Winter 2023 Preview Guide

Last Update: 11:21 p.m. EST Saturday 1/14/23

Welcome to my Winter 2023 Preview Guide! (For the debut schedule, see here.) I expect to cover every full-episode series that will be debuting this season, including some of the sequels; yes for The Misfit of Demon King Academy, In/Spectre 2, BOFURI 2, and The Fruit of Evolution 2, no for D4DJ All Mix, The Vampire Dies in No Time 2, Vinland Saga 2, Show Time 2, By the Grace of the Gods 2, and Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Magatoro 2nd Attack. (DanMachi IV part 2 will go straight to episode reviews, so it will not be covered here.)

These will be listed in newest to oldest order, and this post will be updated multiple times per day on busier days. Although there are a couple of super-late-debuting titles this season (most notably the new Demon Slayer arc), I expect to wrap this Guide with Flaglia on Monday 1/16 and cover any debuts after that as special write-ups.

NOTE: As of the time of this last update, the last remaining title – FLAGLIA – has not been licensed. If it is not picked up by its scheduled debut date (MO 1/16) then this is the last update for the season.

The Fire Hunter

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

Though the novel this series is based on is contemporary, everything about the artistry instead suggests that it was made in the early-to-mid-2000s. Whether this was intentional or not is hard to say, but it certainly makes the series stand out visually; no other series else this season looks even remotely like this one. And that’s the not the only thing distinctive about its first episode, either.

The premise is quite the whopper: some apocalyptic (and likely war-related) event happened in the past which caused humans to start combusting in the presence of fire. Human civilization collapsed because of this, but has been able to start rising again thanks to warriors called fire hunters, who harvest fire-equivalent fluids from beasts called flamelings. Touku gets save from a flameling by a fire hunter who gave his life in the process, and now has been tasked with going to the capital (where the fire hunter was believed to have come from) to return his weapon, dog, and effects. Meanwhile, in that direction, a young man has just lost his mother to toxic poisoning from her job in a crude factory and now contemplates his future.

Conceptually, the series is a marvel, with the first episode already showing rich and well-realized world-building and characterizations. The writing, courtesy of Mamoru Oshii, is not as smooth in its dialog as it could be, leaving the first episode just a few minor tweaks short of an even higher score. Still, what we’ve seen so far has the potential to develop into a fascinating story.

The Fruit of Evolution 2

Streams: Crunchyroll on Fridays

Rating: 2 (of 5)

The first season of The Fruit of Evolution was dumb as hell, but it at least entertained me often enough that I ended up watching the whole season. After a year off, it’s not back for a second round, and. . . wow. Either it’s taken a qualitative drop or else I’ve forgotten what I found funny about it. Maybe both.

Last season ended with Seiichi being recruited to go to a magic school where he might meet some other isekai students. This season starts with the crew traveling to the school, where Seiichi will be a teacher for a problem class, Artoria will be an adventuring instructor, and Saria and Lulune will be students. To celebrate this, the production trots out multiple visual gags where the production team feels compelled to put notes on the screen to the effect of “ask your parents about this outdated joke.” Yeah, that’s not a good sign. Some new villains are on track to show up at the school and cause trouble, and the isekai teacher meeting the isekai students could still happen, but given how hard the jokes are bombing in this first episode, will anyone stick around long enough to see what those threads amount to?

Kaina of the Great Snow Sea

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

This is an original anime project from the creative mind behind Knights of Sidonia and Blame! That also means that it’s a Polygon Pictures production, which means that it’s all-CG, and whether you appreciate this entry or not will probably hinge mostly on how you have reacted to past productions from this studio. While the CG is not my favorite art style by any means, I find it at least tolerable, and when the first episode has as much potential as this one does, that’s enough.

Like the other previous works from Tsutomu Nihei, the set-up is one about humanity living on the fringe in a far-flung (and this case, likely post-apocalyptic) future. In this case, rather than space or an ever-expanding city, the setting is a dual-structured world. Some humans live on a sea of snow below, while others live far, far above, in the branches of massive trees that seem to support a canopy of ice. The top-dwellers have become mythical figures to those who live below, while those who live above live simple lives and are gradually dying off, unaware of anyone living below and with such limited knowledge that scraps of signs with print on them are special relics. The titular Kaina is the sole young man in a village of old people, while Liliha is the princess of a small nation below troubled by environmental conditions and struggling with a war against another people. The two are fated to meet when she makes a desperate effort to reach the “sages” above.

The design elements are spectacular, and the storytelling finds a sufficient balance between establishing particulars and not revealing too much. Characterizations are thin so far, but we’ll see how things develop when the two main characters finally get to interact next episode. I am cautiously optimistic here.

BOFURI 2

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

BOFURI was somewhat of a surprise hit when it debuted exactly three years ago, endearing even some viewers who don’t normally go for game-structured series with the adorable antics of a newcomer who stumbles into gradually becoming extremely OP in an online VR game. Despite essentially being a power fantasy, it worked in ways that others didn’t because protagonist Maple wasn’t specifically trying to be awesome; it just happened as she was developing her own unique way to have fun the game, and she never lost her focus on that point. This season picks up a little while after the first season, with the opening of the game’s 4th level. That provides new venues to explore and a new Christmas-themed event, too. Oh, and the first Maple/Payne team-up as well.

The content is essentially the same as what became typical in the first series: while Maple innocently does broken stuff, the others in her guild go around picking up new tricks of their own (at least one with unfortunate side effects) and the admins try to figure out what to do about Maple without throwing game balance off. The charm factor – especially in the final scene shown above – is just enough to carry along what is otherwise an ordinary, low-key episodes, and the text message stream is back, too! Not one of the franchise’s stronger episodes, but not a disappointment, either.

Campfire Cooking in Another World with My Absurd Skills

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

In 2017 and 2021 we had installments of Restaurant to Another World, which was essentially an isekai foodie series. This more pure version of the concept is its successor. While it may eventually prove to have adventure elements, too, the first episode primarily focuses on the protagonist impressing his escort party (and, later, a giant, legendary wolf) with cooking partly using ingredients he’s able to order from the other world.

