Anime

Spring 2020 Anime Staff Viewer’s Guide

Lots of people are finding more time indoors nowadays and it’s fortunate we have such a bangup lineup of shows this spring 2020 anime season to keep us company. Here’s GoombaStomp’s curated list to help you decide what to spend your extra time on. Please note that shows such as Millionaire Detective, Appare-Ranman!, and Diary of Our Days at Breakwater that have seen their production postponed mid-season due to Covid-19 complications are not included in this list. More shows may be delayed down the line as well and this list will be updated to reflect that.


My Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!

My Next Life as a Villaionous

Studio: Silver Link
Director: Keisuke Inoue
Main Voice Actor(s): Maaya Uchida (Katarina), Shouta Aoi (Gerald), Tetsuya Kakihara (Keith)

My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom! has one of the more unique takes on the isekai formula in recent years. Instead of being spontaneously summoned to a new world or reborn at the start of the show, the story begins with a young Katarina having already been reincarnated for eight years. After banging her head and regaining the memories of her past life, she quickly realizes that not only is she in another world, but she’s inside an otome dating sim she used to play… and she’s the main antagonist.

The genius of My Next Life as a Villainess is everywhere. It absolutely nails its constant nods to visual novel events and character archetypes without making fun of the medium or wearing out the references. Though the crux of the plot centers around Katarina doing everything she can to avoid a “bad end,” the way she goes about it is lighthearted and uplifting in a way that completely defies the role she’s meant to play.

In this way, My Next Life as a Villainess is a loving testament to the notion that people have the power to alter their life trajectory through self-improvement and kindness. Though Katarina starts out befriending characters and learning new skills to benefit herself long-term, the friendships quickly become genuine and the skills turn into passions. Aided by a delicate color palette and a sharp knack for humor, this easily ranks as one of the best shows of the season. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Kaguya-sama: Love is War Season 2

Kaguya-sama Season 2

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Shinichi Omata
Main Voice Actor(s): Aoi Koga (Kaguya Shinomiya), Makoto Furukawa (Miyuki Shirogane), Konomi Kohara (Chika Fujiwara), Ryōta Suzuki (Yu Ishigami)

Kaguya-sama is back for a second season and the show keeps getting stronger.

The story still follows high-schoolers Kaguya Shinomiya and Miyuki Shirogane as they each try to manipulate the other into a romantic confession, and episodes are still broken up into segments with each one focusing on a new scheme by Kaguya and/or Miyuki. Given this repetitive structure one would expect the show to be stale by now, but it’s not. The schemes are evolving with the characters. Both Kaguya and Miyuki are becoming bolder – etching ever closer to being fully honest with their feelings. The show continues to excel at showing just how conflicted these characters are since, despite the manipulative nature of their plans, they deeply care for one-another. The second episode of the season, which involves a plot about Kaguya baking a cake for Miyuki’s birthday, is especially poignant in this regard.

Kaguy-sama remains a must watch comedy replete with evolving romantic tension, clever conceits, and hilarious new characters (Moeha Fujiwara is just incredible). (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation


Arte

Arte

Studio: Seven Arcs
Director: Takayuki Hamana
Main Voice Actor(s): Mikako Komatsu (Arte), Katsuyuki Konishi (Leo)

An anime taking place in sixteenth-century Florence that follows a young woman’s pursuit to become a professional artist at the height of the Renaissance sounds interesting and unique on canvas, but Arte tends to get distracted from that core premise a bit too much. Being recognized as a female artist in a male-dominated society is a gargantuan undertaking, and Arte emphasizes that dichotomy to an almost exhausting degree. 

Arte herself is a fairly typical cheery and motivated protagonist but what makes her somewhat distinct from other female leads in similar situations is that she doesn’t want to be treated as one of “the boys,” but rather acknowledged as a woman in her own right while still carving out a place in this male-only profession. Her efforts are endearing and I genuinely want to see her succeed but when she falls back on old shoujo tropes like “What is this pounding in my chest?” that should’ve died in the 2000’s, that charm turns into unlikeability. 

