Yep, Spring ended quite a while ago, but that doesn’t mean that it still isn’t on my mind and I don’t want to review it. There were a lot of huge fails and successes coming out of Spring 2016, but don’t worry, I’m here to show you the way… albeit pretty late. Unfortunately, Spring 2016 was overall pretty underwhelming and only several notable series came out from it. In fact, there were so many series that even though I did watch a majority of the ones that aired, there were some I dropped or just never watched due to time constraints or just lack of interest. If you don’t see an anime that you watched that aired in the Spring, it mostly means that it just wasn’t something that I found myself being interested in and preemptively decided to stop watching it to make room for other series. Just a reminder, ongoing series such as Re:Zero and Macross Delta are not included on this list since they have yet to conclude and it’d be unfair to compare a finished product to an unfinished one. With that being said, let’s get into talking about the anime of Spring 2016.
Best of Season:
Boku no Hero Academia
I never expected that I’d name an anime out of Shounen Jump the best of the season. Typically the anime that come out of Shounen Jump are very cliche, generic, and formulaic and to be fair, Boku no Hero Academia still incorporates all the things that make Shounen Jump anime as unremarkable as they usually are– friendship, effort, and victory. To a certain extent, it takes these themes to a new extreme and stresses them harder than some other series. Even so, it focused on these same themes and carefully crafted a story around them making sure that each of the characters that starred in the series are unique and offer a great platform from which to preach these themes.
Boku no Hero Academia takes a character who is born to a world where having super powers is normal and makes him learn at a young age that he would never get one of those powers as long as he lived. This was a huge blow for the young boy, Midoriya Izuku, since he admired heroes more than anyone else and wanted to be like his favorite hero, All Might. Unfortunately, you can’t be a hero in that world without some kind of super power, a quirk, so he was flat out told to give up and try to commit to a more realistic life. Izuku, also called Deku, understood this, but still admired heroes so much that he took constant notes on the top heroes in the world and tried to figure out what he could do to become one despite everyone in his life telling him that it’d be impossible for him to become a hero.
A chance encounter with his favorite hero, All Might, was all it took to change his life. Deku accidentally lets a criminal escape from All Might’s custody when he tries to talk to him to ask if someone without a quirk could be a hero. All Might flat out tells Deku that it’s impossible and that he should give up. If he really wanted to help other people, there are tons of other jobs out there for him, but being a hero was impossible for him. To hear his hero, his idol tell him the words he never wanted to hear was devastating for him and yet, when he saw the criminal that he accidentally helped escape grab one of his friends, Bakugou, the police tried to keep everyone away from him so that the heroes could do their job. Everyone was afraid, even Deku, but his body moved before he could even think. He runs in and tries to save his friend which astonishes everyone including All Might. After All Might once again subdues the villain, he finds Deku on his way home and revises his statement, saying that he can be a hero and that he’d help him.
Boku no Hero Academia is a zero to hero story about a guy who is basically born to be a hero. His passion and zeal towards being a hero is always visible and easy to believe making his journey to become a hero even more exciting and entertaining to follow. Boku no Hero Academia really gets the journey of Deku right. It uses the characters around him to show that even if Deku isn’t talented with his power, it’s not the power that necessarily matters, it’s the person behind that power that does. Going all the way back to the first episode when he saves his friend, Bakugou, from the clutches of the villain, Deku had no powers at all. He just wanted to save his friend because he couldn’t let a crime or anything bad in general happen in front of him even though he had no real way of fighting back. All Might recognizes that Deku’s passion and devotion to being a hero are the true qualities of what makes a hero great– power can only get you so far.
The best thing is that the characters also change along with Deku. Bakugou, arguably the most talented character in the series is the opposite of Deku. Ever since he developed his quirk, he’s been considered a genius and been called “amazing.” He’s basically lived his entire life with people praising him and he began to develop the idea that he’s just better than everyone else. That makes him conceited, over confident, and really faithful to the idea that he can do anything and everyone is beneath him. Because of that, it’s a big blow to his ego when Deku tries to save him despite not having a quirk at all and then also gets accepted to the same elite hero school as him. Bakugou slowly starts to learn that he is indeed talented, but he can’t keep living his life looking down on people. He begins to rid himself of some of his conceit and though he still retains his easily angered temperament, he begins to actually try to earn things instead of just assuming that they’ll magically fall in his lap. This change in heart is especially spurned by his bouts with Deku, a guy he placed so beneath him that it shattered every part of his being when he realized that Deku was doing things that even he couldn’t do.
The rivalry between him and Deku is almost like a Goku and Vegeta one, but I think I like this rivalry a little more. Bakugou is the same as Vegeta, he’s prideful but not stupid enough to underestimate his opponent. He’s constantly using his brain and not just trying to brute force his way into a win. Deku is a little different than Goku in that he’s not some kind of air head or someone who can magically power up all the time. He has an aptitude for being a hero, so he has the mind of one, but he still can’t control his powers. The dynamic between Deku and Bakugou is one that I really enjoyed seeing because even though in the beginning Bakugou thought nothing of Deku, he slowly begins to recognize him as an obstacle and a rival the same way that Deku always saw Bakugou as his goal.
