So the spring anime season is finally over (yeah, we know it’s halfway through summer, but that’s just how the anime seasons work). It’s about time that we looked at which shows impressed the most, and which shows flopped completely. Shows that started off as extremely popular plummeted quickly through the rankings, and a few anime came out of the woodwork to surprise everyone. And what do we make of the season overall? Spring anime have high expectations placed upon them, so did 2016 live up to the hype?
The first anime on many minds was Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress. Rumoured to be the show that has delayed Studio Wit’s release of Attack on Titan season 2, it was met with anticipation – masked with a bit of resentment. Plotwise, the synopsis made it appear to be a steampunk rendition of Attack on Titan with prettier animation. And to be honest, that’s what the first couple of episodes gave us. Except it was scarier, more exciting, and who doesn’t like a bit of steampunk? Instead of titans attacking humanity, it was mad zombies. Instead of eating you, they turned you into one of them. Yes, it was a prettier version of Attack on Titan, but that’s a little reductionist- the animation was truly beautiful. Studio Wit might have outdone themselves on this one. The whole humanity versus a common enemy already sounds like a broken record, but Wit found a way to make it slightly more interesting.
What about shows that were promising, only to greet us with disappointment? Mayoiga might fit that definition. It has easily one of the most fascinating synopses of the spring 2016 anime, but it fell flat on its nose within a few short episodes. Out of the 25 most reviewed anime of the season, Mayoiga ranked 23rd in quality. It’s about a tour group of people on a journey to finding a ‘utopia’ where they can begin their lives anew, each of them with their own wounded hearts. At first we’re greeted with about 30 major characters (already a bad sign), we’re made to feel intrigued about their broken pasts- and then they never satisfy that intrigue. We don’t get a single completed backstory and the most interesting characters are the ones who are done the least justice. Not to mention the cop-out plotline and the fact that almost none of the massive cast are actually likeable. There are many things one could say about Mayoiga, but we’d only be repeating ourselves. It’s watchable, but not very satisfying. Come on, Diomedea studio, you can do better.
On a lighter note, a show that did even better than Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress was one that not many of us suspected. Flying Witch was the poster girl for slice-of-life shows this season, beating every other anime in the genre for ratings. It’s totally different from other shows that had a high number of positive reviews this season. It has something undefinable that makes it a great anime for anyone to watch. A peaceful setup following the life of Makoto, a teenage witch, it presents magic in a very subtle and beautiful way. In fact the magic seems so obvious and normal that the show borders on magical realism rather than fantasy. Flying Witch seems to have attracted many viewers who would never usually watch a slice-of-life show, surprising us all with its refreshing lack of character tropes and petty drama.
Other slice-of-lifes that did particularly well include Sakamoto desu ga?, a show about Sakamoto, an unbelievably perfect high school student who lives his life being admired and worshipped by all. Although it started out with high numbers of viewings, it declined towards the end of the season, being overtaken by action shows and of course, Flying Witch.
Did spring this year match up to expectations? Quite possibly. Winter was on the whole disappointing, despite some real gems like One Punch Man and other good shows like Erased. There was really only one or two shows that were worth watching, but spring has picked things up a bit. Despite not having any truly breakthrough anime, it has proven to be a good season. Not fantastic- but not awful. It’s been rather good for the actions shows, and maybe has restored some hope in a slice-of-life genre free of the moeblob art style. Now that it’s all over, you can freely watch any of these shows all in one go. So go ahead, knock yourself out, before the anime of the summer takes hold.