I’m going to be honest with you readers here: This season doesn't facially appeal to me. Despite the presence of some titles that come with already-established success in anime, like Attack on Titan and One Punch Man, and some series that look to convert manga success to anime success, like Kimetsu no Yaiba, the rest of the field looks like untested waters. A big complaint I’ve put forward with anime recently is that not enough original series are being produced and not enough low-hype manga are getting adapted so I guess I got my wish. Keep in mind that I said that this season isn’t facially appealing: There is still room for hidden gems to shine. That being said, here are my thoughts three episodes in to the Spring season.
3 Series to Watch
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
To me, this is the stand out show of the season. As an avid reader of the manga, and a fan of how the series blends brutal combat with heartfelt emotion/relatability and great comedic timing, I looked forward to this adaptation with a hint of trepidation. Suffice it to say, ufotable (the same studio behind the Fate/ series and God Eater) KILLED IT. This show follows Kamada Tanjiro as he joins the demon slayer corps after his family is slaughtered and his sister becomes a demon. Animation is smooth, the music is haunting, the voice acting is spot on for characters, and the story is a balanced retelling of traditional shonen tropes with earnest twists. With My Hero Academia and Black Clover deep into their adaptations, it was about time that the last traditional-feeling Jump series got its turn. Dare I say, it’s the best of the bunch thus far (it helps that it has arguably the best OP of the season as well).
Admittedly, Fruits Basket wasn’t my cup of tea growing up as a kid(and I'm not the biggest Shoujo fan in general so don't kill me for it haha). After hearing D gush about the series, though, I thought I’d give it a shot. Having seen three episodes, gone are my memories of the more cutesy and “soft” adaptation of the past taht I would see ads for on DVD; here, we have a more emotional and personal telling of the classic Shoujo icon. I’ve been told that this tone is more in line with the source material and, while I personally don’t know if I will continue the show, I can say that it’s timeless status and high-profile makes it a must-watch for fans of the genre. Put simply, a lone girl who doesn’t want to burden her family ends up living on the land of a family that is cursed to turn into an animal of the zodiac when touched by the opposite gender. Shoujo? Yes. Mature in theme? Oh yeah. Things like self confidence, acceptance, inclusion, and youth are all explored here and should make for a dramatic and emotion filled watch.
I’m going to be honest: This show barely made the cut. I could have slotted in Attack on Titan or One Punch Man here, but that would have been too easy. Instead, let me sell you on this show. Basically, it deals with the survivors of a recent war, ranging from civilians to soldiers, in which humans with the powers of “fairies” were used to combat each other. Much like stands in JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, each of these “fairy soldiers” can summon a “fairy” and each “fairy” has a unique look and strength. One difference, though, is that characters are
much more proactive in combat than in the aforementioned series. Furthermore, character designs are mature, animation is high quality, and the world is interesting. Although the “fairies” are rendered in some ROUGH CG that has hampered my enjoyment of the series thus far, it’s not too rough and it’s not too common. This is especially true because this series really focuses on the human elements and conflicts. As far as original series go, this one has potential to set itself apart from recent offerings (even if it feels like a more mature knock off of a certain bizarre show at times…).
3 Series to Backlog
This is another original series and is one that I actually enjoy. Following three boys as they are regularly turned into Kappa (a
Japanese mythological creature) to fight in an alternate realm, this series deals with some surprisingly heavy themes for something with its childish presentation (like sexuality, acceptance, crime, and familial ties). Furthermore, it is gorgeous, fluid, and truly unique beyond this season alone. However, pacing issues, storytelling choices, over-the-top (and at times NSFW) imagery, and a reliance on knowledge of Japanese mythology to a certain extent holds this back from being a mainstay series for most. Furthermore, this show’s repeated reuse of key animation scenes (that are also relatively lengthy and important) got tiresome after a while. Keep in mind, though, that I plan on watching it fully; it’s just that for most people it might be a bit too much at first. Even if you don’t plan on watching it, do yourself a favor and check out the ED, it’s my favorite of the season.
Attack on Titan
This is kind of a cheat pick because the series just started but hey, I can’t control timing of its release and I can’t ignore this show. We all know the story at this point (humans live in a world inhabited by man-eating titans) and with the biggest battle to date primed to take center stage this season is going to be a spectacle not to be missed. “But W, why is it in the ‘3 series to backlog’ section?” Well dear reader, every season I tend to include a sequel series, especially if I enjoy the whole series, and this is no different. Hold off on season 3 unless you’ve seen the rest and, if you haven’t seen the rest, go back and watch it. This is doubly true since the series just started and is on a shorter schedule than most: let it build up a bit. I might think it’s overrated but hey, this is what everyone is going to be talking about and cosplaying as at this year’s convention scene moving forward.
The Senryu Girl 4-koma (a style of manga with smaller stories told in 4 panels at a time) has been a gem find for me, with expressions, events, and more hilariously drawn out. Following a delinquent named Eiji and a girl that talks in senryu (a type of Japanese poem) named Nanako, this series is all about cheering for two likeable people to become a likeable couple. I love this anime, but with many scenes looking better in the manga and the 4-koma style lending itself to shorter stories, this anime can be held off on for a while. This is especially true when combined with the fact that each episode is only 12 minutes long. I’d say this is one of, if not the best, short-form series of the season but with how character relations build over time it would be best to wait for the entire series, or a substantial chunk of the series, to build up over time. Basically, this is going to be a great series to binge so hold off on it so that it can be savored like a great dessert (because kami-sama knows this series is so sweet that it'll give you cavities like a real desert).