THE WINTER 2023 ANIME SEASON. THE WINTER 2023 ANIME SEASON NEVER CHANGES PART 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Well, it’s time to talk about the Winter Anime Season…again. Honestly, Winter 2023 is kind of a mix of both Winter 2021 and Winter 2022 in terms of quality. There are a lot of really solid titles mixed with a ton of mediocre and trashy anime. It would be more shocking if there were more good, or more worrying if many of them were mediocre. Since I don’t make these until I’ve seen every anime up to at least three episodes or more, it lets me find time to really break down what to take away from them. You really can’t tell if the first episode will be stellar or not. It’s just whether it’s a good first impression or not. Sure, some are going to be just good from the get-go, but that isn’t always the case. A good opening hook can only go so far. Now then, let’s get started. 

COMEDY/ROMANCE

Onimai: I’m Now Your Sister (Crunchyroll)

Content Warning: Lolicon and underaged fanservice

Listen, it’s okay to not adapt certain stories to anime. Especially when it’s from a studio with obvious talent in its animation department. This is based on the manga by Nekotofu. It’s directed by Shingo Fujii, written by Michiko Yotoke, and produced at Studio Bind. Even with all of the faults of this studio’s other show, Jobless Reincarnation, I can at least see why people like that show. It also doesn’t hurt that Studio Bind has some amazing animators and a production pipeline to make it that way. So, why on earth would they pick a project like this when it’s such underage creepy nonsense? Yeah, it’s basically a slice-of-life comedy lolicon show, and if it was just about a brother and sister reconnecting as siblings, then that would be stellar. You can make shows about people reconnecting, but when the brother in this show is forced against his will to be turned into a middle school-aged girl by his intelligent sister, then the problems only start building up from there. You can see when the show is trying to be sweet and sentimental, but when it has to clash with the fanservice and how a lot of the fanservice is drawn to teenagers looking as lewd as possible, I hate it. I can see where more of the positive reviews are coming from, and I disagree with a lot of them, but I can safely say this one isn’t for me.  The show just isn’t good, and hopefully, one day, Studio Bind will make something that won’t make you feel like jumping out of your skin or force you to sit through terrible nonsense to get to the few scraps of good story beats.

The Angel Next Door Spoils Me Rotten (Crunchyroll)

You know, romance doesn’t have to be boring. You wonder if the original author or the people working on the anime knew that or not. This is based on the light novel series by Saeikisan. The anime is directed by Lihua Wang, written by Keiichiro Ochi, and produced by Project No. 9. This show is just nothing. It’s harmless nothing, but it’s just nothing. I get there is supposed to be a budding romance between our two leads who happen to live next to one another and such, but with its flat and soulless animation, and the fact the build-up to whether they will get together or not is not handled well, it makes for a really dull sit. If there is a lo-fi anime romcom this season people are gonna watch, it won’t be this one. There are two that are worth watching more than this one. 

Tomo Chan IS a Girl (Crunchyroll)

It feels good to be more positive from this point on with this category. This is based on the popular manga by Fumita Yanagida. The anime is adapted by Hitoshi Nanba, written by Megumi Shimizu, and produced by Lay-Duce. While on the surface, it’s another ‘boy and girl can’t find the right way to confess to one another’ story, it helps that they go a different direction for the characters. It is annoying that the show sometimes wants to tell a tomboy to be more feminine when the problem isn’t’ that she’s too “masculine”,but it’s also the fact the two don’t have the proper brain cells and social interactive skills to actually know how to confess to one another. Doesn’t help either that the secondary cast members that get thrown into the equation cause chaos with their silly antics for the two love birds. I do wish the animation was better to make the comedy hit harder, but it looks fine, and I can see why people adore this one. I just don’t think I vibe with it as much as others do, and I feel badly about that. Oh well, not everyone is going to like every popular show and popular movie, and that’s alright. Just don’t be malicious about it. Anyway, Tomo Chan IS a Girl is adorable goofy fun with some clunky animation. 

Kubo Won’t Let Me Be Invisible (HiDive)

This is a very cute and silly show. It is based on the manga by Nene Yukimori. The anime adaptation is directed by Kazuomi Koga, written by Yuya Takahashi, and produced by Pine Jam. Alongside Pine Jam’s great expressive animation that they obviously carried over from their work on Do It Yourself, the manga’s simplistic, but emotive art style brings life to another show that may or may not be aping off of the Komi Can’t Communicate bandwagon. Recently, we have been getting many creative ways to tackle social anxiety and feeling invisible in a world where all we do is socialize. It helps here that our two leads are the cutest together anytime they are on screen, which is all of the time. They do enough with the premise to make every sequence refreshing and full of laughs. The chemistry is delightful, and while the romance isn’t fully convincing, if you are looking for a solid cute time, then give this one a watch.

The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague (Crunchyroll)

It shouldn’t feel so refreshing that an anime has young adult leads for the show to focus on, but we are in that situation here. This is based on the manga by Miyuki Tonogawa. It was directed by Mankyu, written by Tomoko Konparu, and produced by Zero-G and Liber. Once again, it feels refreshing that we have a workplace drama/romcom with a fantastical twist to how certain workers are descendants of mystical beings, and how they weave in those parts are not so upfront, and can be used in very literal and metaphorical ways. It’s really sweet and how it gets creative with said mystical powers show off different sides of our male lead. Luckily, the other characters are just as fun and likable to be around. The only downside is I don’t find the romance all that compelling, but I do like their chemistry. With a very low-key atmosphere and a lo-fi bop of an opening, there is a lot to enjoy and find appealing with this show. 

Endo and Kobayashi Live: The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte (HiDive)

It’s always refreshing when you get a truly distinct and original take on a certain type of anime series that, no matter any of the faults, you commend it for actually doing something different. This is based on the novels by Suzu Enoshima. The anime is directed by  Fumihiro Yoshimura, written by Tomoko Konparu, and produced by Tezuka Productions. So, what do you get when you take a typical Otome game setting, but combine it with elements of Let’s Plays and God simulation games? This is that anime. It’s amazing that I have yet to see something this creative and how it not only has great jokes, great characters, and a banger premise, but it also pulls back from the premise to let the characters grow. You care about both the human players and the in-game characters. This was just a really pleasant surprise and I’m all for creatives tackling and taking different spins at anime that could really use a shot in the arm. 

ACTION

The Ice Blade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World (Crunchyroll) 

Anime is just getting worse and worse in some regards with shows like this. This is based on the novel series by Nana Mikoshiba. It’s directed and written by Masahiro Takata and produced by Cloud Hearts and Yokohama Animation Laboratory. Maybe if the anime/manga/light novel industry wasn’t so hellbent on pushing everything out at a record pace for maximum profit, maybe, just maybe, we could get shows that are more interesting than this generic hodgepodge of fantasy action elements. You’ve got the school setting, you’ve got the quirky clubs and side characters, you’ve got the power fantasy, you’ve got a basic mystery plot of who our lead actually is and who the big threats might be. All it needed to do was actually either commit to something or stop trying to appeal to every single anime-goer, because when you try to appeal to everyone, then you appeal to no one. It takes a darn good team and creative to come up with something that hits all the right notes for everyone, and sadly, this sure isn’t it. I like some aspects of the show, but due to its lackluster production/visuals, some uncomfortable baiting of multiple types, and no real identity to call its own, this fantasy action show feels like an isekai, but without the isekai aspect, and without the progress of making something compelling. Also, don’t undercut the female characters you are trying to make viewers care about by making them look like lingerie models during the end credits. Makes ya wonder if they see the female characters as characters and not objects. 

Spy Classroom (HiDive)

Well, at least there is something that could have been with this show. This is based on the novels by Takemachi. It’s directed by Keiichiro Kawaguchi, written by Shinichi Inotsume, and produced by Feel. We have a few anime this season that are all about a group of underdog characters who need to prove themselves, and in this case, a bunch of spy academy rejects who team up with a shady leader who trains them to be the best spies they can be. It has the spy espionage post-WW1 setting going for it, but that’s about it. Didn’t really find myself gravitating towards the story or the characters by episode three, and the plot for the first three episodes feels stretched out. There wasn’t much there, and they needed to pad out three episodes. Not that there weren’t any scenes of growth for the characters, but the characters are forgettable and that’s not a good thing due to how many there are of them. They also look more like characters you should see as anime statues than anything else. The decent action and some mystery about the world don’t really keep me wanting to come back for every new episode. Those are the breaks at times. Just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Ayakashi Triangle (Crunchyroll)

Talk about a tonal and messy situation of trying to make this premise work. This is based on the manga by Kentaro Yabuki of Black Cat and To Love Ru (which he illustrated) fame. It’s directed by Noriaki Akitaya, written by Shogo Yasukawa, and produced by Connect. Listen, it’s ambitious and admirable that a property would love to tackle gender identity with its premises. Gender swap and identity stories are commonplace in anime. It’s not like this is breaking any new taboos or boundaries. It can work and it has happened before. Too bad it’s trying to be a million things at once. It wants to be a shonen action show, it wants to be a yuri bait show, it wants to be an ecchi fanservice show, it wants to be a comedy, it wants to tackle romance through the gender spectrum, and it wants to do all of this at once when it’s not really good at being any of it. It’s too serious to be funny, too comedy driven to be serious, too horny to be low-key, and the romance angle is shot by the fact the show wants to tackle the two lead’s romance, but also be arousing to the viewer. It’s at least trying to be more than it is, but there are simply too many gender-bent anime out there to spend time on one that is not interested in being truly great, or at least great in the non-fanservice department. You can obviously tell where the budget went into this show despite having a slightly higher-than-usual polished look. Who knows what will happen to the show, since it’s one of the few anime this season getting delayed due to the lingering pandemic. Maybe it will get better, but from the four episodes that are out, it hasn’t been impressive. 

