Picture via Crunchyroll
April 15 is National Anime Dayand you know what that means.
A day filled with lore and lore, some say its origins lie in the annals of popcorn-flavored counters of yore, while others suggest it was Hayao Miyazaki himself who programmed the annual event in our calendar apps. Some celebrate by posting fan art, AMVs, and fanfics to the timeline, while reformed webs observe the holidays by dusting their shelves with counterfeit VHS fansubs.
Subs or dubs, shonen or shojo, filler or, well, you get it, National Anime Day is a time for all of us to come together and watch our anime in peace (or not, and a bunch of fast food brands will just tweet about anime for the first time in 365 days as we all continue to collectively love Anya).
Either way, here are our favorite shows to get into the anime spirit on National Anime Day.
Based on the light novel series by Kotoko Ayano, Kyoto Animation’s Tsurune is a sports anime that trades physique for courage. Named after the sound a bow makes when plucked, the series follows the boys of a high school archery team who are more concerned with overcoming the mental challenges of anxiety and motivation. than physical feats. Released in 2018, Tsurune is the directorial debut of Takuya Yamamura, the studio’s key feature animator Liz and the Bluebird and A silent voicedirector of episodes on series like His! Euphonium and Violet Evergardenand a key animator on most of the studio’s series since K-On!. Extend this line, Tusurune iterates on KyoAni’s signature blend of high school slice-of-life and unconventional sports anime in a beautiful and moving 14-episode season.
Tsurune is available to stream on Crunchyroll.
About anime about X thing you didn’t know could be so dramatic, there’s even anime about anime. PA Works and director Tsutomu Mizushima Shirobako follows four women navigating the beginning of their careers through various areas of the Japanese anime industry. The protagonist, Aoi, is a production assistant at a studio struggling to complete production on a magical girl anime, while her friends from the high school anime club work alongside her in voice acting and animation. It’s somewhat informative, very comedic, and a bit romantic, to say the least, but there’s nothing quite like watching how an entire anime within an anime comes to life from dysfunction very human from a group of overworked fans-turned-professionals who all feel overwhelmed.
Shirobako is available on home video via Sentai Filmworks.
Heike’s story is the embodiment of synergy. The series pushed what serialized animation can do as Naoko Yamada, the young director behind K-On!, A silent voice, and more, left his longtime residency with Kyoto Animation to direct a one-off adaptation of a historical epic to legendary director Masaaki Yuasa Science SARU. She is joined by her longtime collaborators, veteran screenwriter Reiko Yoshida and rising composer Kensuke Ushio. Combined with the artistic strength of the Science SARU animators, Heike’s story unfolds like the delicate flowers that Yamada loves to speak so much to tell an epic story about real people, the women of Japan’s history, and how we tell their stories.
Heike’s story is available to stream on Funimation.
Ranking of kings
If you haven’t watched Ranking of kings however, do it. Not for me, but for Bojji – the undisputed best boy in anime (even Crunchyroll said so). Bojji is the best, the biggest, but not everyone knows that. As a deaf and unimpressive young prince, Bojji finds himself the central pawn in a game of 4D chess to save his kingdom from power-hungry witches, evil gods, and a parade of goofy kings. With perseverance and friendship, Bojji conquers throughout two sets of episodes that could all be titled “Oops All Sakugo” for their breathtaking spectacle of unique and emotional animation from start to finish. Ranking of kings is impressive in a way that deserves the title of a modern classic, and we’ll be screaming at everyone to watch it until we can’t even call it modern anymore.
Heike’s story is available to stream on Crunchyroll.