One last post about the spring season before I check out the rounds for summer shows and Anime Expo. While I hate ranking shows for overall taste, I do like taking a look back at some of the best moments that happened throughout each season.
The following moments are some of the great moments, but not necessarily the greatest moments of Spring 2016 anime. This is also narrowed down from a list of things that I watched during the season. You can find all of these and more on Crunchyroll.
And as always, there will be SPOILERS!
14. The Kokū Blade (Cerberus, ep. 10)
The wandering swordsman allegorically named Hīro (uhm… Hero?) is off to find his heart that lies in the chest of Dagon Zot. But before he can do that, he must first hone his skills before fighting again. Coming across Master Theo, Hīro trains to become a better swordsman using the “Kokū Blade.” For now, it is merely an invisible blade, and Hīro assumes that all he’s doing is thrusting at air. But when he does, Master Theo realizes a different kind of potential in him.
To no surprise, Hīro totally sucks as a swordsman; but his affinity for magical powers is off the charts! That sounds amazing, except that his magical potential is so great, simply controlling it could be very destructive! Hīro’s sword trainer and guardian Girū knows this well, and has done everything in his power to make sure that Hīro never learns of his dark, hidden powers. But even if Hīro learns to become a mage, I don’t think he would just be super happy about doing so. But for now, Hīro has one extra technique to help him fight.
13. About the Future (Joker, ep. 34)
Phantom Thief Joker is in for a big surprise when he and his friends are trapped in a box that is rapidly filling with sand and water. All of this was set up by an old sorcerer who believed that Joker’s lazy rival Akai Tsubasa would grant him immortality. As for Joker, the sorcerer blabbers on about how Joker’s future has already been sealed, and is pretty much out of options. Well… joke’s on them.
Like the many quips he has about life and treasure, Joker explains that no one is really certain of the future, and it is interesting because we don’t know! And for that matter, being immortal isn’t that great either because you still won’t have any future certainty about everything! For these reasons, Joker concludes that life is a treasure because there is never a certainty of when it will be lost in the future.
Spoken like a true existentialist, Joker. Now to make a miraculous escape!
12. Kyōka, Killer of 35 (Bungō Stray Dogs, ep. 8)
Kyōka is one of the most dangerous members of Port Mafia, and even reminds everyone just how many people she has killed with her abilities. But when Atsushi tries to save her, her deadly persona goes by a different tune.
While it is assumed that everyone else on this train was safe, Kyōka still had a bomb strapped to her chest. Atsushi tries to help her take it off, when she pushes him away. Standing before the blown up part of the car, Kyōka introduces herself again:
“My name is Kyōka. I killed 35 people. I don’t want to kill anyone else!”
Whenever Kyōka gives you her body count, she’s not trying to intimidate you. She’s trying not to forget every person that she was forced to kill with that power of hers. And if nothing else, she is willing to die before she will be forced to kill again.
11. A Joy Ride on a Sanma (Bakuon!!, ep. 6)
Onsa needs another bike for an upcoming race, so her father introduces her to an old, legacy model: the Yamaha TZR250, or “Sanma.” The motorcycle was a racing nightmare for maintenance crews, and has been retired since 1996. Onsa was disappointed in her dad’s choice in a new racer, but once she hit 7000 revs, her opinion of it changed rather quickly.
What may be a slow racer at first, the Sanma rapidly picks up acceleration at higher speeds. And since maintenance techniques have improved in the 20 years since its retirement, something with a two-stroke engine like the Sanma may still have an edge as a competitor in future races.
What Onsa learned that day was more than just an appreciation for motorcycles of an older generation. She learned that allegedly failed products still have relevance today, rather than simply be cast aside for something else. But most of all, she learned the joy of riding a Sanma. And that’s something that no words on my blog can possibly reproduce.
10. Stopping the Rain (Anne Happy, ep. 7)
Hanako caught a fever and missed a lot of class. In the meantime, the girls of the Happiness Class were given a task to write about their wishes over the weekend. Concerned about Hanako’s health, they managed to visit her when a rain storm passed by. The girls made teru teru bōzus in hopes that the rain would stop.
When the storm let up, the girls returned to school, and Hanako also felt better. But when it came time to turn in their wish assignment, they regretted that they had not worked on it all weekend. However, upon seeing the results of their weekend project, Kodaira-sensei let them all go, because they did something else with their wishes.
“No matter how small a wish is, if all you do is wait for it to come true, nothing will change. You need to take the first step toward making your wish come true. That is the key to someday achieving happiness.”
Wishes can come true only if you work at making them happen. Instead of waiting, these girls did something about their wishes: to make the rain stop and for Hanako to get well. Maybe it was not in their control, but they still did what they could to make their wishes come true.
9. Saving Lard City (Tonkatsu DJ Agetarō, ep. 12)
Lard City was an event that DJ Oily put on in order to bring attention to Tonkatsu DJ Agetarō and other young DJs. However, the crowd grew tired as the night went on, and the other DJs were arriving late. How can they possibly save the event now?