The Reincarnation of the Strongest Exorcist in Another World (Crunchyroll)

Can anime actually commit to the bit for once? A lot of anime these days seem unable to commit to the bit. Anyway, this mediocre isekai is based on the novels by Kiichi Kosuzu. The show is directed by Nobuyoshi Nagayama & Ryosuke Shibuya, written by Touko Machida, and produced by Studio Blanc. The one major hook the show has going for it to try and be more interesting than other isekai power fantasies, is how our lead is reborn not just from a different life, but a different region from his home in Japan’s past to a more European location. It results in him having an entirely different magic system that he uses from the rest of the world in which he has been reborn. It should have led to some pretty interesting world-building moments and political intrigue from everyone else in this show’s universe about how this one kid can wield powerful magic, but somehow not be born with the power. Sadly, it boils down to every power fantasy. The lead is stronger than everyone else, some characters hate him in a deeply absurd way, and the lead makes two female friends be the forearm candy to the lead. After watching so many anime buck the natural trend of most power fantasy isekai, you think that would mean everyone else would try harder, and who knows, this could be a bad translation of the source material. It sure as heck feels like it’s rushing to get to certain story beats faster. Anime fans tend to take what they can get even when better stuff is already available to the viewer. Oh well. I liked the demon entities that the lead has in his control, but that’s about it. 

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

I really hate when I feel like I’m going to like a show because of its premise, and then watch the said show and feel underwhelmed by it. This is based on the novels and manga by Shinta Fuji. The series is adapted to animated form by director and writer Itsuki Imazaki and is produced by Geek Toys and Seven. There is a real solid idea of a bunch of adventurers who were rejected by the masses forming their own party to go on adventures and save the land. Heck, there are even comedy versions of this idea with anime like Konosuba. Where this show lacks though is in the execution department. The reasons why these adventurers got rejected by society are absurd and petty, ranging from people not liking the mage for being stronger, an adventuring party thinking they didn’t need their rogue, and one badly handled case of being falsely accused of being a pest. Yeah, this anime wants you to feel for these underdogs, and you as a viewer definitely want to see them grow through the ranks and show the world they weren’t disposable beings, but the way it all unfolds is clunky at best. The dragon girl is probably the best character, which is a shame since she isn’t the lead. They also do that thing where it’s not fully a fantasy world and have things like idols, but then they don’t modernize any other element of the world around them. It’s aggravating since you can see the idea there, and like usual, it could be a bad adaptation, but the anime doesn’t really make me want to buy the manga. I might watch a bit more to see the introduction of another character, but it won’t be high on my priority. 

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

Sometimes, being simply well-made and executing its premise enough with some solid action is all that you need with your isekais to be tolerable and entertaining. This is based on the novel series by Hayaken. The anime is produced by Studio Comet, written by Mitsutaka Hirota, and directed by Naoyuki Kuzuya. What it lacks in polished animation, wanting to fast forward through so much of the story’s plot to get to the leads being older, and trying to horn up the female leads to a very distracting degree that almost cripples the entire show, it does execute its premise better than most isekais. It has solid if clunky political thriller aspects. The story of a king being reincarnated to follow his past goals of becoming a knight are a good-enough twist on the formula, the characters are fairly likable, and the action is obviously where the money was spent the most. If it just didn’t have so much anime nonsense under its belt, it would probably be one of my favorites, but due to how many other isekai or isekai adjacent animate are out this season and do its premise better, it falls short, but it wouldn’t be the worst show to come back to after the three episode rule. 

Giant Beast of Ars (HiDive)

This feels like an anime that’s based on a RPG, but without the terrible production issues of being based on a video game that usually plagues these series. It’s an original anime that’s directed by Akira Oguro, written by Norimitsu Kaiho, and produced at Asahi Productions. While it has some similar elements like humanity fighting against giant beasts and creatures, the world they crafted in the span of three episodes is full of life, personality, and intrigue., That isn’t always a given with original anime, and the action is rock solid as well. It definitely gives you a hook and a reason to keep watching, and it shouldn’t feel refreshing that this show feels like a show and not a marketing tool, but it feels great to watch this and not feel the creeping hands of merchandising yet touch this one. Granted, it’s there, but it never pulls you out of the experience like most anime do. 




Handyman Saitou in Another World (Crunchyroll)

Nothing quite like finding an isekai that is actually distinct and not really an isekai in the traditional sense. This quirk fantasy/isekai/comedy is based on the manga by Kazutomo Ichitomo. It’s directed by Toshiyuki Kubooka, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by C2C. Honestly, I went into this show blind. The fun idea of a handyman getting sent to a fantasy world isn’t really an isekai. When you think of isekai, it usually boils down to boring mediocre power fantasies aimed at a male demographic, but here, it’s not really any of that. Saitou is basically a rogue/thief who just happens to have his tool kit with him, and the show isn’t really all that interested in telling a story. There is a plot and progression of character arcs and such, but it’s honestly more interested in gags and skits that take place in this fantasy world than telling a grand story. Of course, being a comedy, the comedy can be hit-and-miss, but when it hits, boy do the jokes land. The characters are fairly simplistic, but they have their own depth to them that makes them fun characters to follow. However, sometimes it feels like they had an idea for a joke and it either didn’t translate well or has some missing context to western viewers or just ends with no real punchline. It’s a creative show that’s more along the lines of Cromartie High School and Azumanga Daioh than your typical isekai fare, and I think that’s admirable, to say the least. 

Trigun Stampede (Crunchyroll)

It’s amazing that people ever doubted this incredible studio with what they were going to craft with this new take on the franchise. This is based on the manga and classic anime by Yasuhiro Nightow. This new take is directed by Kenji Muto, written by Tasuro Inamoto, Shin Okashima, and Yoshihisa Ueda, and produced by the best CGI studio in the anime industry, Studio Orange. Yes, the original anime is a classic and should be watched by everyone, but it’s been almost three decades, and it’s okay for people to try a new take on the franchise, because unlike a lot of remakes or reboots of certain franchises, this one is actually good. First off, you get the amazing and perfect CGI animation by Studio Orange combined with the creative western/Mad Max world that the characters live in, and lovable characters. There are some aspects that I wish they didn’t change, but so far, unless this adaptation goes off the rails like the Promised Neverland adaptation, Trigun Stampede is one of the best anime of the Winter 2023 season. Also, the dub is killer with the return of Johnny Yong Bosch as the titular Vash. It’s a great show from beginning to end so far and I don’t care if the mystery from the original isn’t there.

Chainsawing Through the Fall 2022 Anime Season

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The fall 2022 season was a pleasant upgrade over Summer 2022’s anime season. It doesn’t reach all of the same heights as Fall 2021, but with its cast of new and returning anime, it still unleashes to the anime-loving audience a batch of amazing shows. Sure, some were bound to be new classics like Chainsaw Man, but there are other great shows this season and with Winter 2023 around the corner, let’s drop some impressions of a pretty solid season of anime. 

COMEDY

Love Flops (HiDive) 

(CW: assault and harassment jokes in the first episode)

One of the few original properties this season by Kadokawa Pictures. It’s produced by Passione, directed by Nobuyoshi Nagayama, and written by Ryo Yasumoto. Consider this one of the most middling mediocre harem anime to ever exist. Probably one of the worst anime of 2022 as well with the fact that the five girls and one woman who are fawning over this teenager, have no reason to fall for him. The way they are introduced to one another is laughably terrible and conceived, and the second episode’s reason behind them falling for him is yet another take on the vibe that they want anime viewers to start getting married and make kids. If it didn’t have Passione’s higher-than-usual production values, this anime would have fallen flat due to one-note love interests, and how it’s mostly interested in being male-wish fantasy nonsense. You all know you can not watch bad anime because it has cute anime girls right? You can go to other anime for cute anime girls that have more substance and personality to them. Heck, this season is full of them. You can do so much better than this one. Oh, and it dares to have a twist and become super meta when it doesn’t earn it or deserve it. 

The Little Lies We All Tell (Crunchyroll)

Man, it must be tough to be a comedy/gag anime that comes out the same season as Pop Team Epic’s triumphant return. This show is based on the manga by Madoka Kashihara. It’s directed by Makoto Hoshino, written by Megumi Shimizu, and produced by Studio Flad. The marketing for this show is weird. One poster and the title make it sound like it’s going to be some dark teen drama, but it’s a gag anime. It feels like it was put together by random or thrown-out ideas, and it is at least trying to be absurd and have that same high energy take as classics of the subgenre, but it never quite feels as cohesive or as absurd as others. It’s trying, and it has a laugh here and there, but it’s never as consistent as other shows like Cromartie High or Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle. The four, well, three girls and one cross-dressing boy who was forced to go to the school all have something to hide, and the different gimmicks never feel like they mesh. It’s a weird show, because I personally don’t think it’s good, but I can see someone vibing with this show. It needed to have a bit more balance or focus on making the characters have actual personalities rather than just relying on the gimmick and some tired anime tropes. Still, you can do worse with anime comedies. 