Rivalries and character growth are great in Boku no Hero Academia, but the fighting and animation will also leave action/shounen fans pleased as well. I’ve already thrown some fights from Boku no Hero Academia into my weekly segment, Fighting Fridays, because they’re just so well done and exciting. It might be expected of the show because it’s from Shounen Jump, so the action better be good, but it’s still nevertheless impressive that it is as good as it is. There’s a lot more I could talk about for Boku no Hero Academia with most of it being praise for all of its feats, but since this isn’t a review, but rather a window into why I chose it as best of the season, I’ll leave my ramblings about it at this. Naming Boku no Hero Academia as best of the season was basically a no brainer this season and if there was any anime that deserved your attention it’s this one.
5. Sakamoto-kun desu ga?
Sakamoto-kun desu ga? aka “How to be a swagmeister 101” is a show that to me is more like a meme than an actual good show. It’s about a guy who’s just so inhumanly stylish and cool that everything he does just oozes swag. It’s basically Mary Poppins if she was a high school student with too much swag to handle. He goes around school and solves any problems that he sees with style and leaves the students better off than they were before. The entire show is basically a joke in and of itself, so as long as you don’t take it seriously, you’ll have a good laugh.
My criticism of Sakamoto-kun is basically that the show was too ridiculous at times. In my opinion there’s a ratio between being too ridiculous and being grounded in reality. You can either be to one extreme or slightly tipped in one direction. Sakamoto-kun didn’t feel like it could balance the ridiculousness of Sakamoto with the rest of the cast of characters. It always felt like none of the characters could keep up with Sakamoto even though they’re technically the ones who were being focused on since Sakamoto was basically the Mary Poppins of the show. The changes in the characters felt so insignificant in the face of Sakamoto and that was a problem. Because of that I never felt like the characters really changed. They might have changed one overt aspect of themselves, but it still seemed like they were reliant on Sakamoto to fix their problems for them.
There’s also the final conflict of the show which was just ridiculous overall and not in a good way. The speech that Sakamoto gives is a great one, but everything else about it felt incredibly rushed and out of place. Having one of the delinquents who really respected Sakamoto fall into a sense of desperation and rage towards him spurred on by a thirty year old who has yet to graduate high school is already a ridiculous situation, but it feels really forced to have him start something with Sakamoto.The way it plays out is acceptable until they make the thirty year old student graduate by luring him into the gymnasium to get him through the end of the ceremony, then just crowd surf him out. It felt very “Sakamoto-kun-like” but it still felt very unsatisfying and strange. Maybe that’s what the entire show of Sakamoto-kun was– strange and sometimes unsatisfying. But either way, Sakamoto-kun had some great moments in addition to its strange ones making it one of the better anime of the season.
4. Joker Game
Joker Game was an entertaining show by Production I.G. that dealt with a group of extremely talented Japanese spies in the pre-World War II era. The anime is very episodic after the first two episodes as it focuses on each of the spies and their missions. It’s a good concept, but it falls short because the anime gives you little time to even recognize that it’s going to be an episodic show. They briefly show the cast of characters for about two episodes before diving head first into their missions. When the third episode came around, I was really confused because what felt like it was going to be a normal show turned into some kind of episodic mess. It was very jarring and confusing and surely not intentional by Production I.G. In my opinion, if you’re going to make a series episodic, make it episodic from the start rather than take two episodes to do so. By the end, it’s still very difficult to identify any of the characters because unless you go back and thoroughly study the episodes, you won’t know any of the spies’ names or faces. The only one youi’ll remember is Yuuki because he has a cane and is frequently referenced as he is the leader of the spy agency.
When I wasn’t being confused by the game of Clue I had to go through every episode to figure out who the heck was who, I was enjoying the clever tricks the spies pulled off to complete their mission and their ideologies. The one I found the most interesting was without doubt that “Death is the worst option for a spy.” Common sense dictates that death might be the best option because you can’t give any information if you’re dead. After all, “Dead men tell no tales.” But that’s not the case in the spy world of Joker Game. There’s a lot of information that can be gained from having your corpse just lying around and that trail is going to eventually lead back to the place that you’re trying to defend. Death is akin to failure for spies, so in their world, it’s perfectly reputable to disappear and become a spy somewhere else and double cross your previous employer. Of course, the men in Yuuki’s agency don’t really ever do that because they’re very well disciplined and faithful.
Even so, Joker Game does bring a lot of interesting facets of spying to the table like what I just listed. Joker Game’s downfall was mostly just its jarring, episodic nature as well as some slower, less interesting episodes that never felt like they amounted to anything. By the end of the anime, it felt like nothing was accomplished and I kind of felt like I had gained nothing from watching the anime. While definitely a step above the rest, the feeling that you wasted your time with something is far from ideal for an anime which puts Joker Game lower on this list compared to the other entries here.