Once Amakala arrived, Agetarō switched out of being a DJ and put his other skill to work: being a short-order cook! And with enough supplies he and his entourage could find in the middle of the night, Agetarō managed to whip up lots of bowls of pork soup!
Ah, that hit the spot! The guests felt warm and rejuvenated from that winter night. Now let’s keep this party going!
8. Biting into a Fresh Radish (Flying Witch, ep. 9)
The radishes that the Kuramoto family has been growing were ready to be picked, so Makoto, Chinatsu, and Nao helped pick them. Once they were all rinsed, the three of them plus Kei decided to take a break and bite out of one of these radishes apiece.
Okay, I may be one of those crazy people who actually thinks taking a bite out of a raw radish is refreshing (by the way, it totally is), and based on their reactions, this should have been on my funnies list. But what I liked about this entire scene was just how down to earth it is. Gathering around a table, eating with your friends, and that sensational “crunch” from each one of them as they bit into those vibrant vegetables. Ooh! Now I want a radish!
7. Subaru’s True Feelings (Re: Zero – Starting Life in Another World, ep. 13)
Leading into the upcoming season, Subaru woke up from being beaten down by one of the knights, only to find himself in bed with Emilia by his side. Emilia had been worried sick about him, even though she didn’t understand why Subaru would even get in a fight with a knight in the first place. Subaru wants to tell her exactly why he is so hell bent on protecting her, but since he’s under a curse, all he can muster is saying something to the effect that she is special to him.
Disheartened by his response, Emilia snaps back at him, believing that somehow Subaru was different. She believed that Subaru would treat her like he would anyone else, not just as a princess or a half-elf, but an equal. Frustrated even further, Subaru fights his own curse and finally tells her the truth about how he envisions her, perhaps even subtly giving her knowledge of things he had learned in previous scenarios before he had died multiple times: information that would have been taboo for him to tell anyone otherwise.
But what Subaru is saying ultimately sounds exactly like what Emilia didn’t want to hear from him, that she was somehow different. And with that, Emilia turns away, asking never to see him again.
Damn. This whole scene hurt more than any death that Subaru had faced since the beginning of this anime.
6. Meeting with Mom (Ushio and Tora, ep. 32)
Sumako Aotsuki is Ushio’s mother. But because she was chosen as the current protector of the Hakumen barrier where Japan’s keystone lay, she had been forced to work under the demon while humans and yōkai alike think of her as a bitch. Having to contend with mixed feelings about her since he began his journey, Ushio finally got a chance to go to the keystone to see her.
Words alone cannot describe what could have possibly went through Ushio’s head in that moment, nor Sumako’s for that matter. For 15 years, Sumako never got a chance to see her baby boy after birthing him, and Ushio never really knew his mother in that time. But here they are, seeing each other as they are now, for the first time.
Maybe Sumako is a terrible person. Maybe she didn’t have a choice in protecting the most hated demon ever. But if there is anything we know about her at this point, she is a loving mother. And she is proud to see that her baby boy has grown so well.
5. “That’s My Brother?” (Twin Star Exorcists, ep. 9)
Benio Adashino had a big brother whom she always looked up to as an exorcist. Unfortunately, he had passed away a long time ago. By contrast, Rokuro Enmadō had a friend from his younger days as an exorcist, Yūto Ijika, whom Rokuro remembers as the sole perpetrator who killed all of their classmates in an experiment that turned them all into Kedaruge. Yūto was assumed to be dead as well, but what if I told you that he was alive? And what if I told you that Benio’s brother and Rokuro’s archenemy are the same person?
Upon meeting Yūto once again, Rokuro instantly fights him at full strength. But in the middle of his most powerful strike, Benio jumps in to block him and takes the damage instead! Maybe you’re thinking that she’s in denial that that other guy is her brother. Maybe she’s still surprised that he’s even alive. But the way I see it, what Benio does in this scene is to push back everyone from whatever the hell is going on! She’s confused. She needs time to think through all of this. She needs everyone to shut the fuck up to sort out everything!
Yūto is Benio’s big brother. And he is also an enemy to Rokuro and anyone else in their circle of exorcists. Now the question is, what are Benio and Rokuro going to do now that they know?
4. Mitsumune and Tokimune (The Lost Village, ep. 9)
At this point in the series, we know that whatever monster or noise that people hear in Nanaki Village are things that only they can perceive. For Mitsumune, his internal monster is a giant, demon-like penguin that he associates with his twin brother, Tokimune. However, Tokimune died years ago, and Mitsumune carries with him the trauma that he had to make up for both of them as he alone grew up.
Earlier in this scene, we find Mitsumune and the giant Tokimune monster fighting each other. But as the two plunge over a cliff, the two are drawn to something else instead. As we see in this shot, “Tokimune” is no longer a giant, and Mitsumune and Tokimune are no longer fighting. They are walking side by side, like friends.
