Five Must-Watch Anime Of Spring 2016

Compared to the winter's plush anime selection, spring 2016's offerings are a little slim. We had Berserk, Orange, Mob Psycho 100, ReLIFE, 91 Days and other high-impact titles scattered across shonen, fantasy, shoujo and historical fiction genres. This season's a little different. My top pics for this season are more about girls and female audiences.

Yuri!!! on Ice

Kotaku's Brian Ashcraft wrote an exhaustive guide to current anime offerings. I've narrowed down the list to the five must-watch titles, which, after broad research, turned out to be on the shoujo, drama and magical girl side of things. Happy watching!

Magical Girl Raising Project

Studio: Lerche

Genre: Dark magical girl

Plot Summary: Koyuki Himekawa obsessively plays a mobile game in which she's living her dreams of becoming a righteous, beautiful magical girl -- until the game's mascot offers to transform her into one IRL. Himekawa's time as the magical girl Snow White is everything she wanted until the magical girl administration tells her and her peers that they're cutting the number of magical girls in half. When the girls compete, things get dark.

Why You Should Watch It: It takes cues from the brilliant (and dark) magical girl anime Madoka Magica. Its characters, setting and dialogue are all light and sweet, making the plot twists all the more gnarly -- and the plot twists will have you screaming. This is a wicked, smart show that, like Madoka, bends magical girl tropes into devilish yanks at your heart.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Yuri!!! on Ice

Studio: Mappa

Genre: Sports drama

Plot Summary: Japanese figure skater Yuri Katsuki was still suffering from an embarrassing defeat at a Grand Prix event when Russian figure skating legend Victor Nikiforov learns of his skating potential. Nikiforov drops everything and flies over to Katsuki's town to train him. But Yuri!!! on Ice is not just a sports anime. It's the story of Katsuki and Nikiforov's intimate, delicate and often sensual relationship as teacher and student.

Why You Should Watch It: I have gone on the record describing this anime as "pretty damn cringe" and I don't take that back. But anime fans are going crazy over Yuri!!! on Ice because it's doing something different: Depicting an emotionally complex (and occasionally raunchy) relationship between two men. It's resonating with fans who have wanted homosexual overtones in a mainstream anime for years. Also, it's proven wildly popular among professional figure skaters -- so you know the show's skating routines aren't anything to sniff at.

I'll add that it's directed by Sayo Yamamoto, who also directed Michiko to Hatchin, a celebrated anime about a Brazilian woman who escapes prison.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Flip Flappers

Studio: 3hZ

Genre: Sci-fi magical girl

Plot Summary: Diligent student Cocona encounters the wild shard-hunter Papika while she's whooshing past on a hoverboard. Papika involves the unwilling Cocona in her inter-dimensional fragment hunts and, through time, they come to cherish each other's eccentricities. Once they learn that Cocona's childhood friend is also hunting for shards for a rival company, insane fights break out.

Why You Should Watch It: I raved about this anime after its first two episodes, and after seeing a few more, I'm even more blown away by Flip Flappers' ingenuity and charisma. It's a story about female companionship and vulnerability, yes. But each episode takes animation cues from unlikely sources, like the psychedelic Alice in Wonderland or the post-apocalyptic Mad Max or Miyazaki's Nausicaa. Not one moment is boring. Everything is high-tempo and maximum fun, generally without reverting to shallow attention-grabbing tactics.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Izetta: The Last Witch

Studio: Ajia-do

Genre: Historical fantasy

Plot Summary: During an alternate world's WWII, the proud princess Finé 0f Eylstadt struggles to protect her people from invading Germanian forces. Under near-death circumstances, she re-encounters the witch Izetta, the last-known descendant of a famous witch and a childhood friend. Izetta devotes herself to protecting Finé, who will do anything to save her country.

Why You Should Watch It: The animation quality is phenomenal. Aeroplanes and tanks are rendered with impressive precision. Izetta is also crazy suspenseful, making me hold my breath throughout the show's well-choreographed fight scenes. It's a classy anime, with interesting commentary on WWII and strong female characters -- despite a first-episode shower scene.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Kiss Him, Not Me

Studio: Brian's Base

Genre: Romantic comedy

Plot Summary: High school girl Kae Serinuma is a rabid boys' love anime addict and grade "A" otaku. But once her favourite anime boy dies, Serinuma locks herself away for days in mourning and, in the process, loses dozens of kilos. When she emerges, four of her male peers face off to date her. It turns out that she's less interested in their advances than she is in seeing them kiss each other (or keeping up with her favourite boys' love manga).

Why You Should Watch It: This one's definitely a guilty pleasure. But it's a top-form shoujo. It will make you laugh and blush and grin stupidly at work, if you're me and you're watching shoujo anime at work. It's exciting to follow Serinuma engaging with hobbies like soccer once she climbs out of her otaku shell a little. And her passion for anime (including soccer anime), which horrifies her suitors, actually gives her real-life reference points for real-world experiences she'd never had before.

The real pull, though, is watching the boys fall in love with her because she's a rabid "fujoshi", and not despite it. It's not great that the boys only notice her romantically after she loses weight, but I like that they're turned off when she pretends to be a normal hot girl instead of her true, weird self.

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll


Honorable mentions: Occultic;Nine, March Comes in like a Lion, Drifters

Let me know your top five must-watch anime of the season in the comments!


Comments

    Yay for "Yuri on Ice!!!"
    Love me some good ol' boy-on-boy anime action.

    On the other end of the scale though, "Keijo!!!!!!" I have also been enjoying. lol

    What? No Keijo!!!!?

      *Googles Keijo*

      ...

      *Deletes internet history*

        *Googles Keijo*

        ...

        *Bookmarks*

        ...

        *Deletes internet history*

        There i put back in that step you missed! =P

    Izetta is trash, to be honest. I went in thinking it'd be a better attempt at covering the same ground as the abysmal Valkyria Chronicles series from years ago and it... isn't.

    Flip Flappers is genuinely fantastic, which shouldn't be surprising given it's got some of the production talent that worked on Space Dandy working on it. I thought the first couple of episodes were a bit shaky, but it really hits its stride after about episode 3.

    It's definitely been a lean season, though.

      I've been enjoying Izetta. It's fine story wise and the animation is really good. Could do without some of the forced fan-servicy bits. Haven't watched the anime but I also really enjoyed the Valkyria Chronicles game.

        If you like the Valkyria Chronicles games, I highly recommend never, ever watching the anime.

    It's not great that the boys only notice her romantically after she loses weight...
    Uhm. No. Being slender is just as valid a trait for sexual attraction as anything else (like ethnicity, hair colour/style, or boob/dick size), and is easily one of the more prevalent and widely-shared preferences.

    There is NOTHING wrong with being sexually attracted to someone if their attributes suddenly happen to coincide with your personal preferences for sexual attraction.

      You and your 'logic' have no place in this type of discussion!

        How dare you bring logic into this!
        he has no place here

      everytime I see that happy smiley face .... aarrghhh

      "Oh no, that girl has become stereotypically attractive! I simply cannot and shouldn't like her any longer!"

      More seriously, though, it is problematic that the series kind of endorses no eating as an effective and consequence-free way of losing weight.

    I've been enjoying that new rugby anime. It starts out a bit slow but it's getting more exciting.

    Also umm cough*Keijo*cough.

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