Wicked Anime’s Must-Watch Spring 2018 Anime
Spring has sprung, and with it has blossomed a host of new shows and returning favorites to gush over. Let’s dispense with pleasantries and get right in to the top Spring 2018 anime that you absolutely should be watching!
Evan’s Pick: Hinamatsuri
Yoshifumi Nitta is your average run-of-the-mill yakuza member. He loves beating people up, making scores of cash, and being a mainstay at his local bars and girly clubs. But his average world gets flipped sideways when a metallic egg literally falls on his head, containing a young girl with super telekinetic powers. Soon Nitta’s life becomes a drag as he has to care for his new sorta surrogate daughter, with the fear that she can use her powers to make him an asterisk in Japan’s population demographic. Will Nitta be able to go back to his normal crime syndicate ways, or will he forever be playing Papa to this small, lazy girl who literally falls into his life?
Why It’s Great:
The best way I can describe Hinamatsuri is this: what if Gintama parodied Elfen Lied? Psychic powered kids entering the real world is nothing new to the anime realm, but it’s usually done with a more serious tone. Yes, there are exceptions like Mob Psycho 100 and Alice & Zoroku, but even when it has its comedic moments, they don’t go for the largest laugh imaginable. When it comes to Hinamatsuri, it’s all about pleasing everyone’s funny bone, and they do it immensely well.
One of the show’s strong suits is that it has an eclectic cast of lovable characters. While Hina & Nitta are the main focus of Hinamatsuri, the series really displays its heart and spirit when you see some of the other characters shine. Watching as rival Anzu does what she can to fend for herself as a homeless girl is both humorous and heart-wrenching, but in the end, she manages to deliver a solid punchline that lets us know that it’s all presented for a laugh. Perhaps the biggest spotlight stealer belongs to Hina’s friend Hitomi, who finds herself becoming the world’s youngest bartender with the aid of Little Song owner Utako (who looks suspiciously like Jill from the video game VA-11 HALL-A).
Of course, Hinamatsuri is about Hina & Nitta, and when they’re on screen, the laughs come full force. Whether it’s Nitta being caught in Hina’s egg-shaped travel pod or watching her destroy the house instead of cleaning it like she intended, the antics they pull are simply hilarious. The best part involves Hina doing Nitta’s revenge job in the first episode, and while you don’t quite see what she pulls, the sight of dozens of gang members being tossed through windows will have you shrieking with delight. But when the whole cast gets together (especially when it comes time to hit the club scene), this anime comedy becomes a goofy, stupid tour de force that will have you grinning ear to ear.
It’s quite hard to describe Hinamatsuri without spoiling the good bits, so let’s just say that those looking for a good dose of comedy and psychic-inspired action will be left incredibly satisfied with this show. Oh, and prepare yourself for a couple rounds of the most epic game of Rock/Paper/Scissors since Nichijou‘s Nano/Professor bits.
Hinamatsuri can be viewed on Crunchyroll, FunimationNOW, and VRV. It has been licensed by Funimation.
Jonstar’s Pick: MEGALOBOX
Junk Dog, an amateur boxer with no real name or past, is caught up in a scheme to throw his ring fights in order to help his coach pay off his mafia debt. When Junk Dog comes face to face with the #1 Megaloboxer in the world, he swears to go pro in order fight him for the top spot.
Why It’s Great:
MEGALOBOX is straight up cool. I didn’t even know this show was happening this season, let alone one that it was one I wanted to watch. This show was created for the purpose of celebrating the 50th anniversary of the boxing sport anime, Ippo no Joe. Though, MEGALOBOX is in a league of its own. It’s a post-apocalyptic anime, in the same light as Battle Angel Alita or Elysium, where there is a higher thriving society for citizens to live in luxury while all the non-citizens live on the outside wasteland amongst the ruins of a world that once was. Megaloboxers wear mechanical gear on their arms to increase their strength and accuracy in fights. The more money a fighter has, the better their gear.
The design of this show stellar. The characters are interesting, the world they designed is reminiscent of the anime of a forgotten era, and the writing is really fun. I think that “fun” is an appropriate word to use in this review. It’s not a complicated show, Junk Dog wants to be a great boxer, so he fights people to do that. Cool.