Don’t go into this show expecting a tutorial on old Renaissance painting techniques as the works themself just kind of happen with no explanation more or less. The art style, both in paintings and animation, is also very anime given this is a show about early European art. This and Arte’s archetypical character create a weird disconnect between the kind of show Arte wants to be, and the show it’s presenting itself as. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Funimation


Future Folktales

Future's Foltales

Studio:Manga Productions
Director: Masami Shimoda
Main Voice Actors:Masako Nozawa (Grandma Asma)

Future Folktales has a promising setup as its about a grandmother teaching her grandchildren about their Arabic heritage by reading them folk legends and stories. Add in the fact that the children live in a utopian future and you have a context rife with intrigue: What is the value of history? Why do we long for times of old when we are so better off now? Furthermore, the idea of hearing Arabic legends is enticing. Unfortunately, the show capitalizes on none of this as the stories are void of culture or complex thought. In fact, they are so morally simplistic, they feel like propaganda.

Unless you’re a masochist or someone who enjoys saccharine after-school specials you can safely pass on this horrid series. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Hidive


Sing “Yesterday” For Me

Sing Yesterday For Me

Studio: Doga Kobo
Director: Yoshiyuki Fukiwara
Main Voice Actor(s): Kana Hanazawa (Shinako), Yume Miyamoto (Haru), Chikahiro Kobayashi (Rikuo), Natsuki Hanae (Rou)

Color me surprised when I found out that the same studio known for degenerate moeblob shows like WATATEN!, How heavy are the dumbbells you lift?, and Umaru-chan were trying their hand at a completely serious drama. Color me shocked when that drama has turned out to easily be the best show of this season, and possibly of this year so far.

Taking place in late 90’s Tokyo, Sing “Yesterday” For Me is a breathtaking illustration of love in all its pains and imperfections. Devoid of a true singular protagonist, the story follows four characters entangled in their own feelings and unable to rectify them for extremely compelling reasons, both logical and illogical. Each individual is at a different stage in life and how they attempt to reconcile the feelings they have belies the amount of life experience they have under their belts. The result is the creation of beautifully flawed characters that simply feel real and relatable.

Story alone, Sing “Yesterday” already has all the trappings of a deeply impactful narrative but that’s not even taking its presentation into account. Manipulative background music is kept to a noticeable minimum, letting scenes breathe on their own through the brilliant animation of simple gestures — like brushing a hand through hair — packed with more frames than should ever be deserved. The distinctive broken line art is eye-catching and somehow further emphasizes the subdued nature of the show.

If you can only watch one show this season, it’s this one. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


TAMAYOMI: The Baseball Girls

TAMAYOMI

Studio: Studio A-CAT
Director: Toshinori Fukushima
Main Voice Actors: Kaori Maeda (Yomi), Satomi Amano (Tamaki)

In the over-saturated slice-of-life market, TAMAYOMI is simply part of the dime-a-dozen shows that get cranked out by the anime industry every year. The concept of a baseball-focused show with cute girls was intriguing enough, but the series does very little to flesh it out, let alone do anything interesting with it.

This anime isn’t terrible, no, it’s worse: it’s strictly middle-of-the-road. Much like Asteroid in Love of the previous season, TAMAYOMI is thinly-veiled yuri-bait that pays the bare minimum lip service to its subject matter. Expecting a series about niche topics, I was genuinely interested to see how it dove into baseball terminology, techniques, and the like. Instead, watching this show is akin to listening to people talk about baseball when all they’ve likely done is read Wikipedia articles on the game.

You meet your archetypal cast of slice-of-life characters: the idealistic protagonist, a more serious childhood friend, a bubbly, ditzy classmate, the cool and collected upperclassmen, etc. Tropes aren’t bad, but in TAMAYOMI they’re all so cookie-cutter with personalities that struggle to go outside of their mold (or even fill it).

The animation isn’t much better. Faraway panning shots, glaring use of CG, misshapen faces, and flat colors make this an altogether unpleasant viewing experience. There are moments of high-intensity animation that capture the feel of movement and kinetic energy in playing baseball, but they’re far and few inbetween.

Bottom line? If you’re interested in TAMAYOMI, go watch Hibike! Euphonium. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Wave, Listen to Me!

Wave Listen to Me

Studio: Sunrise
Director: Tatsuma Minamikawa
Main Voice Actor(s): Riho Sugiyama (Minare), Shinshuu Fuji (Matou), Manaka Iwami (Mizuho)

Video killed the radio star~!

