Winter, it’s truly here at last. While we’re all concerned with the seasonal festivities and utterly annoying freezing temperatures (or sweltering heat for our friends below the equator!), anime has once again returned for another helping of fun times and entertaining stories. For all winter lacks in last fall’s ridiculous offerings, don’t think we are lacking this time either as both crowd favourites Tokyo Revengers and Vinland Saga return for round two amid continuations of the ever-popular supernatural series Bungou Stray Dogs and dungeon crawler Danmachi. In the mood for fantasy? You’re spoiled rotten with everything from Maou Gakuin’s sequel to the second go of slice-of-life focused Kamitachi and even some shoujo flavoured misting in Sugar Apple Fairy Tale for (heh) spice. And the fun doesn’t stop there as Urobutcher fronted Revenger, the eagerly awaited Nier: Automata adaptation, Legend of Heroes original Northern War, and the second bout of perpetual teaser Nagatoro prove. Heck, can even toss in TRIGUN Stampede and sly romcom underdog Kubo-san wa Boku o Yurusanai if in need of a couple stocking stuffers.
Winter often sucks and the lack of daylight hurts, but anime is back to keep things shining and loving life. This is Random Curiosity’s Winter 2023 Preview!
Disclaimer: Considering how substantial a task the Random Curiosity season preview is, we’ve divided it up among our active staff (Choya, FJ Freeman, Gabie, Guardian Enzo, Pancakes, Princess Usagi, Zaiden, and Zephyr) in order to maintain the quality of this preview. We will point out what appeals to us in each series, in the hope it will help you determine if it coincides with your tastes. Our Excitement Levels likewise showcase our visceral gut reactions to what we expect each show to be, so remember to check out the Overall Impressions section at the bottom for a general idea of our seasonal thoughts and opinions.
Disclaimer #2: Please note that this list does not reflect all the series airing this coming season. It is meant to be as comprehensive as possible, but omissions have been made for shows that stray from the anime norm, seem to be oriented toward young children, or shows being exclusively batch released through Netflix or similar streaming service (refer to the OVA section for mentions on these). Likewise, any shows which have been postponed or currently are not confirmed to premiere have also been excluded. Please check out MOON PHASE for complete listings, syoboi for specific air times, and Fansub DB for a list of potential sub/dub sources for each series. And if we happened to miss something major, don’t hesitate to poke us! Also remember if in need of some differing perspectives to check out the LiA Winter preview for a second opinion on many of these shows.
Above all else, however, many thanks are deserving to you, the entire Random Curiosity community. Whether you read every post or only a handful, whether you’re involved with and/or contribute to our Discord channel, have the desire to donate to our Patreon and Kofi or simply just lurk the site on occasion, it’s your time, attention, and company which keep us going. Honestly without you we wouldn’t be here writing about anime, so here’s to another fun season of it for us to enjoy together!
Technical Note: The schedule below is ordered by the date and time that the shows premiere. The links will take you to a series’ corresponding entry and the “Top” links on the right will bring you back. You can also use the back/forward buttons in your browser to jump between links you’ve clicked. All times are given in a 24-hour, relative-day format where times are extended to show which day they belong to. For example, Friday morning at 1:30AM would become Thursday at 25:30 to show that the episode aired late Thursday night. Series being streamed and season carryovers are excluded and series lacking confirmed air times are excluded until further airing info is released.
Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko 2
21:30 TOKYO MX (01/08)
Nokemono-tachi no Yoru
22:00 TOKYO MX (01/08)
Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku
22:30 AT-X (01/08)
The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki – Northern War
23:30 TOKYO MX (01/08)
Kyokou Suiri Season 2
25:05 TOKYO MX (01/08)
25:35 TV Tokyo (01/08)
20:00 AT-X (01/09)
Kyuuketsuki Sugu Shinu 2
23:00 TOKYO MX (01/09)
24:00 TOKYO MX (01/09)
Vinland Saga Season 2
24:30 TOKYO MX (01/09)
25:00 Tochigi TV (01/09)
Eiyuu Ou, Bu o Kiwameru Tame Tenseisu: Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kishi
25:45 TV Tokyo (01/09)
Kubo-san wa Boku o Yurusanai
21:30 AT-X (01/10)
Ningen Fushin no Boukensha-tachi ga Sekai o Sukuu You Desu
23:30 ABEMA (01/03)
Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi
24:00 TV Tokyo (01/10)
Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Urbanrama Hen
20:30 AT-X (01/18)
Tensei Oujo to Tensai Reijou no Mahou Kakumei
21:00 AT-X (01/04)
Koori Zokusei Danshi to Cool na Douryou Joshi
22:30 TOKYO MX (01/04)
Bungou Stray Dogs (2023)
23:00 TOKYO MX (01/04)
Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu. 2
23:30 AT-X (01/11)
24:00 TV Tokyo (01/04)
Tsurune: Tsunagari no Issha
24:00 TOKYO MX (01/04)
Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko!
24:30 TOKYO MX (01/04)
Ooyuki Umi no Kaina
24:55 Fuji TV (01/11)
21:00 AT-X (01/05)
22:30 AT-X (01/05)
Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darouka: Familia Myth IV (2023)
23:00 ABEMA (01/05)
Onii-chan wa Oshimai!
23:30 AT-X (01/05)
Hyouken no Majutsushi ga Sekai o Suberu
25:28 TBS (01/05)
Isekai Nonbiri Nouka
21:00 AT-X (01/06)
Sugar Apple Fairy Tale
21:30 AT-X (01/06)
D4DJ All Mix
23:00 TOKYO MX (01/13)
24:00 TOKYO MX (01/06)
Shin Shinka no Mi: Shiranai Uchi ni Kachigumi Jinsei
25:23 TV Tokyo (01/13)
Ars no Kyojuu
25:25 MBS・TBS (01/06)
Inu ni Nattara Suki na Hito ni Hirowareta.
25:35 TOKYO MX (01/06)
Tsundere Akuyaku Reijou Liselotte to Jikkyou no Endou-kun to Kaisetsu no Kobayashi-san
25:55 MBS / TBS (01/06)
Kaiko Sareta Ankoku Heishi (30-dai) no Slow na Second Life
22:00 TOKYO MX (01/07)
Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken
22:30 TOKYO MX (01/07)
Hikari no Ou
22:30 WOWOW (01/14)
23:00 TV Tokyo (01/07)
Saikyou Onmyouji no Isekai Tenseiki
23:30 AT-X (01/07)
23:30 TOKYO MX (01/07)
Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack
25:00 TOKYO MX (01/07)
Rougo ni Sonaete Isekai de 8-manmai no Kinka o Tamemasu
26:00 ABC (01/07)
Tokyo Revengers: Seiya Kessen Hen
26:08 TV Tokyo (01/07)
Nick (Kobayashi Yuusuke) the adventurer is not a happy man. Although widely praised by his mentor Argus following their party’s latest successful job, Nick gets blindsided when not only is it discovered that one of the party members has embezzled part of the payout, but that Argus blames Nick. Personally. Summarily expelled for this deed he did not commit, Nick winds up drunk and angry at a nearby tavern – but also with new opportunity. It seems Nick isn’t the only adventurer recently betrayed for one reason or another, and if there’s one thing misery loves it’s company. Together with his newfound tavern friends Nick will make the greatest party around – and ensure it earns far more than his old one ever did.
With how much sheer fantasy is on tap this season it would be easy to gloss over Ningen Fushin no Boukensha-tachi, but unlike some fellow season-mates this one looks promising. Besides the revenge angle at play the key selling point to this one is the traditional fantasy setting – i.e. what we got in the likes of Slayers before isekai took the reins. A bunch of vexed and jaded adventurers out for good old-fashioned adventuring? And with a focus more on party dynamics than really saving the world? Oh yes, sign me up please. Of course given that this is a light novel adaptation and Geek Toys isn’t what you’d call the most proficient of studios I wouldn’t start dreaming of imminent masterpiece, but there’s enough present to warrant expecting a half-decent production. Whether a fantasy lover or a simple enjoyer of character-driven stories I’d recommend keeping an eye out for this one; there’s a very good chance it might just surprise.
|Ningen Fushin no Boukensha-tachi ga Sekai o Sukuu You Desu Promotional Videos ▼|
One of the quintessential characteristics of a protagonist is the development of a unique and unusual ability. Such is the case of the lovely Princess Anisphia (Senbongi Sayaka) who against all expectations defied her country’s aristocracy by developing “magicology,” a unique magical theory based on memories from her past life – despite her supposed ineptitude with regular magic. This technology/science/witchcraft based magic is what gives her the reputation of the kingdom’s biggest troublemaker, a title she wears with pride. “I can’t marry a man! If I’m going to have a lover, then it has to be a woman!” Declares a passionate Anisphia, only to then kidnap her brother’s rejected fiancée Lady Euphelia (Iwami Manaka) after stumbling on the scene due to a magical mishap.
The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady is an adaptation of a light novel with the same name written by Piero Karasu. This series has been praised for the development of the girls’ attraction to one another leading to their eventual yuri romance, which I think is something we don’t often see a lot of. An isekai filled with adventures, laughs, magic and a slow burn romance between cute girls: if it ticks your boxes, don’t miss out on this one. The first episode for this lovely adventure was streamed in advance on the Kadokawa YouTube channel back on December 10th, so make sure to check it out before the premiere!
|Tensei Oujo to Tensai Reijou no Mahou Kakumei Promotional Videos ▼|
When Himuro-kun (Kobayashi Chiaki), the descendent of a snow-power clan, meets the cool-headed Fuyutsuki san (Ishikawa Yui), sparks fly – at least on Himuro-kun’s part. Unfortunately, even though the fires of love are ignited, it cannot melt the ice. His frosty powers are activated whenever he experiences a flurry of emotion, leaving his workplace under a perpetual snowy blanket. Will the lady in question be able to look beneath the frozen surface to appreciate Himuro-kun’s sweet personality?
