A few months ago I decided to offer my opinion in an article covering what I thought was the best anime of the winter season. Enough people responded positively and the shows I picked delivered that I’ve decided to come back and do it again for the spring season as well.
This season has been a little rough on your boy. If you want to see everything I watched, you can see the full list here. The winter season was a snap to run through and pick out five gems. The spring season, however, has been a lot harder to find any bright spots. I have been awash in a sea of mediocrity, lacking any spark or imagination and littered with bad CGI. Still, I found a handful of shows that showed promise and am excited to share them with you.
As with last time, here are the rules:
1. Only new anime seasons/series currently available legally count. It’s fine if the show is an adaptation, but no previously released material that’s been re-edited for a TV run.
2. I’m limiting things to new shows or existing shows with little needed effort for the viewer to dive in. I get the love for longer running series, I love several of them myself, but I want to keep the threshold to get into these shows low in the hope that people will actually check out these shows and in turn spur them to check out more anime.
3. Any adaptations will be judged as their own merit. I’m judging the show, not the work that inspired the show.
Also before we begin, I have to throw out two quick mentions. These are two shows that can’t make the list due to each being an established franchises with loads of backstory and history to unpack for those that are unfamiliar with them, but are so important that the internet may explode in my face if I fail to talk about them:
Dragon Ball Super
I’m a huge Dragon Ball fan, and while Dragon Ball Super has been a bit of a mixed bag at points, the current Universal Tournament arc and the recent side stories proceeding it are awesome. Just looking at the Universe Seven team should enough to get old school fans hyped as the team features great characters from the entirety of Dragon Ball‘s run. Add in the fact that this tournament for the fate of the multiverse isn’t one on one matches but an all-out battle royal with loads of new places and faces and it is easy to see how Dragon Ball Super has freshened things up with a combination of the old and the new. If you have any affection for Dragon Ball at all, you need to give this a watch. Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation.
Attack On Titan
A few years ago Attack on Titan took the world by storm. The hit manga turned anime turned out a season that had everyone talking. Then the fervor died down as fans learned that that they would have to wait what turned out to be a four year gap between seasons, but now AOT is back and looking to reclaim it’s spot on top. I don’t know if the show can live up to the hype, but I know that damn well that loads of people will be giving it a look to find out. Watch on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Hulu.
Now onto the list proper!
5. GRANBLUE FANTASY: The Animation
I’m bending my own rules a bit, as the first two episodes of Granblue Fantasy (which is what I watched) were released together as a TV movie back in January. The series got pushed back to the spring so everything else will be brand new material so I’m giving the series a pass. Based on game of the same name (minus the “The Animation” part, obviously) Is being handled by A-1 pictures who know how to deliver when it comes to fantasy visuals.
The story so far follows Gran, a kid from a small remote village who has dreams to go out and explore the world like his long lost father. One day he runs into a mysterious girl named Lyria who has weird magic powers and is on the run from the Erste Empire. Gran takes it upon himself to help the girl and manages to get himself killed for his troubles. Oops! Luckily, Lyria is able to revive our hero, but now their lives are bound together. Gran must now go on the run with Lyria, which is fine by him as he was looking to go on an adventure anyways. The characters are stock for anybody who has played an RPG, but the beautiful visuals and intriguing possibilities of this world are enough for me to give it the fifth spot. You can find the series on Crunchyroll and Hulu.
4. KADO: The Right Answer
Here we have the more cerebral sci-fi entry for the season. Koujiro Shindou is a skilled negotiator working for the government in Japan. Shindou is the kind of guy that deep dives into a problem to find the greater motives behind what each party is trying to accomplish, while working to find a way that in which both side can come together to achieve those goals. It isn’t about winning, but finding balance.
However, when Shin is abducted by aliens and later appears at the top of the construct called a Kado, a being that hacks media devices around the world, he announce that he is Yaha-kui zaShunina.