3. Tanaka-kun wa Itsumo Kedaruge
This is an anime I actually almost dropped on the first episode. The gags were predictable, the voice acting more laid back than the story, and the premise itself just seemed very uninteresting. Despite seeing the first episode and having one of the worst possible impressions of the show, I decided to try and get through the second one and surprisingly I liked it a lot more. Then the third episode came, then the fourth, and so on until the final episode aired and I realized that the show was not as bad as I initially thought. In fact, it was actually one of the best anime of the Spring. The inherent problems I saw from the beginning were actually problems that lingered through the entire series, but for the most part, the series did well to cover them up or use them to its advantage.
For instance, the gags being predictable was a definite problem, but through clever tiny twists and likeable characters, the show was able to steer the comedy into a good direction. The laid back story eventually fit because of it used Tanaka’s interactions with his classmates as the main focus of the show instead of Tanaka just figuring out the most optimal ways to laze around. The character interactions were without doubt the highlight and soul of the show. The clash between Tanaka’s laziness and everyone else trying to motivate him to do things isn’t focused on excessively leaving time for other comedic devices such as misunderstandings and miscellaneous mishaps to take the wheel.
The only problem I felt that was never fixed was Ohta’s voice acting. This might just be a personal qualm, but I really hated the job that Hosoya, Koshimiya did was just horrible. Every other one of his lines was like “I see” or something about Tanaka. Then there was also the fact that his tone of voice basically barely changed ever. Maybe that’s just the way the character is supposed to be, but it just really got on my nerves. Otherwise, Tanaka-kun is actually a surprisingly entertaining show with some laughs and above average animation.
Trigger has never confused me this much until this show. I don’t mean like FLCL confusing but more like Kill la Kill where I’m not sure if I really like it or not. Kiznaiver is a show that is all about making friends with people you never thought you’d be friends with. In the city that the protagonists live in, there’s an active experiment going on called the Kizna Experiment where they select some people and mark them with a Kizna. With the Kizna, their senses of pain are linked and it’s believed that through that, they’ll become friends and that this will eventually lead to world peace. The newest test subjects are seven students from the same school who seemingly have nothing in common with the main character of the story being a guy who can’t even feel pain. The show got my attention from the start because first of all, it’s Trigger, and second of all, it seemed like it might actually go somewhere. To my disappointment, the show basically went nowhere and can basically be summed up by “Teenage angst meets trigger.”
That being said, there were some great moments from the anime that preached that it doesn’t matter how different people are, there will always be the possibility that they can understand each other and become friends. It was a good theme to preach but maybe not the right execution or anime to do so. Because they tried so hard to get through each of the characters’s emotional traumas, it felt really drawn out and repetitive with only a few of the emotional scars proving to be remotely interesting.
Surprisingly, despite the anime only being twelve episodes, it felt like it was never really rushed and that it was carefully planned out. I was surprised that for a show that basically did nothing, it never felt like it was stretched too far or cut too short. The anime seemed to have a clear plan and hit on every point that it wanted to hit on which is more than I can say for a lot of anime out there.
Of course the thing that really kept me watching was just how frickin’ pretty the anime was. In my opinion this might be one of Triggers’ prettiest shows to date. It might not have had as much as action as Kill la Kill, but even without action, the lighting and movement of the characters was just impressive to the point that I’d keep coming back to this mediocre story time and time again just to watch Trigger at work. Kiznaiver isn’t a must see anime, but it’s not a bad addition to the Trigger repertoire. Compared to Trigger’s previous works, it might be on the lower rung, but it’s still an above average anime that was worth watching as it aired.
1. Flying Witch
J.C. Staff has been hitting home runs recently and Flying Witch is no different. As runner up for Best of Season, Flying Witch exceeded every other anime in quality and entertainment. I think it’s time I finally get used to praising J.C. Staff for their ability to actually animate things other than harem/ecchis and random bad shows. They show that they can go from Prison School to Flying Witch, which is a drastic difference and it’s hard to even tell that they’re done by the same studio. That being said, the quality of the animation is still top notch– something I thought I’d never say when talking about J.C. Staff. Either way, respect where it is due because J.C. Staff made this daily life show about a witch who barely does anything witch like actually look aesthetically intriguing much like how Silver Link made Non Non Biyori look incredible.
One of the most impressive parts of Flying Witch is that all of the voice actors for the main characters were newbies meaning this was their first main role. I had little to no idea until I actually checked the cast list. For their first big performance, they all did a stellar job making the characters come to life, it was difficult to tell that this was their first major role. Maybe the most surprising part is that some of the more veteran voice actors such as Iguchi Yuka and Kayano Ai were relegated to supporting roles instead of being the main characters. Usually it’s the opposite, but in Flying Witch’s case, they had the newbies take center stage and they honestly knocked it out of the park. Hearing their performances makes me really excited to see them in the future.