This looks like a pretty straightforward romance story. Even the characters’ names are call-backs to their roles – Himuro (literally “Snowy Room”) who turns the office into a winter wonderland and a woman named Fuyutsuki (“Winter Moon”) as his love interest. There’s nothing wrong per-say with a classic formula that works, so long as it’s done well. I would expect that to be the case with Konparu Tomoko, previously responsible for the scriptwriting of Kimi ni Todoke, Nana, and Touch, in charge of series composition. The supernatural twist is quite intriguing, especially because in Japanese folklore, it is generally women (Yuki-onna) who possess snow powers. That the MC is a snow-man, not a snow-woman, immediately brought to mind Akira from Kemono Jihen, though the atmospheres of the story are completely different. If supernatural meets romance is your taste, then chill out with Koori Zokusei Danshi to Cool na Douryou Joshi.
|Koori Zokusei Danshi to Cool na Douryou Joshi Promotional Videos ▼|
Literature comes to life in Japan’s Armed Detective Agency where super-powered investigators bearing the names of famous authors go to work uncovering society’s supernatural underbelly that threatens the safety of Japan. After falling into Dostoyevsky’s trap when we left off with the series, the Armed Detective Agency is at the end of their rope with a big job that could mean “end of story” for them. Dazai Osamu (Mamoru Miyano), Nakajima Atsushi (Uemura Yuuto), Edogawa Ranpo (Kamiya Hiroshi), and the others face the militaristic Hunting Dogs representing Russian wordsmiths. I wonder what the chances are of someone pulling out Chekov’s gun!
It’s been a few years since I watched this series, but from what I recall, I enjoyed it. I love the creativity of turning authors and their works into supernatural powers and the battles and plot arcs were interesting. After the cliffhanger last season, I am glad to see the story is being continued. Also continuing on are the staff from previous seasons (Igarashi Takuya as director, Enokido Youji) as scriptwriter. Bones is again the studio in charge, so we can expect continuity on all accounts in the production. If, like me, you have been waiting on the edge of your seat for Season 4, it’s finally here! If you haven’t seen it yet and you’re a classic literature fan or sucker for supernatural action, then you’ve still got time to catch up before the premiere.
|Bungou Stray Dogs (2023) Promotional Videos ▼|
Technoroid: Overmind is set in the Entertainment Tower Babel, a new hope founded by those who have lost the joy of light as humanity’s activities are restricted from global climate change caused by the expanded sun. The anime depicts unique units and characters fighting for the top of Babel, pursuing emotions that move people and androids both through performances.
This one at heart seems to be an anime about cute android boys singing in order to bring hope back to a suffering humanity, which begs the question: what kind of pseudo science is this? A tower of Babel was erected and now the android boys sing in a competitive musical show, in order to reach the top of the tower and become the very best? With very little information about this show from what I could find, the skeptic in me can only be reasonably cynical. After all, it’s up against the likes of Vivy.
I’ll be checking out this one for the first couple of episodes (as I have become somewhat of the RC boy idol show guy, heh), but what I can gather this show seems to focus more on the boys and having them be cute rather than trying to properly build its world. So colored me interested, yet not too excited. Let’s just hope it turns out to be something decent.
I have sort of an odd history with Tsurune. It’s one of very few series (maybe three or four max) that I’ve flat-out dropped, only to pick them up again later. There were always things it did very well – stunning visuals among them – but the overall product was a tug of war between its strengths and weaknesses. In the end what I liked – mainly the mentor relationship between the protagonist and the Shinto priest and archer who takes him under his wing – carved a large enough role at the expense of what I didn’t (the school tropes) to make it worth covering.
Tsurune stands as an example of what’s become one of KyoAni’s niches – melancholic, vaguely shounen-ai (age check) stories about schoolboys and their emotional struggles. It’s also one of the studio’s least commercially successful series – and as such, another example of why Kyoto Animation’s business model is so unique in the industry. They strongly prefer to animate material they own lock, stock, and barrel – which is mainly (formerly) obscure LNs like Tsurune. That’s why those get movies and multiple seasons when more popular works like Hyouka – which had a traditional production committee and the implied revenue-sharing – don’t.
As a general rule the less commercially successful a KyoAni series is, the better I like it (Hyouka being a big exception) and Tsurunefollows that pattern. Even within this genre there are obvious examples from the studio that offer more fanservice, push more buttons, and make more money. But this series has an appeal based on its emotional honesty and restraint where those sorts of things are concerned. Tsurune certainly isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a side of KyoAni I wish we saw more of.
|Tsurune: Tsunagari no Issha Promotional Videos ▼|
Aizawa Tomo (Takahashi Rie) has always been considered “one of the guys” by her childhood friend and best bro Kubota “Jun” Junichirou (Ishikawa Kaito). They roughhouse together, spar together, and have each other’s backs. If you ever wanted to be in the bro zone, their relationship would be perfect. But that isn’t enough for Tomo. She’s been in love with Jun for as long as she’s known him. But because he’s oblivious and she’s muscle-brained, Jun never catches onto the signs of Tomo’s affection. To add salt to the wound, Jun doesn’t see Tomo as a woman and has it in his mind that she’s always just been the tightest bro he’s had. Will Tomo’s thoughts ever reach the love of her life, or will Jun continue to be oblivious to the signs she puts out that her heart belongs to him? Find out in this heart-pounding, musclebound romantic comedy.
I remember when this took the internet by storm around the same time as Nagatoro-san and Komi-san. It shared the same fantasy of making a traditional beauty out of a non-traditional girl. But while those two captured the thrill of gathering a friend group for the shy girl or capturing the heart of a mean girl, Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko! captures the fantasy of watching a tomboy fall head-over-heels in love. It can be rather dull when a rom-com takes a tomboy character and feminizes them as if it’s a phase meant to be grown out of. I admit that there is some skepticism on my end over their intentions, and I’m partially worried about how much Tomo is forced to change to get Jun to recognize her. But it’s gearing to be a fun comedy with a touch of romance, which should help balance out any concerns that Tomo will be cut down as a character because of her athletic interests and tomboy appeal. Traditional beauty standards be damned though because most of us are watching this for Tomo’s appeal as a tough-as-nails girl who can scrap as hard as even the strongest guys in school. Hopefully, this will be as promising as it looks as Tomo-chan puts up her dukes this Winter.
|Tomo-chan wa Onnanoko! Promotional Videos ▼|
From none other than the mind of Urobuchi Gen comes the latest old-school samurai/ninja thriller in Revenger. Centered on the master assassin Usui Yuen (Umehara Yuuichirou), Revenger looks at Yuen’s investigation into a series of high profile assassinations made against the preeminent samurai clan Satsuma. For all the straightforwardness – and reward – of Yuen’s new job, what starts off as simple murders against a famous clan takes a turn when Yuen comes across Kurima Raizo (Kasama Jun), a survivor of one of the attacks. Together both Yuen and Raizo quickly discover more than simple fame and resources is behind Satsuma’s targeting and someone is out for something far greater. The only question is whether Yuen and Raizo can stay alive long enough to discern the truth.
Although the anime golden age of the Urobutcher has effectively come and gone (Madoka and Psycho-Pass are over a decade old now!), anything with his name attached to it is still worth the attention, particularly something like Revenger. This one at a glance is tailor made for dark and gritty, with a shogunate samurai/ninja backdrop (take your pick if Tokugawa or Ashikaga era) meeting a mystery thriller plot and plenty of opportunity for blade-based bloodshed. While the available PVs aren’t revealing much outside of tasty animation and the usual array of samurai sidekicks and finishing moves, given the fairly stacked cast and Kemono Jihen’s Fujimori Masaya pulling director duty this is one show I’d feel confident in having some optimism for. As with other anime originals we won’t know more until that premiere, but without a doubt this is one winter show every anime watcher should keep an eye on.
|Revenger Promotional Videos ▼|
What do you say when you find out you’ve been scouted to conduct a mission that might mean your death? According to Lily (Amamiya Sora), our young teen protagonist, you say “You can count on me!” The story follows Lily and seven other young recruits who have extremely subpar abilities during their spy training in an academy located in the Republic of Deen. In a world set ten years after a global war, enemy countries are now facing off in the shadows, passing crucial information through means of espionage. The eight teenage girls who make up the team codenamed Tomoshibi were scouted to conduct a mission deemed so impossible, there is a high likelihood of death. Their leader and teacher Klaus (Umehara Yuichiro) is a handsome man with unorthodox teaching methods. The catch, on top of everything else? They have 30 days to train in a live-in mansion before being sent into enemy territory.
My immediate thoughts when I put ‘war’ and young girls together goes straight to Girls und Panzer, a beloved series of mine back then. Granted, the only thing that linked to the war in that series was the use of tanks. I’m cautious about this upcoming series because it seems to lean towards the ‘cute ditzy girls’ trying to do ‘important’ things trope and I’m more or less a fan. I think cute anime girls doing cute (serious) things can be a fan favorite but it’s overdone. I’m not familiar with the source material but I imagine there will be a level of action/excitement, some blunders – and probably some successes! I should probably be glad that we have a team of female spies to lead the charge but I am cautious that they will succeed by accident and with luck on their side. I am open to being completely wrong about this story so I’m going to give the premiere a quick watch before actually sharing too strong an opinion.
|Spy Kyoushitsu Promotional Videos ▼|
From J.C. Staff comes the second cour of DanMachi’s fourth season, Dungeon ni Deai wo Motomeru no wa Machigatteiru Darou ka IV: Fuka Shou – Yakusai-hen. The first cour saw Bell Cranel (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu) reach Level 4 and the Hestia Familia explore the Dungeon’s lower floors as part of their first mandatory assignment from the Guild. Having narrowly survived the harrowing expedition, Bell is then roped into a murder investigation as a trader’s body is found on the outskirts of town and Ryuu (Hayami Saori) named the supposed culprit. As Bell and the execution squad look for Ryuu, the sudden appearance of an Irregular monster named the Juggernaut leads to revelations regarding the Astrea family’s demise five years prior, and Ryuu comes to Bell’s aid as they attempt to fend off the Dungeon’s defense mechanism. The second cour will follow up from the aftermath of this fight, which saw Bell and Ryuu thrown down to the 37th Floor. Forced to fend for themselves in the “Deep Floors,” the two are forced to fight for their survival against new enemies while injured and separated from their companions. Up above, the rest of Bell’s party find themselves in their own dire predicament as they come face to face with a Floor Boss without his aid. The second cour will see the return of the cast and staff of the first cour.
