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Spring 2021 Anime Staff Viewer’s Guide

Last season seemed like it would be a tough act to follow but the spring 2021 anime season seems like it’s putting up a helluva fight!

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Last season seemed like it would be a tough act to follow given all the hard-hitting sequels and much-anticipated premiers but the spring 2021 anime season seems like it’s putting up a helluva fight! Feeling overwhelmed? Check out our handy staff-curated guide to find your potential next favorite!

(List in no particular order)


Vivy -Flourite Eye’s Song-

Vivy Fluorite Eye's Song

Studio: Wit Studio
Director: Shinpei Ezaki
Main Voice Actors: Atsumi Tanezaki (Vivy), Jun Fukuyama (Matsumoto)

Vivy -Fluorite Eye’s Song- has all the makings of another Wit Studio’s masterpiece. 

The story follows an AI named Vivy who, ironically enough, is on a quest to prevent AIs from evolving. At the start of the series, Vivy, the first autonomous AI, is a singer and attraction at an amusement park, living a monotonous, unfulfilled existence. Then, one day, she encounters a program that claims to be from the future. He tells Vivy that AI will one day revolt against humanity causing mass bloodshed and that only they can stop it.

To describe the story beyond this would ruin what is undoubtedly a bizarre but poignant tale. Vivy, despite being programmed to be an entertainer, often proclaims her desire to sing from the heart and express her soul, a declaration that raises profound questions given her mission and the individuals she and her companion encounter. But philosophizing aside, Vivy is just a delight to behold. The banter between Vivy and the AI, who possesses a robotic teddy bear, is often hilarious and the action lives up to Wit’s pedigree with animation so fluid you’d think you were watching a martial arts flick. 

Time will tell if Vivy can keep up its excellent pace but as of now it is easily one of the years best new series, and that’s saying something. Just like last season’s brilliant Wonder Egg Priority, this is a show filled with passion, action, and insight. Don’t miss it. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro

Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro" anime announced! - Animereads

Studio: Telecom Animation Film
Director: Hirokazu Hanai
Main Voice Actors: Sumire Uesaka (Nagatoro), Daiki Yamashita (Naoto)

Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro exemplifies the adage “don’t judge a book by its cover.” The premise—a meek high school sophomore gets bullied by his mischievous female underclassman—is simple enough, but the extent to which Nagatoro torments Naoto in the first episode is so over-the-top that it becomes physically uncomfortable to watch at times. Despite that rough first impression, however, what follows is a much more reined-in and lighthearted romantic comedy.

Nagatoro sheds her demonic exterior for a more playful persona that continues to bully Naoto but not nearly as harshly. She’s also gradually put in situations where she’s more vulnerable, and seeing her interact with other boys and even get jealous at times does wonders in grounding her character. Naoto remains a spineless protagonist for the most part, but over the course of the first three episodes he’s begun to take baby steps in learning how to stand up for himself.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done such a 180 on an anime. What was initially cruel and painful to watch has actually become quite cute and funny. It remains to be seen if this trend continues, but for the moment Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro has all the silliness and “will they, won’t they” energy fans of the genre could ask for. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


To Your Eternity

Studio: Brain’s Base
Director: Masahiko Murata
Main Voice Actors: Reiji Kawashima (Protagonist), Rie Hikisaka (March), Aya Uchida (Parona)

“It’s by the author of A Silent Voice.”

That should’ve been warning enough for the emotional weight To Your Eternity would come to bear upon me and yet I still wasn’t prepared! This is a show about how our experiences in life shape who we are. This is taken in a literal sense by our nameless protagonist, whose form literally changes depending on the “stimulation” it receives.

To Your Eternity is a master of “show, don’t tell.” Our protagonist starts off not even knowing the concept of communication and therefore has to absorb information by what it observes rather than what it is told. Experiencing its first pain, tasting its first food, feeling its first warmth are all painstakingly captured by the stellar animation and soul-resonating soundtrack.

