The birds are twittering, the flowers are blooming, and the winds of spring are blowing in, and with them comes what will almost certainly be a vastly improved anime season. Just as spring renews us after the harsh winter, we’ll be counting on the spring anime series to perk us up after an underwhelming winter season that was too full of poorly executed, mediocre new shows, and too thin on returning gems.
Speaking of the latter, there are loads of returning series this season—shows that have been waiting a year or more for the next new season (a good sign that they’ll be free of filler arcs!). Add to that about 35 new series—a host of which we deemed worth profiling (“we” being Claire and Twwk, your usual hosts for this review!)—and we have here the makings of a compelling season!
We won’t be covering shows that are continuing on from last season, but just to mention a few: CUE!, Delicious Party Pretty Cure, and Requiem of a Rose King will continue to entertain (or frustrate) viewers, while mid-season premieres like Salaryman’s Club, Shenmue the Animation, Kotaro Lives Alone, and Bakugan: Evolutions will finish out their cours.
Previews are arranged in categories, separating the returners from the most anticipated, the somewhat interesting from the wild cards that could go horribly wrong but promise to entertain in some fashion for at least an episode. The full list is linked below though too, if you want to hop straight to the ones you’re keen on.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments! What are you looking forward to this anime season?
A Couple of Cuckoos • Aharen is Indecipherable • AOASHI • Birdie Wing – Golf Girls’ Story • Black★★Rock Shooter: Dawn Fall • Dance Dance Danseur • The Dawn of the Witch • Deaimon • The Demon Girl Next Door S2 • Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer! • The Executioner and Her Way of Life • high school girl & the magic notebook • The Girl from the Other Side (OVA) • The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody • I’m Quitting Heroing • JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure: Stone Ocean (Part 2) • KAGINADO S2 • Kaguya-sama: Love is War – Ultra Romantic • Komi Can’t Communicate S2 • Love All Play • Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Magica Side Story Final Seasons – Dawn of a Shallow Dream • Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation S2 (Special Episode) • ONIPAN! • The Rising of the Shield Hero • Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie • Skeleton Knight in Another World • SPY x FAMILY • Summer Time Rendering• To Become a Real Heroine! The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task • Tomodachi Game
Ohisashiburi! Nice to See You Again!
Attack on Titan is a juggernaut, while season two of Case Study of Vanitas, season three of Karakai Jouzu no Takagi-san, and the new Demon Slayer arc delighted (some) viewers as well. But on the whole, the winter season was quite light on returning shows.
Not so for spring 2022! It’s quite telling that both of us are excited about several returning shows, and none of them cross over. So without further ado, here are the sequels we’re hyped about, with a mild apology to Ascendance of a Bookworm, Date A Live, Love Live, Science Fell in Love, and Kingdom fans—but I don’t think you need our preview to get y’all excited about those returning shows!
Black★★Rock Shooter: DAWN FALL
April 3, Disney+
I know, I know. The animation looks pretty meh, there’s not even a synopsis on MAL, and all round the latest installment of Black Rock Shooter seems underwhelming. (Except for the music, which is pumping, as it should be for a franchise that got its start as a music video inspired by a pixiv illustration.) But I just can’t get the OVA out of my head or shake the distant hope that maybe, just maybe, this new series might recapture some of the metaphorical power of the original, from back when times were simpler and BRS hadn’t yet spun off into a multi-media franchise. I loved the way the OVA (2010) depicts the mindscape of the MCs and personifies the kinds of battles that go on in our hearts and minds when struggling with trauma and mental health; I loved seeing them go toe to toe with depression, isolation, and rejection embodied in villainous form, and defeating them with satisfyingly over-the-top weaponry and hugs. I am studiously ignoring, though, the tv series from 2012, which twisted the original premise beyond recognition and to my mind at least, diluted the symbolism of the two MCs’ duelling avatars, Black Rock Shooter and Death Master. Looks like this installment of BRS is gamifying the premise pretty heavily (it is inspired by the game adaptation), and there’s no glimpse of the girls’ lives in the real world. All of this could spell disaster for the elements I appreciate most about the original story. But I’ll still give it a try, for old times’ sake. See you soon, Buraku Roku Shuuta! ~claire
