#26. Tamako Love Story (2014, Kyoto Animation)
First introduced in the Tamako Market series, Tamako Kitashirakawa and her childhood friend Mochizou Ouji are both children of mochi makers. With their high school lives coming to an end, Mochizou decides that he should confess his feelings to Tamako before he heads off to study filmmaking in Tokyo.
How will she respond to his feelings? Tamako Love Story is a simple but sweet film that also encourages us not to be afraid of change.
#27. SSSS. Gridman (2018, Trigger)
SSSS.Gridman‘s quieter moments are just as enthralling as its energetic action scenes, if not more. The setting, a city surrounded by fog and immobile kaiju, feels simultaneously grounded yet surreal. Meanwhile, it’s not uncommon for the considered shots to give the show a slight avant-garde vibe.
I’m neither a fan of tokusatsu shows nor the original live-action series, but SSSS.Gridman‘s atmosphere and visual direction kept me engrossed. The strong character designs help too.
#28. Mawaru Penguindrum (2011, Brain’s Base)
Mawaru Penguindrum‘s plot follows twin brothers who are ordered to find an item called the Penguin Drum, for the sake of their sister’s life. There’s a good dose of comedy, bizarre events, and adorable penguins, with various metaphors and themes (that were often lost on me) as well.
It’s also an intriguing mystery-drama that gets increasingly serious. Complex, interconnected character histories slowly come to light, and a past event in the series draws parallels to the 1995 sarin attack.
#29. Symphogear AXZ (2017, Satelight)
The Symphogear series has always been playfully over-the-top and action-packed, and its penultimate season is a wonderfully delectable slice of action anime. This is a show where characters casually strap rockets to an oversized sword before launching it – and themselves – towards a giant monster.
All the while, they’re singing a J-pop song. AXZ’s ridiculous moments happen so naturally that it’s almost an art form, and its story is propelled by a satisfying sense of momentum.
#30. Wasteful Lives of High School Girls (2019, Passione)
With a character who’s nicknamed “Baka” (idiot) as the lead, this isn’t a show about plain high school girls. Wasteful Lives of High School Girls doesn’t hit its stride immediately, but when it does, it becomes an eccentric comedy that does a good job of filling the post-Asobi Asobase void.
Particularly enjoyable are the recurring consultations between chuunibyou Yamai (illness) and her increasingly exasperated but always deadpan homeroom teacher.