Spring turned out to be a decent anime watching season for me. In addition to the ten simulcasts that I managed to keep up with, I also wrapped up six completed serials! My overall satisfaction for everything was rather positive as well, which is always a very nice feeling.
My goal is to write-up reviews and recommendations for a lot of the things that I have watched, although it won’t be every title because that can become somewhat taxing on me mentally and physically. On top of that, it already takes me a long time to put these reviews together (thank you ADHD), so I want to ensure that I give attention to the stuff that I’m interested in discussing, promoting, or just talking about in general.
You can check out my wrap-up of everything down below. Titles shall take you to their respective AniList pages. Along with the demographic, genre, and brief snippet, I’ve also included a few words on why I would or would not recommend the specific anime, and have shared any write-ups that I may have done for them as well!
Carole & Tuesday (2019) [Netflix]: A seinen, music original anime, produced by studio Bones and directed by Shinichirō Watanabe and Motonobu Hori, it follows two musically inclined young ladies that literally run into each other and decide to start their journey towards becoming professional artists as a duo.
There was a lot about this anime that I thoroughly enjoyed, such as the animation style, the futuristic setting on Mars, the chemistry between the ladies, and the fabulous music. Even so, the whole anime was supremely linear and one-dimensional, with very little character development as a whole, and I found myself pretty disappointed by the end. I do believe this shall be a treat for folx that are searching for a simple, feel-good anime with a slightly bittersweet finale, more so if you’re into music, but if you’re looking for something with a lot of contemplative depth and an array of themes, you may want to pass on it. Overall, I feel INDIFFERENT about Carole and Tuesday.
Dragon’s Dogma (2020) [HBO]: A seinen, fantasy anime adaptation of the original video game that was produced by Sublimation and directed by Shinya Sugai, it follows a man who in the wake of having his town devastated by a great dragon’s attack, including the brutal death of his wife and children, vows to seek his vengeance against the dragon and embarks on an epic quest to hunt it down.
I plan on writing a full review for this anime, but it definitely has its problems, most of which are related to the animation quality. However, I liked the story and all of the fantastical creatures that this guy encounters on his journey. There was something wonderfully nostalgic about it and as a lover of classic fantasy, I could definitely see myself rewatching Dragon’s Dogma in the future. While I recognise it’s got a lot of problems and won’t be for everyone, especially given its intense savagery, I would still very much RECOMMEND it to fans of the original video game and folx that don’t mind cheesy, classic monster fantasy.
Five Numbers (2011) [HiDive]: A seinen, science-fiction single-episode OVA that was produced by Sunrise and directed by Hiroaki Ando about a group of prisoners who awake to an empty prison complex where they have no recollection of how they got there.
I picked this up randomly one evening when I couldn’t sleep because the preview poster intrigued me. It’s only a half an hour long and left me with a lot of curious questions once the end credits began to roll, but I still found it rather fascinating. The point of the OVA isn’t necessarily to tell a concrete story, but more to get people to think about the future and some of the lengths that humanity goes to for self-preservation. Nature will find a way to wipe the slate clean (i.e.: cause animals to go extinct) when it’s time to start anew, but thanks to free will and free thinking, humans shall always fight nature with respect to living and surviving as long as they possibly can, akin to cockroaches, regardless of how damaging that can be in the long run. In that sense, I actually quite loved this OVA. While I would appreciate more episodes, I also feel the small twenty-eight minute length suits it for what it was trying to convey perfectly. I would definitely RECOMMEND this to fans of science-fiction and ambiguously contemplative narratives.
Isekai Izakaya “Nobu” (2018) [Crunchyroll]: A seinen, fantasy, cooking anime short that’s an adaptation of the novel series, it was produced by Sunrise and directed by Katsumi Ono. It revolves around a Japanese public house (pub) that opens up to a fantasy world, where patrons come in after a hard day’s work for delicious grubs.
I was craving a cooking anime shortly after the Spring season began and someone recommended this title to me. The short episode lengths were very appealing and after the first couple of segments, I was completely hooked. It’s so delightful with mouth-watering, scrumptious dishes that look good enough to eat right off the screen. The characters are all charming and help to create a soothing found-family sort of dynamic that I found amazingly comforting. I would HIGHLY RECOMMEND this anime to fans of foodie shows and otaku searching for calm, feel-good serials that won’t take up a humongous time investment.
