Top 5 Anime of Spring 2016

We’re deep into the Spring 2016 Anime Season, and it’s time to really analyze what shows are shaping up to be winners.  From the cute, brutal, violent, and lovable.  There’s a rather refreshing dosage of many genres to be had!

Flying Witch
flying witch
Streaming: Crunchyroll

Nothing beats spending the evening after a hard day’s work absorbing a relaxing and healing anime series.  No other series this season knows how to do this better than Flying Witch.

Flying Witch follows a young witch named Makoto after she moves out to live with her distant cousins in Aomori, Japan.  After she arrives, she mixes her daily routines with discovering the interesting and yet casual sides of her new home while also exposing those she meets to her magic training.  Only magnified by the element of her young cousin Chinatsu’s unrivaled curiosity.

Flying Witch focuses on the simplicities of life while sprinkling in smart and simple comedy that never pushes things too far.  It oozes charm, has a lovable cast, and mixes in magic to keep things intriguing and the viewer guessing.  As mentioned earlier, a true gem of this show is in Chinatsu’s discovery of magic and her possible introduction into the world of witchery itself.  I enjoy each and every episode, and I can’t wait to see more of the cast’s interactions.

Kumamiko – Girl Meets Bear
Kuma Miko
Streaming: Funimation

My heart melts every time I watch this show.  From the loving bond between bear and girl, to the absolutely insane moments of misunderstandings that fill their daily lives with chaos.

Kumamiko takes place in the rural mountains of Japan.  There, a young shrine maiden named Machi reluctantly spends her days tending her shrine and being paired with a local talking bear named Natsu who is sort of a guardian, even though they are technically close in age.  Their daily lives consist of performing rituals and Machi’s attempts to prove she has what it takes to move out of the mundane rural town and into the big city!

As mentioned before, the charm of this comedy is largely placed in some absolutely hilarious misunderstandings that come from Machi’s lack of knowledge in the outside world.  She’s constantly tested by Natsu and peers as to how she could live in the big city, and often this never comes across correctly.  It’s a special chemistry that also leads to some absolutely adorable and heartwarming moments as you see just how much the two care for each other, despite the situations they get into.

Three Leaves Three Colors
Sansha Sanyou
Streaming: Funimation

This series caught me completely off guard.  Something I brushed off in previews as a simple moe school show, ended up sweeping me up and having me laughing at every turn.

Three Leaves Three Colors follows a newly formed friendship of three school girls.  Futaba loves eating and has a positive attitude, Teru seems calm but has a sort of mischievous personality inside, and Youko is a once-rich girl who has a surprisingly humble heart.

Similarly to my love for Wakaba Girls a few seasons back, Three Leaves Three Colors excels at excellent chemistry, discovery, and heartwarming moments that catch you off guard.  Most of its hilarious moments are in that grey area that the girls walk between normal and the pleasantries of what Youko once had.  As Youko still has her once-caretakers still hanging around, mischief occurs that I just can’t help but laugh at.  Then there’s Teru’s dark side that catches me off guard… and her… sister who is like a walking adorable death that makes me smile!

Re: Zero – Starting Life in Another World
Re: Zero Kara Hajimeru Isekai Seikatsu
Streaming: Crunchyroll

So what?  It’s a trapped in a parallel fantasy world!  Just stick with me and I’ll tell you my reasoning on why Re:Zero is a top of the season.  Keep an open mind as we jump in.

Re: Zero follows a boy named Subaru who finds himself transported to an alternate reality that is based in fantasy.  While he tries to laugh off the prospect of being a trope in itself, he quickly finds the world he’s in is not so fun.  Being attacked by muggers, tracking down a thief, helping a love-at-first-sight, and also dying.. Wait.. yeah, he just died.

Joking aside earlier, Re:Zero has three very important elements that set itself aside from the catalog of “Trapped in a Fantasy” genre.  The first, and most important, is the element that Subaru can die and his death triggers a reset to a point in time.  This element, while seems like a gimmick, manages to help see each situation from different perspectives until it’s hopefully resolved.  The second is in the incredible cast of lovable characters.  They have unique flares about them, striking designs, and personalities that are explored over and over in different ways.  The third is in the shockingly dark side of it.  It explores the pain and anguish of death, the paranoia of who may be trying to kill you, and of course the utter frustration of people forgetting about you.. over.. and over again.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress
Koutetsujou no Kabaneri
Streaming: Amazon

I guess few would be shocked that this title is in here!  At first glance, Kabaneri is just “Attack on Titan with Trains,” but I’m here to tell you that claim is a significant insult to Kabaneri.  I thought Attack on Titan was a good show too.

Kabaneri of the Iron Fortress takes place in a world that has been overtaken by an infection that takes over humans and turns them into Kabane.  Kabane being best described as zombies meet vampires, only being killed by piercing their iron caged hearts or disabling by beheading.  They bite and turn humans into them, they are smart and can wield weapons as well as learn, and they crave blood.  In this world, mankind hides away in forts and travel by armor steam trains.

Kabaneri is an absolute blast from beginning to end, leaving me yelling for more at each episode’s conclusion.  It knocks so many elements of storytelling, animation, and action out of the park.  From the details in how the world functions, to the struggles of living in such a world, to the crafting of each character, and to the rate in which is pushes the characters forward.  It never dwells on things that don’t matter, which is exactly what you would expect to the situation they are in.  It’s just a perfect show, and I can’t recommend it enough.  Plus.. Sawano Hiroyuki juicing up the fight scenes with terrific vocal tracks just puts the icing all over the top of this Kabane Cake.

There you have it!  The top 5 anime titles of the Spring 2016 anime season.  While it won’t match everyone’s taste, and I’m sure many feel other titles fit the award better, this is my take and it’s something I loved sharing.  I hope you’ll find a gem in this list if you haven’t already seen them.  Of course, I’d also love to recommend Ushio and Tora 2, but that’s a bit more difficult to recommend as it’s on its second season.

All that said, what’s your picks for the Spring 2016 anime season?  Be sure to chime in below!

Co-Founder of and Co-Host of the OtakuSpirit Animecast. A huge fan of anime since the early 1990s, consuming over 1300 shows. Outside of Otaku Spirit, he has been a judge for the Anime Awards and aided in reviewing titles for some publishers. While he's late to the collecting scene, he's found a lot of joy in filling his DVD/Blu-ray collection as well as collecting figures. Sharing this joy, he posts unboxing and feature videos on anime goods to YouTube.