Another anime season has rolled in and while there are still a few titles left to get rolling the Summer season has already proven beyond a doubt to be a boon for fans of fantasy. For those who find fantasy a little harder to take, they must be scratching their heads in search of anime to watch this season but for me the difficulty is in deciding what to prioritise for my watch list. It has been a long time since I’ve felt so spoiled for choice.
So what is good this season for fantasy viewers other than the sheer number of anime?
Starting with the non-isekai stories we’ve got the ridiculously cute ‘If It’s For My Daughter I’d Even Defeat a Demon Lord‘. This one is looking to have more of a slice of life focus within a fairly generic fantasy setting. For me this one is one that I’ve enjoyed the first episode of but I’m still on the fence overall. That slice of life aspect isn’t exactly my favourite and anime about cute kids only have about a 50/50 hit rate for me particularly if they spiral into the overly cutesy. Still, this one gave us a fairly solid opening act and set up an adorable father/daughter dynamic and there’s plenty of potential for it.
For something a little bit different, we’ve got the odd-couple detective team being set up in an alternative reality version of Earth with ‘Cop Craft’. This one had a bit of a shakier start but for those who are into gritty detectives and like the idea of the grizzled and jaded detective teaming up with a fairly clueless fairy girl who is apparently handy with a sword then there is some fun to be had. Not to mention at least this one gets us out of that generic pseudo-medieval setting that so many fantasy stories default to.
For magical girls and giant robots simultaneously there is the visual spectacle of ‘Granbelm’ which may or may not be setting up yet another magical girl death match. As usual we have clueless protagonist suddenly finding themselves in the midst of the battle and when push comes to shove turns out to have super magic robot powers but there’s actually some potential here for this one to end up being alright. I guess it depends on where it goes next but the first episode sure got my attention.
Then we have something that I really haven’t figured out if it is supposed to be fantasy or horror (not sure whether it has figured it out yet either) with ‘The One’s Within‘. For now I’m on the fence about it but again there’s plenty of room for growth in the story and any premiere that can mix giant pandas with ghosts certainly gets a second episode to at least try to explain itself.
However even the big hitters like ‘Dr Stone‘ and ‘Fire Force‘ have trappings of fantasy about their premises and ‘Astra Lost in Space’, while technically sci-fi really just seems like a fantastic voyage set in space. ‘Demon Slayer‘ is ongoing as is ‘Fruits Basket‘ and both of these integrate fantastic and supernatural elements into real world settings fairly seamlessly for an enjoyable watch for those who didn’t pick them up during Spring.
And of course we still have the return of ‘DanMachi’ (Is It Wrong To Try To Pick Up Girls in A Dungeon) to look forward to. Believe me, I’m looking forward to that.
Oh, and I didn’t mention ‘To The Abandoned Sacred Beasts‘ which has actually had a really solid opening two episodes and is looking at being up in my favourites for the season.
There’s others but then we turn our attention to the isekai fest that has begun this season. Hot on the tail of ‘The Rising of the Shield Hero‘ and ‘Kenja no Mago‘, this season has a plethora of protagonists being wrested from their everyday lives and thrown into fantasy land where they inevitably end up as over powered juggernauts. For those over the usual isekai trappings this will be met with a groans however for those who find the standard tale of unlikely protagonist in magic land, this is certainly a season to celebrate.
The bottom of the barrel so far seems to be ‘Demon Lord Retry‘. While there’s certainly room for growth here it certainly delivered the least inspired opening episode of the bunch and left me wondering if it intended to actually do anything that would even make it stand out. Then the second episode aired and I realised the tone they were going for with the anime and between the butt spanking and other poor attempts at humour this one is the one I feel I’m most likely going to drop of the three isekai I’ve picked up so far. On the other hand, the main character isn’t a high schooler so at least points for the non-generic isekai protagonist, now if only they’d make him interesting.
The second isekai I’ve got on my list this season is ‘Arifureta’. Now, I loved the first light novel in this series. I devoured it almost over-night because I was drawn in and couldn’t stop reading. I was kind of excited about it getting an adaptation and then I watched the first episode. While Arifureta can certainly get better given the source material they are working from, that was a really uninspiring first episode and one that feels like the people making the anime missed what was appealing about the source in the first place. Still, it isn’t as though it was actually bad, it was just that it kind of felt like they were just trying to skip over all the set up in order to have an edgy opening and in the process shot their own story in the foot.
However, the isekai that has so far got me most interested in the anime is ‘Isekai Cheat Magician’ which again gave us a fairly generic set up kind of episode but managed to give off the comforting vibe of a story that knows what it is trying to be and is happy to deliver a reasonable job of it. As the added bonus here we have not one but two characters carried off to magic land however the rest plays out as expected with them getting into trouble almost immediately, getting rescued, joining up to be adventurers and then learning they both have crazy strong magic power.
So yes, the Summer 2019 anime season is shaping up to be an excellent one for those who enjoy fantasy. I haven’t tried everything and I know there’s still a handful of shows to start so I’d love to know what your favourite fantasy titles for the season are and which ones you think will end well.