5 Ecchi/Harem Anime for Winter 2016 - Battles, Phantoms, and Friendship!

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As with any other season, we can expect plenty of Harem brilliance from Winter 2016. With so many different kinds of adaptations about, from light novels, visual novels and manga, it’s great to see the variety in harem shows that we have today, with options available for those who want plot, action, or just cute girls.

This season we’ve seen less focus on ecchi shows and more on story driven series such as Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm and Gate, as well as fantasy action shows like Saijaku no Bahamut and Musaigen no Phantom World. Don’t think this means a drop in fan service though, and be assured that they all have their own way of providing adequately in that department.

Today we’re taking a look at the five primarily harem based shows of Winter 2016, and giving you a little a look at what you can expect from each of them. So read on for a glimpse of cute girl goodness.

1. Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm (Aokana: Four Rhythm Across the Blue)

ao no kanata no four rhythm img
  • Episodes: 4
  • Aired: January 12th 2016 - March 29th 2016

After the discovery of anti-gravity particles, fascinating new technologies were made possible, such as Anti-Gravity Shoes, allowing the wearer to fly through the skies like a bird. In the Four Islands Archipelago, these shoes have become quite common, with even high schoolers using them to get to and from school. Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm focuses on Asuka Kurashina, a new transfer student at Kunahama Academy whose knowledge of Grav-Shoes is non-existent. After foolishly accepting a Flying Circus match request, Kurashina decides she wants to know more about the flight based sport, and joins the Flying Circus club.

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm’s focus isn’t around the girls, or even the male protagonist, but rather on the Flying Circus sport. We often seen harem shows with a lack of focus, so it’s nice to see some direction in the plot, although with the focus on Flying Circus, romantic developments have been a bit neglected so far. Adapted from a visual novel, the story is fairly dialogue heavy, and broken up by Flying Circus matches, which are actually one of the most enjoyable parts of the show and very nicely animated.

Ao no Kanata no Four Rhythm has some very cute heroines, who are significantly improved by the addition of skin tight sportswear. But as largely a slice-of-life anime with a fairly slow story, this is a show that I would primarily recommend to those who like cute girls that do a lot of talking. Oh, and flying.

ao no kanata no four rhythm

Anime PV public Ryota Osaka and Megumi Ogata et al. Additional cast "Four rhythm of Beyond the Blue" is also #Four Rhythm Across the Blue #Japanese Anime


2. Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakeri - Enryuu-hen

Gate Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakeri - Enryuu-hen dvd
  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 9th 2016 - March 26th 2016

After a Gate to a parallel world opens up in Ginza Tokyo, hordes of soldiers and monsters storm though in an attempt to take over the city, only to find that the Japan Ground-Self Defence Force with their machine guns and helicopters have no trouble dealing with a bunch of men with swords. Not long after, Japan sends JSDF troops through the Gate to scout out the new lands on the other side, finding a primitive world of fantasy. Youji Itami is one of those troops, one who is lucky enough to befriend an elf, a mage and a demigoddess.

Gate: Jieitai Kanochi nite, Kaku Tatakeri is the second season/cour of the Gate anime, adapting the Enryuu (Fire Dragon) and Douran arcs. The new season sees the story start to take a darker route, going from learning about the Special Region and its inhabitants, to the difficulties that lie in diplomacy and negotiation. Gate does a very good job of balancing the fresh and interesting storyline with cute girls, a large number of people apparently watching almost exclusively for gothic lolita Rory Mercury. Still produced by A-1 pictures, although not a show known for its art or animation you can expect the same excellent production quality as seen in the previous season.

If you’re going to give Gate a shot, be sure to watch the previous season first, and after the fair amount of praise it received you have little reason not to. Sometimes the harem in Gate can feel a little out of place, with the plot being the main focus of the series, but with plenty of interesting new girls being introduced in the second cour, who’s really complaining?

gate 2nd season enryuu hen

TV Anime "at GATE (gate) Self-Defense Forces his land, thus Tatakaeri" second cool PV


3. Musaigen no Phantom World (Myriad Colors Phantom World)

musaigen no phantom world
  • Episodes: ?
  • Aired: Jan 7, 2016 to ?

A world where the phantoms and our own reality have become intertwined, after a new virus spread from a lab to the general populace, humans have gained the ability to perceive so called Phantoms. Alongside this development, some humans gained special powers, such as Haruhiko Ichijou’s ability to both summon and capture Phantoms. Now at schools like Hosea Academy, Phantom Hunter Clubs have formed, where those with special powers group up to take on troublesome Phantoms, and gain rewards such as rice and all you can eat buffet coupons. Haruhiko is one such Phantom Hunter.