Yep, this is also one of those “protagonist is an afterthought because of unconventional gifts that prove to be broken once he understands the exploits” kind of show. In this case, Mukoda was summoned as well when three other heroes were summoned to a particular kingdom, but when he learns his power – Online Grocery – isn’t a heroic type, he bails as soon as he’s able and skips town, sensing something is off. On a journey out of the country, he learns that his Item Box and Appraise skills alone are quite rare, and Online Grocery allows him to order items from Japan, too. He volunteers to cook for his escort party and discovers that his food offers buffs as well. And that’s enough to attract the attention of Fenrir, who offers to contract with him in exchange for being fed regularly. So much for keeping a low profile. . .

There’s some potential for an interesting story here, especially since Mukoda seems more self-aware than your typical isekai protagonist, but in a busy season this one just doesn’t stand out much. I’ll wait for the eventual anime version of Delicious in Dungeon instead.

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible

Streams: HIDIVE on Tuesdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

I never got into Don’t Toy With Me, Miss Nagatoro or Teasing Master Takagi-san because both (whether fairly or not) initially came across to me as somewhat mean-spirited. That’s not a problem with this manga adaptation, which is a veritable cousin to its predecessors in the “cute girl teases a guy” genre. The titular Kubo does, indeed, seem to have a crush of some degree on protagonist Shiraishi, and she does genuinely seem to care that he virtually has a super-power when it comes to being unnoticeable. She doesn’t seem to appreciate that sometime Shiraishi actually wants to be invisible, but her actions seem both genuinely flirtatious and well-intentioned. This all makes for much sweeter and more mellow interactions.

The problem with the first episode – and the reason I cannot rate it higher – is that it’s too mellow. It is essentially repeating the same gag over and over again, giving the episode a drawn-out feel. It needs to do a bit more: be a bit more sharply funny, or introduce some new angles, or maybe even explore more the implied meaning of its title (i.e., that Kubo is rescuing him from being a social nobody). The odd shading on Kubo’s cheeks also bothered me, but that’s a minor stylistic issue. I could maybe see following this in a lighter season, but there is plenty enough more interesting fare to watch this season for this one to have any chance of making my viewing card.

Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire

Streams: Crunchyroll on Mondays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

So we’ve got two gender-swap series this season, and they’re both debuting on the same day. Rather than a curse transformation, this one is a reincarnation, following a typical pattern for non-isekai fare: the character is reincarnated into a later age in the setting which has either lost or greatly reduced magic, hence making what the character is reincarnated with unusually potent.

Despite this one also having underwhelming technical and artistic merits, it at least has more developed and better-staged action scenes than its same-day competitor, and it’s far more entertaining, too; the “tough baby” scene amused me to no end, as did the various moments where the protagonist realizes that she’s showing off too much and tries to act normal to fool those around her. And it could be interesting to see how she handles the fact that women are not normally warriors in this setting as she grows up, and how the setting will adapt to handle a talent as obvious as what she shows off in the episode’s duel scene. I am cautiously optimistic here that this one could be a keeper.

Ayakashi Triangle

Streams: Crunchyroll on Mondays

Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

For the first 20 minutes, this manga adaptation looks every ounce like an utterly generic shonen action series, one where a boy becomes a “ninja exorcist” so he can fend off the ayakashi who seem constantly attracted to his (female) childhood friend – whether thse wants him to or not. Sure, there’s an extra female character shown in the OP who might form a love triangle between the three, but no biggie, right? But around the 20 minute the major twist is revealed: that buxom second female character is the protagonist, after an ayakashi curse gender-swaps him. And now, suddenly, an episode which had only the barest hint of prurient content to that point requires extensive censoring. Moreover, a re-evaluation of the opener suggests that female lead Suzu may not care in a romantic sense that Matsuri is now a girl.

Um, yeah. I’m almost interested enough by this gimmick to watch more and see how it plays out, and the irony that the gender-swap was intended to keep the two from getting frisky and may instead accomplish the opposite is actually kinda funny. The problem is that nothing else the first episode shows merits watching more. Action scenes are so limited that they can barely be considered animated and nothing else is the slightest bit novel about the underlying premise, powers, monsters, or personalities involved. The season otherwise seems like on fan service titles, so it might sneak in as a guilty pleasure.

Malevolent Spirits: Monogatari

Streams: Crunchyroll on Mondays

Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

This manga adaptation focuses on tsukumogami, spirits who have possessed old objects to take on human form. Hyouma had an epically bad experience with them as a kid (he saw one murder his elder brother and sister), and now as a young adult he takes his anger out on tsukomogami when he’s supposed to be interacting with them more peacefully instead. To quell his brashness, his grandfather is sending him to live with a human girl who peacefully cohabitates with six tsukomogami. . . and of course a duel ensues right away.

The first episode is not a bad start, but it simply does not do much to endear itself to viewers, either. Its biggest error is in making protagonist Hyouma unappealing and unlikable, and the cute Nagatsuki (who comes into the episode only at the end) is not yet enough to offset that. None of the lore or action scenes are especially exciting, either. Maybe this might amount to a decent story if sparks fly between the two humans, but will anyone be watching long enough to find out?

High Card

Streams: Crunchyroll on Mondays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Special playing cards exist which can apparently grant wielders super-powers like stupefying luck, the ability to manifest weapons, or the ability to turn anything touched into marbles. Due to the interference of a goddess-like figure during a heist, several of them got dispersed to the winds Dragon Ball-style. One ends up in the hands of a young thief who doesn’t understand what it really is and can do, but he finds out when an attempt to gamble to earn money to protect an orphanage causes him to cross paths with gangster-types who have cards of their own.

This is apparently the anime side of a new multimedia project, and every indication from the first episode points towards this being a modern day super agent-type show. Even when it gets messy, it has a jazzy flair, and the powers granted by the cards so far have proven to be rather interesting. Apparently one card cannot trump another within its strong suit – so the person with superior luck is almost impossible to directly harm, even by another card holder – but that can be played around by targeting the wielder indirectly, which gives even the underlying mechanics a card game-like feel. It’s an interesting approach, and the action scenes so far are crisply-delivered. This feels like it’s still in the set-up mode at the end of the episode, so I’ll want to see where it’s going before passing judgment, but it shows at least some potential.