Urusei Yatsura (HiDive)

Well, if it’s not broken…. This is based on the influential manga by Rumiko Takahashi. It’s directed by Hideya Takahashi, Yasuhiro Kimura, and Takahiro Kamei, written by Yuko Kakihara, and produced by David Productions. No exaggeration here, this new adaptation of the manga basically kept everything set in the 1970s without changing much outside of a new visual coat of paint. So be prepared to see somewhat tame by today’s standards mean-spirited gag stories with a somewhat overarching plot being weaved into the episodes. It can be loud, absurd, and funny, and whether its more heartfelt moments clash or not with the over-the-top and well-animated comedy, will be up to you. For me, I enjoyed the batch of episodes I have seen so far and it will at least be way better than that Inuyasha follow-up. 

More Than a Married Couple, But Not Lovers (Crunchyroll) 

I feel so betrayed and frustrated by this show. It’s based on the manga by Yuki Kanamura, directed by Takao Kato and Junichi Yamamoto, written by Naruhisa Arakawa, and produced by Studio Mother. If you don’t hear about the setting this story takes place in, it sounds like a real rock-solid rom-com. Two students who don’t care much for each other team up to actually hook up with the people they want to crush on. Now, if you have seen these romcoms before, you know our two leads are actually gonna fall for each other. The story focuses on their insecurities as individuals and, while it can be a bit horny since it’s anime, the show really does invest a ton of time to progress the story arcs between our leads. What makes this show fall flat is the premise. Our two leads are together because they are in a mandatory school course where they must learn to become good future husbands and wives. Oh, and the dorms the couples stay in, are wired with cameras all over, watching their every step. It’s intensely creepy and it’s maddening because this would be really cool if the premise didn’t sound like some weird conservative wet dream of the ideal school course students should be taking. I know some of the anime made every year will have some underlying political commentary about modern political topics in Japan, but no school should have a mandated “get a grade by being a married couple” course. You could easily have a better setting, because everything else is pretty okay! I wish I could recommend it full-heartedly, but there are better romcoms this year that don’t pull weird settings like this. 

I’m the Villainess, So I’m Taming the Final Boss (Crunchyroll)

When you watch a terrible anime like Shinobi No Ittoki, coming back to watch a show like this one really shows how good some of the shows this season are. This is based on the novels by Sarasa Nagase. The adaptation is produced by Maho Films, written by Kenta Ihara, and directed by Kumihiko Habara. While we are about to slowly get flooded with isekai titles about characters playing the villain from a popular or just any random otome game, if they can keep differentiating themselves from My Life as a Villainess, then they are good to go. Here, the rom-com plot of our lead trying to propose to the demon lord has resulted in a rather delightful and quirky journey, as we see our lead break the game and shift reality around her beck-and-call and use her knowledge of the original game to her advantage. It focuses on a lot of diverse character interactions, and it’s an adorable show with so many characters being rather lovable. It might have wonky animation and CGI compositing, but this is an otherwise charming show that will warm its way into your heart. 

Do It Yourself! (Crunchyroll)

What a wonderful original anime we have this season. It’s directed by Kazuhiro Yoneda, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyashu, and produced by Pine Jam. What’s so delightful about this show is how it works on so many levels. You not only have the fun of seeing an anime about the joy of Do It Yourself projects, but it’s a show about rebuilding and repairing friendships old and new. It’s not just another “cute girls doing cute things” show. It also has a visual style that looks like the result of Cloverworks and Science Saru having a child. Pine Jam has truly crafted a fantastic watercolor visual style and some of the most expressive characters of this season of anime. It’s one of those shows that is a great gateway anime to introduce to newcomers, and it stands out as one of the best this season. 

Bocchi The Rock (Crunchyroll) 

While Chainsaw Man is probably the most obvious show this season to be popular, it’s nice to see a show like this stellar piece of rock and roll get popular. It’s based on the manga by Aki Hamaji. It’s directed by Keiichiro Saito, written by Erika Yoshida, and produced by CloverWorks. You can basically call this a combination of coming-of-age, music, and extreme cases of social anxiety. The journey of our nervous wreck of a lead character to join a blossoming band and to expand upon her social skills is one of Fall 2022’s biggest surprises. It also has some of the most expressive and vibrant animation seen all year. Not a big shock from CloverWorks, but just in general. It’s some of the most interesting visuals you will find in a year full of anime with distinct visuals. It’s also really funny and crushingly accurate as to how they capture social anxiety, and how it can feel for some people in certain situations. Just a splendid anime around, and it’s no wonder why it has become one of the fan-favorite anime of the season. 

ACTION/ADVENTURE

Shinobi no Ittoki (Crunchyroll)

Well, at least it’s trying to do more than most middling ninja anime. This is another original anime of the season that’s directed by Shuu Watanabe, written by Minato Takano, and produced by Troyca. This show has an odd balance of tones. On one hand, the story of a boy who’s suddenly forced into being trained in order to run an entire clan of ninjas is understandably compelling, but lordy, is this some of the worst written dialogue and storytelling I have seen all year. Yeah, let’s follow this one character who was never told until he was in high school about his ninja ancestry, never train him, and then throw him into a school full of other ninja clans that want him dead and not give him at the very least a rundown or heads up of who to avoid or what to know. This show wants to be this thrilling ninja story and it isn’t just due to how the characters are terribly written, and what could be interesting or fun with the rather solid action animation, is dead weight and stuck with a story that’s not fun to sit through. Just a really boring and unbearable series. It’s not a bad show because it’s poorly animated or problematic. It’s a bad show because at no point is it thrilling, at no point is the story compelling or giving you a reason to root for its characters. It has story beats that happen that aren’t earned, and it’s a sign of how bad certain original anime can be. 

The Eminence in Shadow (HiDive) 

(CW: Sexual Assault in the first episode)

What is with anime productions that want to botch their first impressions with anime-only first episodes? I swear these production committees never learn. This is based on the novels by Daisuke Aizawa. It’s directed by Kazuya Nakanishi, written by Kanichi Katou, and produced by Nexus. So, this show is weird, because the first episode is an anime-only story that sets itself up as an edgy power fantasy show, but when you watch past episode 1, it feels like it’s supposed to be a parody, or it’s goofing on the tropes and story beats of mediocre isekai. I would normally be all for that with how they crafted certain moments from the episodes I watched, but after a bit, I felt like I fell off on whether this was supposed to be a parody or they were just being very tongue-and-cheek with it when it comes off like every other power fantasy anime that comes out every year. I guess at least it has a sense of personality with how it’s trying to lay out its jokes, but I couldn’t personally vibe with this one. I get why a lot of people do, but it just wasn’t my cup of tea. 

Chainsaw Man (Crunchyroll)

I mean, we all knew this was going to be one of, if not the best new show of the Fall 2022 season right? It’s based on the hit manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto that has taken the manga world by storm. The anime adaptation is obviously produced by MAPPA, it’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and directed by the duo of Ryu Nakayama and Nasato Nakazono. This show is just a bit of everything. It has fantastic action, incredible film quality level animation, dark comedy, and it doesn’t just fall back on its popularity or the gore to keep you invested. It has everything an anime fan or a newcomer to anime could want with how it balances everything to pretty much perfectly. There is a reason why this is considered one of the best shows of the year and season. You can’t get any better than this in terms of anime, and hopefully, MAPPA is treating its animators well to craft such an exquisite experience. 

FANTASY/ISEKAI

I Somehow Became Stronger By Raising Farming-Related Skills (HiDive)

CW: Episode 2 has a really tasteless male getting assaulted joke. 

Is anyone else getting really sick and tired of shows having a solid elevator pitch, but then completely bailing on it for no reason? This show is based on the light novels/manga by Shobonnu. It’s directed by Norihiko Nagahama, written by Touko Machida, and produced by Studio A-Cat. A super-powered farmer in a fantasy world where he doesn’t want to be the hero sounds like it could lead to a really creative comedy about a farmer who just wants to farm. The first episode has the lead character literally throwing a carrot at the speed of light and killing a dragon with it. That’s so funny and yet, the rest of the show is actually not about that. It’s about a farmer who just gets roped up into being a hero because he’s got really good stats. It’s a really boring watch that doesn’t do anything new or really fun with the formula, gets way too dark for a show that isn’t advertised as such, and of course, it will slowly have a colorful cast of female love interests and some non-threatening male friends that don’t get in the way of our lead and his forced-together harem. If it focused less on being just another power fantasy with a harem with really shoddy animation, there could have been something special. Still, alas, it’s another mediocre fantasy anime in a year full of them. 

Management of a Novice Alchemist (HiDive)

Well, at least it isn’t boring. This is based on the novels/light novels/manga by Mizuho Itsuki. The show is directed by Hiroshi Ikehata, written by Shigeru Murakoshi, and produced by ENGI. I mean, it’s a “cute girls doing cute things” alchemy/fantasy edition. It doesn’t do anything truly unique outside of focusing on the crafting side than the magic, but it also has to fit in stuff like action and possible romance baiting between the four characters. It’s got a solid visual look with some better-than-usual animation, but it’s mostly just okay. If it looked a bit worse, I would rank it lower, but its aesthetic is what’s saving this run-of-the-mill anime. Not that originality is the end all be all, but after a bit with how much anime is coming out, doing the bare minimum while other shows are hitting it out of the park is going to bite some on the backside in the long run. 

