As I have done in the past, but to a lesser extent now, I'll go ahead and mention recent anime highlights and give a brief synopsis.
CODE GEASS - LELOUCH OF THE REBELLION
I know I've mentioned this title previously, but it's just too good not to mention again. If you want some good old-fashioned angst a la Gundam Seed (+Destiny) then look no further. Lelouch gains the power of Geass, meaning he can issue a command to a person one time and it must be followed, even if the order is to kill themself. He decides to use his newfound ability to take down the Britannian Empire which has occupied and annexed Japan. With his intelligence and his trusted black knights and their mecha, he proves to be a formidable foe.
TOKYO MAJIN GAKUEN KENPUCHOU
A group of high school students suddenly discover that they each have special powers which they must use to defeat the undead, demons, and the humans controlling these creatures. Each of them have to learn to work together, as well as learn the full extent of their powers as well as what is happening to Tokyo as more and more demons start to invade.
This is a real peaceful, enjoyable work. It chronicles the lives of two students at a prestigious music school, Noda Megumi ("Nodame") and Chiaki Shinichi. Chiaki is a skilled musician but his passion is conducting. He gets paired up with the seemingly helpless and unorthodox Nodame and works hard to not only bring out her significant talent in piano, but also to refine his skills as he works toward his dream of studying conducting in Europe with his mentor. Lighthearted and very entertaining, those who like piano will be thrilled by this one I think.
VENUS VERSUS VIRUS
Lucia is a softspoken, serious girl with an eyepatch covering one eye whose job it is to hunt down Virus, demonic creatures who seek to consume the souls of humans. She is aided by Sumire, who while very meek normally has a hidden power that lets her match skills with the Virus. They are also aided by Lola, a little sister/mascot type who helps around the shop, and their guardian, an older man named Nahashi who seems to have quite a bit of experience fighting the Virus. But now a new threat is emerging, and the beings controlling the Virus are starting to show themselves.
This is a very easy-going, slice-of-life type anime that follows the lives of four girls attending an art school (hence the sketch), all of whom live in the Hidamari Apartments near the school. The main character here is Yuno, who seems a little more naive and innocent than the other girls, Sae, Hiro, and Miyako. The episodes so far cover different aspects of everyday life for them, such as working on art projects, fretting about their weight, and taking care of Yuno when she is sick. Also not to be missed is their teacher Yoshinoya-sensei, who is just as outlandish and wild and carefree as any other high school student might be. A whole lot of nothing happens here, but it's still relaxing and enjoyable nonetheless.
Ages ago, the Golden Tribe created the galaxy and the three tribes set to inhabit it: the Silver Tribe, the Bronze Tribe, and the Heroic Tribe. But then a fourth tribe, the Iron Tribe which are humans, wandered into this space and decided to make it their home as well. They are guided by a mystic woman named Deianeira, a princess, who is leading them to find the man which will help save their race. The man they are seeking, Age, is the last human on a remote world. He was raised by the Golden Tribe themselves, and has his own special powers because of this. It is his purpose to undergo twelve labors to help save the Iron Tribe and in the process save his own world from dying out. Of this bunch, Heroic Age probably has the most beautiful animation and is definitely worthwhile.
In a strange world that is populated by both people and youma (demons), there is also a third group of people named Claymores, so-called because of the large swords that they carry. The Claymores are women who have become half-youma themselves in order to gain the ability to defeat the youma. The humans live in fear not only of the youma but also the Claymores whom they regard as witches. The story focuses on one Claymore in particular, Clare, who is aided by a boy, Raki, whom she saved while on a job to kill a youma. Only two episodes are available so far, so the plot will probably start to take some interesting turns soon.
This is actually an OVA which just started being released. It is produced by BEETRAIN, so fans of their shows (Noir, .hack//Sign, Madlax, etc) will not be disappointed here. In the first episode, an uprising is occuring at the castle, and the dying king orders a few of his guards to take the princess, Alita, out of the castle secretly in order to get as far away as possible. As they escape through the forest, Alita's guards are killed and she runs into a strange woman named Falis who is a bounty hunter. More precisely, she runs into Falis and they fall off of a cliff together. As they fall, though, they somehow switch bodies, and now Alita (in Falis' body) enlists the help of Falis (Alita) to help save the kingdom from being overthrown.