We’ll see if radio really has been killed as Wave, Listen to Me! shows the road of becoming a star of it. In an instance of drunken stupor, our protagonist Minare finds herself conned(?) into joining a national radio station as an amateur radio show host. Minare herself is a veritable firecracker of a woman, capable of ranting on and on about any topic that grinds her gears without stuttering even so much a syllable. It’s this uncanny ability to coherently ramble that garners the attention of the station’s president.

There’s some fun radio trivia here and there such as the names and purpose of various pieces of equipment and the qualities of a good talk show host voice that people unfamiliar with the industry, like myself, will find interesting. Outside of that, Wave is more of a comedy fueled by its characters than anything else. Minare isn’t the only eclectic one as just about every character surrounding her also seems to have a screw or two loose that results in some fantastic back-and-forths. 

The pacing is appropriately blistering to match, jumping from scene to scene often with nary a transition. Even through the frenetic, and sometimes absurd, scenarios the characters get up to, there is still a sense of groundedness that carries throughout that makes it believable such a dysfunctional group of people can run a high functioning radio station. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Listeners

Listeners anime

Studio: MAPPA
Director: Hiroaki Andou
Main Voice Actor(s): Rie Takahashi (Mu), Ayumu Murase (Echo)

The anime original, Listeners, puts its weirdest foot forward. In a post-apocalyptic world without music, teched-out Players battle the monstrous Earless in mechanized bouts of beatdowns and sound. The timid but endearing Echo joins forces with the sassy and confident Mu, a player, to wage war against the Earless.

At the heart of Listeners are its two likable leads, anchoring affairs (which is helpful given the bombardment of lore). The animation, helmed by studio MAPPA, is solid (with the exception of the clunkily jarring 3d mecha bits), and the musical references are fun. But at its core, Listeners does little to capitalize on its quirky concepts, lacking any semblance of an engrossing plot. Rather than exploding with bravado, it fizzles with tedium.

Listeners takes its lore deeply seriously but doesn’t give the viewer enough incentive to do the same. It presents promising facets, but they’re awash with confuddled misdirection. (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Princess Connect! Re:Dive

Princess Connect Re:Dive Anime

Studio: CygamesPictures
Director: Takaomi Kanasaki
Main Voice Actors: Mao Ichimichi (Pecorine), Miku Ito (Kokkoro), Rika Tachibana (Karyl)

Princess Connect! Re:Dive comes from the same director as KonoSuba and channels that series’s self-aware humor and slapstick comedy. It’s fun and lighthearted but lacks the sardonic edge of its director’s best work.

The series begins with a McGuffin as Kokkoro, a servant of the god-like Ameth, tracks down her master’s champion who will save the world. The story appears to be going in a classic isekai direction but it quickly pivots. Kokkoro finds the champion but he’s an amnesiac who has forgotten both language and fine motor skills. From there the show sort of abandons the hero plot and becomes more episodic with Kokkoro and her hero turned ward making friends and going on adventures. The narrative does seem to have a central plot as there is a mystery behind both the role of the hero and the princess Pecorine, a girl Kokkoro befriends. However, that story, which will probably be expanded on, takes a back seat to their wacky adventures, most of which involve food. This is a show about immediate fun rather than intrigue.

Princess Connect! Re: Drive does not do anything new nor does it have a compelling narrative but all the characters are fun and the comedy is spot on. A fun diversion, this is a show made for genre enthusiasts, so everyone else can probably pass. (By Nicholas Straub)

Editor’s Note: This anime is based on a mobile game of the same name that is currently only available in Japan.

Rating: Recommended (Isekai/Fantasy Fans)
Indifferent (Everyone Else)

Watch on Crunchyroll


Fruits Basket 2nd Season

Fruits Basket remake

Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director: Yoshihide Ibata
Main Voice Actor(s): Manaka Iwami (Tohru), Yuuma Uchida (Kyou), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Yuki)

Truth be told, I haven’t watched more than the first episode of the second season of Fruits Basket ever since Funimation announced that its simuldub would be postponed due to Covid-19 concerns. I am deeply attached to Laura Bailey as Tohru and so can’t bring myself to continue watching without her.