“Ippon” Again

Streams: HIDIVE on Sundays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

An anime focusing on girls doing judo is not unprecedented; Yawara! A Fashionable Judo Girl is, at 124 episodes and two follow-up movies, the sport’s biggest title by far. However, this manga adaptation is the first such entry in more than 25 years, and it’s done with a surprisingly high level of technical acumen for a project helmed by a first-time director and likely to be just a niche title. If you’re looking for a “Cute Girls Do Sports” title with absolutely zero fan service angle, this one should scratch that itch quite well. (“Ippon,” by the way, is a full-point score in judo, which is effectively equivalent to a knockout punch in boxing.)

And it is absolutely a standard sports series in construction. Genki girl Michi enthusiastically approached judo in middle school, but plans to quit it in high school because she’s tired of injuries and other inconveniences and wants to concentrate more on living up her high school life. But friend Sanae is quietly unhappy about that, and so is Michi’s last opponent Shino, an apparently socially-awkward girl who ended up at the same high school and desperately wants to maintain the soon-to-be-defunct Judo Club, while Anna wants to recruit Michi for kendo instead. Can Michi do the judo she clearly enjoys and still have a high school life outside of it?

Good technical merits and an emphasis on key judo points like footing and holds makes this interesting to watch even if you don’t follow the sport, and the sentiment – that enjoying the sport itself, rather than being the best at it, is what matters – lands effectively enough. I can’t see myself following it and was bothered by facial designs for the girls that are a bit too rounded, but it’s a well-made enough start to earn an audience.

Handyman Saito in Another World

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

While many of the isekai titles which have come out over the last few years have had some comedic elements to them, few can be classified as primarily a comedy. This is one of them. It does have some serious moments, and a uniting theme in exploring the connection of finding value and fulfillment, but it aims for gags more often than not and some of them are quite funny.

The episode is composed of a set of short vignettes, which makes senses since the source manga is composed of 4-6 page long chapters. (The first six are covered by this episode.) Five focus on Saito and/or one of his three party members: a human tank-style warrior, a senile human wizard, and a fairy cleric. A sixth introduces a dwarf battle mage and a girl wielding a huge axe who eventually works with him; presumably they will pop up more later. How Saito – one of those on-call people for a store – ended up in this setting isn’t explained yet, but experiences in his original world left him shaky about his self-worth. Here he shines as a locksmith/jack-of-all-trades, the kind of character that every fantasy RPG party on long-term quests/explorations needs even if they claim they’d rather focus on DPS. All of this character establishment can lead to some quite funny situations, with the best joke by far being the explanation for where the fantasy world’s standard unit of measurement comes from. (Sometimes it’s best not to know such tidbits. . .)

The limited format doesn’t give the artistry much to do, but the design work and coloring is sharp nonetheless, a distinct improvement over the shaky art quality of the source material. While a full-episode format might be long for a series mostly made of thee minute bits, that won’t be a problem if the vignettes continue to be grouped thematically. Overall, this one looks highly promising.

The tale of outcasts

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays

Rating: 4.5 (of 5)

Descriptions of the premise of this manga adaptation intrigued me enough that it was on my Anticipated list for the season, but even so, I did not expect it to have quite the impact on my that it did. Thanks in large part to a strong emotional impact, this title outdoes even Magical Revolution as the one that I am now most eager to see more of this season.

Wisteria is an orphan girl in 19th century London with a talent that has more often than not brought her grief: the ability to see demons. Malbus is a demon who has grown weary of his immortality and been reduced to aimless wanderings. He takes an interest in Wisteria when he realizes that she can see him (humans normally can’t unless he assumes human form, which is bothersome for a number of reasons) and winds up coming to her room at night to tell her stories. When he learns that Wisteria has been sold off to a noble with an ugly reputation, he violates the very mercenary rules demonkind must live by (i.e., they can’t help humans without a pact that exacts a price) to come to her rescue, and Wisteria volunteers a dear price to offset that and help him succeed against another demon. With a pact now formed, they will become traveling companions, though unbeknownst to them, holy knights are on their trail.

Some parts of the set-up give off a strong The Ancient Magus’ Bride vibe, and I suspect that any fan of that title will like this one, too; in fact, I suspect that I will be doing a compare/contrast write-up between that series and this one once a few more episodes are in play. However, while the Wisteria/Malbus relationship dynamic is very similar to the Chise/Elias relationship in some ways, it is much different (and much healthier!) in others, and that makes the emotional bond forming between the two much more potent, sweet, and immediate. Both are benefiting from the relationship in a practical sense, but more importantly, both are happy with it. The technical merits are not the strongest and the writing goes overboard in making the noble outright evil, which is why I cannot justify a maximum rating, but this is a potentially special series.

In/Spectre 2

Streams: Crunchyroll on Sundays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Though it’s only be about three years since the first season aired, this is not a series whose later events I remembered at all. Turns out that a review of the first season isn’t necessary to be up-to-speed on this one, as an opening conversation between yokai re-describes the basic premise, who main characters Kotoko and Kuro are, and provides a very brief summary of what happened in the first season. It also helps that the case for this episode is wholly unrelated to anything which happened in the first season, so returning viewers should be able to jump right back in.

The first season was always a bit more of a mystery format than anything else (hence the wordplay in the series name), and that’s what’s going on here, too: strange sounds are coming from an empty room, Kotoko (in her role as Goddess of Wisdem) is asked to investigate, and that results in them having to deal with a cursed doll which is a cross between an oni and a sumo wrestler. This allows both of them to show off their respective talents and the relationship which exists between them, while also providing some interesting details about sumo wrestlers. (The stomping in a sumo match may have originally been part of a ritual to ward off spirits, for instance.) Unfortunately, this episode also shows off one of the major weakness of the first season: that Kotoko can sometimes be a little too verbose. Still, if you liked the first season then I don’t see any reason why you shouldn’t be satisfied with this episode, too.

Saving 80,000 Gold in Another World for My Retirement

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Mitsuha lost her parents and older brother in some kind of accident, and now she’s fallen off a cliff during a scuffle with ruffians. But she was able to latch on to the power of an energy being who happened to be in the area, and now she finds that she can transport between modern Japan and a medieval fantasy world. Just finding humans was a task, the language was a problem, and dangers lurked, but after earning some money for killing a wolf (using items from her home in Japan), she gets the idea to sell modern items in the fantasy world to pile up an investment that she can eventually retire on.

