Fall 2022 Preview Guide

Last Update: 4:22 p.m. EDT Saturday 10/15

Welcome to my Fall 2022 Preview Guide! I expect to cover every full-episode series that will be debuting this season, but atypically, I will not be able to do most of this season’s sequels; only Spy x Family (which I may take straight to episode reviews, to continue what I was doing in the spring), Peter Grill, and Bleach are likely to get done. I do intend to sample Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury with a “do you have to be a diehard Gundam fan to appreciate this?” eye and will certainly be giving the reboot of Urusei Yatsura a close look, too.

These will be listed in newest to oldest order, and this post will be updated multiple times per day on busier days. With no super-late-debuting titles this season, I expect to wrap this Guide on October 15th.

Note #1: I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss had a sneak preview a week early, so it was covered separately here.

The Little Lies We All Tell

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The concept here is a tried-and-true one for anime: take four girls from stock archetypes, put them in a friends group, and simply watch their personalities idiosyncrasies bounce off each other for comedy effect. The defining gimmick this time is that each one has a huge secret they need to keep from the others: the Boyish-Looking/Acting Girl actually is a boy conned into attending the elite all-girls school by his “identical twin” sister (in the same sense that Hazuki and Minami from Baka and Test are “identical”), the Loli Girl is actually an alien soldier whose flying saucer has crash-landed into the top of the school (and who is using memory manipulation to conceal her identity while she awaits rescue), the Elegant Girl is actually a ninja who defected from her village to enjoy a normal school life (and thus is constantly dealing with ninjas out to assassinate here), and the Glasses Girl is a psychic who knows the secrets of the Loli Girl and Elegant Girl but not the Boyish Girl.

Through the first episode at least, this juicy mix of gimmicks works quite well. The humor is a bit more on the earthy side than the norm: one whole sequence involves the Loli Girl needing to fart, which is more of an issue in her case since the fart comes from her head tentacles (which she’s memory-manipulating people into believing are hair ribbons!) involves deadly chlorine gas, and another involves the ninja girl trying to pass off blood splatter from a ninja assassin as a problem menstrual period – and, of course, two of the other three don’t get the “time of the month” reference since they’re not human girls. (Though unless Japanese sex education is very different from that in the U.S., the boy should at least be aware of that by middle school age.) In general, much of the humor depends on most of the girls not understanding what’s really going on with one of the others because of lies and lack of context, with the psychic girl playing the Straight Man in this situation since she mostly does know what’s going on and is just trying to maintain normality in the group. There are also background jokes (the ninja girl makes cookies shaped like ninja-masked bears, for instance) and one fourth wall-breaking stunt as well, for a steady flow of humor.

The main reason why this all works is the timing. Series who try this format and flop often do so because they let jokes linger too long, but this one steadily moves the humor long, giving each joke the proper time to develop but no more before moving on. The series also provides a good variety which keeps all of the main characters involved. Visuals are not anything special, but this does not look like a series which is going to have a high animation need, either. Overall, this is a comedy that I can recommend both as a fun diversion from heavier fare and standing on its own merits as well.


Available: Netflix

Rating: 3 (of 5)

This is an 8-episode Netflix series posted on 10/13 and based on an original story by Hirotaka Adachi, an author mostly known for horror short stories. While the whole series is available on Netflix, only the first episode is being reviewed here.

The sci fi concept here is an intriguing one: because humans cannot survive travel through hyperspace, a ship equipped with the biological equivalent of a 3D printer and back-ups of the memories of five key crew members is sent ahead via that means to establish terraforming on a new planet while the actual colonists are traveling behind, in cryosleep, on a course that will take a century. All’s well and good until the fifth and final crew member doesn’t print right due to the interference of a solar flare. Doesn’t take a lot of guessing to figure out what happens when the crew decide to recycle the monstrously malformed body and reprint.

While the ideas being worked with here are potentially fascinating, the set design is overly-elaborate to an incredulous degree and the character design aesthetic leaves a lot to be desired. An ultimately, it’s really just an elaborate excuse to have a “monster on a spaceship” scenario. Since it’s relatively short, it might be worth watching out if you’re a fan of space-based horror tales.

Urusei Yatsura (2022)

Streams: HIDIVE on Thursdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The original run of the adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi’s romantic comedy manga debuted almost on this same date in 1981 and ran for 195 episodes, a dozen OVAs and specials, and six movies over the next decade. In the process, it defined many of the tropes that have been staples of anime romantic comedies ever since and established one of the all-time most iconic anime girls in the tigerskin bikini-clad Lum. Now it’s back in a hard reboot in an attempt to win over whole new generations of anime fans with its crazy antics about the hapless lech Ataru, the girl he really wants (Shinobu), and the alien invader whom he beat in a game of tag with the fate of the world on the line and who mistakenly (but insistently!) believes that Ataru proposed to her. And she’s not about to let him go or two-time, either.

From what little I have seen of the original series, this new production fully retains the spirit and frenetic pacing of the original, where characters barely stop to breathe before getting involved in the next stunt. Most anime comedies in recent years don’t pace themselves anywhere near this intensely, or at the very least use more build-up to gags like super-strong Shinobu dropping a telephone pole on Ataru over a misunderstanding. Some of that could be because this version is reportedly compacting the original content down to only 50 episodes, but this still could require an adjustment for franchise newcomers.

