Hey all, and welcome back to Why It Works. For my last article, I sifted through Crunchyroll’s recent acquisitions and highlighted just a few of my own favorites – but as it turns out, Crunchyroll seems to be adding shows faster than I can actually write about them. So today we’re returning to the new catalog titles pile, as I celebrate even more of my favorite shows. We’ve got plenty of anime to get through, so let’s dive right in!
First on my list, Psycho-Pass is a crime procedural with serious social commentary bite, presenting a world where everyone’s “psycho-pass,” reflecting their inherent emotional/mental stability, is scanned at every bus stop and street corner. In this world, detectives work to hunt down “latent criminals,” those who possess the emotional temperament to potentially commit crimes, before they ever succeed. Detectives like Akane Tsunemori, with clear psycho-pass hues and strict orders, must work alongside violently hued “enforcers” to protect the peace.
Psycho-Pass succeeds perfectly well as a Minority Report-esque science fiction thriller, but is elevated through its piercing reflections on how individuals and society ought to interact, and the best way to create a stable world order. Partially written by Gen Urobuchi, the mastermind behind Madoka Magica, Fate/Zero, and a variety of other hits, his thoughtful reflections on utilitarianism and the human will are given stylish and bloody illustration through Psycho-Pass’s grim adventures. If you like Ghost in the Shell or Bladerunner, definitely give this one a try.
Continuing on the sci-fi train, Steins;Gate is a slow burner that eventually shifts from the idle adventures of one college’s maligned “future gadget” club to a pulse-pounding race against and across time, as our protagonist Okabe fights to secure a future for his friends. Steins;Gate is full of wild twists I’d be loathe to ruin, but I can say that the show’s mastery of everyday banter between friends means that it actually succeeds as a charming sitcom before even becoming a high-stakes thriller, and that it even manages to fit in one of the more iconic anime romances out there. Steins;Gate is overstuffed with riches, and well worth a watch.
Steering away from the evil science stuff, Crunchyroll also picked Yu Yu Hakusho, a ‘90s classic that’s certainly worth revisiting. All of the great character writing, inventive powers, and ambitious plotting that would make mangaka Yoshihiro Togashi’s Hunter x Hunter such a phenomenal production were honed throughout Yu Yu Hakusho, an action platform featuring one of the most iconic tournament arcs of all time. And on top of its original creator’s talents, Yu Yu Hakusho was also the proving ground for future greats like Akiyuki Shinbo, whose visual quirks would eventually help set the terms for studio SHAFT’s style sheet. Some old shounen properties haven’t really aged that well, but Yu Yu Hakusho is as punchy and iconic as ever.
Finally, let’s finish off with something a little lighter. Effective comedy is always a very subjective thing, but I have a lot of fondness for Good Luck Girl. Focused on the battle between Sakura Ichiko, a bratty rich girl born with infinite luck, and Mamiji, the god of poverty hoping to drain Sakura’s luckiness, the show is a foul-mouthed showdown between two characters who are almost equally terrible, but are very good at complimenting each other’s terribleness. In addition to offering snappy comedy centered on a pairing with wonderful chemistry, Good Luck Girl also makes the inspired choice of casting the often typecast Kana Hanazawa as not a mild-mannered love interest, but the loud and abrasive Sakura. If you’ve seen her performances as Hana in Prison School or Nadeko in Bakemonogatari, you should know that Hanazawa absolutely kills it when she gets a chance to be an unabashed delinquent. Her performance perfectly compliments Good Luck Girl’s general tone, making it easy to enjoy Sakura’s company while still kinda hating her.
Alright, I think we’re finally done! That’s it for my recommendations, but of course, I’ve only seen so much, and there are new shows arriving every week. I’ll try to keep an eye out for all you folks at home, and in the meanwhile, I hope you enjoy one or two of these fresh recommendations!