Our first impression of Spring 2019 was that it would have a solid lineup for fans of fantasy and supernatural shows, particularly those who know and love retro anime. We got fresh material from visionary directors, updated remakes of beloved classics, and the latest seasons of our favorite long-running series. We also saw a few sprightly newcomers with enough intrigue to capture our attention. So now that we’re shifting into summer, let’s take a look back to see how these anime held up based on our expectations of them from the beginning of the season! Which shows have cemented themselves as instant classics, and which are soon to be forgotten?
1. Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season
- Genres: Seinen, Mystery, Supernatural
- Air Date: April 12, 2019
This is the third season of Bungou Stray Dogs.
Atsushi Nakajima has nowhere to go. On the verge of starving, he has just been kicked out of the orphanage he was living in. He meets two very different and interesting men. The first is attempting to commit suicide by drowning himself. He is Osamu Dazai. The other appears to be neurotically flipping through a notebook while wearing glasses. He is Doppo Kunikida. They are part of a rumored “superpower detective agency” that deals with crimes and events that the normal police and army cannot handle. They are on the hunt for a human eating tiger that is disturbing the public and Atsushi just also requests to travel with them. Taking place in the city Yokohama, these men are those who have taken on the name of “bungo,” or literary master, and have embraced it. Each has their own different power that is revealed during combat. The curtains are now rising on these very strange “literary masters” who are about to have their own battle right now!
What We Got:
Based on a spin-off novel to the main series, the third season of Bungou Stray Dogs sees the Armed Detective Agency coming to blows with the Port Mafia once again. But their greatest new threat comes in the form of a criminal mastermind named Fyodor, who leads the shadowy organization Rats in the House of the Dead. What is this man planning...?
If you loved previous seasons of this anime and want to see more anime antics inspired by classic literature, we’re happy to report that you won’t be disappointed with this latest outing. Bones’ animation is phenomenal as usual, elevating Harukawa35’s character designs to new heights with fluid body language and facial expressions that convey both comedy and drama with ease. The ED “Lily” (by Luck Life) is also a treat, with a mellow rock sound that brings back memories of everything these characters have gone through up to this point.
The story itself is a bit disjointed, though, since it tries to establish the new Cannibalism arc plotline while also tying up loose ends that the other two seasons and the movie left behind. New villain Fyodor has a pretty convoluted and obtuse master plan, but at least he gives the detectives a good fight. Honestly, nobody expected Bungou Stray Dogs to get a third season, so the fact that it exists and holds its own against the rest of the show is reason enough to give it a watch.
Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season Official PV
- Genres: Historical, Drama, Supernatural, Action
- Air Date: January 7, 2018
The time is the Warring States Era.
Kagemitsu is the head of a country experiencing nirvana and at a hall within a certain temple, he prays to twelve fierce god statues for territorial prosperity. In exchange for his wish to be granted, Kagemitsu’s heir was born with a disabled body. An unwanted child, he was set adrift on a river to be thrown away.
Time has marched on and Kagemitsu’s agreement with the fierce gods has been realized: peace has arrived for the country. Then one day, a child bandit named Dororo meets a certain man… but is he human or devil...?
‘Hyakkimaru’ has a sword embedded in both of his arms and his entire body has been altered. With his unseeing eyes, he focuses on the monsters coming to attack.
What We Got:
Dororo tells the story of Hyakkimaru, whose body parts were sacrificed to demons as a baby by his greedy feudal lord father. Outfitted with wooden prosthetics, he wanders the land on a quest to defeat the 12 demons and regain his body piece by piece. He’s joined by the spunky young thief Dororo, who becomes his first real friend and helps him learn about the world that he’s been closed off from for his entire life.
The original Dororo manga was written by Osamu Tezuka (of Astro Boy fame) way back in 1967, but didn’t really catch on because its serious storyline didn’t mesh well with the very cartoony art and humor that was popular at the time. However, this new adaptation improves on the original in just about every way: characters are more realistic and complex, the story has a clear structure and explores interesting themes, and the music and animation tie the whole package together.
The first cour generally has better animation and pacing than the second (and its OP is already a candidate for best of the year), but the last couple episodes step up to deliver a bombastic finale that makes up for its few shortcomings with a satisfying emotional payoff that was well worth the journey to get there. Definitely check this one out!
Dororo 2nd cours PV
3. Fairy Tail Final Season
- Genres: Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Magic
- Air Date: October 7, 2018
Take the path you believe in while proudly carrying the memories of your friends!
Time has passed for Natsu after the intense fighting with the dark guild Tartaros, as well as the painful farewell with the being who raised him like its own, Igneel, the Fire Dragon. Natsu has now decided that he should become even stronger, and so he sets out on a journey to train with his buddy Happy.