Beast Tamer (Crunchyroll)

Some of the toughest anime to give impressions on are shows that are just so committed to being down the middle in terms of quality and story execution. Beast Tamer is kind of that show but with enough charm to it that makes it hard to be hateful or angry towards it. This is based on the novels by Suzu Miyama. The anime adaptation is directed by Atsushi Nigorikawa, written by Takashi Aoshima, and produced by EMT Square. The funny thing about these “I got kicked out of the hero’s party” fantasy anime is that the reason for getting kicked out is so petty, and that might be the intention, but it’s never believably done. What’s more interesting is despite it being what will essentially be a harem anime with multiple cute fantasy girls, the show as of what I have seen, was not interested in fanservice. Or, at least not to a distracting degree where the show halts in its tracks to give you some cheesecake. The main cast has decent chemistry with how our lead is gonna save the day with kindness with his monster-taming skills, but it’s just okay. Nothing super obnoxious, but nothing all that stellar either. It could definitely fill the void of comfort food anime watching, but your tolerance for certain harem tropes will be the deciding point, or if you can truly utterly believe the igniting point of the overall story in the first place. 

Raven of the Inner Palace (Crunchyroll) 

Well, we have our The Heiki Story anime of the season, and I mean that in the way that we have a period drama that’s really fascinating. It’s based on the light novels by Koko Shirakawa. It’s written by Satomi  Ooshima, directed by Chizuru  Miyawaki, and produced by Bandai Namco Pictures. It’s a shame the first major story arc is split between two episodes because this is one of the rare few anime that would have been better as a one-hour premiere. It’s really slow to start out and build up the world-building, politics, and supernatural elements with the first episode, and by the second episode, it fully kicks into what the first mystery of the show is. By the third episode, you will be intrigued and compelled to see what the requests the Raven Consort get and how they unfold. It unwraps into a beautiful story of love, loss, and is full of political and royal drama/thriller elements to keep you in this gorgeously prepared world. Doesn’t hurt either that Queen Bee does a fantastic theme song for the show, and if you are down for something a bit different from your typical shonen action romps or the big league titles, then consider giving this one a shot. 

Reincarnated as a Sword (HiDive)

This is what happens when you make a familiar, but compelling isekai. This is based on the novels by Yuu Tanaka. It’s directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Takahiro Nagano, and produced by C2C. While the lead being reincarnated as a sword doesn’t seem like it leads to a very compelling story, it actually stands on its own as one of the better isekai this year. The sword’s interaction with our cat girl lead that so far, the anime has tried to avoid sexualizing, is nice since anime is so bad at not making young characters look lewd. I get ya want to sell merchandise, but instead of doing most anime nonsense, the show does focus on the growing bond between our leads and it makes for a more pleasant experience when you are able to enjoy the show without so much nonsense getting in the way. With a fun premise, great animation, and well-executed action, Reincarnated as a Sword was a pleasant surprise in a year full of mediocre isekais. 

OTHER

My Master Has no Tail (HiDive) 

This was a sweet little title. It’s based on the manga by TNSK. The anime adaptation is produced by Liden Films, written by Touko Machida, Kei Shimobayashi, Aya Satsuki, and Yuho Togashi, and directed by Hideyo Yamamoto. What starts off as a cute little fantastical take on a period piece where our little tanuki lead goes into the human world to see what is going on, turns into a friendship drama about her wanting to work under a storyteller’s wing in a changing world. No longer can a tanuki thrive in a world with carriages, cars, and at the time, modern devices. It’s a show that tackles themes of dealing with the fear of the unknown in an ever-changing world, respecting the past, and finding that ambition to push through the tides of change. It’s well-animated, the characters are likable, and while there may be some cultural barriers that will get lost in translation, the show is easy to follow and only has a little bit of that anime nonsense that hampers it from time to time. 

Bibliophile Princess (HiDive)

This is where I wish this had a dub, due to how talkative it is. This is based on the light novels by Yui. This period piece drama/romance is directed by Taro Iwasaki, written by Mitsutaka Hirota, and produced by Madhouse. Listen, this show’s first episode is really slow, and you will only get the crumbs of what the drive of this show will be between a lovely prince and a bookish princess. Luckily, by the second and third episodes, the chemistry blossoms into a rather lovely romance with some gorgeous visuals. This is one of the few light novels where it’s not just an edgy male power fantasy isekai nonsense. Granted, even though I have watched plenty of episodes, I am worried about how much our princess has in terms of agency and how much development she gets from the story, since a lot of it is told from her perspective. Still, if you are in the mood for romance, period dramas, and something more slow and low-key, then you will probably like this show. 

Blue Lock  (Crunchyroll)

The one sports anime of the season comes in the form of one of the best sports anime of the year. It’s based on the manga by Muneyuki Kaneshiro with illustrations by Yusuke Nomura. The adaptation is written by Taku Kishimoto, directed by the duo of Tesunaki Watanabe and Shunsuke Ishikawa, and produced by Eight Bit. Instead of being another familiar but well-executed typical shonen-style sports anime, Blue Lock brings a more aggressive and sinister vibe to the sports formula by pitting teams against each other to become the best. With a more assertive and menacing art style to the players and the world itself, Blue Lock sets itself apart by being different and truly stands out among 2022’s mostly generic batch of sports anime. 

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury (Crunchyroll)

Never thought I’d see the day I talk about and love a Gundam series that wasn’t G-Gundam or the other series that Toonami and Adult Swim played back then. This is directed by Hiroshi Kobayashi and Ryo Ando, written by Ichiro Okouchi, and produced by Sunrise. Who knew that what we needed was not a group of angsty teenagers in yet another anti-war story that clashes with the sole money-making side of the Gundam franchise of selling a multitude of models and action figures? Yeah, war is bad, but look how cool the robots and action beats are. Thankfully, what ya get with this one is Gundam crossed with Revolutionary Girl Utena, which is already at this point, a tired and worn joke since one of the writers of Utena is writing the script for this show. On a more serious note, this show is just fantastic. It’s got its political upheaval and war is bad messages for sure, but instead of that stuff being in your face at all times, it focuses more on the characters and they are delightfully diverse and complex. It still weaves in themes of discrimination and corruption, but they are characters first and foremost. It also helps that they are pretty likable, on top of the fight scenes being pretty stellar. It’s the shot in the arm that this franchise needed and it just needed to have more LGBTQ+ elements. Who knew?

Akiba Maid War (HiDive)

Well, I found it, I found the most ideal trashy anime that I don’t have to feel guilty for watching. This original anime is directed by Soichi Masui, written by Yoshihiro Hiki, and produced by P.A. Works. Yeah, the show is basically John Wick, but here every woman wears a sexy maid uniform. It’s more of a trashy action flick mixed with some territorial crime/gang war drama where all of the maid cafes are actually competing against one another with shady underbelly stuff that you would find in most crime thrillers. It’s over-the-top and schlocky, but with how much personality is in this show and how it 100% commits to its premise of drama and over-the-top action, if you were a fan of Lycoris Recoil, then you will absolutely love this show. HiDive this year has gotten some of this year’s best shows and Akiba Maid Wars is one of them! 


And there you have it. If you had to know the anime I’d recommend before the Winter season starts, please check out these titles: Chainsawman, Reincarnated as a Sword, Do It Yourself, Gundam: The Witch From Mercury, Akiba Maid Wars, Bocchi Rock, Raven if the Inner Palace, I’m The Villainess so I’m Taming the Final Boss, and honorable mentions go to Not a Married Couple, but Not Lovers and Urusei Yatsura

My Least Favorite Animated Films of 2021

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial/list!)

2021 in animation is definitely a step up from 2020. Not only did we have more to discuss, but films actually got released. I mean, granted, whether we should have been doing so during the pandemic is up to you, but it was nice to have a staggering number of animated films last year. It also helped that there was more competition among the different distributors, and while the best films of the year were the obvious entries, the fact that even the smaller films attempted to and won over some of the major releases is truly impressive. Sadly, we are not here to talk about the best films, we are here to talk about the ones I liked the least. The ones that infuriated me while watching and found to be lacking the heart and soul the medium of storytelling has given multiple stories life. 

1. Lava

If there was truly a film that made me more upset than any other film released in 2021, a film that made me feel like I wasted my time watching it more than any other film, then it would be Lava. While it was fully watchable during Annecy 2020, it got a small on-demand release in 2021. It fails on every level, from the story, writing, characters, themes, acting, and the dub might be one of the worst dubs I have ever seen in a time period where people are able to record from home. This is a film that would have only survived in the festival circuit scene and even then, there is a reason why no one knows about this film or cares about it, and the few that did give this a review, were not favorable. I never want to see a film be this big of a waste of time again. 

2. Xico’s Journey

While its experience as a feature film was not as insulting, with a few decent designs and one sequence that was very well animated, there isn’t much else that you can find here that hasn’t been made by better studios or teams that are in Mexico. There are some truly talented people in Mexico and South America, but this kind of film will not convince you otherwise. It’s harmless, but most viewers will be left bored and unimpressed with the lackluster animation that is more akin to Dora the Explorer in quality than have any real visual flair that will wow viewers looking for animated films from around the world. You can do so much better than Xico’s Journey

3. Monster Hunter: Legends of the Guild

This was probably made to capitalize on the success of Monster Hunter World and its expansion, but that doesn’t excuse it from being a boilerplate story with nothing to really add to the mythos. It focuses on a character no one cares about, the rest of the cast is forgettable, and the action and animation are not up to snuff with CGI that has been used for TV films. Only die-hard Monster Hunter fans will ever want to watch this, but you might as well just play the video game or watch a playthrough of it online than give this special any time of the day. 

4. Night of the Animated Dead

This honestly might be the most pointless remake of any movie of all time. While you could maybe see the inspirations of trying to look like cartoons from the 60s and 70s, and it has a decent cast, this remake ruins every aspect of its groundbreaking horror, and doesn’t do or offer anything different from the original or the 90s remake. It’s absolutely pointless. It might have a few performances that are fine, but you won’t find any meat on this remake’s bones. 