Let’s go back to the fights for a second; they’re an integral part of this boxing anime, after all. There are a decent amount of VERY well animated fight scenes per episode. There’s real boxing jargon in it and there’s real technique in the athlete’s who are fighting. The way that the fights flow and are edited together, the timing really puts a lot of power behind every punch.
MEGALOBOX, at its core, is a sports anime. A rusty coat of paint and some robot arms isn’t really going to change that. What sets it apart from the rest of the sport anime out there is the story they are weaving to add depth to the cast of misfit characters. No one is bad, just doing their best to get by with the crappy hand they’ve been dealt. They’re all working on those issues, it’s just that they’re punching each other in the face to get there.
MEGALOBOX can be viewed on Crunchyroll & VRV.
Jess’ Pick: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku
Narumi Momose doesn’t want much out of life. Mainly, she’d just like her boyfriends to stop dumping her the second they discover she’s a fujoshi. After leaving her job as a result of one such dumping, she vows that no one at her new company will discover her secret. Though a surprise encounter with her childhood friend and gamer otaku, Hirotaka Nifuji, might complicate that plan.
Why It’s Great:
If in these turbulent times, you just need a show that gives you the warm and fuzzies this season, look no further than Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku. This show perfectly characterizes the struggles of otaku just trying to find love and get by in the real world. Leading characters Hirotaka and Narumi just might steal Morioka and Sakurai’s (of Recovery of an MMO Junkie) “cutest otaku couple” crown. One might even argue the pairing is more satisfactory, as the show has the couple officially dating by the first episode, and their relationship awkwardly blooming from there.
The show is at its best when it balances every day worries with otaku experiences. For example, in episode three, Hirotaka invites Narumi over to his place to drink and play games. In normal adult line of thinking, Narumi assumes this invitation to mean they’d be, erm, embracing. In very “normal girl” fashion, she frets that she can’t remember the underwear she put on that day.
Later, while at Hirotaka’s, Narumi panics when she thinks he’s making a move on her. Remembering that her underwear is beige, she exclaims that they should wait until it’s a “pink day.” In typical otaku fashion, Hirotaka is confused. After all, he was just reaching for the Wiimotes, and apologies that he doesn’t have a pink one for her to use. (Later, he buys her a pink one to use, d’awwwww.)
Though if romance isn’t your thing, the show is also worth watching for it’s accurate portrayal of otaku culture. Every episode is full of laughs as Narumi, Hirotaka and their co-workers Hanako and Kabakura visit anime stores, go drinking, attend Comiket, and play games. Finding other adults with similar interests in the working world is tough, and it’s incredibly endearing to watch their relationships develop.
So go ahead, give Wotakoi a try. And good luck wiping that satisfied grin off your face after doing so.
Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku can be viewed on Amazon.
Andrew’s Pick: Comic Girls
In the midst of all the anime releases that are “industry” themed, such as: Shirobako, New Game and, yes, possibly even Eromanga-sensei, we have always been familiar with the theme of mangakas and the creation of manga. If there were one major story a comic artist can expertly make a manga based on, it would almost most certainly be a story about creating manga. Thus, as a result, we get great shows like Comic Girls that introduce us the magic of creating manga from scratch, filled with in-jokes and gags that almost any creative type has experienced themselves.
Kaos is a timid, fragile high school girl struggling with getting her manga career off the ground. She is working with an editor and has premises for her manga, but is having trouble making it relatable to her audience… even though she is her own target audience. She enlists in a program that allows her to attend high school while living in a dorm with other girls also working in the manga world. When she arrives to the dorm, she finds that there are three other girls there, all high school age and all at different levels in their careers of becoming manga artists. Each of the girls she meets in the house also represents their own genre of manga and the story and antics kick off from there.
Why It’s Great:
Comic Girls features cute characters that have their own personality quirks based on the genre of manga they represent, whether it be shoujo, shounen or even erotica, making it entertaining to see how they each react to situations on different levels of crazy. I find Kaos to be an interesting choice as a main character amongst the others seeing that she bears qualities and the personality of a supporting character, but it helps us as the audience see her perspective of viewing this world from the outside. The other main cast include Tsubasa, a tomboy shounen writer that makes all the ladies swoon and is worried about being revealed as a female to her fans and losing her male audience, Ruki, a mature mother type girl whose mind always shoots straight to the gutter and Koyume, who like donuts, draws shoujo and possibly has a crush on everyone in the dorm.
