OVAnime: Spring 2019 Recommendations and Overview

By: Michael Smith

 

Spring has come at last and with it a new season of anime is in bloom. I mean you could spend time outside but what with all the pollen and the seemingly random changes in weather patterns who could bother? What a perfect time to stay indoors and watch some anime while the outside world punishes humanity for it’s numerous sins against nature. Luckily for all of you I am here once more to save you from the maddening doldrums and mediocrity that comes with every new slate of shows. I have sorted through all the stinking weeds to provide you with only the freshest bouquet of animated content.

As per usual, although I endeavor to cover as many shows as I possibly can, there will be some exceptions, especially going forward as I have less time to do these things. First, no kids shows or hentai for obvious reasons. Second, I will only be covering shows which have a legally and easily available method to watch, unless it’s a very good show. Finally, I will not be covering any OVAs or specials, a show has to put out more than 5 episodes a season to qualify. With all of the minutiae out of the way, let’s get started.

For reference, shows will appear in alphabetical order and times are in EST.

Shows not reviewed this season:

Carole & Tuesday: a music themed show currently stuck in Netflix jail, I might consider reviewing this in the followup if it’s good enough.

Continuing Series:

These are shows which premiered in an earlier season but are still airing during this season. Unless mentioned otherwise I have reviewed all of these shows in my Winter or Fall articles so these will mostly consist of brief updates. If I have something new to say they might get longer. Otherwise you may refer to my previous reviews which more or less still hold true for the following.

Black Clover:

Premiered: Fall 2017

Studio: Pierrot

Directed by: Tatsuya Yoshihara

Written by: Kazuyuki Fudeyasu

Ah yes the classic tournament arc, a staple of shonen anime since days of yore. Probably first popularized by Dragon Ball, the tournament arc serves both as a quick method to include a bunch of fights in a short time frame and also an excuse for the heroes to fight each other without too many hard feelings afterwards. They also tend to get repetitive and boring pretty quickly in my experience and this one seems to be following that standard. Otherwise Black Clover seems to be the same as it always was, the character are pretty flat and predictable, the action is occasionally impressive but mostly average, the comedy is lowbrow and devoid of mirth. To it’s credit at least, the show knows that everyone is just here to watch dumb magic fights and spends the majority of it’s time on those.

If you’re a fan of this stuff I guess you might enjoy it but at 80 episodes it’s hard to recommend catching up on if you’re not already a fan.

You can watch Black Clover Tuesdays at 6:25 am on Crunchyroll and VRV

Boruto: Naruto Next Generations:

Premiered: Spring 2017

Studio: Pierrot

Directed by: Noriyuki Abe

Written by: Ukyō Kodachi and Makoto Uezu

Still kind of just Naruto, did you watch Naruto? It was a show about Boruto’s dad, this is that show, but like, newer. There’s actually a lot more callbacks to that show than I would have figured so I’m not entirely sure how this show comes off for people who have no prior knowledge of the series but also they feel superfluous so maybe it’s not a problem. I really just think the Shonen action genre has evolved since the early days and Boruto is still stuck in the past in a lot of ways.

You can watch Boruto: Naruto Next Generations Sundays at 4:00 am on Animelab, Crunchyroll and VRV

Cardfight!! Vanguard (2018):

Premiered: Spring 2018

Studio: OLM, Inc.

Directed by: Itsuro Kawasaki

Written by: Masanao Akahoshi

One of the many, many, many anime shows designed to advertise a specific real world product, in this case a trading card game. If you’re familiar with literally any show of this type then you already know what to expect. Teenagers play children’s card games, but oh no, they’re real, or some such nonsense. Apparently people turn into the card’s in this show or something? Anyways CV is one of the longer running franchises, having been established in the early 10’s by a collaboration between Yu-Gi-Oh and Duel Masters veterans, and spawning multiple sequels and spin-offs (including Colorful Pastorale which was a very different type of show). This particular version is a reboot of the original series so if you’re interested in seeing what it’s all about this is probably a good place to start, if not, you won’t be missing much.

You can watch Cardfight!! Vanguard (2018) Saturdays at 8:40 am on Crunchyroll and VRV

Detective Conan (Case Closed):

Premiered: 1996

Studio: TMS Entertainment

Directed by: Yasuichiro Yamamoto Written by: Jun’ichi Ii’oka

The world’s longest detective anime is still going! It’s still easy enough to just jump in at a random point if you want to catch an episode or two every now and then. A few more years at we’ll hit the 30th anniversary so that’s exciting I guess.