5. Dog Gone Trouble 

I feel badly for not really liking any of the films by Vanguard Animation. Who knows exactly what kind of production pipelines they have, but the fact is that they make boilerplate films with middling plots. The bummer part about this one is that it has a decent set-up, but then falls apart. It doesn’t do anything super offensive, but the fact I’m sitting here struggling to remember the multiple plot threads or the cast of forgettable characters is saying something. At least it’s animated decently. 

6. Firedrake: The Silver Dragon

Once again, while not every film needs to try and look or structure their stories like the bigger studios out there, it doesn’t hurt to have a compelling narrative in a world mixed with fantasy and modern-day elements. This German animated film based on the Dragon Rider book falls flat with some truly uninteresting characters, a been-there-done-that style plot, and lacks any flare or surprise for audiences checking this film out. It has a few decent lines and Patrick Stewart as the villain will always be a high point in any film, but you will be much better off watching a film like How to Train Your Dragon than checking out lackluster and mediocre-looking films like Firedrake: The Silver Dragon. 

7. Spirit Untamed

DreamWorks didn’t have a great 2021, and leading the year with one of their lowest-grossing and poorly received animated features didn’t help things. While there was definitely more critical whippings against this film due to its target demographic of young girls that definitely made this film sound worse than it was, it still falls flat compared to the studio’s other offerings. Some nice morals and a solid dream sequence don’t cover up a miscast list of big names, and a too straightforward plot that doesn’t offer much for the fans of the original film. It’s fine. It doesn’t look as good as other films due to its animation being outsourced to another studio, but it didn’t feel as insulting as others made it out to be. The only question is who was this made for, since it doesn’t really cater to fans of the original or the Netflix series? So, yeah, I wasn’t a fan of this one. 

8. Space Jam: A New Legacy

I hate to sound like a snob, but the fact people were looking forward to this one is a sign of how profitable and predatory nostalgia has become. Instead of rolling their eyes at yet another nostalgia-riddled cash grab that tries to be meta about its entire existence but fails, people were excited about it. Like, it’s neat to see some lovely 2D animation and a lot of the cast be played by actual voice actors instead of it all being 100% celebrities, but the story is poorly written, it feels self-congratulatory about its own IP library, the mix of CGI, live-action, and CGI animated characters are not well executed. The ending loses any emotional weight it could have had, because of one terrible story decision after another. 

9. Bigfoot Family

It’s impressive to note that Son of Bigfoot was a huge success. While I personally didn’t like the film, I get why people found it appealing, even if there are so many other animated films to give more love and support to than this one. I was surprised to see the sequel hit Netflix with such little fanfare, and well, no one talks about it now. Just a really dull and slog-worthy flick that is just a boring ‘save the environment’ plot, and about half of the cast and forgettable villains have some plot points that don’t quite hold up. The animation is nothing special, and overall, it’s just not all that noteworthy. 

10. Charming

The problem when making a film that is based solely around the appeal and pull of a real-life celebrity couple voicing the leads is releasing it years after the fact. That’s not a good sign of why it took forever for this film to come out when everyone else got it years before. It’s a shame because it seems like this was Vanguard’s major attempt to try and get with the mainstream crowd, but then real life comes into play and changes everything. It doesn’t help either when the rest of the film is a very middling take on the fantasy parody genre Shrek made popular 21 years ago. It has some decent moments, but its inclusion of some problematic celebrities in its voice cast, a formulaic plot, and flat animation that didn’t quite push the visuals it needed to, results in the most harmless mediocre film I have seen this year, but definitely, one that’s more interesting to discuss the production and release history of over something like Lava.

Summer Lovin, The 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Here we go with covering the second half of the new anime from this summer 2022 season! If you have yet to see part 1, I would highly recommend looking there first before reading this batch of impressions, but let’s just say that this is by far the batch of shows that had the most interesting shows, but also the worst. Let’s dive right in!

Fantasy/Isekai

Harem in the Labyrinth in Another World (Crunchyroll)

Content Warning: This show is all about sex slavery as a fetish

Well, who is shocked that they let another softcore/basically porn show into the season? I’m not. It’s based on the light novels and manga by Schagi Sogano. It’s directed by Naoyuki Tatsuwa, written by Kurasumi Sunayama, and produced by Passione, the same studio that did Mieruko Chan and Interspecies Reviews. Once you realize that, a lot of this show’s horny-on-main elements make a lot of sense. Listen, there is nothing wrong with a show being horny, and sexual themes shouldn’t be taboo, but maybe don’t make an anime or a light novel that’s about the main character who literally buys a harem of slaves? It’s played up for the fetish aspect of the story, but the way they frame sex slavery in the show is the real-world horrors that slavery actually is. It’s a tone that’s never quite gels, since it’s stuck being a mediocre boilerplate isekai, but it’s got no real time to focus on that, since it also wants to be a sexy romp with a harem angle. The show tries to have more philosophical and moral elements to the lead killing people and the whole morality of slavery, but since he can buy a slave who will have sex with him without fear of rejection, it’s okay. The first three episodes are literally about the lead character getting enough money to buy a sex slave. Doesn’t help either that the anime looks fine, but you know where all the budget went and it’s not the normal scenic moments or the action. They can try and have as many non-horny or softcore moments as possible, but the gist of the show is still a lead character buying a harem of slave girls. They could have all of the diverse personalities in the world, and the show’s world could have some amazing lore, and it still wouldn’t make up for the fact that not everyone on this show’s production team is on the same page. It’s even funnier, since the show knows you are here for the sexual elements, but since it’s on Crunchyroll, and was made for TV broadcast, the censorship covering every sexual element or word is done in such a comedic and over-the-top manner that it makes you wonder how in on the joke they are, or how dense it was for Crunchyroll to buy a softcore anime that, like Winter Season’s World End Harem, is made pointless due to how absurd the censorship is. Morally, this is the most repugnant anime I have seen this season, and it’s one of the worst I have seen this year. It’s an anime to make you realize that there are anime that actually know how to handle certain fetishes better than this one, and you should check out shows like the flawed, but better How Not to Summon a Demon Lord

Black Summoner (Crunchyroll) 

This generic isekai is based on the novels and manga by Doufu Mayoi. The anime adaptation is directed and written by Yoshimasa Hiraike, and produced by Satelight. Well, here we are with another boilerplate isekai. Yes, it tries something different with the monster-taming aspect. Yes, it has this fun knight side character and decent chemistry between our lead, the slime, the elf, and the knight. With all that said, you have literally seen anime that have done this before, and better. That’s the thing, you can get away with being familiar if you actually execute it well, and this one is fine. It’s also yet another isekai that tries to implement slavery into its narrative, but does nothing with it. Like, don’t introduce story beats that either don’t make a lick of sense narrative-wise or aren’t going to be expanded upon. Even other isekai this year with some very repugnant themes were able to do this. When you fail to be memorable or interesting, then you fail as a show or a reason for anyone to keep watching. Also, the animation is ugly. Its mix of 2D and CGI elements clash at all times and gives this show a dirt cheap look. There is a reason why many are critical of the isekai genre. When you don’t deliver on something good, people will turn on you quickly, and to be frank, there really should be a limit to how many we get in a year. 

Vermeil in Gold (HiDive) 

This fantasy ecchi anime is based on the manga by Kota Amana. The anime is directed by Takashi Naoya, written by Tatsuya Takahashi, and produced by Staple Entertainment. I know most come down hard on these ecchi series when they are just so upfront with how horny they are, and to give this show credit, it’s not trying to hide that it’s mostly a fetish anime. When a fetish anime decides to try and hide what it actually is all about, it ends up being a worse product. What’s frustrating about Vermeil though is that it’s actually trying hard to balance out its more arousing elements with a solid enough story that dives into the relationship and dynamics of our characters, and at the same time gives us a tragic backstory to our titillating female demon familiar. It’s commendable that the show is doing more than most, but that’s the problem. It wants to have its sexy visuals and also keep you invested with the rest of the show, resulting in it faltering in both areas. The show’s fetish is going to, as usual, be on a case-by-case scenario of whether you are going to be down with a flimsy teen boy being dominated by a curvaceous demon woman as a major driving force with why you watch the show. Granted, the lack of consent is distracting as heck, and while I get why this is a fetish, if the roles were reversed, people would be raking this show over the coals. It’s maddening that so few ecchi shows share the basic human concept of consent on any level. The more story-driven aspect is fine, but it’s every magic-based school anime you have ever seen, and while some tropes and characters are amusing, they don’t do enough to keep my interest. Still, it’s at least an ecchi show that I can see why people like it. It’s just not for me. 

My Isekai Life: I Gained a Second Character Class and Became The Strongest Sage in the World (HiDive) 

This isekai is based on the novels/light novels/manga by Shinkoshoto. The anime adaptation is directed by Keisuke Kojima, written by Naohiro Fukushima, and produced by Revoroot. While this does not do anything truly unique or distinct from other isekai out there, it’s an absolutely perfect example of a comfort food anime. It’s smart enough to make sure to give you a compelling character that isn’t just a self-insert for audiences, it has good action, the party the lead travels with is diverse and full of fun characters, and the animation isn’t lacking personality or polish. It has rock-solid action, the magic system is fun to see unfold, and our lead has a real reason to be distant toward many of the people he encounters on his journey. It’s nice to see an isekai not just skirt by with the bare minimum, and not be an overly powerful individual right off the bat. This should be the bare minimum, but since so many isekai tend to give up on their plots after the first episode, doing the bare minimum and doing it well is on the levels of something like Faraway Paladin or isekai that were made back in the day like Escaflowne, and anytime an anime is actually doing as much as it can or is willing to execute its familiar premise with flair, then I am all for supporting it. Plus, it has a batch of cute slimes that all have distinct looks to them! Who would say no to an adorable batch of slimes? 