In other words, isekai travel meets entrepreneurial spirit in this light novel adaptation. The concept is a neat twist on the standard isekai gimmick, and I fully appreciated the writing actually bothering to initially have a language issue. While the technical merits are not a stand-out effort, the artistic quality is nonetheless a step above other isekai titles which have debuted this season and Mitsuha makes for a fine heroine in both behavioral and visual sense. This one has at least a chance to appeal to those not normally enamored with the genre and stands a good chance of making my viewing list for the season.

Chillin’ in My 30s After Getting Fired from The Demon King’s Army

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

The premise is a fun one: 32-year-old Dariel gets fired from the Demon King Army when new leadership decides not to tolerate his lack of magic. All he’s ever known is being a general’s assistant, so he wanders aimlessly until he encounters a young human woman endangered by a giant ape. Saving her leads to him getting taken in at her village, where he gets connived into signing up as adventurer. When he discovers previously-unrealized talent during his evaluation, he is set on a path to living in the village and doing adventurer stuff instead.

Why Dariel would want to stay in the village isn’t hard to figure out: even if he wasn’t grateful for being given a new place after being thrown out of his old one, there’s still Marikel and her bodacious cleavage, which he can’t seem to take his eyes off of. (The episode tries to indicate that he cares about her feelings, too, but yeah, we understand.) The writing also raises the interesting possibility that he couldn’t use magic because he was actually a human all along. (Inherent magic use is what separates humans from demons in this setting.) Technical merits are weak here, with the action animation being particularly limited, but the humor and charm factor make up for that. I don’t expect greatness out of this one, but it looks like it should at least be entertaining.

The Reincarnation of the Strongest Exorcist in Another World

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

This light novel adaptation is an isekai title, but it involves the protagonist being reborn from early Japanese history (perhaps the Heian Era?) into a fantasy setting, rather than from modern Japan. Not sure that makes much of a difference (beyond explaining how he is able to summon one spirit that he sealed away in his previous life), as the basic story beats are still the same. In his new life, the former exorcist is a nobleman’s child who has none of the normal magic but a lot of spiritual power. This results in him being looked down upon by his brothers, even after showing that he can use this spiritual power to effectively reproduce magic. It also allows him to notice that one of the young maids (his brother refers to her as a “slave,” though whether she actually is or not is unclear) also has spiritual affinity that could be quite potent. Both of those come into play when a giant salamander rages.

The ED (which I’m assuming is going to be the regular OP) indicates that Seika is going to go to magic school with that maid and one other yet-to-be-introduced girl, so apparently the salamander incident is going to set things in motion. Too soon to tell if that’s going to lead to anything interestingly different, and the technical and artistic elements are respectable but not anything special. I’ll put a “maybe” by this one for now.

The Misfit of Demon King Academy II

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

The first season of Misfit was such a success that it made my Top 10 list for 2020 and set a new standard for how to get away with doing a naked power fantasy about an OP protagonist. Hence the return of Anos Voldigard, the reincarnation of the true Demon King, and his crew was one of my most-anticipated debuts of the season. While I wouldn’t exactly say that the return is lackluster, the first episode just don’t achieve quite the impact that the original series did. Part of that is that the replacement of Tatsuhisa Suzuki, who did such a perfect job voicing Anos but got himself into some scandal trouble since and so had to bow out. The role is certainly in veteran hands with Yuichiro Umehara (the voice of Goblin Slayer, among many, many others), but his take on the character just doesn’t have the same degree of arrogance which made the original work.

Or it could be that the new lead villain just isn’t clicking yet. The Demon King was originally fighting the gods, so it’s only fitting that one shows up here to announce the eventual appearance of the Child of God who can kill the Demon King. While Anos and minions are looking for clues on that, servants of former rivals of the Demon King from 2,000 years ago have popped up to mess with his minions and generally interfere with his plans. On the plus side, this will keep Anos from overshadowing everything and giving other characters a chance to shine, so maybe I’ll be able to get my enthusiasm for the series worked back up. It’s a keeper in any case.

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

Though I have long heard of this title, I have never actually played the RPG video games on which this series is based, so I am approaching this one purely as an anime-only viewer. Based on that impression, this seems to feature a war between human-created androids and (possibly?) alien-originating machine life. Nearly the entirety of the first episode is one prolonged action sequence, all using high-end CG work and a distinctive design aesthetic to create a sharp visual contrast between the human-looking androids 2B (the female one) and 9S (the male one) and their simple robot and industrial machine-like opponents. The obvious question here is why 2B was giving a quasi-fetish costume as an outfit for a mainline combatant-type, but hey, Rule of Cool, right?

Though the action scenes are involved and ambitious, it’s that same Rule of Cool which keeps this first episode afloat. There are hints that the possible emotional development of androids is going to be a factor in the story, so this might eventually have some more depth, but for now this one is worth checking out just because it looks great. Oh, and don’t miss the Puppet Theater at the end!

UniteUp!

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

This is the anime branch of a mixed media project which started in 2021 with a YouTube channel featuring songs from various artists. Any description of its premise makes it sound like Generic Male Idol Project #3,422, and it’s entirely possible that the series will ultimately turn out that way. However, a surprisingly endearing first episode leaves some hope that it might prove to be something a bit more than ordinary.

The episode opens with a CG performance by a male idol duo, which was apparently from a few years earlier because in current time that duo are the operators of an agency specializing in training up-and-coming (male) idol talent. (I could not help but watch that performance without wondering how fans near the stage could even see the idol duo performing because of the angle, but that has nothing to do with the rest of the episode.) The rest of the story is about Akira, a teen dispirited after giving up on baseball. A close friend has secretly been recording his karaoke and uploading it as videos, and that’s gotten the attention of the talent agency. Akira is unsure how he feels about being an idol, as that was not an option he had even considered, but the encouragement of everyone around him to go for it – he has a singing style with a lot of emotional resonance – ultimately pushes him to try.