Some of the best moments in the anime was the impeccable pairing and timing of music in the anime. I remember there was a scene maybe in the anime’s fourth episode where one of the characters was chasing the cat of Makoto, the main character. Every time the cat moved, a key of the piano would be played. Every hop, jump, or step, was matched by a strike of a piano key just really matching the playfulness of the scene. Flying Witch was really strong when it matched music to the actions of the characters which is something that many anime fail to do. Usually they just slap on a BGM and that’s it, but Flying Witch felt like they actually tried to craft all the music around the scenes and that thus brought forth a feeling of uniqueness and astoundment. It’s rare to see music so on point as it is in Flying Witch, but Flying Witch proves that it is different than the rest.
The story of Flying Witch is surprisingly enjoyable. It’s a daily life, so it’s really laid back, meaning that if you’re not into daily life, Flying Witch might not be up your alley. But even for a daily life anime, Flying Witch had some great laughs as well as just a great feel to it. It was really relaxing to watch while still being entertaining. It reminded me of one of my favorite daily life anime, Aria. Even though there was no real conflict, it was still surprisingly easy to enjoy the anime. I wouldn’t say Flying Witch is as good as Aria, but it’s definitely one of the better daily life anime.
8. Kuma Miko
Kuma Miko was one of the most confusing and inconsistent shows of the season. Sometimes it had some really great humor and other times it was just really creepy and awkward. By creepy and awkward, I mean exactly that. The show takes place in a remote village that worships bears and the priestess of that village is a middle school girl named Machi. The show starts off by telling a tale of how Kumade Village, the Bear Village, began. Basically, a bear raped a human, they fell in love, had kids and those kids turned out to be the residents of the village. Not only that, that’s the reason why the bear in the show, Natsu, can talk too. That is the start of all the weird sexual tension between Machi and Natsu (a bear). Not only that, there’s some weird sexual tension between her and her relative, Yoshio who is trying to revitalize the village by using Machi’s “cuteness” and sex appeal. It’s already weird enough that there’s weird sexual tension between a bear and a 14 year old girl, but add tension between her and a 25 year old all the while the sexualization of a 14 year old girl and you just get the most awful taste in your mouth.
Even when the anime is funny, it still falls back on these creepy and cringe moments. It’s like that person who tells a joke that he thinks is incredibly funny, but it’s really distasteful or insensitive, so you try to laugh along with your best fake/dry laugh, but inside you’re just shaking your head in disappointment and wondering when you can go home. Kuma Miko has some great comedic moments but it has even more cringe-worthy moments and just weird moments that will leave you wondering why the heck you’re even watching the show in the first place.
Above all else though, the worst thing about Kuma Miko was the way it ended. The entire show was about Machi trying to grow up so that she could get used to living in the city and stop living out in the rural Bear Village. The entire show actually showed her taking steps forward to improve herself and stop being the shy rural bumpkin that she was at the start of the show, but then when it ended, they threw all of that out and Machi declares that she’s going to stay in the village because she’s scared of the outside world. Any character development that happened during the course of the series was instantly just thrown out and it felt that the show was giving the viewers a huge middle finger. What was the point of the show if she’s just going to revert back to her old self? It’s irresponsible and worse than even ending with an open ending– oh wait, it did that too! Not only does Kuma Miko throw all character development out the window, it throws in an open ending too, so basically it’s as if the series never even existed in the first place.
Kuma miko, while good for a laugh here or there just barely enters into the average section of this list because it was still barely a cut above the rest. It still had decent animation, decent characters, and some good sense of comedy, but it doesn’t change just how creepy, awkward, and pointless the majority of the series was.
7. Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou
I started watching Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou mostly because I thought it’d be an educatinal show on Dj’ing. I’ve always been interested in DJ’ing and have thought about picking it up as a hobby sometime, so I decided to give the show a watch. While Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou definitely did give some insight into the world of DJs, it still fell short in actually making the anime interesting. Different than let’s say Shirobako or Sore ga Seiyuu, Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou was condensed into roughly ten minute episodes where it introduced some basic DJ terms and problems that new and veteran DJs have to deal with. Maybe it was because of this that I felt like I was getting the Spark notes of the Spark notes on how to DJ. It felt like they left a lot of detail out to just give a very bare bones understanding of DJ’ing. This did the shows no real favors because it made the show feel really devoid of any real information which is why I watched it in the first place.
The story itself is actually really uninteresting in the sense that it’s very convenient. DJ’ing isn’t something that can be picked up in just a few weeks, it’s something that’s mastered over time and yet Agetarou was able to not only pick it up, but get some real good teachers and friends along the way. What it basically came down to was that the show made it seem as if as long as you know the right people and practice a little, you can be a good DJ. Maybe that’s true, but looking at some of my friends who are amateur DJs, I don’t think that’s the case at all. My entrenched view about Dj’ing could also be because I expected more EDM tracks than whatever it was that he played, but I still think they could have focused a little bit more on the DJ’ing and less on Agetarou’s weird dance moves.
I will praise the show for being able to compare DJ’ing to making Tonkatsu. It’s actually a very unique comparison that seems to work out in the grand scheme of things. I doubt anyone will be using the “tonkatsu” technique to DJ in the future, but for a show, it was pretty amusing. Overall, that’s what Tonkatsu DJ Agetarou was– it was amusing, but lacking in any actual DJ knowledge which is surprising for a show that has “DJ” in its title.