Parallel World Pharmacy (Crunchyroll)  

This refreshing spin on the isekai genre is based on the novels by Liz Takayama. The anime is directed by Keizo Kusakawa, written by Wataru Watari, and produced by Diomedea. Once again, it feels so rare for an isekai to actually be both compelling and unique. While we have had an isekai about a guy making medicine last year, this is more akin to something like Saint’s Magic is Omnipotent, which is amusing since the same writer worked on that show and the same studio animated it as well. It’s more about a doctor who was reincarnated in a fantasy world that revolves around medicine and how it works in this world. It’s also not a power fantasy. He is powerful, but instead of taking down demon lords in one hit and getting a harem, the main character is all about making sure life saving medicine and healthcare is available to everyone and not just for the rich elite. This is the kind of isekai that we need more of, and not just a power fantasy made for the lowest common denominator. We need more isekai that actually want to and care about their characters. Or, like our next isekai, they do something so outwardly different that it sort of inspires its own sub-genre of isekai. 

Uncle from Another World (Netflix) 

This unique isekai comedy is based on the manga by Hotonshindeiru. The adaptation is directed by Shigeki Kawai, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by AtelierPontdarc. I think this is the first time I have seen an isekai take place after the big power fantasy adventure is over. I like to describe this show as a post-isekai comedy. Its main focus is having our lead, the titular uncle, back in the real world who shacks up with his nephew. The major twist is that he brought all of his powers from the fantasy world back with him. Instead of being a power fantasy, it’s more of a slice-of-life comedy with some magical aspects that result in a lot of shenanigans from making YouTube videos of the uncle’s magic powers. It also portrays a more realistic isekai hero with the uncle having a ton of well-meaning intentions, but not the greatest social cues or awareness of things, all of which lead to a lot of incredible laughs. It also implements more modern elements like YouTube careers, and dives more into the psyche of our lead characters and the interactions they share. It might be full of unexpected dashes of humor, but it doesn’t forget to give depth to our characters, and it results in a show in this genre of anime that stands out among the rest. Also, the animation on the characters is so out there that it reminds me of the facial expressions from anime like Golden Boy, and that’s saying something due to how most anime try to stay cute and pretty while on-screen. Uncle From Another World feels like a breath of fresh air and a distinct experiment that the isekai genre absolutely needed. 

Slice of life

Prima Doll (HiDive) 

This is based on the multimedia project by Key and Visual Arts. The anime is directed by Tensho, it’s written by Kai and Toya Okano, and produced by Bibury Animation Studios. Listen, the hook of this one is cool. It’s pretty much set up like a post-war drama of these robot girls who were made to be soldiers now having to adapt to living a civilian life. That sounds great! Too bad the art direction is focused more on selling these characters as models and figurines than actually making sense in the setting in which they take place. This isn’t new, but when you have these cute, very high-pitched voices, and annoying characters that are cute for the sake of cute, sitting through this show is a chore. It doesn’t help either that the show tries really hard to make you feel sad and bad about the situation these characters are in. Too bad the very modern look of these cute robot girls takes you out of the experience. It’s why a good art direction can save a show, and why the look of our lead characters feels so out of place. It’s a shame, since you could see this being a solid drama about the mental baggage that comes with being someone who was on the frontlines, and now has to adapt to normal life, and the struggles that come with it. However, when you have to see “tragic” war flashbacks with these child soldiers that look like they were made to sell you merchandise and or be a part of those virtual idols, well, it’s more funny than serious. When it’s not visually distracting, it’s trying too hard to be taken seriously, and I can’t see this one being appealing to anyone. 

The Maid I Hired Recently is Mysterious (Crunchyroll) 

It’s a case of a show doing the bare minimum to try and keep you invested. This is based on the manga by Wakame Konbu. It’s directed by Mirai Minato (who also writes the script) and Misuzu Hoshino and produced by Silver Link and Blade. The compelling angle of why you should check this show out is the mystery about why this maid showed up at this young kid’s mansion, and honestly, It’s not all that compelling. There are moments where the dynamic between the two is cute enough, but since there is a tinge of romance and an obvious age difference in the relationship, it becomes a bit iffy on where this is going, and the mystery angle is not all that compelling. The show wants you to keep coming back to our maid lead and while she is cute, it’s not enough anymore. The comedy falls flat and the animation is fine, but nothing outstanding. Maybe if they started the mystery angle a bit harder or if this was funnier, I would be more involved, but this anime just bored me to tears with how repetitive it got. Even the new characters they introduced don’t do enough to make up for how dull the rest of the show is.

Shine Post (HiDive) 

This is based on the multimedia project by Konami and Straight Edge. The adaptation is directed by Kei Oikawa, written by SPP, Tatsuo Higuchi, and Rakuda, and produced by Studio Kai. Yeah, we already have too many idol anime as well, and like isekai, they need to do something to differentiate themselves than be more idol industry propaganda. This anime tries to differentiate itself by focusing more on the personal drama of the idol group we follow and a manager brought in who has a unique ability to see people who are lying about something. It gives the manager more of a character, and focuses on him just as much as our group of promising idols. It definitely tries to do more than just “we want to be the best idol group of all time”, and I’m glad it does have something other than cute anime girls that may or may not look good as anime statues on your shelf. It’s overall an okay show with some genuine drama thrown into some of the characters, and the dance sequences are all done using rotoscope, but it still looks clunky. It would be so cool to see them do more than what looks like typical dance sequences we see with every idol anime, but at least they don’t use ugly CGI that’s not composited well onto the 2D background. It’s solid, but I don’t think I have the interest to dive back into the drama of the idol anime unlike the next idol anime on this list. 

When Will Ayumu Make his Move (HiDive)

This romantic comedy is based on the manga by Teasing Master Tagaki San author Soichiro Yamamoto. It’s directed by Mirai Minato, written by Deko Akao (aka Hitomi Mieno), and produced by Silver Link. While this is leagues better than Soichiro’s previous anime adaptation of In The Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki, it still has its own set of problems. It at least moves a bit faster between our leads crushing on one another and by the third episode go on a date, the side characters have a bit more spark and quirk to them than expected, and there is a nice low key vibe to this slice-of-life romcom. Unfortunately, it decided to come out after the latest season of the much better and more popular Kaguya Sama: Love is War. The overall journey through the first four episodes was uneven, and the whole shogi club premise is not entirely fleshed out, and the author’s iconic art style is poorly shown in such a drab-looking show. I think the intention was meant to make the world around them feel like the flashback sequences from Only Yesterday where there is a hazy glow to everything. It just doesn’t help things that the animation is not all that stellar. It looks fine at points, but then it can look rather cheap due to whatever was going on behind the scenes. It’s a cute show, and it’s not the worst one of the season, but you can do much better in terms of slice-of-life anime. 




Phantom of the Idol (HiDive)

This anime is based on the manga by Hijiki Isoflavone. It’s directed by Daisei Fukuoka, written by Yasuko Aoki, and produced by Studio Gokumi. This spooky take on the idol formula is at the very least, more interesting than the last time I encountered an idol show with a ghostly idol individual in the cast. This one takes it in a more comedic route with one of the male leads in an idol duo group only doing the idol thing to rake in easy cash and doesn’t have the passion to push himself. That is, until he encounters a ghost of a deceased idol who agrees to help him become the best idol he can be. However, this only scratches the surface of what the entire show is about as you get past the first episode. The lead that bonds with the ghost idol actually becomes much more interesting and compelling. His lackadaisical attitude could be a very easy turn-off to many, if not handled well, but his interactions with the idol ghost and his fellow idol make for a very fun comedy/drama that actually doesn’t focus too much on the idol stuff. Like it gets brought up and you do get songs and dancing sequences through the first few episodes, but the show wants to also focus on its characters and what drives them, and to be honest, that’s way more compelling than being just another idol show. Seeing a flawed trio of characters go about how they want to go about the idol experience and job, while focusing little on pushing out a new mobile game or merchandise (at least upfront) makes for a better show than most this season. 

TEPPEN Laughing Til You Cry (Crunchyroll) 

Consider this a surprise of the season! This comedy anime is based on the manga by Inujun. It’s directed by Shinji Takamatsu and Toshinori Watanabe, written by Jun Kumagai, and produced by Drive. You would think a comedy anime about a house full of comedy groups would be a touch overwhelming, chaotic in what kind of comedy styles they perform, and that the comedy wouldn’t translate to an English-speaking audience. Then again, when you get someone like Shinji Takamatsu, who has been behind a multitude of classic comedy anime like School Rumble, a majority of the Gintama franchise, Haven’t You Heard, I’m Sakamoto Kun, and Cute High Earth Defense Club, then you have someone with the experience to make it work. And, to my surprise, it’s a delightful show. It’s not only funny, but it also dabbles in how weird comedy trios can be with how absurd some of the humor and each individual group’s gimmicks can be. They also do take episodes to focus on one or two groups, and it makes sure to make them all stand out from one another. It is an anime that’s simply put, having fun with its premise, and that feels so rare that they know what they are doing and aren’t just bailing on the word ‘go’. Never thought I would be here saying this comedy anime about comedians is good due to the last one being dire, but this one is in fact, good! 