At the same time, the Guild Master for Fairy Tail, Makarov, suddenly gave orders for the guild to disband before disappearing himself.
One year later… Lucy is working as an assistant to a reporter while sending information across the large continent to all of their former allies. Then one day while she’s out gathering information on the annual Grand Magic Games, Natsu appears in front of Lucy having returned from his training! They decide to revive Fairy Tail, and with their hearts as one, Natsu, Lucy, and Happy all set out on a journey to search for their former allies!
What We Got:
The Fairy Tail guild has rebuilt itself from the ground up and now faces its toughest challenge yet: defeating both Zeref and the mad dragon Acnologia. With the help of their long-lost founder Mavis and the other guilds they’ve befriended along the way, our heroes must face Zeref’s massive army and save the land of Fiore once and for all!
Fairy Tail really should’ve stopped while it was ahead. Fans differ on where they think the series started to go downhill, but the Alvarez Empire arc (which this season adapts) is considered the final nail in the coffin to what was once an exciting and engaging battle shounen. Zeref and Acnologia, two villains who have been hyped up for years as the mysterious masterminds behind the greatest threats the guild has faced so far, have had all of their complexity and intrigue sucked out of them so that their husks can serve as cheap final bosses in a war arc that barely resembles the small-scale adventures that made us fall in love with this anime in the first place.
The animation, while at least more colorful than the previous few arcs, tends to be choppy and relies heavily on still frames in fight scenes. The recent Wendy vs Irene fight was more fluidly choreographed and it’s always nice to see Dragonforce Wendy kick some well-deserving ass, but these brief moments of quality don’t make up for the lackluster whole. If you want to remember the series for its best parts, do yourself a favor and skip this final season.
Fairy Tail Final Season Official PV
4. Fruits Basket
- Genres: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Drama
- Air Date: April 6, 2019
Tohru Honda is a high school girl who, after losing her only family member, her mother, lives in a tent alone. It turns out that the premises she pitched her tent on belong to the prestigious Soma family! He comes to live with the Soma family. Shigure Soma capitalizes on Tohru’s abilities to do chores, Yuki Soma is known as the prince of her school, and Kyo Soma sees Yuki has his rival! She lives together with them, but knows nothing yet.
You see, the Soma family has been bound by a curse for hundreds of years...
What We Got:
Tohru Honda, a chipper high school girl who has fallen on hard times ever since her mother died, soon finds a home with three members of the mysterious Sohma family. The Sohmas are cursed to transform into an animal of the Chinese Zodiac whenever someone of the opposite sex hugs them, and they seem to have traumatic psychological issues buried where no normal person can see them. Can Tohru and her new friends overcome their pasts and live a happy life together?
Fruits Basket is one of the most famous and beloved shoujo series of all time, particularly because its original 1999 manga was one of the first of its genre to gain a significant following in the West. The 2001 anime adaptation is still considered a retro classic, but only got through about 1/3 of the overall story and left out the more complex drama elements that separate Fruits Basket from any other high school slice of life. That’s why this new version, which adapts the entire manga from beginning to end, is so exciting!
TMS Entertainment has done a fantastic job bringing this series to life with gorgeous modern animation and character designs, the music feels nostalgic and comforting, and the voice cast is better than ever. The Japanese seiyuus are all new, but the English simulcast dub uses many of the same actors as the first series, and after 18 years, it’s easy to see how much they’ve improved! Even though the story hasn’t gotten to the later manga material yet, we’re enjoying the glimpses of darker subplots that have been peppered throughout the early episodes. If you’re a shoujo fan, this one is a must-watch!
Fruits Basket Official PV
5. GeGeGe no Kiitarou 6th Season
- Genres: Shoujo, Fantasy, Romance, Drama
- Air Date: April 1, 2018
Welcome to the current era, somewhere around the 20th year of the 21st century, where humanity has completely forgotten about the existence of youkai (demons).
There are phenomenon frequently occurring that science cannot explain, and adults are going every which way as rumors fly wild.
A 13-year-old girl named Mana has decided to do something about it and writes a letter and puts it in the youkai mailbox. What appears in front of Mana with the clip clop sounds echoing of his geta (Japanese wooden clogs) is none other than Kitarou of GeGeGe.
What We Got:
Continuing the trend of modern anime rejuvenating retro material for a new audience, we have the sixth anime adaptation of the long-running comedy manga GeGeGe no Kitarou. This version of the 1965 source material updates the setting to modern day, where youkai have largely been forgotten and the friendly ghost Kitarou is nowhere to be found. That is, until paranormal phenomena start to plague the mortal world and the young human Mana writes to the Youkai Post in search of a solution...
