Winter 2022 Anime First Impressions

After the absolute barrage of new series in the fall season—somewhere around 50, including a few that made our Best of 2021 list—winter 2022 brings about 2/3 that many, a more manageable number for those of us trying to tune in to as many as we can! And our team will help you parse through them as we post our first impressions on as many of those new anime as we’re able, especially over the next couple of weeks as most premiere.

We’ll be posting frequently as anime come out, and using this page as a master post to keep track of all our first impression posts, as well as an opportunity for our staff to add additional thoughts to those articles. Keep checking back as we make updates, click on the links below as we develop out this post, and let us know what you’re thinking in the comments!

Akebi’s Sailor UniformCue!Fantasia Sango – Realm of LegendsFutsal Boys!!!!!The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of DebtGirls’ FrontlineIn the Land of LeadaleLife With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy KnockoutLove of KillMiss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development DepartmentMy Dress-Up DarlingOrientPolice in a PodRequiem of the Rose KingRusted ArmorsSabikui BiscoSaiyuki RELOAD ZEROINSasaki and MiyanoShe Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise ManSlow LoopSorairo UtilityThe Strongest Sage with the Weakest CrestTokyo 24th WardTribe Nine


Akebi’s Sailor Uniform

First Impression: claire

In its opening episode, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform is a thoughtful, delicate and luxuriously animated work shot through with color, joy and background art that is so tangible you feel as if you could step right into the scenes.

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jeskaiangel

With beautiful visuals and heartwarming family interactions, this was a lovely and very promising first episode. It definitely convinced me to keep watching.

Streaming on Crunchyroll and Funimation.


Cue!

First Impression: Gaheret

I’ll confess I was skeptical that a show with this number of heroines could make any sense at all, and my excess-of-cuteness detector was sounding somewhat of an alarm. And, indeed, without the documentary trick of Shirobako’s first episode, when everyone arrived at the studio all at once, it felt quite like Paprika’s endless parade. But after that, the show managed to find its feet and ease my concerns…

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claire

“A Shirobako for seiyuus?! Sign me UP!!” is what I thought excitedly when reading the synopsis. “Wait, did you say fifteen MCs?!?” is what put me off halfway through. It just required too much work, trying to tell this trope-heavy cast apart and care enough about any one character when they’re each given only half-sentence biographies. On the other hand, if cutesy is your jam, you’ll be drowning in gold in this one!

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Fantasia Sango – Realm of Legends

First Impression: claire

…this episode was pretty run-of-the-mill, and despite the attempt to stand out through its setting and lots of new Chinese vocab for viewers to master, we’ve seen this before, and done much better (in Demon Slayer, or my favorite in this genre, Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, or indeed, the aforementioned Twelve Kingdoms). That said, it’s not a train wreck; but that just means that it isn’t even good for a laugh or some spectacular fireworks as it crashes and burns.

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Streaming on Funimation.


Futsal Boys!!!!!

First Impression: Twwk

….what stands out most in episode one is the awful animation. The animators use tricks to cut corners seemingly every single minute, particularly by panning across shots or repeating animation sequences. It even happens in the series opening, which is supposed to a reflection of the animation quality in a series. And that it is, in the most unfortunate of ways. Still, I could live with bad animation, but I can’t live with bad animation combined with a laughably corny script, featuring scenes like hoodlums running away from a fight because an under-18 national futsal team member shows up (better run!) or two beautiful boys catching sight of each other while one flips perfectly upside down on his bike. Whew.

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claire

Unlike Twwk, I actually was familiar with futsal before this, but I think that made it worse. As our fearless leader noted, the animation is deplorable, particularly for a sports series. After every single shot, a good two seconds or more was wasted in depicting the ball spinning blindingly in the back of the net, as if to make up for the fact that the gameplay leading up to each goal was so very pedantic and plodding, listless and lackluster, flat and almost completely lacking in the exhilarating acrobatics that make the sport so spectacular a spectator sport. Also, the ball doesn’t always spin that way. Sometimes, it just drops to the ground, which is what will doubtless happen to this series.

Streaming on Funimation.


The Genius Prince’s Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt

First Impression: Jeskai Angel

I actually disliked vol. 1 of the Genius Prince light novel, but eventually I read subsequent volumes and grew more fond of the series. This matters because I felt like this episode moved really, really fast. On the one hand, this may mean the anime plans to hurry through the material I disliked and will hopefully get the part I like more quickly, but on the other hand, it means the first episode felt pretty rushed…So, will I keep watching? Yes, for now. Should you watch? Maybe? It’s an underwhelming first episode, but maybe that’s inevitable considering the source material’s underwhelming first volume. However, if the adaptation improves in keeping with the novels, then the anime as a whole may turn out to be quite good.

