The last couple of weeks have seen a colourful blizzard of freshly inked anime storm across our screens. For those of you who feel a bit overwhelmed by the sheer volume of fall releases, we’ve put together a compact roundup of the most promising storylines from the most outlandishly complex fantasy adventures to the more down-to-earth world of high-school romance.
The Fighting Librarians (Tatakau Shisyo) – The Book of Bantorra (8/10)
We kick off with The Fighting Librarians (Tatakau Shisyo) – The Book of Bantorra; the librarians in the title are not fighting to retrieve overdue tomes but instead use their super powers to protect magical stone tablets that contain the memories of deceased people. Lead by the voluptuous and rather bloodthirsty Hamyuts Meseta they are fighting a sinister cult called Shindeki Church who seem to preach the rather disturbing doctrine that men are not created equal and that ascent to heaven can only be achieved by indulging your own appetites to excess. While the latter debauched tenant of faith is rather attractive, their treatment of those who they consider to be lesser beings is pretty appalling. They appear to have enslaved an army of people and brainwashed them into believing they are less than human, referring to these slaves as “meats.” If this wasn’t enough some meats have also had bombs surgically implanted in them and are hell bent on killing Hamyuts Meseta. While the librarians are fighting to free the meats, it’s not their first priority and conflict about this issue among their ranks appears to rankle. The difficult moral issues involved are sure to make good fodder for this first season’s viewing. The downside is that we are plunged directly into the complex action from the get-go and if you’re not paying close attention, you’ll easily lose the thread of the storyline.
Darker Than Black (9/10)
If you don’t mind catching a story halfway through then we recommend the second season of Darker Than Black. Like Bantorra, the anime is set in an alternative reality where some people possess special powers, in this case psychic abilities which render the user devoid of normal human emotion. This season introduces two new characters: Russian twins Suou and Shion Pavlichenko who have been forced by their father to live separate lives in the same house since Shion gained his supernatural powers two years previously. When some sinister characters invade their house, Suou flees right into the middle of a breathtaking psychic fight complete with Matrix style moves. Starting off slow, describing Suou’s everyday existence in charming detail, we are lulled into a false sense of security which is blown apart along with Suou’s pet cat during the final thrilling scene.
A Certain Scientific Railgun (To aru Kagaku no Railgun) (7/10)
Again about superpowers and not a sequel but a spin off from A Certain Magical Index comes A Certain Scientific Railgun (to aru Kagaku no Railgun). High school student Misaki Mikoto has the power to accelerate objects to railgun speed thus thwarting the nefarious plans of various villains in an opening episode that manages to stay sugary sweet by including a trip to the crepe store with her school friends. A comic element is added in the form of fellow classmate Kuroko Shirai who hatches a plot to whisk Misaki off to a love hotel for an afternoon of girl on girl action.
Sasameki Koto (7/10)
While A Certain Scientific Railgun titillates the viewer with panty shots and the promise of girl-on-girl action, Sasameki Koto tries to tackle the issue of budding lesbian romance in a more grown up fashion. Beauty Ushio Kazama is looking so hard for a cute girl to fall in love with that she can’t see what’s right under her nose: the fact that her best friend Sumika Murasame is madly in love with her. If unrequited anguish is your thing then this first episode dishes up a none too healthy serving as Sumika watches while Ushio gets her heart broken by yet another girl. It’s all very poignant and sad and, unlike the other anime above, rates highly on realism but if you like me want to skip to the chase, you might want to pass this one over. If, however, you are a love struck lesbian teen then get stuck in.
Nyan Koi! (7/10)
Our last pick is another romance but with a comic twist; Nyan Koi! tells the story of hapless high school student Junpei, who manages to get cursed by a cat spirit when he accidentally knocks off the head of a cat statue. He is now able to understand what cats are saying and has to help 100 of their species if he’s to escape being transformed into a feline himself. Worse still Junpei is allergic to cats. Love interest comes in the form of his classmate Mizuno who is mad about cats but seemingly indifferent to Junpei. It’s a fun knock about comedy for those who are looking for some light relief and an easier to follow storyline.