The DanMachi train keeps rolling on, and at this point, there isn’t much that needs to be said. The franchise continues to be popular, and despite the pacing issues and the term “rushed” being synonymous with the series throughout its run, the adaptation does manage to build up some genuinely great moments that send chills down your spine regardless. It’s a testament to the strength of the source material that the adaptation continues to be somewhat decent despite its flaws, and it bodes well when you consider that the first cour of the fourth season was more consistent in its pacing than previous seasons. The second cour will adapt one of the best (if not the best, according to some) volumes of the source material and have what should be a surplus of episodes to really get everything in, meaning that this is likely to be the best cour of the adaptation so far.
|Dungeon ni Deai o Motomeru no wa Machigatte Iru Darouka: Familia Myth IV (2023) Promotional Videos ▼|
Oyama Mahiro (Kouno Marika) was once your standard gamer guy with a passion for eroge. One morning, Mahiro wakes up from a night’s rest in the body of a girl after their little sister Mihari conducts an experiment on them overnight. While the experiment didn’t go as she intended, Mihari insists on studying Mahiro to see how her new sister will experience life as a girl. Even though Mahiro is determined going back to the shut-in days of being a boy, Mahiro finds that life as a girl might allow for a better opportunity to make new friends and adjust to new experiences.
Time creates unique challenges for genres that used to be prime fodder for comedies. The gender-bender subgenre used to have a stranglehold on anime with its popularity peaking around the aughts when cross-dressing characters had become prominent characters in anime. Some modern characters have kept this tradition going by playing into the exoticism of androgyny while leaving any introspection of their identities unexplored. But in recent years, anime stories have become sophisticated enough so that androgyny is treated less like a gag and more of a platform to examine how these characters perceive gender and romance in general. Many recent shows use gender-bending as a means of looking inward at how conformity can stifle our relationships with both ourselves and those around us. Is trying to fit into the tight box society places us in really allowing us to be ourselves, or are we unable to see eye-to-eye because people are so obsessed with keeping up appearances of adhering to the status quo that they cannot let themselves relax? From what I’m seeing on Oniichan wa Oshimai!, girlhood is seen as an opportunity on Mahiro’s end to experience a world outside of their own sphere as a girl who has often pushed away from having hikikomori tendencies in favor of kindling a social life. While this already addresses how young girls are expected to have their lives together at a quicker pace, I can also see the situation where the anime leans on it being the one thing that will force Mahiro to build connections around them without withdrawing once again to a solitary life. Whether it aims to venture beyond the chill atmosphere of a slice-of-life anime or not will be answered when Oniichan wa Oshimai! arrives this Winter.
|Onii-chan wa Oshimai! Promotional Videos ▼|
Based on the light novel series of the same name, Hyouken no Majutsushi is set in a world where the most powerful warrior, the Iceblade Magician, is a household name. Three years prior the Iceblade Magician led his nation to victory, yet for all the fame and fortune associated with it few know who he really is: Ray White (Enoki Junya). A young boy tired of the trappings of luxury, Ray decides to enroll at Arnold Academy and live the life of a normal student. He certainly gets his wish upon being immediately ostracized for his ‘commoner’ status (even while making friends), but Ray’s past isn’t one to simply stay quiet. As Ray soon discovers there’s a conspiracy at play within the academy’s walls, a plot threatening the life he hopes to live. Ray may wish to leave his past behind, but he might have no choice but to return back to it.
Let’s see: magic academy setting; overpowered wish fulfillment MC with a dark past; and – oh yes – plenty of harem potential
|Hyouken no Majutsushi ga Sekai o Suberu Promotional Videos ▼|
Following an unfortunate bout of terminal illness at the age of 39, salaryman Machio Hiraku (Abe Atsushi) winds up dead. Not all is lost from preemptive journey into the firmament though; God in His infinite grace decides to grant Hiraku a new life in another world and four wishes alongside. So what does Hiraku desire? Why to have a healthy body (obviously), to live a peaceful life of no worry, to know the local language of wherever he ends up, and finally to be a farmer. Say hello to the next comfy isekai adventure in the fields.
There’s honestly not a lot to say about Isekai Nonbiri Nouka which you cannot immediately glean from that succinct premise. This one is very much a slice-of-life series with heavy emphasis on comfiness and laid-back adventuring with just a dash of cutesy romcom fun and games. Or in other words, a slightly less blatant version of autumn’s Noumin Kanren with just as many harem shenanigans. Hiraku will farm, he’ll get all the girls, and by God (heh) he’ll do it all without breaking a sweat. Or too much sweat. With fairly standard cast and crew and a production studio in Zero-G capable and experienced with these sorts of shows I wouldn’t expect any serious screw ups or hilarious trainwrecks here, but personal taste will easily be the deciding factor. If you like isekai or are in need of some new seasonal slice-of-life comfort food consider giving Isekai Nonbiri Nouka a shot this winter, because it certainly won’t disappoint on that front.
|Isekai Nonbiri Nouka Promotional Videos ▼|
In the Kingdom of Highland there is no greater occupation than that of Silver Sugar Master. A pâtissier like no other, the Master creates the finest of sugar craft and can only receive their title at the behest of royalty. For one Ann Halford (Nukui Yuka), the daughter of a famous Master, it’s a position she’s always aspired to, so when her mother passes away and the royal family announces a sugar sculpture competition in distant Lewiston that will bestow the title on its winner, she sets out to make her dream a reality. Realizing it, however, requires Ann to purchase the foul-mouthed fairy slave Challe (Mizunaka Masaaki) as her bodyguard because the roads aren’t safe, she isn’t the most skillful of fighters, and fairies like Challe are considered appropriate protective fodder. As Ann is about to discover in a world of slaves and masters, claiming her culinary title might be the least of her concerns.
Although we have received a few anime over the past few seasons which could be called shoujo, Sugar Apple Fairy Tale might just be the first in a while to truly represent the genre. If not apparent this one is an unabashed fairy tale influenced adventure story, using a cooking backdrop to give reason for one sheltered girl to learn about herself and the surrounding world, and to find what really matters to her. In a way it’s a more conventional Seijo no Maryoku wa Bannou Desu, where isekai gets replaced by proper fantasy and the romance is filtered through the lens of slavery. Yes, the synopsis doesn’t lie, slavery and its morality will be a factor in this story. The good news here is that this is an adaptation of a finished light novel series and the source material is right up J.C. Staff’s alley; if the show can match the colourful setting and nuanced morality at play, it can easily turn into something impressive. I wouldn’t make any determined bets here just yet, but without a doubt keep an out for this one if fantasy or female-focused romance so much as tickles your fancy.
|Sugar Apple Fairy Tale Promotional Videos ▼|
Rei Suwa (Uchiyama Kouki) is a criminal contractor and professional assassin who lives together as best friends with Kazuki Kurusu (Toyonaga Toshiyuki). Rei is known for his love of gambling and women, while Kazuki is quiet and enjoys playing video games in his free time. The duo suddenly becomes responsible for caring for a four-year-old named Miri Unasaka (Kino Hina), the daughter of a mafia boss after she accidentally wanders into a hotel firefight while searching for her father.
There’s so much to unpack here – a comedy show about two “best friends”, who “live together” while seemingly trying to follow in the wake and popularity of Spy x Family. One of them loves gambling. And women. Yet lives with his best friend? BL who? Not in my good Christian neighborhood, that’s who! All the same indulging in yaoi sub-context might be delicious to some, but annoying to others so I don’t know Sherlock, I have some doubts about this one.
It’s surprising, because there’s some real pedigree here, coming straight from P.A. Works, the people behind Aquatope (which also has roommates vibes). The other producer is Aniplex, and those guys usually look for groundbreaking stuff. So I don’t know how this show specifically will turn out. I’m too old to play with subtext – but one way or another, this one is bound to be interesting.
|Buddy Daddies Promotional Videos ▼|
Life isn’t an easy thing for most, but especially so in the world of Ars no Kyojuu where man-eating beasts walk the land. Sought out for sport, profit, and power by determined hunters, these beasts quite literally sustain human society, of which the hunter Jiro (Morikawa Toshiyuki) is only one small part. As a man who has brushed with death, Jiro only cares to keep on living through his hunting, yet his daily routine gets abruptly disturbed when he encounters a girl named Kuumi (Youmiya Hina). Jiro knows nothing about Kuumi except that she’s being chased by a bunch of unsavoury characters, and in the spur of the moment decides to save her from them. Little does Jiro know, however, that this action will have far reaching consequences. With rumours of experimentation and dark worldly secrets afoot, Jiro and his new acquaintance are about to find out just what it means to be human.
Anime originals, we know how big a crapshoot they can be at times, but Ars no Kyojuu certainly has some more going to it than some. Taking an Attack on Titan meets Monster Hunter premise with a fantasy backdrop and a decent bit of mystery encouraging curiosity is enough alone for that, but chalk on Kaihou Norimitsu of Akudama Drive fame pulling writing duty alongside some tasty animation work and I’m at least tentatively optimistic. Mind you, this is also the brainchild of DMM and Asahi Productions (neither of which have stunning portfolios, let alone original works) so it’s not all sunshine and rainbows here, but hey, we’ve certainly had more defined concepts of late fall flat on their face. In short Ars no Kyojuu probably isn’t a show which should be hyped, but it’s one any fantasy or action fan should at least keep an eye on. After all, stranger shows have wound up topping the seasonal charts.
|Ars no Kyojuu Promotional Videos ▼|
School-life for our protagonist (Umeda Shuuichirou) has gotten to be trickier after being smitten by the coolest and most beautiful girl in class, Iunkai Karen (Aizawa Saya). He’d do anything to be a part of her life, but would he be alright with being her dog? In a twist of fate, he doesn’t get to have the option as he wakes up one day in the body of Karen’s pet dog Pochita. While that means he’ll be having to eat dog food for the rest of his brief existence, it also means he gets to be up close and personal with the love of his life. As a bonus, he also gets to rustle with some of her closest friends and loved ones under the guise of being a dog. Will he try to find a way to either continue existing as his crush’s dog or will he do his best to return back to his human body where he belongs? Only time will tell on Inu ni Nattara Suki na Hito ni Hirowareta.