The technical merits for this new version are not anything spectacular, but are good enough to capably support all of the hijinks and put a sheen on the series more inviting to 2020s audiences. In a neat bit of casting, the original seiyuu for Ataru and Lum are now voicing Ataru’s parents, but they have strong, veteran replacements. Overall, the style of some of the jokes may come off as a little dated, and its antics are no longer fresh (since other series have used them for close to 40 years now!), but it still packs enough comedy value for me to recommend it. And that’s even before the rest of the expansive core cast of loonies get introduced.

Love Flops

Streams: HIDIVE on Wednesdays

Rating: 2.5

This one opens to a scene of the protagonist toasting a banana. Who does that? Is this actually a thing and I’ve never heard about it?

That aside, this is an original anime which feels every bit like it’s being deliberately modeled off of a dating sim. Generic protagonist Ryota has oft-slightly-racy encounters with three girls, one boy (who’s almost certainly a girl disguising her true gender), and a new teacher on his way to school, and discovers upon getting there that they’re not only all in his class but also the teacher is his homeroom teacher and the students are all seated around him. There’s also the friend who seems to know details on all of the girls as well. There are some misunderstandings involving a bra and panties and a confession by the end, although the series’ premise indicates that all five will eventually have romantic entanglements with Ryota. Even the “running with toast in mouth” classic encounter scene is replicated here. Oh, and most of the girls are foreigners, just to artificially up the variety factor.

The one minor twist on the basic concept is a mild sci fi element, but that does not fundamentally change that this is a stock scenario. Again, too much of this is too specifically aping genre norms for at least some degree of parody not being in play here, and seeing how far the series goes with it could keep things interesting. I did like the details worked in about how one girl being braless affected her, and some of the jokes in place were actually funny, though the “randy dog” thing was overdone to the point of tastelessness. While I’m leaning negative on this one right now, just enough potential exists here that I will probably give the second episode a try.

Chainsaw Man

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

With question or hyperbole, this manga adaptation was the most-anticipated anime title of the Fall season (if not the whole year). The first episode gloriously lives up to those expectations. This is also easily the most intensely graphic debut of the season (if not the whole year), with a high enough gore factor that it is only suitable for older teens and adults – and even then, those sensitive to such things should stay away. Those who can handle such things will find a rip-roaring debut which makes such an impression that it stands in league with legendary debuts like the first episodes of Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer.

Other than the graphic violence, the one negative I could see here is that protagonist Denji’s situation is unrelentingly bleak, almost to the level of self-parody. His father’s suicide leaves him with debt to yakuza that’s functionally impossible to pay off (he’s even sold body parts to make a dent in the debt), he lives a destitute life where he lives in an old shack and tries to subsist just on sliced bread, and he winds up dying by getting torn apart by zombies. He had simple dreams that he wasn’t able to achieve, either. His salvation is the devil dog he befriends – easily one of the great character designs of the year! – who turns him into the titular half-devil and allows him to wreak bloody mayhem.

Still, watching Denji drag his way out of literal death and find a possible road forward is quite satisfying, including the suggestion that something as simple as a hug can draw him out of his altered form. (The pull cord imbedded in his chest, which triggers his transformation, is also a neat touch.) Studio MAPPA has also brought their A+ game to the table on the visuals, with credit specifically going to fantastically gross demon designs that are a rival to the critter design in Made in Abyss. Overall, it’s a must-see premiere for anyone into really graphic content.

Bleach: Thousand Year Blood War

Streams: Hulu on Mondays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

After more than a decade off, Bleach is back to animate the source manga’s final, controversial story arc. It’s allotting 50 episodes to do so, but considering that the series’ original run was 366 episodes, that’s not so big a commitment. Besides, what’s most immediately important is that the debut delivers on all the supernatural action and bloody threat factor we came to expect from the original, and with both a return of one of the original series’ core musical themes and a freshly-upgraded visual and animation look. Bleach has rarely looked better than it does in this episode, even if a fair amount of the action happens in an overly dark setting.

This is definitely not an entry point for the franchise, though. A fan wouldn’t necessarily need to have seen all of the original to follow this, but much of the old, familiar cast is introduced with only cameo-level attention (curiously, Renji and Rukia don’t appear) and terms like Quincy, Hollow, Arrancar, Bankai, and Rukon District are thrown out with the expectation that the viewer is familiar with them. Ichigo and his team all get an opportunity to remind us what they were capable of at the end of the series, a couple of new, possibly-recurring lower-level Soul Reapers are introduced, and a new existential threat to the Soul Society arises, with the strong implication being that they are Quincies.

In other words, the first episode does absolutely everything it needs to do to re-establish itself with former viewers. My only complaint is that it streams on Hulu. (But that’s a complaint that has nothing to do with the series itself.) Looks like this will be a lot of fun, so get strapped in for the ride, kiddies!

Peter Grill and the Philosopher’s Time – Super Extra

Streams: HIDIVE on Sundays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Peter Grill is back for more sexy fun! After a brief but rather funny recap, the next sexy female demi-human has come to play. This time it’s a horde of female goblins in heat who are ravaging the countryside in a sort of gender-reversed take on Goblin Slayer. (And I have to think that this comparison is intentional, since certain scenes are a little too on-the-nose for the similarities to be coincidental.) In the midst of that chaos, the lusty demi-humans Peter screw. . . er, met and befriended in the first season are all back hankering for more. But Luvilia getting captured by goblins may mean that Peter will have do the Goblin Queen!