The Yakuza Guide to Babysitting (Crunchyroll) 

This anime is based on the manga by Tsukiya. It’s directed by Itsuro Kawasaki, written by Keiichiro Ochi, and produced by Feel and Gaina. If you like shows like Kotaro Lives Alone or Sweetness and Lightning, then this will be right up your alley about a tough yakuza right hand who has to take care of his boss’s daughter. It sounds like it could go either way with comedy and drama. What the show decides to do is go down the route of both, where it balances out comedic antics with personal character drama. There is a lot going on under the surface of this show, and it may have a hard time balancing it out in the first episode, but after that, you are met with some complex characters, solid laughs, and constant momentum with the bond between the yakuza and the kid becoming stronger as each episode passes. It also lays down the groundwork for a cast of likable and imposing side characters, and an ongoing subplot about the daughter’s mom that make for one of the best anime of the season and the year in general. 

And there we have it! This was the Summer 2022 Anime Season Impressions! Not a great season of anime, but there were definitely a couple of shows that I very much enjoyed. If I had to list the ones I recommend from this part and part 1 of the impressions, these would be the anime I would recommend checking out now if you haven’t already. 


They are Uncle From Another World, Yakuza’s Guide to Babysitting, TEPPEN, Phantom of the Idol, Parallel World Pharmacy, Call of the Night, and Lycoris Recoil. Definitely give these anime a watch if you haven’t already!

Summer Lovin, The 2022 Summer Anime Season Impressions Part 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The Summer 2022 Season has once again proven to be the year’s weakest season. Not that it didn’t have any good spots or elements to enjoy or admire, but the mediocre shows were more bountiful this season. While that might be a good thing for some viewers who like to support bad shows because they are “entertaining to ironically enjoy”, it leads to more quantity over quality situations in an already overworked industry. There doesn’t always need to be 30 shows getting released every three months, and we definitely don’t need more isekai and shows that skate the line of being porn, but are edited to be watched on broadcast TV. It’s the fact that a lot of the medium’s lowest quality schlock comes out in this season specifically that makes it frustrating. So then, let’s dive right in with these impressions!




ROMCOM

My Stepmom’s Daughter is My Ex (Crunchyroll) 

This is based on the novels and manga by Kyosuke Kamishiro, and the adaptation into animation is directed by Shinsuke Yanagi, written by Deko Akao aka Hitomi Mieno, and produced by Project No. 9. It’s going to be a bad time for any rom-com coming out after the wake of Kaguya Sama, Aharen, and Shikamori’s Not Just a Cutie, because they are going to have to carry the weight of trying to be the next big rom-com anime, and, well, you don’t do that by making a pseudo-incest anime. They try to write away that bag of yikes by saying that they were exes before their respective parents got married so they aren’t technically blood-related, but when you become brother and sister, the tone changes to creepy. It’s weird, because there are details, like how the break-up between our two leads was not exactly a happy one, and the bitterness they have for one another is a decent driving force for the comedy. Unfortunately, we all know where this type of show is going with them ending up together, and everything based around that endgame is not entertaining. Heck, they don’t even commit to the gimmick seen in the first episode. What’s even the point of bailing on your entire premise by the second episode? Oh wait, we all know why, and it’s why anime is such a tedious medium to enjoy. It’s also not animated well. It looks fine, but when you hear comedy, the characters aren’t animated to be comedic. It’s like the team was worried about them not looking “attractive”, and then the show decided to tempt fate by having fanservice moments. They aren’t common, but when they pop up, they are so out of place. It’s just an incredibly middling anime that could have some great moments, but the overarching story leaves a lot to be desired. Easily one of the worst shows of the season so far. 

Engage Kiss (Crunchyroll) 

This anime is based on a mixed media project by Square Enix, and the show is directed by Tomoya Tanaka, written by Fumiaki Maruto, and produced by A-1 Pictures. There is honestly a cool concept here with a false utopia where capitalism has resulted in multiple demon-hunting companies to bid for demon-hunting gigs with the lowest bid. There is a lot of world-building that could lead to some very impressive story beats and arcs for our main characters. There is even something there with how our lead works with his ex and his demon partner on hunting gigs. With all that said, you better love the lead, because he is by far one of the worst leads in the summer season. An absolutely lazy and hateful individual who doesn’t think he has any flaws or he gets super defensive when called out on his own flaws. The show bends like a pretzel to make two anime girls like him, and it just breaks the immersion. There is a way to make “I want to live and work the way I want to” characters work since Kintaro from Golden Boy is one of the most popular old anime characters, but it all comes down to execution, and our lead in Engage Kiss comes off like that one character from Odd Taxi who was mad he wasn’t going viral as a content creator. This is an intensely frustrating watch because there is obviously a lot of stuff in this show that is interesting and the animation looks good, but when the main lead is this obnoxious, it overshadows everything. You can have unlikeable characters and they can be flawed, but you have to still want to watch them grow or find their miserable existence entertaining. 

Call of the Night (HiDive) 

Finally, something good and not frustrating to talk about. This is based on the manga by Kotoyama. The anime adaptation was directed by Tetsuya Miyanishi (chief director) and Tomoyuki Itamura, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Liden Films. While there are some aspects of the show that can be a bit much, like the constantly subtle and not subtle talk of our leads being horny via the dynamic between a human male and a vampire, and how much a lot of that is the base of this show, it’s not just that. This low-fi atmospheric romcom also has a lot of themes and beats about feeling lost in a world with no drive and finding a connection with people. It’s a very calm and odd anime that looks great. It’s an offbeat anime that easily stands out from the mostly mediocre anime of the season. It also stands out because it’s actually good. 




OTHER




Extreme Hearts (Crunchyroll) 

Unlike a lot of anime this season, this one is actually an original project. Though I’ll be blunt, I assumed this was some kind of multi-media project with a mediocre mobile game attached to it. We will get to that part in a second. This anime is directed by Junji Nishimura, written by Masaki Tsuzuki, and produced by Seven Arcs. This show is a real mess. On one hand, there is the undeniable fire and passion for this project to make a combination of idol industry nonsense and sports nonsense, and for the first episode, there is a feeling of investment that you want to dive into with this show. Sadly, after the first episode, they fast forward through a lot of the sports side of the show to get to the idol stuff. It’s a shame because there haven’t been that many good sports anime this year with Salaryman’s Club still taking the top honor, but sure, we absolutely apparently needed more idol nonsense. It’s a bummer that anime has so much anime nonsense, and that said nonsense gets in the way of shows that could have just been fun and absurd. It’s a shame the one true sports anime that isn’t a sequel show is mediocre, but hey, if you enjoy it, that’s cool, but you won’t see me recommending it after the 3rd episode. 

Yurei Deco (Crunchyroll)

Be prepared, we have a couple of original anime this season! This one is directed by Tomohisa Shimoyama, written by Dai Sato, and produced by Science Saru. If you need a quick comparison or an easier way to describe Yurei Deco, think of it as a good version of Ready Player One that, instead of a self-indulgent piece of nostalgia-bating garbage, actually shows the horrors of a future that is always online. The way this show builds up its “persistently online while vibrant and colorful” is hiding the fact the city the characters live in is desolate, and the world they live in is authoritarian. They even find a way to tackle some pretty politically heavy topics like citizenship and the consequences of not being consistently signed up in this virtual world. The mysteries that lie underneath the flashy designs and the usual Science Saru aesthetics make this one of the best anime of the summer season, and that’s not hard since it’s so much better than 90% of the anime released this season. Not only is the summer anime season usually the weakest, but it’s also fertile ground for more experimental anime projects to show up and take the spotlight. 









ACTION/ADVENTURE

Smile of the Arsnotoria the Animation (Crunchyroll) 

This title is based on the mobile game by NextNinja. It’s directed by Naoyuki Tatsuwa, written by Midori Goto, and produced by Liden Films. Listen, if this didn’t have the confusing combination of magical tea time shenanigans and extremely dark and violent war stuff, this show would still be sort of boring. With what we have, it’s got a tonal problem when it mostly focuses on the cute stuff, and then at some point will show some intensely violent stuff that you are hoping becomes part of the forefront. You had better have some patience because it has yet to play a major role, and honestly, if you aren’t down for low-key slice-of-life stuff with a cast of cute girls, then you won’t tolerate this show at all. Kyoani and Naoko Yamada made this genre of anime look good with such ease, but it shows that you can’t just focus on one aspect and neglect the others. Once again, Liden Films has some impressive visuals, but it’s a shame this show’s rather lush visuals are for a show that’s, for the most part, boring. Also, take a shot every time the lead character has to sniff something or just says ‘sniff’. It will drive you up a wall. 

Lucifer and the Biscuit Hammer (Crunchyroll) 

If you have been watching the anime this season, then this one stands out for all of the wrong reasons. This is the anime based on Satoshi Mizukami’s manga which was a cult favorite. It’s directed by Nobuaki Nakanishi, written by Satoshi Mizukami and Yuichiro Momose, and produced by NAZ. Whatever this premise has going for it, it is all undone due to how ugly as all get out this show is. Realizing that this was made by the same studio that did My Sister My Writer, the infamous bad anime of 2018, a lot of the terrible production values seen in Lucifer make a ton of sense. Every action scene is terrible, the line art is inconsistent, the compositing, the movements, the comedy, and the poorly placed CGI. It’s hands down one of the ugliest shows not of just the season, but of the year or more. Even with the ugly art direction, the story is all over the place. It can’t seem to find a tone of what it wants to be. Due to the bad animation, the action is lackluster. It has a few story beats that give depth to the characters, but it’s not enough. This is a disappointing adaptation of a fan-favorite manga author, and who knows if there will ever be a proper adaptation of this particular manga.

