Now that I’m back in the saddle and actually watching anime this season, I wanna try writing about it. I meant to write this back when each of these were only six episodes in (the halfway point for most), but…I’m lazy. This is also gonna be the first of what will hopefully be weekly posts from me. I know that’s the norm for most blogs, but I assure you, I’m setting the bar really high for myself.
The spring 2016 season of anime is a pretty good one. Quite a few standout titles with much of your basic fare–I watch both types because I am easy to please. I’m only watching seven of the ones airing this season right now (would be eight, but I had to drop one). Gonna rank these in order from least hype every week to most hype every week. I also plan to write another post about this season when most of these end. A’ight. Let’s get to it.
7) Twin Star Exorcists
Big, nasty beasties known as Kegare inhabit the world of Magano–a parallel hell earth dimension thing-y. Whenever the Kegare influence or invade the real world, exorcists are called in to handle them. Well, a prophecy for the exorcists say that the child of the Twin Star Exorcists–the two strongest exorcists–will eradicate the Kegare and end the fight for good. Enter the teenagers Rokuro Enmadou and Benio Adashino. Rokuro used to want to be the greatest exorcist until he retired after some tragedy occurred, and Benio is still on track to becoming the best around. They develop some disdain for each other after their initial meeting, and the two become absolutely appalled when the head exorcist informs them both it is their destiny to get married and–in Syndrome’s immortal words–get busy. Supernatural shenanigans ensue.
This is your basic supernatural/action/romcom anime that I assume we have Inuyasha to thank for. The premise would fall apart if the two leads didn’t work well together, but they kinda do. As much as I love the action aspect of the anime I watch, this one actually shines when it focuses on the eventual relationship between Rokuro and Benio. The side characters usually feel woefully unnecessary. Having only 12 episodes, the anime feels like it takes a bit too much time getting Rokuro back into the exorcist swing of things. Halfway in, though, Twin Star Exorcists seems to be hitting its stride. There aren’t any surprises if you’ve watched at least four or five anime in this genre, but hey, it’s still mostly fun.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one: The world is under attack from big, nasty beasties (should I just call these BNBs from now on?), and the only ones who can seem to fight them are high school students who can somehow wield sorta magic/sorta tech powers. A prodigy male student transfers into said high school where he woos a great many women because he’s that awesome. Hundred is about as cookie-cutter as you can get in this day and age. I enjoy it quite a bit.
I’ll give Hundred this much–it’s not just teenagers who can fight the Savages (Lord, they’re actually called Savages). I assume. The school is set up specifically to train our Slayers so that they can enter the military upon graduation. But, the characters, plot, and world are as color-by-numbers as possible. For the most part. I was gonna pass on this one until I realized some antagonists show up with similar powers to the heroic Slayers. Instead of being powered by Hundred, though (I still don’t know why they’re called Hundred), they get their powers from the cores of fallen Savages. Kinda neat. It also reminds me a lot of Infinite Stratos, and I quite enjoy that series. Yeah, I like harem anime. Can’t help it.
5) Asterisk War 2nd Season
Not as cookie-cutter as Hundred because this one focuses on a tournament! And I love tournaments. The second season starts with the Phoenix Festa in full swing. Ayato Amagiri and Julis-Alexia von Riessfeld are taking the world by storm as the tourney’s power couple. Sure, they’re not an official couple, but when the top-ranked fighter of a school teams up with a princess, it tends to make waves. Anyway, antagonists new and old stand in their way to victory. Will they win? Probably.
I actually like Asterisk War more than I should. I think it’s because even though it is a harem anime, it doesn’t use fan-service as a crutch. In fact, what fan-service there is is few and far between, and I don’t think there’s even been any in the second season. The tournament and the politics of the various schools are front and center here. Also, the supporting cast isn’t useless. They actually do things and contribute to the story. Le gasp! I like the characters, the world, the action, and it has a tournament! Always back the tournament anime.
Studio Trigger’s latest outing is a weird one (le gasp). Katsuhira Agata can’t feel pain–neither physical or emotional. Well, one day after he’s gotten the crap kicked out of him, mysterious beauty Noriko Sonozaki pushes him down a flight of stairs and whisks him away to some hospital. As you do. He’s forced into a surgery that turns him into a Kiznaiver–someone who’s bound to others by pain. What one feels is divided among the others to lessen the hurt. This is allegedly supposed to lead to world peace, but who buys that? The other Kiznaivers have been chosen as they represent Sonozaki’s definition of the new Seven Deadly Sins, with Katsuhira being The Imbecile. His childhood friend Chidori Takashiro is The Annoyingly Self-Righteous; local tough guy Hajime Tenga is The Musclehead Thug; oddball Nico Niyama is The Eccentric Headcase; pretty boy Tsuguhito Yuta is The Cunning Normal; standoffish Honoka Maki is The High-and-Mighty; and the seventh Ranger–er–Kiznaiver, Yoshiharu Hisomu, is The Immoral. These seven teenagers now feel each other’s pain, and they have to survive summer break that way. Poor kids.