You can watch Detective Conan (Case Closed) Saturdays at 7:30 am on Crunchyroll and VRV

Dororo:

Premiered: Winter 2019

Studio: MAPPA

Directed by: Kazuhiro Furuhashi

Written by: Yasuko Kobayashi

Now that Demon Slayer is in the mix, Dororo has some real competition in the Japanese style “swords and sorcery” game and thus far DS has been more consistent in it’s art style, maybe MAPPA needed a bit of a longer break in-between seasons because some of the work has been a bit choppy. The story work likewise has been rather hit or miss, the show can still hit it out of the park on some episodes with it’s somber and melancholy character work, but sometimes follows these episodes up with some more generic fare that reminds me of mediocre Inuyasha filler. Still, when this show is on it’s game it’s engaging to watch, and as much as I still side eye the way this show handles real world disabilities, their commitment to having one of their two leads be blind and mostly mute is still a strong choice that could leave lesser production teams entirely flummoxed. If DS isn’t your speed, or you’re just in the mood for a similar show with different themes, Dororo will probably keep you entertained for the rest of Spring.

You can watch Dororo Mondays on Amazon Prime Video

Fairy Tail: The Final Season:

Premiered: Fall 2018

Studio: CloverWorks

Directed by: Shinji Ishihara

Written by: Masashi Sogo

Something something “The Power of Friendship” etc. rinse and repeat. It’s 300+ episodes, if you’ve actually bothered to watch up to this point you’re obviously going to continue. If you haven’t don’t bother, the show is nowhere near good enough to be worth the sheer time investment required to watch all of it. Find some shorter shonen anime to get your kicks, they’re almost all the same anyways.

You can watch Fairy Tail: The Final Season Saturdays at 5:30 pm on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and VRV

GeGeGe no Kitaro:

Premiered: Spring 2018

Studio: Toei Animation

Directed by: Koji Ogawa

Written by: Hiroshi Onogi

This show is a lot darker than it looks at first blush, they really don’t play around with some of the more monstrous aspects of Japanese folklore, but they also someone blend it with a certain level of humor and charm. It doesn’t fell like the different aspects of this show should all go together, and sometimes they don’t, but more often than not they gel nicely. At 50ish episodes this is right around the point where you could still catch up in a reasonable time frame if you’re interested so give it a once over and see if you like it.

You can watch GeGeGe no Kitaro Saturdays at 10:30 pm

JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind:

Premiered: Fall 2019

Studio: David Production

Directed by: Naokatsu Tsuda

Written by: Yasuko Kobayashi

Those Jo Boys are at it again, touring Italy, kicking the crap out of random passerby’s, and just generally acting super homoerotic with the physical manifestations of their supernatural powers and emotions. The show isn’t called “Bizarre” for no reason, even for anime this show is just relentlessly weird and you’re either on board with that or you’re not at this point. If you are on board then this season has been very solid thus far, the work that David Pro has put into this season has significantly increased GW’s spot in my overall season rankings. We’ve reached the final 3rd of this season and everything is going to be super climactic from this point forward, if you’re already a fan, stay tuned because things are gonna get real; if you’re not yet caught up, there’s still time to get into the best Shonen series of the year. Also this show has just the best screenshot potential, I mean just google some, they’re all solid gold (pun intended).

You can watch JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind Fridays at 12:05 pm on Crunchyroll and VRV

Karakuri Circus:

Premiered: Fall 2018

Studio: Studio Voln

Directed by: Satoshi Nishimura

Written by: Toshiki Inoue and Kazuhiro Fujita

At the beginning, this was about a big dumb idiot guy who had a joke medical condition which forced him to make people laugh or he’d literally die, a female acrobat/clown/puppeteer tasked when defending some kid, and said kid trying to navigate the inner-workings of his messed up family life while also on the run from killer puppets. Then for some reason it decided to focus on the big dumb guy and his dumb medical condition after he became some half-puppet cyborg and there was some evil immortal puppet lady or something. Now we rejoin this train-wreck in the third act where the puppets have literally come to life and one of them wants to kidnap the acrobat girl and take her on a rocket ship to, and I kid you not, an “artificial star” and the kid has to save her with his own killer pumpkin puppet and some tiny, blue, griffin….thing. Also the big dumb guy is maybe brainwashed or something? This show has jumped the shark like ten times now and that’s only from the handful of episodes I’ve actually seen, I can’t possibly imagine what it must be like to actually watch this week by week. Honestly you could just jump in and watch this right now and it would probably make about as much sense, but definitely don’t do that because it’s not fun zany, it’s just bad zany, and the action sequences are pretty laughable which is really the one thing you need to nail in a killer puppet show.

You can watch Karakuri Circus Thursdays at 8:30 am on Amazon Video

One Piece:

Premiered: Originally 1999

Studio: Toei Animation

Directed by: Toshinori Fukazawa Written by: Shoji Yonemura

Take every shonen anime trope in existence, roll them all into one show, then put that show on speed and you have One Piece. It has all the same basic problems as other excessively long shonens like Fairy Tail but 3x more because it’s just so long. Also apparently it’s barely halfway finished or something so get used to it being around I guess. Obviously don’t even bother with this one unless you’re all caught up already.