Like Doraemon or the Precure franchise, GeGeGe no Kitarou is a bona-fide cultural institution in Japan while being mostly unknown in the West because its target audience is young children. However, there’s plenty here for an adult anime fan to enjoy, especially if you love Japanese folklore and subtle social commentary. Its occasional darker themes also give it more intrigue for older viewers.
The animation and music serve the show well, with scattered nostalgic references for longtime GeGeGe fans throughout every episode —not the least of which is the classic opening theme from the first anime. Overall, it’s just nice to see another retro series update itself for the current generation while still holding onto the elements that made the original so special.
GeGeGe no Kiitarou 6th Season PV
6. Gunjou no Magmel
- Genres: Fantasy, Adventure
- Air Date: April 7, 2019
One day, Magmell, a brand-new continent, suddenly appears in our world. Humanity rushes into a new age of exploration as the world seeks the unknown creatures and natural resources that sleep on this newly-appeared continent.
Enter Inyou, a boy who has been sucked into the vortex of desire for Magmel who makes his living rescuing adventurers.
What We Got:
Somewhere in the vast expanses of the Pacific Ocean, a new continent called Magmell appeared out of nowhere! What kinds of plants, animals, and untold riches could possibly be found there? Young “anglers” Inyou and Zero are dispatched to the continent to save trapped adventurers, and in the process, these two explore the wonders of the new land together.
Fans of Hunter x Hunter may have been drawn to this anime because Yoshihiro Togashi adores the manga, but unfortunately, it doesn’t even hold a candle to the epic adventure viewers were expecting. We would say that 13 episodes just isn’t enough time to build out a fascinating fantasy world with complex and relatable characters, but Made in Abyss managed it two years ago and that just makes it all the more disappointing that Gunjou no Magmell fails to deliver on every single front.
The characters are bland, the story is forgettable, and the majestic continent of Magmell wears out its welcome remarkably quickly. And that’s a shame, since this world is clearly based on Australia and could’ve used the rich history and ecology of that country to great effect if anyone actually cared. Instead, we got a below-average Hunter x Hunter wannabe whose most memorable moment was an offensive portrayal of the Aborigines. Next!
Gunjou no Magmel Official PV
7. Hangyakusei Million Arthur (2nd Cours)
- Genres: Game, Fantasy
- Air Date: April 4, 2019
The Holy Sword, Excalibur. It’s a special sword that ascertains whom will become the king of Britain and unite the country. The one who pulled it out was called ‘Arthur’ and he gained an immense power.
However, it was not just one person who pulled Excalibur from the rock. Because of the large amount of power born from it, suddenly there was an inundation of legends and this distorted history! In order to right this wrong and correct history, six different ‘Arthurs’ called Danchou, Tekeen, Yamaneko, Kakka, Renkin, and Rurou, all travel back to the Britain of the past.
Their mission is to break all of the Excalibur that are distorting history.
They are over 1,000,000 in number.
What the Arthurs are doing is rebelling against the past.
And, fighting to protect the future.
What We Got:
Historically, the holy sword Excalibur can only be wielded by the legendary King Arthur, but this anime’s version of the blade is somewhat less picky. All who it deems worthy —approximately one million people— are renamed Arthur and gain phenomenal powers that they use to distort the history and structure of the world. It’s up to a small group of elite Arthurs to thin out the crowd and set Earth back on its proper course once again.
The first cour of this series adapted its source game adequately enough to serve as a pleasant distraction for 22 minutes every week, but ironically, its sequel isn’t even worth watching. The “Fairy Combine” powerup that allows the Arthurs to fight against their greatest enemy on equal terms seems to have been conjured out of thin air, and the characters themselves just aren’t interesting enough to care about in the first place. The music and animation both take a dive, as well. Trust us, there are better ways to spend your time this season.
Hangyakusei Million Arthur Official PV
8. Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin
- Genres: Supernatural, Fantasy
- Air Date: April 8, 2019
Arata Miyako was supposed to be your average civil servant who was sent to work at the Ward Office of Shinjuku Ward. He went to work for the Department of Regional Midnight Exchange which is something that none of the workers in any of the 23 Wards of Tokyo know about. The work there is so solve the occult phenomena that occur with humans present. Together with his senior and section leader, Kyouichi Sakaki, he brings the occult aficionado Seo Himezuka along night by night to confront the beings that go beyond human and science.
