Three anime this spring season are pulling out all the hip-hop stops with rap battles! Each of these three series recognizes rap as an art form that allows for passionate expression from the heart for feelings that might otherwise be impossible to put into words.
From the adorable to the excitable to the inimitable, here are three rap battles from this spring season that shouldn't be missed.
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai
Aharen-san wa Hakareni has the most wholesome rap battle you’ll ever witness. Aharen and Raido are friends, but Raido sometimes has trouble understanding his soft-spoken classmate when she wants to tell him something important. In the fourth episode of the soft slice-of-life series, Aharen discovers rap at a local music store. The next day, she pulls a mic from her school bag and flawlessly drops some rhymes, to Raido’s astonishment (and admiration). He realizes the catchy music might be just what they need to communicate better.
“For someone like Aharen-san who has so much trouble finding her voice,” he thinks, “this might be perfect!”
Raido picks up a mic himself, and yes, their rapping is perfect. Perfectly hilarious. Aharen seems to be a natural with her own gentle flow. After some practice, Raido rises to Aharen’s challenge in a delicious freestyle rap battle… about lunch.
Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic-
You never know what’s going to happen next in the wonderfully unpredictable Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic-, so a rap battle fits right in. After bombing at karaoke, Shirogane is determined to improve his rapping skills. He admires the art form, complementing rap as an “intelligent sport.” He is, however, horrible at it. Can his friend Chika help him bust some rhymes?
Well, kind of. The frenetic episode begins with Chika's beatboxing and somehow gets even better from there. While Shirogane puts forth a valiant effort in his rap performance, Chika steals the show by dropping some F-bombs that will make you laugh so hard you’ll have to pause the episode before you can breathe again.
And, best of all, the ending theme kicks things up another notch with a hip-hop-infused song and gorgeous animation.
Ya Boy Kongming!
Image via HIDIVE
An honored military strategist from ancient China finds himself reborn in the bright lights of modern-day Tokyo in the electric Ya Boy Kongming!. Kongming makes an unlikely friend, an aspiring music star named Eiko, and decides to use his skills as a tactician to help the young woman in her singing career. Kongming embraces the nightlife with his whole heart.
To build Eiko a team and improve her chances at success in the biz, Kongming challenges a young MC named Kabetaijin to one of the most epic rap battles ever. If Kongming wins, he wagers, Kabe has to join them. You wouldn’t expect sick rhymes from an ancient Chinese general — a combination that sounds utterly ridiculous — but the poetry flows from Kongming in a time-transcending rap battle.
Anime translator Jake Jung revealed how difficult it was to localize Kongming’s beats:
Ya Boy Kongming ep 6 features a rap battle with about 192 bars ((2x16x3)x2 [overtime]). I've translated 200+ eps of anime, and I spent far longer on this than any other. It was a great challenge and creative exercise. Enjoy! #AmTranslating pic.twitter.com/L31BTRqsIp
— Jake Jung （ジェイク・ヤング） (@jake_j_jung) May 5, 2022
Ya Boy Kongming! is an utterly unique and joyful anime that stands out from the crowd.
Are there other anime rap battles you can’t get enough of? Tell us about them in the comments!
Kelly Knox has been an anime fan for over 20 years. She's a pop culture writer and author in the Seattle area, and you can always find her on Twitter.