Technical merits here are very ordinary overall, but what got my attention was the sincerity of it all and (beyond the opening number) the distinct lack of airs and cheesy flair. Akira’s friend should not have uploaded those recordings without Akira’s permission, but he did have Akira’s best interests in mind; he can hear Akira’s talent and wants everyone to be able to appreciate it, too. This low-key, heartfelt approach works, though I am concerned that the introduction of the other two central group members in the last scene could disrupt the balance the first episode achieves. I don’t intend to follow the series, but if you’re into that sort of fare then it certainly deserves a look.

Trigun Stampede

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

If you were active in the anime scene in North America in the early 2000s then it was almost impossible to not have run across Trigun. It was one of the most popular titles of that era in the U.S. despite having technical merits and artistry that, even for the standards of the time, weren’t that great. This reboot goes all-out on that front, providing a high-level CG effort with richer animation and much cleaner and more consistently on-model character art. But the mix of goofy charm and sincerity so critical to the original version’s success may be getting lost in the process. (For those who never saw the original and want to compare, it is available on Crunchyroll.)

For returning fans, this opener is totally different. Meryl is a rookie reporter working with an older male rather than an insurance agent working with Milly, and the first episode starts off with a prologue explaining some things up front that are not revealed until much later in the first adaptation, such as the role of the Plants, the presence of Nails, and the whole business about the sleeper ships. For newcomers, the establishes that at some point in the past a calamity happened involving sleeper ships (or perhaps “sabotage” might be a better word) and implies that humanity being on this desert planet is a result of that. The result is a strongly Wild West-flavored sci fi scenario, one where Vash the Stampede – aka “The Humanoid Typhoon” – is an outlaw with an outrageous bounty on his head, though he’s actually a good guy who doesn’t like fighting and prefers to hide his competence behind the demeanor of a pathetic goofball. Headstrong rookie reporter Meryl has come in search of him for a story, and she’s already starting to get one hell of one as she watches Vash duel a military police officer for his freedom and to protect a town.

The first episode raises a lot more questions about how it’s done than about plot or characters. While this could play as a decent (mostly) light-hearted actioner to newcomers, it looks every bit like the familiar case of cleaning up a title equating to losing what made it special. (Certainly the end theme is a major step down from the great ED of the original, too.) I am hesitant to go as far as calling is soulless, but that is the word that most immediately comes to mind. The episode is well enough made that the series won’t be a failure, but I cannot see it recapturing the magic of the earlier version.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

This light novel adaptation gives every indication of following a classic romance format: unbeknownst to his classmates and even best friend, male lead Amane lives alone next door to Mahiru, the Perfect Girl commonly referred to as an angel at school. They normally never interact until the day that Amane helps her out when she’s sitting morosely in the rain. (And for the record, I never knew any of my neighbors by name when I was an apartment dweller myself, so I don’t at all find this unusual.) From that point on, Mahiru starts taking an interest in Amane, including cooking for him and insisting on helping him clean up his pigsty of an apartment. She insists she’s doing it only for her own satisfaction, so Amane carefully keeps his behavior neutral towards her. But surely that’s not going to last, right?

While this mostly comes off as a male wish fulfillment scenario, there are already hints that a bit more is going on here than what Amane is seeing, and that’s the part that is keeping me interested at this point. Mahiru vehemently doesn’t like being referred to as an angel (or at least she doesn’t tolerate Amane doing it), admits that her perfect school persona is something she’s been projecting for years, and she’s living alone in an apartment and watching her expenses. Her claims that she’s getting satisfaction from cooking for Amane come off as more genuine than the normal tsundere routine that might be expected here, too. And why was she sitting in the rain before? These little touches are just enough to convince me that there might be something worth watching here. I’ll give this one another episode or two at least.

The Legend of Heroes: Trails of Cold Steel – Northern War

Streams: Crunchyroll on Fridays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

The Legend of Heroes is a decades-old Japanese video RPG franchise which started as an entry in the Dragon Slayer franchise back in 1989 and has since seen the release of 20 games. A subseries of four Trails of Cold Steel games was released from 2013 through 2018, but rather than being an adaptation of the events of those games, this anime is an original story set in the same part of the world as those series. The protagonist of those games is featured prominently in the OP and makes a brief cameo, though, so some crossover can probably be expected.

As to whether a viewer needs to be familiar with the games, the jury’s still out on that one, as the first episode dumps out a lot of details that are not easy to keep track of. However, the essence of the story is straightforward enough: protagonist Lavian (pictured above) is a young woman who has joined a military group known as the Jaegers and is conducting missions in snowy North Ambria. Presumably this has something to do with her grandfather being a disgraced former hero of the country’s revolution 27 years earlier and, based on flashbacks, her home village was either endangered or destroyed, too. In the wake of helping a village which had been beset by monsters, Lavian and her unit encounter Rogan, an heroic figure in the region who is looking to start a new revolution. Lavian and her unit will clearly get dragged into this whether they want to or not.

The technical merits on this one are less than stellar and the action scenes are not going to carry the series. Also, Lavian is present but in a non-speaking capacity for the first half of the episode – and doesn’t say much even when she does talk – so it’s hard to get a read on her personality so far. Enough setting tidbits and potential plot hooks are thrown out that this one has the potential to be at least a decent military-minded action-adventure-drama story, hence the middling rating, but I cannot see this being a breakthrough title.

Buddy Daddies

Streams: Crunchyroll on Fridays

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

If you’re in your 40s or 50s then the defining “assassin takes in a kid” movie is 1994’s Leon: The Professional, starring Jean Reno and Gary Oldman and featuring the star-making debut of a very young Natalie Portman. Despite the similar basic premise, this is not at all the same kind of show. Even with the high level of graphic violence, the tone is much lighter and more high-spirited, making this feel more like a cross between Spy x Family and Baccano! in terms of how it mixes humor, sweetness, and violence.

The concept here involves two professional hitmen, who get a contract to take out a human smuggler during a Christmas Eve party. The more personable one won’t let the more anti-social one keep a stray cat because of the instability and danger of their occupation, so of course he winds up in a much more troublesome situation: taking in a little girl who stumbles into the midst of their plan while looking for the father she’s never met. The personable one lost an opportunity for a family according to flashbacks (whether because the baby died or the wife divorced him or both is unclear), and now he’s got a replacement option – and the kicker is that she might actually be his real daughter, too!

