MAL Rated 8.43, Ranked #131 | Produced by Wit Studio
The staff who made Attack on Titan got together in a pub one night and got into a drunken conversation about how if they were writing that hit manga series, they would do this and that differently. This drunken conversation eventually became reality as these folks came together and, rather than animating the Attack on Titan sequel they promised us would air in 2016, made Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. It's a beautifully animated, incredibly dramatic story about a civilisation trapped due to the world having been overtaken by tita... sorry, I mean zombies. Director Araki knows better than anyone how to hype you up during action segments, and the combination of Edo-era Japan with steampunk is unique and really eye-catching. If there's one big issue with it, it's that it's too similar to Attack on Titan. It has the same theme about breaking out from the cowardly shell society has built through fear of exploring other possibilities, which is filtered through a main character furious at the world for not attempting to think outside their walled societies. That said, it's emulating all the really good parts of Attack on Titan so if you liked that mega-hit, chances are you'll enjoy this too.
MAL Rated 7.99, Ranked #519 | Produced by Bones
Japan certainly have their own long tradition of super heroes, but My Hero Academia's view feels almost American, or at least American as viewed through a foreigner's eyes. The story is about a kid with no superpowers, stuck in a world where everyone has powers, yet despite this, he still wants to become a hero. It brings to mind a man with no legs striving to become a sprinter, something that seems ridiculous until you actually watch the Paralympics. But what makes it American is that the ideal hero is the character of All Might, a buff man with a deep voice and blonde hair whose moves are called things like "Texas Smash" or "Detroit Punch" and who is frequently accompanied by backgrounds of stars and stripes. It taps into the American Dream of all things: this powerful idea that anyone who works hard enough can be whatever they want to be. It may be a tired theme to build a story around to those who do live in the West, but when viewed through the eyes of a Japanese comic, it takes on a whole new light. You find yourself desperately urging the man character to keep chasing his dream and not to let anyone tell him he can't. It also helps that Bones have done this adaptation a huge service by animating it beautifully.
MAL Rated 7.75, Ranked #938 | Produced by Studio Deen
When an anime opens with three guys in the corner of the screen throwing a volleyball to each other with incredibly limited animation while they discuss nothing in particular, it automatically brings to mind the scenes in Gintama where the camera would just focus on the corner of the building while the characters complained about animation budget cuts. Or alternatively a similar scene in Daily Lives of Highschool Boys where the characters threw around a volleyball discussing nothing in particular. Shinji Takamatsu has garnered something of a reputation for himself as a fantastic comedy director and having graced the world with his School Rumble, Gintama and Daily Lives of Highschool Boys anime, he's here with Sakamoto desu ga?, the newest addition. He's working with some high quality material too. The story about the most perfect man alive was already an award-nominated manga that frequently topped manga sales charts, and it translates remarkably well into anime. There's not a whole lot to it, but it nails its comedic timing with perfection. It's without a doubt the most promising comedy of the season so far.
MAL Rated 8.74, Ranked #34 | Produced by David Production
Normally I would stay away from sequels in these promising premieres because it's useless information as anyone who has seen the previous seasons are probably going to watch the new one. However, I'm including Diamond is Unbreakable anyway. Partly because it's completely approachable for anyone with no experience with the franchise (it references previous seasons and has old characters returning, but Jojo's habit of over-explaining itself means all the information you need to know are explained to you right at the start). But mostly because it would be remiss of me not to give a mention to how good this premiere has been. Jojo's has always been stylistically incredible, but this season the artists appear to have ascended to a higher plane. Everything from backgrounds to scene transitions to shot framing are all amazing in this new season, and it's already bags of fun. This may be a controversial statement, but I found Part 3 Stardust Crusaders to be something of a letdown compared to how good Part 2 Battle Tendency was. It dragged on for far too long and I never really felt any investment in the character's journey. Hence I went into this new Jojo's with my hype on the low side. But if these first episodes are anything to go by, they brushed off the cobwebs from Stardust and started this season on the right foot.
MAL Rated 7.00, Ranked #3326 | Produced by Trigger
The score on MAL for Luluco isn't great, but that's because MAL's audience seems eternally confused by shorts and can't figure out how to rate them. Space Patrol Luluco is the latest anime from Hiroyuki Imaishi, the director of Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill, and his new effort is somewhere between Inferno Cop and FLCL. The Inferno Cop comparisons come from the deliberately limited and occasionally cartoonish style and hyperactive nonsense that has become something of a feature of Trigger's anime (and also because the man, the legend, Inferno Cop himself is a minor character in this show). The FLCL comparison comes from it being a story about a young teenager attempting to live their boring normal life, only for a mysterious pretty alien to crash into their world and carry them on a confusing adventure that all acts as a metaphor for puberty. I'm pleased that anime have realised 7 minutes per episode is just about the right amount of time you need for a short series, as we were stuck with too many 3-5 minute per episode shorts over the years. Heck, plenty of comedy anime like Sakamoto are already split into 7-10 minute chunks and it works for them too. Long may it continue so long as we keep getting cool anime like Luluco from it.
MAL Rated 8.33, ranked #193 | Produced by White Fox
I will admit after the first episode I had some serious doubts about Re:ZERO. I figured the high score it had garnered over here was the result of the MAL audience collectively drinking the same hallucinogenics that led to Sword Art Online becoming super popular back in the day. It too featured a self-insert teenage male lead magically transported to another world where he obtains his new waifu and has a bunch of pretty ladies wearing revealing clothing surrounding him. But I'll admit, as of episode 2, I've been won over just a little. Partly because he now also has a dashingly handsome man called Reinhard rescuing him, and any anime with a character called Reinhard in it can't be that bad. Although the main character is definitely a self-insert, his genre-savviness gives him a likable personality and a sense of humour about events, which is a huge step up from a blank slate or Mr. Perfect that normally exist in light novel adaptations. The time-leaping, Groundhog Day storyline is hardly original, but combining it with him being trapped in a fantasy world fuses two common genres together to give us something new and exciting. I still have some reservations (I've seen too many terrible fantasy light novel anime in my day to ever let my guard down), but as of now, there's something endearing about this latest one that has allowed me to at least remain intrigued in what comes next. For example, in all the times the main character has repeated this day, will he ever eat that cup ramen he has?
MAL Rated 7.03, ranked #3227 | Produced by Diomedea
Mayoiga doesn't have a great score on MAL currently, and this time I can't blame this on MAL's audience being perplexed by shorts. So instead I will blame it on MAL's audience not understanding true comedic genius. Mayoiga comes to us from the director of Another (actually he's done a lot of actually really great anime like Shirobako, but Another is the one relevant to this discussion) and feels a lot like he looked back at his work on Another and felt he had made a mistake. He had so many people telling him how much they laughed at how silly Another was despite him desperately trying to make a scary horror anime that he decided to make a new horror anime where he leaned into the silliness. The result is hilarious. Pack 20 of the type of characters who would normally be the ridiculous minor character with one reoccurring gag in other anime onto a bus together, send them to an abandoned village in the middle of nowhere, and watch as they slowly drive each other insane. Perhaps if you went into this expecting a moody horror anime I can see how you would be disappointed. You should instead watch it with a bag of popcorn and get ready to giggle endlessly at the wonderfully cheesy lines and inevitable death montage.