a twenty-nine-year-old recluse who has been isolated on a remote island research facility since she was accused of murdering her parents at the age of fourteen. Knowing about Saikawa’s interest in Magata, Nishinosono proposes a group trip to the island with other students from the university in hope of meeting Magata in person. Once there, Saikawa and Nishinosono get caught up in a series of mysterious and dangerous events.
This atmospheric mystery is based on a 1996 novel of the same name by Hiroshi Mori, and has seen several adaptations in the last decade and a half, which I suppose must speak to the quality of the material. This particular iteration is helmed by Mamoru Kanbe (Elfen Lied, Sound of the Sky) at A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Your Lie in April), and sports original character designs by the acclaimed mangaka Inio Asano (Oyasumi Punpun, Solanin). So far The Perfect Insider has all the moody intellectualism I would expect from a classic Noitamina entry, a timeslot that in its heyday produced such shows as Paradise Kiss, Eden of the East, and The Tatami Galaxy. Still, I can’t say I’m quite sold on it yet—Nishinosono is a difficult character to like, and much of the first episode was spent sitting around talking in dimly lit rooms—but I’m willing to give The Perfect Insider, with its muted colors and subtle character interactions, a long leash here. This is your pick of the season for those looking for something a bit esoteric and artsy with a side of murder mystery.
For fans of: Zankyou no Terror/Terror in Resonance, Steins;Gate, Un-Go, Shiki
Watch it now on Crunchyroll
Nothing here catching your eye? Check out the full fall roster here, and be sure to let us know what you’re watching this season in the comments!