Princess Principal

Face it—August is for binging anime. You might think you have bigger plans. But, no. You’re going to be curled up with your AC and a glass of lemonade, watching lots of anime.

Luckily, this summer boasts some high-quality goods. Sorry—none of them are on Crunchyroll. After picking through dozens of seasonal anime offerings, I’ve got some top choices for Kotaku readers:

Made In Abyss

Genre: Fantasy

Studio: Kinema Citrus

Where to Watch: Amazon’s Anime Strike, Hidive (outside US)

Plot: Cave Raiders search for artifacts by diving into the Abyss, a mysterious pit that a city developed around. Riko aspires to follow in her mother’s footsteps by becoming one of the most daring and accomplished cave-divers, going deeper than anyone else—but the deeper divers go, the more they risk contracting a curse.

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Why Watch It? Its fantasy world is reminiscent of Nausicaa’s or Castle in the Sky—full of whimsical magical beasts and awe-inspiring panoramas. Its characters are lovable, flawed and fun, so the show doesn’t take itself too seriously.

Princess Principal

Genre: Action, mystery

Studio: Studio 3Hz/Actas

Where to Watch: Amazon’s Anime Strike, Hidive (outside US), AnimeLab (AUS/NZ)

Plot: A group of girl spies enrolled in the prestigious Queens May Fair School deceive and murder key figures in 19th century London.

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Why Watch It? The soundtrack is jazzy madness. Its animation is pure beauty. It’s full of sharp writing, surprises and edge-of-your-seat intrigue.

Kakegurui: Compulsive Gambler

Genre: Sports, psychological

Studio: Mappa

Where to Watch: Netflix Japan

Plot: High-stakes gambling is a tradition at the Hyakkaou Private Academy, where spoiled rich kids engage in million-Yen bets on the daily. When an innocuous transfer student, who gets high off the thrill of the sport, shakes up the social hierarchy, the school’s student council members go after her.

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Why Watch It? The gambling sequences are thrilling. The animation—it is Mappa—is deranged in the best way. It’s a manic, crazy show about gambling—what’s not to like?

Welcome to the Ballroom

Genre: Slice of life, comedy

Studio: Production I.G.

Where to Watch: Amazon’s Anime Strike

Plot: A slouching, no-ambition kid stumbles upon a ballroom dancing class, where he meets a dazzling professional dancer. He gets swept up in the romance of the sport—and its athletes- as his desire to improve escalates.

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Why Watch It? Welcome to the Ballroom is easy to watch. It’s got great pacing and fun, surprising characters who convincingly make ballroom dancing seem really awesome. The dancing sequences’ animation is striking, but even at rest, the show’s got a very keen, cartoon-y aesthetic that feels fresh.

Tolerable recommendations:
Dive!!, Convenience Store Boy Friends, Elegant Yokai Apartment Life, 18if, Clean Freak! Aoyama Kun