What We Got:
Miyako Arata is new to the workforce, but finds his niche as a translator for otherworldly monsters in the Shinjuku Ward Office's Nighttime Regional Relations Department. Along with his team, he must ensure that the “Another” (which consist of a rogue’s gallery of supernatural creatures from mythologies all over the world) don’t cause trouble for the human realm.
First of all, even though the cast is largely populated by beautiful men that look straight out of Uta no Prince-sama or IDOLiSH7, this show focuses much more on supernatural mystery than boys love. That said, it’s still worth watching if you have a passion for mythology and the occult. We do wish it had a higher animation budget to make the most of its monster designs and nighttime atmosphere, but the writing and vocal performances are both solid enough to mostly make up for it. Switch on Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin for an easygoing anime that won’t require much thought or investment to enjoy.
Mayonaka no Occult Koumuin Official PV
9. Namuamida Butsu!: Rendai Utena
- Genres: Historical, Action, Fantasy, Bishounen
- Air Date: April 8, 2019
The pain of the four inevitables of human life (birth, ageing, sickness, and death) is something that anyone and anything alive will encounter at some point. There is but one way to be saved from them: enlightenment. At the height of conflict, a prince known as Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment and saved the world.
Time has now moved significantly past that and we are now in an age of decadence. Mara, the personification of worldly desires that bring about suffering, previously set out to hinder the buddha’s enlightenment, and now, in order to carry out its revenge against him has formed a contract with demons. Mara is now moving out to bring all of mankind under its dominion through worldly desire. Thus, a buddhist organization centered around buddhist teachings, the Thirteen Buddhas and the big two benevolent deities who protect the dharma, Taishakuten and Bonton, rise up in order to protect mankind while stopping Mara.
Their battle with Mara begins now!
What We Got:
The Thirteen Buddhas, here reimagined as hot anime boys, have a duty to the people of Earth to protect them from the negative emotions that block the path to enlightenment. But Mara, a personification of these worries who made a pact with the devil, certainly isn’t making this job easy for them...
At its core, this anime is a slice of life about 13 friends who represent ancient Buddhist deities that would be familiar to anyone in Japan. It’s similar to Touken Ranbu or even Hetalia in a way, with each character having their own quirky personality that clashes with the others in entertaining scenarios. However, Namuamida Butsu! struggles to marry this laid-back tone with its serious central plotline of defeating Mara, and that leaves the episodes feeling a little unfocused and stiff. It’s a good watch if you come in with low expectations and just want to see some hot anime boys doing hot anime things, but otherwise, you may want to skip this one.
Namuamida Butsu!: Rendai Utena Official PV
- Genres: Fantasy
- Air Date: April 12, 2019
Kazuki Yasaka, Toi Kuji, and Enta Jinai are second-year middle school students. They meet a mysterious being that looks just like a kappa named Keppi who steals the shirikodama (magical ball hidden inside the butts of people that kappa wish to steal) from each of the boys thus forcing them to transform into kappa.
Keppi tells the three boys, ‘if you want to change back, then it can be done, but you have to connect in ‘a certain way’ and bring me the shirikodama from zombies.’ The three boys then link up, but can they steal the shirikodama from zombies?! At the same time, Rei Niiboshi and Maku Akutsu are working to make something happen at the police station they work at.
What We Got:
Kazuki Yasaka feels disconnected from the people in his life. One day, however, he and two other boys accidentally break a Kappa statue in their city and are transformed into Kappas themselves! To return to his original form, he must travel around Asakusa to extract the organs of desire from zombies’ anuses and learn the deeply personal secrets of his new compatriots. Will this experience coax him out of his shell and help him connect with others?
This show is weird. Very weird. And if you’re a longtime fan of Kunihiko Ikuhara (whose previous works include Mawaru Penguindrum and Revolutionary Girl Utena), you knew to expect that when you saw that he was directing this joint. But if you look past the flying Amazon packages, homoerotic Kappa dances, and copious focus on butts, Sarazanmai is a surprisingly sweet story about the importance of emotional connections between people.
The animation and music take inspiration from both musical theater and modern electronics, punctuating zombie battles with dizzying displays of spectacle that are well worth the price of admission all by themselves. Whether you watch it for the story or just to experience Ikuhara’s latest wild ride, we urge you to give Sarazanmai a try.
Sarazanmai Official PV
In our opinion, the standouts for the fantasy and supernatural genres in Spring 2019 are Dororo, Fruits Basket, and Sarazanmai, with honorable mentions going to Bungou Stray Dogs 3rd Season and GeGeGe no Kitarou. The others may appeal to fans of their source material or similar shows, but you won’t miss much by skipping them. Now let’s get hyped for what Summer season has in store for us!
What did you think of our overview? Do you agree or disagree with our verdicts on these anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!