I feel personally invested with each character’s experience as they struggle to do what they really love in life. Watching the characters actually do steps towards creating a full comic page and working as a team is a familiar feeling and I love seeing what the result of the character’s hard work brings to them. It’s also nice to see that where other industry-based shows show off their “proper tools-of-the-trade” and procedure to creating what they happened to be making, Comic Girls does not slack on that aspect. Every time the characters go shopping, they also seem to be unapologetically giving advice to the audience on what tools work great for beginners and what tools they use as more experienced and weathered artists.
When it comes to the characters actually being in the process of making the comics, they use all the blunders and mistakes to create comedy, but in reality, the gag most likely sprung from the author’s own personal experiences and pain from learning and starting their own manga adventures. Overall, Comic Girls has a brilliant charm when watching these characters interact with one another and it’s also nice to learn information at the same time. Watching a show that is about a subject I absolutely love in my own life only makes it that much better and that much more enjoyable to watch as it make me think “Oh, I knew that” or “Hey, I never thought of that!” I give this show a big recommendation this season for both fans of art and fans of cute anime girls, you may take you pick, just know that in a world that wants us to watch anime and also learn new ideas about the industry giving us our entertainment at the same time, we are being given quality.
Comic Girls can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV.
Derek’s Pick: Umamusume: Pretty Derby
The Triple Crown races are upon us, so what better way to commemorate the occasion than with a herd of Horse Girls? Umamusume seeks to answer all of the questions that you never knew you had about the world of human-equine hybrids. They race, they sing, they dance… and all while still attending school! This series introduces the up-and-coming horse girl Special Week in her journey to become Japan’s best horse girl, as well as the teammates, coaches, and competitors that make this an adventure to remember.
Why It’s Great:
At first glance, this looks like a series that doesn’t take itself seriously. Based off a Japanese mobile game of the same name, it seems like a rather odd concept to run with, so to speak. They race. They perform concerts… it didn’t seem to add up. As I watched, though, I realized something: they showcase a great deal of actual themes, strategies, and facets of horse competitions. I found a bit of a personal connection with this, because one of my parents was a race official, and the other was a horse trainer. From this, I started analyzing what goes into the Pretty Derby… It features two main events: the race, and the concert afterwards. While having a horse girl sing and dance on stage seems bizarre, the feel of it matches the dressage and parading of competition horses. Even the races use ideas based in realism when they show the training regimens, the posturing techniques in races, or how races are organized to develop horses. Needless to say, these horse girls surprised me.
I even learned a few things! There were a lot of elements that I thought were strange, or maybe added in just for production purposes. Then I realized something: the rest of the world does horse racing differently from us. This series is specifically focusing on Japanese and European racing styles. Racing on grass is common, as are inclines or declines in the track. Going even deeper, each character is based off of a famous Japanese racehorse. (Sadly, Special Week’s namesake has just passed away in April 2018, now racing in the Pretty Derby in the Sky.)
And the best part… Did you forget these are horse girls? Complete with adorable ears and tails? Special Week will become Japan’s best horse girl, and she won’t stop running and training until she has the speed and stamina to be number one! Even if you don’t find all of its equine references entertaining like I do, I’m willing to bet you’ll laugh when they subtly crack open a cool, refreshing bottle of carrot juice. The cuteness and silly humor make this something anyone can enjoy, and all of the real-life references are certain to appease any viewer who grew up around horses. In short: Umamusume is one race viewers should definitely keep up with.
Umamusume: Pretty Derby can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV.
GeGeGe no Kitaro (Written by Evan)
Holy crap, the returning favorites and classics are coming at us fast in Spring 2018! Full Metal Panic, Lupin the 3rd, Cutie Honey, High School DxD, My Hero Academia, Amanchu!, Major, Steins;Gate, and Food Wars! are all back with a vengeance this season! However, there is one returning show in the roster that has finally graced the Western world with its presence. As I have done so with last year’s The Laughing Salesman NEW and Magical Circle Guru-Guru, I shall do the same with the resurrection of a series that is one of anime’s most iconic properties: GeGeGe no Kitaro.
