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Here we are with Part 2, and while the first part of this overall season was stuffed to the gills with good shows, here we have some other great shows, but this was definitely the second half of the season where we ran into some true garbage anime. Some of these could have been saved by better execution of their plots and bad source material, but more times than not, it’s a bad adaptation. Let’s dive right into the spring season and let’s finish it!
I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled (Crunchyroll)
CW: harassment, bullying, fatphobic
Do you mean to tell me the same author behind Fruit of Evolution has another terrible isekai that is also problematic, hateful, and mediocre? Color me surprised that this author is pretty terrible or at the very least, has a big issue with fat people. As I not so subtly said, this is based on the novels by Miku. The adaptation is produced by Millepensee, is written by Shin Itagaki, and co-directed by Shin Itagaki and Shingo Tanabe. We have yet another isekai where we have a lead character who is fat, and then one day finds all of his problems are solved when he is able to go from his human world to a fantasy world, turns into a super thin hot guy, gets two worlds worth of friends and harem acquaintances, and is as shallow as a puddle. The mean-spirited nature of this show is cartoonish and melodramatic in the worst way possible. It’s one of those lazy and uninspired power fantasies that aren’t interested in going in-depth with how society treats people who look different or are heavy. It’s a bad version of Lookism that actually delves into the topics this show failed to tackle with much more nuance. Outside of its repugnant characters and terrible writing, it’s just another power fantasy that isn’t interesting at all. These authors need to do better. Screw this self-indulgent power fantasy nonsense. Your petty pathetic power fantasy ruins any potential this anime could have had in the story department.
My One-Hit Kill Sister (Crunchyroll)
CW: themes of incest
This show honestly has the exact opposite problem from which most of these shows from this season suffer. This anime is directed by Hiroaki Takagi, written by Yohei Kashii, and produced by Studio Gekko. It’s based on the novels and manga by Konoe. What’s so fascinating about this anime is how hard it goes with its visual presentation. Out of all of the shows to have a stunning visual look and some of the best-directed action of the season, it shouldn’t be the anime with an incest kink with the older sister wanting to be very close to her younger brother. The whiplash you get from how well-executed certain scenes and jokes are is on the level of some of the best action and comedy anime out there, and yet what falls apart is the fact that this has a heavy emphasis on an incest subplot. Sure, they can try to write it off that she really cares about her brother, but it’s not in a way that says she just cares for him on a platonic level, because without that angle, it’s just a middling if well-executed edgy dark isekai fantasy comedy. It has a funny angle of the brother being sent to a fantasy world and not being the special one, whereas the sister is the one with all of the power fantasy tropes, and some of the jokes, (or at the very least, the execution of the jokes are more humorous than usual), but the incest angle is an instant turn-off to ever recommending this show. It also isn’t the only show this season with incest or a possible incest angle.
The Aristocrat’s Otherworldly Adventure (Crunchyroll)
CW: Harassment played for laughs, and some slight hints of incest.
Well, while I do not like this show for a multitude of similar reasons I don’t like most isekai power fantasies, I can say that at least this isn’t a tedious chore in many ways. This is based on the novels by Yashu. It’s produced by EMT Squared. It’s co-directed by Noriyuki Nakamura and Mitsutaka Noshitani, and written by Natsuko Takahashi. As I said, it suffers from a lot of the nonsense that plagues the most boring and generic isekai stories that include no stakes and harem elements that become slightly creepy when it’s about our lead who is a child for much of the show’s run. They also introduce mentors who don’t do anything, and there are no stakes in the action since our hero can’t be harmed. They try to make the characters more interesting by focusing on the more comedic angle of the series, and that is honestly its strongest aspect. The show is really adamant about being a comedy and it does a lot of different gags and jokes to make for a more entertaining sit. Even if the jokes don’t always land, it’s more than most isekai that play their stale power fantasies straight. They are trying a lot of things with this show and due to bad pacing and the stuff mentioned above, it still falls flat, but it’s not a boring sit.
