Asakusa, Kanamori, and Mizusaki surveying a landscape in Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Best Series to Watch on National Anime Day

If it's a holiday! Why don't we get the day off, huh?

Even if you’re not aware of it, every day is a holiday—and April 15 is National Anime Day. When you google “National Anime Day,” your first hit may be the wise words of National Today: “The reason for celebrating National Anime Day as an annual event on April 15 is that anime has grown in popularity over the past few decades,” which … sure. That’s technically correct. But if I may put it a little more emotionally, anime is an art form that involves legions of hardworking, talented people to collaborate in the interest of making something which resonates with people around the world—makes them feel seen, gives them a sense of community, fosters reflection on the nature of their world, helps them feel hope, and inspires them to envision a better future for themselves. I think that’s worth a holiday, no?

Recommended Videos

If you’re already an anime fan, you may opt to celebrate National Anime Day via the nostalgic route, where you revisit old favorites. But if you’re looking for new ideas, or you want to use National Anime Day as an entry point into the world of anime, here’s a few suggestions. In the interest of “watch-in-a-day” feasibility, I’ve narrowed my criteria down to series with no more than 12 episodes or which are currently airing.

Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!

Asakusa from the opening of Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken!
(Science SARU)

Honestly, I could stop this list of recommendations right here. I cannot think of a more perfect series to binge on National Anime Day than Keep Your Hands Off Eizouken! The series itself is a love letter to animation. It also happens to be phenomenal.

Eizouken centers around three high school girls wanting to make an animation club, and follows their struggles to create short films. The show brilliantly illustrates their creative process in an incredibly loving meta-commentary on the art form. Also, the “three girls” in question totally defy any kind of stock feminine stereotypes, and it’s directed by Masaaki Yuasa, who I’ve previously gone on record to say is wildly underrated.

Spy x Family

Image of Loid, Anya, and Yor Forger in a promo for Spy x Family
(Wit Studio / CloverWorks)

If you want to celebrate National Anime Day by getting on top of the newest trends in the genre, look no further than Spy x Family. The series had an impressive amount of hype swirling around it before it even premiered, and the debut episode was a strong indicator that the hype was worth it. Spy x Family is a clever, fresh, and hilarious take on the “cool male spy in the Cold War” genre, sapping the spy’s bravado and control by asking him to adopt a kid for a mission. Unbeknownst to him, the kid he picks can read minds. Oh, and the wife he finds is an assassin. The first episode premiered on April 9, with new episodes following every Saturday on Crunchyroll.

Puella Magi Madoka Magica

Screenshot of Madoka from Puella Magi Madoka Magica
(Shaft)

You may think the Magical Girl sub-genre of anime is overdone and predictable. Well, think again! Honestly, the less you know about Puella Magi Madoka Magica going in, the better. It initially checks all the boxes of a cute, innocent, fun Magical Girl anime, but it … diverges. The result is one of the most compelling 12-episode anime series ever made—or maybe anime series in general. The score also rules. Kalafina’s “Magia” theme in particular is a banger.

Yuri!!! On Ice

Yuri finishing his skate
(MAPPA)

Before MAPPA was handed Attack on Titan‘s final season to animate the everliving sh*t out of, they made their mark with Yuri!!! On Ice. If, like me, you’ve recently finished Our Flag Means Death and are looking for another series with another beautiful romance between beautiful men, Yuri!!! On Ice is for you. Yuri also distinguishes itself because, even though it’s technically a sports anime, all of its characters are heartwarmingly kind and encouraging of each other. Everything about Yuri!!! will make you feel incredibly lovely and warm, like maybe humanity isn’t so bad—the opposite of Attack on Titan.

Mononoke

Screenshot of the Medicine Seller from Mononoke
(Fuji TV)

If you want to seek out a series that will defy your expectations of what anime is “supposed” to look or act like, check out Mononoke. The series looks like a psychedelic ukiyo-e painting, in the best possible way. Mononoke follows a man simply known as The Medicine Seller, who pops up in the Meiji and Edo periods of Japan to execute evil spirits. It’s a fascinating, highly stylized take on an era of Japanese history not usually depicted in anime. Plus, one could categorize Mononoke as a horror anime, as it reaches rather grotesque and eerie spaces.

(featured image: Science SARU)


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Author
Kirsten Carey
Kirsten (she/her) is a contributing writer at the Mary Sue specializing in anime and gaming. In the last decade, she's also written for Channel Frederator (and its offshoots), Screen Rant, and more. In the other half of her professional life, she's also a musician, which includes leading a very weird rock band named Throwaway. When not talking about One Piece or The Legend of Zelda, she's talking about her cats, Momo and Jimbei.