The “stimulation” our protagonist has been exposed to thus far in its journey has been a tour de force of human emotions and fortitude. They have been stories about finding hope in despair, beauty in destruction, and connections in isolation. It’s mesmerizing, it’s awe-inspiring, and it’s an anime you don’t want to miss. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Tokyo Revengers

Studio: LIDENFILMS
Director: Kouichi Hatsumi
Main Voice Actors: Yuuki Shin (Hanagaki Takemichi), Yuu Hayashi (Manjirou Sano), Masaaki Mizunaka (Keisuke Baji), Takuma Terashima (Atsushi Sendou), Ryouta Oosaka  (Naoto Tachibana)

Tokyo Revengers is a generic time travel show but it has the feel of an isekai and that makes it undeniably fun.

The series follows 20 something Hanagaki Takemichi as he sleepwalks through his depressing existence. Shortly after hearing that his ex-girlfriend from middle school has died, Hanagaki has a fatal accident but instead of dying he goes into the past and inhabits his middle school self. From there, the series jumps back and forth in time as Hanagaki works to change the future and save his ex/current girlfriend.

What makes the show so uniquely enjoyable is the contrast between Hanagaki’s middle school persona and his adult life. As an adult, he is a wimpy milquetoast who literally gets beat up by kids, but when he was a middle schooler he was a punk and part of gang until he got put in his place by older kids. Upon becoming a teenager again, Hanagaki, just like an isekai protagonist, is out of place and gradually begins to take control — uniting his two selves as he works his way up the ranks of the biggest Tokyo gang in order to stop them from murdering his girlfriend in the future.

Tokyo Revengers, in its characterizations and basic plot, is quite cliched but seeing a guy experience his own childhood in such a foreign way is undeniably charming. This show won’t blow your mind but it’s worth watching. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


SHADOWS HOUSE

Studio: Clover Works
Director: Kazuki Oohashi
Main Voice Actors: Akari Kitou (Kate), Yuu Sasahara (Emilico)

Every season there’s always that one show I know nothing about and just put on the TV randomly as I sit down for dinner. SHADOWS HOUSE is that show this season and boy am I glad I did!

Emilico is a living doll — who for all intents and purposes is a human — employed in the service of Kate of the Shadows Family. That family name isn’t just for show, either, as Kate is literally a black hole of a human being, as if someone took scissors and cut out her very being from existence. Emilico, meanwhile, is the exact same body shape and has the face that Kate would supposedly have. The contrast between Kate and Emilico is striking and the incredible use of textured clothing only emphasizes the discrepancy that is Kate’s existence.

There is a fascinating mystery surrounding the Shadows Family and the manor they reside in alongside their living dolls. Living dolls are both expected to clean up the “soot” substance the Shadows generate simply from living as well as serving as the “faces” for Shadows during social events. Despite the jovial attitude Emilico brings to the table there is a constant undercurrent of unease as you peel back more and more layers on the sinister affairs at work. If you’re a fan of supernatural mysteries, don’t skip SHADOWS HOUSE. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Higehiro: After Being Rejected, I Shaved and Took in a High School Runaway

Studio: Studio No. 9
Director: Manabu Kamikita
Main Voice Actors: Kazuyuki Okitsu (Yoshida), Kana Ichinose (Sayu Ogiwara)

Let’s get this out of the way first: This is a trashy title. Higehiro is, in many ways, obvious wish-fulfilling fanservice meant to appeal to horny males who project themselves into MC-kun’s situation. Paradoxically, however, Higehiro still manages to pull some surprisingly mature writing and endearing character development.

The premise of the show is in the title: Yoshida, a 26-year-old salaryman, takes in Sayu Ogiwara, a runaway high school girl, after a chance encounter under a lamp post late at night. Now, right away any discerning viewer can see how this panders to thirsty male viewers. A cute and flirty teenage schoolgirl who has survived thus far by seducing men in exchange for lodging comes to rely on the kind and dependable MC-kun.