This is a P.A. Works production, and they have put out another strong visual effort here. I was more than a little incredulous that the little girl would be oblivious to all of the violence going on around her, and some may find the mix of humor and violence to be dissonant, but the flow of the story glides along smoothly, the assassins make an appealing duo, and the girl is certainly cute enough. I can see this one doing well.

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale

Streams: Crunchyroll on Saturdays

Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

In this light novel adaptation, heroine Anne is a confectioner who seeks to become a Silver Sugar Master (the most prestigious rank for her profession), like her recently-deceased mother was. She sets off for a competition in a distant town to work towards earning that honor, but since the road to get there is potentially dangerous, she’ll need protection. Enter warrior fairy Shall, a slave whom she purchased for that purpose. He’s good at what he does and dashingly handsome, but also quite prickly – so much so that he does not respond well to Anne’s attempts to be nice.

Yep, this is a blatant gender-reversal of the normal case of a male protagonist buying a slave and trying to come off as not so scummy because he treats her decently. This one does actually aim a little higher thematically, as it does not ignore that Anne is a bit of a hypocrite for how she talks about trying to get along with fairies but still went out and purchased one anyway, and Shall’s ass behavior towards her feels more justified because of his long period of servitude to humans. I actually thought for a while that it might even be trying to say something serious here, but then that “sexy danger” scene comes at the end where Shall is doing everything to bait Anne into ordering him around. That feels like something ripped from a shojo drama and slapped on here just to play to audiences who like the bad boys, and that did not set well with me for a show at least toying with higher ideals. I’m not letting the series off the hook for using its ED (most likely regular OP) to imply that this will be a “started out as a slave but became a lover” scenario, either. 86 proved that the “sympathetic oppressor standing with the oppressed” story angle can work, but this one has already had a major stumble.


Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte

Streams: HIDIVE on Fridays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

One of the reasons I keep doing this Preview Guide each season even though it’s not my job anymore is because of the neat little surprises that come out once or twice a season. Even though it is well-entrenched in elements of the “otome game villainess” genre, this particular spin is so interesting that I can recommend the series even for those who normally have little interest in the genre.

The gimmick this time is that the prince of said otome game, who is part of the most stereotypical otome game premise imaginable, can somehow hear the voices of two of its players: expert Kobayashi and her club mate/boyfriend wannabe Endo, who have decided to practice for Broadcast Club duties by doing a running commentary on the game. The princes thinks they’re gods and is able to speak to them through on-screen text from their point of view, and by listening to their suggestions he can act outside of the game’s normal parameters. This causes the prince to start to appreciate the tsunder Lieselotte – his designated fiancee – in a new light and gives Kobayashi the idea to coach the prince to prevent Lieselotte’s certain doom in the game. Endo goes along with this because it gives him the chance to hang out more with Kobayashi, so there’s potential romance on two levels here.

This is a fantastic concept for a story, and it more than offsets the show’s unimpressive technical merits. The writing already has a lot of neat touches so far; for instance, I don’t at all think that the prince making his one question to the “gods” be “what is a tsundere?” was a bad choice, since it’s highly relevant here. I am also more than a little curious to see if romantic developments in the game might have some impact on real life in the setting. If the series can sustain the level of appeal that the first episode shows then it could be a winner for the season.

Giant Beasts of Ars

Streams: HIDIVE on Fridays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

This is an original anime production which marks HIDIVE’s first foray into anime co-productions. (John Ledford, the head honcho of Sentai Filmworks, is an executive producer.) If this is the kind of quality that such co-productions can pull off in the right hands, then hopefully this won’t be the last one.

The story is set in the land of Ars, where enormous beasts roam and occasionally prove a threat to humanity, to the point that each city has massive walls and organized beast hunters and some even have economies based around selling and using monster parts. The setting mostly has 16th century-level tech, though flying ships (due to monster parts) are a reality and magic in some form is present. Here, clerics team up with paladins, with the cleric becoming the power behind the paladin’s attacks – apparently literally so, based on an opening scene. A girl who is apparently some kind of test subject – and who clearly has superhuman capabilities – breaks out from a research facility and winds up running across first a magic ring and then the disaffected beast hunter Jiro, who also may be way more than he seems. Will she become the cleric to his paladin as a giant beast threatens to overrun the city?

The opening throw out a lot of potentially interesting threads without clarifying much of anything, but that’s wholly in a classic fantasy style, a vibe that pervades everything about this production – and I do consider that a positive. The technical merits are also top-grade, with character design, background and equipment design, monster design, and animation all being well above the norm and Kumi in particular having a visual appeal which transcends ordinary anime-girl cute. I see a lot of potential here, and expect it to be on my view list for the season.

Farming Life in Another World

Streams: HIDIVE on Fridays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

Welcome to Minecraft: The Animation!

Okay, that’s not what this actually is, but I challenge anyone familiar with Minecraft to watch this and not ever think of that. In fact, the first episode even specifically seems to playing to aficionados of such games in the way it focuses on farm layout and emphasizes clearing land, creating resources, and building – which Hikaru can do amazingly well thanks to the highly-versatile divine gardening tool he was given when reincarnated into this new fantasy world. A prologue scene shows that this will eventually grow into a mansion-level construction that will house numerous women of diverse races, giving a decided harem feel to the ultimate goal of creating a wonderful farm, but Hikaru is entirely on his own here to start. The end of the episode suggests that the first new arrival will be joining next episode.

For as utterly bland as the concept is here, and for all of the shaky quality control in the character animation, this episode was actually not the drudgery to sit through that I had feared. It has just enough of a light-hearted touch and attitude to be pleasantly watchable; even one sequence involving building a toilet is highly relatable. This actually has a chance to work as a low-key entry for the season, hence the mid-range grade.