Demon Girl Next Door S2
HiDIVE, April 7
What do you do if you wake up one day and find that you have horns and a tail, that your family is under a curse of eternal poverty, and that the only way to lift the curse is to embrace your birthright as a third-rate demon and defeat a magical girl? And what if next door—well, not literally next door, that would just be too convenient!—there’s a retired magical girl who’s cool with being sorta friends, and even helps you train while you’re secretly trying to power up so that one day you can take her out? I’ll tell you what you do: you ignore the plot and just flail around hilariously making friends. That’s what a real demon girl does! I vaguely remember that there is an actual plot to this series, but its charm—and it really is quite charming, once you get past the weird talking cultic object/ancestor thingy—lies in the awkward, hesitant friendship of inept demon girl Yuko “Shadow Mistress/Shamiko”, and disaffected, lonesome, neglected former magical girl Momo. It’s part parental (with each girl playing the parent at various points), part CGDCT slice-of-life (kawaisou meets dandere), and altogether heartwarming. Also, the voiceover dude has the best lines and voice ever. And Shamiko’s funny noises could rival Kumiko Oumae’s. (Also, if you want to hear Nezuko actually speak, her seiyuu Akari Kitou plays Momo.) Ohisashiburi indeed, Shamiko! ~claire
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure STONE OCEAN Part 2
Before last December, I had never watched or read any JoJo, though from the screencaps I knew it to be a wildly creative, over-the-top, campy, melodramatic trip of a series. So I dove straight into Season 6, the Stone Ocean arc featuring Cujoh Jolyne as the eponymous JoJo, basically without any idea of what to expect. I did it for Ai Farouz, the lead seiyuu, who is such a breath of fresh air and pitch perfect when it comes to playing OTT characters. And man, am I ever glad I did! Not gonna say it was all smooth sailing, but the series was so compelling with its striking animation and zany energy that I hung on through the bumpy start and quickly grew to love the outrageous joy ride that is the adventures of the first female JoJo. Part 1 left us on a cliffhanger with Jolyne choosing not to board the mini-submarine and flee the prison where she’s been trapped all this time, determined instead to hunt down the stand thief who has nicked her father’s mind (stored on a DVD no less). Is Jolyne up to the challenge? And is there something more to little baseball-loving boy than meets the eye? Can’t wait to see how this arc finishes off! ~claire
I typically get bored within two minutes of trying one of these chibi-fied spinoffs, no matter how much I adore the shows. But Kaginado hit differently. I can’t be a good judge of whether that’s because the series is better than, say, isekai or Attack on Titan chibi series, or if it’s just because I have a special place in my heart for so many of the characters, but…well, actually, it’s almost certainly the latter. Though I have to say, the jokes are really funny too, if you’re a fan of Key series, including Air, Little Busters!, Kanon, and Angel Beats! The time spent on relatively minor characters is unexpected and wonderful. Kaginado is really a celebration of the company and a reminder that despite a mediocre run with recent series, its classics were rated as such for good reason. ~ Twwk
Kaguya-sama Love is War Ultra Romantic (S3)
April 8, Crunchyroll
The Kaguya-sama train is full steam ahead and I’m not sure anything can stop it. In short time, it’s become a beloved part of the anime community, though after season one, I was among the few that hadn’t yet stepped aboard. While I instantly became a massive Chika fan (who wouldn’t?), I didn’t find that S1 was quite convincing in how it portrayed the central romance; it felt choppy and neither humorous nor romantic. Season two, though, was a bit smoother in its writing, already changing my view of the series before even those episodes. You know, the ones centering on Ishigami, an arc that proved that this comedy series could go deep, too, by focusing on a character who might have been the least likely subject for such thoughtful treatment. While I’ve actively avoided reading the manga and spoilers about this coming season, my anticipation is pretty intense, purely based on the heights achieved by S2. ~ Twwk
Komi Can’t Communicate S2
April 6, Netflix
