Fruits Basket? What is this? 2001?
Spring has sprung! A fresh new season stretches out before us as we dive into a pile of new anime and argue about what’s worth watching and what’s worth hate-watching.
As always, the new season snuck up on me while I’m rewatching old episodes of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid or JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Golden Wind. I wonder: what’s the big battle anime or isekai everyone will talk about this season? Of course, I think we can all agree we don’t need to bring up ongoing anime from previous seasons, like the aforementioned Golden Wind or the impeccably enjoyable Rising of the Shield Hero. Let me check my notes…
Oh wow, 2001 is back apparently.
While the past few seasons have been marked by some kind of isekai on my calendar, I think spring 2019 for me is marked by a new anime of Fruits Basket, one of my strongest memories of early 2000s anime, now readapted for 2019. For anyone who has never heard of Fruits Basket, the story follows Tohru Honda and her relationship with the mysterious Soma family, particularly Yuki and Kyo. Tohru begins living together with Yuki, Kyo, and older cousin Shigure in an amicable exchange: she keeps their strange secret of transforming into Zodiac animals under wraps and she gets a roof over her head.
For an anime with a paranormal hook, it surprisingly has more to do with the complex interpersonal relationships between Tohru and the Somas than any shenanigans that involve them turning into animals. It’s obvious three episodes in that the Somas have some baggage they need to sort and even though Tohru is the kind of good girl to help them get it figured out, she also has her own unique hang-ups that we’ll explore, like driving herself forward in life despite a series of unfortunate events.
It’ll be nice to see such a well-known series get a new adaptation, Brotherhood style. So this is going on my queue.
Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu
Swinging on in for the genre I like to call “cute girls doing cute things” is Hitoribocchi no Marumaru Seikatsu, or just Hitoribocchi. The cute girls are here, but the cute things they’re mostly doing involve getting over social anxiety and other various social interactions. The premise is simple: Bocchi Hitori is entering a different middle school than her only friend. In order to encourage her to actually get out there and make new pals, she won’t talk to her until after she’s made friends with everyone in her new class. Of course, the first thing Bocchi does to set the mood for her social anxiety is throw up while introducing herself to her class, so every episode promises to deliver loads of heartwarming interactions that are also painfully relatable for anyone who dreads human interaction.
Maybe Hitoribocchi isn’t going to be the biggest anime this season. Every character will have a standout quirk that makes them immediately identifiable and it’s just a slice-of-life anime adapted from a 4-koma manga, but there’s just something so genuinely endearing about watching Bocchi trying her best to overcome her anxiety and make new friends. While she does want to make friends, she was also ready to achieve her goal on a technicality by trying to start a class by herself, therefore making friends with everyone in class. It reminds me a lot of the self-justifying things I tell myself to get out of responsibility, like “If I get fired for being late for work today, then I’ll never have to wake up in the morning again!” But then we snap back to reality and decide to try our best.
If there’s one anime I’ll die on a hill for, it’ll be Hitoribocchi.
If you’re ready to shove some quality animation down your eyeholes while absorbing a completely nonsensical or hard-to-follow plot, Sarazanmai is sure giving me original FLCL vibes. Sarazanmai is about three friends who have their shirokodama stolen from them by a kappa prince, transforming into kappa themselves. The only way to turn back into humans is to steal the shirokodama from “kappa-zombies” who are appearing around the city. What is a shirokodama? I should check my notes for a detailed explanation, but the short answer most people care about is that it’s a special, spiritual organ located in your asshole.
Yeah okay, give it to me MAPPA, I’m ready for it, I promise.
The deeper themes revolving around the absolutely bonkers animation involves the secrets and desires that every individual hides within themselves and their shirokodama, but with the overall set design and pacing giving me Monogatari vibes, I’m not sure if I’ll have any time to ponder the message when I’m busy parsing information from spinning kappas, advanced posing, and… just literal assholes.
If you want some real visual flair and animation overload, check out Sarazanmai.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
When I first got a glimpse at Demon Slayer‘s manga, I just wasn’t hooked. The beginning didn’t catch me at all. Tanjirou Kamado leaves his family to go selling charcoal in town, only to come back to find them slaughtered, most likely by a demon. The sole survivor, Nezuko Kamado, is only hanging on because demon blood mixed in with her’s, turning her into a man-eating demon. It’s a fairly standard revenge/redemption arc and a lot of stories have their share of interesting twists and turns, but I just didn’t get into the manga of Demon Slayer.
Then I watched the first episode of the anime adaption from Ufotable and I saw the standard turn into something exciting and flashy. Something as simple as Tanjirou’s first fight that tests his resolve became such a great visual spectacle. And because I didn’t see the manga, my interest was really piqued when the OP appeared on the second episode and saw the great visual flair on certain attacks, like Tanjirou’s future sword attacks.