You can watch One Piece on basically every streaming service Saturdays at 8:00 am

The Rising of the Shield Hero:

Premiered: Winter 2019

Studio: Kinema Citrus

Directed by: Takao Abo

Written by: Keigo Koyonagi

Well it figures that we finally got a break from SAO but we can’t go one full season without at least one terrible Isekai show ruining things. I still remain entirely baffled at the seeming popularity of this show.It’s started that harem phase most Isekai go through where the hero starts gathering a part of random women who all seem attracted to him, it’s still super gross that two of said harem still call the guy “Master” considering one of them used to literally be his slave (and was at one point a very young girl) and the other is currently a very young girl. Also I see we just don’t feel like dropping that false rape accusation plot from the first episode so I guess the series is content to constantly remind of it’s worst aspects. Not that I entirely blame it, minus the horrendous narrative decisions that the show likes to remind you of, it’s kind of just nothing, the plot, action sequences, visual style, and basically everything else about this show is so incredibly boring.

This isn’t even the fault of this show in particular either, the Isekai genre has just gotten lazy. They’re all the same, all of them; they all have the same basic fantasy world settings, the same video gamey fight sequences, the same basic harem formation, the same art style, the same plot progression. Sometimes they’re “dark and gritty”, sometimes they’re “cute and fun”, pretty much every single one them gets intensely boring and tedious before the end. Every single one of these dumb shows is exactly the same as the last one with minor differences and it’s all your fault, yes, that’s right, I’m talking to you now, all of this your collective faults and I’m finally calling you out for it you monsters.

If actually enjoy Isekai as a genre and are fan of either this show or pretty much every show of it’s type in the past decade, you’ve actively contribute to the downfall of this genre. This is all your fault, you rubes, you total suckers; you’ve been conned into accepting mediocrity as some kind of baseline. You’ve been subjected to terribly, boring, nonsense shows for so long, you all forgot the simple joy of what it’s all about. These are supposed to be shows about normal people who suddenly get thrust into fascinating, terrifying, and/or beautiful new worlds and forced to deal with the paradigm shift. Yet somehow here we are where every new Isekai is a carbon copy of the last one, and it’s all because you let anime get away with being “just ok” for so long you can’t even distinguish between good and bad anymore, my pity for you is equaled only by my disgust at how you’ve let things sink so low.

If you’ve enjoyed this little rant I like to call “Anime is ruined and it’s all your fault”, stay tuned for a followup a little later in this article, you’ll know it when you see it.

You can watch The Rising of the Shield Hero Wednesdays at 10:30 am on Crunchyroll and VRV if you hate anime and actively want it to get worse, you heathens.

Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS:

Premiered: Spring 2017

Studio: Gallop

Directed by: Katsuya Asano

Written by: Shin Yoshida

Card games in VR, but if you die in the game you die in real life! Sort of, it’s Yu-Gi-Oh so very rarely do people ever stay “dead” regardless of what wording the show wants to use. We’re 100 episodes in at this point so you should already know by now if this is the show for you. You can still literally watch any season of this franchise in any order though so give it a shot if you’re curious.

You can watch Yu-Gi-Oh VRAINS Wednesdays at 6:55 am on Crunchyroll or VRV

New Shows:

The remainder of the anime covered in this article either premiered or started airing a new season in Spring 2019. I have divided them into various categories based on their relative quality and my own personal interest.

The Bad:

This category is reserved for shows that are either so aggressively mediocre and slipshod in their construction that they make a mockery of the entire medium of animation, or shows which such a uniquely awful premise that I hesitate to even cover them for fear of encouraging even one reader to watch them however briefly. In terms of a grading system these would be D or F tier show, either too low quality or too incredibly clumsy and stupid in it’s plotting and themes to be worth anyone’s time in the already over-saturated anime market. In general I respect the right of others to have different opinions on anime than I do and usually I would encourage readers to watch a show for themselves if they have even a hint of interest in the concept, but I strongly discourage anyone from spending any amount of time on these shows.

Afterlost: Where I End and You Begin:

Studio: Madhouse

Directed by: Shigeyuki Miya

Written by: Shingo Irie

A city disappears and people get psychic ghost powers or something. This whole show is nonsense from the jump and completely incomprehensible, but more importantly it’s also very boring. The characters are very boring, the action is impossible to follow, the “plot” might as well be nonexistent. Really the whole thing feels more like an advertisement than a show, which it is because this is based on a mobile game franchise.

Amazing Stranger:

Studio: Studio A-Cat

Directed by: Keitaro Motonaga

Written by: Chabo Higarashi

Six-inch action figure girl comes to life, creepiness ensues.