KamiKatsu Working for a God in a Godless World (Crunchyroll)
Honestly, while I wouldn’t call the fantasy/isekai genre this season as good as others since it’s pretty rancid in a lot of ways when one of the best shows is still a dumpster fire, that’s a telling note of this being one of the best by default. It’s based on the manga by Aoi Akashiro. It’s directed by Yuki Inaba, written by Aoi Akashiro, and produced by Studio Palette.Yeah, this is one of the most infamous anime of the season, and not because characters do repugnant things or a creative is a terrible person. I mean, who knows, those things could happen, but more about the production side of things is why this show is being heralded as a dumpster fire/ironic classic. Shoddy editing, wild jumps in quality with animation, and inconsistent tones make this a real hot mess of a series to watch. On one side of the quality spectrum it’s a harsh snappy commentary about religious extremists and sex, but on the other side, it takes itself too seriously at points for the few laughs to fall flat, it restarts its stakes about halfway through the show’s run, and the zany tone it wants to go for doesn’t truly stick to that lane. This could have been the new generation Cromartie High, but due to its lack of commitment to the bit, it falls hard on its face. It’s a real shame, because I was down when it stuck to the zany unhinged side of its run, but it’s hard to fully recommend, since this show will either be your cup of tea or just turn you right off. Sure, it’s being made by a studio that is relatively new and a director who hasn’t done a lot of actual directing, but it at least stands out from the rest due to how wild it tries to go at points with its story and humor.
Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts (Crunchyroll)
Thankfully, we don’t end the fantasy isekai genre of this season on a bad note. Granted, if this show was in any other stronger season, it wouldn’t be at the top, but here we are, and at least it’s a solid show. This is based on the manga by Yu Tomofuji. It’s produced by JC Staff, written by Seishi Minakami, and directed by Chiaki Kon. While this is yet another take on Beauty and the Beast, unlike last season’s similar show and has to compete with The Ancient Magus Bride this season, Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts actually does stand on its own compared to other shows with similar premises. For one thing, our female lead actually has stakes, unlike some shows where they take all of their stakes and have them solely rely on the beastly individual for everything. What also makes this stand out is that while it is a fantasy romance, it’s more interested in the world and politics of our beast king’s actions of having a human bride and how she is treated in both the human and beast world. While I am not fond of how young the lead is compared to the king, their chemistry almost distracts from that. It’s nothing original for this type of story, but being original can sometimes be its own beast of burden, and just being a well-constructed show is enough. Again, if this was in any other season, this probably wouldn’t be at the top, but due to the world, the characters, the inciting incidents that kick off this powder keg drama, and the twist and turns we see unwrap, it makes for a really solid watch.
Rokudo’s Bad Girls (Crunchyroll)
This category is starting out with a rough and rather clunky show based on the manga by Yuji Nakamura. It’s directed by Keiya Sato, written by Yuichiro Momose, and produced by Satelight. You would think an anime that’s trying to be retro in its visuals and premise about a boy who ends up with a curse where he gains a harem of ladies, but they are only delinquents and “bad girls”, would be funny or creative, but it’s not. It doesn’t seem sure what it wants to be with its take on masculinity and finding a more peaceful approach to conflicts, due to how the entire premise is based around our lead inadvertently getting all the bad girls to like him. What makes this premise worse are the implications of a single male individual thinking he can tame “wild girls” and how they all don’t really have any personality to speak of. They have character quirks, but they are extremely surface level, and the main blonde bad girl has no personality. Sure, they might show off some backstory about these characters at one point or another, but by the third episode, when you have been sitting there tolerating the mediocre action, animation, and writing, you just end up feeling like you wasted your entire time watching those episodes hoping for something good. It’s terrible, and not in a fun way other shows can be fun while being bad.
Yuri is My Job (Crunchyroll)
Hey, look, a Studio Passione project that isn’t sleazy and creepy. This is based on the manga by Miman. It’s co-directed by Hijiri Sanpei and Takahiro Majima, written by Naoki Hayashi, and produced by Studio Passione and Studio Lings. This show had me conflicted about how to feel about the few episodes I watched. On one hand, the premise is creative about a girl who puts on a facade in front of everyone who is put to the test with said facade when she gets roped into a dinner theater-like cafe. It’s definitely a melodramatic, possibly queer romance story where our lead has to come to terms with the persona/face she puts on when she has to do it differently when the theatrical stuff takes place at an all-girls school that obviously dips into queer romantic intent at points. It’s a fascinating premise that gets a touch repetitive until the third episode gets the ball rolling. I like the ideas that this show brings to the table, and the drama, if a bit melodramatic and queerbait-feeling, is compelling stuff. What do you do when the face you put on to make people compelled to like you, is put to the test in a setting where that face has to adapt on the fly? What happens when the persona is so much your personality that it becomes hard for people to know when it’s on or off? I have heard and read it gets better past the third episode, but if this all sounds interesting, give it a watch! It’s just not for me.