There were two major takeaways upon finding out about this anime: One was how funny it was to see another Pochita after Chainsaw Man, and the other was how this show is definitely about somebody’s fetish. Based on the trailer and subject matter, we’ll be expecting to see many scenes where these girls will be in compromising positions as Pochita obediently obeys his new beautiful master and her cutest friends. The “god I wish that were me” dude immediately comes to mind as so many viewers are going to be tuning in to this under the impression that it’ll tap into the kink of wanting to be a cute girl’s dog. The dog might be named Pochita, but Inu ni Nattara Suki na Hito ni Hirowareta is actually aimed for people like Denji who become rabid dogs after being doted upon by beautiful girls. Not surprisingly, this is a feeling that the show embraces as it places viewers into the POV of Pochita as he taps into the experience of being treated like an actual dog. Whether this will capture that same audience, however, will be the true test as Inu ni Nattara Suki na Hito ni Hirowareta wags its tail this Winter.
|Inu ni Nattara Suki na Hito ni Hirowareta. Promotional Videos ▼|
Another villainess becomes the heroine isekai?! Well, sort of, not really. The Play-by-Play Endou-kun and Color Commentator Kobayashi-san’s Live Commentary on the Tsundere Villainess Liselotte is set in two universes. On the one side, we have modern-day Japan. Here, junior high schoolers and members of the broadcasting club, Kobayashi Shihono (Hanazawa Kana) and Endou Aoto (Ishikawa Kaito) start playing the very popular otome game MagiKoi. Rather, an enamored Endou-kun sees an opportunity to spend more time with the lovely Kobayashi-san after she delivers a passionate speech about the tragic villainess who dies in almost every single route in the game. And in the game-verse we have our sweet and brash tsundere noble Lady Liselotte (Kusunoki Tomori) and her estranged fiancée, Crown Prince Siegwald (Nakamura Yuuichi). It’s during a confrontation scene that Prince Siegwald hears strange voices inside his head, and is hit with the realization that he has been graced with a power passed down through generations of the royal family: the ability to hear and communicate with the divine voices from their pantheon. Will Endou-kun and Kobayashi-san be able to guide Prince Siegwald in order to save his kingdom, and perhaps also show him how darn cute his tsundere fiancée really is?!
I’ve actually read a few chapters of the manga and found it to be a delightful lighthearted and entertaining read. I think it holds enough conflict to make the story interesting and not just a gag. The element of having colour commentators Endou-kun and Kobayashi-san and their interactions with the Prince (as well as between each other) does break away from the ‘saving the villainess in an otome game’ genre. I’m not that well versed in the world of animation studios (as in I’m only aware of the big names), but the fact that this one has Tezuka Productions behind caught me by surprise given their consistency. I also may or may not have a huge crush on Nakamura-san’s voice…
|Tsundere Akuyaku Reijou Liselotte to Jikkyou no Endou-kun to Kaisetsu no Kobayashi-san Promotional Videos ▼|
From the light novel series of the same name, Kaiko sareta Ankoku Heishi tells the tale of the 30 year old Dariel (Sugita Tomokazu) and his less than fruitful life. A former soldier in the Demon Lord’s army, Dariel was expelled due to a lack of magical ability and the new Demon Lord not appreciating keeping talentless individuals on the team. Yet for all Dariel is out and alone everything isn’t that bad; following his rescue of a village girl from monster while wandering the forest, Dariel gets a new home and, most importantly, makes a major discovery. Underneath his magic-inhibited exterior there’s seemingly more power than meets the eye, something which might just be enough to turn around this ex-soldier’s fortunes.
Geeze we’re really reaching into familiar territory for fantasy adaptations these days aren’t we? While the demonic origins are a twist on the usual concept, Kaiko Sareta Ankoku Heishi very much follows in the footsteps of say Shin no Nakama, where ostracized leader-type character gets a second chance courtesy of village life, colourful citizenry, numerous problems, and a dash of hidden OP abilities. Oh and harem building, don’t forget the harem building. While all this doesn’t automatically mean it’s going to be a flop (positive thinking!), tempered expectations are definitely the way to go. Provided you enjoy laid-back fantasy which spices up the slice-of-life with a legitimate action plot this one will easily check off all the boxes, and with a crew and studio well-versed in this type of show there’s plenty of reasons to expect a decent production. Kaiko Sareta Ankoku Heishi may not be one of this season’s standout highlights, but you could certainly do worse if in need of some simple and relaxing fantasy adventuring.
|Kaiko Sareta Ankoku Heishi (30-dai) no Slow na Second Life Promotional Videos ▼|
Beautiful and kind-hearted, well-mannered and exceptional in all areas of household care taking, the ultimate waifu of any weeb’s dreams (unless you’re into one of the deres – oh no, wait! She has a sharp-tongue?). Well, meet Shiina Mahiru (Manaka Iwami), the Angel of Fujimiya Amane’s (Ban Taito) school and also his neighbor (Oh! The coincidence!). Our love story begins when Amane catches a cold by giving out his umbrella to our lovely Mahiru, only expecting to have it returned. But what he gets in return is much more than he could have ever expected! Completely hopeless as a human being, Amane’s home life is a disaster, but he’s just scored himself a wife in everything but name.
Welcome to the plot of The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten, an adaptation from the popular web novel turned light novel series with the same name written by Saeki-san. Currently, in its seventh volume, a manga adaptation also begun its serialization in Square Enix’s Manga Up! Magazine. This one’s got studio Project No. 9 behind it, and given their portfolio within the romcom gem, if this is your cup of tea, I think it’s a green light for your Saturday enjoyment.
|Otonari no Tenshi-sama ni Itsunomanika Dame Ningen ni Sareteita Ken Promotional Videos ▼|
TRIGUN is a popular Japanese gun-action manga series created by Yasuhiro Nightow. It follows the fated journey of Vash the Stampede (Matsuoka Yoshitsugu), a legendary gunman and a pacifist with a bounty on his head. And now, it will be reborn as a brand-new original anime series, TRIGUN STAMPEDE, in 2023.
Vash the Stampede is a notorious criminal with a staggering $60,000,000,000 bounty on his head. He is known as “The Humanoid Typhoon” for the destruction he causes wherever he goes. However, despite his fearsome reputation, Vash is actually a kind-hearted individual who claims to have never taken a life and avoids violence whenever possible. He is accompanied on his travels through the wasteland of Gunsmoke by two insurance agents, Meryl Stryfe (Ando Sakura) and Milly Thompson, who try to minimize the damage he causes. But their adventures take a dangerous turn when they are pursued by a group of legendary assassins. As they fight for survival, Vash’s past will be revealed and his moral code will be tested.
A new original series in the world of TRIGUN is abound, what kind of wacky shenanigan’s will Vash get up to this time? A big change that some people might not exactly be very fond of is that this series is getting the CGI treatment with this production making Vash look even more the handsome and squeaky clean protagonist. However, first impressions from the trailers might suggest this to be an actual good show with tons of actions that might not have been possible if the producers had not taken the CGI route, at least in this day and age. Here’s hoping TRIGUN STAMPEDE turns out great!
|Trigun Stampede Promotional Videos ▼|
The exorcist and diviner Haruyoshi (Hanamori Yumiri) has one big claim to fame: he’s the strongest around. Or would be if not betrayed by his companions and left to ignobly die. Unfortunately for said companions, however, Haruyoshi isn’t one to let a little death get him down, and using a secretive reincarnation technique successfully manages to fling his soul into another world. Waking up as Seika Lamprogue, the scion of a prominent family of magicians, the exorcist turned magic caster thinks all is now swell, except for one nagging detail. All the magic he was supposed to inherit as proud family heir? Nowhere to be found. Not a problem though; thanks to Seika’s real-world career, he has all the techniques needed to make a mark in his new life.
Geeze not one but two reincarnation-focused anime adaptations this season eh – truly a time to be alive! Alright, tongue in cheek aside Saikyou Onmyouji isn’t what you’d call aiming for the big leagues. We’ve got the quintessential isekai premise, the promise of OP abilities and harem pickups galore, plus the usual array of slice-of-life moments and fantasy-charged story to give reason to it all. Sure, this might be the first isekai with an exorcist in place of introverted video game addict (now that’s surprising), but don’t think for a second the usual strategy will be thrown out the window; fun and entertaining doesn’t always equate to imaginative. While Studio Blanc and production crew are nothing to write home about, they also aren’t problematic, so provided this one can feature above grade, 3DCGI minimized animation and not blitz through its story there’s plenty of opportunity for a fun little isekai adventure. We’ll just have to wait and see how the first few episodes pan out.
|Saikyou Onmyouji no Isekai Tenseiki Promotional Videos ▼|
Sony Music Entertainment Japan kicked off the Unite Up! multimedia project in December 2021 by releasing original songs by four different idol groups on the project’s official YouTube channel. This January, the series is coming out providing more context, character background, and development, but mainly, to bring some Jpop Idol drama to screens. This series follows protagonist Kiyose Akira (Kikunosuke Toya) as he gets scouted by sMiLea Production talent agency after publishing some of his own music on a streaming site. The story unfolds as he creates an idol group with other newly scouted talents called Protostar and works towards their debut alongside the agency’s other idol groups Legit, Jaxx Jaxx, and AneLa.
Unite Up! will have to compete for fame with recently popular series like Love Live Superstar!! which have been finding immense success with the genre’s fanbase. The last time I thoroughly enjoyed an idol series was probably Skip Beat!. It had a unique plot and followed an atypical up-and-coming idol. But recently, these series are released as part of the larger multimedia project bringing to screens the voices behind the melodies that publish online. I think it’s a clever way to create crossover opportunities. What I can appreciate about these projects is how they evolve. They often kick off with Jpop genre music combined with beautiful visuals of the vocalists. So it always makes sense when the TV show is announced as it finally brings to life the vocalists and idols that gained popularity on streaming platforms. If you look at Unite Up! YouTube content, their views exceed an average of 450K views with some reaching well over a million. So existing fans of the idol groups featured in the project as well as the anime genre fanbase will have tons to be excited about. What’s left to be determined is the strength of the story and the characters themselves. That said, the idol genre is one that can definitely offer comfort and feel-good energy during a time when many of us are struggling with a dull and dark season. So this might just be the sprinkle of light you need to add to your roster if you want a little lightness to kick off 2023.
|UniteUp! Promotional Videos ▼|
Humans, spirits, and even gods themselves: all at some point have succumbed to Anoth (Umehara Yuuichirou), the Demon King of Tyranny. Yet for his conquests there’s just one itch Anoth can quite scratch: boredom. With none capable of giving Anoth what he desires, he chooses to reincarnate in a later age and see what the future holds. And what it holds is very different indeed. Weak demonic descendants, senescent magic; nothing is as Anoth knows, so he thus enrolls in Demon King Academy to correct these faults. Although Anoth’s immeasurable power and unknown status turn him into the academy’s social pariah, fellow students (and newfound friends) Misha (Kusunoki Tomori) and Sasha (Natsuyoshi Yuuko) show him his goal of revitalizing the world isn’t entirely hopeless. And now, after crushing a few enemies and ensconcing himself as the Academy’s up and coming prodigy, Anoth is well on his way to reclaiming his former glory.