Ao-chan Can’t Study:

Studio: Silver Link

Directed by: Keisuke Inoue

Written by: Michiko Yokote

A high school girl is brought up by a frankly horrible father who writes porn for a living, turns out she has trouble interacting with people normally. Honestly, this is probably the only show on this list where both sides of the raunchy romcom are appropriate to put together. The plot is nonsensical and the jokes fall flat which is primarily why this one ends up being real mediocre but this one lacks the inherent wrongness of the others on this list and all of the terrible characters in this show are purposely portrayed as terrible people. A “good” ecchi show still isn’t a high bar to pass though, you should probably look elsewhere for a good romcom.

Joshi Kausei:

Studio: Seven

Directed and Written by: Noriyoshi Sasaki

A “silent” anime in which none of the characters talk, instead they just grunt and show off their thighs a lot. Interesting concept, terrible execution.

Nobunaga Sensei’s Young Bride:

(Same show, same)

Studio: Seven

Directed by: Noriyoshi Sasaki

Written by: Arikura Arika

14 year-old girl travels through time to try and seduce a an actual adult dude. Also some other hentai-like stuff happens.

Strike Witches: 501st Joint Fighter Wing Takeoff!:

Studio: acca effe and Giga Production

Directed by: Fumio Ito

Written by: Takashi Tachizaki

Magical girls fight aliens while wearing a little clothing as possible. This is just a vehicle for cheap action scenes and panty shots.

The Helpful Fox Senko-san:

Studio: Doga Kobo

Directed by: Tomoaki Koshida

Written by: Yoshiko Nakamura

I don’t normally do this since I link it in the episode title, but allow me to present the My Anime List short description of this show. The everyday life of Nakano, a salaryman working for an exploitative company, is suddenly intruded upon by the fox, Senko-san (800-year-old little girl). Whether it be cooking, cleaning, or special service(?)… she’ll heal his exhaustion with her tender “care.” I mean, that sounds weird even in the description right? There are a lot of words in there that give off some red flags if you’ve been paying any attention whatsoever to Doga Kobo’ past works which have primarily focused on adults preying on minors sexually.

I know that most people will watch this and not pick up on the more sinister aspects, likely they’d say “come on, aren’t you being a bit extreme?” However, consider the history of this studio, the rather blatant euphemisms on display both in the marketing and within the series, and some of things on full display in the series. The immortal fox girl has been watching this guy since he was a little kid and at one point calls him handsome, so that’s weird, then this guy pets her and she makes some…..uncomfortable noises. No one has outright stated their intentions to get hot and heavy with each other but the signs are all there and I’m unwilling to give Doga Kobo a pass after their previous failings. This show is going to be creepy, don’t watch it.

Why the Hell are You Here Teacher!?:

(If only)

Studio: Tear Studio

Directed by: Hiraku Kaneko and Toshikatsu Tokoro

Written by: Yuki Takabayashi and Yuri Fujimaru

Female teacher fetish porn lite, probably would sell better if it were actual hentai.

YU-NO: A girl who chants love at the bound of this world

Studio: feel.

Directed and Written by: Tetsuo Hirakawa

An adaptation of an adult visual novel ostensibly about time travel and alternate dimensions, but really it’s just porn. The anime adaptation is similarly just lite porn with a bare bones plot that exists solely to propel the story along to the next shot of scantily clad women. The male protagonist is especially terrible which I guess takes this from just being a normal bad “adult” anime to being extra bad.

Overall:

Have you noticed a theme with all of these shows? Yes that’s right, they’re all weirdly sexual, is there a reason why there’s a lot overly sexual and/or creepy shows this season? No, not really, that’s just how anime goes sometimes. I don’t really understand why most of these exist, the vast majority might as well be hentai so why even make censored versions in the first place? Is this all just some elaborate advertising scheme to get people to buy the uncensored DVD’s?

Yes, yes it is, and that’s why I hate them even more, at least with things like Yu-Gi-Oh which are also advertisement shows, the product they’re selling isn’t literally the same thing you’re watching. If you actually subscribed to anything to watch these, you are essentially being told to pay twice, first to get hooked by the soft core versions, then again to get the “real” versions; and even for anime porn that seems scummy to me.

Also, I continue to be displeased by the emerging trend of young looking (or literally underage) girl characters in sexual situations and I hate every single aspect of that.

The Good:

The opposite of the previous category, these shows are define themselves as not merely good shows in the anime medium, but good shows in any medium. These shows are so good that I immediately decided to commit to watching them for their entire season run after just one episode! Think of these as B+ to A tier shows, I would highly encourage anyone who is a fan of quality animation in general in anime in particular to give these shows a shot.

Attack on Titan Season 3 Part 2:

Premiered: Season 3 – Summer 2017, Originally 2013

Studio: Wit Studio & Production I.G.