Since the 1960s, Shigeru Mizuki’s popular manga has had an anime adaptation at least once per decade. This being the sixth incarnation of GeGeGe no Kitaro (seven if you count noitaminA’s creepy Habata Kitaro), one would think that they’d have to know all about Kitaro, his walking eyeball father Medama Oyaji, Neko Musume (whom I refuse to call by her “Cat Chick” English subtitled name), and all the other spirits, ghosts, and yokai that roam this show. Fortunately, that’s not the case, as diving into Mizuki’s fun & scary world is rather easy. All it took was a tiny bit of modernization!
And modern it is, as the very first episode legit pokes fun of YouTube asshat Logan Paul as he desecrates a cursed item, runs into ongoing traffic, and turns into a cursed tree alongside other people glued to social media. The human compadre to Kitaro this time is a teenage girl named Mana, who first calls on Kitaro to aid with the tree issue. Soon she finds herself wrapped in Kitaro’s other supernatural adventures, ranging from an idol group’s audience of tens of thousands vanishing in an instance to children being kidnapped by spooks to raise a haunted temple. And when it comes time for Kitaro and the gang to kick ghostly butt, they show skills that would make even Peter Venkman gasp in silent awe.
There are freaks of many levels of scary in this show, which makes GeGeGe no Kitaro all the more amazing due to it being billed for kids. Yes, while we had our Goosebumps and Are You Afraid of the Dark? programming back in the 1990s, children were legit spooked with delight at this show’s antics since the 1960s! What makes it work is its balance of humor and means of being cautionary tales. Don’t let your phones suck your life away, don’t let greed get in the way of better intentions, um, don’t be turned into a column to resurrect an evil building? Okay, they aren’t all cautionary tales, but they’re both scary and entertaining for all ages to enjoy!
When evil comes crawling out of its hole, forget about calling Sam & Dean. Instead, let our wooden sandal-donning hero take care of those things that go bump in the night, and maybe you’ll find yourself smack dab in a memorably ghoulish adventure. Also, good luck getting its classic theme song out of your head!
GeGeGe no Kitaro can be viewed on Crunchyroll and VRV.
My Hero Academia Season 3 (Written by JonStar)
You’re not watching this show yet? Get a grip, dude!
My Hero Academia Season 3 can be viewed on Crunchyroll, Funimation, and VRV.
Steins;Gate 0 (Written by Jessica)
Steins;Gate just might be my favorite anime of all time. Steins;Gate 0 just might take second place.
For the uninitiated, the story follows members of the Future Gadget Lab in Akihabara. The core group consists of: Okabe Rintarou, self-proclaimed mad scientist and founder of the lab, Shiina Mayuri, Okabe’s childhood friend, Hashida Itaru, “perverted gentleman” and “super hacker,” and Makise Kurisu, girl genius and accomplished neuroscientist. Together, they accidentally invent a time machine and find themselves in the midst of a worldwide conspiracy, unwittingly becoming marked men (and women). Okabe finds himself time leaping throughout a number of parallel worlds, in order to protect and save the lives of his beloved lab members.
At the risk of spoilers, I’ll stop there. Suffice to say, Steins;Gate a story of love, loss, friendship, blurred reality, and impossible choices. Steins;Gate 0 is no different, delving into one of the “darkest timelines” of the original series.
Okabe, having time leapt to save the girl he loves, accidentally kills her, and declares that she’s impossible to save. He reaches his breaking point, having retained the memories of his previous time leaps — all the deaths he’s seen and caused. To manage the PTSD incurred from these experiences, Okabe rejects his old life and desperately attempts to lead the life of a normal college student. But a version of the girl he tried to save just might be closer than he thinks.
It’s heartbreaking to watch, but is storytelling at its finest: beautiful, emotional and raw.
Steins;Gate 0 can be viewed on Crunchyroll, FunimationNOW, and VRV. It has been licensed by Funimation.