I only started Kiznaiver the other day since–even though I do love their anime–Trigger’s shows have a habit of not hooking me like they do everyone else. I don’t think Gurren Lagann is the unmitigated classic others claim it to be, and Kill la Kill didn’t live up to its hype until it was halfway done. So, I knew I had to give Kiznaiver a head start. It’s a good thing I did, too. I liked it enough, but it’s only now that the show seems to really be delving into the possibilities and ideas it set up in the first couple episodes. I also love Hisomu. There’s a reason I didn’t give him an adjective. I don’t want to spoil that for anyone.
Kiznaiver is also the first anime on this list I would suggest to pretty much anyone. It’s all greatness the rest of the way.
3) My Hero Academia
A large portion of the world now has super-powers, or “Quirks” as they call them. This has obviously led to the rise of superheroes and villains everywhere. The greatest hero of them all is All-Might, and he also happens to be the favorite hero of Izuku Midoriya, our protagonist. Izuku is a super-fanboy. He’s studied heroes and villains since he was but a wee lad in hopes of someday becoming a hero himself. Unfortunately for him, he’s Quirkless. He has no super-powers. He has the heart of hero, though, as he displays when he charges a supervillain to save his childhood bully Katsuki Bakugou. This catches they eye of All-Might who finally tells Izuku what he’s been wanting to hear his whole life: You can become a hero.
Whew. I kinda teared up typing that last sentence. I love things that really blend genres. I’m talking about things like Rush Hour that brings Jackie Chan’s martial arts shenanigans into an American buddy-cop film. Well, My Hero Academia is a Western superhero story of sorts told in a Japanese fashion. Or something like that. Like, it has heavy Western comic book influences but the powers, characters, and story are unmistakably manga. I hate that it’s only 13 episodes, but the manga’s also pretty young, so at least we won’t be getting filler. I love the characters and the world. Plus Ultra!
Once again, stop me if you’ve heard this one: Subaru Natsuki is a shut-in otaku who is suddenly transported to a strange fantasy world. There, he meets the beautiful half-elf “Satella” who’s looking for her stolen insignia. He decides to help her and the two slowly develop feelings for each other. Things are going pretty well for our protagonists as the two finally reach the building in which the insignia is located. Subaru and Satella enter, and…they’re killed. Waitaminnit. Subaru is then once again standing in front of a fruit vendor he happened upon earlier in the day. As you do.
This is another anime I waited for a while before watching. See, I knew about the dark twist of Subaru reaching sort of save points that he goes back to if he dies, and I didn’t want any of that since I thought it was gonna be one of those overly dark, overly violent anime that are just so because they can be. What I found, instead, is a well-told, beautiful, and engrossing anime populated by great characters and deliciously malevolent mysteries. The true draw here is how much Subaru values each life because he not only doesn’t know if he’s going to come back, but he also vividly feels and remembers each life along with each death. He deeply cares for the people he meets, and it hurts all the more when he feels like he’s failed them. Re:Zero is definitely the biggest surprise for me this season. I’m so glad it’s getting 25 episodes.
1) JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable
Big surprise what my number one is, huh? The fourth season of the super-awesome-wonderfully-weird-best-anime-you-haven’t-watched-shame-on-you JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure takes us to Morioh, where a strange Bow and Arrow is either giving ordinary people Stand powers or it’s killing them. No in-between because this is JoJo’s. Our nominal hero this time is high-shcooler Josuke Higashikata, illegitimate son of best JoJo Joseph Joestar, and thus uncle of third JoJo Jotaro Kuujou. The story kicks off with Jotaro making his way to Morioh to inform the kid of his lineage and to look into all the new Stand users. Seems simple enough, but it rarely ever is in this world. A serial killer who controls a little water Stand, a punk who literally weighs you down with guilt, and an idiot who can actually erase distance are but a few of the inhabitants of this crazy noisy bizarre town. God, I love this franchise.
I admit that this is kinda cheating since I’m going into this one with 74 episodes and a video game behind it (gettin’ that manga at some point this year, too), so yeah, I have a little more history with this one than I do the others. Without all that, would I look forward to this one more than Re:Zero or My Hero Academia? Hard to tell. I’m gonna go with yes since it ticks all my boxes. Great OP and ED, stylish as hell, great characters, off-the-wall powers, mysteries upon mysteries, fascinating world, and a compelling plot. There’s nothing about this series I don’t like. I love JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, and I thank Hirohiko Araki for creating it every time a new episode comes out and Jason Thompson for speaking so highly of it in this article which convinced me to finally give JoJo’s a shot.
Well, that’s it for this post, dear readers. I hope some of you will be convinced to check out a couple of these, and if you’re already watching some of them, leave your thoughts! Or recommend some stuff. Or not. You do you.
Peace out, and stay bizarre.