Anime Recommendations You May Not Have Watched

Welcome to the seasonal anime to watch collaboration, everyone! This season is filled to the brim with great shows to watch, and once again, I’ve found myself in love with anime and all it can bring to the table. In fact, it’s a fantastic season to get your non-weeb friends and family into anime as even the most “anime” of anime this season are shows that I feel almost anyone could enjoy, be it Wotakoi with its true-to-life interactions between adult nerds, or SAO: Gun Gale Online just being an absolute joy to watch due to its characters and with fewer of the minor aspects that make SAO a hard sell to anyone not acquainted with anime. Personal feelings aside, I do with a heavy heart have to say we won’t be including Tokyo Ghoul:RE, Steins;Gate 0, and Full Metal Panic: Invisible Victory on this list to keep the size down, along with them requiring knowledge of previous entries in their respective franchises. However, they are all very good so far and are worth watching. I may organize a smaller sequel collab focusing on them after this is released, but that’s up in the air at the moment. With that little editorial out of the way, let’s get on with the list, shall we?

Hinamatsuri 

Genres: Comedy, Sci-fi, Seinen, Slice of Life, Supernatural
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Funimation

Hinamatsuri is (not) what it sets out to be – blautoothdmand
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Yakuza member Yoshifumi Nitta is lounging around his apartment, admiring his vase collection, when a giant metal capsule appears from thin air and knocks him on the head. Inside the pod is Hina, a strange girl with psychokinetic powers and a penchant for breaking expensive vases. Having blackmailed Nitta into feeding her, clothing her, and sending her to school (because she saw it on television), Nitta’s new parental life is seemingly going to be full of the antics that only a telekinetic middle-schooler can incur.

Why You Should Be Watching

Hinamatsuri’s central relationship is a bizarre one that immediately asks the audience to accept it. The other major elements—middle schooler Hitomi moonlighting as a proficient bartender and fellow psychokinetic child Anzu living amongst the homeless—are equally odd juxtapositions and seemingly disparate from one another. Yet these three conflicts function together seamlessly, allowing the show to shift between the heightened comedy that the outlandish premise enables, to very sweet and empathetic portrayals of characters that fold in a certain degree of social commentary and observation. Each of the three parts is so intrinsic to Hinamatsuri’s success that the show only really hits its stride in the second episode when the other characters beyond Nitta and Hina are introduced. What follows is a surprisingly layered comedy about the daily lives of psychokinetic middle school girls that is just as likely to make you laugh from drunken slapstick as it is to make you cry from human camaraderie.

Megalobox 

Genres: Action, Cyberpunk, Sci-fi, Sports (Boxing)
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Why Megalobox 2: Nomad Is Better Than The First Season
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

In a not-so-distant future, an exoskeleton-enhanced form of boxing named Megaloboxing has become the most popular sport. Joe, a young fighter, dreams of becoming champion yet is stuck with a deadbeat trainer throwing underground matches for petty cash. Everything changes when he meets Yuri, the Megalonia Champion, and is motivated to find out what it takes to become number one.

Why You Should Be Watching

Megalobox is part of the celebration of the 50th anniversary of Ashita no Joe, probably the most famous boxing manga and anime of all time. But instead of releasing a sequel or rebooting the franchise, Kodansha opted for crafting a completely new show inspired by the core themes of Joe, this time in a futuristic setting with over-the-top violence. Directed by You Moriyama in what amounts to his first full directorial credit, this blend of Hajime no Ippo and Cowboy Bebop oozes style, while the character design is reminiscent of the best of the 80s OVAs with hard lines and detailed designs.

The impressive background art makes every setting feel lived in yet uncanny in some way like a good cyberpunk show should. The soundtrack by Kids on the Slope’s Mabanua is a great mix of electronic and hip-hop, similar in style to Samurai Champloo. The fluid animation flows with naturalistic movements that make every punch look powerful and substantial. Overall, the show just oozes style and feels and looks like nothing in today’s industry, and we as fans would be lucky to get more shows like this.