In other words, this is business as normal for this franchise. It’s got all the sex and sauciness it should have for a fantasy fan service fest, and still clocks in at 13 minutes – a time just long enough for each episode to accomplish something but just short enough that it doesn’t overstay its welcome. I’m rating it within its genre, and that basis, you could do a whole lot worse.

More than a Married Couple, but Not Lovers.

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays

Rating: 2

If I had watched this debut during my teen or college years, I would have probably loved it. As an adult viewer, I have very conflicted feelings about it.

Essentially, the series is a combination of two common anime tropes: the “school so eccentric/lavish that it could not possibly exist in real life” and “pair up two people who believe they’re in love with others.” In this case the pairing up of introverted Jiro and Gyaru Akari happens as part of a graduation-requirement “course” where they have to live together as a married couple in a student dorm equipped like a traditional Japanese apartment. Fancy simulations do occur in real life; at the school where I teach, Economics students have a semester-long program to manage expenses using Monopoly money, and I’ve taught at schools which use baby dolls for infant care simulators. But this one has soooo much room for problems. The pair do have separate bedrooms, but a really invasive-seeming sensor in each apartment tracks how they interact and awards positive or negative points based on whether or not the pair is engaging in married couple-like behavior. But who sets the standards for that? Also, no allowance seems to be made at all for same-sex marriages. This is clearly one of those case where you’re not supposed to think at all about the details, because the more you do, the creepier (and perhaps even more sinister) the scenario becomes.

That aside, Jiro and Akari are looking to be a standard pairing of complete opposites, so much so that it makes me wistful for how well Marin and Wakana in My Dress-Up Darling played out. In fact, this is pretty much the poor man’s version of that relationship, down even to the brassy way Akari’s sex appeal is flaunted. The technical merits do not impress, either. Some of the relationship dynamics do have a little potential, but everything this series is doing so far has been done better by other titles. Pass.


Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 1.5 (of 5)

I am not a fan of soccer, and especially not soccer-centered anime, so I was all ready to roll my eyes at this one and give it a hard past. After watching the first episode, I am still rolling my eyes at it and giving a hard pass, just not at all for the reasons that I originally expected.`

Rather than taking a more traditional route, this series turns an experiment to create the “best forward in the world” into a survival game, where only the last man standing can become the forward for Japan’s national time. Those who are eliminated only die figuratively, since they lose any hope to ever play for the national team, but they do have to immediately abandon their source teams for this opportunity. That part didn’t bother me so much, nor did making the first challenge involve “tag” with a soccer ball. What truly bugged me was the maniacal attitude of the man organizing all of this. (We’ll set aside how he could get away with it.) His theory is that having an enormous ego is required for being the best striker, since various legendary soccer players did have that, and so he’s going to inculcate that in whoever survives. In other words, this is a total rejection of the team-building focus these series normally rely on. Might be interesting to see if it works, but I’m not about to waste my time watching such conceptually ugly trash.

Bocchi the Rock!

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 4.5

In some respects, this is just the latest in a long stream of series about girls trying to form bands. However, I doubt that any of this series’ predecessors had a titular character quite like Hitori Goto. She’s a self-diagnosed introvert who sought to use joining a band – specifically, playing rock guitar – to help overcome her social anxiety, but all three years of intense effort since middle school have gotten her is a significant online following based on her playing cover songs in a closet. She still cannot make any headway or get any attention at school, still cannot talk to anyone in person, and is so petrified that even when someone does finally approach her about being a fill-in guitarist for a performance, she can only manage it while inside of a box. In other words, she’s essentially the answer to the “what if” question about what might have happened if WATAMOTE‘s Tomoko had ever picked up a guitar.

Though the first episode takes a humorous look at Hitori’s travails, it does so with a sensitive – even compassionate – flavor. This is an achingly personal portrayal, to the point that I have to suspect that Hitori is a stand-in for the original manga-ka. It also raises the question about how many Hitoris there are out there in the world of Internet video clip makers; how many of them are posting videos as a means of just trying to break out of their shells? I also must give credit to the show for not giving Hitori an easy way out; overcoming introvert tendencies is one thing, but true social anxieties cannot be compensated for that easily. (If there’s one thing I might fault this first episode on, it’s on not making a clearer distinction between merely being an introvert and having full-blown social anxiety.) And boy, she needs to finish that original song and put it out there! If the existence of blues and alt-rock have proven anything over the decades, it’s that there’s a market for such laments.

This one made enough of an impression on me that I will have to at least consider following it, and that is not something I anticipated going in. As the wide split in opinions on it at Anime News Network shows, it’s definitely not for everyone, but it will find its audience.

I’ve Somehow Gotten Stronger When I Improved My Farm-Related Skills eps 1 and 2

Streams: HIDIVE on Saturdays

Rating: 2.5

You know you have tough competition in a season when you feature a scene where a human farmer makes a dragon explode by throwing a carrot at it and that still isn’t the most jaw-dropping scene of the new season. (We have a certain maid-centered series to thank for that.)

That is the early highlight moment of what is otherwise a fairly bland fantasy series, one where the other biggest surprise is that it is not an isekai series despite the setting using very game-like elements. Al just wants to be a farmer, but because he’s been blessed with rapid growth, he’s maxed out all his farming stats, and through some bizarre mechanism that makes him one of the most powerful beings in the world. But he still wants to be a farmer, so the princess he unwittingly rescues has to do some conniving to secure his services to protect her kingdom. This means adventuring on the side while he farms royal lands, but by the end of episode 1 he’s already defeated the aforementioned dragon and a demon commander. Of course, you can’t have such a hero go unchallenged, so by the end of episode 2 an entity who makes even Al’s OP stats look wimpy has appeared. That’s some damn fast power creep.