Directed by: Masashi Koizuka

Written by: Yasuko Kobayashi

For some reason Wit Studio decided to split Season 3 in half, probably because they needed the time to animate that poorly CGI’d Colossal Titan in the OP or something. Regardless the show described as “Game of Thrones but anime” is finally back, although personally I’ve never really understood that moniker as the similarities between the two series are very superficial. If you don’t go into this expecting this show kill all the main characters at every turn (a vastly over-hyped aspect) you’ll probably be happier with the final product. Of the various darker shonen series out there, I think JoJo still reigns supreme in basically every aspect, but AoT can acquit itself nicely when it wants to and this half season is sure to pack some punch. At 60ish episodes it’s probably not worth it to binge the entire series just to be caught up for this run so if you’re not already a fan maybe catch up in your own time, but if you are then enjoy the ride.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba

Studio: Ufotable

Directed and Written by: Haruo Sotozaki and Takashi Suharu

The other “Japanese swords and sorcery” show of the season, Demon Slayer focuses on a brother/sister duo as they attempt to slay various demons (duh) and remove a curse placed upon the sister which is slowly turning her into a demon. Like Dororo this show features quite a lot of violent but beautiful action shots balanced against soulful character scenes in which the characters struggle to retain their humanity in a cruel world. It also features a mostly mute protagonist in the form of Nezuko, the half demon sister of Tanjiro, so there’s yet another parallel between shows. Honestly there are so many similarities if you like one show you’ll probably like the other one, whether the real siblings of DS or the adoptive siblings of Dororo will come off the better has yet to be determined.

Fruits Basket (2019):

Premiered: 2001

Studio: TMS/8PAN

Directed by: Yoshihide Ibata

Written by: Taku Kishimoto

The reboot of the classic Shojo anime in which a high-school girl interacts with the various members of a clan who’s members can transform into animals based on the Chinese Zodiac. The only good harem show of the season also turns out to be the best slice of life of the season, the character work is exquisite, the narrative carefully woven to tie into the character arcs, the animation is top notch; basically this show is everything that fans of the original show could only have dreamed of. Speaking of the original, this adaptation has promised to be much more faithful to the manga so those coming in with prior experience will no doubt feel almost as surprised as those coming in with zero prior knowledge of the series. Tohru is one of the best leads in animation period so far this year and her male counterparts/potential romantic interests aren’t too shabby either. This is, without a doubt, already a real contender for anime of the year and if all that isn’t enough to convince perhaps the weekly podcast coverage will be, so watch the show, give the pods a listen, and bask in the glow of a great straight romance drama for once.

Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu:

Studio: C2C

Directed by: Takebumi Anzai

Written by: Jukki Hanada

The daily life of anxiety ridden middle schooler Hitori Bochi and her attempts to navigate the perils of human interaction to make some friends. This anime is a pretty typical “cute girls doing cute things” show so it will largely succeed or fail for you based on how #relatable you find it. Personally I absolutely relate to being a very shy and anxious middle schooler and find this show to be a surprise hit (and if I know anything about the anime fandom, a lot of you will also find this relatable). Other than that aspect, the production values are great, the characters are charming, and the humor really lands; if you’re looking for a fun slice of life that’s a little less serious than Fruits Basket this season this is your jam.

One Punch Man Season 2:

Premiered: Fall 2015

Studio: J.C. Staff

Directed by: Chikara Sakurai

Written by: Tomohiro Suzuki

Well let’s get the bad stuff out of the way upfront, compared to season 1 this season looks like hot garbage most of the time. That’s not to say that it’s bad per se but it’s most definitely not up to the standard set up by the show in the past. This is most acutely felt during the action sequences which had some of the most dynamic and fluid shots in all of anime before and now feature a lot of blurry, quick cuts to hide the downgrade in overall animation. However, animation quality does not a good show make, mostly; it’s true that most of the greats do in fact look very good but there are a lot good looking but terrible anime and decent number of subpar looking but quite good anime. As long as the rest of the show rises to fill in the gap things should still turn out fine right?

Sort of, OPM still has a lot of the charm and wit that won over people’s hearts in it’s first season, but it also feels somewhat stale and treadling water in places. It’s sort of difficult not to compare this show to last season’s Mob Psycho 100, both shows are in their second seasons, both were written and drawn by the same mangaka, both feature similar themes, etc. Unfortunately, Mob just feels superior in every aspect and OPM comes out looking like it’s less successful kid brother, probably not unrelated to the fact that creator ONE wrote Mob a few years after he started working on OPM and had more experience under his belt by then. Also the rise of My Hero Academia means that there’s even a real competitor now in the superhero genre.

Fortunately, once you can get past all the complicating factors though, OPM still has some of that old magic left in it. It’s still a pretty fun and easy show to watch on a regular basis even when it’s not on it’s game 100% and when it is it’s compelling in a way that other shows of this type rarely are. Time will tell whether the rest of this season can propel the show back to it’s original heights or whether season 1 will be remembered as a fluke in an otherwise ok show.