That said, it would be remiss of me not to include the second season in this list at all, as this marks brand new territory for the Fruits Basket anime. We are now entering manga material that was never animated by the original 2000’s series which in incredibly exciting for any fans of the iconic shoujo series like myself. It’s a given anyone who has watched the first season of Fruits Basket will continue on with this season so I’ll just refer you to my article on how the series challenges you to be a better person if you’re wondering if you should get in with the story on the ground floor. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation


Kakushigoto: My Dad’s Secret Ambition

Kakushigoto

Studio: Ajia-do
Director: Yuta Murano
Main Voice Actors: Hiroshi Kamiya (Kakushi), Rie Takahashi (Hime)

Kakushigoto is a beautiful balancing act. Both witty and heartbreaking, this show embraces life’s complexity and finds meaning in it. An ode to the pain and elation we find in love, this show should not be missed.

Kakushi creates juvenile manga. His works all contain dirty jokes but its more Captain Underpants than adult. Despite the playful quality of his work, he is ashamed of it and doesn’t want his daughter, Hime, to know about it. The series is broken into two parts. The first, and primary focus of the show, concerns Hime’s early years when she is in kindergarten. These sections are filled with sweet humor as Kakushi goes to obscene lengths to protect his daughter from finding out his secret.

The other part of show takes place when Hime is 18, and after Kakushi has seemingly died (though the show has not made this completely clear). When she becomes an adult Hime finds out the truth of her dad’s work and is saddened she didn’t know of it earlier. This setup works brilliantly as it adds a melancholy to even the lightest moments. We laugh at Kakushi’s crazy antics but are saddened that he has kept this whimsical side away from his daughter.

Wistful, loving, and often times hilarious, Kakushigoto could be one of the years finest. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on FunimationAnimelab, and Wakanim


Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2

Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 2

Studio: Ajia-Do
Director: Miya Kazuki
Main Voice Actor(s): Yuka Iguchi (Main), Shou Karino (Fran), Chiyo Tomaru (Delia), Yuuko Sanpei (Gil)

The first season of Bookworm was an emotional lesson that taught us the distinct difference between merely surviving and actually living, without any fate-determining battles at that. Now that Main has chosen to fight in her own way for the latter a new chapter opens up for the tale of a girl who just wants to read her books.

While Main hasn’t been reincarnated or summoned to another world a second time, the new season of Bookworm is for all intents and purposes and isekai within an isekai. After growing so accustomed to downtown life with her new friends and family, Main finds herself lost and confused in her new place in noble society. Their customs and mannerisms are just as foreign to we the viewers that grew alongside Main as they are to she herself. Watching Main reevaluate her common sense and adapt to her surroundings once again demonstrates the charm of her diminutive character.

This continues to be a very personal story devoid of the world-saving stakes typically found in isekais and Bookworm is all the stronger for it. Its world-building continues to even put many traditional fantasy settings to shame and is just as much a star of the show as Main’s capacity to empathize with others. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


The 8th Son? Are You Kidding Me?

The 8th son anime

Studio: Shin-Ei Animation
Director: Tatsuo Miura
Main Voice Actors: Junya Enoki (Wendelin), Shizuka Ishigami (young Wendelin), Asuka Nishi (Elize), Hiro Shimono (Erwin von Alnim), Yuuna Mimura (Louise)

Bland and misanthropic, The 8th son? Are you kidding me? squanders a potentially powerful setting in favor of a rote isekai power fantasy.

The story follows Shingo Ichinomiya, a Japanese businessman (of course) who falls asleep and awakens in another world as the eighth son of a poor noble. In this society birth order is everything, so being the youngest of a huge lot means he has no hope of wealth or importance. There is genuine weight to this context. A feudal society with a rigid class structure, Wendelin’s new home has rampant inequality with most people, including nobles, unable to read.

The world has a tinge of suffering that’s rare for fantasy anime, and that makes the show’s adherence to isekai convention feel especially crass. Wendelin’s origins only serve as a means for him to overcome society’s harsh plutocratic structure. Able to read, and boasting powerful magic abilities, he quickly finds himself as a respected teenage adventurer with many admirers. Not only does he circumvent his peers’ pain, he makes no effort to help those around him – especially his family despite the fact that they raised him. He’s a selfish schmuck that the series creators take seriously: the show’s self-pitying title is no parody.