Piacevole: My Italian Cooking (2017) [Crunchyroll]: A shōnen, cooking comedy anime short that’s an adaptation of a webtoon series. It was produced by Zero-G and directed by Hiroaki Sakurai. It follows a young girl that discovers a beautiful Italian café tucked away in the woods. Mesmerised by it’s charming location and atmosphere, she gets a part-time job there as a waitress and learns about the joys of Italian cuisine.
Having had awesome luck with Isekai Izakaya “Nobu,” I figured this series would be a good follow up. Unfortunately, it was most definitely not my cup of chai. The comedy made me cringe and was too obnoxious, as were most of the characters. I don’t like this sort of “stupid humour” that the show is filled with, and I found myself bored most of the time. While I didn’t care for it and probably would NOT RECOMMEND this to anyone, people who enjoy the humour of Haven’t You Heard, I’m Sakamoto and light foodie elements may take to this far more than I did.
The Way of the Househusband (2021) [Netflix]: A seinen, comedy, slice-of-life anime adaptation of the manga series that was produced by studio J.C. Staff and directed by Chiaki Kon, it follows a former infamous yakuza who gives up his dangerous shenanigans to become a househusband to his wife.
When I tried to read the manga for this, I couldn’t get into it. The art and some of the comedy were cool, but after a short while, it became somewhat tedious, and I lost interest. When the anime hit Netflix, I figured it would be worth a shot. It watches similarly to an animated comic strip, but the sound effects and voice acting helped to bring more entertainment and mirth to the series that the manga lacked for me, and I found myself being pleasantly surprised by it. I also appreciated that it had shorter episodes and only seven segments, so it was relatively effortless to binge-watch in one sitting (roughly an hour to an hour and a half). Watching the Yakuza dude utilise the skills of his former life into efficient and creative house-husbandry was pretty neat. RECOMMENDED.
Cestvs: The Roman Fighter (2021) [Crunchyroll]: A seinen, historical anime adaptation of the manga series. It was produced by Bandai Namco Pictures and Logic&Magic, with direction from Toshifumi Kawase and Kazuya Monma. The story is about a young slave boy that must fight in 100 gladiator fights in order to obtain his freedom.
People gave this show a lot of shite because of the computer-enhanced graphics, and I will admit that the first episode felt a little funky. But after a while, the animation style grew on me, and I found that it fit the style of the story and the action sequences quite well. As for the narrative itself, I really liked it. It reminded me heavily of an anime version of Spartacus: Blood and Sand (one of my favourite historical TV serials). The first season ended on a slight cliff-hanger, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed that a second season will get announced soon. If you’re a fan of Roman history and gladiator-type battles combined with boxing, and if you can be open-minded about the animation techniques, then I’d definitely RECOMMEND this to you.
Dragon Goes House-Hunting (2021) [Funimation]: A shōnen, fantasy adaptation of a manga, it was produced by Signal.MD with direction by Haruki Kasugamori. It’s about a dragon named Letty who gets kicked out on their little rump for not living up to the family’s standards. Finding themselves utterly alone, they go searching for a new place to settle into. However, when you’re a dragon in a world of elves, dwarves, and other folx that fear you because you’re a goddamn dragon, finding a home is all the more difficult.
I wasn’t really expecting to adore this as much as I did (first impressions). There are many things about the anime that’s pretty standard, but Letty’s eventual growth as a person and their relationship with their real estate agent (a fabulous elf dude) became so charming and entertaining that I found myself eagerly anticipating a new episode each week. I would RECOMMEND this to folx searching for something that is easy to watch, mostly as a filler in-between watching other things. It’s not fantastic enough to be a priority, but it’s not terrible enough to be missed entirely either.
Fruits Basket: The Final (2021) [Crunchyroll]: The final season of a shōjo, supernatural, romantic comedy, adapted from the manga of the same name, it was produced by TMS/8PAN and directed by Yoshihide Ibata. The seasons follows Tōru Honda, her friends, and the Sōma clan as tensions rise in the effort to break the curse that is oppressing each and all of their joys and futures.
