It has been quite the year so far, and I don’t mean that in a good way. COVID-19 is still causing chaos, I (and perhaps you) have had my share of personal issues and losses, work has been a mess, and the election was one of the most stressful weeks of my life (I’m a Democrat and I’m not afraid to say it). And now I have to say, thank God for anime.
Normally, at the beginning of each season, I do an anticipated Top 3, unfortunately, due to all the things I just listed, I was not in a good mindset to be writing. All I wanted to do when I got home from work was let my brain become a noodle. Of course, I had other things like my darling fiancée, books, comics, and video games (600+ hours in Animal Crossing, baby), but my weekends were filled with my fantastical escape into binging all the new episodes of anime from the week. Finally, we are here at mid-season, the world isn’t by any means perfect, but it’s starting to feel a little better, and I’m ready to start telling people what I think they should watch again. So, without further ado…..
1. Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon (Hanyou no Yashahime: Sengoku Otogizoushi)
Yashahime is a sequel the 2000s anime series, Inuyasha, which was based on the manga written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi. The series is directed by Teruo Sato, written by Katsuyuki Sumisawa, and produced by Sunrise.
The series begins in Feudal Japan with half-demon twins and daughters of Sesshomaru, Towa and Setsuna. Due to a sudden forest fire, the two are separated and Towa is pulled through time to present-day Japan where she is found and raised by Souta Higurashi, Kagome’s brother. Ten years later, the portal through time is re-opened, and Towa is reunited with Setsuna, now a demon slayer with no memories of her past, and with Setsuna is Moroha, daughter of Inuyasha and Kagome. Towa is determined to get Setsuna’s memories back and return to her family in modern Japan, but it has also fallen on their shoulders to save feudal Japan from a great and ancient threat. So begins the journey of the 3 half-demon princesses.
If you liked Inuyasha, you are going to like Yashahime. If you didn’t watch Inuyasha, you should still go do that because it’s great, but also you don’t necessarily have to. The first episode of the series basically introduces everyone important from the original series and any side characters are introduced with a brief note on the screen for who they are, so it’s very easy to figure out and follow.
Yashahime: Princess Half-Demon is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
2. Akudama Drive
Akudama Drive is an anime original series directed by Tomohisa Taguchi, written by Norimitsu Kaihō and produced by Pierrot. It now has a manga adaptation, written by Rokurou Oogaki and published by Renta!
An unspecified amount of time ago, a great civil war broke out in Japan, leaving the country split into two regions Kansai and Kanto. While Kanto is prosperous and luxurious, even viewed as a holy place, Kansai is riddled with poverty and crime. The criminals of Kansai are known as “Akudama”. When 5 Akudama receive a mysterious million dollar job to free a 6th, an ordinary girl gets caught up in the mess. Now the group has a risky mission to pull off that the must complete or risk their heads getting literally blown up.
Akudama Drive is basically a Quentin Tarantino movie but it’s cyberpunk and an anime. The way all these characters are brought together, the action, the screen stills, it feels like such a modern rendition of 80s aesthetic and I have loved every second of it. The cyberpunk style, the characters, all of it is just so damn cool.
Akudama Drive is currently streaming on Funimation.
3. Jujutsu Kaisen
Jujutsu Kaisen debuted as a manga series in 2018, written by Gege Akutami published in Japanese by Shueisha, and published in English by Viz Media. The anime series is directed by Sunghoo Park, written by Hiroshi Seko, and produced by MAPPA.
Despite his athletic abilities, Yuuji Itadori would rather spend his time looking into baseless paranormal activity with his two senpais in the school Occult Club. This is perfect for Yuuji because it enables him to be part of a club and still visit his ailing grandfather in the hospital. Things change for Yuuji when he accidentally gives his clubmates a real cursed object, unleashing a powerful Curse (beings created from negative human emotions), Sukuna Ryoumen, The King of Curses. Cornered by other Curses trying to steal the item (which is Sukuna’s finger), Yuuji eats it. Now Yuuji must become a Jujutsu Sorcerer and help hunt down and consume the remaining fingers in order to rid the world of Sukuna’s curse for good.
The best way I can describe this show is if Parasyte -the maxim- and Naruto had a baby. That’s what this show is. It’s got a ton of your typical shounen action, but it has a lot of pretty dark spookiness going on too. Personally, as a horror and shounen fan, I absolutely love it and I recommend it to any fans of those genres.
Jujutsu Kaisen is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.