Perhaps I should just copy and paste what I wrote for Kaguya-sama, but without the revelation of excellent writing in season two. I’m still waiting on that for Komi Can’t Communicate, which I found to be somewhere between mid- and below-average in its first season, where it came across as simply a cute series with some cute moments. I did grow attached to some of the characters though, and I enjoy the animation and character designs. But I’m hoping for something more in season two, which is coming to us far sooner than I think most of us anticipated it would. From what I’ve heard from one of our readers in particular, S2 should surpass the first. If it doesn’t, I won’t be able to communicate my disappointment. ~ Twwk
Magia Record: Puella Magi Madoka Side Story Final Season – Dawn of a Shallow Dream
April 3, Crunchyroll
No joke, despite blogging through the entirety of season one, I’m more often than not lost during Magia Record. Sometimes, it has to do with what exactly is going on with the plot. More often though, it has to do with the plethora of characters, which is perfect when playing through a game, like the now defunct one this anime is based on, but poses problems in a series where characters from way back in season one don’t appear again until midway through season two, and so were completely forgotten (at least by me). The emotion I should feel upon their reveals just isn’t there because, who are you again? Yet, I thought season two was more entertaining than the first, quite possibly because the mahou shoujo from the OG played a major role. They won’t appear as much (or at all) for the final season, I imagine, but the wonderful animation from the series will. I’m also expecting an uplifting ending for this less heavy spin-off of PMMM, which is most welcome. ~ Twwk
Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Part 2 Extra Episode
Much like Rising of the Shield Hero, but to a more extreme extent, Mushoku Tensei is a divisive series. There are those that say it’s main character is gross and abusive, and that the sexual content is (at the very least) troubling, while others extol Rudi’s character growth and proclaim the series to be not only a progenitor of modern isekai, but one of its best examples. I fall on the side of…both. How’s that for a spineless approach? No, but really, the content can be cringy, but it can also be powerful, and I’m looking forward to seeing more of the light novel series animated. Until then, we have this OVA to tide us over. Looks like Crunchyroll will pick up the episode (recently released with the new BD), which is good since it plays an important part in the series and introduces a key new character. ~ Twwk
The Rising of the Shield Hero S2
April 6, Crunchyroll
Speak of the devil (er, shield hero), season two of one of the most popular anime in recent years is about to premiere! I’m a mid-level fan of season one, with some of the novelty of the first cour wearing off for me and the second cour, with its story of impending waves of destruction, not hitting the same emotional or creative beats as the best parts of the early episodes. However—and I do mean however—I am a big fan of seeing Naofumi grow as a character. It’s been compelling to see him go from a decent guy to a deranged one, and then to a sort of deranged decent guy, someone who is doing right but still carries incredible bitterness. Much of the change in him is because of Raphtalia, another huge reason for enjoying the series. Here’s hoping she’s used well in the sequel and that S2 returns to a more interesting level of writing. But even if it doesn’t, I’m willing to allow a lot of leeway just to see Naofumi and Raphtalia on screen every week. ~ Twwk
Ready the Popcorn!
After such a fulsome appetizer of returning series, who needs a main course? In which case, let’s skip straight to dessert and the new series that we are most excited about. Most of the entries (entrées?) in this category have caught our eye because of the source material: manga and light novels that we’re already familiar with and would rate pretty highly (and in fact have done so in BtT’s Readers’ Corner!).
But it takes more than just good source material to convince us to pull out our popcorn makers and melt that butter, and our most anticipated series of the season also feature groundbreaking experimental animation (The Girl from the Other Side), studios that have earned our admiration in the past (MAPPA and Wit Studio), and favorite industry personnel to their credit.
As Redditors and other armchair pundits—the worst kind and the best (like us? haha…ha)—will tell you, the source material can be uplifted or betrayed by its studio and animators. We have great hopes, though, for many of new shows coming our way this spring!