The episode displays some of the season’s weakest use of CG, and the regular visuals are nothing noteworthy, but these episodes do have at least a few things going for them. The proactive, somewhat scheming princess is rather likable, the writing has an odd sense of humor at times, and some drama which links the Guild Girl to the super-strong entity provides an interesting twist. However, unless we keep seeing absurd incidents like the carrot-kills-dragon gimmick, I cannot see this one retaining much interest.

Legend of Mana -The Teardrop Crystal-

Streams: Crunchyroll on Fridays

Rating: 2 (of 5)

Even if I didn’t know up front that this is based on a Playstation fantasy RPG dating back to the late ’90s, I could have easily guessed it from the art and creature design style. (The reason it has become an anime now is likely because it got rereleased last year in remastered form on a wide range of platforms.) The source game was the fourth in a series, but while the first episode seems to be referring to previous events, knowing anything about the previous games does not seem strictly necessary. Based on the title, opener, and characters introduced so far, the apparent intent is to adapt the whole game, with the subtitle being a reference to the game’s final arc.

Certainly the first episode has some pretty (and in some cases very creative) character designs and sharp technical merits; they are almost good enough to make the episode worth checking out for those reason alone. That’s good, because the characters, situations, and initial plot arc are all almost painfully generic. The whole thing is also just a bit too cutesy for my tastes, which is why I probably will not check out any more despite how good it looks. If you want a retro blast in your fantasy titles, or something accommodating to younger audiences, then this might fit the bill, but I cannot recommend it otherwise.

Bibliophile Princess

Streams: HIDIVE on Thursdays

Rating: 3.5

If this opening episode had to be described in only two words, I’d use “soft” and “pretty.” Everything in the visuals is pretty in an elegant way, and both soft and bright to a fault. This creates a sumptuous look, but not much contrast; there’s no sense that darkness can visually exist in this setting, even though the actions of some characters suggests that the setting is hardly devoid of such elements in a more figurative sense.

Indeed, some interpretation may be necessary on this one, as the story clearly has more going on than what we see. Because the viewer strictly follows Elianna’s point of view, we get to see the series only through her insular focus, one where her own evaluation of herself seems to miss that she is a stunning beauty who could easily capture the heart of a handsome prince just by existing. Sure, she may be bookish, but that also means that she’s not a schemer, and it’s not hard at all to understand why that might also be appealing to a crown prince. Besides, if the prince was only using her as a shield (as she suspects), he certainly wouldn’t go out of his way to track down an obscure book for her, or have the kind of reaction he does to seeing her joy over it. Unfortunately for Elianna, the traits that make her desirable also make her ill-suited to fend off a potential intruder on her own, putting her in a catty game that she does not even comprehend exists and leaving her feeling isolated as those around the prince try to keep her away from said intruder.

While I can totally see how this might all be too bland for some tastes, I was charmed enough that my reaction, for now, falls on the positive side. How will Elianna handle things as she is forced out of her comfort zone? This is something that I do want to see.

Akiba Maid War

Streams: HIDIVE on Thursdays

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

This is is one of the few original series this season, and advertisements had been suspiciously coy about what the series actually would be. The first episode abundantly shows why. Opening with an assassination scene of a maid cafe worker in 1985 seems to set the stage for something pretty dark, but a time jump forward to 1999 leads to a more workplace comedy-type feel as young, enthusiastic new maid Nagomi starts to learn the ins and outs of working at a pig-themed cafe. Before her first night of work is done, though, she will be witness to an eye-popping display of bloody slaughter as fellow new maid Ranko guns down the staff at a rival bunny-themed cafe.

The implication here is, of course, that Ranko is the same young brunette maid who witnessed a coworker gunned down back in 1985, and that she’s back exacting vengeance, but that’s practically beside the point. This is an environment where pigtails get chopped off much like a yakuza would chop off a finger of an underling who had screwed up, where blood squirts from a headshot in cartoonish fashion, and where a couple of dozen bunny-maids get bloodily gunned down in the street (and finished off execution-style) all while the perpetrator dances in sync with a cutesy maid cafe performance, all while the blood-splattered Nagomi looks on in horror. And then it finishes it off with the signature maid cafe phrase “moe moe kyun!” sung in slow, jazzy film noir style in the closer. My jaw was on the floor from the utter absurdity of it all, as it’s the kind of thing where you cannot help but laugh at a bloody massacre.

That being said, this is definitely not a series for everyone. I can see it provoking some extreme reactions both ways. However, this is also a sterling technical effort from studio P.A. Works and director Soichi Masui, who directed both one of my all-time-favorite fantasy series (Scrapped Princess) and the more recent Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai, so something special should have been expected. I am absolutely, positively, going to be back for much more.

Do It Yourself!

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

There’s a pet pig in this series who wears sunglasses and is named Meat. If that isn’t a reason to check this series out, I don’t know what it.

Seriously, though, this is the latest iteration of “Cute Girls Do xxxx,” and the topic this time happens to be do-it-yourself projects. A lot of little technical details can probably be expected as the perfectly-named Serufu Yua (put her name in Japanese order and it’s nearly identical to the Japanese pronunciation for “yourself”) gets drawn in to being the second member of her school’s membership-starved DIY Club. Looks like three other girls – two of which are introduced in this episode – will also be added.

