B: The Beginning

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Anime title: B – The Beginning

Genres: Action, Mystery, Police, Psychological, Supernatural, Thriller

 

A chain of crimes seemingly perpetrated by the serial killer Killer B unfolds in the nation of Cremona. However, these crimes seem to be a diversion for a mysterious criminal organisation to carry out bigger plans. The criminal organisation, RIS investigator Keith Flick and a guy called Koku who is referred to as the “black king”, appear to be key figures in this thick fog of mystery. What is really going on in Cremona?

 

Sometimes I felt that the police aspect and the supernatural aspect were disconnected and that they could either stand alone in separate shows instead or the show could do without one or the other. However, as I watched more, I eventually grew to think that combining the police aspect and the supernatural aspect turned out to be a good idea. The whole chain of events turned out to be interesting. Things seemed confusing and unrelated at first but I felt that the complicated connections between the various characters and the chain of events were unraveled at a pace that allowed me to understand them. Whenever something in this show untangles, something else tangles itself up. But despite this, I felt that they managed to execute the show in a way that when the mystery deepened, it did so thickly yet not too thick to the point of no return. That’s what I felt was the greatest hook in B: The Beginning and I really liked that about it. The fights, the background music and the ending theme were enjoyable. The show also knew when to add the few yet effective funny moments. It ended on a satisfying note which made me look forward to future content (it is hinted in the end of the final episode). Overall, it’s been a rewarding watch for me.

 

I would recommend B: The Beginning if you’re looking for police shows with supernatural stuff. If you’re the type of viewer that likes shows where things are unrelated at first but will make sense in the end, then B: The Beginning could be added to your ‘plan to watch’ list.

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Darling in the Franxx

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Anime title: Darling in the FranXX

Genres: Action, Drama, Mecha, Romance, Sci-Fi

 

In the distant future, humans shelter themselves against the klaxosaurs in huge cities called Plantations. Children are raised to pilot giant robots called FranXX in boy-girl pairs, in order to fight the klaxosaurs. Because these children were raised for the sole purpose of piloting the FranXX, they lack knowledge of the outside world. Hiro is a boy who aspires to pilot a FranXX. However, he lost his motivation after failing an aptitude test. He withdraws into a lake in the forest, where he encounters a girl with two horns protruding out of her head. The girl introduces herself as “Zero Two” and is rumored by some to be the “Partner Killer”. As Hiro tries to process the encounter, the Plantation is attacked by a klaxosaur. Zero Two fights the klaxosaur in her FranXX but it takes heavy damage and lands near Hiro. Finding her partner to be dead, Zero Two invites Hiro to pilot the FranXX with her and they easily defeat the klaxosaur. Hiro renews his motivation for a chance at redeeming his past failures, but what would this cost him?

 

I loved the buildup in the first half and in the middle of the show. I thought that the show was slightly messy around episode 20 but the revelations which came after that made up for it well enough. I liked the interactions between the characters. I felt that some characters should have been given more background, though. I liked Zero Two’s growth throughout the series. I enjoyed the opening theme, especially the opening theme music video in the second half of the show. I felt that how the characters progressively find out more about themselves and the world they live in, while having little to no knowledge about things, gave rise to interesting perspectives and lines of thought. This is probably the biggest hook of the show for me, as it left me speculating and theorising after most of the episodes. I really liked the sci-fi elements in this show, though the mecha aspect could probably have been done better. The ending was satisfying enough, though I felt that Darling in the Franxx could have finished better and reached greater heights if they had better followed up on the buildup in the first half and the middle. Overall, it’s been a very good but not great show for me.

 

I would recommend Darling in the Franxx to fans of romance and sci-fi, and fans who seek to be or tend to be easily emotionally attached to shows. The activation method of the robots can turn off some viewers, though.