Wotakoi: Love Is Hard for Otaku

Genres: Comedy, Drama(?), Josei, Romance
Where to Watch: Amazon Prime Video

Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku 3rd OVA Gets New PV
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

After being outed as an otaku at her former job, causing her boyfriend to dump her, Momose Narumi starts a new job at an office closer to home. She vows to herself to keep her otaku status under wraps this time. But when hardcore game-otaku Nifuji Hirotaka, her childhood friend, turns out to be her coworker, she’s busted from day one! After several evenings of coercing him to go drinking with her after work, a little liquid courage leads to them becoming a new, slightly awkward couple. Wotakoi explores their relationship with the help of their coworkers, friends, and fellow otaku: Kabakura Tarou, an all-rounder otaku, and Koyanagi Hanako, a cross-cosplaying BL enthusiast, who are in a romantic relationship of their own. These friends and lovers explore both friendship and romance the only way many otaku know how: by stumbling through it as it comes.

Why You Should Be Watching

Wotakoi isn’t your run-of-the-mill rom-com. While every character is a quirky otaku, they’re also all (somewhat) responsible adults that have properly learned to communicate with people, and have some idea of what they want out of both life and relationships. While there are some tropey interactions, many of these are actually acted out for laughs amongst the characters themselves, as that’s the sort of things they were raised on, rather than being some failing of an author to write a proper human being. Others are subverted, and some are even foreseen and actively avoided by the characters themselves – again, there’s a lot of would-be problems that they’ve seen a million times in their stories and have absolutely no intention of falling into the same pitfalls.

The entire thing is also a fun-filled romp through modern-day otakudom, chock full of current-day references to video games, manga, anime, and related events and locations. While this is definitely going to date the series when we inevitably come back for a rewatch, it really hammers home that they’re bumbling through the same world as we are, dealing with many of the same issues and problems. It’s very refreshing to have a cast of believably Japanese adults for a romance anime rather than the usual batch of outlandish high schoolers.

There’s a lot of love put into Wotakoi, between the stellar attention to detail, the references to existing works (both obvious and more subtle), the high production quality, and the killer choice of the voice cast. While the main pair are relatively new talent, the supporting cast is stellar; all four other VAs in the series are battle-hardened veterans. Special mention goes to Koyanagi being voiced by Sawashiro Miyuki, one of my personal all-time favorite seiyuus, who happens to make for a very believable obsessed enthusiast.

All in all, it’s a chill, funny, cute, down-to-earth romance without many contrivances, melodrama, or distracting side plots. It’s simply good, the majority of us are having a grand ol’ time with it, and we think you will, too.

Golden Kamuy 

Genre: Adventure, Action, Historical
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Funimation

Golden Kamuy Season 4 Release Date | Will New Season Air in 2021?
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

As a soldier of the Imperial Army during the Russo-Japanese War, Saichi Sugimoto repeatedly survived when odds and logic said he should not, thus earning the name “Immortal” Sugimoto. With the war over, he finds himself in Hokkaido, hoping to find enough riches in the area’s gold rush to keep a promise to a war buddy and help the man’s widow. When he hears of a stash of gold stolen from the native Ainu tribes by escaped criminals, he seeks it out, only to find trouble. Thankfully, he also finds Asirpa, a young Ainu girl who helps him survive the harsh wilderness. It was Asirpa’s people from whom the gold was stolen, so the two team up to find it. Thus begins a rollicking adventure to find the gold, and not die in the process.

Why You Should Be Watching

Golden Kamuy is a bold and highly successful entry into genres too often left barren. It’s an old-school treasure hunt story, which is a classic narrative style. It’s also historical fiction and is especially effective in covering topics and eras which have received barely any notice in entertainment entries. The Russo-Japanese War and the culture of the Ainu people are both utterly fascinating and are used with extreme effectiveness in this story. It’s a long-overdue spotlight for the Ainu, a people ignored and then targeted by the Japanese government for decades.