Too Cute Crisis (HiDive)
Some viewers may want compelling thrillers. Some viewers may want high-octane action. Some may just want to see someone who has never seen cats or dogs before react to them and have their love for them to not have the earth blow up. It’s based on the manga by Mitsuru Kido. It’s directed by Jun Hatori, written by Aya Satsuki, and produced by SynergySP. Honestly, this is the most straightforward anime of the season. An alien is sent down to survey the earth and see if it’s worth blowing up, but is smitten by encountering cats and has a change of heart. Its main focus is poking fun, but also being sincere about the obsession pet owners have with their animals and this passive competition of the owners having the cutest animal. It doesn’t have the flashiest animation and a lot of its humor is reliant on viewers being pet owners, but it’s a cute series. It’s extremely silly and lightweight, but if you are down for a bunch of animal and pet owner jokes with a slice of sci-fi in your comedies, then you will like this series. It even has real-life photos of pets in the credits, and it does just make you want to snuggle and take photos of your favorite pets or cute animals.
A Galaxy Next Door (Crunchyroll)
Sometimes, a rom-com needs to have an out-of-this-world angle and perspective to stand out from the rest. Sadly, it also came out in the same season as Tonikawa Season 2. This is based on the manga by Gido Amagakure. It’s produced by Asahi Productions, directed by Ryuichi Kimura, and written by Gigaemon Ichikawa. Reading up how this manga was from the same author that made Sweetness and Lightning makes so much sense due to how both manga and anime are about a father taking care of their kids, and in A Galaxy Next Door’s case, the father meets a young woman who is actually from a race of people from the stars that took refuge on an island off of Japan. It feels a bit like a wish fulfillment. Oh, the woman who signed up to do illustration work for the lead’s manga happens to be a huge fan of his work, has read everything obsessively, and happens to be drop-dead gorgeous? It’s not as self-indulgent as some of the isekais we talk about, but it has that feeling. What does help is that the characters are likable and they take their time for their bond and relationship to build and grow as the two bond with one another. It’s a bit slow-paced and that does hurt the show due to how low-key it all is. At some point, the family drama and the bond between the father and his kids can be more interesting than the main romance of the couple. With all that said, if you like slow-burn and I mean really slow-paced shows, then you will like this one.
The Reason Why Raelina Ended up at the Duke’s Mansion (Crunchyroll)
While this is technically an isekai, it’s really more of a romantic drama. It is based on a South Korean web novel by Milcha. It’s directed by Junichi Yamamoto, written by Mitsutaka Hirota, and produced by Typhoon Graphics. Instead of Raelina reincarnating as the main female lead of a romance novel, she is a minor character in the novel the isekai world is based on, and her fate is to be killed. So, that puts us in the shoes of our lead who goes out of her way to make sure she doesn’t end up on some royal’s hit list and to make sure she gets the life she didn’t have in the modern world. Much of the runtime is her maneuvering around the rich socialite lifestyle so she doesn’t end up six feet under the ground, and a lot of the emphasis is put on her relationships with everyone. It can be compelling stuff, if a tad clunky from time to time. Some moments feel like a bit too big of a leap in logic, and the sometimes solid and sometimes underwhelming animation can make yet another slow-burn thriller feel very frustrating to sit through. It gets juicy though when our lead realizes that while she is playing her version of chess to make sure she doesn’t die, her key player in her plan is also playing his own version of chess to get out of certain situations, and it combines in a romantic drama that can be compelling to watch. It definitely got me wanting to check out the rest of the series.
The Dangers in My Heart (HiDive)
It’s always nice when an anime decides to surprise you every season, and this is one of those hidden gem surprises that snuck up on this anime fan. This is based on the manga by Norio Sakurai. It’s directed by Hiroaki Akagi, written by Jukki Hanada, and produced by Shin-Ei Animation. Basically, it’s a story about an edgy teen who thinks of dark murder-like thoughts of taking out his other classmates, but in reality, is just an angsty teenager who is depressed, and he has the realization about his classmate he decides should be his first victim. The realization is that he thinks the popular girl is cute, but also finds out that she isn’t just a stereotypical popular girl, but is silly, loves snacks, and so on. The show is basically about their blossoming friendship and love. It captures a very real feeling of that time period of being a teenager where you become edgy, discover your attraction to the other sex, and become an individual who doesn’t quite know how to take in all of these new situations and emotions. Ever want to see yourself squirm and remember how awkward or terrible you are as a blossoming teenager? This show will do that well! It’s a sweet show that does a lot with its premise, and shows constant character growth and makes some types of jokes work that I don’t normally care for. That’s rare! Anyway, this was a surprise gem this season and it shows how good a lot of HiDive’s shows were this season.
