The Best Anime Of The Spring 2022 Season

(Welcome to I Didn't Know What Seasonal Anime to Watch, So I Asked Slashfilm for Help and They Gave Me a List, a regular column dedicated to helping choose what anime shows to watch each season.)

Another season of anime has come and gone. The spring 2022 season brought a record number of new shows, way too many for any one person to watch. There was romance in the air, new takes on sports anime that may make you want to go out and try a new sport, and plenty of surprising premieres that stood toe-to-toe with new seasons of fan-favorite shows.

With so many anime shows to choose from, it can be hard to decide where to even begin. Thankfully we, Adam and Rafael, are anime experts. So we collected our personal recommendations for shows that aired this spring season, ranging in topic and genre, from new shows to known favorites, and highly anticipated premieres. There is something here for everybody, even you.

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic-

What is left to be said about "Kaguya-sama: Love Is War"? This might very well be the best romantic comedy in all of anime, a battle of the sexes as two incredibly stubborn high school students play ridiculous mind-games with each other just to avoid confessing their crush to the other. The show has a rate of jokes per minute as high as "Airplane!" but with a sense of stakes and action worthy of the biggest action shonen.

Even three seasons in, the show remains as fresh, surprising, and compelling as in its first episode. With a bigger cast, some shocking stakes, a fantastic rap scene, an ending sequence based on "Starship Troopers," the show reaches new heights. Best yet is that we finally get an interrogation of our main characters, with the "war" of the title being channeled inwards to explore why exactly they are afraid to express themselves. This is a show as hilarious as it is exhilarating, as it is sweet and heartfelt. (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Spy x Family

Loid is a spy on a mission to avert a war between nations. Yor is an assassin who kills to pay the bills. Their adopted daughter Anya is a telepath, and the only one who knows their secrets. Together, they are "Spy x Family!"  Adapted from a popular comic available on Shounen Jump+, "Spy x Family" didn't have to do much to become the runaway hit of the spring. Just like the source material, the jokes fly fast and hit hard, and the action is impressive when it kicks into gear. It's a cute family sitcom that skewers nuclear families. Not to mention that Anya is iconic, a hilarious disaster child who rules the fanart world for a reason.

What I find most impressive about "Spy x Family" is that the staff were not content with simply adapting a very good comic series. Its best moments come when the show expands upon the original, merging chapters and inventing new material as necessary. A simple dodgeball tournament becomes a full-fledged parody of sports anime. A brief excursion to a castle in the comic is transformed by the animators into one of the most exhilarating set-pieces in the series. Fans of the manga may be frustrated that the first 12 episodes of the series adapts only three volumes of comics, leaving plenty of material to cover when the second half airs this fall. But if the show's detours maintain this level of quality, I would hope the staff take as much time as they need to tell this story properly. (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Love After World Domination

Did you ever watch one of the fight scenes in "Power Rangers," and right as the rangers fought the bad guys thought: "What if they fell in love?" Well, we've got the show for you. "Love After World Domination" imagines a world where the leader of a team of tokusatsu heroes falls in love with a villainess and they have to start a relationship in secret while punching each other in the face in public.

While romance-wise, this takes a more traditional approach than something like "Kaguya-sama," what makes "Love After World Domination" a delightful watch is the way it brings rom-com anime tropes like the first hand-holding, the first hilarious misunderstanding or the first jealous third-party trying to break them up and combines them with a "Super Sentai" world. The show features all the goofy fights, goofy minions, henchmen, and hero names you would expect from a tokusatsu show, and like "SSSS. Gridman," it plays them straight, while expanding on the more mundane aspects of the premise. With one of the protagonist being a villain, we see the day-to-day life of the minions and henchpeople as they live in an actual dorm while waiting for assignments, and have private lives just like the heroes. This show won't revolutionize the genre, but it is a rare example of a romance anime where the leads aren't insecure or running around in circles before embracing their feelings. By the first episode they are already dating, and their devotion to one another feels fresh and adorable. (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Birdie Wing -Golf Girls' Story-

"Birdie Wing" is a show about professional golf. You would think, "who cares?" Then our heroine Eve removes a rubber mask, "Mission Impossible" style, revealing her secret identity as an underground golfer who plays disreputable games to feed a family of immigrant kids. Shortly after, she uses her incredible golfing skills to hit a ball between the cars of a speeding train, where it deflects off the tines of a nearby rake to land right near the hole. "All I do," she says, "is hit the ball with a stick to make money." Her rival is Aoi, a young woman with a four foot driver and a custom golf ball branded with Pac-Man. Aoi is a prodigy, as strong as Eve but with greater technical finesse. Could Eve one day stand a chance against her?