We never get a chance to see it, but Tokimune is Mitsumune’s “Nanaki,” a remnant of his past trauma that manifests itself in this mysterious place as a monster that refuses to be forgotten. It is representative of the trauma that Mitsumune fears, and perhaps never wants to see ever again. But to me, what happens in this scene is more than just an understanding of his innermost fear.
That Tokimune has been a part of Mitsumune’s journey all along, and he’s not going away any time soon. If Mitsumune forgets that part of his memory, he loses a part of himself. As the two cross this river, I think it’s safe to say that Mitsumune was starting to accept and understand his traumatic past, and the reason he wanted to escape to Nanaki village in the first place. Mitsumune found his way out.
3. Spy vs Spy (Joker Game, ep. 9)
With war on its way and conflicts of interest at hand, there seem to be two spy agencies in Japan. The one we’ve been following is the civilian-based D-Agency. But recently, another espionage group made up of soldier has cropped up, calling themselves Wind Agency. Wind agency serves directly under the dominant militaristic regime. And their goal is to take down D-Agency as the most trusted spy organization on this show (heh).
Wind Agency had suspicions to believe that the politician Shirahata was conspiring against military interests, rejecting imperialism. What they found was true, and they were planning to do everything in their power to eliminate him. Wind Agency act on bushidō principles, and are not hesitant to kill or be killed at any moment.
But D-Agency acts on truth. And based on their intel, they can’t let Wind Agency have their way either. In a twist of events, D-Agency’s chief Lt. Yūki spells out the difference between them, and why Wind Agency fails to be worthy of anything espionage. Shirahata had already known that Wind Agency was tailing him, and already ensured that he could not be followed further. But it wasn’t D-Agency who let him know about any assassination plans, but the ladies who worked at the inn where he was staying instead: the in-house spies, if you will.
Wind Agency’s job is to gather, destroy, or misdirect any information in the interest of the Japanese government: the military. You may say that D-Agency is technically doing the same thing. But remember that D-Agency is civilian-based. They may also gather, destroy, or misdirect information, but they have a different understanding of interest in the Japanese government: the people.
2. Satoru, the Human (Kagewani II, ep. 7)
An agent of the Sarugaki Corporation is out to find and eliminate the specimen that we know of as Satoru. She finds him hiding away in a cabin in the snowy mountains. Thanking him for his hospitality, she gives him a chocolate that was meant to sedate him. As Satoru goes to sleep, the agent is close to finishing her job, when another beast charges in and attacks them both! Without any hope left, the agent assumes that she was going to die right there, when Satoru wakes up and fights the monster to his own death!
If you recall from Kagewani‘s first season, Satoru is the quiet plant monster who is responsible for killing two teenage delinquents (who really didn’t deserve their punishment), and aided in the kagewani’s escape from the Sarugaki lab facility. We basically knew him as a monster! But in these final moments, Satoru is happy to know that someone was willing to treat him different: as a human being.
Upon being rescued, Kimura asks the agent what she had observed in Satoru at that moment. She sincerely replied that he was more human than she ever was.
Rest in peace, Satoru. And may you be remembered as who you are: a human.
1. Honoka’s Smile (Kiznaiver, ep. 7)
As the most distant member of the group, Honoka Maki never wanted to associate with anyone else involved in the Kizna system experiment. No one really understood why, and any attempts at making her feel better about it only made matters worse! And deep down, it was because she feared being close to anyone else. After all, she felt most responsible for the death of her closest friend Ruru, who died just after they published the final chapter of the joint manga they had been working on.
I have my pains, my terrifying past memories, and there are times when I don’t want to deal with anyone else’s problems, because I haven’t even sorted out my own. Anyone who has tried to relieve those pains only makes matters worse, and there are times when it feels like only I can find relief from them. To some fans, seeing Honoka smile may be a sign of relief that they might connect with her, as the other kiznaivers can. But for me, I’ve already seen myself through Honoka, and I believe that it is important for Honoka to smile for only one person: herself.
Honoka never read the last chapter of her joint manga with Ruru, since she had a falling out with her and never edited the writing for it. But when she got a chance to see what Ruru had written, those words on the page spoke to her more than anyone else could.
Pain is a strong indicator of feelings in Kiznaiver, but in this moment, Honoka and the others experienced its opposite. As Honoka cracks her first smile in this series, she has a change of heart in how she sees her friends.
“I cannot be friends with you after all. I think we’re fine just as kiznaivers. We share our pain, we share our hearts, and that makes us closer than friends or lovers.”
Cheesy at it may be, Honoka expresses the true meaning of Kizuna, the Japanese word for the bonds we share with others. We don’t have to have the same feelings. We are not obligated to share them. But if we are to understand each other, then the bonds we share are strong enough to help us get through anything. And that kizuna is not easily be broken.