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7 Action/Sci-fi Anime for Winter 2016 - New Technology? Cyborgs? Aliens? Something’s Afoot!
Science Fiction and Action seem to naturally go hand and hand together and are unsurprisingly two of the most popular genres in the anime industry. So it’s no wonder that every new anime season a plethora of new sci-fi and action anime are released to anxious fans across the world and this Winter 2016 season is no different. We’ve culled the most popular shows that have been released and condensed them into an easy to read guide to help those decide what to watch. The variety of shows offered this season has been astounding, so look forward to it!
1. Active Raid: Kidou Kyoushuushitsu Dai Hachi Gakari ( Active Raid: Special Public Security Fifth Division Third Mobile Assault Eighth Unit)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 7, 2016 – Ongoing
Faced with a crime wave, Unit 8 of Japan’s Police Force specializes in the use of the ACTIVE system and Will Wears which act as advanced armor with weapons. Unit 8 uses these tools to fight and defeat some of the toughest criminals around. Their only problem? Collateral damage and lots of it. Their poor reputation has forced the Police Force to send a babysitter to improve the Unit’s operations and to possibly take full control in the future which is easier said than done. When Asami is assigned to the infamous Unit 8 to fix the mess, she can’t get any word in. The eccentric and weird officers who make up this band of misfits already know why she was sent to them and are determined not to let her ruin their system!
While this list consists of mostly serious shows, Active Raid contains a lot of familiar comedic elements. The Will Wears are also quite unique and seem to be a cross between a mech and something out of Kamen Rider. The characters also all have their own weird quirks that can be considered “endearing”, if you find something like sorting trash cute. The show is silly and definitely something that leaves everyone feeling good afterwards.
2. Bubuki Buranki (BBK/BRNK)
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 9, 2016 - March 26, 2016
Azuma Akira finds himself in the midst of a war upon his return to Japan after being away for ten years. Growing up on Treasure Island with his family and away from civilization has left him quite clueless, but once his peaceful world is torn away Akira finds himself in trouble. The history left behind by his mother has resurfaced and Akira must find the strength to lead a small band of kids armed with the power of Babuki, the body parts of a much larger being called a Buranki, to defeat his mother’s old enemy and return to Treasure Island where his mother patiently waits.
The animation is fluid which gives action sequences the movement it needs to create a sense of realism. The character designs seems to be borrowed from various other anime, but are still wonderful nonetheless. The scenery is what really stands out and the overall artwork of the landscapes look as if it were hand painted due to all of the lush greens and open skies, or dark alleys and moody weather.
The writing is fairly solid and is reminiscent of Geneon favorites Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and Kill la Kill, though the story tends to lean on the more serious side of these series. Since there are only four episodes currently airing according to the date of this article, it’s hard to pin-point which direction the show will take, but right now the show has established a solid base.
3. Dimension W
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 10, 2016 - March 27, 2016
Thanks to New Tesla Energy, humanity has come across the biggest discovery in the universe that has changed mankind forever, unlimited energy. Coils, the amazing little devices attached to almost everything in existence now, provide unlimited power and have advanced society, but all this energy isn’t free. There is a cost. These miracle devices are heavily regulated, for good reason, but illegal coils are on the rise and it is Kyouma’s job to retrieve them despite his disgust for humanity’s newfound dependency. Kyouma sticks to what he knows even though he is heavily criticized for his “ancient” ways, but he gets the job done and is quite successful until one job goes especially wrong.
While some of the character designs may scream, “CAT GIRL!”, the series does a good job of balancing out the cute with more serious tones, so that the more light and fluffy moments do not overtake or draw away from the moments meant to contribute to the overall plot. The main character, Kyouma, can only be described as a combination of the characters, Mugen and Jin, in Samurai Champloo. Kyouma’s unique fighting style and hobbies set him apart from the rest of the characters and so he brings his own spin on situations that would otherwise be handled by overpowered metal upgrades. Kyouma rejects a world that has become completely reliant on a system other than their own bodies.
The story is much deeper than first anticipated and the music isn’t bad either. The episodes are nicely paced and leave the viewer satisfied towards the end, wondering how everything will play out the next episode.
