Image Source: MAPPA on Twitter

With the 50 new TV anime airing this season, it can be hard to know what to watch. So here are the five we think you should definitely try out.

Summer 2017

Over the past few weeks, I’ve spent dozens of hours watching anime that caught my eye—along with the anime you all recommended and those that Sarah, Toshi, Kat, and Ken insisted I watch. With all that watching and the subsequent discussions out of the way, here are our recommendations for the five you should definitely be watching.

Poll: The Best Anime Series of Summer 2017

Now, keep in mind that 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 of the best that this season has to offer.

[Note: The list below is presented in alphabetical order.]

Image Source: アニメ「セントールの悩み」公式‏ on Twitter

A Centaur’s Life

Studio: Emon

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Genre: Monster Girl Slice-of-Life

Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In a world where life evolved differently from our Earth, humans as we know them don’t exist. Instead, “humanity” is made up of demihumans like centaurs, demons, angels, merfolk, and satyrs. Enter our heroine Himeno, your average centaur schoolgirl who worries about the normal aspects of everyday life—like gaining weight, receiving love letters, and acting in a school play.

Why You Should Watch It: If you just enjoy anime about cute girls doing cute things, there’s a lot you’ll love in A Centaur’s Life. But that is just the surface. The setting that our monster girl heroines exist in is the real star of the show. The entire anime is basically just a huge thought experiment about how a demihuman world would work. What would a car for centaurs look like? How about a chair? Can the various races interbreed—and if so what would the kids be like? What would a school for merfolk be like?

The Twisted World of Enforced Equality in A Centaur’s Life

All this goes one step further when, as the girls go about their daily lives, we start to learn about the society in general. In a world where the differences between the races are far more than skin deep, the need for equality and the philosophy of utilitarianism combine to create a government far different from—and more oppressive than—our own world’s.

Watch It If You Like: Love and Lies, Monster Musume, Japanese schoolgirl slice-of-life anime

Where You Can Watch It: Crunchyroll (sub), FUNimation (dub)

Image Source: TVアニメ「賭ケグルイ」公式‏ on Twitter

Kakegurui – Compulsive Gambler

Studio: MAPPA

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Genre: Psychological Gambling Drama

Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In one of Japan’s most prestigious high schools, the future elites of society gamble with outrageous sums of money on any number of different games. The hundred most in-debt students are even treated as slaves by the rest of the class with little to no hope of escaping their situation. But when stunningly beautiful young woman Yumeko transfers in, the school’s status quo is thrown into chaos; Yumeko is a compulsive gambler unlike any these young debutantes have ever encountered before.

Why You Should Watch It: The main reason is Yumeko herself. At first glance, she is beautiful, kind, and generous—and she really is those things. It’s not like she is pretending. But beneath that surface layer is pure insanity—an insanity that only gets more intoxicating the more you learn about it. Yumeko lives for the moment when both players have put their all into the game—when the chips are down and the result all comes down to luck. The higher the stakes—the more devastating the consequences of a loss—the bigger the rush. And what makes her truly scary is that she can often not understand that others do not view gambling the same way.

Yumeko’s Twisted Insanity Makes Kakegurui Both Fascinating and Terrifying

Indeed, those she encounters gamble for power, prestige, or just the feeling of superiority they get from crushing their opponents. And it’s through their games with Yumeko that their outer facades disappear and the truly grotesque monsters beneath are revealed—only to come up against an even more overwhelming monster in the form of Yumeko’s addiction.

Watch It If You Like: No Game No Life, Death Parade, Kaiji, Yu-Gi-Oh! (the original anime)

Where You Can Watch It: Not currently streaming (but coming to Netflix in the future)

Image Source: TVアニメ「メイドインアビス」公式‏ on Twitter

Made in Abyss

Studio: Kinema Citrus

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Genre: Low Fantasy, Coming-of-Age

Non-spoiler Plot Summary: On an isolated island lies a massive pit in the Earth. While no one knows how deep it goes, explorers head into the “Abyss” battling monsters as they gather mysterious artifacts. The story follows 12-year-old girl Riko, whose mother went missing in the depths of the abyss a decade before. Now an orphan, Riko trains to become an explorer herself. But while knowledgeable she may be, the Abyss is a place where mortal danger lurks around every corner—and even trying to leave it can warp you into something not quite human.

Why You Should Watch It: Made in Abyss is fantasy adventure at its purest. It gives us characters we can easily identify with and then sets them loose on an adventure in a world wholly unlike our own that dazzles not only the eye but the imagination as well. Riko’s drive to find her mother and explore the wonders of the Abyss makes her easy to love. And her budding friendship with amnesiac robot boy Regu adds even more mystery to the tale.

Why You Should Be Watching Made In Abyss with Your Kids

But best of all, while often cute, the story makes sure the show that the dangers of the Abyss are real and any moment could be Riko’s last. While beautiful and otherworldly, the Abyss is not a playground; it is a crucible that will either forge Riko into a legendary explorer or leave her forgotten as a nameless corpse.

Watch It If You Like: Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, The Pilot’s Love Song

Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike (United States), HIDIVE (International Territories)

Image Source: TVアニメ『プリンセス・プリンシパル』 on Twitter

Princess Principal

Studio: Studio 3Hz, ACTAS

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Genre: Steampunk Spy Drama

Non-spoiler Plot Summary: In a steampunk reimagining of Victorian England, the country has been split in two: a monarchy on one side and a young republic on the other. Nowhere is this split more prominent than in London—which like with post World War II Berlin has been split in twain by a massive wall. Now, a team of five spies for the republic go undercover as aristocrat school girls to fight in the cold war that rages between the two countries—and one of these spies happens to be the Kingdom’s own young princess.

Why You Should Watch It: While each episode is a self-contained spy mission following our team of heroines—which are interesting in their own right—there are several large twists and reveals that are doled out across the series that force you to reinterpret everything you’ve watched before. What at first appears to be as simple as two sides battling in a war of espionage is far more complex as you learn about the histories of each of our spies.

Add on to that the existence of everything from gravity altering devices to steampunk cyborgs and you have an anime that is as fun as it is cerebral.

Watch It If You Like: Saga of Tanya the Evil, Izetta: The Last Witch, Joker Game, Cold war era spy movies

Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike (United States), HIDIVE (International Territories), AnimeLab (AU/NZ)

Image Source: TVアニメ「ボールルームへようこそ」 on Twitter

Welcome to the Ballroom

Studio: Production I.G

Currently at: Episode 7 (of 12)

Genre: Sports, Coming-of-Age

Non-spoiler Plot Summary: Tatara is in his last year of middle school and his teachers are pressuring him to get on with planning his life. Unfortunately, as he comes from a poor, single parent family, he hasn’t been able find his calling. But one day, he finds himself roped into a free ballroom dance lesson and soon wants nothing more than to dance his way to the top of the competitive world.

Why You Should Watch It: Welcome to the Ballroom is an introduction to a sport many are likely unfamiliar with: competitive ballroom dance. The anime does a great job of breaking down the sport, easing the viewer into it, and explaining what is going in a way that is both interesting and surprisingly dramatic.

How Welcome to the Ballroom Drags You into the World of Dance in Just One Episode

On top of that, it is also a coming of age story for not only Tatara, but several other young amateurs in the world of competitive dance. Their worries about the future, interpersonal relationships, and drives to be the best collide to create a tale that anyone can identify with—even if you don’t know the first thing about dance.

Watch It If You Like: Yuri!!! On ICE, Your Lie in April

Where You Can Watch It: Amazon Anime Strike (United States)

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