Although there had been rumors in fan circles due to Amazon not announcing any new licenses for the Winter 2018 season, Amazon officially confirmed they were ending their Anime Strike service, and now Amazon Prime subscribers can reap the benefit of its death.
Often derided by fans for the necessary add-on channel fee on top of paying for Amazon Prime Video, most didn't expect the service to actually end it run so soon after only being out for a year without experimenting too much.
Regardless of why the service ended, it had a pretty good run in terms of exclusive series on the platform. Some of the last year's greatest anime were overlooked because of the barriers to entry and poor reception of the service by fans, but now these series are all available to those who already subscribe to Amazon Prime.
CG animation has had a rough transitional period in anime as the technology hasn't quite caught up with the demands of the medium, but Land of the Lustrous helps it take huge strides forward. Eye-catching in more ways than one, this series leads the pack of former exclusives for its splendidly animated action scenes, well-designed characters, and strong emotional resonance.
The series, originally created by Hariko Ichikawa, follows Phosphophyllite, a jewel person living in a world of jewel people trying to find where they belong in the world. Phos has it rough since they were tasked with creating an encyclopedia while the jewel people find themselves at war with a race that wants to exploit their monetary value. Phos themself is weaker than other jewels, often fragile, and breaks apart amidst struggle, which makes this undertaking far more treacherous.
Ken Akamatsu's Negima! Magister Negi Magi went on to great success during its run from 2003 to 2012. A good follow-up to his previous work, Love Hina, Negima! added a healthy dose of great action writing to his already proficient knowledge of the romance harem subgenre of anime.
UQ Holder! is a sequel series set decades after the end of the original and follows the grandson of the original's protagonist, Negi Springfield. The twist here is that he's made into a vampire by a character from Negima! and joins an organization of other immortals who solve problems. As Tota tries to learn more about his grandfather, he finds himself in increasingly punishing situations, but makes a lot of friends along the way.
As the new series by Gantz author Hiroya Oku, Inuyashiki: Last Hero had quite a hill to climb. Gantz is an outlandish series full of violence, sexual imagery, and one of the most unique science fiction climaxes in all of anime. So how exactly do you follow a series like that? By maintaining that same level of ridiculousness, but turning back the dial just a little bit.
Inuyashiki: Last Hero follows the elderly Inuyashiki Ichiro, a friendless and lonely individual who gets caught in a mysterious explosion. When he wakes up, he realizes he now has an ultra-powerful mechanical body and decides to use his newfound power to protect others. He soon finds, however, than another individual shared the same fate, but has chosen to use his power to kill.
By paring the events down to only two important individual Inuyashiki is, literally, laser-focused on its core story. In the end it's a battle between two ideologies, and how two individuals could view life with vastly different age perspectives. Also helps that it's well animated and properly uses CG during action scenes.
A passing glance at Made in Abyss paints it like some sort of children's fantasy adventure. Extremely cute character designs in a show where two kids explore a mysterious world? At surface level this would be correct. But diving into its titular abyss leads to a deeper, daunting, and absolutely tragic story where two children willingly push themselves further into damnation.
The series follows follows a young orphan girl named Rico who lives in a town on the edge of the Abyss, an enormous, unexplored pit and underground maze. It's full of hidden relics and treasures humans have yet to discover, but it also carries a harsh danger. The further people travel into the abyss, the more likely they will succumb to a terrible sickness called the "Curse of the Abyss" on their return trip.
On the way down she meets a young half-boy, half-robot named Reg, and he decides to go with her on her journey. Pushed on by a note left by her mother to meet her at the bottom of the Abyss, Rico decides to plunge down regardless of the danger that awaits her with the knowledge that she will most likely never return.
In a medium packed with more offerings each season, a fan's backlog could get stacked with tons of series that they'll never quite get to. In those cases, sometimes you want a succinct and fun series full of well-animated fights and cute girls. While Armed Girls' Machiavellism is not the deepest series on this list, it is by far one of the most entertaining and breezy to get through between binges other longer shows.
This 13-episode series has a complete tale that follows the story of Nomura, a student expelled from his last school after getting in a huge fight. He quickly learns that his new school is no better as the female students have oppressed the male ones with violence ever since their school became co-ed.
Needing the approval of its top five fighters, the "Supreme Five Swords," in order to leave the school, Nomura then embarks on a series of well-choreographed fights while making sure to stick just enough fan service in without going overboard.
An incredibly animated prequel to Astro Boy, Atom: The Beginning impresses from the very first second you watch. From the meticulously crafted OP, to the way every character has a distinct walking animation filling more of their personality, Atom: The Beginning puts a fresh spin on an old classic.
The show tells the story of Dr. Tenma (who originally wants to create a god) and Dr. Ochanomizu (who just wants to create a friend) before the creation of Astro Boy. The two young prodigies find in each other a drive to create and eventually bring the robot, A106, to life. But as the two find out, A106 is far more complicated than they first thought as the series explores themes of growth and the complications of artificial intelligence.
Nominated for two of our Golden Issue Awards categories for Best Shonen Series and Best Anime Fight Scene, Re:Creators has earned all of its accolades. In a medium that has recently been experimenting with long form meta-narratives, Re:Creators imagines a world where anime characters meet their creators.
But beyond this seemingly simple premise lies a tale that questions everything from the relationship between art and its author, the impressions people leave after death, popularity and how it drives a narrative, and the nature of free will in a universe full of infinite probabilities.
It's a series that imagines how Evangelion's Shinji would react to Cardcaptor Sakura, and how their ideologies on heroism and war would clash when push came to shove. Not only is it a great series to watch on its own, it's doubly fantastic for anime fans who have explored the deeper aspects of the medium.