The Iceblade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World

Streams: Crunchyroll on Thursdays

Rating: 2.5 (of 5)

In this light novel adaptation, Ray White is the first “Ordinary” (i.e., not a noble or from a sorcerer lineage) to attend the Arnold Academy of Magic, so he’s subject to a lot of scorn. But it’s not all bad, as he gets a Best Muscle Bud for a roommate and starts the process of building his harem by having pleasant encounters with a number of girls, including an upperclasswoman, an elite noble, a rare half-elf, and a proud pigtailed blonde, all amidst lots of tedious info-dumping about the way this setting works. And of course he’s secretly a bad-ass: the revered Iceblood Sorcerer, who disappeared after playing a key role in a war a couple of years before. That guy who’s personally offended by the mere presence of Ordinaries probably shouldn’t mess with him. . .

If that all sounded a bit flippant, that’s because the whole thing is a pretty standard magic school scenario and doesn’t even pretend like it’s not. The way it goes around and has Ray encounter and introduce himself to all the key players all in the first episode is also reminiscent of a visual novel set-up, which doesn’t help. Most of the characters are stock personality types, too. The one fresh moment – and the one scene which caught me completely off guard – was the “bonding over muscles” scene shown in the screen shot. None of this is actually bad, as even the technical merits are at least average, but the series is going to have to show a lot more in the next episode or two to be worth following.

ONIMAI: I’m Now Your Sister

Streams: Crunchyroll on Thursdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

In this manga adaptation, hikkikomori (he calls himself a “home security specialist”) Mahiro wakes up one morning to discover that he’s turned into a middle school-aged girl. His all-too-perfect genius sister is apparently responsible for this, and is fully intent on coaching him through the transformation, including things like providing cute outfits, bra shapping, and using the transformation as an excuse to improve his hygiene, sleep and fitness habits, and wean him off eroge.

This sounds like a potential sleazefest, and I’ve seen other reviewers predictably blast it as lolicon bait. Those complaints are not completely without merit, as I can see how such an interpretation could be gotten from this content, but I do not feel that’s an inescapable reaction; I did not have that reaction myself. Despite the gimmicky nature of the set-up, the first episode was instead trying to push a different notion: that Miharu was not comfortable being the big brother to someone who outshined him so completely, but he might be more comfortable being the little sister instead. That’s a context loaded with meaning, and whether the series amounts to anything may depend on how much it explores than angle. I’m willing to give it one more episode to see if it truly is aiming for a higher or lower road.

My Life as Inukai-san’s Dog

Streams: HIDIVE on Thursdays

Rating: 3.5 as fan service, 2 otherwise

This one ain’t complicated, folks, as the premise is right in the title: a teenage boy has mysteriously found himself reincarnated/changed into a puppy, who is found and taken in by Inukai, the sexy but unapproachable girl in his class he’d always admired. And it turns out that the dour expression she has for everyone else (even her own mother) melts into beaming, playful smiles for him.

If this sounds like a teenage wet dream, that’s pretty much how it actually plays out. The roughly 13 minute running time is dominated by one big, prolonged bath scene whose intentions are far less obscured than the naughty bits are by steam and paw print-based censoring. Two other girls are featured prominently in the opener, but they will apparently get introduced later. Honestly, this has no redeeming merits beyond its fan service, but it works pretty well for that purpose and half-length episodes feel just right for its thin content. Guilty pleasure potential here!

Spy Classroom

Streams: HIDIVE on Thursdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

This light novel-based series takes place in a setting reminiscent of early 20th century Europe in the wake of a devastating Great War. (The implication is that this war is meant to be a parallel to World War I.) In the decade since, the main battlefront has shifted to espionage, so spy training is a major objective. Lily and six other girls who are all washouts from their respective spy academies have been gathered as team Lamplight to perform a particularly difficult mission under supremely-talented spy Klaus. The problem? Klaus is so masterfully intuitive that he’s supremely terrible at teaching. Together they have to find a way to accomplish the impossible without ending up as sacrificial pawns.

The concept here is somewhat neat, though in some senses also a very standard “collect the misfits” scenario. Lily reveals by the end of the episode that she’s a master poisoner, so presumably each of the other girls also has a specialty that they will show off in turn; that the first episode is titled “Flower Garden I” (a reference to Lily’s code name) seems to suggest that the series may intend to cycle through each of the girls in turn and look at her respective situation. This set-up also suggests that the girls actually do have the skills to pull off the mission if they can just come together as a team. The series also looks pretty good, including some touches of fan service, and has a certain dry sense of humor.

The main problem for me is that I could not watch this opening episode without thinking of Princess Principal, a far better series which also featured a team of young female spies. If it can capture even a fraction of Principal‘s magic then it might be worth watching, but for now I’m ambivalent.

Revenger

Streams: Crunchyroll on Thursdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

This original animation is probably most notable for being written by Gen Urobuchi (Fate/Zero, Thunderbolt Fantasy). It looks like it will focus a group of hitmen in 19th century Japan who take revenge for those who have no power – in other words, the primary supporting cast in the first episode, which focuses instead on a samurai conned into killing his future father-in-law. Whether the Revengers will continue in this format in a “client of the week” approach or step into the forefront has yet to be seen, but a number of twists have been promised so the latter seems likely.

The episode mostly has the look and feel of a samurai period drama, though with a few nods to cool factor. (Most of the hitmen have creative ways to kill, for instance.) Though not over-the-top on its graphic content, it nonetheless gets quite graphic. The main problem with the first episode it that it moves along a bit too fast, not giving the weight of the samurai’s situation enough time to sink in. In general, it just doesn’t stand out that much despite being put together relatively well, so despite the pedigree, it seems likely to be pushed aside in a series already pretty deep on Thursdays.

Tomo-chan is a Girl!

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays:

Rating: 3.5 (of 5)

The set-up is a classic romcom gimmick: Tomo is a very tomboyish girl who, in her high school years, has fallen romantically for longtime best friend Junichiro, but he only sees her as a “best bud.” So a girl who’s unfeminine in every sense except her curves now strives to establish herself as girl. The problem is that Junichiro, despite being generally dense, may not be as oblivious as she thinks; he is aware but just doesn’t want to let his mind go there. It doesn’t help that she isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed, either.

