Most Promising Anime of Winter 2014

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Early season viewing is quite a hectic occasion. We scramble each day to catch the latest episodes of each show and craft our opinions for each. As we round the third week of airing, we’re starting to get a full grasp of each show and what will truly be worth our time. Sure some dropped off within minutes of their first episode, while others took a few episodes to realize, “This just isn’t going anywhere.”

Unfortunately some viewers just can’t designate a whole lot of time to weed out the bad. For those people, this is a comprised list of the most promising anime of winter 2014. These are shows that have some element to them that is either unique or highly entertaining. Experiences that (based off of 3 episodes) probably should not be missed.

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Noragami
Yato is one of many gods that are present in our world.  While most have shrines we go to pray and give offerings, Yato is one still working to build his own shrine.  While searching for a lost cat, he’s shoved out of the path of a bus by a girl named Hiyori Iki.  Do to this selfless act, Yato ensures the well-being of her body but she did not escape unscathed.

Due to this occurence, her spirit has been semi severed from her body, allowing her spirit to slip out of her body at any random moment.  This is extremely dangerous according to Yato because at any time her link could be broken or she could be attacked by aggressive spirits.  Being a money seeking god, Yato agrees to help Iki for a measly 5 yen but doesn’t know exactly how.

The show has a ton of potential.  I can already see many routes it can explore and most of them are promising.  I really enjoy the idea of the regalia, which are human spirits turned into weapons, and their connection to their wielder.  They have also managed to really paint Yato as a useless god, which plays into a desire to root for his success.  On top of everything, the show has a nice bit of polish in the presentation that brings it all together.  Great music and art design.

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The Pilot’s Love Song
Kal-el Albus is a pilot in training that has entered an academy with his sister Ariel Albus.  The academy is stationed atop a floating island that is on its way to the “End of the Sky.”  Though the story isn’t as shallow as that.  Kal-el is actually the surviving prince of the previously overthrown rulers of the land who was said to be dead.  Due to this, he has a deep hatred for a priestess Nina Viento who who was involved in some way.

The world and story created so far is full of interesting elements.  While there’s a love being created between Kal-el and Claire, there’s also political elements in place like Kal-el’s past and how the world is currently ruled.  Over time answers are being sprinkled in that keep the interest going and a desire to see it unfold.

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Inari, Konkon, Koi Iroha
Inari Fushimi likes visiting her local shrine.  Often passing through on her way to school.  One day she stumbles upon a trapped and injured pup that she aids.  At school that day, she is given the opportunity to practice shooting baskets with a boy named Koji Tanbabashi of whom she has a crush on.  However due to her clumsiness, she accidentally embarrasses him in front of the class.  While she attempts later to make amends, she’s constantly avoided.  After she walks in on another girl possibly responding to a love letter, Inari runs to the shrine in a deep state of depression.

At the shrine, she’s lured into an inner building by a pair of white foxes.  There she meets Uka, the shrine deity that grants her wish as a ‘thank you’ for saving her familiar (the pup).  Without thinking it through, Inari asks to be the girl that she seen earlier with Koji.  This leads to events that proved Koji actually liked Inari which leads her back to Uka to request to be changed back.  Uka is unable to grant a second wish, but instead gives Inari a portion of her essence so that she can transform into any human.

This is easily turning out to be my favorite show of the season.  It’s not particularly deep of a story, but rather a set of good elements that are well crafted.  It doesn’t try too hard, it feeds you just enough to keep you intrigued, and it delivers it all in a heartwarming package.  The characters are lovable and the situations are rich.  I can’t recommend it enough.

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World Conquest Zvezda Plot
Moving on to the more silly side of this list.  Runaway boy Asuta Jimon finds himself in the middle of a military lock-down.  Avoiding military caravans, he bumps into a young girl named Kate Hoshimiya.  After reviving her with some last remaining food he has, she offers to tell him her plans for world domination.  All while riding on her training wheel equipped bicycle.

While he dismisses this, he soon finds himself in the aim of the military’s fire.  Only to be rescued by Kate and her entire organization called Zvezda.  Not only that, she has decided to recruit him in as an honorary member.  Whether he likes it or not, he’s about to become a part of Kate’s plans to take over the world.

This show gains its credits by being insane.  What’s not to like about a cute little girl becoming the mastermind behind an entire plot to take over the world?  This odd humor is only enhanced by what a great character she is, providing for some great dialog that only solidifies her position in the organization.  While it’s easily one of the most in danger of falling short in this season, it can’t help but also be in running for the best of the season.  We’ll have to wait and see.

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Wizard Barristers: Benmashi Cecil
In a not so distant future, humankind lives side by side with wizards.  While police still uphold the law, wizards are taken to a special court where their fate is decided.  Magic is strictly forbidden unless certain situations are applied.  That said, there is also a heavy discrimination and fear of magic, so often people are wrongfully accused.  That’s where the Wizard Barristers come into play.

Cecile Sudo is the youngest Wizard Barrister to date, and lands a case on her first day (before even getting into work).  She’s an incredibly skilled wizard with capabilities far exceeding most.  Although this often leads her into trouble since, as mentioned, magic is highly feared.

Wizard Barristers gets high marks for its production value.  There’s no doubting that the visual work put into this show has garnered it some attention.  High action, colorful art style, and fairly clever writing.  I’m really enjoying the world they have created as well, a sort of Witch Hunter Robin feel.  It’s also got an interesting concept that hasn’t really been explored yet.  Wizard lawyer?  Very different.

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Tonari no Seki-kun: The Master of Killing Time
Luckily since this show is a short then it won’t take much of your time. It centers around a classroom where Rumi Yokoi sits next to a boy named Toshinari Seki. As the name suggests, Seki is a master of killing time. During class he does the craziest things at his desk to pass time, all the while Yokoi look on in horror and panic.

The show is simply great for one reason, great writing and voicing. Just watching Yokoi’s priceless responses to Seki’s crazy concoctions. At first, I thought this show would be about Seki’s weird creations, but I quickly realized that Yokoi was the star here.  Best of all, it’s one of the few shorts that is perfect as a short.  I don’t crave more, but rather enjoy each episode of what it does.

That wraps up the list. It’s quite a chore to break down the 30+ new shows, but these are what has my interest.  If you have a show that didn’t make the cut, let us know in the comments below. We’re always open to possible reasons why you like a show!  Stay tuned for our regular updates on episode impressions as well as reviews of each series.

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Co-Founder of OtakuSpirit.com and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 800 shows. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Once a week, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.