With all that said, Higehiro is an odd case simply because it balances the trashy fanservice with some genuinely charming character moments and surprisingly solid life advice. Yoshida has a decent amount of agency and self-assuredness that he does his best to impart onto Sayu, who is still wrestling with the trauma of running away and surviving the way she did. Though cut with shots of cleavage and pinup poses, Higehiro creates an empathetic connection with its characters in spite of the gross objectification it engages in at times. If you’re somebody who can compartmentalize the pandering fanservice and reconcile it with (mostly) sincere writing and characters, then you’ll enjoy Higehiro. (By Kyle Rogacion)

Rating: Recommended (with caveats)

Watch on Crunchyroll


Shaman King (2021)

Studio: Bridge
Director: Jouji Furuta
Main Voice Actors: Youko Hikasa (Yoh), Romi Park (Ren), Minami Takayama (Hao), Megumi Hayashibara (Anna), Katsuyuki Konishi (Amidamaru), Inuko Inuyama (Manta)

In the late 90’s, the Shaman King manga was immediately attractive to millions of readers due to its distinct art and highly mystical aesthetic. Now roughly 20 years after the original anime adaptation first aired in Japan, Shaman King 2021 is attempting to recapture that magic. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite hit the mark.

Shaman King commits two cardinal shonen sins. First, it introduces villains and has them be defeated in the same episode, leaving no space to establish how powerful or intimidating the foe really is. Second, Yoh has somehow learned “Talk no Jutsu” from Naruto; characters who’ve been endlessly abused or feuding for years toss their hatred to the side after a single emotional encounter with him. Together, these issues make the early episodes of Shaman King extremely cut and dried and boring as a result.

Despite offering very little to hang on to at this stage — and having some of the more underwhelming battles this season — there are still moments when Shaman King taps into what made its source material so compelling. The mystical aesthetic is still intact, Yoh’s aloof yet in-tune nature still feels cool, and his relationship with his fiance Anna is still endearing. It’s just a shame that breakneck pacing and trying to hit a younger demographic get in the way of a grand return for the beloved franchise. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Indifferent

Watch on Netflix this summer

Fruits Basket: The Final Season

Fruits Basket Final Season

Studio: TMS/8PAN
Director: Yoshihide Ibata
Main Voice Actors: Manaka Iwami (Tohru), Yuuma Uchida (Kyou), Nobunaga Shimazaki (Yuki)

With its third and final season, Fruits Basket barrels ahead, revealing answers to long-held questions and astonishing at every turn – unrelenting in its loving empathy.

Fruits Basket has always been a series of deep feeling – never afraid to confront painful stories of abuse and loss. But what has made it such a special and revered artwork is the hope it finds in human relationships, depicting how the honesty and vulnerability of being seen by another person can heal even the deepest of wounds. The final season of the series epitomizes these traits as it takes the time to look behind the curtain at the Sohma family’s cycle of pain and shows compassion to the most detestable of characters. 

Combine all this emotional power with the series’ trademark humor and we have what promises to be a stellar ending to a classic series. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll and Funimation


Combatants Will Be Dispatched!

Combatants Will Be Dispatched

Studio: J.C. Staff
Director: Hiroaki Akagi
Main Voice Actors: Miyu Tomita (Alice), Yuusuke Shirai (Agent Six), Sayaka Kikuchi (Snow), Natsumi Murakami (Rose), Minami Takahashi (Grimm)

This is the newest series written by the author of the absolutely hysterical Konosuba but you’d be forgiven for not realizing given how utterly drab Combatants Will Be Dispatched! is. Agent Six is sent to a brand new planet in order to conquer it in the name of the super evil Kisaragi organization which has already taken over Earth. Agent Six is really bad at his job, though, and more interested in chasing booty than glory and recognition, which is the source for much of the show’s poor attempt at humor.

