Fall is historically looked upon as a big deal in the world of American television (even though that tradition is slowly changing). Japan, however, doesn’t have that same tradition, history or yearly cycle. In the Far East, every quarter of the year is a fresh start and you’re never sure when the big shows are going to hit…or not.
It turns out that this fall features a pretty thin, weak field. For us in the U.S., perhaps it’s just as well, given the higher-than-average number of geek-friendly primetime show premieres that we have the good fortune to check out this year. Of course, there are at least a couple of things here that may be worth your viewing time.
My top tier this time around consists entirely of shows that break my self-imposed rule against reviewing sequels, prequels and directly derivative works (after all, if you liked the first one…), though I think I’m justified in this case. With that out of the way, here are the Unwinnable fall picks.
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Last Exile: Ginyoku no Fam (Fam, the Silver Wing) [Premiere: 10/7]
If you were to poll the otaku population for a list of series that could form a canon of must-watch television, I have to imagine that Last Exile would score itself a lot of votes. It had everything – including an immersive, steampunk sky pirate fantasy world that we were more than happy to get lost in for a while. So, the idea to cook up an original new story in that universe strikes me as nothing short of brilliant. If you’re going to watch only one anime this season, make it this one. The art and design alone make it worth your while to watch. You’ll be blown away.
In this new tale, female ace pirates Fam and Giselle get caught up in the complicated politics between kingdoms, and only their flying skill and luck can get them out of their predicament alive. They strike a grand bargain for rescuing a nation’s princesses: in exchange for the rescued hostages, they get the air navy’s flagship.
Fate/Zero [Premiere: 10/1]
I’m a little bit torn with this series. On the one hand, Type-Moon’s Fate/Stay Night was an instant classic as soon as it hit the airwaves. Just check out how
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many cosplayers don Saber’s outfit at any convention if you’re doubtful about its popularity and impact. On the other hand, the obvious prequel carries the same sort of problem that many prequels and historical productions face: you already know what happens. Don’t get me wrong, every reviewer of the novel absolutely loved it, and it’s a story that deserves its own full treatment.
Here’s the quick summary.
Every 10 years there is a war between 7 mages for the right to use the Holy Grail to make a wish come true. There can be only one winner, and the weapons they fight with are heroic souls who are summoned from history to do battle as the mages’ champions. This “Holy Grail War” is the one that took place before the events of Fate/Stay Night, so the period is around 1993 or so.
If you’re not like me, and you don’t really feel that knowing the ending spoils everything, then this series is also a must-see. Extra bonus points for you if you haven’t watched Fate/Stay Night yet and you decide to watch the prequel before the original.