Although a certain virus is ruining a lot of people’s fun, it didn’t affect the anime community too much. While some series were delayed until this current summer season, there still was a good mixture of new and returning series for everyone to enjoy. From doting manga-creating dads and a certain giant blue reptile to a radio star in the making, the world of Japanese animation gave us some bright moments of the current year. Let’s take a look at the shows that shined (and the ones that didn’t) this past Spring season! (Check out our reviews of Tower of God, My Next Life as a Villainess, and The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me? at their respective links!)
Kaguya-sama: Love is War?
The ultimate “will they/won’t they” rom-com returned with all of its cylinders firing. Kaguya and Miyuki’s antics to get the other to confess reached higher levels of hilarity than in the past, with Chika of course stealing the show in the zaniest of ways. However, no one could’ve predicted just how Ishigami would steal everyone’s hearts with his back story. With two seasons in the book (and a possible third hinted in its final pic), Kaguya-sama: Love is War has become one of the best anime rom-coms of the last ten years!
Kazuya and Kiriha return with more training, epic fights, and dick jokes galore in the surprising return of Tsugumomo. The arrival of the Tsukumogami added more substance to the overall story, but no one could’ve predicted what studio Zero-G was about to pull on its viewers. Some may call it daring; others a massive middle finger to its fanbase. Nevertheless, it left many wanting (and hoping for) more by the time the final scenes played out in Season Two.
Leave it to the creator of Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei to combine huge laughs with a slice of heartache! The story of a manga author doing everything he can to keep his job secret from his daughter delivered one massive punchline after another. From jabs at the manga industry to just how far Kakushi Goto would go to keep Hime away from his true gig, the gags showcased in Kakushigoto were the highlight of Spring 2020. But with hearty chuckles comes meaningful tears, as the show flashed forward showing an older Hime without her dad by her side. While I won’t spoil it here, I will say that Kleenex will be a necessity when watching this gem of an anime!
Kakushigoto can be viewed on FunimationNOW. It has been licensed by Funimation.
BNA: Brand New Animal
A world where humans and animal people have trouble coexisting had some Zootopia/BEASTARS vibes to it, but a dash of Studio Trigger magic helped to make BNA: Brand New Animal a different kind of beast. The story of human-turned-beastman Michiru and her quest to cure her “ailment” showcased some great action, kooky humor, and some surprising social commentary that felt very relevant to what has been occurring all across America as it aired. The ending may have felt slightly rushed, but the message in Brand New Animal still felt strong as the final credits rolled.
BNA: Brand New Animal can be viewed on Netflix.
Gal & Dino
I was worried when I heard that the people behind Pop Team Epic was behind this show, but color me surprised! The antics of gal Kaede and her Jurassic roommate were both shockingly wholesome and a barrel of laughs. Thanks to its mixture of animation styles (and wild live-action segments), Gal & Dino was the feel-good-and-dumb anime we all needed. A shame that it was cut short due to COVID-19, but we at least know its Fall 2020 return will be certainly worth it!
Gal & Dino can be viewed on FunimationNOW. It has been licensed by Funimation.
Princess Connect! Re: Dive
Gave developer Cygames throws its own hat in the animation ring, bringing alongside the director of KonoSuba for the ride! Princess Connect! Re: Dive may not have had the same comedic power as Kazuma and company, but the adventures were thrilling enough to make it one heck of a surprise watch. Poking fun of fantasy tropes and practically making its one male hero a near-silent type, this adaptation of Cygames’ mobile game was a goofy-yet-endearing trip that put its heart where its stomach was.
Wave, Listen to Me!
When it comes to impressive first episodes, Wave, Listen to Me! had me standing up and cheering. The story of a waitress who becomes a late-night radio host showcased not only the workings of the Japanese radio industry, but also a plethora of great characters and humor. However, main character Minare was far from perfect, with her slightly homophobic mannerisms souring some of the jokes it attempted to tell. With that being said, Wave, Listen to Me! still offered an entertaining look into how radio is done Japan-styled, something that yours truly is taking note of if/when the time is right...
Wave, listen to me! can be viewed on FunimationNOW. It has been licensed by Funimation.
MAPPA’s original anime had the makings of a hit, due to the involvement of Eureka Seven writer Dai Sato and Kagerou Daze creator Jin. However, this music-influenced mecha series attempted to shove too many ideas into a twelve-episode series. Some of the tributes worked well, from the nods to Prince and The Who; other times it was a lazy cash cow, as evident by the Pink Floyd-based episode. Listeners was pretty to watch, but its story left more to be desired. Consider it a one-hit wonder, whose compilation will one day be found in some Wal-Mart bargain bin.
Sing “Yesterday” For Me
I do have to give credit to Doga Kobo (New Game!, The Helpful Fox Senko-san) for working outside of their comfort zone. Their adaptation of Kei Toume’s 1997 manga series started off on a great foot, with deep storytelling and conflicting feelings that made Rikuo’s situation all the more relatable. However, as the series continued, Sing “Yesterday” For Me somehow made almost every character an unlikable mess. It had its entertaining moments, but overall Toume’s work made what should’ve been a reflection of post-college conundrums more like a how-not-to guide to deal with such problems.
Sakura Wars: The Animation
A continuation of SEGA’s video game rather than a new adaptation (which was first animated in 2000), Sakura Wars: The Animation started off on a good note with some impressive CGI animation and an imaginative world. Sadly, the series fell victim to poor storytelling, with its visuals getting worse as the show progressed. By the time of its company bow, Sakura Wars was only worthy of a golf applause rather than the standing ovation it was trying to achieve. A good try, but overall it left its audience unimpressed.
Sakura Wars: The Animation can be viewed on FunimationNOW. It has been licensed by Funimation.
Any that we missed or neglected? Comment below to share your thoughts on the Winter 2020 Anime Season!
Promotional consideration provided by Ellation