6. Netoge no yome wa onna no ko janai to omotta?
Netoge no yome is an example of a good concept that isn’t well executed. It’s a constant conversation on whether or not real life and the game are disconnected from one another or whether they can actually be the same. For most people, the answer here is a no brainer– of course they’re disconnected. Games aren’t real, but real life is. But for many people who play games (which is a much larger number in modern day), the line between game and real life is becoming thinner and thinner. By that, I don’t mean, suddenly you think you can shoot fireballs out of your hands, but that the way you conduct yourself online can be the same as the way you do so in real life, that friends you make online can be friends offline as well, and that certain themes and hardships experienced in game can be related to things out of game as well. Netoge no yome is an anime that plays with that debate with a girl who can’t separate game from reality in some extreme ways, namely that she gets married to a guy in game and then considers him her husband out of game as well.
The main characters in this series decide that they need to help the girl, Ako, get a firmer grasp on what is real and what isn’t and so they start a club to help her distinguish reality from game. As the series goes on though, you start to see things from her perspective and start to see that besides some obvious aspects such as fantasy elements that are mutually exclusive to games, the line between reality and games is much thinner than you’d expect. I really appreciate Netoge no Yome for going through this topic of discussion especially with the rise of gaming culture and shut-ins. Truth be told, I was on the other side of the debate, the side that said that game and reality are definitely separate and there’s no real overlap between the two. But seeing the anime unfold made me believe that there’s definitely room for some conversation on the topic.
The downside to watching this anime is that it’s still very “light novely.” By this I mean, it’s obvious that it’s trying to cater to a broader audience by lowering the overall level of intelligence and deepness of the story and instead filling in the empty spaces with ecchi, romance, and drama. I’m not especially a huge fan of anime that do that, so this lowered my impression of the show a lot especially since these occurrences weren’t just a few times here and there, I’d go so far as to say that’s what the majority of the series consisted of. There were of course some times that they actually dealt with real issues such as identity theft and motivating oneself to actually leave the house and go to school (this is a real problem, no joke). Other than this though, the problems they dealt with and their solutions were just so run-of-the-mill that it really showed the level of people that the anime was trying to appeal to. It’s another one of those anime where every piece of the puzzle just conveniently falls into the lap of the characters and while it might feel good to see everything work out for the characters, that’s not good storytelling, that’s just pandering to your audience.
5. Bungou Stray Dogs
Bungou Stray Dogs is basically Hamatora or Kekkai Sensen with less personality and more Shounen. It feels devoid of originality and instead tries to rely on its eccentric cast to carry the story along. Unfortunately for Bungou Stray Dogs, its cast of characters isn’t especially strong. It’s like playing Playstation Allstars instead of Super Smash Brothers. You get the satisfaction/comfort of knowing the characters (since they all feel so generic) but no actual sense of quality, polish, or originality.
That being said, I’ll admit that there were some interesting episodes, but other than that, it just felt like a wannabe Hamatora or Kekkai Sensen with wannabe good characters. There’s a detective agency filled with people who have special powers, there’s a character trying to find where he belongs, and there are life lessons to be learned from the more experienced people at the agency. Oh and also, the main character is very shounen in that he’s not especially strong, but he’ll go to any length to do right. There basically isn’t anything really original about the show or anything to keep you watching.
Maybe one of the only redeeming properties of Bungou Stray Dogs was its animation which was at times very impressive but overall very consistent. The fights between the superpowered beings was always entertaining because they were animated well. I’d go as far as to say that they were the highlight of the entire series even though there were some occasional emotional scenes that made me slightly raise my opinion of the show.
4. Uchuu Patrol Luluco
Uchuu Patrol Luluco is probably the most Trigger show of the season even though it’s a short series. It’s extremely fast paced and over the top with an eccentric cast of characters that come together for a single purpose which in this case is recovering their town from the space pirate that stole it who happens to be her mother. It’s much less a story about the adventure to recover their lost town of Ogikubo and more of a coming of age story for the main character, Luluco as she struggles to maintain a “normal” life in the heart of abnormalities. Her city is known for coexisting with aliens, she eventually becomes a member of the Space Patrol and can then change her body into a gun, and her Dad was turned into ice and then every part of him except for a small section of his head was taken by her mother, a space pirate. Despite that, she still tries her best to be a normal teenage girl and one of those ways is falling in love. She falls in love at first sight with a guy who transfers into her class and then into the Space Patrol that she grudgingly works at in her father’s stead.
The story from there on is just about how Luluco tries to get her first love, Nova, to look her way all the while trying to get back her city of Ogikubo. It’s a fun series that’s split up into “seasons” instead of “episodes.” This decision by Trigger to label each episode as the beginning and end to a season was an interesting one because even though each episode was short, it felt slightly longer and a little more epic just with different labeling (epic might be the wrong word here). In the end, it was a fairly enjoyable ride and one that I could easily recommend to any Trigger fan out there.