Agent Six is bearable at best and insufferable at worst whose perverse personality is exaggerated so much it becomes his sole defining trait. The supporting cast is similarly broken with loli android Alice, the money grubbing knight Snow, the narcoleptic sorcerer Grimm, and the ever-hungry chimera Rose. Combatants lacks a straight man to play off its lunatic cast which results in a floaty type of humor where it’s difficult to see the punchline. It doesn’t help that the show is just boring to look at, with sceneries filled with brown rocks and character designs that seem confused about what kind of setting they’re in.

I’ll give the author credit for not simply trying to repaint Konosuba as a new series, as Combatants is distinctly different. It’s just a shame it turned out feeling more like a predecessor rather than a follow-up. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Not Recommended

Watch on Funimation


SSSS.Dynazenon

SSSS Dynazenon

Studio: Trigger
Director: Akira Amemiya
Main Voice Actors: Daiki Hamano (Gauma), Junya Enoki  (Yomogi Asanaka), Shion Wakayama  (Yume Minami), Yūichirō Umehara (Koyomi Yamanaka), Hiroshi Kamiya (Juuga), Yuma Uchida  (Onija)

Anyone who watched Trigger’s SSSS.Gridman knows that is an underrated gem and arguably the studio’s greatest achievement, deftly combining kaiju action with existentialism and nuanced characterizations. SSSS.Dyanzenon has yet to rise to its predecessor’s greatness but it has tons of promise and is a delight to behold.

Unlike Gridman, which focused on the heroics of a singular fighter buoyed by a group of friends, Dyanzenon plays similar to Voltron with the titular mech requiring multiple pilots to function. This leads to a very different pace with no singular character being the focus and while no one has Akane’s depth, they all charm and play well off each other.  

However, Dynazenon does retain Gridman’s heady edge. The show regularly muses about the purpose of life or the inadequacies of perception and it brims with mystery. The actual presence of kaijus and the Dynazenon robot echoes Gridman, using their existence as means to explore our desire for escapist carnage. This is best exemplified by Gauma and Onija, the head pilot of Dyanzenon and the leader of the Kaiju Eugencists, respectively. More personal than cosmic, their feud adds a hilarious bite to combat encounters as it becomes clear that no one, not even the other team members, actually care about protecting humanity or causing it to end; they’re just bored or searching for some sense of meaning.

With weighty themes, clever comedy, a mysterious world, and gorgeous visuals that makes the most of Triggers hyperbolic, eccentric style, Dynazenon is an awesome action series that promises to only get better. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Nomad: Megalobox 2

Nomad Megalo Box 2

Studio: TMS Entertainment
Director: You Moriyama
Main Voice Actors: Yoshimasa Hosoya (Joe), Miou Tanaka (Chief), Nikray Farahnaz (Marla)

People say that sometimes you need to hit rock bottom before you can start recovering, and that’s exactly where we find Joe at the start of this Megalobox sequel. Battered, bruised, and traumatized, he spends his days drifting from fight to fight without a modicum of self-preservation until he finds a new purpose, a new family. There he learns what it means to face his past and how to bear his failures.

Megalobox 2 is the sequel I never knew I wanted or needed. The original series is a fairly bog-standard underdog boxing story that turned out to be fun but forgettable in the end. Megalobox 2 has everything the original series lacks; it has heart, it has a powerful motivator, and most importantly it has a Joe who is layered and capable of empathizing.

Joe’s metamorphosis from a cardboard, mad dog to a scarred and weary individual capable of taking a step back is phenomenal. It’s so drastic yet so consistent with everything we had seen of him thus far that the only word to describe it is mesmerizing. All this on top of the stellar boxing matches the first season had already nailed in spades. If you were like me and hesitant about this sequel going into it, rest assured that Megalobox 2 will almost certainly exceed your wildest expectations. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


The Slime Diaries

The Slime Diaries

Studio: 8bit
Director: Yuuji Haibara
Main Voice Actors: Miho Okasaki (Rimuru)

The Slime Diaries couldn’t have come at a better time. Airing between the first and second halves of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime‘s second season, it serves as a welcome stopgap for series fans hungry for more TenSura content while they wait. Thankfully, The Slime Diaries has quickly proven itself to be well worth watching as a little sliver of slime sunshine every week.