In a genre filled with colorful characters, creative scenarios, and even pathos, The 8th son? Are you kidding me? is a loathsome bore. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and VRV


Brand New Animal

Brand New Animal

Studio: Trigger
Director: Yoh Yoshinari
Main Voice Actors: Sumire Morohoshi (Michiru), Yoshimasa Hosoya (Shirou)

Trigger has once again knocked it out of the park. Brand New Animal is colorful in all aspects of its design, from its soundtrack to character design to, of course, animation. Every part of this original anime moves with such life and creativity. BNA hits the ground running, and in true Trigger fashion never lets up.

The show immediately drops you in with a mystery to solve: how did Michiru Kagemori turn into a tanuki beastman and how does she turn back into a human? It’s through that core concept that the rest of the story and world unravel. 

Active efforts have gone underway to integrate beastmen into peaceful coexistence with humans, though tensions still plague the two races. Hostility and prejudice characterize perceptions from both sides, with Michiru caught squarely in the middle. In her search for answers, she becomes acquainted with Shirou Oogami, a white wolf beastman with extraordinary physical prowess. Together they discover a plot that could have ramifications for beastman and human alike.

Similar to Beastars, BNA explores the deep worldbuilding potential of a society driven by animal humanoids. However, where Beastars takes a fairly grounded approach, BNA is far more whimsical and over-the-top. Stakes are high from the get-go, which perfectly suits the insanely expressive animation characteristic of Trigger. BNA’s world is one that feels lived in; excessively cartoony but in a way that abides by its own internal logic. 

An absolute must-watch, even for non-Trigger fans (and doubly so for them). (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Netflix Japan (coming soon to global streaming platforms)


Gleipnir

Gleipnir anime

Studio: Pine Jam
Director: Kazuhiro Yoneda
Main Voice Actors: Natsuki Hanae (Shuichi Kagaya), Nao Toyama (Clair Aoki)

Gleipnir hasn’t exactly made a great impression with audiences and that’s a shame because it’s brilliant.

The protagonist of the story is Shuichi Kagaya, a high school student who represses himself on a daily basis. He believes himself unworthy of success or love and burrows inward. It’s in the context of these feelings that he begins transforming into a monster. He doesn’t know why he transforms but whenever his emotions run hot he does. There are plot elements that eventually explain his change but the allegorical significance remains strong.

Shuichi learns that his monster form is actually a suit with a zipper – and its hollow. The majority of the show revolves around Shuichi’s relationship with a girl named Claire who begins donning his monster form after he almost violates her and she blackmails him. Their relationship is twisted to be sure but it grows in moving, believable ways. Good souls, twisted by self-hate, they both help and imprison each other; Shuichi feels accepted but abdicates his autonomy while he finds empowerment but becomes a monster.

Fascinating, brutal, and darkly hilarious Gleipnir is poised to be one of the years best shows. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle

Shironeko Project anime

Studio: Project No. 9
Director: Masato Jinbo
Main Voice Actors: Yui Horie (Queen of Light Iris), Yuuki Kaji (Prince of Darkness)

Based on an action role-playing game developed and published by ColopI, Shironeko Project: Zero Chronicle is a fantasy anime that tells the story of a conflict between the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of light.

The show explores both sides by focusing on the nameless protagonist, the “Prince of Darkness,” and the Queen of Light Iris. The kingdom of darkness portion begins with a rags-to-riches plot for the soon-to-be-named Prince of Darkness. After his peasant village is destroyed by monsters, he begins his journey to become the next King of Darkness. In contrast, the light kingdom is a pristine, wealthy world watched over by the Queen of Light. While the show side-steps exposition dumping, it does take a page directly out of Attack on Titan, providing background information halfway in each episode.

With four episodes out, there are two challenges for the show going forward. First, the Prince of Darkness has had minimal character development. Second, the show is setting up a romance between the Prince of Darkness and the Queen of Light. Given the metanarrative that kicks off episode one, as well as the opening sequence, this could make or break the show.

I’d recommend the show for fans of fantasy anime. It has the potential to be an interesting twist on both fantasy and romance anime. (By Katharine Booth)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Hulu and Funimation


Tower of God

Tower of God anime

Studio: Telecom Animation Film
Director: Takashi Sano
Main Voice Actors: Taichi Ichikawa (Bam), Saori Hayami, (Rachel), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Khun Aguero Agnes), Kenta Miyake (Rak Wraithraiser)

Tower of God begins with a narration saying that this is a story about a boy determined to rescue the girl he loves. It’s not a good first impression, but things quickly change as the story reveals itself to be a compelling ride filled with great action and complex lore.

