As we start April so does a new season of anime begin, with this one slated to have over 40 shows airing in Japan. So to help cut through the information overload, we’ve culled the new season down to seven series that should appeal both to anime fans and to newcomers. Most of these shows are available for viewing internationally a day after they air in Japan, thanks to streaming services like Crunchyroll, Funimation, Netflix, and Amazon.
If you like superhero action and satire
One-Punch Man (Season 2)
Saitama is the most powerful superhero in the world, able to defeat anything or anyone with a single punch, but nobody knows who he is. When he’s not being a superhero for fun, he spends most days alone in his apartment, planning for the next sale at the market. Eventually, he’s coaxed into joining the Superhero Association, and given the lowest ranking, despite some of the most powerful S-ranked heroes recognizing his strength.
The first season of One-Punch Man aired in 2015, and it’s a showpiece of how good Japanese animation could be. It adapts ONE’s earnest, satirical manga, along with the spectacular art of Yusuke Murata digital-comics adaptation, into an animated tour de force of animated action and comedy. This new season has a lot to live up to, especially since it’s being animated by a different studio, with a different director at the helm.
Season 2 of One-Punch Man will stream on Hulu starting April 9th.
If you like the idea of supernatural samurai action
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
This series is set in Japan, seemingly in the late 19th to early 20th century, when the rural areas were still very agrarian and the cities were becoming more modern. Thirteen-year-old Tanjiro lives with his family in a very rural part of the country, making money for them by selling charcoal. One day, he returns home to find that his family has been killed by demons, except for his younger sister Nezuko, who is turning into one. Tanjiro sets off on a journey with his sister to find a way to turn her back into a human, and to protect her from demon hunters.
Demon Slayer’s original manga, which runs in Weekly Shonen Jump, is a good action series, but it’s more interested in the characters than in action spectacle, especially as Tanjiro starts to see more of the world, and how the people they encounter react to his sister. The series is being animated by Ufotable, which lately has been making shows based on the Fate series. Those tend to have huge, beautiful action set pieces. But the group also animated Today’s Menu at the Emiya Family, which showed it could put that animation talent to use in smaller character and cooking moments. This combination of Demon Slayer with Ufotable is a surprise, but a potentially welcome one.
If you like the idea of a sci-fi drama about music, or Cowboy Bebop
Carole & Tuesday
Carole & Tuesday is set on Mars, 50 years after humans began migrating there. Carole, a young girl barely getting by as a part-time musician, encounters by chance Tuesday, a rich girl who dreams of being a musician. The two come together to sing and make music in a world where culture is predominantly created by AIs.
Carole & Tuesday is the newest show from acclaimed director Shinichro Watanabe (Cowboy Bebop, Samurai Champloo), who is clearly leaning into his love of music, but not just in the story. After a global audition, they cast two English language vocalists for the singing voices of Carole and Tuesday, Nai Br.XX and Celeina Ann respectively. The series’ background music is being composed by Canadian artist Mocky, along with eight more international artists providing soundtrack music. Also notably, the series is being animated at Bones, which has been producing some of the best animation over the past few years, between My Hero Academia and the second season of Mob Psycho 100, which aired this past winter.
Carole & Tuesday starts airing April 10th. It will stream weekly on Netflix in Japan, but likely won’t be available to stream elsewhere until sometime in the summer.
If you like romance, drama, comedy, and cute animals
Tohru is a high school student who moved in with her grandfather after her mother died, but later moved out to try and support herself. She ends up finding a new home as the housekeeper in the Soma family home, where her popular classmate, Yuki, lives with his older cousin Shigure. When Yuki’s cousin Kyo suddenly appears and attacks him, Tohru learns about the secret curse of the Soma family, which causes those afflicted to magically change into animals from the Chinese zodiac when hugged by someone of the opposite sex.
This is the second anime adaptation of the original Fruits Basket manga, which first premiered in 2001, but since the manga ran from 1998 to 2006, the first adaptation didn’t encompass the whole story. Even so, it’s become a classic of romance anime. This new series seems like it will tell the whole story, with promo material already calling this a first season, rather than a standalone. It’s also important to note that this new adaptation is being animated by TMS Entertainment, which did amazing work last year with Lupin the Third: Part 5 and Megalo Box. It’s also being written by Taku Kishimoto, who has a great track record, having written the adaptations of Haikyu!!, Erased, and 91 Days.
If you like action, political drama, and body horror
Attack on Titan 3 (Part 2)
On an alternate version of Earth, humanity has retreated behind three tiers of 160-foot-high walls to protect themselves from giant humanoid monsters called Titans. These creatures don’t seem to be sentient and appear to exist only to kill and eat humans. For over a century, humanity lived this way, protected by the walls — until a 200-foot-tall Titan broke a hole in them. The series follows protagonists Mikasa and Eren, as well as the other new recruits of the Survey Corps, as they work to stop the newly adapted Titan invasion.
The first part of season 3, which ran in summer 2018, shifts the focus of the show from what’s going on with the Titans outside the walls to what’s going on with the people at the center of human society. It starts to reveal some of how the walls were made so quickly, and how humans adapted to living within them. It also wrapped on a huge surprise cliffhanger, buried in the last episode’s end credits. So hopefully the second half of the season manages to live up to that surprise.
If you liked Aggretsuko, but maybe wanted something a little more chill
Rilakkuma and Kaoru
Kaoru is a stressed, single, twenty-something office lady who lives alone, until the giant stuffed bear Rilakkuma, and their smaller companion Korilakkuma (also a stuffed bear) move in. The two of them, along with Kaoru’s pet bird Kiiroitori, try to show her how to live a more relaxing life.
Rilakkuma is one of the most popular characters created by San-X, a Japanese stationery company. It shouldn’t be confused with Sanrio, the Japanese-character merchandise company. The series is being written by Japanese film director Naoko Ogigami, and animated by France’s Dwarf Animation Studio, which is known for stop-motion animation (including the ending animations for both Mr. Osomatsu series) and the founder-created mascot Domo-kun.
All the episodes of Rilakkuma and Kaoru will hit Netflix on April 14th subtitled and dubbed.
If you like avant-garde animation or queer themes
In the Asakusa district of Tokyo, three middle school boys encounter a strange creature claiming to be the heir to the Kappa Kingdom — kappas being humanoid turtle-like imps or demons. He turns the boys into kappas by taking a mythical organ from their bodies, called a shirikodama. He offers to return them to being human, in exchange for the shirikodamas of zombies.
While that premise sounds odd, and the trailer looks even stranger, the series is an interesting collaboration between writer-director Kunihiko Ikuhara, who directed the original Sailor Moon anime and Revolutionary Girl Utena, and animation studio MAPPA, which has recently been one of the top animation studios, producing shows like Yuri!!! On Ice, Zombie Land Saga, and Dororo. From the trailer, it’s clear this show will use Ikuhara’s unique design aesthetic, and could potentially some of MAPPA’s best animation work.
Sarazanmai starts April 11th, and will stream subtitled on Crunchyroll.