3. Ushio to Tora 2
The second season of Ushio to Tora is only for people who have seen and liked the first season. The first season wasn’t too bad, so I’d recommend it if you’re even slightly interesting. In the second season, things go a little faster now that Ushio and Tora are finally more in sync with each other and all the demons and humans are ready to fight Hakumen no Mono together rather than fight each other. The second season is basically the same show from the first season with Ushio trying to sacrifice everything he has for the sake of everyone else, human or demon, and then Tora “begrudgingly” helping Ushio and saving him at times. Their dynamic while not completely unique is still one that works for the series because it’s a bridge between the demons and humans and shows that they can work together.
While most of the series was pretty solid, I do have some qualms about how things ultimately ended up. There were some times that I felt that Ushio wasn’t really acting like himself and it felt like a betrayal of his character. On the other hand, Tora always acted like himself and had to constantly cover for Ushio which was surprising considering how reluctant he was earlier. Either way though, the emotional helter skelter that Ushio experienced in the show felt very out of place and uncharacteristic of Ushio making it hard to really cheer for Ushio anymore. The reason I liked Ushio was because he was a man of his word, reckless to a fault, optimistic, and self-sacrificing. In a few episodes, all those traits were lost and he just became some blubbering idiot. It’s true that Ushio is an idiot, but blubbering he is not. Aside from this though, the second season of Ushio to Tora was solid and brought a strong conclusion to the series.
2. Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2
Like Ushio to Tora’s second season, Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2 is basically the same as its previous season, just that it picks up right where it left off– right in the middle of the Festa. If there’s one thing I can praise Gakusen Toshi Asterisk 2 on, it’s that it toned down the ecchi compared to its first season and in its stead, it added more action which is actually a great decision because the animation for Gakusen Toshi Asterisk has always been randomly impressive and this season was no different.
I actually rated the first season of Gakusen Toshi Asterisk pretty low because it felt incredibly generic and only looked aesthetically pleasing while lacking everything in the way of character development and plot. This season focuses more on the characters and fights which proved to be effective because this season felt like it was less like some generic light novel and more like it was a decent original series. There were still moments where I remembered why I rated the first season so poorly, but overall I think the second season did a much better job than the first season.
Unfortunately, it still ends on a cliffhanger which is unfortunate but understandable since it was only twelve episodes and follows the light novel series which isn’t done yet. If you liked the first season of Gakusen Toshi Asterisk, you’ll definitely find yourself liking this season as well. It’s more of the same just with more action and some more character development and a few new characters here and there.
1. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
At the beginning of the season, I was almost positive this was going to be anime of the season. My steampunk wet dreams being realized aside, it was being done by the same studio that did Shigneki no Kyojin with music done by Sawano Hiroyuki. It was slated to be one of the most hype series of this season and in many ways it was. The start of the series painted a unique post apocalyptic world where the people of Japan were separated into their own “train stations” because of an outbreak of Kabaneri, zombie creatures that have steel cages around their hearts as well as super human movement and strength. I should have realized that this series was basically just Shingeki no Kyojin with more steampunk elements. Humans are trapped at their train stations just like humans were trapped behind the walls in Shingeki no Kyojin. Humans get killed by these mysterious beings and are constantly on the run from them. Their only way to fight back is an unlikely hero as well as some other beings who have the power to match these monstrous threats just like in Shingeki no Kyojin. Oh and also the main character lost his family to these monsters as well.
There are tons of parallels between Shingeki and Kabaneri, but the only difference is the general execution of the show and the general setting. The loss of their homes and their country is still fresh in these people’s minds. They know that they used to have so much more than what they have now. They used to be able to eat rice, but now they aren’t able to because they can’t make rice paddies. It’s different than Shingeki in this regard because you can actually relate to their situation a little more because they’re recounting things that they miss that we have in our daily lives and take for granted. In this regard, Kabaneri does a good job in selling its post apocalyptic world.
Another great aspect of the show is its beautiful animation and music. If there’s anything that Wit Studio gets right, it’s making beautifully animated scenes out of just regular mundane ones as well as adding a unique style to the show. If there’s anything that Sawano Hiroyuki does well, it’s making sure that the music he makes is always hype as hell. Every time his music played, it just made the scene feel that much more epic or emotional. I seriously have nothing but praise for both Wit Studio and Sawano Hiroyuki. Together, they can make even mundane tasks such as data entry look and sound badass.
What Kabaneri doesn’t get right is staying original in its story progression. It gets really generic later on and also convoluted for no reason. It felt like it rushed to the end and forgot what it should be doing along the way. It added new elements to the show while throwing deus ex machinas everywhere, made a strange romance between the main characters, and then had an even stranger ending. All in all it felt like the anime got nowhere even though the characters went through a lot. But just thinking about it, nothing really got resolved and the cast of characters are actually in a bigger hole than they began in. Koutetsujou no Kabaneri is a fun series but is just as devoid of depth and originality as Shingeki no Kyojin.
