It’s Spring and it’s time for a primer on new anime releases and refreshers on ones that are continuing. We’ll be releasing a separate article for Spring anime available on Crunchyroll, so this article will focus on other streaming sites. I’ve curated a few Spring anime that jumped out at me one way or another, and that I think are worth your time!

1. ONE PUNCH MAN Season 2: If You Like Subverted Superhero Tropes…

One Punch Man
Image Courtesy of Viz Media

ONE PUNCH MAN is back! Finally! Fans have waited a long time for this one. After all, ONE PUNCH MAN’s first season was released 4 years ago in 2015. Which honestly feels like a whole another reality ago. ONE PUNCH MAN is a popular superhero manga with a plain-looking protagonist, Saitama, who is already the strongest superhero in the world. As a result of this interesting set-up, the series is abound with hilarious subversion of stereotypical protagonist tropes and storylines.

Boredom and mundane matters become the number one enemy instead of some unconquerable evil villain with a plot to destroy the world (though, there are those too). Literally, Saitama running to the grocery story to catch a sale has hilariously more stakes than his fights with boss villains. The usual “power-up” anime tropes can get old, and ONE PUNCH MAN is the refreshing remedy. Earnest stories like MY HERO ACADEMIA, where the superhero acquires different skills overtime, are heartwarming but sometimes, we just need to laugh at the mythologies we buy into. ONE PUNCH MAN, by contrast to BHNA, is the perfect heartless opportunity to cackle over the storylines, plot points, and character designs sold to us in typical shounen manga.

Season two premiered only on Hulu on April 9, 2019. In the event that you need a refresher on season one, you can watch it on Netflix.

2. RILAKKUMA AND KAORU: If You Like the Odd Slice-of-Life...

Image courtesy of Netflix.

Rilakkuma is a highly popular, super cute teddy bear character in Asia. Generally, you can find him on any appliance and accessory item, like backpacks, dishes, phone cases, and more. In RILAKUMMA AND KAORU, a Netflix exclusive, Rilakkuma transforms into a disturbingly human-sized figure and stars in a stop motion animated film. The trailers didn’t give away too much. But it seems very much about Rilakkuma and his fellow cute character crew living with and bearing witness to the day-to-day stressors of a single working woman in her twenties.

The writer, Naoko Ogigami, is mainly known for her comedy live-action films, with MEGANE as her most acclaimed work. In MEGANE, a chic city woman reluctantly immerses herself in the slow, relaxed lifestyle of the inhabitants of a Japanese island. Truthfully, I wasn’t going to watch RILAKKUMA AND KAORU with an expectation of a quality storyline. (Honestly, who is watching a Rilakkuma TV show for content?) But with Ogigami’s past work, I’m looking forward to her continued exploration of storylines starring young working women in this work. Moreover, I’m curious exactly how Rilakumma (and friends) fit into it all. They don’t speak at all in the trailer!

RILAKKUMA AND KAORU will be available on Netflix on April 19th.

3. CAROLE & TUESDAY: If You Like Female Friendship (!!) and Anime Musicals…

Image courtesy of Netflix

CAROLE & TUESDAY is about two girls from different backgrounds being brought together by a shared love of music. The setting is in a future world on Mars where AI produces most of the culture. Other than a plot primer, the thing you need to know about CAROLE & TUESDAY is it’s directed by the Shinichiro Watanabe. He’s directed seminal works like COWBOY BEBOP and SAMURAI CHAMPLOO, both of which have excellent music. CAROLE & TUESDAY’s premise is also very refreshing: it’s a story that features two lead female protagonists whose relationship to each other is (hopefully) the most important.

CAROLE & TUESDAY releases April 10th in Japan on Netflix. Unfortunately, a U.S. release planned sometime in late 2019. So keep your eyes peeled!

4. DORORO: If You Like a Good Angsty, Historical Fantasy with Great Action Scenes…

DORORO Spring Anime
Image Courtesy of Tezuka Productions, MAPPA

DORORO started airing in January 2019 and is currently mid-season. It’s an adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s 1967 manga of the same name, which is definitely a throwback. Set during the Sengoku period, the story follows Hyakkimaru, the vengeful main character, and Dororo, a bright young orphan thief that refuses to leave him alone. Hyakkimaru kills demons on his quest to regain parts of his soul and body which were sold to said demons by his father. Yes, it’s some dark stuff. But the show’s angsty tone and Hyakkimaru’s understandable brooding is balanced by Dororo’s bright personality and gregariousness.

As with every adaptation, there’s the age old question of source material versus the new take. Unfortunately, I haven’t read the entirety of the original manga so I can’t comment on that relationship. However, I have noticed that the particularly strong episodes are the ones that relate to Hyakkimaru’s family and their dynamics. The episodes featuring one-episode villains are less compelling. After all, Hyakkimaru’s dad, mother, and brother are arguably more evil and intriguing than any one-episode demon.

Overall, I quite like the series so far. The animation and art style is gorgeous, and the action scenes are impressive. You can find it on Amazon. It’s free for those with Amazon Prime membership.

5. POP TEAM EPIC Special Episode: If you like a wild absurdist time….

Pop Team Epic Spring Anime
Image courtesy of Kamikaze Douga

This isn’t exactly a Spring anime per-say. I’m slipping it in here because a) the special episode was released in Spring, and b) I love POP TEAM EPIC. Listen, I don’t get half the references in POP TEAM EPIC because I’m not 100% immersed in Internet culture. But I do know that POP TEAM EPIC is a bizarre and wonderful irreverent piece of art. It’s literally two girls, Popuko and Pipimi, who just… do a bunch of wild stuff that consists of pop culture references, non-sequiturs, and absurd skits. I never know how each second is going to go in the show and I’m consistently scratching my head on how POP TEAM EPIC says more about about pop culture than most pop culture journalists. (Yes, that’s a read on myself.) To put it another way, POP TEAM EPIC is surreal, sarcastic, and will be responsible for your third-eye opening.

The April 1st Special is a one episode release and is available on Funimation and Crunchyroll.

Are you excited about this Spring’s releases? Tell us all about it in the comments below!

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