Tower of God gives audiences little other than the basic context: adventurers scale a tower in the hopes of reaching the peak where any wish can be granted. That is it. That is all we know going into the show. From there the story just goes and it’s up to the viewers to piece things together. What is so inspired about this approach is how it ties into the characters. All the characters, including the amnesiac protagonist Bam, have histories deeply connected to the tower. So, as we learn more about the tower and its world, we learn about the characters. Furthermore, all the characters are strangers and have entered into makeshift alliances meaning the gradual unraveling of the world is as informative as it is natural.

The animation of this show deserves special mention. The gritty, grainy visuals are breathtaking and the action is fluid and wildly creative. The Tower bends all rules of reality and characters wield weapons from various eras and dimensions, so things get bonkers.

Tightly plotted and beautifully animated, Tower of God entertains and transfixes: dolling out mysteries, revelations, and action at a gratifying pace. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Gal & Dino

Gal & Dino

Studio(s):  Kamikaze Douga, Space Neko Company
Director: Jun Aoki
Main Voice Actors: Miyuri Shimabukuru (Kaede)

The Gal & Dino anime adaptation was exactly what I expected until it wasn’t.

Much like the manga it’s adapted from, Gal & Dino is rather silly. Kaede is a gyaru/gal who wakes up to find she drunkenly brought home a dinosaur. Her prompt reaction is to… do her makeup and go out for a bit. Thus begins the life of a gyaru and her dino friend.

The Gal & Dino adaptation is written and directed by one of the two minds behind the Pop Team Epic anime adaptation and it shows. Oftentimes, the jokes are based on there not actually being a joke. For some like myself, this kind of indirect humor can be fun. For most other people, however, I can easily see how it’d get grating.

Episodes are split into two distinct halves. The first half consists of animated adaptations of manga chapters, following the cute, Kafkaesque slice-of-life shenanigans of Kaede and Dino. The second half of the show, however, involves a live-action repeat of the first half with a middle-aged man named Mieharu. It follows the first half nearly beat-for-beat, at times merely adding small variations; other times it goes completely off the handle approaching Tim & Eric levels of nonsensibility.

All said and done, I like the Gal & Dino adaptation, but it most certainly wasn’t what I was expecting. At all. If you enjoy off-beat humor like Pop Team Epic or adult swim shows, then you’ll probably be entertained by this. If you don’t, however, you’ll probably be confused. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended (only if you’re into offbeat, non-sequitur anti-humor)

Watch on Funimation


Sakura Wars: The Animation

Sakura Wars The Animation

Studio: Sanzigen
Director: Manabu Ono
Main Voice Actors: Ayane Sakura (Sakura), Saori Hayami (Clarissa), Ayaka Fukuhara (Anastasia), Hibiku Yamamura (Azami), Maaya Uchida (Hatsuho)

As I made clear in my review, I love the new Sakura Wars video game, so I was excited for this sequel series. Unfortunately, my excitement quickly turned to horror. The series is dreadful and betrays much of what makes the game special.

Sakura Wars: The Animation is written by completely different writers (the game was written by the great Takaaki Suzuki, a lead-writer of the lovely Violet Evergarden) and feels like crass fan faction rather than the sequel it purports to be. The series supposedly picks up a year after the game and follows the flower division as they tend to a local crisis while their captain, Seijuro Kamiyama, is away on a special mission. The story that progresses feels at times like a run-of-the mill harem where the girls are lost without their crush while at other times the girls seem like disillusioned children wanting to prove themselves to their parent. It’s creepy. The game depicted relationships of equality founded on mutual growth, not sexualized parenting. But, I digress.

Taken on its own, apart from the game its based on, this show still sucks. The anime itself is competently made with quality animation and action scenes, but the plot and characters are all hackneyed. Nothing is surprising and characterizations seem entirely drawn off the characters’ appearances. Azami is the cute kid who only pretends to be mature, Hatsuho is the red-headed hot head, and so on. It’s degrading at worst and a bore at best.

Sakura Wars: The Animation is a vile cash-grab that turns its lovable cast of characters into stereotypes and betrays fans. Play the game but stay away from this show. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation

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