Worst of Season:
I honestly have no clue who green lighted this show because this has to be the worst show that I’ve ever seen anyone slop together. The first episode alone was indicative of just how shallow and tryhard the series was without actually accomplishing something. It was like ordering a surplus of food, convinced that you can get through all of it by yourself but then realizing that you can’t eat all of it, so you start picking bits and pieces from each dish and hope that you’ll be satisfied. Mayoiga was a mess of a story with an extremely large cast that had absolutely no worthwhile characters. The hardest decision for me while watching this anime was figuring out what was worse, the characters, the story, or the people who made this steaming pile of crap.
Mayoiga is so bad that I’ve added it to my top 5 worst anime I’ve ever seen and I’m leaning at putting it around number 3 or 4. Out of the 867 series I’ve watched, it managed to make its way to the bottom 5 of those. Bravo Mayoiga. Bravo. I don’t even understand how high the people who made this series were and how they even thought this would be a good idea. Not only is it an original story meaning that they actually wrote this without any reference material, they condensed an extremely pointless story with very forced and annoying characters into a twelve episode shit show that bore no fruits in any regard. It was like watching a poor man’s– no, not even a poor man’s, like poorer than a hobo’s Persona 4. It pains me to even put Persona 4 in the same mention as this god awful show, but it tried to have the characters find their true selves while a physical manifestation of their insecurity roamed around and tried to attack them. In order to survive, they had to accept their insecurity and only then could they leave the village.
Let me also say that the first episode was probably the worst episode I’ve ever seen in any anime ever. It tried to introduce a huge cast of characters all at once and that’s already incredibly overwhelming especially since they’re all shitty characters that the viewer has no real incentive of wanting to care about. The cast of characters are just so unbelievably terrible. It’s not even that they’re generic, they’re not even just boring, they’re trying too hard to be unique that they just become too eccentric for their own good. Think of Danganronpa and how all its characters are very extreme. These characters are the more normal versions of that, just very unlikeable and annoying. It’s like they tried to recreate what Danganronpa did with a huge cast of characters, but they didn’t plan it out well because even now I barely remember any of their names and I don’t even care.
As I said earlier, this anime is an original anime. I’d give the anime a very small free pass if it was actually adapting something, but it’s not. It has zero reason to be this rushed and convoluted. It’s like they tried to make the most eccentric cast of characters and then throw them into a “closed room murder” setting with a hint of supernatural. They’re basically trying to replicate Higurashi’s magic, but they really suck at this. Every back story just feels incredibly forced and each character is just so hard to sympathize with in general that no matter how “tragic” they make their backstories, I just don’t even care. I think an anime is really made by its cast of characters and Mayoiga’s cast is probably the worst I’ve seen in a long time. Apathy is the only thing that grows in this series. The overall mystery might be interesting, but it’s heavily overshadowed by the incredibly weak cast of characters and just overall setting of the series. But the only thing that was relatively interesting, the mystery, becomes one of the most frustrating revelations and conclusions in any anime ever. The frustration and anger I felt after the series ended is almost unprecedented. Mayoiga is by and far the worst anime of this season and it’s not even a close competition. Mayoiga makes me lose faith in the anime industry and makes me want to curl up into a ball and cry over the seemingly inevitable end of quality anime. Fuck you Mayoiga.
Remember, this section goes from “worst” to “best” with 7 being the worst and 1 being the best. This means that the number seven choice was more in contention for “worst of season” than the number one choice.
7. Seisen Cerberus
Seisen Cerberus is the only anime that was close enough to Mayoiga’s low level of quality this season. It took a very basic story, threw in a fairly unlikeable and generic cast, sent them on a poorly executed journey, and threw very predictable and weak obstacles along the way. The final few episodes were so out of place and rushed that it almost felt like an entirely different anime. In addition, the anime just failed at every aspect of being an anime. Characters? Sucked. Story? Sucked. Sound? Sucked. Animation? Sucked a lot. For an anime that should be focusing on either fights or the story, this anime really sucked at both of them. It reminds me of last year’s Kuusen Madoushi no Kouhousei no Kyoukan where even though it was supposed to be an action anime, its animation for fights was probably the worst of the season. There were really no redeeming factors for this show other than that it wasn’t as rushed as Mayoiga, it didn’t suck as much as Mayoiga, and it didn’t end as badly as Mayoiga. It’s still overall a step up from the worst of this season, but it’s still a very poorly done series.
6. Bishoujo Yuugi Unit Crane Game Girls
I’m guessing this was supposed to be a “fun” anime where they take an incredibly ridiculous premise and try to make it fun. In this case, the ridiculous premise is that them solving crane games will save the world from asteroids crashing into it. If I had to guess, the anime is supposed to be an informational anime about how to solve crane games with a side of humor. Even so, it offers absolutely nothing in the way of entertainment. It’s a one trick anime where the one trick is so niche and irrelevant especially given Western countries’ lack of crane games, so I definitely can’t see it appealing too much to a Western audience. Even to an Asian audience, I doubt there’d be too much of a following for this show. The animation is bad, the characters are as run of the mill as they come, and the general execution of the anime is just horrible. Even though each episode was only about three minutes, it was always a huge pain to sit through each and every one. The series even had the audacity to end on an open ending without taking the time to explain anything or tie up some of its loose ends. I don’t get how you can mess that up with a series like this. Just plug in a happy ever after and bam, you’re done. Don’t put a “to be continued” to a series this niche, this poorly done, and this pointless.