Though I don’t care much for the character design aesthetic used here, the first episode has a number of other factors in its favor. Serufu may be one of anime’s ultimate klutzes and figurative space cadets, but there’s a certain instantly-likable quality to her, too, and somewhat of a subplot already exists involving a neighbor girl who was a long-time friend but is now going to an ultra-elite school practically next door to Serufu’s; both seem unhappy about that circumstance. The background tech features in the show (frequent drones, automated mini-buses, cool-looking foot devices that might be a version of roller skates) provide an interesting addition to a warm, earthy overall visual aesthetic. The episode is also surprisingly funny at times. Wednesdays are too stacked for me to be likely to get into this one, but it shows some promise at filling the role of this season’s Laid-Back Camp.

The Human Crazy University

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 2 (of 5)

My immediate reaction upon finishing this one was, “what the hell did I just watch?” It is apparently based on a YouTube voice comic and animated like one of those really low-budget late-night Cartoon Network programs, with minimal actual movement – not that much is required. Apparently the viewpoint characters will change each episode as one bizarre situation or another of humans driven to extremes are examined, but this one features a death row inmate in the time leading up to his execution. The only problem is, he doesn’t die from the execution, and it turns out that he has survived an improbable level of other deadly situations over the years, too. Hence he’s to be studied at the Human Defect Research Center, aka the Human Crazy (“Bug”) University.

Yeah. The episode is actually very informative about modern Japanese executions, but the episode also feels like a joke should be coming at some point but never does; the story is taken entirely seriously, even down to the somewhat harrowing portrayal of his execution. Not really sure what entertainment value is to be found here, but it’s not a title I can recommend.

Immoral Guild (Futoku no Guild)

Streams: Nowhere legal

Rating: 1.5 (of 5)

A young ranger disaffected by a lifetime spent training seeks to retire, but lets himself get talked into training replacement adventurers first. That results him him taking on a busty but incompetent catgirl martial artist and a potent but also underaged healer who’s no good in a fight. When even slimes are a challenge, his prospects for retiring soon look bleak.

All of this is basically an excuse to collect a variety of fan service archetypes and stick them into raunchy situations for cheap sex appeal – which, based on the first episode, will include some nudity. Expect any higher aspirations than that and you’ll be disappointed.m Don’t expect much of a budget, either, as animation is minimal and action is basically non-existent. It has just enough functional humor and prurient appeal to not warrant a minimal rating, but I can’t even recommend this as a worthwhile fan service title at this point.

The Eminence in Shadow

Streams: HIDIVE on Wednesdays

Rating: 3, I guess?

Based on its intriguing premise, this was one of the most-anticipated titles of the new season, but I can easily see its first episode leaving viewers scratching their heads. The series’ actual protagonist, who seems a bit chunibyou, is just a supporting character for most of the episode, while the viewpoint character is a star high school girl who’s hiding her insecurities over once being kidnapped behind a Perfect Girl veneer. In a harrowing, bloody sequence, she gets kidnapped again, menaced, and then saved by a dual crowbar-wielding avenger named Balaclava Berserker. Only after he rescues her, and the girl’s sequence finishes, does he meet Truck-kun and wind up in an alternate world as a cheesy behind-the-scenes manipulator with a team of hot girls backing him up.

I have to assume that the serious, heavy (and fan service-laced) tone of most of the episode is meant to be his chunibyou inclinations made manifest, to demonstrate how he ended up with the mindset he has in the new world. If so, the production team may have overdone it a bit, as the stylistic transition at the end is jarring. (It’s also a shame the the girl’s time in the series may be done, as her character had some potential.) Because of this, I don’t think this series can be judged accurately on its first episode alone, so I am going to hold off on judgment calls until the real first episode airs next week. Hence a provisional grade for now.

Reincarnated as a Sword

Streams: HIDIVE on Wednesdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

This one is yet another in a long stream of isekai reincarnation stories involving an individual being reborn in a game mechanics-based fantasy setting. Sure, the idea of being a sword instead of a living creatures is a novel twists (though intelligent swords are a long-standing concept in fantasy), and results in the juxtaposition of the special weapon being the isekai rather than the wielder, but its first episode still explores some genre standards. This one has two things going for it that most other isekai titles don’t, though, and those are the reasons I’m recommending this one even beyond genre fans: the relationship between its two central characters, and that the adaptation team knows how to best take advantage of the source material.

Though we see only glimmers of it here, the relationship which develops between Teacher and Fran was the biggest factor in making the source novel enjoyable, and the first episode sets that up well. Teacher needs Fran as much as Fran needs Teacher, and helping her fulfill her goals serves his purpose, too; maybe Teacher’s psychology is being affected by him now being a weapon (an interesting angle to explore!), but if he gets satisfaction from making his wielder stronger, who’s going to argue? And Fran’s already showing some of her quirks, such as how she tends to be dispassionate about things which should excite her but still isn’t lacking for determination. Paired with Teacher’s exuberant spirit, they make a great team.

It isn’t just the source material or the great vocal performance by Shinichiro Miki as Teacher, though. Director Shinki Ishihara (Fairy Taile Log Horizon) and his production crew make a number of wise decisions here, including condensing the early part where the sword is flying around powering up (the part of the novel that I felt dragged the most), using a rock-based musical score, and generally keeping the energy level high. They even deliver some inviting character designs and sharp action sequences, especially once Fran has the sword. So yeah, a lot to like here, and I have higher hopes for this one now than I would have expected.