Taking place shortly after Rimuru defeats Orc Disaster in the first season, The Slime Diaries is a lighthearted slice-of-life spin-off that offers a peek into the daily life around Tempest. It generally focuses on Rimuru and the silly antics involving him, but there’s also plenty of shine given to more minor characters. Be it Gobta taking every opportunity to shirk his responsibilities or Geld melting hearts with how much of a teddy bear he is when it comes to children, The Slime Diaries does an admirable job of further establishing these minor — but important — characters. Plus, the little goblin children are adorable.

As someone who values the world building of That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime above all else, I couldn’t ask for a better way to pass the time until the rest of season two is ready. That said, do yourself a favor and at least watch the first season before diving into this spin-off. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Highly Recommended (for series fans)
Not Recommended (for newcomers)

Watch on Crunchyroll


86 EIGHTY-SIX

86 anime

Studio: A-1 Pictures
Director: Toshimasa Ishii
Main Voice Actors: Ikumi Hasegawa (Vladilena Mirize), Shouya Chiba (Shinei Nouzen), Natsumi Fujiwara (Theoto Rikka), Katsumi Fukuhara (Thouma Sauvy)

Like the best mech shows, 86 is steeped in political intrigue. The Republic of San Magnolia — at war with the supposedly evil Empire of Giad — puts on a convincing front as a utopian society but in actuality it’s an oppressive regime. Publicly, the Republic says their war is fought using autonomous robotic units but the truth is far more disturbing as the 86, a district of ethnic minorities, is forced to pilot the machines. That is the context of this new sci-fi action series, and it is compelling. But there are problems.

The primary protagonist of the series is Major Vladilena: a noble of the ethnic majority and a commander of 86 combat units. Commanding her soldiers from a remote station, Vladilena oversees the carnage without any threat to herself. She sympathizes with the 86 and speaks out against their plight – even going so far as to barge into an academy lecture and rant about how the “autonomous robots” are actually piloted by humans. Her unrelenting idealism feels completely unearned and is not challenged by those around her, aside from the soldiers in her command who understandably question her compassion.

That all said, 86  is worth watching. It’s well made, with some killer music and great visuals, and the characters in the 86 units are undeniably charming. But when the series is not focusing on the combat soldiers it feels out of sync, the Republic’s government a nonthreatening bureaucracy rather than the monster it’s supposed to be. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


The World Ends With You – The Animation

The World Ends With You anime

Studio: Shin-Ei Animation, domerica
Director: Kazuya Ichikawa
Main Voice Acotrs: Kouki Uchiyama (Neku), Anna Hachimine (Shiki), Subaru Kimura (Beat), Ryohei Kimura (Joshua)

If you told my 15-year-old self that his favorite DS game of all time was going to get not only a sequel but also an anime over a decade, he probably wouldn’t have believed you because he thought it would actually be a year later at most because the game was SO GOOD!

The anime for The World Ends With You is a faithful adaptation of the original cult classic for better and for worse. For better because it is positively chock full of nods and references to the game from the poses characters make, to the pin designs that flash with Neku’s psychic powers, to the way they visualize game mechanics like scanning. Not to mention the fact the studio was able to maintain the level of authenticity it has with the game’s distinct art style is incredible.

