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Winter 2014 Anime Top 5 Picks

It’s really cold now over there in Japan, but the Animebattle for the winter is just heating up. 1st episodes are out and people are starting to find new favorites and hates. But it still remains to be seen which one will triumph by the end of the season. After reading this complete guide from Kotaku, I handpicked those that appealed to me based on the short synopses and trailers. After watching all first episodes of those that caught my attention, I can say here are my top picks so far out of the 47 new animes this season. (Note: my preferences lean towards shounen / fanntasy / action / sports animes so if those are not what you like, then you might find this list useless.)

Noragami
Noragami – one of the 47 new anime this winter 2014

Hooked and Excited for More:

1. Nobunagun

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Story: About a loner girl obsessed with military weapons going on a school field trip to Taiwan only to be thrust into the middle of a monster attack. Then it gets better – she discovers she is able to wield a kick-ass mystical gun that is activated by the genes of legendary samurai general Oda Nabunaga that’s inside her.

Thoughts after the first episode: It was a very interesting episode, particularly the transformation part. Being just a first episode, it did very well to explain right away the premise of the story without loosening up in pace. It’s particularly interesting to connect Nobunaga, who’s a samurai, to guns. By the end of it, enough mystery and questions were raised to leave the audience wanting for more. I was certainly left feeling curious and I’d definitely watch more Nobunagun in the coming weeks.

2. Noragami

Genre: Action, Fantasy

Story: A young and virtually unknown god has big dreams of gaining so many followers he’d be the top god in all of Japan. His master plan: answer as many prayers for a fee so he could build an awesome shrine. But, his asking fee is only a measly 5 yen (because everyone knows this is the amount you give to gods). Considering nobody prays to him much and his fee is stupidly low, things are not really working out for him. Plus he gets abandoned by his sacred treasure dagger right from the get go due to his sweaty smelly hands leaving him unarmed, which is a shame because he has good combat skills. So then he goes on to find a sacred treasure and solve people’s problems all for the sake of fame and glory.

Thoughts after the first episode: It was very funny because everything was just too stupid, from the main character’s motivation to how he interacts with the human lady character that I believe will help him in the future. That hospital bed scene was hilarious! The monster he gets to defeat have a good concept behind them too and the art of the whole show is good. Definitely, Noragami is a perfect anime to watch if you’ve just had a long day at work and just want to laugh and enjoy nice visuals.

3. Nisekoi

Genre: Comedy, Romance

Story: A young son of a Yakuza group made a promise to a young girl that they’d marry in the future; he kept a locket with a keyhole to honor that promise. Fast forward to his high school years, he has forgotten what the girl looks like. He studies hard and practices cooking all for the sake of someday getting away from his Yakuza ties. As a result, he didn’t really have much time for relationships with girls. Then one day, a half Japanese half Caucasian girl transfers to his school and he rights away gets on the wrong foot with her on the account that he received a knee to the face, which resulted to him losing his locket and him shouting at her. Turns out the girl was the daughter of a rival Yakuza group and in order to resolve the escalating violence between the two gangs, they need to get engaged for the next 3 years!

Thoughts after the first episode: I seldom get into romance anime and when I do, I only pick those with apparent heroines that are strong-willed (read able to give punches and kicks), are tsundere, or are calm and intelligent. With Nisekoi, both protaganists are Yakuza children so there’s lots of funny arguments between them and both don’t give in to each other. All these make those moments when they become kind to each other all the more special. The mystery behind the ‘promise’ is also intriguing. Have fun guessing which girl he made the promise to, and yes of course there is another girl in the picture. This won’t be romance without a love triangle, would it? 🙂

4. Hamatora

Genre: Mystery, Action, Sci-Fi

Story: About a detective agency composed of struggling and broke guys with special powers. They are called Minimum Holders and they live off the crumbs from the police, meaning they take those cases that the police don’t just have the time or resources to deal with at the moment.

Thoughts after the first episode: The first episode was more or less just a showcase of the characters powers, which were interesting because they seem to be unable to use their abilities if they do not do/meet certain conditions. For example, one character is able to electrocute enemies but first he needs to bite a live taser. As for the mystery they solved, it was very predictable for me and held no surprises. I’m still interested at how the story will develop though and what powers are going to show up next, so most likely I’d continue watching this anime. Besides, I’ll always be a sucker for action animes involving powers and the Hamatora’s visuals are not bad.

5. Hoozuki no Reitetsu

Genre: Fantasy, Comedy

Story: The story revolves around the demon aid to the Great King of Hell and how he deals with the details of his job, which include but not limited to sorting out understaffed divisions of both Hell and Heaven, solving budget issues, answering his minions’ queries as to what form of torture to use, and subduing rabble-rousers the likes of Momotaro and his pet dog, monkey and pheasant. His treasure – idle times to water his goldfish plant and pursue his hobbies.

Thoughts after the first episode: I highly enjoyed the first episode because there were so many funny moments and really, only the Japanese can make the concept of hell this funny and well, mundane. The main character loves traveling too so I can definitely relate. The art for Hoozuki no Reitetsu may not be for everybody though but I love it for its old scroll feel. In any case, go watch it for yourself and decide.

 

Can’t Decide Yet, Need to Watch a Few More Episodes

Z/X Ignition

Genre: Action, Sci-Fi

Story: This anime is based on the  collectible card game Zillions of Enemy X and is about the earth being invaded by all kinds of monsters from other worlds. Typical of card games, the ‘other worlds’ have colors – white (heaven, angels), red (fire), etc.

Thoughts about the first episode: I was crazy about Magic the Gathering before and so was definitely excited about the prospect of another trading card-based anime other than Yugi-Oh and all its variations. But the first episode of Z/X did not really captivate me that much, I guess because it was too vague and just focused right away on battle scenes and introduction of various otherworldly monsters. Plus the human characters seem to be pretty weak at this point, announcing how they’d do their best to defeat the enemy when they seem pretty powerless to me. But I’m sure there’s more to the story and far be it for me to reject a possibly interesting anime based on a weak episode 1. So I’m gonna go give the next 2-3 episodes a chance and see if they’ll change my mind about Z/X (pronounced zex)

Wake Up Girls

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life

Story: About 7 girls who formed an idol group and are dreaming of becoming successful and famous. A tough road is ahead of them because the agency managing them just got bankrupt what with its president running off with the money. Now, it’s up to these 7 girls to revive the talent agency and make sure their dreams don’t fade away.

Thoughts about the first episode: I gave this anime a chance in the first place because  upon watching the trailer, it’s noticeable that it won’t just be the cutesy, ditzy type. There are more serious underlying themes and although some of the girls are the typical airhead personalities, there are several girls who are serious and have brains. By the end of the first episode, you’ll see that the road to stardom is indeed not that easy and there are many more hurdles these girls need to overcome before realizing their dreams, if at all. I hope the show won’t go downhill though as I’ve already seen lots of echi stuff. Will give this a shot for 2-3 more episodes and see if I get hooked.

Conclusion

Looks like there are going to be several animes that will fill my days this first quarter of 2014. It still remains to be seen which ones to continue watching and which ones to drop. There might even be others that I’d pick up along the way. In fact, I have my eyes on Wizard Barristers Benmashi Cecil and Witchcraft Works but I just don’t have the time to watch these at the moment.

Over to you readers. Which anime have you picked up this winter season and any other recommendations? Do let me know in the comments!

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