HAYATE NO GOTOKU
Also known as Hayate the Combat Butler, this anime is based on the trials and travails of Hayate, who is very sturdy (due to training) but also very clumsy and unlucky. His good for nothing parents are unemployed and constantly leech money off of him. However, one Christmas they get an enormous loan from a loan shark, and run off leaving Hayate to take care of the loan for him - essentially selling him to them. Hayate, distraught, has to escape from the men and is moping around in the park when he notices a girl named Nagi Sanzenin. She looks wealthy and alone so he decides to kidnap her. But when he tells her that he "needs her" and "wants to take her away", his words are completely misunderstood. And from there, his troubles begin anew. This is probably one of my favorites of the new season so far, and the first two episodes went over very well at our anime club meeting last week. Very funny stuff, highly recommended.
EL CAZADOR DE LA BRUJA
This is another BEETRAIN title as well, and this one in particular is again directed by Koichi Mashimo with music by Yuki Kajiura. The basic premise revolves around a bounty hunter named Nadi, and her current prey, a younger girl named Ellis. Ellis seems to have some special abilities which were augmented in a laboratory when she was younger, but she has no memories of this. Nadi, while trying to collect the bounty herself, fights off the other men on her trail and eventually befriends Ellis, promising that she will take care of her until she finds out the truth of her past.
So basically, this is what you get if you combine Madlax and Noir. And I do not mind in the least.
When the shy and clumsy Haruka Amami tries out for an idol audition, little does she know that it's actually an audition to be an Idolmaster, meaning that she will become a mecha pilot. The first episode highlights her journey to Tokyo, on which she meets a fellow recruit Yukiho, who seems to be a bit narcoleptic but very friendly. As they wander around Tokyo looking for their dorm, an Idol is sent out to smash a meteor - a necessary task since the earth is surrounded by an asteroid belt representing the remnants of the moon. She then sees the Idol in action and ends up calling out to another Idol which is to become her own. In the midst of all this, they also encounter members of an opposing Idol team, who seek to waylay the new recruits.
It has some comedic moments but it looks to have its serious ones at some point as well.
Ikuto, unhappy with his father's treatment of him, decides to leave home and catches the first boat out of port. Of course it happens that they run into a storm and Ikuto is tossed overboard, eventually being washed ashore on a strange island, Airantou. This island seems to have a serious problem of its own - that is that all the men on the island somehow disappeared some twelve years earlier. All that are left are a matronly older woman, Obaba, and of course, dozens of teenage girls. So now, Ikuto has a serious problem himself - being pursued by hordes of young women each wanting to make him their own. All except the kindhearted Suzu, whom Obaba requests to take Ikuto in. The problem with that is that Suzu herself is under constant attack by the other girls who are now jealous of her. Ikuto himself is caught in the middle of everything, endlessly being tied up, dragged around, poisoned, and pursued. Obviously this is your typical harem comedy, but it's been somewhat enjoyable over the first two episodes so far.
DARKER THAN BLACK
Darker Than Black (thus far) chronicles the actions of a group of magicans, here called Contractors for the fact that after they use their special abilities they must complete another task to fulfill the contract made with the stars that grant their powers. Some of their abilities include controlling gravity, manipulating water, and heat vision, among others. The Contractors try to keep their existence secret by making their witnesses forget, but the police are hot on the trail of data stolen from a secret research lab. Hei and his group are trying to track down the data before their rivals do.
There's going to be a much bigger picture here at some point. Of interest is the giant wall called Hell's Gate which now isolates the city from the outside. No one seems to know its origin or purpose, though after its appearance the Contractors started to gain their abilities.
SHINING TEARS X WIND
With only one episode available so far, there's not a lot to go on, but I liked what I saw. At a typical high school, the students learn of a legend where a parallel world suddenly becomes accessible on rare occasions. One day a mysterious girl with cat ears, Mao, crosses over into their dimension searching for a long lost friend named Zero, but she inadvertently lets a beast through as well. The beast wreaks havoc on the high school, but she eventually captures him with the help of a couple of the students, Souma and Kureha. When the beast breaks free though, he breaks the mirror that Mao carries, the mirror which turns out to control dimensional travel. Thus they are all pulled into the parallel world, Ende Earth. Here, Souma and Kureha must escape from the beasts that pursue them there and somehow find a way back home.
This one looks like it'll be for all you Fushigi Yugi fans out there. It should be good.
Maybe that'll give some of you some ideas on stuff to watch? Let me know how it turns out! I am eagerly anticipating watching more of each of these.