As a result of stripping the story of its gameplay counterpart, however, we’re left with pacing that goes a mile a minute with no breaks in between. It’s understandable considering the ground that needs to be covered in a mere 12 episodes but this means newcomers are likely to be left in the dust scratching their heads at what exactly they’re supposed to be feeling. The story may begin to ease off the accelerator in coming episodes but for now this is a hard recommendation to make outside of fans of the game. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended (For game fans)
Not Recommended (For non-game fans)

Watch on Funimation


Moriarty The Patriot

Moriarty the Patriot

Studio: Production I.G
Director: Kazuya Nomura
Main Voice Actors: Sōma Saitō (Moriarty), Takuya Satō (Albert), Chiaki Kobayashi (Louis), Makoto Furukawa (Sherlock Holmes)

Moriarty the Patriot continues to enthrall, beginning its second cour with fascinating conspiracies and characters.

Whereas the beginning of the series focused on one off stories that established Moriarty and his retinue as agents of vengeance, the second half of the season takes the series into more complex territory. Directly dealing with social disorder and questions of democracy, the first few arcs perfectly parallel Moriarty’s own goals for social change while also adding nuance to his character by focusing on those around him. Moriarty, despite his iconic and evil legacy, seems to be the hero of the series with his acts of violence tempered by their sense of justice in the way it is for heroes like the Punisher. His overarching goal is utterly noble, however, there is a disquiet to him too. He encourages profound individualism in his followers but, at the same time, he is unsettlingly in control of everyone around him; even Sherlock Holmes dances to Moriarty’s tune. That is to say, there is a delicious mystery at the heart of this series that transcends the plot.

Providing audiences with rich stories, complex conspiracies and a villain who just might be the hero, Moriarty the Patriot is must watch television – weird references to James Bond be damned. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Funimation


Osamake: The Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Doesn’t Lose

Osamake

Studio: Doga Koba
Director: Takashi Naoya
Main Voice Actors: Ayane Sakura (Kachi), Inori Minase (Kuro), Yoshitsugu Matsuoka (Maru)

The Romcom Where the Childhood Friend Doesn’t Lose. That’s it, that’s the show. And it’s not lying… technically?

Whenever Doga Koba does a show that isn’t a straight-up moe blob I’m always interested. Osamake is a weird one as it seems to dance between generic romcom trappings and genuinely refreshing developments. One moment we’re being inundated with the usual childhood friend intro and the next we find out she’s actually already confessed to our protagonist and been turned down. 

Characters are surprisingly forward with their feelings yet despite that and the fact we’ve effectively condensed an entire romcom plot into the first three episodes alone, the direction the story seems to be going in is a holding pattern. I’d love to be wrong since the characters are fun and multifaceted but after the phenomenal Horimiya of last season, it’s hard to go back to the tried and true romcom built on a foundation of misunderstandings. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Wait and See

Watch on Crunchyroll


I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level

Slime 300

Studio: Revoroot
Director: Nobukage Kimura
Main Voice Actor(s): Aoi Yuuki (Azusa), Kaede Hondo (Laika), Sayaka Harada (Halkara), Minami Tanaka (Shalsha), Sayaka Senbongi (Falfa)

Amid all the heart-wrenching dramas and intense thrillers every season, it helps to have a few cozy anime to watch in-between as a palette cleanser. I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level fills this role perfectly as a wonderfully faithful adaptation of the manga.

After literally working herself to an early grave in the corporate world, a kind goddess takes pity on Azusa and decides to reincarnate her with whatever attributes she wants. Once she’s granted immortality and eternal youth, Azusa is transported to a new world where she’s able to make a peaceful living for herself in the countryside. Determined to never overwork herself again, she takes it easy for the next 300 years making potions, going for walks, laying in the sun, and killing slimes every day for exercise.

What makes Slime 300 so charming is its earnestness and sense of humor. A CCDCT show at its core, Azusa quickly starts to develop a little family of girls from all walks of life who interact in the most heart-melting of ways. Her dedication to keeping them protected (both from external forces and self-harm) is feel-good to the core, and the ridiculous ways the girls interact with each other ensures the entertainment value is always there. If you’re looking for a good weekly pick-me-up look no further. (By Brent Middleton)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Pretty Boy Detective Club

Pretty Boy Detective Club

Studio: Shaft
Director: Akiyuki Shinbou
Main Voice Actors: Ayumu Murase (Manabu), Shougo Yano (Hyouta), Toshiki Masuda (Michiru), Maaya Sakamoto (Mayumi), Taito Ban (Nagahiro)

Akiyuki Shinbou and Shaft. What more needs to be said?

