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Winter is the coldest, desolate part of the year but it doesn't have to be devoid of entertainment and art. Thankfully, the winter anime season is in full swing with a lot of the shows already 4 episodes in and thus, a third of the way through their run-times. There were a number of solid fantasy series coming out in 2014 and 2015 for fans to chew their teeth on, and this 2016 winter season gives us our first batch and look to see how this year will be for fantasy anime.
1. Hai to Gensou no Grimgar
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 2016 - Mar 2016
Grimgar is the story of Amnesiac's who wake up in a strange fantasy world. In this world, they have to fight to survive and pay for life's basic necessities. And although the world around them bears a similarity to many a RPG, it is definitely dissimilar in terms of the level of ease. The group must struggle, use tactics and constant teamwork merely to beat one goblin at first, and build their skills from there. As they develop, they face more challenges and learn more about each other along the way.
Grimgar is doing a lot this season to impress people. It's being universally recognized for it's beautiful background art and it's strong visuals and animation. The show is great at not only fight animation, but also how people casually move during a conversation. This is great because characters being still in conversations has been a trend for a long time coming, and it feels like Grimgar is giving a sense of life in every moment with its dedication to fluid movement.
The story has a deliberate, slow-paced feel to it which almost makes this feel like a Slice of life/Fantasy hybrid. Now some like this style,and some don't want anything to do with it, but It should be said that there's heavy foreshadowing in the beginning which suggest this series may take a darker tone and if anything, the episodes have a bit of a sober and somber air to them. It's a unique take and a unique feel for it's genre, which has made an impression on some of it's fans. It has a cast of characters that all feel very distinct from one another and add to the group as a whole, many of which have some very strong seiyuu performances to back them up. Grimgar is a unique and atypical take on the genre, which some are saying makes it a stand out for this season.
2. Luck and Logic
- Episodes: Unknown
- Aired: Jan 9 2016 to ?
Luck and Logic is based on a card game where beings from another plane of existence are seeking to transgress upon the human world. To thwart this a group of 'logicalists' which worked under the umbrella of another group called ALCA, who are specifically charged with putting a stop to such supernatural incursions. Yoshichika Tsurugi is caught up in one of these attacks, lacking 'logic', effectively the power to do anything, he meets with the goddess Athena who gives him such logic.
Being based on a card game there's a lot of world-building that goes into the story as well as dealing with how the mechanics of the fighting work in-universe. This is something that the series seems to be taking on piece by piece, rather than wholesale info-dumping. It's usually a good tactics, but for adapting a card game where you need to be super familiar with the rules, it might not be the obvious choice to do it this way.
Luck and Logic is definitely boosted by some strong visuals and animation which many have been saying are the show's highlight. The series has had some interesting character development in the series, which often consists of teams of conflicting personalities who have to build and develop some teamwork together. Definitely try out this show, even if only for the colorful art style and nice visuals.
3. Fairy Tail Zero
- Episodes: Unknown
- Aired: Jan 2016 - ongoing
Fairy Tail Zero is a prequel to the long-running Manga/Anime series, Fairy Tail. The plot centers around the events which lead up to the founding of the eponymous Fairy Tail guild in the series. The plot focuses on a character named Mavis, who is being taken advantage of by her current guildmaster. That guild is eventually attacked and Mavis pulls the guildmasters daughter, Zera, to safety. Eventually a host of others become involved with Mavis on the island, which eventually leads to the guild's founding.
So Fairy Tail Zero is an adaptation of a one volume manga, and even if you watched Fairy Tail and didn't like it, there are some who say that the prequel is worth a shot. So if you've watched some fairy tail, maybe fell off it for a little bit, definitely give this show a try. Of course big fans of the series are going to want to watch this, but you don't need to be totally experienced with the Fairy Tail story, to go into the prequel anime.
So, whether you may have watched some fairy tail, no fairy tail or all of it, and it seems that, aside from a few references here and there, you aren't really missing out if you haven't seen all of the original Fairy Tail. Many people have commented on how likeable Mavis is as a MC and how they enjoyed the prominent themes of friendship in the manga, so definitely check out Zero even if you totally haven't boned up on the rest of the series.
4. Kono Subarashii Sekai ni Shukufuku wo!(KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!)
- Episodes: ?
- Aired: Jan 14, 2016 to ?
Kazuma Satou is your average shut-in who seems not to be a NEET, but only by virtue of being in high school. Unfortunately for him, he recently passed away saving someone from a traffic accident. Luckly, he meets a beautiful girl named Aqua in the afterlife. Aqua gives guidance to people who died before their time, and gives Satou a choice, heaven, or another world where he will set out to defeat the Demon King. Heaven, or every RPG fans dream? Satou has a difficult choice to make and Aqua might just come along for the ride.
KonoSuba is a comedy series that has some serious chops to back it up. It's not the type of series where all the humor is based on one concept or angle. Although a lot of it revolves around Aqua's character, it's still multi-faceted in a number of ways. The show also doesn't take itself too seriously and is also kind of poking fun of itself in a number of ways. It can be viewed as a sort of parody for the 'stuck in a video game' genre that's been emerging for the last 5 or so years. KonoSuba definitely puts a lot of focus in having its characters all come from a different comedic angle. So if you're into shows with a humorous bent, definitely checkout KonoSuba.
5. Reikenzan: Hoshikuzu-tachi no Utage
- Episodes: 12
- Aired: Jan 9,2016 to Mar 26, 2016
It's supposedly fated that a comet from the sky is supposed to bring a series of disasters. But while the comet is fated to land, supposedly, a child is fated to grow with immense talents. With these events seemingly on the horizon the family of the 'Reiken' clan, opens up the long closed process of finding new disciples. The main character, Ouriku, decides to take the challenge? Is he chosen by fate? Only the examination can reveal.
One of the more interesting things about Reikenzan is that it's based off of Manhua, which is essentially manga that comes from China. And that is definitely significant because, coming from a chinese source material, it definitely just feels a little different than the type of story telling we see in Japan. There's also a lot of cultural references dealing with China throughout the show, so it's definitely unique in regards in comparison to a lot of other anime.
Now unfortunately Reikenzan is having some subbing issues and none of the major US groups like FUNimation or Crunchyroll have picked it up. Overall, Reikenzan is worth checking out even based on the fact that it's Manhua adaptation alone. It's fun to see anime adopting works from other places in Asia. As for the quality of the series, it's something we won't be able to fully ascertain until the end but I encourage you to look into it and see if you feel like going along for the ride.
We hope you enjoyed our preview of the series, There's a lot to go around this season so if you're interested at all in a show, just dive right in! Don't over think it, just go for it and it could become something you really enjoy and if not, at least you tried it! There's definitely something for everyone here in this list, and I hope you'll enjoy this crop of seasonal fantasy anime!