In the US, over 30 new anime have premiered in Spring 2019 on across the major anime streaming services–Crunchyroll, Funimation, Hidive, Netflix, Hulu, and VRV. That's quite a lot, and we totally understand it's more than a little daunting to commit to watching nearly three dozen shows just to figure out which one or two are worth watching. To help, we've highlighted the eight must-watch series that currently stand above the rest. They are listed below, along with links to where you can find them.
Spring 2019 continues several winter anime as well (such as The Rising of the Shield Hero), but for the purposes of this guide, we're only promoting series that premiered in April. As a reminder, the Spring 2019 season just started. So, for now anyway, this guide does not point to the anime we think are definitely the best for the season, just those that show the most promise.
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu No Yaiba
I have little doubt that Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba will end up being the most watched series of Spring 2019. Not because I think it's the best this season, but because Demon Slayer does an excellent job fulfilling a void for anyone waiting on My Hero Academia Season 4. However, Demon Slayer has plenty to offer other than being based on an excellent Weekly Shonen Jump manga–especially in terms of its animation, voice acting, and story.
Demon Slayer sees Tanjirō, the eldest son of a charcoal seller, arrive home one day to find his mother and four youngest siblings brutally slaughtered. Only his eldest younger sister, Nezuko, remains alive and she's barely breathing. Upon awakening, however, Nezuko grows fangs and talons, and her muscles nearly triple in size as she forces her older brother down and tries to eat him. Tanjirō is saved by a demon slayer, before being told by his savior that his sister has transformed into one of the monsters he now hunts. Despite this, Tanjirō protects Nezuko from being killed, vowing to help her keep a handle on her demonic impulses until he can find a way to make her human again.
Fairy Gone manages a fairly large expositional dump right at its start, but, thankfully, this anime doesn't waste too much of its first episode on world-building–finishing up with introductions of its compelling main cast and a taste of the show's explosive combat. Episode one earns brownie points for using CG for the fairies too. It makes them seem otherworldly in comparison to the drawn characters and backgrounds.
An original anime that's not based on any preexisting literature or media, Fairy Gone takes place in a fantasy world where the War of Unification saw the rise of fairy soldiers, men and women bonded with fairies who can summon their magical partners in battle. After the war, society no longer needs the fairy soldiers, though. Some, like Veronica, turn to crime, while others, like Free, join a governmental task force charged with hunting down said criminals. When Veronica's childhood friend, Marlya, becomes bonded to an exceptionally powerful fairy and accidentally uses it illegally in public, she's given a choice: go to jail or join with Free in hunting down Veronica and similar criminals.
We Never Learn: Bokuben
We Never Learn: Bokuben stars Yuiga, a third-year high school student trying to obtain a scholarship that will allow his financially poor family to afford sending him to college. One day, he's told the scholarship is his, but only if he tutors the school's two notable geniuses–brilliant writer Furuhashi and mathematical prodigy Ogata–and successfully helps them get into the colleges of their choice. There's only one problem, Furuhashi wants to study physics and Ogata is only interested in liberal arts, and neither can get passing scores in the subjects they don't excel in. Things don't get any easier when Takemoto–a gifted athlete who struggles with schoolwork and has a secret crush on Yuiga–joins the study group.
This anime largely works because Yuiga is a relatable dude. He isn't special, and solely gets good grades because he does his homework and studies hard. He treats his female peers with respect and consciously keeps things professional by drawing a line between them as tutor and pupil. He's an intelligent and nice person, which doesn't sound like all that much, but it's a breath of fresh air in comparison to basically every other harem anime protagonist ever.
Hitoribocchi No Marumaruseikatsu
Hitoribocchi no Marumaruseikatsu is easy to love with its cute visuals, nonstop humor, and charming cast. Main character Hitori is incredibly shy–so much so that she's only ever had one friend. However, when said childhood friend learns the two of them will be attending different middle schools, she gives Hitori an ultimatum: befriend everyone in her new class or the two can't be friends anymore. It's a cruel promise, but it's one Hitori's friend seemingly doesn't make lightly. And it does work, as it pushes Hitori to try and befriend her new peers, even though she's terrified.