VAZZROCK The Animation

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 1 (of 5)

Wow. This may not be the worst debut in recent years in a technical sense, but if there has been a more tedious and boring opening episode in the last few years then I (mercifully) don’t remember it.

To be fair, I am far from the target audience for this. The whole episode is just a bunch of hot-looking bishonen from two male idol groups talking, first as part of a fourth anniversary special and later as part of performing in some samurai-themed series. This still might be doable if any of them had anything interesting to say at all. Instead, it’s just a stream of insipid, canned routines with only the slightest hint of anything more meaningful to any of it – and that’s nowhere near enough. There aren’t any musical performances, either. Really, I have to wonder what the production team was intending with this episode, but I cannot recommend it for any audiences. (As additional note, it currently has one of the lowest viewer ratings I’ve ever seen on the site.)

Shinobi no Ittoki

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

The set-up for this one looks as generic as can possibly be: a middle school boy living a strict but essentially ordinary life suddenly discovers that he’s not only the scion of a prominent ninja clan, but he’s also become a target for a rival ninja clan which is going aggressive to avenge the loss of a former leader. Most of the people around him – including a childhood friend who always wears a mask and regularly denies that she’s hanging around him – are ninjas, too, who are keeping an eye on him. Which is good, since he almost falls for a honey trap scheme intended to kill him.

But while the concept may be as stale as a bag a chips left open for two weeks, the execution is better than expected. Ittoki gets established well in his situation, the action sequences have a bit more edge than normal, and there are some genuine cool elements as well. The first episode also briefly explains how ninjas can still be around today. Overall, this one may have at least some potential, though I’d want to see another episode or two before making a firm judgment call.

Management of a Novice Alchemist

Streams: HIDIVE on Mondays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Determining the amount of time spent on a story’s set-up is always a delicate balancing act. Do too much and the story drags from the start. Do too little (I’m looking at you, My Isekai Life!) and the series becomes heavily-dependent on the audience just having to accept the starting situation. This new light novel adaptation edges towards the former, but not to a problematic level. It fully establishes where Sarasa is coming from: she was orphaned when her business-owning parents died on a trade mission that might have been rigged to get rid of them, lost everything she had to unscrupulous subordinates of her parents, and had to work her way out of an orphanage and into an alchemist’s school to try to make a life for herself. She made no friends due to her diligent studying, but at least had a quality master. After impressing on her final test, she’s now certified and destined for the boonies to open her own shop. . . if she can restore it first.

The opener indicates that most of the story will be about just that and the friends she makes while doing so, so this looks like it will eventually be a fairly cutesy, low-key tale. The visuals and plotting are not anything special, but the magic and alchemy systems show enough detail to have some promise. Sarasa is a heroine who can easily be rooted for, so I can see this being a pleasant, mild break from some of the most intense and dramatic titles this season.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

I have only seen bits and pieces of the Gundam franchise over the years, but I get the impression both from the episode 0 prologue and episode 1 that no significant franchise familiarity is expected here. A total newcomer should be able to step in here and pick up quickly enough on this story about corporations plotting to control Gundams (read: mecha), even if they have to resort to dastardly means – like slaughtering a development outpost for instance. The problem with that is, if you’re going to do something like that, you’d better make damn sure that no one gets away. Otherwise, that will come back to haunt you.

That’s the overarching premise here, and will probably come more heavily into play later on. The more immediate plot involves a premise that seems standard on paper: a hotshot youth with a special mecha comes to a school where dueling is a big thing and unwittingly shakes up the status quo by defeating the existing champion in defense of another. The twist this time is that (in a rarity for the franchise) the special youth is a girl, and that, by the end of the first episode, she’s unwittingly won herself a fiancee (yes, that’s spelled right) by not just defeating, but absolutely overwhelming, the former champion dueler.

In other words, this is Revolutionary Girl Utena done mecha-style, with the added twist that the win also directly renders an assassination plot pointless. But hey, that’s what happens when you mess with a “country bumpkin” who bonded with her mecha – and wiped out enemies set to kill her – at just age 4. The fun premise isn’t the only thing the series has going for it, either; the animation from Sunrise is a grade above the norm for mecha series, resulting in a couple of spectacular battle sequences. (And as an interesting note, Mercury in astrology is associated with taking things apart and putting them back together. Is it a coincidence that a mecha from Mercury does the same?) Overall, this is a strong enough debut that I may even be underrating it a little.


Berserk: The Golden Age – Memorial Edition

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

I have been around in the anime scene for even longer than Berserk has been around in anime form, and I have seen (and reviewed) the widely-derided 2016 sequel series, and got my start in fantasy in the bloody Conan the Barbarian novels, so the first arc should be right up my alley. Somehow, though, I’ve never seen any of this arc beyond the first episode of the 1997 series. Hence, while I know the ultimate disposition of certain characters introduced here, I am mostly coming into this TV-edited version of the 2012-`4 movies as a neophyte.

And that may be why I have a more positive reaction to it than some commentators in the review sphere. The CG elements here have been much complained-about, but they don’t bother me as much, and the non-CG animation looks quite sharp. First-person perspective gets used quite effectively, and battle scenes amply convey the level of bloody intensity characteristic of darker fantasy tales no doubt influenced by Conan. The level of character definition provided in this episode is also greater than most, as by the first episode viewers can get a sense of where all of the named characters stand and what they are like. The only thing I don’t like is how delicately feminine Griffith is, but I also know that I will never get over that.

