YBLTV Writer/Reviewer Katie Hernandez’s Top 5 Picks From the Spring 2018 Lineup (Plus Honorable Mentions)
As the seasons change around us from winter to spring, so are the lineups for the Spring 2018 anime lineup. With familiar anime returning for the spring season, I wanted to bring up my top 5 new anime to watch for the 2018 spring season (including honorable mentions from the Fall 2017/Winter 2018 lineups) and introduce some fresh faces for you to watch! YBLTV.com will also being following Crunchyroll and other industry exhibitors at the 2018 Licensing Expo, held this week in Las Vegas today through May 24th, 2018, and this July at the 2018 Anime Expo in Los Angeles, CA, so stay tuned for industry updates and releases!
1) Umamusume: Pretty Derby (Spring 2018)
At the unique intersection of slice of life, shoujo, and creature girls is the new anime Umamusume: Pretty Derby. Focusing on a world inhabited by both humans and human girl/horse hybrids, the anime Umamusume focuses on the main character, Special Week, a horse girl from a rural Japanese town who moves to Tokyo to attend a school for horse girls looking to compete on the national track. Instead of the Westernized centaur, think cutesy girls with tails and ears who compete in derby competitions. Special Week dreams of becoming the best horse girl in all of Japan, a promise to her mother, and while the concept may seem different to say the least, the anime speaks to the typical shoujo/slice-of-life/school anime where friendships develop and girls are encouraged to shoot for the stars. After the first two episodes (after the initial giggles wore off), I was able to relate to that tried and true shoujo theme of determination and dreaming big, and it really struck a chord in me. If you’re looking for something light and very different from the mainstream lineup, I would suggest checking out Umamusume! ( Available on Crunchyroll)
2) HINAMATSURI (Spring 2018)
Based off of the supernatural manga of the same name, HINAMATSURI focuses on the characters of Yoshifumi Nitta, a Yakuza member, and Hina, the mysterious and powerful young girl who appears in his apartment one day. Initially at odds with Hina, HINAMATSURI details the developing relationship between Yoshifumi and Hina, while also following the development of Hina’s strange telekinetic powers. If you’re interested in similar school life/supernatural themes as Mob Psycho 100 or The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, I would definitely recommend HINAMATSURI for the new lineup! (Available on Crunchyroll).
3) Wotaku ni Koi wa Muzukashii [Wotaki: Love is Hard for Otaku] (Spring 2018)
Delving into the world of romance, we come to Love is Hard for Otaku. Setting itself apart from the slice of life/school genres circulating the season, Love is Hard for Otaku focuses on the budding relationship between Narumi, an office worker and secret BL/otome otaku, and Hirotaka, a gaming otaku. While they work to keep their professional lives separate from their secret otaku lives, they discover that finding love is hard when you’re an otaku. Love is Hard for Otaku is the romantic anime that addresses themes prevalent in the anime fandom and may stand out in a lineup comprised of continuing series (Available on Amazon Prime Video).
4) Cardcaptor Sakura: Clear Card (Continuing Spring 2018)
Speaking of continuing series, I absolutely must address the revival of Cardcaptor Sakura. Originally airing from 1998-2000 and additionally comprised of companion movies and the original manga, Cardcaptor helped to develop the standard of the mahou shoujo (magical girl) genre and to bring anime over to Western audiences. Now, twenty years later, we pick up with heroine Sakura entering middle school while also addressing the issue of the new clear cards emerging around her. Old friends, such as Tomoyo, Syaoran, and Kero all return for the series revival, while new characters emerge – whether they’re truly friend or foe is to be determined. With simulcast on Crunchyroll, it isn’t too late to join in on the reunion! (Available on Crunchyroll).
5) Kakuriyo – Bed & Breakfast for Spirits (Spring 2018)
Based off of the Japanese Light Novel, Kakuriyo no Yadomeshi (Afterlife Inn Cooking), the anime tells the story of Aoi, a college-aged woman with the gift of sight – specifically seeing ayokashi (supernatural monsters typically invisible to most humans) – that she inherited from her late grandfather. One day, she encounters an oni (Japanese ogre) named Ōdanna and, after offering him food, is spirited away to the land of ayakashi to be his bride – a promise made by Aoi’s grandfather as collateral for his many debts. Instead, Aoi decides to work off her inherited debts through a small restaurant in the spirit realm. With a combination of feudal Japanese influence, romance, and supernatural, Kakuriyo brings influences from other beloved anime such as Kamisama Kiss to a more serious story line. Although there seem to be some cliche elements to the story’s beginning, it also has some beautiful animation and a plot that appeals to the historical romance set of anime fans (Available on Crunchyroll).
- After the Rain [Koi wa Ameagari no You ni]: Based on the controversial, yet moving manga of the same name, After the Rain tells the intersecting stories of Akira Tachibana, a high school track and field star who suffers a serious injury, and Masami Kondo, her forty-five year old manager. After giving up track due to her injury, Akira begins working at the same family restaurant that Kondo manages and begins to feel attraction towards her divorced manager. While the age difference is significant and the question of attraction verses love is prevalent throughout the series, After the Rain also discusses the themes of identity, personal dreams, and overcoming obstacles to pursue those dreams. It is those underlying themes that push the audience to question what is important to them and to understand that you are neither too young, nor too old, to pursue those personal passions (Available on Amazon Prime Video).
- March Comes in Like a Lion [Sangatsu no Raion – “The Lion of March”]: Based on the manga by Chica Umino, author of Honey and Clover, March Comes in Like a Lion follows the story of seventeen-year old Rei Kiriyama, a professional shogi player who competes to support himself after the death of his family. Rei is somewhat of an outcast, unable to connect with students in his grade and somewhat isolated due to his intense focus on shogi. Eventually, Rei is befriended by the Kawamoto sisters – Akari, Hinata, and Momo – and their grandfather, who runs a Japanese confectionery. While the anime spends most of its time focused on Rei’s journey through the world of shogi and the relationships he develops with different players, it also focuses on the relationship with the Kawamoto sisters as it evolves into one almost resembling a surrogate family. One of my favorite things about this anime is how it treats the struggles of the sisters, from the loss of their mother and grandmother to the bullying that Hinata observes and is eventually subjected to. While loss is the common theme that brings the sisters and Rei together, the show also explores the concept of family and how it goes beyond blood relations. With an appealing artistic style and beautiful animation, this anime is a must-watch for those who enjoy a meaningful story line that addresses current topics and concerns (Available on Crunchyroll).
School Babysitters: Following the manga by Hari Tokeino, School Babysitters follows the Kashima brothers, high school student Ryūichi and toddler Kotarō, after the deaths of their parents in a plane crash. Ryūichi and Kotarō are taken in by the chairwoman of Morinomiya Academy, whose son and daughter-in-law were killed in the same accident, and are given room, board, and tuition. In exchange, Ryūichi is to pick up where the Chairwoman’s son and daughter-in-law left off and help start and maintain a school daycare/”babysitting club” to look after the faculty and staff’s children. While the anime maintains a very cute artistic style and humorous plots that create an easy-to-watch feeling, the anime also explores the impact of death and loss of a parent, and addresses the sacrifices Ryūichi makes for the sake of Kotarō, even at the expense of his own interests as a high school student. In spite of these sacrifices, the brothers become even closer and develop friendships with the daycare students and their families. It’s an enjoyable, comedic anime that also touches emotional points in viewers – definitely a worthwhile watch (Available on Crunchyroll).