It’s been a hot minute since I talked about anything anime outside of the My Review Academia series. Unfortunately, until the Fall season is over, I can’t talk about which shows I’m watching right now that I’d recommend. I am a firm believer that a series is only as good as it’s ending, so I try to refrain from telling people to go out and watch a show until I myself have finished it.
But after re-watching a few episodes from some of my favorite shows, I figured I’d take today and give you a small list of shows that you should put on your radar. Now, for this, I’m going to try my best to avoid main stream shows. So don’t expect to see anything like My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, or Dragon Ball on this little list. Sure, some of these have gotten some major attention in the past, but none of them hold a candle to those in that regard.
Although I personally think that some of them are better than most mainstream shows.
With that said, let me get right into it with my first recommendation. This is a fairly recent show, but I still feel like it needs to be talked about. That show…
Hinamatsuri is a twelve episode long comedy that I wish was way longer. I can’t think of a single episode that didn’t make me laugh so hard it hurt, or cry so much that it burned. Everything this show sets out to do is done excellently.
Despite being a comedy at heart (and a damn funny one at that) Hinamatsuri also has a powerful emotional core to it. Upon watching the first episode, you wouldn’t expect this show to be anything but a non-stop laugh train. But every now and then (mostly with Anzu, who is my favorite character and I wish I could give her a hug) the show will slow down and say “Hey man. Let’s get serious for a minute.” Both are handled and executed perfectly.
This is made even better by the cast. This show has a huge cast of characters, and each of them affect the plot of each episode in some way or another. There are so many background characters that it’d take me forever to list them all. The other Yakuza dudes, Hina’s classmates, Hitomi’s many different coworkers from her many jobs, all of Anzu’s homeless friends, and the list just keeps going on and on. And somehow, despite the cast being this fucking huge, all of them are likable, well fleshed out, memorable and of course: hilarious.
Better yet, the comedy actually has lasting effects on the story. In so many other shows, the world and characters seem to hit the reset button after each episode, setting them back to square one. In Hinamatsuri, however, the effects of each episode linger in the next. For example, Nitta spends the first few episodes trying to get the bartender to go on a date with him. After he finally succeeds (and she swiftly dumps him) he finally gets over her, and in the next few episodes he realizes that she’s actually a terrible person and wonders why he fell for her in the first place. Not only is it hilarious, but it gives the world a real feeling of cohesion and evolution.
It’s a comedy with an actual plot and I fucking love it!
Oh, and did I mention that it’s drop dead gorgeous? Cause this show is really fucking pretty. Legit, this is one of the most well animated and well drawn shows I’ve ever seen. It just looks real good.
Hinamatsuri. Go watch it if you haven’t already. You won’t regret it.
Speaking of shows you won’t regret watching, let’s talk about my next pick: Erased.
Now, if you’ve seen this show, you’re probably thinking “But Jonah! That ending was fucking terrible! How can you still like it? UNSUBSCRIBED!!” Well, that’s the thing about subjective opinion my friend.
I didn’t think the ending was all that bad. Sure, it’s not great, but it doesn’t ruin the show as a whole. I can’t fault how well executed everything was getting there. Because good lord: this is one good fucking show.
Let me give you a basic synopsis, in case you haven’t seen the show. Satoru is an aspiring manga artist stuck in a dead end job at a pizza shop with a special ability to go back in time a few seconds before tragedy strikes (don’t ask why, it’s never explained and that is not a bad thing). However, after a life shattering event, he is sent back in time to his youth, a few days before one of his classmates went missing and, a few months later, would be discovered dead. Now, in order to change the future, he must save this classmate and find the killer.
So right off the bat you have two things I fucking love: time travel and a murder mystery. But on top of that, we have plenty of powerful and heart wrenching moments that hit you like a fucking truck. Watching this poor antisocial girl who has pretty much lived through hell up to this point open up to people, become genuinely happy for the first time in her life and learn how to release her pent up emotions is a powerful journey that, even after watching this show three times, still makes me fucking cry. This is one of the most powerful shows I have ever seen.
And then there’s the visuals. Not only is this show beautifully animated, but the direction is spot on. Each shot is extremely well done, and the camera always feels like it’s in the right place. At no point does this show become boring to watch, even if the story’s pacing starts to slow down. Visually speaking, it knocks it out of the park.
Yes, the ending can be a bit of a turn off. But that doesn’t change how awesome the show was getting there. Definitely give this one a watch if you’re in the mood to cry.
On the subject of tears, let me tell you about my favorite show of all time. And I get the feeling that none of you have ever heard of it before.
March Comes in Like a Lion.
Holy shit this show is fantastic. One moment, it makes you feel so good that you forget just how fucked the real world is. The next, it kicks you so hard in the dick with the feels that you can’t help but cry like a bitch. Then it’ll pick you right back up and do it all over again.
Literally everything about this show is spectacular. The animation is easily the best I have ever seen in any TV anime, and the cinematography is absolutely drop dead gorgeous, featuring some of the best lighting and shot composition I have ever had the pleasure of witnessing. The voice actors fucking nail their performances, bringing each character to life. The dialogue is absolutely sublime, featuring some of the best banter and most heart breaking monologues I’ve ever witnessed.
And the music, oh my god the music! This is easily my favorite anime soundtrack of all time! It captures the somber melancholy the main character (Rei Kiriyama, who is the most relatable protagonist I’ve ever seen by the way) or nail biting tension of an intense shogi match absolutely perfectly.
Each character is also super interesting and likable. Every side character has their own emotional baggage that they have to deal with, from the sisters Akari, Hina and Momo to the most seemingly unimportant old man in the Shogi Hall. Everyone has their own little story to tell, and all of them are incredibly emotional and interesting. They make this show really hard to put down, and super easy to marathon.
This show also makes me really hungry. That may sound odd, but I assure you it’s not a complaint. At some points, the sisters Akari and Hina will go into a really long rant about a dish they’re going to make for dinner that night. They go into a lot of detail, right down to how the dish is prepared. This may sound tedious and annoying, but it’s actually super charming, funny and visually engaging. It’s always clear that the writer got super hungry whenever one of these scenes happened.
If you ignore my other two picks, that’s fine. But if you’re to take even one of these recommendations, let it be March Comes in Like a Lion. No show has hit me as hard as this one has, and I doubt any ever will be able to ever again. I consider this show to be a genuine masterpiece of writing and film making. I love it to death, and I have no doubt that I will watch it again and again many times in my life.
And I have no doubt in my mind that it will hit me just as hard each time I do.