The show is clearly designed to be more cute than a deep dive into the hardships of overcoming shyness, but that doesn't mean the anime can't be both. It's those moments in the first few episodes–when the show uses its cutesy humor to help you better understand the sheer discomfort an anxious person can feel when thrust into a new environment–that make this anime feel like it could end up being truly special.
Alright fellas, I'm sure there's plenty of you who've heard of Fruits Basket before, and how the original 2001 anime is a cutesy story solely designed for and only enjoyed by women. That's complete and utter nonsense, and even more so in regards to the new reboot airing this season, which seemingly ditches a lot of the original anime's cute fluff for the original manga's more emotional tale. Fruits Basket may have been written with a female audience in mind, but its story of self-reliance, exclusion, and perseverance is one that everyone should experience.
Fruits Basket is the story of the high school life of Tohru, a 16-year-old girl whose single mother dies in an accident. Not wanting to be a bother to extended family or friends, she gets a job and lives in a tent–only to discover she's made camp on the land of the Soma family. Upon befriending the family, she is invited to live with them, only to learn the Somas suffer a rather peculiar curse. Twelve members of the family are possessed by the spirits of the Chinese zodiac–with a thirteenth possessed by the cat spirit who didn't make the cut–and they transform into their zodiac animal whenever they are stressed or held by a member of the opposite sex.
The protagonists of sports anime are almost always concerned with winning or being the best, so it's refreshing to see a series start out with the characters more concerned with just having fun. Not to discount other recent sports anime, but it's sometimes a little too mentally taxing to tune in every week and stress about whether or not the heroes are going to succeed. I still want to see the Cinderella Nine girls improve over time, but the first two episodes of the anime make it clear that this show is more about using baseball as an avenue for emotional and mental growth, not achieving victory.
In Cinderella Nine, Arihara founds a baseball club at her new school after learning none exists. She's immediately joined by her best friend, and the two soon recruit two more girls: neither of whom have played baseball before. Arihara doesn't care though, simply happy the newcomers are curious about the sport. Watching the new girls learn to play and leave their first practice feeling better about themselves is one of the most wholesome things I've seen this season.
Where to watch: Netflix
You don't actually need to know the story of the original Ultraman to enjoy this sequel, as the important points from the original series are briefly outlined right at the start. Netflix's Ultraman picks up years afterwards, as Shin Hayata–the original Ultraman long past his prime–discovers his enhanced strength, speed, and durability has been passed down to his son, Shinjiro. When a new alien menace threatens the Earth, Shinjiro inherits his father's mantle as well, becoming the new Ultraman.
Ultraman has a lot more nuance when it comes to the definition of a superhero in comparison to its predecessor. It makes sense, given the popularity of certain characters in the superhero genre post 1960s that have redefined the qualities an ideal hero should have. Being a hero means a lot more than beating up bad guys, and Ultraman focuses most of its season exploring Shinjiro's growth as a masked crimefighter. It's a shame many of the action scenes can't keep pace with the actual storytelling, but there's still quite a few cool-looking moments and nice callbacks to the original show.
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds Of Life
I know next to nothing about the koto–a Japanese stringed musical instrument–but it absolutely does not matter. For Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life, the instrument is merely the tool bringing the incredibly fleshed out cast together. The characters that make up that cast, and the growth they undergo, make this one of the most compelling anime series of the season. There's nothing else this spring I'm looking forward to watching more.
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life focuses on Kurata, the sole member of the Koto Club at his school. He's mercilessly bullied, until he is saved from his tormentors by a known delinquent named Kudō, who demands to join the Koto Club. Thinking he's being tricked into exchanging one set of bullies for another, Kurata initially refuses. However, upon learning Kudō's backstory, Kurata realizes he's misjudged his loud-mouthed peer and decides to trust him. Soon, other students join the Koto Club as well–each for their own reasons–and they all work together to grow as both musicians and people.