5. Pan de Peace
Another short series, but this one is probably just as niche as Bishoujo Crane Girls, just it’s “enriched” by moe. Ever want to learn more about bread? Well sucks, because this is just bread porn without any real explanation about bread. These girls just love bread and that’s the entire series. They bond over bread, they eat bread, they fight with bread, and they lure each other around with bread. It’s just basically another three minute series that’s a waste of your time.
4. Anne Happy
Anne Happy is basically another moe show with a strange premise to make it seem like it’s not all about being moe when it actually is. The gimmick this time is that it’s about a class that’s filled with really unlucky people. The reason why they’re all gathered in that class is so that they can be observed and made to have a luckier life but this aspect never really comes into play. They might try to make it come into play every episode, but that’s mostly just an excuse to bring in moe into the mix, introduce characters, and make them bond. It’s honestly nothing more than a glorified waifu bait show under the guise of friendship. Fortunately or not, Anne happy is very unremarkable in everything and left no real lasting impression on me except that they used a really weird premise for this show and that this show was really boring and stupid. There were some funny parts, but those instances were very, very rare. Maybe a total of 5-10 minutes out of the entire series was funny and that’s about it. The rest of it was just forced, boring, and tryhard moe.
3. Wagamama High Spec
Wagamama High Spec is another short series but one that can actually occasionally be funny. It’s like a poor man’s Seitokai no Ichizon without the swag of Sugisaki Ken meaning that this series is incredibly inferior. The strength of Wagamam High Spec that kept it from the bottom of this list is that it was short and still occasionally funny. Compared to the other short series in this section, Wagamama High Spec actually seemed to know what it wanted to be, what audience it was targeting, and had some good material. It still was a hit or miss series that was filled mostly with “misses,” but it was still one of the better shows in this section.
Hundred is just another harem/ecchi series where the main character transfers into a new school and has some sleeper OP power that he uses to get others and himself out of tough situations. Along the way, his kindness and strengthb makes the women around him fall in love with him but he’s overall too oblivious to realize that which gives fans of the girls hope that he might choose one of their favorites. Hundred really provides nothing new to the harem/ecchi genre and plays it really safe which is very typical of the genre in general. That being said, it still had pretty decent animation and still provided for more entertainment than other shows this season. It also had a more expansive plot that piqued my curiosity ever so slightly, so it’s still above the rest of the worst anime this season by just a little. If you’re a harem/ecchi fan, Hundred is something you can watch because it’s like watching any other harem/ecchi series like Infinite Stratos or even Saijaku Muhai no Bahamut from last season.
Bakuon seems like it should be an anime to give the people who are unfamiliar about motorcycles a brief and simple background on them. Unfortunately, not only does it barely give any information on motorcycles, it only gives fanservice… a lot of it. It reminds me a lot of K-on! in the sense that it was cute girls doing a niche activity. It was basically like the anime was trying to get by just by being cute and ecchi.
Credit where it is due, Bakuon CAN be funny, but not really consistently. There were times that I thought it was a competent anime, but those times were so scarce. Overall it was just another anime that looked good enough, but was plagued with bad characters, and a very strange setting that wouldn’t appeal to anyone. It then turned to the only way it could sell itself, cute girls doing cute things. Even if you like cute girls doing cute things, the anime is just so underwhelming that even with that aspect of the show, it’s not enough to convince me to say that it’s worth it for people who like moe or ecchi to watch it.
Bakuon is a lot of things, but good, it isn’t. The only reason that it is at the top of this list is that it probably had the best voice work out of all the series in this section and still had more laughs than I expected. In most of the aspects that it tries to excel at, Bakuon finds itself falling flat on its face. Even as a moe show, Bakuon doesn’t really stack up to its competitors which is honestly pretty embarrassing.
Favorite of the Season
Boku no Hero Academia
Boku no Hero Academia was without a doubt my favorite of the season for just so many reasons but the main one is that it felt like it was breathing life into the frequently used story of “from zero to hero.” It wasn’t just about the main character, Deku’s growth, it was about all the characters’s growth because of Deku. Deku is someone you can really call a hero even though he is still wet behind the ears. He’s not just some overpowered guy who uses deus ex machinas to overcome situations. He’s met with adversities, he’s met with his own limits, and he’s met with reality. Despite that he keeps pressing on and wants to get better. Deku isn’t the strongest character in the series, but he’s definitely the most heroic and the person you want to cheer for the most. Boku no Hero Academia is not only one of the best Shounen Jump series I’ve seen in quite some time, but just one of the best anime of this year so far. If you haven’t seen Boku no Hero Academia yet, I’d highly recommend giving it a watch and seeing for yourself just how amazing this series truly is.