There are plenty of anime sports series that embrace absurd fantasy. Kunimitsu Tezuka, a character from "The Prince of Tennis," famously hits a ball so hard that it leads to the extinction of the dinosaurs. But "Birdie Wing" gives us underground golf bases that rebuild themselves via console commands. "Birdie Wing" swings from hard boiled mafia thriller (with golf) to a parody of Class S-style melodrama à la "Dear Brother" (with golf). Even the smaller details of the series are wonderful and bizarre. "Birdie Wing" is set in the fictional country of Nafrece, from the forgotten 2004 anime "Madlax." The characters constantly banter about gunpla because the series is produced by Bandai Namco, who own "Gundam." If you're an anime novice, you might find yourself lost at sea. But if you're a dedicated fan of the subculture looking for something truly outrageous, you owe it to yourself to check out "Birdie Wing." "I'll pierce your heart," Eve says, "with my rainbow bullet!" (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Ya Boy Kongming!

The first thing you need to know to understand the kind of energy this show has is in its title, which is a much better localization of the Japanese "Party Person Kongming." The second thing you need to know is that this show has the single best anime opening since "Beastars," an absolute banger of an opening that is more energetic and intoxicating than a night out drinking an entire bottle of tequila by yourself while partying with your best friends. It's the type of song LMFAO dreams of making, a party anthem that makes you want to dance like it's the year 229.

What's more, in just a minute and a half, the opening highly effectively makes you want to party with its titular boy, Zhuge Liang, courtesy name Kongming. He was an actual historical figure from ancient China best known as a master tactician during the Three Kingdoms period akin to Sun Tzu. "Ya Boy Kongming!" imagines: What if when Kongming died suddenly of illness, he reincarnated in modern-day Shibuya, Japan, and decided to use his brilliant military tactics to help an amateur singer achieve stardom? This is not just a great show about a musician trying to be successful, but the joy is seeing Kongming use ancient strategies to fool everyone into doing exactly as he wants.

Though the show is quite funny and clever, "Ya Boy Kongming!" shines because of its impeccable taste in music. Not since "Carole & Tuesday" has an anime paid so much attention to producing great musical scenes, or producing as many bangers as this show. Likewise, both shows share a sincere belief in the healing power of music that is endearing to watch. Plus, that opening! Just watch it over and over! (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: HIDIVE


There are few anime genres as entertaining and compelling as sports anime. They can teach us about sports we never considered remotely interesting, and make us fall in love with the sport all while making us more invested and emotional over cartoon characters' journeys than actual, real people. This is to say, is it surprising that the best sports anime of the year is made by the studio that gave us "Haikyuu"?

"Aoashi" follows a soccer prodigy who moves from rural Japan to the big city in order to triumph as a pro player, because he thinks he is the reincarnation of Ronaldo (despite him being very much alive). Though its fluid and dynamic animation are sort of expected given the studio involved, where "Aoashi" shines is in its portrayal of the economic difficulties of trying to turn pro. We see how much of a burden the main character's dreams are on his family, and how much his social status prevents him from being on the same level as his peers, showing that sometimes talent is not enough to make it big.

With an affinity for the tactical aspect of soccer, the importance of formations, moves and strategies, "Aoashi" will give you a new appreciation for the sport whether you're a longtime fan or a newcomer simply interested in watching a group of boys being dudes while kicking a ball around a field. That the story seems to be focused on an individual's career path rather than a whole team's high-school games, means there will be even more room for the nuances of making a living as an athlete, and that is quite exciting. (Rafael Motamayor)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll

Healer Girl

The only force in anime more powerful than the power of friendship is the power of song. Singing in anime has been used to entertain the masses ("The iDOLM@STER"), bring peace between warring alien factions ("Macross") and fuel nonstop beatdowns (the "Symphogear" franchise). Not to mention anime openings, which as we all know are the force that sustains the universe. "Healer Girl" finds a unique angle on the anime musical, giving us a world where trained singers (or "healers") mend people's wounds and heal their spirits with song. Our heroines Kana, Hibiki and Reimi study under the talented healer Ria Karasuma to become great healers themselves. In the great tradition of iyashikei (or "healing") anime like "Aria: The Animation," each episode of "Healer Girl" is a chill time where the characters kick back, sing a few songs and make the world around them a better place to be.

Of course, animating characters to sing consistently and convincingly requires time and painstaking effort, which is why so many musical anime compromise with still images and simple metaphors. But "Healer Girl" is directed by Yasuhiro Irie, a talented animator in his own right who once shepherded "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood" to completion. Irie storyboarded every single episode of the series by himself, and he fought so that his small but tight-knit crew of animators had the time and resources to do the show justice. Many episodes of "Healer Girl" are solo key animation efforts, a rare exception in an era where an animator's idiosyncrasies are often stifled so that the episode airs on time. "Healer Girl" isn't perfect, but it's absolutely the kind of sustainable, artist-driven project the anime industry desperately needs. (Adam Wescott)

Streaming on: Crunchyroll