Say what you will about power fantasy, but Maou Gakuin shows there’s plenty of juice left to squeeze. This series was a very fun ride back in 2020, owing in part to both its self awareness and willingness to have Anoth set back and let the secondary cast shine. Deadpan comedy? Ridiculous abilities? Lighthearted, tongue in cheek shenanigans? Maou Gakuin featured it all and came out the better for it. The main difference for this sequel, however, is the change in cast; Suzuki Tatsuhisa, courtesy of personal transgressions, is out as Anoth and replaced by Umehara Yuuichirou. This is admittedly not a bad choice (based on the PV), but it will take some getting used to, particularly given how well Tatsuhisa did with Anoth in the more comedic moments. The good news is all other cast and crew are carrying over, so provided Yuuichirou can live up to expectations and this season doesn’t rush through its material too quickly (as the first did at times), there should be no derailments for this power fantasy train. Considering how much I liked the first season, I for one really hope so.
|Maou Gakuin no Futekigousha: Shijou Saikyou no Maou no Shiso, Tensei Shite Shison-tachi no Gakkou e Kayou II Promotional Videos ▼|
Hachiouji Naoto (Yamashita Daiki) is down on his luck as he feels unfulfilled and displeased with his work as a talented member of the Art Club. While his first brush-in with Nagatoro Hayase (Uesaka Sumire) was all-around unpleasant, Nagatoro tries to tackle her insensitivity by getting to learn more about Naoto. Even as his new friends only address him as “senpai” or “Paisen”, he starts to see Nagatoro’s edgy exterior slowly chip away over time. She begins seeing Naoto as a positive influence whose down-to-earth personality is far more refreshing than superficial high school friendships. At the same time, Naoto is inspired by Nagatoro to have more faith in himself as an artist who doesn’t give himself enough credit. In this second season, watch as the two begin to acknowledge their budding feelings for one another.
Nagatoro-san was a very pleasant surprise when it was released. At first, it came off as it would just revel in the mean-spirited bullying that Nagatoro had embraced in its first episode. But the story would quickly pivot towards giving Nagatoro more depth as she softens around Naoto and begins treating him with care. It winds up being an adorable rom-com where Nagatoro playfully teases Naoto only to realize that she’s become too invested in the playful parts of her teasing. Because of this, it felt rewarding to see Nagatoro and her friends go from mocking “Paisen” to truly appreciating his company and cheering him on. As I waited for the next season to come along, I kept seeing all these adorable moments from later in the manga, and it makes me excited to see what kind of tone Season 2 has now that it’ll focus more on Nagatoro and Naoto’s feelings for each other.
|Ijiranaide, Nagatoro-san 2nd Attack Promotional Videos ▼|
Clumsy girls, we all love them for their cuteness, because nothing says cute for many like a damsel in distress. Unfortunately Yamano Mitsuha (Nagae Rika) took this axiom to heart, tripping and falling right off a cliff – and right into a traditional fantasy world. How did it happen? Who knows, but Mitsuha quickly learned following her first monster battle that she can come and go between this world and Earth as she pleases, a talent enough to get her thinking. Modern living isn’t cheap after all, and if Mitsuha has a way to earn cash through good old-fashioned dungeon raiding and monster hunting, why not do so? One way or another, this girl isn’t going to skimp on her retirement fund.
Just when you think isekai (and fantasy) had run out of ideas, here comes the next one to show why you don’t make predictions in this field. While incredibly easy to write Rougo ni Sonaete off as just another drop in the isekai sea, this is admittedly one drop which doesn’t take itself seriously. Ridiculous premise? Goes all in. Simplistic characters and motivations? Abuses the tropes for all they’re worth. It’s pretty much isekai junk food, but from the bits I read (it’s another light novel adaptation) it’s pretty damn tasty junk food. With the studio behind Aharen-san wa Hakarenai producing and a decent lead in Nagae Rika it’s a fair bet things won’t fall apart that easy, and should the usual adaptation problems be avoided, this one might even turn out to be pretty fun overall. The first few episodes will naturally tell the tale, but Rougo ni Sonaete is certainly one to consider if looking for a wacky and off the wall isekai this winter.
|Rougo ni Sonaete Isekai de 8-manmai no Kinka o Tamemasu Promotional Videos ▼|
For one Hanagaki Takemichi (Shin Yuuki) the highlight of his life was middle school, where respect, friends, and even a girlfriend were all his. Now though Takemichi has nothing; he’s just another washed up number mothers warn their sons never to become. Making matters worse is hearing his ex-girlfriend was killed by the local Tokyo Manji gang, an event encouraging the depressed kid to commit suicide by train – only to find himself back 12 years in the past at the moment his life started falling apart. It is this discovery and the subsequent realization he can travel between past and present which convinces Takemichi to settle on a new course of action. Given the opportunity to save his ex-girlfriend’s life from Tokyo Manji, Takemichi will do whatever he can to change the future…and himself.
Although its first season wound up being more divisive than first thought, there’s no denying the popularity of Tokyo Revengers. This gangster themed time-travel story made some serious waves in its first two cours back in Spring 2021, powering hard off of shounen tropes and its gritty, redemption-focused narrative to yield a fairly riveting tale. It wasn’t all perfect by any stretch of the imagination (recaps and slideshow animation say hello) but you can definitely do worse and Tokyo Revengers wasn’t one to waste its opportunity. Given this season looks set to adapt some of the more well-liked arcs of the series and only minor crew changes are present I wouldn’t expect any serious hiccups emerging, however considering this will be Disney+ exclusive, ehh, we’ll have to see in regards to some things. Tokyo Revengers may not be the absolute heaviest of winter hitters, but if you’re looking for a quintessential anime romp this season keep an eye on this one and definitely consider giving the first season a watch if you haven’t already.
|Tokyo Revengers: Seiya Kessen Hen Promotional Videos ▼|
Back after over two years for a second season, Kamihiro tells the tale of one Takebayashi Ryouma (Tadokoro Azusa) and his, shall we say, interesting hobby. Reincarnated into a new world by three gods who pitied his previous life experiences, Ryouma finds talent and passion in the raising of slimes, enough so that he successfully elevates these critters into veritable panaceas for any and all woes. While a natural recluse, after being encouraged to visit a nearby town following his rescue of a group of soldiers, Ryouma finds himself in the care of the town’s ducal family who irrevocably change his life. With town needs, citizen wants, and the bubbly interest of one Eliara (Kuwahara Yuuki) in slime raising to now occupy the hours, Ryouma is about to discover just how much of the world there is to explore beyond his humble home.
Kamihiro admittedly wasn’t that big a standout when it premiered back in Fall 2020, but there’s no denying it was a pretty decent isekai. This one was very much direct sugar injection, focusing hard on wholesome slice-of-life with feel good moments that sacrificed wanton action and serious plot for kid helps the town and gets everyone cheering. Is it a concept for everyone? Obviously not, but what it did it did well for those liking laid back affairs. The good news here is that all cast and crew are carrying over so any change in quality shouldn’t be anticipated, and with plenty of material left to adapt (not to mention some more action-focused arcs) little reason to dread a decline in story quality. I wouldn’t expect Kamihiro’s second round to make major waves, but without a doubt anyone who liked the first season or is in need of some warm and fuzzy slice-of-life should give this one a shot. It’s a fair bet you won’t wind up disappointed.
|Kami-tachi ni Hirowareta Otoko 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
In this version of England, there are humans and there are immortals. But in this world, there are two individuals who are utterly lost and alone. Wisteria (Taketatsu Ayana) is an orphaned and impoverished young girl rejected, and ignored by society. Marbas (Konishi Katsuyushi) is a demon who lives in the shadows, never really feeling like he belongs anywhere. When young Wisteria sees Marbas, they form an unlikely friendship and together they fight to find a place in this world where they can live freely by each other’s side.
The plot sounds beautifully similar to what Mahoutsukai no Yome (The Ancient Magus’ Bride) had on tap. However that series, for myself, came to a halt when I was less enraptured by the anime adaptation than I was by the manga. The main difference between the two series is that this relationship seems to form between two people in limbo who must fight together to make a space for themselves in a world that never accepted them in the first place. There’s something a little more poetic to this story and I’ve always been a fan of stories where people try to find meaning in their life. In addition, the artwork and some of the clips in the PV show Wisteria developing magical abilities, which might be the reason why she was able to see Marbas in the first place. There seems to be a little bit of magic, action, and lots of emotional ups and down to come with this storyline. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether or not to watch it but after reading a few reviews and comments within the manga’s community, I can tell you that I at least will definitely give this one a solid watch-through.
|Nokemono-tachi no Yoru Promotional Videos ▼|
What does it mean to truly be needed? When you’re good at something but don’t get enough opportunities to shine, or people just don’t believe in you. Saitou (Kimura Ryouhei) is an ordinary handyman who one day gets transported to another world; in this sword and sorcery realm he learns that his skills are actually really useful, and in turn he has the opportunity to learn what it truly means to be needed by others, something he has yearned for in his past life.
As another entry into the ever-popular evergreen isekai fantasy, with just one or two tweaks to the formula, this one is sure to be a somewhat different foray into the massive alternate world fiction collection. Our protagonist is an actual hard-working adult that actually wants to make it out in the world, but for one reason or another, he’s just not cutting it, and thus in turn gets the opportunity to shine in another world. Instead of being a NEET or a chuunibyou, this man will actually try and fix your pipe with sweat and metal where others would simply cast a spell, spelling (heh) more nuances than when you first started.