All this wouldn’t matter, of course, if the show wasn’t good on its own merits. Thankfully, it is a delight. We’re presented with two fantastic main characters in Asirpa and Sugimoto who are developed well and whom we are made to care about. Sugimoto is surprisingly funny and vulnerable for a guy known for his war exploits and essentially being an unkillable badass. Asirpa is smart and acerbic, but still a kid – sometimes adorably so. The villains are also a bright point with multiple parties chasing after the gold, many of which are also burdened with the ghosts of the war. Most impressively, the show balances both serious moments and comedic ones with deftness, avoiding the tonal whiplash so many other series fall prey to. The show can be deadly serious one moment and funny the next, and it works. The animation is solid if unspectacular, but it does have a gift for highlighting characters’ occasionally hilarious facial expressions. They’ve even managed to make the horrible CGI bears work in its favor, where they just end up being funny instead of immersion-breaking.

Golden Kamuy is easily one of the best shows of the season and among the best of its genre in recent memory. It is highly recommended.

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online

Genre: Action, Sci-fi
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Hulu

Sword Art Online Alternative: Gun Gale Online (2018)
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Karen has a few problems. On top of being taller than the average Japanese girl and developing a complex regarding it, her social awkwardness hinders her from making connections with other people. A classmate introduces Karen to VR games, though she only ends up sticking with one named Gun Gale Online, or GGO for short. There, she befriends another female player named Pitohui. Pito ends up signing Karen into “Squad Jam”, a team-based battle royale tournament featured in the game. The reward for winning? A chance to meet Pito in real life.

Why You Should Be Watching

Alternative vastly differs from the original Sword Art Online to such a degree that it may as well be its own series. The only remnant from the original series is the setting itself. Kirito, Asuna, and the original gang are absent—a possible detriment to those who enjoyed the characters. However, in their place comes Karen, who is in her own right a fully-realized character. She is headstrong in-game, but her social awkwardness may be relatable to some. Battle tactics are explained in an easily-understood manner, while game boundaries are never broken. The battles themselves are exciting, fast-paced segments of solid animation despite a different studio taking over for the animation (Studio 3Hz). Overall, it’s a popcorn action series that can be enjoyed by anyone, and I’d especially recommend it to those who aren’t fans of Sword Art Online or have no knowledge of the series.

Aggressive Retsuko 

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Where to Watch: Netflix

Aggressive Retsuko makes global premiere on Netflix – So Japan
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Retsuko is a red panda living in a world populated by many anthropomorphized animals living in present-day Japan. There’s just one problem. She’s stuck working a terrible office job with a chauvinist boss who does nothing, and coworkers who take advantage of her hard work and force her to do more than her share. But Retsuko has a secret: she unwinds and unleashes all her pent-up frustrations by doing death metal karaoke.

Why You Should Be Watching

Don’t get fooled by the Hello Kitty-like presentation (it is the same company after all). If you’ve ever worked a terrible job in your life, you’ll find it impossible not to empathize with poor Retsuko’s plight. Her pure exhaustion, exasperation, and frustration with life will also be an easy way for anyone to relate with her. But don’t worry, Aggressive Retsuko isn’t depressing to watch. It takes these universal things and applies wonderful humor to the story. By the end of episode 1, you’ll feel such a wealth of pathos for this poor red panda and her struggles in a working life where everything seems to be working against you. While there are some aspects of Retsuko’s job that seem to be peculiarities of the Japanese work environment, more often than not you’ll find that the problems Retsuko faces on an everyday basis are universal enough.

Aggressive Retsuko also makes time to flesh out all the other characters that inhabit Retsuko’s world, whether it’s her sharp friend Fenneko, or even her pig of a boss (literally in this case) Ton. Ton is a hyper-concentrated version of the worst kind of boss you can have, but even he has a moment or two of, if not redemption, then some humanity. Or pig-ality if you prefer. I’m no expert in death metal, but it was enjoyable, and with Retsuko screaming out all of the latest injustices she’s had to face, it’s consistently laugh-worthy. Aggressive Retsuko is a wonderful show that will have you consistently either laughing or empathizing with Retsuko, but it has such a warmth and heart to it that her misfortunes won’t get you down.

Lupin the 3rd Part 5

Genre: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Sci-fi
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Watch Lupin the 3rd Part 5 Streaming Online | Hulu (Free Trial)
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Have you heard of the legendary thief Lupin the 3rd? It’s said that he can steal anything in the world even if it’s nailed to the ground and on fire. Not even bitcoins are safe from him as shown in his latest heist against the shadowy cartel, Marco Polo.