4. Koukaku no Pandora
- Episodes: ?
- Aired: January 8, 2016 - ongoing
After her parents have died, Nene travels to Cenancle island to reunite with her Aunt. She has become a full bodied cyborg and has mastered physical therapy which attracts the attention of a mysterious doctor named Uzal, who also has a full bodied cyborg friend named Clarion. When the city comes under attack, Clarion can take advantage of her innate power called the Pandora Device, that allows her to instantly learn the skills to manage firearms and other ways to defend herself. Unfortunately, Clarion is injured during battle and so Nene must take her place by obtaining the Pandora Device herself.
This series features lots of fan service. Lots and lots of it, so those people who love boob jokes will love this anime. There’s lots of “plot”, as well. There are also a lot of cute outfits. The entire show can be described as “plot” and fan service actually.
5. Mobile Suit Gundam: Thunderbolt
- Episodes: 4
- Aired: December 25, 2015 - ongoing
Thunderbolt is set during the One Year War and occurs concurrently with the original Mobile Suit Gundam. The story features a small base located in the middle of a shoal zone protected by the countless debris floating around, but the base is abruptly attacked by Zeon forces who specialize in sniping down their enemies. The team successfully takes down the Federation forces one by one, but fail to see one of the pilots slip away. As the Zeon snipers are celebrating their victory, one of them is murdered by the sneaky Federation pilot named Io Flemming, who also steals their dead comrade’s Rick Dom, which sets off a bloody chain of revenge.
If only one word could be used to describe this anime it’s “beautiful”. Absolutely beautiful. The animation is a gorgeous blend of old school eighties art style combined with a hint of CG that isn’t distracting in the slightest. The soundtrack is really kicking as well, featuring loads of free jazz that fits well with the battle scenes. Only one episode is out right now, but it is easy to see that Thunderbolt will be worth the long wait between episodes. WATCH THIS RIGHT NOW.
6. Phantasy Star Online 2: The Animation
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 8, 2016 – March 25, 2016
Phantasy Star’s plot revolves around the real MMO game of the same title and how its players react in real life versus in the game. The main character, Itsuki, is tasked with playing the game and reporting to the student council president as part of his new job being Vice President. The school campus is considering banning the game from students and it is the student council’s job to prove that students are capable of maintaining grades while also becoming involved in the hugely popular MMO game. Surprisingly, the super popular president plays herself, but no one would have ever dreamt she was the infamous SORO who only works alone.
The anime does a good job of incorporating much of the MMO culture into real situations that most people have run into while playing a game such as PSO2, including trolls, leveling, and party play. The anime also focuses on the discrepancy between what players look and act like in real life versus the characters they play online. While the animation isn’t spectacular, anyone who has played WoW, FFXI or XIV, or even Everquest will be able to relate and enjoy this series immensely.
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: January 11, 2016 – March 28, 2016
During the Cold War, aliens named BETA descended upon the earth, eventually spreading into Europe and changed the face of war. East Germany has been overrun with the critters and now they must fight both the monsters from space and their other half, West Germany. A young woman pilot is killed amongst one of the many battles fought and the elite Unit 666, otherwise known as Schwarzesmarken, is down one member. The death lies in the hands of Theodor, who was careless in his responsibilities, and so as punishment, he is sent to assist a distress call with his superior, Irisdina. After they locate the source of the signal, they discover a downed pilot of West Germany who bears a striking resemblance to Theodor’s lost sister.
The series is part of the larger Muv Luv franchise and takes place in an alternate universe. This fast paced and action filled anime is filled with amazing voice acting and an interesting take on history. While the story seems to stand on its own, previous knowledge of the Muv Luv universe will benefit those watching much more. The story moves quite quickly and may take a while to fully understand what exactly is happening.
There we have it! The top cut so far. While Bubuki Buranki, Dimension W, and Gundam: Thunderbolt seem to be the frontrunners of the Winter 2016 season, those who are in the mood for something a little more light-hearted aren’t forgotten. Koukaku no Pandora and Phantasy Star Online 2 are nice shows that make everyone watching smile. The season has just begun so look forward to much more!