What sort of formula-breaking paradigms will Saitou bring to the table to both his party members and to the story itself? Will Saitou be able to stand on his own two feet as a complete protagonist that is both interesting and is able to keep the story going forward in an interesting fashion? Certainly looks that way as the PV suggests there’s magic and dungeon delving to be had, meaning Saitou might bring the whole of RPG experience to the table. Let’s hope this one turns out well and proves as entertaining as it sounds.
|Benriya Saitou-san, Isekai ni Iku Promotional Videos ▼|
Following the events of the “North Ambrian Disaster” in year 1178 of the Septian calendar and the subsequent destruction of its capital, the Principality of North Ambria was left in dire straits. With a harsh climate and a financial crisis, many citizens became mercenaries called Jaegers who in turn eventually came together to form the “Northern Jaegers,” the largest mercenary group on the continent. The year is now 1205. The civil war in nearby Erebonia now over and North Ambria finds itself responsible for the action of its Jaegers, who assisted the losing faction and burned down the market town of Celtic under their orders. With negotiations underway, the Northern Jaegers take over parliament and cut off diplomatic ties, prompting the beginning of what would become known as the Northern War. Produced by Tatsunoko Production, Eiyuu Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki – Northern War will cover the events of the war while focusing on the perspective of Lavian Windslet (Koichi Makoto), a member of the Northern Jaegers. Together with other members of her group, she is sent to infiltrate Erebonia and find out information about Rean Schwarzer (Uchiyama Kouki), the “Empire’s Hero” and potentially the greatest threat to North Ambria’s continued independence.
If you’re unfamiliar with Nihon Falcom’s Legend of Heroes, it’s an absolutely massive JRPG series stemming over a dozen games while taking the perspective of heroes from various nations across the entire continent of Zemuria. It goes without saying that any adaptation of the franchise has its work cut out for it and this series — with its events taking place in between games (Trails of Cold Steel II and III respectively) — could find itself with more obstacles than most, as new viewers could find themselves lost early on if things aren’t introduced properly. The Northern War isn’t touched upon much in the games themselves, so there is a bit of artistic freedom in regards to how they go about things, and having another perspective (as opposed to Rean’s perspective from the games) could also make the adaptation easier. I can see them skipping much of the exposition by just saying the war started due to the Northern Jaegers’ involvement in Erebonia’s civil war and go from there, which would give them an easy way forward without going into too much exposition. There’s a fine line between making the series accessible and losing too much of the fine print however, so how they bring things together will determine how watchable this series ends up. Eiyuu Densetsu: Sen no Kiseki – Northern War will likely be a treat for fans of the series regardless, but it’s much less certain how much viewers who haven’t played the games will get from the series.
|The Legend of Heroes: Sen no Kiseki – Northern War Promotional Videos ▼|
“There are more things in heaven and Earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.” The supernatural and the natural realms exist as two sides of the same coin. When the two worlds collide, inexplicable things inevitably follow. Possessing the ability to convene with supernatural beings, Kotoko Iwanaga (Kitou Akari), the Goddess of Wisdom, is the go-between for these two worlds. Accompanied by her reluctant boyfriend, Sakuragawa Kurou (Miyano Mamoru), who possesses the power of immortality, the two solve mysteries and make peace between humans and supernaturals.
The first season had its high and low points. On the downside, it became overly expository towards the middle and I found Iwanaga herself to be too pushy. Based on a light novel, the heavy exposition is of course not unexpected. What kept me watching was the supernatural mythology, ghosts and mystery in the modern age-something that always fascinates me. Having read the manga, the second season should be in the same vein as the first, in terms of quality of material-whether that is good or not depends on the individual. What undoubtedly is a good thing is the carry-over in staffing from the previous season, ensuring continuity on that score. If you need a supernatural detective to complete your season watchlist, then look no further than Kyokou Suiri Season 2.
|Kyokou Suiri Season 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
From the manga of the same name, Mou Ippon stars Sonoda Michi (Itou Asaya) and Takigawa Sanae (Anzai Yukari) and their, shall we say, physical struggle. Stars of their middle school judo team, Michi and Sanae ended their middle school life with a final judo tournament rounding out their good times. Now onto high school both judo fanatics naturally gravitate towards their new school’s judo team – but with it come across an interesting predicament. You see Michi’s final middle school judo opponent also happens to attend their school, and just so happens to want to join the school’s judo team with them. The problem is that said team is on its final legs, so if Michi and Sanae want to continue their passion they’re going to have to roll up their sleeves, help (and be helped by) some former competition, and do what it takes to keep their judo dreams alive.
Cute girls doing cute things, it’s quintessential anime fare and in this regard one can easily guess just what Mou Ippon is about. Barring the judo theme (itself a sport not that common for this genre) it’s as you’d expect from this sort of show, with a downtrodden school club and personal passions providing the impetus for lots of cute moments, personal struggles, and plenty of positive development. While ostensibly geared more towards school-life than sports (at least from the parts I’ve read), Mou Ippon does a fair job of representing its choice of competitive athletics, so both sports and slice of life fans should find plenty to like here provided expectations are kept in check – especially if its honestly impressive manga art translates well into anime form. It may not be the most standout of winter’s many laidback offerings, but I’d recommend anyone wanting some cute and wholesome in their seasonal selection keep Mou Ippon close at hand.
|Mou Ippon! Promotional Videos ▼|
Finn Oldman (Satou Gen) is a mischievous, spirited boy who discovers that his orphanage is on the brink of financial collapse. Now freely living on the streets, Finn puts his nerves of steel to good use at the casino in a bid to make make a fortune. Little did he know that he’d be entangled in a bloody shootout caused by a man’s “lucky” card. He’d eventually come to find out that the world order is controlled by a set of 52 X-playing cards that bestow people with supernatural abilities by accessing the hidden “buddy” within themselves. Because of these cards, there is a secret group of people called “High Card” who are tasked to collect cards scattered throughout the kingdom under the guise of Pinochle, a luxury carmaker. As it turns out, Finn is recruited to become the group’s fifth member as he is tasked with finding these cards along with his newfound friends. Along the way, they’ll be dealing with rival carmakers, Mafia families, and other card-obsessed players fueled by the thrill of the hunt. “All you need in life are manners, dignity, and the will to bet on your own life,” is the mantra that HIGH CARD embraces as it dives into Finn and High Card’s goal to seek out the X-playing cards.
The first thing you’ll notice about HIGH CARD is how its atmosphere is tailor-made for its cast of predominantly refined men. The swanky high-class aesthetic of clean-cut gentlemen is blended with a love for Western-inspired fantasy settings. It’s very contemporary and chic, but also loves itself some lore about kingdoms and magic, making it a pretty cool anime for modern times. It’s the kind of show made to make you enthusiastic about what kind of cafe crossovers will come from it, and which character will have a pancake or berry soda float inspired by their looks. That’s not to say there won’t be any merit from the story itself, since its action sequences look very neat, and you can always expect cool fight scenes when men in business suits throw magic at each other. Its card-collecting motif has an overall goal going for it too, so you can at least look forward to it having a good sense of direction. We’ll know for certain when HIGH CARD shows its lucky hand this Winter.
|High Card Promotional Videos ▼|
It shouldn’t be hard for the vampire hunter Ronald (Furukawa Makoto) to best this particular vampire, but unfortunately, the job in Draluc’s residence to rescue a lost child was a fluke. The “kidnapped” child wound up being a neighborhood kid who wanted to have dibs on Draluc’s video game collection while he was asleep. It doesn’t help that Ronald’s rescue mission winds up destroying Draluc’s castle, forcing the vampire to move in with the man who destroyed his home. In return, Draluc is recruited to join Ronald’s team as they aim to fight off lesser vampires, fellow vampire hunters, and Ronald’s violent editor.
One of my greater shames is not retaining the first season of Kyuuketsuki Sugu Shinu after watching the first couple of episodes. It was a hilarious anime that served as the perfect comedy to watch during Halloween back when it premiered last Fall. It was amusing to see how driven up-the-wall Ronald gets as he has to cope with Draluc’s eccentricities and low pain tolerance. It was a sleeper hit back when it aired, and hopefully, it will retain that level of charm and surprise when Kyuuketsuki Sugu Shinu returns for the Winter season.
|Kyuuketsuki Sugu Shinu 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
Ghosts, spirits: whatever name is given to the ethereal, they are capable of possessing objects to gain physical form. Known as tsukumogami, these observable spirits can either be gentle or violent, and are something the Saenomi clan helps to control by sending them back to the spirit world when discovered. Hyouma Kunato (Ootsuka Takeo) is one such Saenomi member, a brash kid with a quick temper courtesy of a tsukumogami who robbed him earlier. Kunato’s fiery impulses have led to serious collateral damage when handling tsukumogamis, enough so that his grandfather sends to live with Nagatsuki Botan (Takada Yuuki) to cure him of his anger, a woman who, surprise surprise, lives with a tsukumogami as family. Can Kunato learn to finally control his impulses when forced to make nice with a spirit? Not even the spirits themselves can answer that one.
Mononogatari is a funny one at face value, and not just because of its name that guaranteed fooled at few at first glance. This one looks, feels, and plays out like many similar supernatural series to date, whether that be Bungou Stray Dogs, Jututsu Kaisen, or in particular Kyokou Suiri. Basically take your typical otherworldly backdrop, fuse it with a character-driven story, add a bit of magic, and, well, you get the idea. While the source manga is nothing outrageously impressive, from the chapters I’ve read it’s pretty good for what it does, and with over 14 volumes to date it’s also a story which won’t be lacking in adaptable material. Tack on a half decent cast and crew to the proceedings (though Bandai Namco is nothing to write home about studio-wise) and I’d feel confident in lending some optimism to this one. It may not be winter’s biggest highlight, but I’d keep Mononogatari on your radar if in need of some supernatural fun and games.
|Mononogatari Promotional Videos ▼|
The Norse tale returns to screens this January for its anticipated return after a three-year hiatus. This series has been long awaited and fans were ecstatic when the announcement came earlier in 2022 that Season 2 would be released this coming January. For those of you who have yet to visit Vinland, the promised land, I promise you that you should check out the first season in preparation for what’s to come. Like many other fans, I got pulled into Thorfinn’s story on screen and in literature. The first season (War Arc) covers the growth of a young boy named Thorfinn who finds himself, through tragedy, under the tutelage of a half-Welsh and half-Danish commander (Askeladd) that leads a band of Vikings during the Danish invasion in England. Thorfinn becomes a skilled killer through sheer determination and festering revenge, which Askeladd uses to advance his own power and success during the war. But this new season will cover the Slave Arc (also known as Farmland) during which Thorfinn is sold into slavery after his plot for revenge is thwarted.