We haven’t seen Shaft in such fine form for a non-Madoka or Monogatari project since the soul-riveting March Comes in Like a Lion five years ago. The dramatic head tilts, the sudden episode cards, the flamboyant poses, they’re all here in glorious force. From a raw visual standpoint, Pretty Boy Detective Club is the pinnacle of the creativity anime is capable of. It’s a constant assault of color and stimulation on your optical nerves that refuses to let your eyeballs wander for even a second.

The plot of Pretty Boy Detective Club is extravagant to match its visuals, solving seemingly mundane mysteries that quickly and hilariously snowball into larger-than-life complications. The titular pretty boys are reminiscent of the hosts of Ouran Highschool Host Club, with all their flaming idiosyncrasies amplified eleven-fold by Shaft’s trademark animation. Lacking the plot or the animation, Pretty Boy Detective Club would come across as a pompous attempt at being different but together it is a stupendous joyride with the momentum to hopefully carry through the entire season. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation


ODDTAXI

Odd Taxi

Studio: OLM, Inc.
Director: Baku Kinoshita
Main Voice Actors: Natsuki Hanae (Odokawa), Riho Iida (Shirakawa), Ryōhei Kimura (Gōriki), Kappei Yamaguchi (Kakihana)

True to its name, ODDTAXI is a weird little show. Following the escapades of Odokawa, a taxi driver who also happens to be a walrus, ODDTAXI continues the popular trend of anthropomorphizing animals and putting them in a human, urban setting. Compared to shows like Beastars, though, ODDTAXI relishes in the mundane, never portraying its characters as anything other than human despite their animal appearance. The result is a show of surprising depth, filled with astute observations and wry humor, but its meandering structure could be a turn-off for some.

When ODDTAXI focuses on its lovably sardonic, and sincere protagonist, it’s a joy. There’s a profound honesty to Odokawa and whenever he’s onscreen the show pulses with astute, and often humorous observations; his takedown of social media in the first episode is hilarious. However, when the series ventures away from him it gets lost in other plots that don’t congeal and sometimes don’t make sense such as the ongoing story concerning a missing high schooler and yakuza. The behavior of some of the characters defies sense and the histrionics of the crime drama distract from the show’s better, more humane qualities.

That all said, ODDTAXI is a show with heart and it’s more than worth a little cab fare. (By Nicholas Straub)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Zombieland Saga: Revenge

Zombieland Saga Revenge

Studio: MAPPA
Director: Munehasa Sakai
Main Voice Actors: Mamoru Miyano (Kotaro), Kaede Hondo (Sakura), Risa Taneda (Ai), Maki Kawase (Junko)

The idol anime made for non-idol fans is back with a vengeance and man has it been too long. The bat-shit insane idea of having zombies perform as idols is still as absurd today as it was three years and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Revenge wastes no time in throwing punches as it puts the necrotic girls of Franchouchou in a pinch of debt and infamy before the new season even begins. This new season retains Zombieland Saga’s trademark bodily humor that leaves you in stitches — with Kotarou absolutely slaying his role once again as the manager with one hundred too many screws loose — all while remaining as a surprisingly insightful look into the history of Japanese idols and the culture surrounding them.

While the first Zombieland Saga was more about shock value than anything, Revenge makes clear that it will be addressing the questions that were more or less shelved before. How and why these girls have been revived in the first place? Who exactly is Kotarou? Why is Saga so important? With a time limit now in place, those answers will be coming sooner than later but until then, Zombieland Saga: Revenge is the Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride I’ve been waiting for. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


Super Cub

Super Cub

Studio: Studio Kai
Director: Toshirou Fujii
Main Voice Actors: Yuki Yomichi (Koguma), Ayaka Nanase (Reiko), Natsumi Hioka (Shii)

Anime and chill. I wasn’t expecting a show to fill the Yuru Camp-sized hole in my heart so soon but here we are with Super Cub the very next season — a super chill, super charming anime with a hint of melancholy.