There’s still a lot left for me to see, but everything I’m seeing so far has me watching Kimetsu no Yaiba each week.
I find the aptest description for Senryu Girl was just one message I found on the anime chat for Destructoid’s Discord channel: it’s a wholesome anime about a wholesome girl. Really, Senryu Girl is set to the backdrop of a boy and girl who love 5-7-5 senryu poetry. In fact, Nanako Yukishiro can only speak in 5-7-5 cadence, and even then she writes it down to show everyone. Eiji Busajima meanwhile is an ex-delinquent who decided to leave the lifestyle of thuggery behind to pursue senryu at his school’s Literature Club.
While a lot of poetry is written and read, I find you might be more interested in following the series for the relationship between Nanako and Eiji, who could not look more different from each other and yet have such a cute and wholesome friendship. Eiji will come up with some of the cheapest and naive poetry that you can help but crack a smile, and the tough guy of the school is somehow friends with a girl who isn’t even comfortable enough to talk out loud and instead writes poetry to communicate.
Each episode is only about 15 minutes, so it’s not even a big commitment on time. Really, I just want to drop in every week to see how Nanako and Eiji are doing.
We Never Learn: BOKUBEN
Okay, I’m just watching this because Quintessential Quintuplets ended. Yes, again we’re trying to tutor hopeless idiots for personal gain, only instead of five sisters who are bad at almost everything, it’s three girls who are geniuses in one field but want to pursue a degree in another they utterly suck at. Nariyuki Yuiga is the Rock Lee of academics, being not particularly smart but constantly studying his butt off to be good at any subject.
Fumino Furuhashi is a genius at literature but wants to enter a degree in mathematics and science. Rizu Ogata can solve any math or science problem but cannot even begin to grasp the basic human emotion to write even a simple essay. And Uruka Takemoto excels in sports and swimming but can’t focus on any academics whatsoever.
While Quintessential Quintuplets has a poor person enticed by money to tutor girls who largely have no interest in academics, We Never Learn immediately characterizes the motivations behind why these geniuses don’t just go with what they’re good at and it provides a better sense of clarity and personal investment than just “Well the guy is probably going to get into ecchi shenanigans X number of times until he falls in love.”
This is probably going to be junk-food anime for me. I’m just rooting for Uruka, really.
Ao-Chan Can’t Study!
Remember B Gata H Kei? I loved that anime. It was about a naive girl with sexual aspirations to have 100 sex friends, but starts off small with a cherry boy so she can actually get some experience before actually falling in love. Ao-Chan reminds me of that series, in reverse. Ao Horie wants to enter university to get away from her father, who is an erotic novel author and all around kind of gross person. Ao’s view of her father’s reputation leads her to want to avoid boys at school, which of course leads to complications as she somehow constantly gets into compromising situations with a straightforward and overall good boy Takumi Kijima.
Instead of B Gata H Kei trying to hurtle face first into physical comedy then coming to a more wholesome message, Ao-Chan tries to avoid physical comedy but ends up falling into it before becoming wholesome last minute. It’s all about the male lead, who steers away from pure ecchi. So even though Ao will stress about how her father’s erotic novels may have infected her train of thought regarding relationships, Takumi’s crush on her usually leads him to make a better decision because he loves her, despite what may go wrong with things like warped social interactions or classic pratfalls.
Look, maybe it’s not a great recommendation, but I’m going to watch it, okay?
It’s fucking back, Mad House or no Mad House. The existence of season one may warp our perception of a new season of One-Punch Man, now coming out of J.C. Staff, but the subject matter of a man trudging through life with no aim or motivation can still lead us interesting places. In season one, you might see every goddamn frame of animation of Saitama running and jumping down streets and across walls. Meanwhile, the first episode of season two has a fight where a static shot of Genos has several flashing lights appear around him to imply that he’s dodging laser beams.
Season two may be all about tempering expectations after watching the lightning they caught in a bottle for season one, but this new season still has a few interesting things to keep an eye out for to make up for it. Arguably one of my favorite characters in OPM gets introduced, the strongest man on Earth, King. And it’s only been one or two episodes, so who knows? Maybe we will see an awesome fight since this season will assuredly introduce Garou and the martial arts arc.
As long as I keep in mind that I probably won’t get my mind blown each and every episode, it’s still One-Punch Man, a series about a man who is so powerful that he is now emotionally stunted and dead but will still display an overwhelming power to completely kill an enormous beast with a bored look on his face.
What am I going to do, not watch One-Punch Man? Are you crazy?
So what are you watching this spring season? There are still other recommendations I’ve heard like Robihachi, Wise Man’s Grandchild, and Fairy Gone. But I’ve definitely not watched Nobunaga Teacher’s Young Bride. Nope, I did not watch that, definitely not. And there’s no evidence, especially not my recently watched history.