Though Lupin’s thieving skills are great, will he be able to continue his thieving ways after Marco Polo makes tracking Lupin a crowdsourced game? Find out by tuning into Lupin the 3rd Part 5 every Tuesday this Spring anime season!

Why You Should Be Watching

I can’t believe that some of the most inventive and fun uses of contemporary technologies are coming from an anime series that originated back in the 60s. Lupin the 3rd Part 5 takes some of the newest technologies, such as bitcoins, AR technology, and social media and blends them into one of my favorite heist anime to date.

It’s just so fun to see how Marco Polo tries to get his revenge on Lupin by crowdsourcing Lupin’s location to the general populace and then seeing how Lupin evades the authorities despite them knowing his location at all times. The different twists and turns that both Marco Polo and Lupin take to counter each other kept me on the edge of my seat for the first arc of the show.

The show’s use of social media does a fantastic job characterizing Lupin’s motley crew while grounding the show’s world in today’s age. I love how Lupin in the modern age is basically James Moriarty if he had a Twitter account and had all the crazy gadgets of the Adam West Batman, while both Goemon and Daisuke are as good with technology as an Amish person. Plus, Ami, the new addition to the Lupin series, does a great job balancing out the crew by adding a dry-witted, tech-savvy teen voice to the sausage fest that is the regular Lupin crew. It’s just fun to see all these wacky characters bounce off each other while pulling off crazy stunts.

If you have a passing interest in the Lupin series or just love adventure anime, check out Lupin Part 5. This Lupin series is a fantastic entry point because this show is its own self-contained story while also being an awesome anime. The animation, characters, and story of this anime are simply too good to pass over.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These

Genres: Military Drama, Political Drama, Sci-fi, Space Opera
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll and Funimation

Watch Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These | Netflix
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Humanity has left Earth and its reach has spread to the far corners of the galaxy. During this golden age of humanity, the Galactic Federation is formed and its reach grows. However, a charismatic dictator rises up and forms the first Galactic Empire. Following his death, unrest and strife ruled the Empire.

From this period of strife, a rival to the autocratic Galactic Empire is formed: the democratic Free Planets Alliance. After more than a century of war, two commanders on each side rose to prominence: Reinhard von Lohengramm and Yang Wen-li. Who holds the fate of the galaxy in their hands?

Why You Should Be Watching

This is an anime that does not come along often – a pure and unabashed space opera. A remake of a classic OVA series and adaption of a series of novels, The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These feels different from most space-based anime because it is. Anime production rarely takes chances on stories like these. In a genre swimming in a flood of mecha, merchandising, and melodrama, Legend of the Galactic Heroes proudly stands apart, giving a new generation a taste for a classic.

Whole episodes can be devoted to the development of characters, relationships, and how they relate to the world and universe they inhabit. This is welcome, as while the majority of the action is large-scale tactical battles with thousands of ships on each side, the primary draw is not the ship-to-ship combat but the match of wits and wills of their commanders as they balance life and death in their pursuit of victory.

This is a strange product from 2018 and it asks much of its audience. However, if one is willing to invest their time, they can expect much return.

Umamusume: Pretty Derby 

Genres: Comedy, Monster Girl, Sports
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Uma Musume Pretty Derby | Know Your Meme
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

In an alternate world to our own, horse girls evolved in the place of the four-legged equines of our world. Despite this, many of these girls inherit the names bestowed upon many of the famous horses from our world. In this world, we follow Special Week, a young teenage horse girl who moves from the remote Japanese countryside to attend the prestigious Tracen Academy in Tokyo, a school specialized in training horse girls to become professional runners in a unique style of horse racing where the horse girls who finish in the Top 3 of any given race must perform in an idol concert after the race.

Why You Should Be Watching

When you get down to it, Umamusume has an absolutely bonkers premise. Much like another sports series with a silly premise, Keijo!!!!!!!!, Uma Musume goes all in with the absurdity to deliver a fully-fledged world built around the sport in question. In the hands of most studios, this would probably be a lesser show, but P.A.Works pulls out all the stops, giving the show such minute details that you can tell they actually give a damn about making this show work. For example, the character for “horse” in this series is missing two strokes, representing that in this world, horses only had two legs.