In an effort to add some spice to her mundane life, Koguma makes the impulse decision to purchase her own Cub motorbike. The results are instant and tangible, literally transforming the world as we see it from the bleached, dull color palette to one of full saturation. Koguma’s sheer joy from the most minor of things like suddenly being able to take detours after school is perfectly in line with anyone getting a new toy they’re excited about and looking for any excuse possible to use it.

As the cast expands and geeks out over motorbikes Koguma remains awkward and introverted but is endearingly earnest in interacting with them, making for moments as pure as they are genuine. It’s heartwarming to see her find this safe haven for the first time in her life and along with the calming piano tracks sets Super Cub apart from your standard moe blob affairs. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation


My Hero Academia Season 5

My Hero Academia Season 5

Studio: Bones
Director: Kenji Nagasaki
Main Voice Actors: Daiki Yamashita (Izuku), Nobuhiko Okamoto (Katsuki), Kenta Miyake (All Might)

Consistently delivering popcorn entertainment excellence, My Hero Academia has successfully cemented itself as a superpowered pillar of the shonen genre. Its qualities doubtless need detailing, but for the few uninitiated, know that My Hero Academia’s acclaim is well deserved due to its colorful characters, likable lead, and top-tier fun factor.

Whilst 2019/2020’s season 4 had its high points (shout out to Eijiro and Tamaki), affairs took a dip due to inconsistent pacing and lack of side character screen time. My Hero Academia is at its best when it celebrates its stellar supporting cast. Fortunately, season 5 seems to realize this, kicking off with a joint training battle between Class 1-A and Class 1-B and so far the results have been 10/10.

Both furthering the character arcs of fan favorites (like Fumikage, Hitoshi, and Momo), whilst introducing new Class 1-B students, My Hero Academia season 5 is shaping up to be one of the series’ best! (By Harry Morris)

Rating: Highly Recommended

Watch on Crunchyroll


The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent

The Saint's Power is Omnipotent

Studio: Diomedea
Director: Shouta Ibata
Main Voice Actors: Yui Ishikawa (Sei), Takahiro Sakurai (Albert), Takuya Eguchi (Johan), Yuusuke Kobayashi (Yuri)

Sometimes a guy just wants a true-blue, vanilla shojo and that’s exactly what The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is. Sei is summoned to another world as a prospective “Saint” who will deliver the country from darkness but is passed over by the prince for the “cuter” girl summoned with her. Bummer. Not to worry, though, as she quickly settles into her new life as a researcher at the Institute of Magic. A myriad of hot guys like the intelligent head researcher or the suave knight captain await her in her life of leisure.

There’s not much else to say other than Sei is a lovable dork and her romance options are so smooth they make even my heart go doki doki. Many of the scenarios presented are straight out of the shojo playbook but they’re presented in such earnestness that I just eat it all up. Sure, Sei has a power that makes anything she creates significantly more effective than the exact same item made by someone else — like potions and makeup — but honestly, that power has been so inconsequential to the story so far that it hardly matters. I’m just here to watch Sei be happy and get flustered at the prospect of a man *GASP!* liking her, and so far that’s exactly what The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent is providing. (By Matt Ponthier)

Rating: Recommended

Watch on Funimation

Heralding from the rustic, old town of Los Angeles, California; Matthew now resides in Boston where he diligently researches the cure for cancer. In reality, though, he just wants to play games and watch anime, and likes talking about them way too much. A Nintendo/Sony hybrid fan with a soft-spot for RPG’s, he finds little beats sinking hours into an immersive game world.

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