Megalo Box

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Anime title: Megalo Box

Genres: Action, Drama, Sci-Fi, Shounen, Slice of Life, Sports

Junk Dog, an underground fighter of the futuristic Gear-utilising sport Megalo Box, and his trainer Nanbu Gansaku, are forced to make a living by throwing matches in an underground ring. Junk Dog encounters and briefly interacts with the Megalo Box champion Yuri, who later enters the underground ring and quickly defeats Junk Dog in a match. Yuri tells Junk Dog, “If you’re serious about fighting me again, then fight your way up to me and my ring.” With some help from the criminal organisation responsible for Junk Dog and Nanbu’s situation, Junk Dog enters Megalonia, a tournament to decide the best Megalo Boxer. However, there are only four spots open in the tournament. In three months, the fighters who take those four spots will be decided. Junk Dog, taking on the ring name “Joe”, must work his way up from the bottom rank within that time.

I found the struggles and how Team Nowhere (Joe and co.) overcame them to be realistic, both inside and outside of the ring. I like it how even though Joe fights without a Gear, did not really feel like the fights were unfair (the norm is that fighters fight with Gear, but well Joe was allowed to fight without Gear as he wished) as Gear only enhanced the fighter’s speed and power, and thus I was still able to relish each and every fight. The developments of Joe, Nanbu and Sachio (a kid who later joins Joe and Nanbu) were well done, from my point of view. The background music was catchy and kept me hooked. The ending theme was enjoyable, and the show’s ending was satisfying. Overall, I felt that Megalo Box was able to provide more than enough to satisfy me despite the short episode count.

I would recommend Megalo Box regardless of whether you are a fan of boxing or sports anime in general. I also advise not to let the Shounen tag prevent you from watching Megalo Box, as I felt that the execution was great. Do try Megalo Box if you are looking for a short anime (13 ep).

Akatsuki no Yona

Anime: Akatsuki no Yona
Alternate titles: Yona of the Dawn
Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy, Romance, Shoujo

Yona, princess of the Kingdom of Kouka, leads a luxurious and sheltered life. However, the unexpected murder of her father, the king, perpetrated by her cousin Su-won, puts her life in danger. After being left with no choice but to escape with Son Hak, her childhood friend and also bodyguard, Yona learns the harsh truth that Kouka is not the blissful place she had thought it was. With a mysterious legend about people with powers granted by dragons being the only lead for her journey, Yona must look for a way to bring Kouka back to its former glory while being persistently hunted down by the new king of Kouka.

The adventures to meet the people with dragon-gifted powers kept me excited and hooked to Akatsuki no Yona. Both opening themes were enjoyable to me and allowed me to approach each episode with a more energetic mood, synergising well with the adventures to further hook me in. I liked that the anime was able to offer lots of laughs yet seem to never get too carried away with it. In my opinion, Princess Yona’s development was excellent. Furthermore, the characters’ different interactions and personality sides added freshness and variety to the anime, with my favourite set of interactions being between Hak and Ki-ja. Hak and Ki-ja also contributed largely to what I felt were good intense fight scenes, alongside the other characters.

I would recommend Akatsuki no Yona if you are looking for an anime which is rich in culture, in this case a Korean kingdom sort of setting. If you’re looking for an Action anime with a good share of Comedy and Romance, then do add Akatsuki no Yona to your list. If you are the type of viewer to shun “useless main characters”, I still think that you should try Akatsuki no Yona, as I feel that her development will be very rewarding if you do manage to reach later parts of the show.

Houseki no Kuni

Anime title: Houseki no Kuni
Alternate titles:
-Land of the Lustrous
-Country of Jewels
Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Fantasy, Seinen

*I’ll refer to the Gems as “it” and “its” since they are genderless.

Crystalline, genderless, humanoid creatures known as Gems inhabit a world which has been struck by six meteors. Each Gem would be assigned a role in order to repel invasions from the Lunarians, a mysterious group of creatures residing on the Moon who capture the Gems and break down their bodies to use as decorations. Phosphophyllite, also called Phos, dreams of helping its friends fight the Lunarians. Instead, it is told to compile an encyclopaedia due to its fragility. Houseki no Kuni follows Phos’ journey to be able to protect its fellow Gems and be of use to them.