Unlike Ice Guy (see below), this romcom has a chance to succeed because it’s not a one-trick pony. The central gimmick is but one of a few floating around, including the various different viewpoints and relationships involving Karate Club head Misaki. The one that really makes the first episode work, though, is Misaki, the evil best friend of Tomo, who used to also be a playmate of Junichiro but now has a hate-hate relationship with him. She alternately tries to push them together or connive them into conflict, depending on her mood, and is certainly not above taking advantage of others who give her an opening. The show almost might be worth watching for her antics alone. Paired with a variety reminiscent of a Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun and solid visuals and it’s enough to earn a mild recommendation.

Technoroid OVERMIND

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 1.5

So this is a male idol group show, except that it’s set in a future where population decline has necessitated the widespread presence of androids. That means the core group of four bishonen are all androids, and they start performing at a tower named Babel (get it?) to pay their electric bill. They also encounter a recently-orphaned boy who inspires them with a song and run across a possible case of robot murder.

Yeah, that last one is a really weird twist on what is otherwise a bland idol show premise, but that’s not enough to make me at all interested in wanting to see more. Despite the sci fi angle, it still suffers from stock personality types, bland character designs, and a thoroughly mediocre CG-based performance number. Maybe the series might work if it keeps an actual plot going and throws in some commentary on society and technology, but after this first episode, who’s going to stick around to find out?

The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 2 (of 5)

Himuro is a descendant of a snow woman, so he tends to manifest snow, ice, and little snowmen around himself when he gets emotional. Fuyutsuki is, ironically, a young woman who comes across as cool because she doesn’t get emotional about things. Both are fellow new hires at the same company and work in an office with a fox girl descendant, a very Buddha-like section chief, and another normal human.

I really wanted to like this new manga adaptation, as anime romantic comedies featuring adult characters are sparse. However, this one just doesn’t work in anime form, especially not in a full-length-episode format. Its one good joke gets tiresome fast, Fuyutsuki is so flat that even her cat’s antics cannot compensate, and none of the other three new characters have shown any indication of being able to carry the load. Unless episode 2 is a dramatic improvement, this one is a hard pass.

The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady

Streams: Crunchyroll on Wednesdays

Rating: 4 (of 5)

This light novel adaptation is one of the more anticipated shows of the season, and the first episode establishes a firm foundation for why. This debut won’t knock your socks off, and certain elements will feel very retread for the current anime environment, but it does enough effectively enough to well outweigh the negatives.

Princess Anisphia is an oddball in many ways: she wasn’t (unlike most royals, apparently) born with magic, has a free spirit unconcerned with decorum, says things no one understands, and readily forswears any claim to the throne in order to explore new ideas on magic that she calls “magicology.” (So far, she looks to be making herself into an artificer in D&D terms.) Euphilia is a talented magic-user betrothed to Anisphia’s princely brother. She’s trying to make the best of the situation, but the prince isn’t interested and engineers a situation where he can push Euphilia aside with false accusations and claim another girl he’s actually interested in as his new betrothed. Anisphia literally crashes the scene while testing a flying broom, quickly figures out what’s going on, and literally sweeps Euphilia off her feet, claiming her as her own.

So yes, this is the standard “cast in an otome villain’s role but not actually a villain” scenario mixed with an isekai scenario, though the latter only barely impacts this story. However, Anisphia is so instantly-likable as the free-spirited type, and the way she pulls Euphilia out of her situation (in the process implying a yuri scenario that Anisphia may not have intended) is so adorable, that the more stereotypical factors don’t matter. Just as important is the way the first episode implies some depth with subtle details. The way the prince reacts to Anisphia’s behavior, combined with how he reacts to Euphilia, suggests that he feels stifled in his role as being the responsible successor and would, perhaps, dearly love to cut loose and disregard everything like his sister does. In that light, his attempt to force a new fiancee feels more like an act of rebellion than true villainy.

Essentially, the actions of Anisphia genuinely feel like they are setting in motion much bigger events, as the title indicates. Because of that, respectable technical merits, and a nice touch of humor in the montages about Anisphia’s failed past flight attempts, I am cautiously optimistic here.

Ningen Fushin: Adventurers Who Don’t Believe in Humanity Will Save the World

Streams: Crunchyroll on Tuesdays

Rating: 3 (of 5)

The band of outcasts/rejects who come together to accomplish some great task has been a tried-and-true story gimmick for ages, well predating the existence of anime. Based on the first episode, this light novel adaptation is going to be one of the purer takes on that concept that you will ever see. There’s not even a mild twist on the basic concept of said rejects forming an adventuring party that, according to the narration, will eventually save the world, so this is going to be all about how entertaining it is to watch them come together as a group and deal with their respective issues.

The first episode gives at least some hope for this to be entertaining, as despite some series content, it plays most of the betrayals up to cheesy levels and has some good touches of humor. Male lead Nick has been dumped by his adventuring party and conned by his (now-ex) girlfriend, while promising noble mage Tiana has been dropped by her fiance and finds that her status gets in the way of finding a job. Dragonoid Curran, meanwhile, has had something stolen from her and become a bad drunk, while priest Zem has been framed by a girl who liked him but would not have relations with and then fell into corruption since being excommunicated. Yeah, that last one may be touchy for some, but the personality mix shows some potential, the direction is creative, and the visuals are at least average. This one may need another episode or two to prove whether it is worrth following or not.

6 thoughts on “Winter 2023 Preview Guide

  1. I was surprised by how much I liked Love Flops last season, despite how poorly it did with other watchers. I am watching almost everything from HiDive this season and it seems they already have a few promising shows in the mix. Going in, I thought Farming Life in Another World would be a miss for me, but I really enjoyed the first episode.

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    1. was it out of lack of interest or issue with quality? just curious because i do admit i find it weird to not see Vinland Saga s2 reviewed given the amount of positive reception to it?

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  2. I just did my 3 Ep test for Trigun and I think you should edit your review and remove your caveat to “soulless”. Through the three episodes, I kept thinking, why am I not enjoying this, nothing really clicked, character animation was too “clean”, Vash was far more annoying than in the original, villains were “cartoony” rather than funny/’silly, Meryl really needs Milly, and it just wasn’t fun, it took itself too seriously with a character and a premise that aren’t (3 eps and no donuts!!!!). So far, I have only picked up one new show this season and I have four to finish the 3 Ep test, this looks like it will be an average season for me 2 S2s and prob 3 to 5 new shows.

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