With the closing of 2017 comes the start of a fresh year and a new season of anime to boot. While plenty of people peruse every winter anime looking for that special series, it can get wearisome. I personally love checking out new shows, but I can usually tell almost instantly if something isn’t for me.
For your convenience, however, I’ve compiled five shows sure to reignite the excitement of last year’s anime. While this is by no means a definitive list, these are all winter anime that stuck out due to their subject matter, action, plot, or some combination of the three. All in all, they’re shows that are sure to burn plenty of midnight oil watching. Hopefully, this will give you a good starting point for your winter anime favorites.
In no particular order, here are the five winter anime you’ve got to check out:
1. DEVILMAN CRYBABY
DEVILMAN CRYBABY is possibly the most unique of any Netflix original series. This winter anime is one of the few Netflix originals produced in Japan and it really shows. It feels a lot more like a real anime than shows like NEO YOKIO and features a concept that won’t be readily familiar to many American viewers new to anime in general. As a brief content warning, the content of the show is pretty explicitly sexual at times.
DEVILMAN CRYBABY follows high school student Akira and his close friend Ryo. Ryo has an extreme interest in the occult, especially since demons and the like exist within the universe. Most demon activity takes place at wild and loud orgies. Ryo convinces Akira to attend one and take a look since the hedonistic displays attract demons. He begins stimulating the demons by attacking people, making them reveals themselves among their human hosts. Eventually, Akira finds himself partially possessed by a demon named Amon. He’s able to retain his mental state despite being granted a body boosted by the demonic presence.
Akira begins to test his newfound strength and incredible physical ability. What makes DEVILMAN CRYBABY such an eye-catching show, however, is how raw it is. The show has plenty of violence and intense scenes with bass-heavy music. Before I knew it, I was already done with the series. In terms of plot, DEVILMAN CRYBABY also incorporates lots of mystery that isn’t resolved until the very end. While I won’t spoil it for you, I will say that there are many surprises. If the gratuitous explicit content is something you can move past, I highly recommend DEVILMAN CRYBABY.
2. A PLACE FURTHER THAN THE UNIVERSE
A PLACE FURTHER THAN THE UNIVERSE hooked me almost instantaneously. Imagine the more nervous moments in your life; the points during your younger years where you felt like walls were constantly holding you back. Talking to someone new, traveling, or trying unfamiliar things all requires a similar impetus: breaking out of your comfort zone.
A PLACE FURTHER THAN THE UNIVERSE captures these moments in second-year high school student Mari Tamaki. She decides to spice up her life a bit by making small changes to her daily routine. But like most people, change doesn’t come easy for Mari. She thinks about skipping school and spending a day in Tokyo, but isn’t able to completely follow through. Then, one day, she meets Shirase Kobuchizawa. Shirase is planning on throwing all risks aside to go Antarctica and search for her missing mother. This winter anime follows the two girls as they make arrangements for the fantastic journey.
The show’s incredible visuals alone were captivating and vivid. The art style for the two protagonists is rather simple and cute. This complements the almost childish curiosity of the show and makes the narrative more gentle. Despite that, Mari and Shirase blend together really well, and the straightforward desires of each make for an amazing and addicting series. It’s very rare for a slice-of-life anime to make me yearn adventure, but this show brings me back to the days of exploring the far reaches of everywhere I went and getting exciting whenever I went somewhere new.
3. DARLING IN THE FRANXX
Far in the future, humanity has created a gigantic mobile fortress city called Plantation. The fortress acts as mankind’s last line of defense against extermination. Strange creatures known as Kyoryu roam the earth, keeping humanity in constant danger. Fighting these monsters are children trained in Mistilteinn, otherwise known as the “Birdcage.” They pilot giant robots called FRANXX to defend humanity from danger. As with a lot of dystopian anime, the show follows one child prodigy meant to ensure the survival of humanity, Hiro.