This new season will introduce a unique sentiment with viewers. It’s less about the war (though a political plot will be brewing in the background) and much more about Thorfinn (Uemura Yuuto)’s character evolution as well as his friendship with his new friend Einar (Takeuchi Shunsuke). There is a stark difference between the two men and that juxtaposition will refresh the series for many viewers shifting it in a new direction. The trailer makes it quite clear that there will be less of an emphasis on battle and action in this season and more story-building. Speaking of trailers, the animation this season will be done under MAPPA, however, the same team is working on the project alongside returning director Yabuta Shuhei. Be prepared for a slow and gradual burn, something the director and his team have put considerable thought and care into bringing to life for viewers. I’d say that this is definitely not one to miss this upcoming season. It won’t be as action-packed but I’m convinced it will carry the same weight as the first season leaving us wanting more as it did originally.
|Vinland Saga Season 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
Kazamaki Matsuri (Chiba Shouya, who also starred in the popular 86 as Nouzen Shinei) and Kanade Suzu (Ichinose Kana) are childhood friends who share in the ability to be able to see, exorcise and interact with ayakashi – or youkai. But somehow, as they enter high school, their relationship starts to deteriorate as their views on ayakashi start to diverge: Matsuri believes they should all be eradicated, while Suzu, who’s also a medium, believes they’re worthy of compassion and love. So far, not an unusual plot line for this genre of anime. The catch? After stumbling upon an inconspicuous looking cat ayakashi (who’s really an overpowered four hundred-year-old spirit), Matsuri gets turned into a girl! Could this be Suzu’s worst nightmare? How is she going to process her romantic feelings towards her childhood best friend now that he’s turned into a voluptuous she-beauty?!
Romcom, ecchi, slice of life-ish, gender bender and a sprinkle of Japanese folklore: Ayakashi Triangle is currently in its 11th tankobon volume while being serialized in Shounen Jump+. Written and illustrated by Yabuki Kentaro, best known for his Black Cat series and for illustrating To Love Ru, this heartwarming romance hits the screen on this winter season to keep you toasty.
|Ayakashi Triangle Promotional Videos ▼|
The old Hero-King Inglis (Kitou Akari) has had a marvelous life. Crafting an empire with his own hands and providing its citizens with untold wealth and happiness, Inglis can say he’s done everything – but there’s one small thing he never could get before meeting his end. You see Inglis’ unfulfilled wish was to live a warrior’s life free from the confines of rulership, to live and die by his skill in the sword. It’s a dream passionate enough to elicit amusement in his patron goddess Alisitia, enough so that she decides to fling Inglis’ soul into the future and resurrect him. As a girl. Now daughter of a minor noble family, Inglis must not only overcome prejudice and skill gap, but also supposed knighthood ineligibility as she shockingly finds out after turning six. Small potatoes for Inglis though; with a past life of accomplishments and ambition for days, this is one girl who won’t be held back from her dreams.
Resurrection certainly seems to be in vogue as the fantasy premise these days, and in that regard you can guess just how Reborn to Master the Blade is going to turn out. Besides the gender bending angle at play this is effectively the CGDCT version of Maou Gakuin, where hopes of rebirthing demonic supremacy are replaced by more noble pursuits of honour and chivalry. Or if you will, what Youjo Senki would be if it went for cutesy swords over maniacal rifles. With Studio Comet and a fairly unassuming staff on board (albeit with artist-cum-Hololive vtuber Nagu as character designer) I wouldn’t expect an adaptation masterclass here (it’s based on a light novel series), however should the usual anchors of source material chopping and rushing be contained there’s nothing stopping it being a fun little show. Time will certainly tell, but any fantasy fan should at least keep one eye open for what this one gets up to this season.
|Eiyuu Ou, Bu o Kiwameru Tame Tenseisu: Soshite, Sekai Saikyou no Minarai Kishi Promotional Videos ▼|
I can say with full confidence that this is the biggest drop-off in expectations between my top series Vinland Saga and the #2 since I’ve been doing these previews. And it seems pretty likely to me that this is the weakest (and maybe smallest) mid-tier blocks of series I’ve ever had. But that is what it is, and I’m somewhat more than modestly interested in Kubo-san wa Mob wo Yurusanai. It’s a romcom with no light novel involvement, the manga seems reasonably well-regarded, and while the director is largely an unknown, Pine Jam is always an interesting and ambitious studio.
This premise – an extremely anonymous high school boy and the girl who refuses to ignore but likes to tease him – reads like a pastiche of trendy romcom tropes. And one riddled with potholes at that. But the general consensus seems to be that it’s not too mean-spirited (I’ll judge that for myself) and has at least some original perspective to offer on the tropes it trades on. In most seasons this series wouldn’t be near the top of the board, but Winter 2023 is obviously not like most seasons.
There’s nothing obviously exceptional in the staff list, but Pine Jam has a reputation as an “artists collective” sort of studio – albeit one where production turmoil has been an occasional problem. The previews for Kubo-san look good, and the overall zeitgeist about the manga is positive enough that my overall expectations for this show are reasonably high. With the rest of the schedule looking like it does, it better be good…
|Kubo-san wa Boku o Yurusanai Promotional Videos ▼|
Mukouda Tsuyoshi (Uchida Yuuma), a 27-year-old, is summoned to a fantasy world along with three other heroes to save a kingdom from a mysterious threat. However, it quickly becomes apparent that Tsuyoshi was summoned by accident and his only useful skill is “Food Menu,” a talent allowing him to access a supermarket interface where he can purchase and obtain food items from modern Japan.
After being kicked out of the palace, Tsuyoshi sets out on his own in the new world. His ability to create delicious dishes unknown to this world quickly proves to be valuable, attracting the attention of the legendary wolf Fenrir. Fenrir is so impressed by Tsuyoshi’s cooking that the creature forms a contract with him and becomes his familiar.
With Fenrir by his side, Tsuyoshi takes on a job as a merchant and adventurer, travelling and cooking up mouth-watering meals that amaze the inhabitants of this world. I think you know exactly what this one is going to get up to.
|Tondemo Skill de Isekai Hourou Meshi Promotional Videos ▼|
When Kaede Honjou (Hondo Kaede) is invited to play a VRMMO called “New World Online”, she is hesitant on whether she has the skills to play online. As her in-game character Maple, she allocates all of her stat points into vitality out of her fear of pain. But while this would be impractical in any other RPG, Maple’s build is highly suitable for Kaede’s playstyle since her stats grant her access to overpowered skills aimed toward defense, immunity, and counterattacking. Even though Maple’s existence winds up breaking the game and getting her insanely far in server-wide events, she is openly accepted by her friends and allies, who see her as a bright, talented, and pleasant player to work with. Season 2 will continue Maple’s story as she aims to learn more about her abilities and pick up plenty of new ones along the way.
Bofuri was a fun virtual isekai anime that had all the charm of a low-stakes slice-of-life with the action-packed excitement of a seasonal fantasy anime. It wound up being surprisingly funny as Maple would poison, devour, and protect her way to an otherwise impossible victory. It gives me fond memories of the pre-pandemic life as it aired within the small window of 2020 when things were still relatively normal. It was also a positive, light-hearted experience that didn’t feel the need to be bogged down by any of the wish fulfillment often prevalent in fantasy anime. It was relaxing to watch Maple constantly improve herself as she gets better familiarized with having a breezy in-game experience and learns to make pain a thing of the past. I’m looking forward to seeing if Season 2 manages to capture the same easy feelings that the first installment of Bofuri embraced.
|Itai no wa Iya nano de Bougyoryoku ni Kyokufuri Shitai to Omoimasu. 2 Promotional Videos ▼|
A world blanketed in an endless and ever-growing ocean of snow. The people eke out a living, either huddled around the roots of enormous trees dotting the surface or high in the canopy which spreads over the sky. A chance meeting between Kaina (Hosoya Yoshimasa), a youth from the canopy, and Liliha (Takahashi Rie), a young woman from the surface, sets off a chain of events that will change the fate of the world.
Personally I’m quite excited for this one, mainly because Polygon Pictures is collaborating with Tsutomu Nihei, the creator of Blame!, in creating this original production. Yes, most if not all of the show will be CGI, but that won’t stop me from watching it, because Polygon’s animation is not exactly jarring, it holds just the right amount of anime infused energy, and because there’s plenty of worse animation out there. I’m placing a lot of faith in this one, since the story might be quite good and interesting to watch. The synopsis is also quite interesting to me. It might not be a dystopic megastructure in space, but planet wide mystery still abounds. I am definitely curious seeing where this story goes.
|Ooyuki Umi no Kaina Promotional Videos ▼|
Cujoh Jolyne (Fairouz Ai) is finally seeing a ray of hope when she recovers all of the items needed to bring her father Jotaro (Ono Daisuke) back from his coma. But the trauma and mortal danger she’s faced from Enrico Pucci’s (Seki Tomokazu) numerous attempts to murder her have given her a greater reason to stay at Green Dolphin Street Prison. It helped her find out that Pucci is planning to evolve his stand so he can fulfill DIO’s dream of attaining heaven. With the help of the friends she’s made in prison, Jolyne aims to stop Pucci from threatening the world’s balance by molding a new world in DIO’s image.
It’s hard to understand why Netflix wouldn’t clarify that the remaining episodes of Stone Ocean would air shortly after Part 2’s release. There was already a lack of transparency on whether Part 3 would share the same year-long development window. Jokes regarding Part 3 being aired at the end of 2023 would already cement shortly after the second season’s debut. But it does mean I’ll be much more enthused when Part 3 is released, considering that it was a pleasant surprise to see that Stone Ocean will be wrapping up before 2023. It helps that Part 3 is when the fights and enemy stands get crazier and crazier. It really winds up being a testament to how cool Jolyne is and why she’s considered to be one of the best JoJos. I’d be more than happy to see how the final batch of episodes are pulled off, and how they manage to capture some of the nuttier fights that happen in this final stretch of Stone Ocean.
