Hello and welcome! With the new anime season’s first week having come and gone, we are left with an immense pile of new series to investigate. A great part of the fun of new media is the joy of discovery, but I detest joy and your acquisition of it in particular, and so I’m here to steal that pleasure from you. Instead, you will now read my list of impressions for basically every new show that came out, which will dictate the terms of your entertainment for the next three months.
Working for ANN’s preview guide means I really do watch basically every new show, and offer a reasonably sized take on all of them (you can check out ANN’s full list here, and find my thoughts under Nick Creamer). But even that is so much material that it’s kind of ridiculous to engage with, and so here at the blog I group everything I watched into vague descending categories, with both brief thoughts and a link to my longer ones. This has been a fairly iffy season so far, so I’m sorry to say the lower brackets will be kind of stacked this time, but there’s still plenty of worthwhile anime to discover! Feel free to skim at your leisure, or just skip to the part where I start rambling incoherently and losing hope in existence. THE CHOICE IS YOURS.
Incidentally, I won’t be covering the shows that are chained to various awful licensing situations here, so just imagine my thoughts on Little Witch Academia are “please Netflix, please spare us from the pain of this empty season.” Alright, I think that covers it. Let’s run this season down!
Anime is Good? It’s Likelier Than You Might Think
Yep, my top pick is actually a sequel. Of course, if you’ve watched Rakugo, you know that’s not terribly surprising – Rakugo’s first season was far and away my favorite show of last winter, and ultimately made it into my top five shows of the year. Rakugo’s combination of gorgeous direction, understated character drama, and standout performance setpieces make it a unique and consistent pleasure, and I’m actually even more excited about this season’s narrative than the tragedy of its predecessor. It’s a beautiful historical drama with a rich cast and a keen focus on the life of an entire medium. What the heck is there not to like.
And coming in second, we have… another low-key drama about adults with a striking directorial style. Okay, yes, I definitely have a type, but ACCA is legit good even outside of ticking off all my boxes. Its first episode proceeds at a languid pace that very effectively builds up the rising danger of the empire, and it’s already succeeded in selling me on its protagonist Jean and the world he inhabits. Couple that with its great art design and jazzy soundtrack, and you’ve got another distinctive highlight of the emerging season. ACCA is definitely a very slow burn, but if you can handle its approach, it seems like a confident production.
And rounding out my top tier, we have this season’s surprisingly thoughtful addition to the monster girl canon. Instead of focusing on gags or fanservice, Interviews with Monster Girls sets up a series of natural and engaging conversations, presenting its cast’s unique features as just one more of the kinds of differences that define all of us. The show’s humor emerges naturally from its characters, with a little help from gags like a dullahan picking up her own head to nod with it. If you’re okay with more of a slice of life than laugh-out-loud tone, it’s definitely worth a look.
Okay, Maybe Anime is Just Acceptable
Aw crap, another sequel. So far, Konosuba’s second season appears to be holding on to everything that made the first season strong, from its charmingly unlikable cast to its wonderful array of ridiculous faces. Konosuba has a strong sense of comedic timing, a great visual style, and a good balance of meanness and relatability. If you liked the original, this one’s ready to please.
If you’ve followed this site for any amount of time, the fact that so many comedies are already appearing should probably be a red flag. To be frank, this season kinda sucks in terms of the thematically rich or character-focused stuff I tend to like, but instead we’re getting a bunch of reasonable comedies like Gabriel DropOut. This one’s already established a solid cast and shown off some great animation chops, so if you’re still thirsty for more jokes, Gabriel DropOut’s got ’em.
Scum’s Wish looks to be one of the most aesthetically accomplished awful romances we’ve seen in a while. The show already has solid dialogue and some very distinctive direction choices (including that manga paneling trick above), but its “I’m in love with my homeroom teacher/childhood friend” premise is far enough from my interests that I’m probably not going to stick it out. Still, if you like doomed love, Scum’s Wish definitely has the chops.
Seiren honestly doesn’t seem that great, but in this season, we take what we can get. Its first episode mainly impressed through its interestingly naturalistic dialogue, along with its avoidance of the usual anime romance cliches. It’ll likely just be a fairly routine series of romantic short stories, but that ain’t such a bad thing.
Watchable? We Can Settle for Watchable, Right?
So far, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid has had about even comedy hits and misses for me. The show’s deadpan approach to a domestic dragon and strong animation are great, its loud rants about the otaku necessities of maids less so. Even Kyoto Animation is at a “take what we can get” level in this dark era.
ONIHEI is basically just a classic historical police drama, starring a supercop in Edo and presumably running through a series of episodic cases. The show’s writing is fair, but its visual style is frustratingly self-defeating – its overly detailed character designs make for terribly jerky animation, and its overeager use of color filtering ruins its backgrounds. A reasonable genre entry with some glaring flaws.
Akiba’s Strip’s story kinda sucks, but it has a few good jokes and a really strong visual style. Yes, we are already at that point.
Fuuka looks to be the romance that doesn’t avoid all those anime cliches, starting off with the heroine smashing into our protagonist, calling him a pervert, and breaking his phone. Eh, I’ve seen worse.
I Am Seriously Going to Run Out of Categories If We Keep Dropping This Fast
Idol Incidents is a show about idol politicians that mostly fails to embrace the unique possibilities of that premise, instead sticking to a relatively charming and very familiar sports idol narrative. It is watchable entertainment.
Minami Kamakura is a lavish and engaging advertisement for the city of Kakamuka attached to a eminently skippable “girls in a club” slice of life show.
Schoolgirl Strikers is such a bland nonentry in the Fightin’ Girls! genre that I have already forgotten everything about it except for the roomba robot girl, who is good and important.
Kemono Friends is a simplistic show for very young children starring grotesque CG. We are still multiple categories from the bottom of this list.
No Really, It Gets Worse
This one falls in the same “bitter teenage boy wakes up to reality” genre space as Oregairu, but with none of that one’s wit or thoughtfulness, thus making it more or less twenty minutes spent in the company of deeply unpleasant people.
Having weathered the storms of endless anime bullshit, I now realize bad puns are a critic’s only faithful friend. I thus feel no guilt in saying this a marginal entry in the male idol genre, and that you’d have a marginally better time watching paint dry.
This show was designed to cater specifically to people who love both little girls and fascism AND WE ARE STILL NOT AT THE BOTTOM.
Another children’s show that you only now know exists, except with worse writing than the one about a hippo and a serval who are cute girls and friends.
The Screams Are Coming From Inside My Head
A fuwa fuwa slice of life blessed with heavy fanservice and girls who look/act half their age. This isn’t the future I wanted.
I will never make another joke about Sword Art Online if they just stop. Stop with the terrible anime. Give them one good quality, something I can cling to in spite of it all. I don’t care if it’s just accomplished voice acting. I don’t care if it’s well-animated trash. Just take me away from this hell I have made.
The god damn cartoons have taken my eyes.
And that is it. Definitely not the best crop, but actually a fine one if you’re looking for comedies, and otherwise… well, we’ll get through it. We always have. Anime will keep!