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The Best New Anime of Winter 2018

The weather outside is frightful but the new crop of winter anime is oh-so-delightful. So instead of braving the elements or turning into a human popsicle or watching Chopped reruns for the 90 billionth time this winter, why not treat yourself to a heaping helping of new anime? On today’s episode of The Dan Cave, I’m going to help you separate the wheat from the sick zebras as we run down the best new anime you need to see this winter.

Kokkoku

What would you do if your nephew and your brother were kidnapped, and you only had 30 minutes to pay the ransom? Would you call the cops? Would you make a ton of Venmo requests to everyone on your contact list? In Juri Yukawa’s case, she grabs a knife and decides to take on the kidnappers by herself…until her grandfather uses a mysterious family heirloom to stop time in its tracks. With everything frozen in place except for Juri and her grandfather, they’re able to rescue their loved ones, but they quickly realize they aren’t the only ones with this power. Basically, it’s a lot like Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky’s excellent comic Sex Criminals but with a name that won’t get your computer flagged by IT or local police when you look it up at work! So thanks for that, Japan.

Fate/Extra: Last Encore

Who among us hasn’t woken up somewhere they didn’t recognize, filled with regret, disoriented, confused, and possibly naked? That’s right—not a single one of us! And in the case of Hakuno Kishinami in Fate/extra: Last Encore, he wakes up in a strange virtual world with little more than a mysterious companion who is basically just Fate’s mainstay Saber in a red dress. To make matters worse, he has to fight in a war to seize control of the Holy Grail. If I had a nickel for every time that happened to me, I would live forever because I already have a Holy Grail and one is all you need. Unfortunately for Hakuno, he might not be so lucky as more than 100 other Masters are going to do their damnedest to turn him into a fine red mist.

Beatless

When ultra-powerful AI surpasses human intelligence, a new breed of being is born: “beings that mankind is yet to fully comprehend made from materials far too advanced for human technology.” When a 17-year-old boy named Arato Endo has a chance encounter with one of these beings name Lacia, he must ask himself some important questions: Why were they created? What do they want? Are we human or are we dancer? Honestly, this sounds like it’s gonna be a weird little sci-fi love story between a teenager and a USB-nager. And you know what? I’m on board. That’s right, I’m super into ‘bot stuff. Considering Saudi Arabia already has a terrifying robot citizen of its own, maybe this anime isn’t too far off from reality.

Hakata Tonkotsu Ramens

While the name might make you think this is a lighthearted story about a struggling ramen shop owner’s quest to make the perfect bowl of noodles, you would be wrong. It’s about straight-up MURDER. In the Japanese city of Fukuoka, there is a sprawling criminal underworld. But something even more sinister lurks beneath the surface. According to an urban legend, there is a “killer or killers” stalking the streets, an assassin who murders other hitmen and assassins. And as private detective Sanji Banba soon discovers, there’s more than meets the eye: namely a conspiracy that could turn the criminal underworld on its head.

Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody

As I’ve learned from the comment section of previous videos, a lot of you really hate Sword Art Online. Like really hate it. But I refuse to believe you’re not fans of the “if you die in the game, you die in real life” trope, and neither does Japan, because they keeping make these stories. Death March is the story of 29-year-old programmer Suzuki Ichirou, who finds himself transported into a fantasy RPG where he is reborn as a 15-year-old named Satou. Thanks to a mysterious but powerful in-game ability, he winds up becoming a high-leveled adventurer after murdering a whole bunch of lizard men. While he wants to live a quiet life as an NPC and live out his days in peace, fate has other plans for him. Namely the return of a Demon King. I can’t tell you how many plans I’ve had derailed by the return of a demon king. I’ve had to reschedule brunches, missed happy hours, seen the best men and women of my generation drowned in their own blood. Just some major inconveniences.

Overlord II

And if you’re really desperate for an anime about an MMORPG gone awry that you know and love, Overlord is returning for a second season as Ainz Ooal Gown and the Floor Guardian gang encounter new faces, get in bloody battles, and deliver epic fantasy action. The original 2015 anime series followed the adventures of Momonga, a high level player who refused to log out of his favorite virtual reality MMORPG when it was shut down only to find he was still in the game, and now the NPCs had begun developing minds of their own. So with a group of loyal servants, he set out to become the Overlord of the game world and figure out exactly what went down.

Citrus

While it’s going to be hard to tell a better coming of age story than Lady Bird, Citrus looks like the perfect series for someone looking for a high school story full of drama, romance, and humor mined from deeply uncomfortable situations. When Yuzu Aihara’s mom remarries, she has to transfer to an ultra-conservative all-girls school where she struggles to fit in. To make matters worse, she keeps fighting with the stand-offish student council president Mei…who just so happens to be her new stepsister. But attraction is a weird thing and soon these two unlikely ladies find themselves falling in love with one another. So basically if you wanted the queer version of Marmalade Boy—and admit it, you probably do—this sounds like it’ll be right up your alley.

Junji Ito Collection

Japan’s greatest living writer of horror comics is getting his own anime series with Junji Ito Collection. The man behind creeptacular stories like Uzumaki, Gyo, and The Enigma of Amigara Fault will have stories from his Fragments of Horror book and his 11-volume horror manga collection adapted into what is looking like a creepy anthology series. There’s no word yet on which stories will make the cut but considering that Ito has dreamt up everything from murderous land-sharks to people burying themselves alive in a mountain, we’re in for a series of horrifying treats no matter what.

And those are the best new anime series you need to watch this winter. Which are you most excited to see? Let me know in the comments below and give me a yandere thumbs up while you’re there.

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Dan Casey is the senior editor of Nerdist and the author of books about Star Wars and the Avengers. Follow him on Twitter (@DanCasey).

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