Rinku Aimoto (Nishio Yuuka) returns to Japan after living abroad in Africa and enrolls at Yoba Academy, a school where DJ units are popular. There, she meets Maho Akashi (Kagami Karin) who teaches her about DJing. They attend a performance by Yoba’s famous DJ unit Peaky P-key and are inspired to form their own unit. Rinku and Maho recruit Muni Oonaruto (Mimura Haruka), a childhood friend and talented artist, and Rei Togetsu (Irie Maiko), a shy pianist, to join their group. Naming themselves Happy Around, the friends aim to use their combined talents to become one of the top DJ units in the country.
Overall D4DJ is a cute series about cute girls doing cute things, but has that DJ Hardstyle element to it making it interesting. Furthermore the different groups within this universe make their own songs and then debut them in a live concert, adding to the fun. The songs are mostly made up of EDM beats that are sure to surpise some and bring joy to others. Actually I must admit at some point I really got addicted to the mobile game and played it for a couple months. It was more than fun.
Even though the anime is made by the same people who brought you Black Rock Shooter, Terra Formers and Aoki Hagane no Arpeggio: Ars Nova – shows chock full of CGI – the animation is fluid enough for the charachters to be expressive withouth feeling stiff or out of place. D4DJ: All Mix is sure to follow the same trend of last season and itself be 100% CGI, but don’t let that deter you from enjoying this show. After all, I still do!
Hiiragi Seiichi (Shimono Hiro) is a boy so overtly loathed and outwardly loathsome that they are destined to be forever alone. That is until a digital deity transports him and his entire school into another world where everyone has cool RPG perks. At first, Hiiragi is stoked that he is granted a more attractive appearance that would help him get any kind of romantic attention from the ladies. To his dismay, the first girl who falls head-over-heels in love with him is a gorilla! Saria (Hanazawa Kana) is a pink gorilla who aims to have a romantic relationship with Hiiragi as he goes on his grand isekai journey to become his strongest and best self. But how can he get started on his road to self-fulfillment if his new girlfriend is a gorilla!? The “Fruit of Evolution” is the key to this mystery as it helps grant Saria the ability to truly transform into a human form, making it a little more palatable for Hiiragi to pursue her. Season 2 continues their ongoing journey as they experience new obstacles, friends, and foes on their road to a better future together.
I am flabbergasted. At the time of its release, Shin Shinka no Mi was heavily reviled for being a cheap, tasteless insult to the idea of comedy. It was created as if the entire thing was a slap in the face meant to mock its audience for sticking around long enough to see if something of merit would appear. I would be hard-pressed to find anyone who thought this show warranted a second season. I suppose if this season shows us a confident Hiiragi who further dunks on the people who picked on him at school, I could see it being a cathartic experience to watch another season of this. If you saw the first season as a guilty pleasure, then you might have an even bigger blast with the second one. Rest assured, Shin Shinka no Mi’s second season will be an acquired taste that may be unfit for consumption, but in a fun way. Some seasonal anime promise to be a full course meal or a pleasant aperitif, but Shin Shinka no Mi guarantees it will remain anime’s detergent pod; dangerous to consume, but too vibrant and colorful not to want to give a hearty chew.
|Shin Shinka no Mi: Shiranai Uchi ni Kachigumi Jinsei Promotional Videos ▼|
Fire, once one of the greatest inventions of humankind, becomes one of its greatest enemies following the repercussions of the Last War, wherein biological weapons render humans defenseless to flame. People spontaneously combust when near even small flames and Flame Spirits that live in a dangerous forest are the only usable fuel. Any hope of survival comes in the form of Firecatchers, who, as their name suggests, catch these flamelings. Stories circulate about “The King of Fire Hunters”, a chosen one who will capture a “Wandering Spark” comet. As the rumors spread, an orphaned city boy, Koushi (Ishige Shouya), meets country girl Toko (Kuno Misaki) – how will they alter the course of history?
I got Ghibli-esque vibes from the promo-video that teased a world in the aftermath of man-made destruction, a fantastical forest, and spirit powers. The Studio Ghibli connection is not in atmosphere only – the art director, Ogura Hiromasa, also did the background art for a few films from the famous studio, including Spirited Away and the Secret World of Arrietty (among others) and the chief animation director/character designer, Saitou Takuya, did the key animation on Kaguya-hime no Monogatari. If you’re a Ghibli fan or in general enjoy a good fantasy, I would recommend stepping into the world of Hikari no Ou.
Orphen (Morikubo Shoutarou) is the moniker of Krylancelo Finrandi, a prodigy in sorcery who dropped out of the prestigious academy Tower of Fangs to venture out on a journey to save his foster sister Azalie Cait-Sith (Hikasa Yoko) from being trapped in a dragon form. As Orphen, he visited the bustling city of Totokanta to rebrand himself as a sorcerer-for-hire. Although he’d been stalling on his quest, Orphen would soon reunite with Azalie in this city, right as he was settling in with some of the locals. With Azalie in his sights, he aims to save her from her curse and uncover the secrets kept by the Sword of Baldanders.
I am unsure of the roles that newcomers Ed (Ono Daisuke) and Lottecia (Aoki Shiki) have in the narrative, but it is nice to see that the Orphen anime series is still ongoing. The old-school anime charm of the show’s content has a nostalgic early 2000s feel to it that’s often difficult for other shows to tap into. The Orphen franchise has spanned multiple mediums from its original light novels to a series of manga, anime, and video games, but this recent remake has the potential to adapt the entire light novel series. That alone is a great reason to want to see Orphen through to the end, but if you want to have a whimsical glimpse of a 90’s fantasy adventure, then it wouldn’t be a bad idea to catch up on the first two seasons so that you’ll be prepped up and ready for Urbanrama-hen.
|Majutsushi Orphen Hagure Tabi: Urbanrama Hen Promotional Videos ▼|
From A-1 Pictures comes the adaptation of Yoko Taro’s NieR: Automata, an action-RPG released by Square Enix and PlatinumGames in 2017. The original game focuses on a distant future where invaders have forced humanity to take refuge on the Moon. In an attempt to take back the Earth, The Council of Humanity deploys YoRHA, an elite force of androids tasked with fighting the invaders and their mechanical constructs. 2B (Ishikawa Yui) and 9S (Hanae Natsuki) are the android protagonists of the story and are deployed from the “Bunker,” an orbital base stationed around the Earth. As the conflict between machine and android continues, the two androids meet a deserter named A2, and the three are led down a path that reveals a “long forgotten truth” about the world. Masuyama Ryouji (director of Blend S, with Key Animation and Episode Director credits in Evangelion 3.0, Gurren Lagann, and Kimi no Todoke) will direct the adaptation, which will feature some differences from the game (as per Yoko Taro’s own comments during Aniplex Online Fest).
Given its extreme popularity, it’s a wonder it’s taken so long for NieR: Automata to receive an adaptation. In typical Yoko Taro fashion though, his first words about the adaptation are how he intends to change things up for the anime, so any expectations are immediately thrown out the window. You can likely expect the general story to follow the original game, but there’s bound to be significant changes that will certainly get viewers comparing the two and arguing over which one ended up being the better experience. As someone who loved the original game, I’d like to say that the series is a must-watch just to see what Yoko Taro does with this adaptation (and for those new to the franchise to see what the NieR: Automata hype is all about), but the potential polarization of this adaptation and the franchise in general is going to be high. Many will probably find something that will draw them to the series among the absurd backdrop, almost whimsical developments, and notable characters, but there will certainly be some who will end up hating the series with a passion.
|NieR:Automata Ver1.1a Promotional Videos ▼|
|01/06||Nijiyon Animation | にじよんあにめーしょん
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, Wikipedia (JP)
|10/08||KJ File (Zoku-hen) | KJファイル
ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList
|10/17||FLAGLIA: Natsuyasumi no Monogatari | FLAGLIA~なつやすみの物語~
AniDB, ANN Encyclopedia, MyAnimeList, Wikipedia (EN)
|10/26||Goodbye, Don Glees! | グッバイ、ドン・グリーズ！
|11/16||Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san Movie
ENG: Teasing Master Takagi-san: The Movie
|11/25||Isekai Quartet Movie: Another World
劇場版 異世界かるてっと ～あなざーわーるど～
|12/04||Kiyoneko | きよねこっ
|12/07||Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero Movie
|12/08||Onna no Sono no Hoshi | 女の園の星
|Bundled w/ LE manga Volume 3.|
|12/14||INU-OH Movie | 劇場アニメーション『犬王』
|12/15||Violet Evergarden: Pour Mémoire
ENG: Violet Evergarden: Recollections
|DMM TV Release.|
|12/21||Eiga Gotōbun no Hanayome | 映画「五等分の花嫁」
ENG: The Quintessential Quintuplets Movie
|12/21||Kaitou QUEEN wa Circus ga Osuki
ENG: Mirage QUEEN Prefers Circus
|12/21||Re:cycle of the PENGUINDRUM
|BD/DVD Release. Compilation w/ new scenes.|
|12/23||Gokushufudou Season 2 | 極主夫道
|01/18||Toku Touken Ranbu: Hanamaru ~Setsugetsuka~
|01/18||Tsurune: Hajimari no Issha | 劇場版ツルネ -はじまりの一射-
ENG: Tsurune The Movie: The First Shot
|01/19||Itou Junji: Maniac | 伊藤潤二『マニアック』
ENG: Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre
|01/26||Shuumatsu no Walküre II | 終末のワルキューレII
ENG: Record of Ragnarok II
|02/15||Bakuten!! Movie | 映画 バクテン!!
ENG: Backflip!! Movie
|Feb 2023||Aggressive Retsuko 5th Season | グレッシブ烈子
|Feb 2023||MAKE MY DAY
|03/08||EVANGELION:3.0+1.11 THRICE UPON A TIME
|04/05||Free! The Final Stroke: Part 2
劇場版Free!-the Final Stroke- 後編