Sarazanmai:

Studio: Lapin Track and MAPPA

Directed by: Kunihiko Ikuhara and Nobuyuki Takeuchi

Written by: Kunihiko Ikuhara and Teruko Utsumi

A trio of teenage boys are turned into kappas and defeat giant zombies via an elaborate song and dance routine, also there’s a lot of butts. Quite possibly the weirdest and yet entertaining show of the season, Saranzanmai is the latest brainchild of anime auteur Kunihiko Ikuhara (Revolutionary Girl Utena among others) and it’s just as weird as all of this other shows. There’s a lot going on in basically every single frame of this show and it would be overwhelming if it weren’t handled so expertly. Even if this show weren’t good I’d probably still be watching it just for how crazy it is, fortunately on top of being a great show to look at, it also has some great character work going for it. Our heroes display an equal amount of good and bad morality and the show is happy to display how good intentions can go horribly awry. Plus, it’s super gay; like actual, 100% explicitly gay, and for once I mean male-male gay.

Having mostly created shows with an ocean of lesbian sub (and real) text, Ikuhara has decided to foray into the “boys love” genre and the result is refreshing to see in animation in general, not just anime as a subset. With at least one of our main trio being explicitly gay, our primary antagonists positively exuding homoeroticism, and even the potential for some trans rep, it’s really turning into a very forward thinking show. Yes, somehow the weird show about kappas and butts and otter puns is quite possibly the most progressive anime of the season, potentially of the entire year depending on how the rest of this season goes. If masterfully choreographed musical action sequences, surprisingly complex character arcs, remarkable LGBT representation, an incredibly stylish art design, and just a metric ton of butts aren’t enough to get you to at least watch the first episode then I don’t know what to tell you. This is anime at it’s finest, and I wish more shows had the guts to go all in on the sheer madness on display here, at the very least the failures would be more entertaining that way.

The Maybe:

Basically every other show, these are C to B tier shows, they’re not exactly bad but they’re not great either. Basically I’d take these on a case by case basis, they might appeal to you if you fall into their specific subset of the anime fandom, or they might not.

Ace of the Diamond act II:

Studio: Madhouse

Directed by: Mitsuyuki Masuhara

Written by: Kenji Konuta

One of the several baseball anime premiering this season, I guess spring feels like a good time to air baseball shows? Despite being called “Act II” this is more like season 3 which means there’s a little over 100 episodes before this season. You could probably guess by now what my response is to this fact. You’re correct, that’s way too many episodes for a baseball anime, especially one that’s adequate at best. Find something shorter and more interesting to watch and don’t waste your precious time on this one.

BAKUMATSU CRISIS

Premiered: Fall 2018

Studio: Studio Deen

Directed by: Mitsutoshi Satō

Written by: Masahiro Yokotani

The hot anime samurai boys ™ are back for season two of a show that likes to weave historical events, sci-fi nonsense, and eye candy like an idol anime on speed. The “plot” such that it exists is patently absurd and the action sequences look like an amateur’s attempt at replicating Sekiro so really if you’re watching this it’s for the HASBs ™. If you liked season one you’ll like this, if you didn’t it hasn’t changed enough for a revisit.

Bungou Stray Dogs Season 3:

Premiered: Spring 2016

Studio: Bones

Directed by: Takuya Igarashi

Written by: Yōji Enokido

The third season of a franchise encompassing several manga, some OVA’s, a light novel, and a film; in which detectives named after famous Japanese authors throughout history posses supernatural powers very loosely themed after their most famous works. I assume this strange naming scheme was supposed to give the story a level of gravitas but what it actually does is make a fairly straightforward shonen battle show seem pretentious considering how nonsensical it’s typical subject matter is. This show feature a “running gag” in which one of the main characters is constantly thinking/attempting to commit suicide which feels especially gross when you learn that the real world author he’s named for actually did commit suicide. This is but one of many of the show’s failed attempts at introducing unnecessary comedy to balance out the equally unnecessary amount of gore and dark themes which all feels so out of place in a show that’s main selling point is watching people beat each other up with magic powers.

It really ends up feeling like this show has no idea what direction it wants to go in, sometimes it wants to be a dark reflective show, sometimes it wants to be an action heavy brawl fest, sometimes it wants to be lighthearted slice of life with some very unfortunate comedic choices. A better show might be able to blend these disparate elements together but this is not that show. Anyways, season 3 is more or less a prequel story centered on the aforementioned comedic suicide enthusiast and features far too many inside jokes and callbacks (call forwards?) to be a good place to start from so you should only be watching it if you’re already a fan of the series, for whatever reason. If you just want to watch a big dumb battle show featuring cool yet inexplicable semi-magic powers look elsewhere.

Cinderella Nine:

Studio: TMS Entertainment

Directed by: Susumu Kudo

Written by: Jin Tanaka

Yet another baseball show this season, this one features all girl teams. That’s basically all I have to say about it, it’s a baseball anime, but with girls. That’s pretty much it.

