A new season of anime is here! A bunch of first episodes have just started streaming on Funimation, and I have some thoughts. From the gaming mystery of Darwin’s Game to the action-fantasy of Plunderer, this season is packed with some awesome new series worth checking out. Here are my first impressions:
Sorcerous Stabber Orphen
First up! Sorcerous Stabber Orphen. Now, I actually never saw the original series, which is celebrating it’s 25th anniversary with this remake! So I was going into this pretty fresh, not knowing what to expect. But in the first few minutes, there’s a wild transformation and I was like, “Dragons??”
Oh daaaaaamn. I’m on board.”
In this episode, we see a sorcerer named Orphen, searching for his friend Azalie who disappeared five years ago after being transformed into a dragon.
As events unfold, we get a glimpse of Orphen’s past converging and repeating itself despite his attempts to run away from it. And we also see the kind of hijinks he gets up to, like marriage fraud, while trying to get back money he’s owed. I don’t blame you, man.
It didn’t take long to realize that even if I had no idea that this was a remake of a 25-year-old anime, this show is just… nostalgia city. Notes of the late ’90s could be felt from its pacing to the sound design. It’s like an echo of shows from that era resting just below a shiny, modern surface.
It honestly felt as though I should be watching this, in the present, but on Saturday morning with some cereal. Maybe it’s because I was sitting in bed with a plate of Oreos and milk while I watched it? Who knows?
But I really think it’s due to Studio DEEN and the director blending a fresh take with elements preserved from the original anime’s era. What I can also tell you is that this remake is actually a closer adaptation to the light novels.
So for fans of the original anime, there’s more detail than before, and for us new fans it’s a great way to experience it, because we’re seeing the entire story. Thus, begins a journey of hilarious antics, as well as some action that you can literally root for!
After hearing about the premise for this show early-on, I was so excited for this one and it did not disappoint.
This new anime comes from the creator of Heaven’s Lost Property, and to set the scene for you, everyone has a number on their body that counts… something about them.
This could be anything from how far you’ve walked, to how many times people said your food was good. But if that number hits zero, ominous hands come out of the ground and pull you down to the dreaded Abyss. That’s it. You’re done. Terrifying. But there is way more to this world, and especially this number system than meets the eye!
The first episode doesn’t hold back on how devastating this system is, or how much there is to discover here. We have an adorable and kind-hearted protagonist named Hina who, after losing her mother, finds herself on an important and emotional quest.
We learn about the system through her eyes, and while some of the people she meets are warm and welcoming, let me tell you there be villains afoot!
Every now and then you meet an anime villain who truly… makes you …so angry. I don’t think this guy is even going to be a major villain, but the show did a great job at making me not only want to challenge him to a star-stake myself, but also made me genuinely want learn more about how the counts really work so that I can personally protect Hina forever.
Hearing numbers and counts may make you think of shows like PSYCHO-PASS, but this is much more of a fantasy adventure with an incredibly intriguing twist. My emotions, curiosity and anticipation are high after the first episode… you’ll have to watch to see what I mean, and I absolutely recommend that you do.
I feel like, at this point in our anime watching lives, we should all know that if a mysterious game appears on your phone and people are telling you not to play it… just throw the whole phone away. Because if not, you’ll end up in Darwin’s Game.
If you loved shows like The Future Diary, Danganronpa: The Animation or King’s Game, This one is for you, my battle royale lovers. With a graphic start, this show lets us know from the jump that it is unafraid of violence and there is a 100% chance of insanity in the forecast.
The premise is a mobile game where once you enter, you have to play or die. You only survive by ending your opponent, or being the one at the end of the round with the least amount of damage. Each player gets a different Sigil, which is some sort of ability granting them an advantage in battle.
Plus, episode one was almost an hour long. So, not only do we see some major encounters off the bat, we also learn just enough about the world to really feel invested by the end. If you’re someone who follows the three-episode rule for a new series, this is basically that in one go.
I liked the chaotic nature of how opponents enter battle and the use of mobile phones to monitor progress throughout the game. Full disclosure, though. I am somebody who is genuinely, genuinely afraid of being chased. So, the tension and methodical pursuit in this first episode had me sweatin’. And I wasn’t mad at it. The show has a familiar battle royale flavor that fans of the genre will enjoy, but still feels purposeful in execution.
Next on our list of freshly launched shows is ID: INVADED. I present to you a sci-fi mystery in the most literal sense. I mean it. We’re talking about solving crimes literally from inside people’s minds.
We quickly meet Sakaido, who was a brilliant detective until his daughter was tragically killed and he set off for revenge. Now, he uses his skills to help police solve heinous crimes from his jail cell, and they use a system that allows him to enter a criminal’s ID well, a sort-of mindscape.
The storytelling here is non-linear and nuanced, and there’s a lot to unpack for fans who enjoy a more surreal journey. It’s the kind of show that’s worth watching through twice to catch small details and references you may have missed the first time around.
There’s also an incredible staff behind this production, with creators from other huge mind-bending or challenging anime like Fate/Zero, Garden of Sinners and Blood Lad to name a few.
If you enjoy a mystery and a challenge, or if you’ve just been waiting for more shows from this genre, ID: INVADED is right up your alley.
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