The Dawn of the Witch
April 7, Crunchyroll
An unsteady peace between witches and the church. An amnesiac mage who is underpowered. Magical females each embodying different archetypes accompanying or opposing the protagonist. The setup isn’t particularly unique, but the manga on which The Dawn of the Witch is based is surprisingly well made. It has great atmosphere, a really cool magical system, and, while it moves at a breakneck pace, features subtle and honest characterization. I think a lot of viewers are going to be surprised by this show. With so many fantasy series coming out this season, my hope is that it doesn’t get lost in the shuffle, and that Tezuka Productions will do this adaptation justice. ~ Twwk
The Executioner and Her Way of Life
April 1, HiDIVE
I take a dip into yuri occasionally, but rarely seek it out. Why is The Executioner and Her Way of Life different? For one, it’s a “full yuri” show, by which I mean that the series not only features romance (it does so, by the way, with hints and overtures rather than serious relationship development—at least in the first few light novel volumes), but is female-centered as a whole. Every major character is a woman. There’s no real explanation—it just is, with males typically being NPC types and evil henchmen. I wouldn’t say that these characters are incredible or anything like that, but it is fairly unique in anime that a fantasy / isekai series centers on women. What drew me even more into the light novels is the interesting magic system, which contains very structured enchantments and is connected to a western-aestheticized religion. In a context where such systems feel like an afterthought in series after series, I love how engaging this one is. However, I have my doubts whether J.C. Staff can do this adaptation justice, and further, improve the elements lacking from the source material—primarily the aforementioned characterization, which is admittedly a bit on the dull side. ~ Twwk
The Girl from the Other Side (OVA)
At this very moment, I am eagerly awaiting my copy of the DVD to arrive, a reward for backing MAPPA’s Kickstarter project to complete this film-length adaption of the delicately haunting and tender manga series. The story is reminiscent of a fairy tale, set in a pre-industrial world divided between Insiders, humans who live in town, and Outsiders, non-human figures who find their home within and beyond the deep dark forest. A little girl named Shiva finds herself alone Outside, or rather, the dark-clad Sensei, refined in his manners and speech like a English gentleman, finds her and takes her in, providing her with a safe home. He teaches her about the world in which they live, and together they go about their days, always careful not to touch, lest Shiva be contaminated and so never able to return Inside. One day, Shiva encounters a group of Insiders…what will become of the girl and her friend? Like the manga, the animation style is experimental, using muted lighting and color design, and flickering linework that makes this pensive tale feel all the more fleeting and frangible, as if it is something you need to watch from the corner of your eye while holding your breath, so as not to frighten away this rare, magical creation. I can’t wait to see it! ~claire
Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie
April 9, Crunchyroll
I think, I think that this series will walk a perfect line between “sweet, cute, funny” and “bleh and fetish-y.” Then again, I’m not really basing that on anything other than hope and the first volume of the manga, which was really cute and fun. The titular character is a perfect-girl type whose uniqueness lies in her tendency to suddenly shift personality, becoming cool and even dark, though it’s more of a tic, since she’s not really that way at all. In this series then, it’s the boyfriend who is the one being “rescued,” flipping the gender roles you’d see in a traditional romcom or shoujo series. Really, it plays out better in the manga than it sounds. There’s also reason to be excited about the director, Ryota Itoh, who did a remarkable job adapting My Senpai is Annoying, and sieyuu Saori Oonishi, who is voicing Shikimori and has become a personal favorite. ~ Twwk
SPY x FAMILY
April 9, Crunchyroll