Fairy Gone:

Studio: P.A. Works

Directed by: Kenichi Suzuki

Written by: Ao Jūmonji

Steampunk Victorian England with fairies who are actually just monsters, but also Summons? This is basically a low-rent fusion of JoJo and Persona with none of the style, charm, or competence of either series. It’s almost impressive how they’ve managed to make a story about political machinations and ultra violence involving a wide spectrum of sometimes cute, sometimes horrifying magical creatures bonded to humans…..so, so boring. The cardinal sin of anime to me is boring and pointless, it this were just a bad but entertaining show it might have some sort of merit, but as it is this gets a double thumbs down from me.

Gunjō no Magmel:

Studio: Pierrot+

Directed by: Hayato Date

Written by: Chūji Mikasato

A new continent appears on Earth, somehow everything devolves in shonen battle nonsense. Unfortunately while the promise of “a new age of exploration” sounds interesting, this anime fails to deliver on that completely and mostly prefers to focus on one-off characters and random fights scenes. The animation isn’t even that stellar so even if you’re just here for the action you’d be better off looking elsewhere.

Hangyakusei Million Arthur Season 2:

Studio: J.C. Staff

Directed by: Yōhei Suzuki

Written by: Tsuyoshi Tamai

Typical shonen battle fair, including poorly choreographed action sequences and gratuitous fanservice. The one redeeming factor of this show is that it’s main character is explicitly a lesbian. Unfortunately that’s not enough to save this show from being mostly mediocre.

Isekai Quartet:

Studio: Studio Puyukai

Directed by: Minoru Ashina

Written by: Minoru Ashina

A crossover between KonoSuba, Overlord, Re:Zero, and The Saga of Tanya the Evil. It’s somewhat impressive that this four way crossover show is even half-way coherent, and that’s about all I have to say about it. This isn’t the show for you if you like some of the properties on display, oh no, this is only a show you should watch if you are an active fan of all four shows and really wanted to see them combined into some sort of short form comedy/variety special but extended for a whole season. If you meet all of those qualifications, you may enjoy this a lot, if not, there’s other fish in the sea.

Midnight Occult Civil Servants:

Studio: Liden Films

Directed by: Tetsuya Watanabe

Written by: Tatsuo Higuchi

The everyday life of government workers who deal with supernatural creatures in Tokyo. Another instance of an interesting concept that fails to execute, MOCS fails for a few reasons. Primarily since only the main character can speak to the fantasy creatures a significant portion of every episode features him acting as an exposition machine of the things we literally just heard. The rest of the plot rarely does much better, falling back on classic tropes and stereotypes for most episodes. Also the animation is really quite bad which really undersells the fantasy elements. Taken as a whole, I wouldn’t describe this as a bad show but I wouldn’t describe it as good either, mostly I’m left with the impression that it’s sort of just average.

Mix:

Studio: OLM

Directed by: Odahiru Watanabe

Written by: Atsuhiro Tomioka

The third baseball anime airing this season, Mix is a sequel to Touch a baseball anime that aired almost 30 years ago. One interesting aspect of this show is that it’s animated to look like it was made back in the 80’s but obviously looks much smoother than anything that could have been made back then. There are a decent number of callbacks to Touch but a newcomer should be able to follow the plot well enough to jump in. Of the various sports shows this season, Mix is probably the best so if you’re looking for a good sports show this is probably it.

Namu Amida Butsu! -Utena-:

Studio: Asahi Production

Directed by: Akira Oguro

Written by: Eirka Yoshida

Slice of life shenanigans with Buddhist deities as hot anime boys. I don’t really have a strong enough background in Buddhism to determine how accurate these parodies are so none of the jokes really land on me. If you’re at all familiar with the concepts this might work better for you.

RobiHachi:

Studio: Studio Comet

Directed by: Shinji Takamatsu

Written by: Hiroko Kanasugi

A middle aged philanderer, a young man, and a robot bunny have space adventures. It’s low rent Space Dandy. If you’ve never watched that show, go watch it, it’s much better than this one. If you have, here’s a worse version of that show you watched, still interested?

Senryu Girl:

Studio: Connect

Directed and Written by: Masato Jinbo

A shorter slice of life romcom starring a frequently misunderstood boy and a girl who speaks in senryu (a type of poem similar to haiku). Pretty cute and surprisingly deep for a shorter anime, if Fruits Basket is too long this might be more your speed.

Stop This Sound!:

Studio: Platinum Vision

Directed by: Ryōma Mizuno

Written by: Ayuma Hisao

Typical slice of life club stuff, this time featuring kotos (a type of traditional Japanese instrument). If you watched literally any club anime you already know the basic plot points of this show, high-shoolers join a school club, make friends, do club stuff. This one also has some romance drama stuff to differentiate it a bit. If you like koto music and slice of life you’ll probably like this one, if you don’t there are plenty of other shows just like it with slightly different formulas.

