Anime roundup 7/2/2014: Show Your Work

Well! With two series we’ve been following this season complete and the other delayed this week, there are no new simulcast episodes to discuss. But there is a great deal of interest out there right now in getting lists of works that are eligible for next year’s Hugos.

So here are four shows you should check out if you want to be an informed Hugo nominator next year. Only one of these is a shoo-in for my nominating ballot, but all four are solid enough and widely acclaimed enough to recommend that you take a look. I’ll give you a link to my weekly discussion posts for each show, which include notes on cultural and cross-medium references when they become essential to understand what’s going on, and links to all the licensed streams I know of.

Bouei-bu Cute High Earth Defense Club LOVE! At the outset, it was easy to describe: a Sailor Moon parody, only with an all-guy team! But Cute High grew far beyond that to become a celebration of friendship and love for one’s fellow humans that most magical-girl shows can only dream of being.

Highlights include an outstanding metaphor for depression, an examination of what makes men respect and admire other men, and, for the finale, a message about the creative industries that no fan can disagree with, all delivered with a razor-sharp, self-aware comic wit.

Weekly discussion posts

International streams: Crunchyroll (worldwide except Asia); FUNimation (US, Canada); AnimeLab (Australia, New Zealand); Viewster (US, UK, Ireland, Scandinavia, Spain, France, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, Australia, New Zealand)

Yona Yona of the Dawn Like swords and sorcery, but sick of fantasy worlds based on the same old medieval European tropes? Yona of the Dawn‘s setting is essentially Korea in the AD 400s or so. After Princess Yona’s cousin kills her father, the king, Yona flees the palace and finds her way into a prophecy about bringing together the descendants of the dragon warriors sworn to protect the kingdom.

As Yona follows her quest and develops from a spoiled brat into a warrior, though, she learns that not all is as it seemed when she lived in the palace. Her father may not have been the harmless, good-natured bureaucrat so many people remember him as, and the usurper may actually be the ruler that the kingdom truly needs…

Weekly discussion posts

International stream: Crunchyroll (Worldwide except Asia)

Death-Parade Death Parade – In the afterlife, souls are paired up to play a game, through which their personalities are fully revealed. Sometimes the game is lighthearted; more often, it’s dark and brutal.

Into this system steps the Dark-Haired Woman, a soul stuck in the first stage of the afterlife because she couldn’t be properly judged. At first, she simply serves as an assistant and observes, but in time she comes to realize that something is wrong with the entire system and starts trying to change it.

Weekly discussion posts

International streams: FUNimation (US, Canada); AnimeLab (Australia, New Zealand); Viewster (UK, Ireland)

JoJo-Stardust JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stardust Crusaders – A good old-fashioned romp of an action series with a multi-ethnic team of manly men travelling to exotic lands and getting into scenery-destroying psychic brawls with evil manly men. And occasionally women. And a few animals, and, in one case, a seemingly inanimate object.

What makes this great is the level of creativity that keeps you (and the heroes) guessing about what off-the-wall power they will face next, coupled with a macho level so high it’s absurd and the author’s love of international tourism. In between slugfests, the action may stop entirely for a minute so that the narrator can expound on topics like the natural wonders of the Red Sea or the mechanics of haggling with a street vendor in Karachi.

Stardust Crusaders builds on two earlier story arcs, but never fear, the first couple episodes will get you up to speed.

Weekly discussion posts

International stream: Crunchyroll (Worldwide except Japan)

Finally, for completists who want to know about everything, here are links to the posts with all the sfnal simulcast premieres and streaming links so far:

Happy viewing! And if you still haven’t found that perfect award-worthy show, remember that we’re only halfway through the year.

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