Super spy Loid Forger, codename Twilight, has one week to find a wife and child for the cover story for his next mission to save the world. By a stroke of luck, he finds just such a wife and child in Yor Briar and orphan Anya, and a mission once seemingly impossible starts to come together. Only, why does Yor have such incredible reflexes and crazy knife skills (though her cooking is inedible)? And how is it that Anya always seems to know exactly what he’s thinking? This is my most anticipated series of the season. The manga is the perfect blend of laugh-out-loud hilarity (Anya’s expressions alone could satisfy the world’s thirst for memes for at least a century), slice-of-life charm (and oh what a life! spies, assassins, telepaths and most dangerous of all, group projects at school), action (see previous parenthetical comment), and let’s not forget, heartfelt feels (because a series about a loner spy, clueless assassin and mind-reading child all falling in love with being a family together is full of feels). This series is absolute perfection. And I’m not even being held hostage or bribed as I write this. Oh, and did I mention it’s being adapted by Wit Studio and CloverWorks? And that Saori Hayami (Tokuko in The Heike Story, Shinobu in Demon Slayer, and a hundred other favorites) voices Yor? (She is so perfect for the role!) And that it has a score by (K)NoW_NAME? Ok, I’ll stop now. Don’t want to sound suspicious… ~claire
Summer Time Rendering
April 14, Disney+
The love for this franchise by its fandom is intense, and after previewing the first two volumes of the manga, I can see why. The content is expansive and no-holds-barred, diving into romance, horror, mystery, and humor with heavy, heavy doses of both violence and fanservice. But while it could be easy for the series to go off-track—and indeed, it might eventually (I can’t say from just my limited reading)—the manga is captivating and well-structured in its story of a boy who returns home upon the death of his childhood friend, and discovers that all is not well: an ancient evil is behind his friend’s death and other terrible events. If the series sounds a bit like Higurashi, it certainly does feel like an update to that older (though recently rebooted) series in terms of story and tone. Most interesting to me, perhaps, is that Disney has picked this OLM studio series up for Disney+. The company’s first big anime venture other than Star Wars: Visions, Summer Time Rendering is surely going to test its family-friendly image, with recent news about how Disney+ plans to stream harder Marvel series perhaps providing a clue for the network’s future direction. ~ Twwk
I’ll Give You Five Minutes…or Three Episodes
It’s always tempting to play it safe. And that’s kind of what this category allows us to do: there are probably a few in here that secretly we’re quite looking forward to, but there’s just that little something niggling that is warning us the series could be drop-worthy, like maybe the potential for some questionable humor. Others are here because, well, we like the tried and true genre tropes it’s hitting, but they are tropes after all, and maybe it’s time to give them a rest. Still others might have started out in the wild card category, but with a little investigation into the folks behind the production, or a particularly decent trailer release, have been promoted to being a safer bet that there may be something worth following here, at least up to the three episode boundary. Anyhow, all of these are the ones we’re willing to bear with a little and give a second chance or two before we whittle down our watchlists.
Are any of these more sure-fire bets for you? Let us know below!
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai / Aharen is Indecipherable
April 1, Crunchyroll
Reina Aharen is Jerry Seinfeld’s nightmare. Not only is she a low-talker (too quiet to hear), but she also alternates between being a close-talker (back off!) and a twenty-feet-of-personal-space talker. It isn’t Seinfeld who has to deal with her mixed signals though, but her hapless classmate, Raidou Matsuboshi, who finds himself designated as her best friend after returning her fallen eraser one day. Ah, the dangers of stationery! I’ll admit it, this seems to be a rather run-of-the-mill “mildly misfit boy who doesn’t know how to decipher the intentions of quirky girl” type series. A sort of Komi Can’t Communicate but with personal space as the hurdle instead of words. It could be a delightful ode to the difficulties of learning to navigate the world of micro-signals that can make or break your social life as you enter adulthood. Or it could be dull (the timing of the gags in the trailer feels a bit belabored) and uncomfortable (especially for the far-talkers among us!). But there are a couple of pretty big names in voice acting attached to the project, with Rem seiyuu Inori Minase playing the inscrutable Aharen, and Kana Hanazawa in a supporting role. And it kind of gives me My Senpai is Annoying vibes for some reason. So I’ll be giving it a chance! ~claire