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Streaming on Funimation.


Girls’ Frontline

First Impression: claire

This was a hoot and a half! The marketing visuals for this series, an adaptation of a mobile game, caught my eye months ago, and although the actual episode is not up to those standards, there were some pretty striking backgrounds here and there, and the OP animation style popped. There’s quite a lot of gobbledegook dialogue, throwing around complex serial code-like designations, lots of munitions details and so on, though it still remains comprehensible. Think Gun Gale Online, but with futuristic semi-fantasy weapons.

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Streaming on Funimation.


In the Land of Leadale

First Impression: Jeskai Angel

I’m a fan of the books, and nothing about this episode dissuades from continuing to watch. However, as is often the case with first episodes of anime, I would have preferred that this episode explain a bit more, and I could see non-readers coming away kind of confused about things that were more explicit in the book.

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stardf29

I just have to say, Cayna makes some great faces in this anime.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Life With an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated Into a Total Fantasy Knockout

First Impression: Negativeprimes

The guy is perfect and OP, while the girl’s “skill” consists of irresistible beauty or something. Gender stereotypes abound. I can’t say I recommend this series, but I can say it isn’t the worst I’ve ever seen, and that it does occasionally rise above the standard jokes. I’m always up for more isekai, so I’ll be watching it.

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Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Love of Kill

First Impression: Laura A. Grace

While I have read up to volume two of Love of Kill, I enjoyed the anime a lot more. I think it better captures the romantic element that Love of Kill is marketed as and creates a more humorous atmosphere that I found especially enjoyable. The anime format really allows the interesting personality and antics of Ryang-Ha Song to shine and be even more thoroughly conveyed…The animation studio truly did an excellent job of capturing these two light-and-day characters! 

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claire

The ’70s style big band OP, I love; the ’70s style gender relations bordering on sexual harassment? Not so much. Ryang-Ha struck me as uber creepy and his pursuit of Chateau, who has been very clear in her disinterest in his advances, is closer to stalking than romance in my books. Not my kinda guy, and so probably not my kinda series. Hard pass from me, y’all!

jeskaiangel

I agree with Claire that the episode wasn’t romantic, in no small part because Song the assassin was giving off such creepy, stalkerish vibes and completely disrespecting Chateau. He is absolutely not a model to imitate. At the same time…I agree with Laura that this episode was super funny! I think the comical absurdity of it all kept me laughing and prevented me from getting too irked by Song’s obnoxious behavior. I think I’ll watch at least another episode or two before making a decision on this one.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department

First Impression: Jeskai Angel

That was bonkers, in a good way. I got some World Conquest Zvezda Plot vibes from this episode, with it’s nonsensical portrayal of a sinister (?) organization bent on global conquest. Since I thought WCZP was hilarious, that’s a good thing. I was also impressed by a reveal in the credits: In the episode’s montage of heroes, they showed animated versions of a bunch of a real tokusatsu characters. How cool is that?!

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claire

I concur with the assessment of my esteemed colleague. If you’ve ever held a middling-ranked admin role at work, or been grouped with a bunch of slackers for a school group project, you’ll be able to feel Miss Kuroitsu’s pain–that’s what makes this episode so cathartic! I also really appreciated the self-reflexivity, with the Monster Development Department being a stand-in for every mangaka/screenwriter/author anywhere, ever. At uni, we called it putting the humanities spin on it, when you justify poor work and lazy thinking by admitting that yes, this argument/essay/report is weak, but it’s weak on purpose! So there! I’ll definitely be tuning in again to see myself reflected in Miss Kuroitsu’s admin adventures.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


My Dress-Up Darling

First Impression: claire

There’s so much potential here for something thoughtful and maybe even profound in this exploration of the collision between cultures or “exact opposite worlds” as Wakana describes them; between the Japan of the 1890s and modern otaku culture of the 2020s. My hope is that in bringing these two worlds together, something truly rich, relevant, and creative may emerge. But maybe I’m asking for too much. I’ll stick around for awhile though to find out!

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Samuru

I really enjoyed this anime, even though I judged the book by it’s cover and wasn’t interested based on the title. I was surprised by the two main characters and how they explain how they feel about their interests. Socially they are in different spaces but they meet at a crossroads because of a sewing machine. As Claire mentioned, I hope to see these two worlds come together and see how creating cosplay outfits or other projects helps the two understand each other.

Streaming on Cruchyroll and Funimation.