In addition to these kinds of details, the show, much like Keijo!!!!!!!!, for all the weird, stupid things going on, treats the sport at the center of the series with utmost seriousness and legitimacy. The show is more than happy to indulge in its sillier side, but when it comes time to put horseshoes to the racetrack, the show focuses in such a way that it pulls you into the events of the race so much that you may just find yourself shockingly invested in a show about goddamn horse girls racing. On paper, this show should just not work at all, but the people behind the show have managed to work some impressive magic, turning Uma Musume: Pretty Derby into one of the season’s dark horses.

Comic Girls 

Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Comic Girls | Comics girls, Comics, Anime comics
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

Kaoruko Moeta is a struggling 4-Koma manga under the pen name of Kaos. At the suggestion of her editor, May Amisawa, Kaoruko moves into an all-girls dormitory where everyone who lives there is also a mangaka. It is here that she meets the shounen action manga Tsubasa “Wing V” Katsuki, the shoujo romance mangaka Koyume “Koisuru Koyume” Koizuka, and the ero-mangaka Ruki “Big Boobies Himeko” Irokawa. With her newfound friends, Kaoruko tries to grow as both a mangaka and as a teenager.

Why You Should Be Watching

It is a long-running tradition in anime to throw a group of cute anime girls together with some kind of shared task and watch what happens. Over the years, different spins have been put on this premise, resulting in numerous shows about cute anime girls participating in the same club, the same job, or simply put, just hanging out doing nothing in particular at all. Comic Girls is just the latest thing to be drawn from a well often visited, but don’t let that deceive you. This show is one of the better executed of its template.

Comic Girls sets out to do one thing, and that is to be a hilarious show about cute girls making manga. The show not only meets but exceeds this expectation, thanks in large part to its characters. These kinds of shows tend to live and die by their casts, and Comic Girls has one of the stronger casts in the genre. From the so pathetic they are painfully adorable Kaoruko, to the cool, aloof, badass, and occasionally chuunibyou Tsubasa, to Ruki, who, despite her best efforts, can’t contain her natural aura of sensuality and eroticism, you are bound to find at least one character you can’t help but love in this series.

GeGeGe No Kitaro 

Genre: Supernatural, Dramedy, Spooky Stuff, Classics
Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

GeGeGe no Kitaro Anime Comes to an End This March
Image Source: Google Images

Spoiler-free Synopsis

There’s more to the world than what humans choose to see. In the darkness, there’s a whole other world of yokai, strange and often dangerous creatures of traditional Japanese folklore. People are at times afflicted with unexplained phenomena, actually caused by interaction with yokai. When one such phenomenon turns people to trees in Shibuya, a young girl named Mana takes a chance on an old story a friend’s grandmother tells and sends a letter to the yokai post. To her surprise, it is answered by a young boy named Kitaro, the last member of the Ghost tribe, and his father, the umm…eyeball, who have come to help. So begins an unlikely friendship and a series of adventures where the human and yokai worlds meet…

Why You Should Be Watching

Gegege no Kitaro is the 6th anime adaptation of a manga first released in 1960. That’s some serious longevity, and there’s a reason this franchise has endured so long through so many iterations: its well-executed, classic storytelling. The show does a marvelous job updating for our times, but without having to sacrifice anything of the show’s core. It’s still a tale of the things that happen when the humans and worlds intersect, and a reminder not to forget the old stories of our forebears.

While there are narrative throughlines, stories here are mostly episodic and lean heavily on the great cast of characters to carry it. And what a cast! Kitaro himself, our POV character, the adorable Mana, the wise Daddy Eyeball, Nekomusume (unfortunately translated in the subs as “Catchick”), the ever scheming Ratman… They’re all a blast to watch and most have been with the series since the 60s. The stories themselves range from comedy to action-packed to spooky, and even heartbreaking, as each shows different consequences of interactions between humans and yokai. The question at the heart: Can we coexist? The answer, like most of life, is complicated.

Gegege no Kitaro is an excellent reimagining, both of its own stories and characters and classic folklore in general. There’s a lot worth seeing here if you look, there, behind you in the shadows.

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