Oshi no Ko aka My Favorite Idol (HiDive)
Content Warning, Stalking, mentions of suicide, and abuse.
This one is a lot, and that’s both good and in some ways bad. But when the manga is by the same author of Kaguya Sama: Love is War, then you know you are in for something. This is based on the manga by Aka Akasaka. It’s directed by Daisuke Hiramaki, written by Jin Tanaka, and produced by Doga Kobo. So, since it’s been more than a month since this anime’s release, it’s time to talk about this film’s extremely unhinged premise, but surprisingly well-done execution of said premise. If you don’t want to know about the premise, skip this section until you see the first episode. Now then, let’s begin! First off, it starts with a 90-min first episode, and you get why it did. If your plot was of a doctor and a terminally ill teen being reborn as the two children of their favorite idol, and what feels like a sweet romantic slice-of-life turns into a drama with a slow-burn revenge thriller of finding the person behind the idol’s murder, then you would need 90 minutes to get all of that out of the way first. They could have made a 30-minute or an hour-long premiere, but it really does set up the emotional connection you make with the characters, and then those last five minutes really stab you in the feelings. It turns from idol stuff into a romantic drama about the two now teenage kids going about their lives in the entertainment industry, where the daughter tries to make it as an idol and the son tries to find connections to his mother’s murder. It also starts to sharply critique the entertainment industry on multiple avenues from idols, child acting, to the cynical marketing made by production companies to hamper actors who are truly great. It’s a show with layers of character depths and what drives them. Granted, the manga has some issues and irksome manga/anime-like elements, but the 90-min episode skips through a lot of the baby/child phase of the story for good reason since it seems like the focus of the people behind this adaptation knew what was more important to focus on. It might not grab everyone and you have to get through the 90-min first episode and the out-there premise, but I would easily recommend it as one of the stand-out series this season.
Loving Yamada at lv 999 (Crunchyroll)
Still, if someone had to ask what romcom anime gave me the best impressions from its three-plus episodes, then this one would be it. This is based on the manga by Mashiro. It’s produced by Madhouse, written by Yasuhiro Nakanishi, and directed by Morio Asaka. We have yet another romcom anime this year with college/young adults as the leads, and as always it feels so refreshing that it isn’t just teen romance. Even when the teen romance is good, you just want to see some variety in ages, and this season brought us that in spades. What also helps is how they created this great parallel between the online game the characters connect with, and the story of a woman going through a rough breakup and bonding with a member of a guild via the game they play in real life. Both of our leads are complex, interesting, funny, and truly human in their interactions. Sure, our male lead is a shut-in gamer who doesn’t have a lot of human connection, but obviously isn’t a terrible person. Our female lead is dealing with pain and wants to put the sadness and anger of her breakup through the wringer instead of dealing with it sensibly. It’s another compelling drama/romcom that’s equal parts funny, romantic, and appealing to the eye via Madhouse’s fantastic animation. You feel for them, and their chemistry is wonderful. The cast of side characters are also great additions to the roster, and makes it an incredible series. I wholly recommend it to anyone who wants to watch the best of the romcom/drama.
And that is the Spring 2023 anime season! Overall, thinking about the lineup between Part 1 and 2, this was a great season. It definitely took some time to get good, and some of the bad anime were intensely terrible, but since the anime industry is going to keep chugging along no matter how many times people tell them to slow down, we might as well keep track of the industry in its doom spiral. Hopefully, they change, because as usual, when anime is great, it’s really good!
My Spring 2023 Anime Recommendations: Loving Yamada at lvl 999, Oshi no Ko, Hell’s Paradise, Skip & Loafer, The Dangers in My Heart, Magical Destroyers, Mashle, Otaku Elf, Insomniacs After School, My Clueless First Friend, Heavenly Delusion.