April 9, Crunchyroll
I feel as if I’m getting constantly burned by sports anime these past few years, and soccer series have been particularly terrible for about the past decade or so. But I’m taking a flyer here, and hoping that Production I.G. can make something compelling and not so cookie cutter, and finally get soccer right. I don’t really have an inkling if it will or not: I’m not too familiar with the director, and the works of Masahiro Yokotani, who is doing the series composition, have received both my praise and scorn in the past. The source material is a question mark, too—I haven’t read the manga, but it has a “moderately good” reputation. Still, I’ll be tuning in to see if the elusive great soccer anime is finally here (or if it’s just another Knight in the Area). ~ Twwk
Birdie Wing – Golf Girls’ Story
An original sports anime featuring young women with non-moe art and nary a high school club in sight? This series is practically a unicorn! There is very little info available as to the plot, but it centers on issues of class, privilege, and elitism as they play out on the links. The central rivalry is between Aoi, who grew up in the lap of luxury (and has her own personal caddy), and Eve, who comes from the part of town where golf isn’t normally a popular pastime. Are they nemeses? Do they team up somehow? Does the series address sexism in sport or simply pretend there are no men (as so many anime series seem to do)? I literally have no clue. But that’s the fun with original series! We dive in on a wing and a prayer, hoping for the best. ~claire
A Couple of Cuckoos
April 23, Crunchyroll
Boy finds out he’s adopted. Boy goes to meet biological parents. Boy meets girl, who is also adopted. Boy and girl find out they were switched at birth. Boy and girl become engaged. Just your typical love story, right? Well yes, in anime it is! I’m embarrassed to say, but these kinds of stories are part of why I love anime—a romance that comes together in a way that doesn’t make sense, and features love rivals and plenty of other challenges as two opposites make their way toward one another. I’m looking forward to the madness which, if done well, could be dreamy and fun (and if it’s like the manga, it might be), but could also become a complete train wreck. I don’t think it’ll take more than a couple of episodes to tell which of those two it’ll be. ~ Twwk
Dance Dance Danseur
April 8, Crunchyroll
Junpei has a secret. It is a dark chapter from his childhood that he has locked away for years: he used to love ballet. When his secret is uncovered by a high school classmate, our lanky hero has a decision to make: will he return to his first love? Or avoid it and the memories of the trauma that caused him to give up dance in the first place? MAPPA + mysterious past + a field of the performing arts I know nothing about = piqued interest. Ok, MAPPA alone is enough to achieve that! The studio behind the final season of Attack on Titan (among others) has yet to disappoint when it comes to crafting beautiful anime. Yes, it’s a change of pace compared with their usual seinen fare, but I’m interested to see how the studio handles a more realist melodrama. Also, Dance Dance Danseur happens to be directed by Munehisa Sakai, who gave us Zombieland Saga, also known as the best idol anime ever. Will his magic extend to the world of ballet? Can’t wait to find out! ~claire
Ah, the world of traditional Japanese sweets! This is the slice-of-life meets family drama I’ve been waiting for—especially since reading Tetsuya Akikawa’s moving novel Sweet Bean Paste, and its elegy to the care and skill wrapped up in even the smallest bite of a well-made dorayaki. But back to the anime. Thirty-two year old prodigal son Nagomu Irino returns to Kyoto after a decade of wandering, ready at last to settle down and get serious about taking on his family’s traditional sweet shop, Ryokushou. Only, in his absence, another heir has appeared: eleven year-old Itsuka Yukihara, a prodigy with a mixing spoon. Now it falls to Nagomu to step into a very different set of responsibilities, as he plays father and mentor to the little girl who has replaced him. Oh how I love me some complex intergenerational dynamics, especially when played out in the context of reviving traditional artisanry, as in Hanasaku Iroha. My only concern here is that this may be just a little too sugary, though there are hints of a dramatic backstory that may be enough to prevent cavities. And with screenwriter Reiko Yoshida at the helm (she of Non Non Biyori , Aria and K-On! adaptation fame), I’m fairly confident this one will hit the sweet spot. (Sorry) ~claire