DARLING IN THE FRANXX combines elements from different shows that people will surely recognize. Trigger produced this anime, so you’ll recognize the art style from shows like KILL LA KILL or KIZNAIVER. Just like those anime, action sequences are animated with fluid movements and extravagant looking attacks. DARLING IN THE FRANXX is a mix of all the best traditional action and mecha anime. Even for someone like myself who usually can’t stand shows with mecha, this anime really flows well. Many mecha anime lose some of the complexity and minor movements during battle scenes, but DARLING IN THE FRANXX doesn’t suffer from that problem.
On top of that, the state of the world and the importance of these child fighters brings up a lot of questions. The series’ first major movement is the introduction of a mysterious second protagonist. After Hiro loses his desire to pilot a FRANXX due to emotional trauma, this protagonist, a girl named Zero Two, reignites his fighting spirit. The two become partners in piloting a FRANXX, and Zero Two claims Hiro as her “darling.” The origin of Zero Two is just as compelling as her incredible fighting ability, so I can’t wait to see where this winter anime goes.
While it’s certainly a common trend with this list, I can’t emphasize how important the instant addiction factor is. It’s not super often that the first episode of an anime I’ve never heard of truly binds me to the screen. KOKKOKU combines an amazing concept, incredible exhibition, and constant twists to create a story that jumps right into the action and keeps it going. The first episode begins in a way that made me think I was watching a pure drama. Following Juri Yukawa as she goes through her daily routine, we get fluid exposition in a remarkably short amount of time. Simply through a depiction of each member of her family, the show builds development across multiple people. Her brother’s laziness seems unimportant until it’s juxtaposed with Juri’s desire to protect people. Rather than develop just one person, KOKKOKU builds the members of Juri’s family off of each other.
This is all before the more intriguing part of the show. Juri’s grandfather possesses a stone that allows the two of them to completely stop time. While we don’t know much about how this time-freezing magic works, we do know it runs in their family, and the main character has had a horrible, mentally-repressed experience with it. When Juri’s nephew and brother are kidnapped, this power becomes instrumental in saving them. The show creates a thick layer of mystery alongside the family drama. The concept of fighting while time stands still is already great. The combination of that, with a deep focus on every character, will certainly make this one of the best winter anime.
The beginning of BEATLESS is hauntingly beautiful, mixing moments of complete silence with various flashbacks to set an air of mystery right from the get-go. It then follows that mystery up with a futuristic world where robots and artificial intelligence is totally commonplace. One hundred years into the future, the world is filled with creations called hIE. These humanoid robots are programmed to placate and satisfy humans, pulling information from a shared, cloud-based network to determine the best and most efficient way to perform tasks. Most people, understandably, are wary of these machines, seeing them as fake humans and odd. For 17-year-old Arata Endo though, they’re a lot like regular people, even without souls.
In a classic anime style, several advanced hIE made for combat escape from a secret production facility. Arata meets Lucia, an hIE with capabilities beyond that of most. When one of them attacks Arata, Lucia saves his life, and the two become bound by a contract. This is one of the more interesting moments in the show as it brings up a sort of ethical question usually absent from anime about robot servants.
Because hIE lack souls and act based on algorithms, they cannot accept any responsibility. Lucia informs Arata of the possible consequences on other humans stemming from her attacks. This makes me think that battles in the show will consider collateral damage rather than just thoughtlessly blowing things up. For a show about coexistence between humans and robots, this is a super important detail to add. The action animation from just the first episode already seems pretty stellar, so we’re likely looking at a full season of eye-catching battles.
Beat the Cold! Watch Anime Instead!
It’s going to be a cold, snowy season. I know I’m not planning on freezing to death most days and any of these winter anime is a welcome substitute. They certainly aren’t the only five good anime this season, and I’m sure many more greats ones will reveal themselves in the coming weeks.
Have a fresh addiction that you’ve found? Tell us your favorite winter anime in the comments!
Featured image from YouTube.