We’re now at the midpoint of the summer anime season. And since the 47 anime of the season have each had at least six episodes to show us what they’re made of, it’s time to take a look at which among them you should not miss.
Over this past season, I’ve spent hour upon hour watching not only the anime that caught my eye from the start, but also the anime that Sarah, Toshi, and you all recommended to me. With that said and done, we here at Anime Now! are ready to give out our recommendations for the five you should definitely be watching.
Now, keep in mind these are simply our picks for the five anime we feel you should not miss out on this season. That in no way means that the anime that didn’t make this list are bad; it just means that we feel the shows below are the best the season has to offer.
Mob Psycho 100
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12)
Genre: Modern Fantasy, Comedy, Superhero
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Mob is a psychic of untold power. He can make things float with just the power of his mind and banish even the most malevolent of spirits with ease. Of course, as a normal, shy teen, he’d rather just be popular. Feeling that muscles and looks are the best way to become popular, he clamps down on his power. Unfortunately, as his stress builds, his powers build as well, towards a massive psychic explosion.
Why You Should Watch It: Like its sister series One Punch Man, Mob Psycho 100 is a comedic deconstruction of the superhero genre. Mob has great powers, but feels they are largely useless in his daily life. From his (very limited) experience, his powers can’t get him popularity or the heart of the girl he wants. On the other hand, everyone else, from the spirits he battles to his teacher in all things supernatural, would kill to have even a fraction of his power, and plot to use Mob for their own ends.
It is also a visual masterpiece and often feels like a moving manga rather than an anime in the traditional sense. Normally, the anime often has a “sketch with watercolor” feel to its presentation, but when psychic powers start getting thrown about, the lines become far more random as the fabric of reality becomes thinner. This is a show that can be watched on mute and still be appreciated as art.
Watch It If You Like: One Punch Man, Tiger & Bunny, Superhero TV films and TV shows
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Studio: Telecom Animation Film
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 13)
Genre: School-life Drama, Time Travel, Romance
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Naho is the shyest among her group of friends, always going with the flow and never really fighting for anything she truly wants. But one day, she wakes up to find a letter from her future self, detailing the next year of her life and tasking her with saving the life of Kakeru, the new student at school.
Why You Should Watch It: While orange is a time travel story, it is a tale of personal growth more than anything else. Many of the tasks that Future Naho gives to her past self are antithetical to how Naho normally acts. Even with her future self telling her what to do, actually stepping out of her shell to do these seemingly simple actions proves to be a nearly insurmountable wall. More than that, even Future Naho doesn’t know exactly how to save Kakeru. She just knows that she should have been able to do more and is pointing out those times to her younger self.
At the same time, the very existence of the letter creates a compelling mystery in its own right. Each episode reveals a little bit more about the life of Future Naho and what drove her to write the letter. There’s also more than a few moral quandaries about time travel and changing the life of your past self that make the anime even deeper than it first appears.
Watch It If You Like: Steins;Gate, Erased
Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll
Studio: David Production
Currently at: Episode 5 (of 5)
Genre: Post-apocalyptic, Slice-of-Life
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In the aftermath of the apocalypse, a lone scavenger ventures into the dangerous streets of an old city searching for valuable relics of the old world. Low on food and separated from his gear, he comes across a long-abandoned planetarium. There, the planetarium’s innocent android caretaker remains on duty, waiting for customers to come once more and learn about the wonders of the stars.
Why You Should Watch It: Planetarian is a small story in a big world. It’s not an inspiring tale about humanity’s struggle to survive against the odds, with heroes coming together to form a new human world in the ashes of the old. Rather it’s a personal story about a man learning the difference between survival and living, with the interactions between the man and the android being the central focus of the story.
Watching the relationship build between the two is equal parts touching and heartbreaking. Even though she is not a living thing, it is through her that he sees a new potential path for his life–one where there is room for dreams and wonder. It is a truly human story set in a world where humanity is all but gone.
Watch It If You Like: Clannad, Kanon, Eden*, Fragile
Sweetness and Lightning
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)
Genre: Slice-of-Life, Food Porn
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Kōhei is a single father struggling to raise his daughter after the death of his wife. A math teacher with little in the way of culinary skills, he finds that he is unable to give his daughter even the simplest of home-cooked meals. Discovering one of his students, Kotori, is also the daughter of a busy single parent, the three begin learning to cook together—finding that the best kind of a meal is one shared with others.
Why You Should Watch It: While Sweetness and Lightning has a large focus on food–and delicious-looking food at that–it’s also a story about the hardships faced by single parents. Kōhei has little life outside of his precocious kindergartener daughter, Tsumugi. Yet, all the attention in the world cannot keep her eternally happy. Even a kindergartener faces trials as she starts down the road of growing up. And sometimes, a father can’t hope to understand what is making his child sad.
The other side of the story shows what the children of single parents face. Kotori has long been alone at home with her mother working long hours as a professional chef. Her home is a lonely place. But with Kōhei and Tsumugi, she has one final chance for the family life that is all but a dim memory to her. And more than anyone, she knows what Tsumugi is going through and wants to do anything she can to help alleviate the pain of losing a parent.
Watch It If You Like: Bunny Drop, Barakamon, Food Wars
Tales of Zestiria the X
Currently at: Episode 6 (of 12, including an episode 0)
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
Non-spoiler Plot Summary: The world is on the edge of calamity: Monsters and natural disasters spread throughout the land underneath the cover of an ominous cloud. Faced with this impending doom, a lone princess sets out to find the fabled Shepherd, a legendary figure of immense power said to bridge the world of mankind to that of the spirits. Meanwhile, a young man lives a simple life in an isolated town near the gates of an ancient ruin, unaware of the destiny ahead of him.
Why You Should Watch It: Tales of Zestiria is a grand fantasy adventure with strong characters and an excellently realized world. Alisha and Sorey, the aforementioned princess and young man respectively, are both people trying to do the right thing in a land where political intrigue reigns even as the impending apocalypse is ignored. This makes them both likable and easy to root for. As their party expands and the nature of the conflict becomes clear, the story only becomes more interesting.
But the anime would only be half as captivating if it weren’t for the incredible animation of ufotable, the studio behind Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works and God Eater. Be it fight scenes or massive landscapes, this anime puts every other anime of the season (with the exception of Mob Psycho 100) to utter shame. It really is eye candy in its purest form.
Watch It If You Like: The Tales series, Fate/stay night: Unlimited Blade Works, God Eater
[Disclosure: Anime Consortium Japan (ACJ), the owner of Anime Now!, is an investor in Tales of Zestiria the X. Moreover, Bandai Namco Holdings, the parent company of the creator of the original Tales of Zestiria game, is a major shareholder in ACJ.]