Orient

First Impression: Twwk

Adapted from a manga by the same creator as Magi, the characters may feel familiar to any shonen fan, but the world they inhabit is bonkers. It’s a recreation of the Japanese Warring States Period that imagines oni invading the country and ruling over it, rather than a shogunate unifying the nation. But it’s not just the setting that’s different—the colors are vivid (as in Magi), the technology is unexpected (Musashi lands on an oni with his motorcycle), and the stage is big. And that’s all in just episode one.

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Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Police in a Pod

First Impression: claire

Some of the jokes were fantastic, and the female buddy cop dynamic has potential, given Fuji’s contrary personality and Mai’s tendency to overshare, turning every simple question into a set-up for an emotional childhood flashback scene—like, every time. Which is funny; and a little annoying.

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Streaming on Funimation.


Requiem of the Rose King

First Impression: Samuru

Right away, the animation did not impress me and took time to get used to…The pacing was also not given enough time to breathe, as this episode could have at least been split in two. There was enough material to have gotten to know the characters, but instead it’s just one scene after another with little transition. I can’t imagine that later episodes will fix these issues.

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Streaming on Funimation.


Rusted Armors

First Impression: Gaheret

Picture, say, the Avengers, killing hundreds of enemies without powers and with a flippant attitude, then afterwards taking a hot bad, making terrible jokes, getting drunk and speaking ill of each other, and you might get an idea of what this is about.

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claire

I’ll be honest, I didn’t make it to the end. I intended to; tried to, most effortfully. But in the end, I couldn’t stick it out with this awkward love (hate?) child of Naruto and RWBY, where the family resemblance is only most superficial. What’s so sad is that this was obviously a kind of passion project (or maybe just an ill-judged investment by a mixed-media franchise?) in that its production actually spawned the formation of a new studio, and prompted the return of the director to anime after a ten-year hiatus. What an anti-climax. Also, in Japanese, they use the English word “armor” and pronounce it “armor”, so why the ungrammatical pluralization in the English title? That was definitely the straw that broke this camel’s back.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Sabikui Bisco

First Impression: Twwk

It’s well planned, a mystery, and we’re left with far more questions by the end of episode one than answers. I’m not sure if the rest of the series can live up to the expectations set by the excellent first episode, but the opening is smart enough to lead me to believe that it might. I’m excited to find out if it does.

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claire

Gather ’round, girls and boys! Let’s talk about mushrooms. When I read the synopsis for this one, I thought, “hmm, trippy…” which is of course one of the uses of mushrooms, and one that is employed apparently in this post-apocalyptic Tokyo. But what makes this series more than just a wacky psychedelic trip (though it does have elements of that) is that the mushrooms that explode into existence in the cityscapes here are also referencing the most traumatic event in modern Japanese history: the mushroom clouds that appeared instantaneously and devastatingly over Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and wreaked more destruction–physical and psychological–in a mere flash than had ever been achieved in all of human history. Boom. There are elements of that as well in this opening episode: of a society traumatized by sudden unexpected destruction, and the rise of a new leadership and culture amid the ashes. And like nuclear radiation, mushrooms will kill you, but manipulated properly by medical experts, they can save you too, which is what Milo is trying to do. This thing just got deep!

jeskaiangel

I thought this looked it might be a generic shonen action story…but it’s surprisingly funny and mysterious. I will watch more.

Samuru

Wow, this first episode starts with a BANG! Tokyo got wiped out by the first 30 seconds, so right away the anime is flexing and letting you know they are serious. The concept of rust causing an apocalyptic disaster is new at least to me, and it did not disappoint. So far the pacing is good, characters have more to flesh out, but some things are odd like giant mushrooms and heat-packing, rabbit-mask wearing hoodlums. I hope it continues to push the story forward and explain the questions it left viewers with after episode 1.

Streaming on Funimation.


Saiyuki RELOAD ZEROIN

First Impression: Gaheret

The aesthetics of Saiyuki RELOAD ZEROIN are pretty unique, the music is great, and frankly, I’m quite intrigued. There’s a system of powers and magic behind this mishmash of eras and styles, and I thought the fight and its consequences were well-played.

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Streaming on HiDive.


Sasaki and Miyano

First Impression: Twwk

Sasaki takes the role of the lovesick senpai while Miyano is a clueless BL otaku. I think it’s a very purposeful and interesting choice that they’re developing as such, adding what I think is that element of “will they or won’t they” in addition to making the series more palatable for those that would be interested in trying out a BL series, but not one that’s overtly sexual…As to what that means for the series, I don’t yet know, though I would prefer some character and relationship development to occur (again, like that in Horimiya), though I don’t know if that’ll happen.