There’s not much that I can say about this that hasn’t already been said (Five Favourite FB Characters, Tōru Honda Appreciation). It’s literal perfection across the board and ties up the series superbly. Dissimilar to the previous two seasons, The Final season is much darker and more serious from start to finish with very tiny morsels of comedic breaks interspersed to help keep the feels minutely at bay. The character developments, the final relationships and couplings, and the promising future for all the Sōmas was astounding. All I can say is that out of everything else on this list, this is one of two anime that is a must-watch for all otaku out there, super-duper HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
Higehirō (2021) [Crunchyroll]: An anime adaptation of the shōnen, romance novel series. The anime was produced by Project No.9 and directed by Manabu Kamikita. It follows a twenty-six-year-old salaryman who gets rejected by his crush of five years. Feeling wholly disheartened, he gets drunk with his chum. On his way home, he comes across a lonesome high school girl that offers to have sex with him in exchange for a place to stay for the night.
I started this with very low hopes (first impressions). On the surface, I was anticipating a fan-service fuelled romp of cringey and inappropriate comedy galore. Instead, I was greeted with incredible characters, an unexpectedly emotional and powerful narrative, heart-warming interpersonal connections, and interesting explorations on various forms of trauma. Higehirō was one hell of a surprise and I cannot RECOMMEND it enough, especially if you’re in the market for something unexpectedly deep and moving.
Jōran: Princess of Blood and Snow (2021) [Crunchyroll]: An original seinen, historical fantasy anime that was animated by Bakken Record and produced by Bushiroad with direction from Susumu Kudō. It takes place in 1931 that follows a Tokugawa prince who holds absolute power. On one side there is a rebel group that’s determined to assassinate the prince and re-take the regime that he’s built via that power. Then there’s the other side, consisting of a consortium of secret government executioners that seek to extinguish the rebel group before they can make their move.
Where there is a show that surprises pleasantly, there shall be one that will disappoint horrendously. Jōran was one of my most-anticipated serials (first impressions), but the inconsistent and non-linear storytelling coupled with some purely shock value elements caused it to be a hot mess. It had something promising to work with, but the execution of everything was all over the place. I would only really recommend this to watchers who desperately want to see something violent and historical with slight steampunk attributes, but be forewarned that the plot is broken and terribly constructed. As such, my overall impression of the series is INDIFFERENT at best.
Koikimo (2021) [Crunchyroll]: A josei, romantic comedy produced by Nomad with direction from Naomi Nakayama. It’s about a womanising salaryman that gets saved by a random high school girl at the train station. In order to pay her back, he offers to kiss her or to date her, to which she aptly responds by calling him a creep. That rejections ends up swooning the dude and he falls madly in love with her.
I have somewhat of an unpopular opinion about this anime. When I decided to check it out at the start of the Spring season, I figured it would be similar to Higehirō, cheap trash and rather average in all aspects. However, the more that I watched it and learned about our salaryman lover boy, the more I began to root for him and his pursuits, especially with respect to his relationships with others. Sure he’s kind of messed up, but given how his family treated him (mostly his dad), I understood his emotional immaturity and ultimate unavailability. Plus, his awkwardness combined with the schoolgirl’s timid nature and slow-budding chemistry was super charming to me. As such, I would RECOMMEND this to fans of romcoms with age-gaps and fun premises.
Let’s Make a Mug Too (2021) [Crunchyroll]: The anime adaptation of a shōnen manga, it was produced by Nippon Animation and directed by Jun Kamiya, and follows high school girls and their love of pottery, taking place in the city of Tajimi in the Gifu Prefecture of Japan.
Normally, I don’t like shows that are super moe-y, but after watching and falling head-over-heels in love with Laid-Back Camp, I’ve come to appreciate the charm that the Cute Girls Doing Cute Shite category has, so I picked this up for kicks. It ended up having a nice layer of depth to it as one of the main characters deals with trying to formulate a connection with her late mother via the art of pottery, something her mum was a well-known artist in the field (and in town) for. Watching her pour her heart and soul into learning the ins and outs of pottery, for which she is a complete and total newbie, was inspiring. It was also quite sappy with respect to how this affects her relationship with her dad who’s a single parent. All in all, it was just very, very cute and heart-warming. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for fans of the Cute Girls Doing Cute Shite genre and people that love moe and art-centred narratives. The episodes are also only about twelve minutes long, which makes it a low-maintenance watching investment. (First Impressions)
NOMAD: Megalobox 2 (2021) [Funimation]: A seinen, nanopunk, boxing sequel to Megalobox that takes place seven years after Gearless Joe wins the Megalonia tournament. Now he’s back to fighting in underground matches, covered in scars, known simply as NOMAD. TMS/3xCube produced and Yō Moriyama directed.