I was amazed by how the show used the properties of gemstones or minerals to create the Gems’ personalities and backgrounds. To give a better understanding of what I mean by the previous statement, I shall use Cinnabar as an example. Cinnabar has a hardness of 2.0 to 2.5 on the Mohs scale and is poisonous due to its mercury content. Houseki no Kuni made the character Cinnabar able to turn what it touches into ruin. In addition to this, its fragility resulted in it being unfit for combat and the only job suitable for it is night patrol, when the Lunarians don’t strike. Thus making it tantamount to being an outcast, resulting in it feeling inferior and useless, and like a monster which destroys whatever it comes across. This aspect, coupled with the bits of gem trivia that appear at the halfway mark of each episode, made the show educational and interesting. Another thing I was amazed by was how the show also managed to insert and link humans to the story. As the show progresses, more questions arise and accumulate, hooking me in deeper. Phos’ development was great, especially after Antarcticite’s introduction to the show. The action was rather intense, in my opinion, and satisfying despite the relatively small amount of action. Houseki no Kuni also had funny moments and little fanservice. I felt that the little it did have, though, did not get in the way of the show and made sense. For instance, that moment when Phos asked Ventricosus about “water jugs” (boobs) as Gems lacked sex characteristics. The opening theme was great, in my opinion. A drawback was that the anime was too short for me. However, I think I could overlook the length due to how much I felt the anime had brought to the table.

True to its name, the anime was indeed a Houseki for me. So, I would highly recommend Houseki no Kuni, especially if you’re a Fantasy and Mystery fan. If you’re mainly looking for Action, I’m not sure if Houseki no Kuni would satisfy you but I would still suggest to try it out. The show has 12 episodes, so if you’re looking for a nice, short watch, do add this show to the list. CGI is used, so viewers who dislike CGI could avoid it.

Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid

Anime: Kobayashi-san Chi no Maid Dragon
Alternate titles: Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Genres: Slice of Life, Comedy, Fantasy

As Kobayashi leaves for work, she is met with the sight of a dragon’s head staring at her across the balcony. The dragon then transforms into a young girl and introduces herself as Tooru. It turns out that Kobayashi, while in a drunk state, had encountered Tooru the night before on a trip to the mountains and since Tooru had nowhere to go, Kobayashi allowed her to stay in her home. In order to repay Kobayashi, Tooru offered to become her maid.

This show brought me lots of laughs. Aside from the laughs, the interaction among the characters was heartwarming to watch, especially the bond between Kobayashi and Tooru. Each dragon was unique. The way they portrayed the dragons adjusting to life in the human world was interesting. Some of the dragons’ backgrounds when placed in contrast with what they became of after they arrived at the human world, made the show funnier. For example, Fafnir, who once guarded the greatest treasures of the dragons’ world, becomes a guy who watches anime and plays video games all day long in the human world. Overall, a good and short show, in my opinion.

I would recommend Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid if you’re searching for a short Slice of Life, Comedy, Fantasy show, which portrays life as a maid and specifically features mostly female dragons.

Terra Formars

Anime title: Terra Formars
Genres: Action, Sci-Fi, Space, Horror, Drama, Seinen

In the 21th century, humanity made an attempt to colonise Mars by sending two species in order to terraform it — algae and cockroaches. The reason for this was that they could endure the harsh Martian environment. Now, in the 26th century, a disease known as the Alien Engine Virus arrived on Earth, and its cure is thought to be found only on Mars. The issue is, Mars is currently overrun by creatures known as Terraformars, which are powerful and intelligent humanoid cockroaches that evolved from the ones sent to Mars in the 21st century. The Annex 1 team, a group of men and women from a total of 6 countries who are genetically enhanced with characteristics of various Earth organisms, have been sent to Mars to find the cause of the Alien Engine Virus and the cure for it, marking the start of their fight for survival against the Terraformars.

The idea of cockroaches evolving to such an extent was intriguing. How each Annex 1 member has the traits of a different animal added variety to the action. The fights were great, in my opinion, especially the ones which Michelle or Asimov were involved in. I felt that S1 was far more action packed than S2 and S2 was more light hearted than S1. However, season 2 nicely made up for the drop in the intensity of the action by introducing characters with more interesting abilities. I loved how internal conflict arose from some countries having their own agendas and schemes. The addition of this obstacle to Annex 1’s mission made the show more intense. Though the story had some interesting turns and twists, I felt that the content was lacking a lot as not much is known about the roaches and how exactly they evolved, and the internal conflict wasn’t expanded on enough. Overall, Terra Formars was good for me, though I wish the story made much more progress.