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Streaming on Funimation.


She Professed Herself Pupil of the Wise Man

First Impression: claire

This was not a first episode…the most important episode of any anime series was, in this case, the kind of stuff you get in recaps or flashbacks. Talk about a false start…

Here’s what I propose though: skip this episode and instead watch next week’s episode as if it were the premiere…That’s what I’m going to do: I am going to forget this episode and tune in next week to give this series a fresh start. It’s not too late! And I think it will actually be kind of awesome once it gets going!

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jeskaiangel

I pretty much agree with everything my esteemed colleague wrote. There’s no denying that this is a pretty bad first episode. But the OP was solid and there was some nice meta humor, so I plan to give the show another chance next week.

stardf29

As someone who has read the first volume of the light novel, I’m definitely baffled at why they decided to open the show in this way. The novel doesn’t have a lot of action to start with, so I can kind of understand wanting to show off some action to appeal to those wanting to see that, but then the terrible CG and overall weak animation pretty much has the opposite effect. And the entire voiceless montage featuring girl!Danblf just feels to me like the show is trying to do something “unique” for an opening without considering how effective it would be. I definitely agree with claire’s decision: start with the second episode, which hopefully will be more of a “normal” beginning and will actually explain what this story is about.

Streaming on Funimation.


Slow Loop

First Impression: stardf29

The best part of the episode comes at the end, when Minami has a chance at actually making par with one good approach. This is great for a slice-of-life show and helps give some weight behind the usual fluff of the genre. Also, this show provides plenty of educational information about fishing, with a healthy side of cooking to go with it. Slow Loop is easily one that is up my alley and is perfect for slice-of-life fans, while also potentially being of interest to others who are interested in a story about mixed families and don’t mind learning some fishing stuff along the way.

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claire

It’s soft and fluffy with some good screen-capable moments. But what makes Slow Loop a decent contender for lunchtime viewing this season for me is not the fishing or run-of-the-mill dynamic between opposites and “sudden sisters”, but the cooking lessons. In fact, I’m going to try out Koharu’s zukedon recipe this week! Not that I have platefuls of leftover sashimi in my fridge though…I’ll be substituting that particular ingredient.

Streaming on Funimation.


Sorairo Utility

First Impression: stardf29

The best part of the episode comes at the end, when Minami has a chance at actually making par with one good approach shot into the green. At this point, all the animation budget that had been saved with some earlier clip shows gets put to good use with a very nice-looking sequence that really sells the feel of hitting the perfect golf shot.

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Streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.


The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest

First Impression: Negativeprimes

In the interim between disposing of his previous body and suiting up in his new one, the demons that he thought he’d defeated for good have infiltrated human society and are steadily undermining it from within. So Matty, who is used to face-to-face battles, will have to learn to fight an enemy who knows how to hide among friends and manipulate from the shadows. The setup was kind of rushed, but I have hope that the following episodes will deliver the payoff.

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jeskaiangel

Oof. This was bad. While Matty-kun is a hilarious name, it’s not enough to smooth over the episode’s rapid shifts between pretty confusing and transparently obvious, a bland protagonist, and a comically trite love-at-first-sight scenario. Based on the first episode, I cannot recommend this show.

Streaming on Crunchyroll.


Tokyo 24th Ward

First Impression: claire

Don’t watch this one, folks. It’s so painfully boring! It’s a double-episode that would have been so much better off as a single episode or even a short—a good, thorough edit at draft stage is what it needs. Desperately. As it stands, it is all over the place and doesn’t really do, say or show anything of any substance while it runs about madly like a chicken with its head cut off.

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Streaming on Funimation and Crunchyroll.


Tribe Nine

First Impression: claire

…unlike the other sports anime this season, Futsal Boys!!!, the gameplay is actually pretty dynamic and eye-catching. Decidedly above average. It also struck me a few minutes in that this is essentially “cute boys doing cute (ahem, manly/boyish) things”. Why isn’t that a sub-genre yet? Maybe this is the beginning of something. Will I watch on to find out? To be honest, probably not, but I’m sure that I will remember this episode fondly if ever I think of it again.

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Streaming on Funimation.


2 thoughts on “Winter 2022 Anime First Impressions

  1. I really appreciate this, I’m counting on you so I can target my viewing. I have such a backlog, not to mention other hobbies, work, and home life that all compete for a slice of time. And of course my renewed commitment to God to slow down and spend more time in contemplative silence, nature, and spiritual readings. Know the feeling?

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