NOMAD was hands-down one of the best anime serials that I have seen. Megalobox blew me away for so many different reasons, but even that can’t really compare to the narrative perfection that is NOMAD. It’s a highly character-driven story about a washed out athlete that turns to drugs in the wake of a horrible tragedy and loss, shunting his responsibilities in order to run away from his own brand of pain. The journey that it takes him on, including all that he loses and what he must fight to regain, was absolutely brilliant. It was outstandingly evocative with a magnificent musical score, flawless pacing, and just terrific storytelling craftsmanship. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED for all fans of character-driven seinen anime, with bonus points for watchers of sports and boxing subgenres.
So I’m a Spider, So What? (2021) [Crunchyroll]: A seinen, isekai, fantasy anime that was originally a light novel series, it was produced by studio Millepensee with direction via Shin Itagaki. It’s about an unnamed girl who falls asleep in her class one day and finds herself waking up as a spider hatching from an egg in a different world. As the anime progresses, it’s revealed that her entire class was transported with her but to other parts of this strange place.
I feel like I have a love/hate relationship with this anime (first impressions). At the end of the day, it merely wasn’t my cup of chai. So, the things I enjoyed (to an extent) include the spider’s monologues as she tries to figure out what the hell is going on. She makes plenty of geeky references to JRPGs, dating sims, and other games and things. Each struggle she has is as entertaining as it can be mildly annoying. It was neat seeing the monsters that she encountered as well. But the more that I watched it, the more her monologues grew to be monotonous and repetitive. When the second part of the series is finally introduced and then connected to the spider’s part of the story, it came off as two separate anime narratives that just happened to occur in the same universe and were later conveniently intertwined. I think by this time, my interest had utterly waned. I would recommend this to fans of fantasy isekai and gamers because I honestly think y’all will welcome the references and tossbacks and inherent comedic style that the anime has, but my personal experience with it left me feeling INDIFFERENT about it as a whole.
These Snow White Notes (2021) [Crunchyroll]: A shōnen, slice-of-life drama adaptation of a manga series that was produced by Shin-Ei Animation and directed by Hiroaki Akagi. It’s about a young man named Setsu Sawamura who grew up idolising his grandfather, a supremely gifted shamisen instrumentalist. When his grandfather passes away, his dying wish is for Setsu to stop playing the shamisen until he can realise what it means to him as a person and artist. Feeling a great sense of grief from his grandfather’s passing, and a spiritual evisceration from not being able to play his beloved instrument, Setsu leaves his small town behind in search for the drive to help him connect with his music.
My First Impressions pretty much sum up everything that I appreciated about this anime and why I would recommend it to others searching for a great drama that centres on traditional Japanese music. The anime does eventually go into formulaic traps such as forming a high school club for the shamisen and then everyone entering a tournament, but it also puts a slightly unique spin on these old tropes, which I really welcomed. It fit with the tone and thematic explorations that the story spotlights. All in all, while it wasn’t as brilliant as I hoped it would be, it was still damn fucking good and I sincerely wish that there shall be a second season. As such, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND These Snow White Notes.
That’s all the stuff that I watched during the Spring season. For the Summer, I decided not to watch any simulcasts so I could give myself a break, while also experimenting on some ADHD things. I also want to concentrate on older anime serials that have been on my watchlists for eons. Additionally, I’ve been craving retro and vintage titles more and more. I’ve come to the realisation recently that the modern-day storytelling and animation of current anime trends isn’t nearly as appetising to me as the olden-golden stuff. It’s not to say that they aren’t good at all or that I don’t find things to adore (e.g.: NOMAD: Megalobox 2 and Fruits Basket), but there is a certain charm to the old serials that fill me with a supremely comforting sense of nostalgia, and that’s what I really need right now for my mental health. Chock it up to a bout of self-care within my otaku predilections.
Anyhoo, I shall be back at the end of the Summer season with a fresh wrap-up of consumed anime. In the meantime, please keep an eye out for a handful of reviews and recommendations hitting the decks throughout July and August.