While my predilection for hyper-masculine fantasy has faded over the years, this one is enough of a winner that I would likely be episode-reviewing it if it was new.

Spy x Family p2 (ep 13)

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

Note: I am putting this here for now because I am yet unsure if I will continue episode reviews of this series. (I am seriously tempted to do Raven of the Inner Palace instead.)

For the most part, the first episode of the second cour is classic Spy x Family fare, so anyone who enjoyed the first cour should enjoy this episode, too. Twilight is doing spy stuff, Anya is getting into danger but also having fun, and Yor goes all aggressive on Anya being threatened while heavily misunderstanding what’s actually going on. The new addition, of course, is the dog shown briefly at the end of the first cour, a dog which seems to be smarter than normal and have precognitive ability. (Sadly, he was not smart enough to avoid running around in a circle. . .) And the Forgers were looking to get a dog anyway, so he will be a permanent cast addition.

So yeah, lots of danger, lots of fun, all of the characters being cool to some degree, and a couple of good side jokes; I especially liked the “war dogs” doing body builder poses for Anya in the background in one scene. Nice new set of opener and closer, too, though they are not as strong as for the first season.

Housing Complex C

Airs: Toonami on Sundays (at midnight); HBO Max later

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Effective horror-themed anime are quite rare, but this new mini-series is using the month of October to make a hard push for as creepy a production as it can muster. The premise here is that a rundown seaside apartment complex mostly inhabited by senior citizens is suddenly getting an influx of new tenants, and a bunch of strange things are going on that partly do and partly don’t have to do with that. One character tries to pass off seeing a monster as an optical illusion (the theme of the first episode), there’s a hikkikomori obsessed with drawing Cthulhu gods, an old storeroom with a mummified dog, and a cheery girl who may or may not have something odd going on with her talked-to-but-not-shown mother. Some of the unsettling factors are even more ordinary ones, like a bunch of foreigners with an unfamiliar religion. Flashes indicate that something really bad and bloody may have happened on the site centuries ago, and an opening scene indicates that one or more characters will eventually go berserk. Even the seemingly-normal new girl is implied by the opener to have a devilish side, too.

In other words, a whole bunch of teases and pieces are being laid out here, with the assumption that they will connect up later. I am a little concerned that the production is moving too fast and trying too hard, but this is supposed to only run four episodes, so it cannot afford to pace things out more. Production merits, characterizations, and voice work is good enough that I’m willing to give the series the benefit of the doubt for now.

Raven of the Inner Palace

Streaming: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

As a big fan of titles like The Story of Saiunkoku/ColorCloud Palace and the (as-yet-unanimated) The Apothecary Diaries, this one was squarely enough in my wheelhouse that it was one of my most-anticipated new titles of the season. I’m pleased to say that it doesn’t disappoint for what I was expecting, even though it is a far more purely serious tale than the other two.

At the heart of this first story arc are two mysteries: exactly who (or perhaps what?) is the Raven Consort, who seems to have mystical powers, could be a century old despite her apparent youth, and has status equivalent to an Empress but live apart from all? And who was the wearer of a haunted jade earring? The latter is the query which brings the new Emperor to the Raven Consort, and the intrigue-riddle mystery she goes undercover to try to unravel when he bribes her with her favorite food. A scheme to honestly and incontrovertibly justify the execution of the imprisoned Dowager Empress (who is, based on flashbacks, a real piece of work) is also involved for further gravitas.

The series’ character design motif successfully portrays the Raven Consort as a thin, delicate, and mysterious beauty, and that together with the art design produces some lovely visuals. Certain aspects of the art design may be too CG-based for some tastes, but both the look and the sound of the series work together well to promote the overall aesthetic. That helps make for a quite promising start that I highly recommend for fans of ancient China-based historical fantasies.

Beast Tamer

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays?

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Many years ago, I encounter a group of players on the TTRPG circuit who were so adamant about not playing with certain types of characters (whom they regarded as having poor combat effectiveness) that they even made and wore T-shirts stating that. I have no doubt that TTRPG gamers the world over are familiar with something like that, and have to wonder if that’s at the core of the slew of light novel-based stories about individuals being kicked out of Hero parties for apparent ineffectiveness. (Banished From the Hero’s Party is one anime predecessor, and I fully expect Roll Over and Die will get animated at some point.) In this variation, the useless person is a Beast Tamer, whose ability to control animals makes him more suited to support rather than combat roles, and that’s not good enough. The other difference here is that the Hero is one leading the firing effort and the rest of the party is clearly of one mind about it, rather than it being done behind the Hero’s back.

Of course, like in the other cases, Rein is extraordinary in ways that the Hero’s party just can’t appreciate. They will doubtless find themselves under-appreciating how vital his support role was, but more importantly, Rein is strong enough to make contracts with Spirits which have animal traits – in the case of this episode, the adventuresome Cat Spirit Kanade. Exactly what that means is unclear; the episode only differentiates between temporary and more permanent contracts and doesn’t elaborate at all on what benefits there might be to Kanade. Clearly there have to be some, for her to both propose and agree to it, but I can at least buy that Rein might not know himself how this works with sentient beasts since the possibility never even occurred to him before. Learning about that is just enough of a hook to get me to watch a little more, as otherwise this looks like a standard “collect a harem” set-up (four other Spirit girls are shown prominently in both the OP and ED) and is utterly mediocre on both visual and animation fronts.