Kyoto Animation's latest venture, Musaigen no Phantom World is probably one of the prettiest shows this season, with silky smooth animation and stunning character designs that make you feel warm and fuzzy, a reminder of how far animation has come. It also does an excellent job of covering so many of the harem heroine bases, with the large chested girl, the cute shy girl, the cold kuudere girl, and the loli.

Musaigen no Phantom World is having a tough time at the moment, having to live up the expectations set by other recent KyoAni works such as Amagi Brilliant Park and Hibike Euphonium. But judging the show on its own merits, Phantom World has some excellent action, interesting stories, and a good selection of cute girls to choose from.

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TV Anime "Phantom World of Muirodorigen" PV first series


4. Saijaku no Bahamut (Undefeated Bahamut Chronicle)

saijaku muhai bahamut
  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 11th 2016 - March 28th 2016

Five years ago, the old Arcadia was overthrown by a single Drag-Knight, the Black Hero, and a new empire was formed. While running an errand, Lux Arcadia, former prince of the old empire, has gotten himself into a pickle involving the women’s baths and the new empire’s princess Lisesharte Atismata. Forced into a Drag-Knight duel, he soon proves his abilities as the “Weakest Undefeated” and acquires a following of beautiful girls. But with remnants of the old empire still rebelling, and the release of long imprisoned evils on the horizon, Lux has a lot on his plate.

Saijaku no Bahamut is the closest thing this season to your standard ecchi harem anime formula. With the tsundere princess Lisesharte making her debut in the first episode and challenging our protagonist to a duel, the show is very reminiscent of last season’s Asterisk War, only with a different setting. The Drag-Knights, although not the most original mechs, allow for some excellent action scenes, with some surprisingly great looking CG. In fact a cross between Infinite Stratos and Asterisk War would be a good way to sum up the general setup of the show so far.

With plenty of cute girls in skin-tight flight suits, Saijaku no Bahamut’s fan service levels are pretty high, with it being probably the most ecchi show of the season. Saijaku no Bahamut has a great mix of girls and action, so if you’re after something pretty, fun and easy to watch then Bahamut is a great choice.

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TV anime "weakest undefeated KamiSo machine dragon" PV 2nd


5. Shoujoutachi wa Koya wo Mezasu (Girls Beyond the Wasteland)

Girls Beyond the Wasteland dvd
  • Episodes: 12
  • Aired: January 7th 2016 - March 24th 2016

Buntarou Houjou is always busy, whether it’s school work, helping out others, or his part time job. Yet he lacks direction, with no clear motivation or plans for his future, with his writing ability seemingly his only notable talent. Sayuki Kuroda on the other hand knows exactly what she wants to do: create a bishoujo game to crush all other bishoujo games. But first she needs a development team, which of course includes a writer, so you can see where this is going.

Shoujoutachi wa Koya wo Mezasu is turning out to be a lot like last year’s Saenai Heroine no Sodatekata, only with a female otaku as the driving force, instead of our male protagonist. With the game’s development team assembled from students at the same high school, the plot appears to be focusing less on the bishoujo game itself, and more on the issues the various characters have with each other, and the motivations that are driving them to create the game. With some rivalries and budding romances cropping up, the way the character’s interact with each other is pleasantly varied, and leaves room for some drama and deeper plot events to show up later on in the series.

The harem itself is pretty varied though fairly stereotypical, you’d be hard pressed to not find at least one girl you like in the cast and the one other male character does a good job playing his part as amusing sidekick. All in all Shoujoutachi wa Koya wo Mezasu is a fairly predictable but relaxing show, where you can watch some pretty girls go about their business and maybe get some teen romance and drama along the way.

Girls Beyond the Wasteland wallpaper

TV Anime "girls aim in the wilderness" PV first series


Conclusion

It’s always great to see such variety in a season, particularly within the harem genre after the Asterisk Wars/Rakudai Kishi no Cavalry clash of Fall 2015. It’s clear that this season there is less focus on straight up fan service that shows like Monster Musume and To Love-Ru provide, and more on plot, drama and action.

But is that good or bad? Do you prefer your girls fighting and talking, or constantly falling out of their clothes? Let us know in the comments what you think of this season so far!

Kristian

Writer

Author: Kristian

British guy doing student things in Tokyo. Slice-of-life and moe anime are my speciality, though I think something good can be found in almost every show. Outside of anime I spend most of my time feeding on DotA 2 or studying Japanese in a quest to one day watch cute girls without subtitles.

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