The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody
April 6, Crunchyroll
I like fantasy series that don’t try to overreach. That’s hardly a ringing endorsement for any anime, but there’s a lot of charm in fantasy and/or isekai shows that don’t try to show off. I can’t say for sure that The Great Demon Lord fits into that category, but it feels more laid back than some, with its oft-copied focus on a demon reborn into/transported to a world where he’s OP. There’s a lot of fun that can be had with this scenario featuring the titular demon lord turning into “Villager A.” Michiko Yokote, who is doing the series composition, has worked on some impressive scripts, though her previous crossover with this series director was on the less-than-impressive Masamune-kun’s Revenge. But even that series had its moments. We’ll see if this one will as well. ~ Twwk
I’m Quitting Heroing
April 5, HiDIVE
The premise of I’m Quitting Heroing is that the hero, fed up with how he’s treated, applies to work for the demon he had defeated. Another retread, it seems, but the trailer has me curious, as the show seems like it could be really sweet. The demons, well, maybe they aren’t so bad, and perhaps this angry hero might be transformed by being in their company? And maybe some romance will be thrown in, too? The directors previously worked together on Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear, which I eventually dropped, but found to be well-animated and very cute. It’ll be interesting to see if that sensibility will get attached to a slightly more serious series. ~ Twwk
Demon Undies! That’s the literal translation of the title of this Wit Studio comedy. Three oni come into possession of magical boxers that can turn them into normal high school girls. So obviously, they put them on. Their mission: repair the deteriorating diplomatic relations between oni and humans by crushing various projects for urban regeneration and mass entertainment. Crushing in the positive sense though, of course. Think Zombieland Saga but with oni and supernatural underclothes rather than zombies with perfect pitch. Also, hints of Sakura Quest. I’ll be honest, this sounds like pure madness. But it’s Wit Studio and they have never once—not even slightly—let me down. Director Masahiko Oota was also the one to bring us Love Lab, a comedy series I expected to drop after an episode and instead ended up, quite appropriately, loving (and binging). Talk about mastery of comedic timing! So I actually have pretty high hopes for this one. Hmmm… Then again, enchanted underwear? The “humor” could go horribly wrong! ~claire
Skeleton Knight in Another World
April 7, Crunchyroll
I admit, there are a lot of red flags here. The trailer, for instance, doesn’t show quite how far these scenes of hostage-taking and assault on women go, but there’s an inference that, like some other series, this one will show the violence to be obviously bad, while yet lingering on them since they’re intended to be enjoyed by some members of the audience. Also, key characters in the supporting cast are drawn to show plenty of cleavage, and there’s one quick glance of a character whose eyes seem a little too far apart—one of a few places where the animation looks suspect. On the other hand…SKELETAL KNIGHT. The main character seems absolutely charming, a skeleton trying to hide but unable to stop himself from standing against evil. If the earlier flags don’t turn out be quite as bad as I fear, this show could be straight-up enjoyable and fun. Please, just don’t go down the Goblin Slayer or Redo of Healer routes. ~ Twwk
I’m Intrigued, Tell Me More…
Our wild card category is for shows that have us curious but could potentially be trainwrecks—which is part of the fun! Sometimes, we have actual rational reasons to believe that a series may be a genuine hidden gem: maybe it’s a director or studio we like, a voice actor we’re following, or a premise that, if it can avoid the obvious pitfalls (which nevertheless seem to ensnare so many series), might just be brilliant. Other times, we’re pretty sure it’s going to be awful, but the watchable kind of awful that supplies you with a good laugh when you need it most, or some nonsensical screencaps to amuse your friends and followers.
Let us know your thoughts on these series: do you have more solid reason to expect greatness from any of these? Or do you think some of our earlier entries really belong down here?
Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer!