Toei is the studio behind t, and I wish they would stick to using one method of animating the characters. Sometimes they use a more traditional 2D animation style, but a good portion is done using 3D animation tools that fans of things like RWBY will be able to spot right away. It leaves the product look slightly lazy and cheap, making the breaking point the writing. This show is either going to be a exciting and thought-provoking series about the nature of the human race or turn into pretentious clap-trap pretending to be “deep” without anything to say. Shindou is an interesting and fleshed out character, and the mystery behind who Yaha-kui zaShunina is and what he wants has peaked my interest. You can watch the series on Crunchyroll.
3. Alice & Zoroku
Imagine the power of a god in the hands of a little girl, limited only by her imagination and the food in her belly. Such is the case of the girl known as Sana. Having escaped from a dubious research facility with other children like her, Sana finds her way into the life of Zoroku, and good-hearted yet stern old man who is well past giving a crap and has no time for nonsense. This odd couple might not be what either side wants, but might be just what they need.
I am so glad I got to watch the second episode before writing this! The first episode has to get a lot of backstory out of the way, including a lackluster fight sequence and a CG case scene that was outright painful to watch. Still, the characters were there and they spurred me on. I loved that Zoroku wasn’t having any of this craziness and chewed Sana out for using her powers without thinking of the consequences like property damage and potential loss of life. It showed Sana’s lack of understanding about the real world and showed that even though he is a grump, Zoroku cares deeply for the welfare of others. By the second episode, J.C.Staff finally hit with the full dose of fun and whimsy I expected from the promotional material and seemed to be a much better gauge of the show’s overall tone. It’s a show with charm to spare and I dig it! Watch it on Crunchyroll.
2. Sakura Quest
Life has this nasty habit of not going as planned, and that is what Sakura Quest is all about. Yoshino Koharu is a recent college graduate whose job hunting is going nowhere fast. Though from the countryside, Yoshino decided to move to Tokyo to attend college and then find work as she sees Tokyo as the center of everything and wants to avoid getting tied down in the sticks. Desperate for work she takes what she thinks is a short term gig in the small town of Manoyama’s tourism department. Turns out she signed a year-long deal to be the town’s “Queen” and help drum up interest in visiting the village. She soon befriends four other young women who, for various reasons, don’t seem to have much going on in their lives, and they bond as they try to bring people to Manoyama.
Solid character work and animation are the backbone of this series. The people at P.A. Works are behind this and are known for being good at this sort of female led comedy-drama slice of life show. I haven’t seen their other works, Hanasaku Iroha and Shirobako, in this vein, but it’s been hard to find anything but praise for those shows which makes me even more hopeful that the misadventures of Yoshi and pals will be worth my time. The ladies due fall into easily identifiable anime “types”, but they never feel as if that is all they are. Watch on Crunchyroll and the episodes will soon be up on Funimation.
1. WorldEnd: What do you do at the end of the world? Are you busy? Will you save us?
Willem Kumesh is one of the last, if not the very last human left in the world. A great war ravaged the world and He was somehow put to sleep for five-hundred years. Everything and everyone he ever cared about is long gone. He now has taken to living in the edges and cracks of this new world. One day he meets a girl named Chtholly and helps guide her to a tower she wanted to visit. She then gives herself up to the authorities and asks that Willem forget about her. Confused though compliant, Willem goes about the rest of his day. Willem is soon badgered into taking a job managing a weapons warehouse. Willem has no interest in the military or fighting anymore, but the lure of easy money is enough for him to agree. Turns out these “weapons” are in fact young girls, and Chtholly is counted among them.
This show with the super long title has all the things I have been talking about, wit, charm, humor, good characterization and writing, and all that can be found in just the first episode! This team-up from studios Satelight and C2C is magic! It has excellent world building and sets up great mysteries to follow. What happened to Willem? What happened to the world? What is the deal with these girls? I don’t want to give anything away so just do yourself a favor and watch this show! Check it out on Crunchyroll.