The Master Has No Tail

Streams: HIDIVE on Fridays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Mameda (which is apparently the general name for a young tanuki) is a fledgling tanuki on her first trip to Taisho-era Osaka. She aspires to fool humans just like her dad has, but she quickly learns that hard way that humans have advanced enough that they are no longer easy prey for standard tanuki tricks. But she does discover one way which might work: the distinctly Japanese comedy style called rakugo. She is so dazzled by the performance of one Bunko (who also instantly knows exactly what Mameda is) that she sets her mind to learning this art form herself so she can accomplish her goal.

I don’t get rakugo at all, and did not find the routine here all that funny or impressive in style. That’s a barrier which will probably keep me from appreciating this series. However, the set-up is interesting enough, the logical follow-throughs sensible enough (fake money doesn’t work because of the lack of watermarks, for instance), and the two key characters likable enough that I could see this one finding its niche audience. Mameda definitely has the spunky cute factor working for her, and the closing theme is a winner, too.

6 thoughts on “Fall 2022 Preview Guide

  1. Beast Tamer: I dislike the starting premise of a show being based on spite. At least with Banished From The Hero’s Party it was only 1 character being spiteful and somewhat reasonable in the way it was brought forwards. But does a character have to be so painfully dull that the only way he can be let go from a party is for people to be “Mean” at him? Does it have to come down to overinflated ego’s of nasty looking people hurting the main character to protect the ego of of the audience surrogate?


    1. I thought the story made just enough effort to show that most of the party was legitimately frustrated with Rein rather than just being mean. While they certainly weren’t diplomatic about how they handled things, at least Rein was allowed to just walk away; there are far worse situations in other light novels using a similar base premise.


  2. Since Spy x Family, MHA, and Mob Psycho 100 will all be streaming on Hulu this season, I’ll have plenty to watch. I am curious to see that the reviews are for Chainsaw Man, which will help me decide whether to watch that one or not.


  3. I find it interesting that in the reddit sphere that other then chainsaw man as an outlier the top 2 shows of the season are new seasons of old shows: Spy x Family and Mob Psycho respectively. And they have over twice the karma rating of any of the new material out this season.

    I will be watching Eminence in Shadow and Reincarnated as a Sword for my Isekai trash this season. With Gundam, Novice Alchemist and Raven of the Inner Palace as shows to check out in batches.

    I tried and bounced off of Beast Tamer, My Master Has No Tail, and Bibliophile Princess. Beast Tamer and My Master because I struggled to accept the writing of how the world treats the main characters and princess because it lacked good story pacing and so bored its audience.

    In its second episode Beast Tamer feels like if you isolated just those moments from Expelled from the Hero’s Party where the mage gets his comeuppance for daring to hurt the main character intro the entire story of the show. I may yet watch the show as a hate watch. Albeit with the mouse over the timeline to skip through all the ego rubbing.

    I will have to try and persuade myself to try Akiba Maid War and Do It Yourself. I just feel drawn to them. I used to catch those kind of shows in group settings but by myself there is not much desire for them. I guess as an old anime fan you just dont get the love of discovery in many shows anymore.


    1. Not quite sure I understand the intense dislike for Beast Tamer. I just got finished watching the second episode and am finding the series to be appreciable enough. It’s not doing anything excitingly different, but I am starting to get into the “didn’t realize how much he could shine until he struck out on his own” angle.

      As for Akiba Maid War, yeah, I can see that being a fun one to watch in a crowd, but I still feel you owe it to yourself to try it out. It’s one of those series where the full impact can’t be appreciated just from hearing a description.


      1. Hmm I wouldnt go so far as hate, even though I said hate watch. My feeling is annoyance at the writing and that annoyance keeps compounding as I keep seeing what it is trying to do.

        First we have sneering and bullying team mates who dont just fire their team mate but go out of their way to make it humiliating by insulting him. This is a simple writing method to make you dislike them, but also to persuade viewers that they can not be possibly correct. Though it is compounded in this show by making all the members of the team contemptable as a group, which conjurers up illusions of high school bullying. Additionally in just the second episode it is highlighting the incompetence of the hero teams members. All this to try and get me on the side of the main character whose only defining personality we have had in 2 episodes is niceness and naivete.

        Followed by multiple examples across two episodes repeatedly reinforcing to the viewer the simple idea that actually the main character is great. Where a more traditional revenge or rising story if you will would have the character earn his comeuppance upon his adversaries that humiliated him, our main character is far to nice to even consider it. But so far almost every scene with the main character has had a reinforcing idea to the audience that actually MC is great. Fate itself will prove the hero party wrong, as he effortlessly accomplishes all the things his party either doubted of him or now sets out to achieve.

        As such the story itself is becoming responsible for making sure that the audience is convinced of this nice guys greatness and wreaking revenge upon his humiliators, while the main character continues to be surprised at his own success. I feel in every scene where people go: that is crazy impossible for a beast tamer, that the setting itself is simply the main character is great, how the world and the people learn and grow are a much smaller factor.

        The story can work, if I had to rate it it would be a 4/10 or a 2/5. Not terrible, just poorly made story. Like you said for other shows, if I was just getting into anime I could probably like it a lot better. I just want it to be about something more then repairing his ego by making every else around him bad. Its Irking my to no end.


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