April 10, Crunchyroll
I almost want to say don’t watch this trailer. It’s ridiculously saccharine with mediocre art and focuses on a lead who doesn’t really seem up to carrying a series. In short, it looks to be a pretty insipid slice of life isekai. Or it would, except for one thing: the final line in the trailer, which proclaims that “Everything except the theme song is a lie.” And indeed, according to the one-line description on MAL, the trailer is a complete and utter humdinger of misdirection! Rather than a cutesy sweet elven cleric, tripping about doing good and healing the land, the MC, Karla, has actually spent a little too much time levelling up on the unusually specific skill of slinging insults. If these one-liners are on point—and granted, that’s a pretty big if—this could be a winner of a series! True, it’s a pretty long shot, but hey, that’s what the wild card category is for. ~claire
high school girl & the magic notebook
A blueberry fairy from Finland who powers up the MC with a hit of antioxidants. Or, a second-year high school girl who loves to dance, but there’s a feud playing out between the first and third years in dance club that disrupts everything, but thankfully, she has a magical notebook that instructs her in the art of diplomacy. Or, said girl is actually indecisive and doesn’t know what to do in life, to which her parents respond with firm instructions to study hard. This is the story of one of these MCs, or maybe all three. There is definitely a talking blueberry involved, though he may be limited to a dream sequence. There are conflicting reports. What is for sure though is that the story is set in Kyoto, and the city itself is involved in the adaptation of the original novel into this anime and a manga simultaneously—some sources say in time for the Spring season, but given the scant info available out there, perhaps it will be later. At the end of the day, it sounds tantalizingly bonkers and I hope this whackiness isn’t just a function of Google translate, because magical blueberries and/or notebooks that solve high school social problems while somehow also promoting the city of Kyoto sounds too glorious to miss. ~claire
Love All Play
April 2, Crunchyroll
Sports series are on a downturn lately. While so many are still premiering (several each season), they are pretty much all within varying levels of “below average,” from mediocre shows to downright terrible ones. But from this madness, there will eventually arise another Haikyuu or Free, and Love All Play looks to me like it could emulate those series, at least in terms of providing a coming-of-age story that hits viewers right in the heart. There is a lot of talent involved here in developing the script and directing the anime, with work on some of my favorites series scattered among them and demonstrating, I hope, an ability to get this kind of story right. Love All Play could end up being quite good. ~ Twwk
To Become a Real Heroine – The Unpopular Girl and the Secret Task
The world is full of incredible young people doing amazing things: inventors, artists, activists, athletes, singers, all under the age of 18. So how does a teenager become the manager for a national idol duo sensation? Why, she moves to Tokyo to join the track and field team, of course! That’s what Hiyori Suzumi does anyhow and, finding herself a bit short on cash with which to satisfy the most expensive rental market on the planet, she takes on a part-time job. Enter the idol duo, who happen to be her classmates, because, Tokyo. Living the (full employment) dream. Anyhow, it’s a whole new world for Hiyori in more than one way! Is this an idol show? A sports show? A high school comedy? A harem? Or maybe a love letter to Japan’s modern capital? Probably a bit of each, but it looks pretty stylish and features the afore-mentioned fave seiyuu of mine, Saori Hayami, in a supporting role, so I’ll give it a shot! Also, Hiyori’s eyebrows are boss and give me major Recovery of an MMO Junkie vibes. My only reservation is that last line in the trailer…here’s hoping it’s some kind of weird translation typo? (Shudders while flashing back to Akebi’s Sailor Uniform.) ~claire
April 5, Crunchyroll
There is a manga. There is a live-action adaptation. There is even a Wikipedia entry. So there’s no mystery about the premise, which sees five teens (two girls, three boys) abducted and locked up in a game environment that pits them against one another in the ultimate test of their friendship, all for a measly 2,000,000 yet. (Wait, how much is that? *Googles* Oh, not so measly: $16,553.80. For a school fundraiser?! What kind of school trip are these kids going on anyway?) Will they work together to overcome the obstacles before them, or crack under the pressure and turn on one another? Yes, the premise is clear. But I was still hoping for a trailer before fully making up my mind on this one, largely because it’s the kind of series for which I think you need to read the mood before deciding whether or not it’s going to be your cup of tea. Pros: it’s a psychological drama (always welcome); it centres on friendships and questions of trust and privilege, which generally have the potential to express something meaningful; the studio and team behind it are fairly fresh on the scene. Cons: the studio and team behind it are relative newcomers; it could get dark and twisted really quickly; there is no trailer by which to judge the art, mood and tone. I’ll give it a go because it’s psychological. But if it leans more toward the horror or cruelty side of things, I’m out. Edit: There is now a trailer. It hasn’t cleared anything up for me. ~claire
And that’s it for our seasonal preview, folks!
With the season just around the corner, let us know which of these series you’re looking forward to! What are we missing out on? What diamonds in the rough are out there for the spring?
Continue to follow us here on the site as our bloggers pump out their First Impression posts on all these new series next month, and check us out also on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, and through our weekly newsletter.