Ultraman:

Premiered: 1966

Studio: Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts

Directed by: Kenji Kamiyama and Shinji Aramaki

Written by: Eiichi Shimizu

The anime adaptation of manga sequel to the original ’66 Ultraman tokusatsu show following the son of the original protagonist. If you are at all a fan of the Ultraman franchise then this show was made for you, if you’re just tangentially interested in the tokusatsu genre this show does enough heavy lifting in it’s beginning to explain it’s premise without the need to have watched it’s predecessors. If you have zero interest in an anime derived from guys in robot suits fighting other guys in monster suits, this probably isn’t your show.

We Never Learn: BOKUBEN:

Studio: Studio Silver and Arvo Animation

Directed by: Yoshiaki Iwasaki

Written by: Gō Zappa

Guy gets roped into tutoring a series of girls his age, romcom hi-jinks ensue. The one thing I can for this show is that it has thus far managed to avoid the worst instincts of it’s competitors this season. Unfortunately that’s a pretty low bar to cross for given that harem shows are typically hot garbage, so this show actually winds up right around the line of “mediocre to average” for the majority of it’s run-time. Everything feels very standard and prototypical for this type of show, occasional moments of “oh that’s an interesting direction to take things” are immediately ignored as the plot moves along to the next scene. Even the animation feels sort of sub-par at points and I could really tell when the animators decided to take some shortcuts (not that I blame the animators, Japanese animation is a hellish existence of being constantly overworked and underpaid, I will blame the studios though). If you really need your harem anime fix for this season, I guess you could do worse, but also you could do a lot better because Fruits Basket exists. You should probably just watch that show and save your time.

Wiseman’s Grandchild:

Studio: Silver Link

Directed by: Masafumi Taruma

Written by: Tatsuya Takahasi

Guy dies, wakes up in fantasy land, turns out to be good at everything. Oh look, another Isekai male power trip harem show, boy I wonder what this reminds me of. Well I think we all know how this review will be going so let’s just get this out of the way and move on shall we?

WRONG

Did you think I had forgotten about you? Did you think you had escaped this article without being reminded of your transgressions? That’s right, welcome to part 2 of “Anime is ruined and it’s all your fault”, aka “You suck at everything and that’s a good thing”.

Do you actually watch these types of shows and enjoy them? You’re everything that’s wrong with the anime fandom. There’s a reason shows like Mob Psycho 100 are successful with having an OP protagonist and show’s like this are terrible. The protagonists of those shows are the most powerful beings in their respective worlds, this is a bad thing that causes them no small amount of pain and ennui; their lives are tormented by the thought that they could destroy everything they love if they lost control, perhaps they’re awash in ennui over no longer having a goal to strive for, or perhaps they feel they can longer fit in with normal society. Whatever the case may be, these shows take great pains to point out that achieving a level of semi-godhood doesn’t make your life better, especially if it’s just handed to you; in fact it almost always makes your life worse and that’s what makes those shows interesting.

WMG is not an interesting show, in fact it’s a very boring show, as are most Isekai shows. There’s a reason the fights featuring Saitama in OPM are mostly played for laughs, he always wins them, easily. I do not derive enjoyment out of watching someone like Kirito beat the 1000th guy with a sword in SAO because of course he did, he’s Kirito, that’s just what he does.There’s no tension to these conflicts, no purpose, because the outcome is pre-determined; so every action scene ends up feeling pointless.

Why then have you become so attracted to these types of stories? Because it’s some kind of wish-fulfillment, you too believe that, given the chance and the right environment, you could be a great hero. You can’t, you the person watching WMG and imagining yourself as the lead character will never be that guy, you exist in the real world, where magic does not and has never existed. If you were suddenly thrown into a fantasy world you would almost certainly die immediately, because everyone would, if you didn’t you absolutely would not become apprenticed to some great magician or whatever such nonsense because you’re not a legendary hero foretold in prophecy. You’re a normal person, and you’d be an equally normal person in any alternate dimension you wound up in, and that’s a good thing.

You see, it’s much less impressive when the person who everyone knew would go on to defeat the ultimate evil or whatever and save the world actually does that. Of course they did, there were literal prophecies about them doing exactly that. It’s much more impressive if you, the random nobody who sucks at everything spent literal years, if not decades, honing your craft in order to just barely defeat some low to mid-level mini-boss and save a small town or something. No one makes stories about those low level everyday heroes because they’re not flashy, or cool, and they don’t have a gaggle of adoring fans behind them, but they should. Because I’m that nobody, and so are you, and so is everyone you’ve ever known or will know, and yet somehow here we are, left with a glut of stories about wildly improbable events surrounding impossibly successful people who almost certainly have and will never exist in the entire course of history.

Who could possibly want to see another one?

Yatogame-chan Kansatsu Nikki:

Studio: Saetta

Directed by: Hisayoshi Hirasawa

Written by: WORDS in STEREO

More or less a tourism advertisement for Nagoya.

 

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