Shine On! Bakumatsu Bad Boys (Crunchyroll) 

Content Warning: The one female character in this show’s backstory show attempted assault. 

Well, here we go with an original anime of the season! This show is directed and written by Tetsuo Hirakawa, with designs by Shaman King author Hiroyuki Takei, and is produced by Geno Studio. Once again, I find myself conflicted with this one. On one hand, this undercover group of samurais taking down an evil force that’s trying to disrupt the people in power of Japan is lifted by the show’s striking visuals and character designs. It’s a visually striking show that helps it stand out from a lot of this season’s mediocre tripe. On the other hand, the show’s world-building leans into some pseudo-nationalism, and many of the characters are, simply put, loud. Many of the characters yell their lines and some are, so far, painted to be fairly one note. The action is rock solid, but it seems like this is only one of the better shows so far by default. I liked it, but I am hesitant about whether I would want to personally continue or not. 

Lycoris Recoil (Crunchyroll) 

Hey look, another original anime this season! This show is directed by Shingo Adachi, written by Asaura, and produced by A1 Pictures. Yes, it’s a show about cute anime high school girls going on secret missions because they are trained assassins. Yes, they bend the world’s logic and storytelling like a pretzel to excuse some of the show’s more outlandish story beats and violence. Yes, I am absolutely sure those special rubber bullets used by one of our leads would actually cause a ton of physical damage if shot at close range by them. Yes, this anime does have a lot of anime nonsense due to how this is an original title with some multi-media parts coming into play at a later date. With all that said though, and this is pretty much because the season is so lackluster, Lycoris Recoil seems to actually know what it wants to be as a show! With every new original anime project, you get nervous about how far the pitch for this show went. Some shows, even ones based on preexisting properties, tend to sometimes never go far beyond the elevator pitch or they completely bail on their premise by the second episode. Thankfully, Recoil seems to know that it wants to be a stylish cute anime girls using guns and getting into John Wick-style situations, and that’s fun to watch when everyone making the show is on the same level. If this was released last season or even a season like Fall 2021, it probably would get overlooked, but since so many anime this season are falling flat on their faces, Lycoris Recoil, with its likable leads, polished animation, bubbly atmosphere with a hint of something darker underneath the bubbliness, and entertaining action set pieces makes for a show that is hands down one of the more entertaining shows of the season. Hopefully, it finds a way to keep balancing everything, because it would really be a disappointment if this show fell off the rails as it went on. 


So for now, if you want to know which anime of these categories so far I would recommend watching, they would be Yurei Deco, Call of the Night, and Lycoris Recoil.

Spring Has Sprung: Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Okay, we are here with the second half of the Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions! Luckily, with this second batch, the worst shows are more limited than in the previous part, and that shows how good this season is! Now, I’m wondering if time is a flat circle due to my worries about how the upcoming Summer Season is gonna be like Summer 2020 and 2021, where they fell flat compared to their previous spring seasons. Oh well, let’s finish up the Spring 2022 season! 

Other

Tomodachi Game (Crunchyroll)

CW: Reference to molestation, stalking, murder, and harassment

Well, you had to know that we were going to get another survival anime after Squid Game hit it big, no matter what, huh? This anime is based on the manga by Mikoto Yamaguchi and Yuki Sato. The anime adaptation is directed by Hirofumi Ogura, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Okuruto Noboru. It has a pretty decent base for a survival game anime with a group of close friends that wind up in a survival game due to supposedly one of them losing the money for a school field trip. All of the potential for twists and turns are there, and yet, it fumbles the execution within the first episode. The mascot character, Manabu-Kun is by far the creepiest and best thing about this show and that is not enough to save it from all of the misogyny and sexism on display. This show truly hates the female characters in the story. Even if that wasn’t the case, the thrills aren’t there, the dialogue is badly written, and the animation overall looks cheap. Manabu is the best animated among the bunch, but even he isn’t safe from the inconsistent switch between CGI and 2D. It even reveals twists too early, and it makes me wonder how much faith the production committee had in this show when it seems like they are trying to do so much, but also drag out the show to a snail’s pace. This might be one of the worst shows this season and one of the worst shows of the year. It’s at the very least, a candidate for it. 

Heroines Run the Show (Crunchyroll)

This show is based on a song by HoneyWorks, a Vocaloid group. The anime is directed by Noriko Hashimoto in her series directing debut, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Lay-duce. This show is a lot. You not only have a young hopeful who wants to run professionally, but she also gets a job as a temporary manager for a duo of male teen idols who also happen to be her classmates. It’s a juggling act of ambitions, keeping her job a secret, dealing with the shifting personas of the two idols, and at least befriending the intensely snooty duo. The story doesn’t quite start gelling until episode five, and that means you will have to sit through two of the most obnoxious characters this season. It’s intentional, sure, but until they start dropping hints of more complicated personality traits for the audiences, the characters can all be a bit much. Still, you get the three leads’ drive, their anxiety, and the stress of having to do so much all at once. It’s not perfectly told, but if this is your kind of campy shojo fun, then you will be down for it. Just be ready to commit to waiting to see the more nuanced sides to the leads past the usual three-episode rule. 

Estab-Life: Great Escape (Crunchyroll) 

This odd little show is a mixed-media project by Goro Taniguchi. The anime adaptation is directed by Hiroyuki Hashimoto, written by Shoji Gatoh, and produced by Polygon Pictures. Let’s face facts, this show’s world is bonkers. It’s not well explained, it combines way too many things like it was some kind of checklist from a corporate-ran test audience of what they want to see in their anime. With all that said, it’s fun to watch. Like, it has substance behind its absurdity, and while some of the plots can be a touch on the ridiculous side of execution, it’s an amusing watch to see what are essentially three anime girls helping people leave their oppressed lives in one city and then get escorted to another. It at least kept me invested, despite the fact I don’t care about the characters. It’s a fun popcorny-series and that’s more than most anime released every season. 

Healer Girls (Crunchyroll)

This is surprisingly a season full of original anime! Healer Girls, well, like I said, is an original anime by director Yasuhiro Irie, written by Noboru Kimura, and produced by 3Hz. If there was one word to describe this show, it would be charming. First off, this show has some of the bounciest and most expressive animation of any of the shows this season, the characters are adorable dorks, and it is probably the first-ever musical I have covered doing these seasonal anime drops. It’s also one of many anime this season that’s all about characters getting together to metaphorically and literally heal each other. It has such a fantastical premise, but it finds a way to weave it into the more human stories. Even the rival characters are likable, and it’s an overall likable experience. There is definitely one character who is a little too obsessed with his mentor, but that’s a small complaint compared to what this show has going for it, which is loveable individuals you want to root for, gorgeous animation, and it being a musical, outstanding musical numbers. It might sound like an odd duck of a show, but it’s one you truly shouldn’t be missing out on before the Summer 2022 season starts. 

Deaimon (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the manga by Rin Asano. The adaptation is directed by Fumitoshi Oizaki, written by Reiko Yoshida, and produced by Encourage Films. Once again, a recurring theme in a lot of the best shows this season is characters helping heal or care for one another, and that’s no different here with our lead returning to his home city to help out his parent’s sweets shop, and also happens to encounter an orphan girl whose father abandoned her at the shop. The overall arc is our lead and the characters around him, making a family of lost souls who could use someone in their life to feel whole and supported. It’s a very old-school slice of life anime that is, forgive me for the pun, sweet. The show does a fantastic job at making these characters feel human with their pros, cons, and everything in between. It does have a few comedic antics here and there, but the main focus is for everyone to feel like a family at the sweet shop. Also, the sweets look amazing, and while the overall show has this fantastic soft-painted look to the visuals, the animation is lively. It’s a lovely anime that shows how a found family can come together and be there for one another. 

Dance Dance Danseur (Crunchyroll)

CW: References to abuse

Well, we got yet another stunning visual treat from MAPPA. This is based on the manga by George Asakura. The adaptation is directed by Munehisa Sakai, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by MAPPA. What’s so fascinating about this show? Well, one of many fascinating things about this show is how it tackles a multitude of topics, but mostly how toxic masculinity leads to miserable lives. Our main character for a majority of the first three episodes is extremely unlikeable, but is obviously at his happiest when he does ballet. The way the show tackles his journey will definitely be a test of patience for viewers who aren’t ready for this show to get very personal and uncomfortable with our lead’s attitude and his facade. Luckily, through smart storytelling, writing, and as usual for MAPPA, gorgeous animation, the show does redeem him and his attitude. Seriously, the animators who have made these shows at the studio are top-notch individuals. They capture the beauty of the art form and of the manga’s distinct character designs. It’s a show that, while maybe taking a bit much to get our lead’s antics out of the way by episode three, is one of the more complex shows that is not hesitant to go to some complex human moments, while also having some ethereal moments that display why this show is a stand-out of the season. Seriously, the opening ballet sequence in the first episode might be one of the best moments of any show this season full of amazing moments. If you like a distinct drama that revolves around sports with a commitment to breaking down the psyche of the characters, then give this one a watch.

Romance 

Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the novels and manga by Yomu Mishima. The adaptation is directed by Kazuya Miura and Shin’ichi Fukumoto, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by ENGI. This show has some potential with being trapped in not only a dating sim video game, but a completely busted one, and while the lead just wants to get enough going for himself to live a peaceful “nobody” life, he is constantly forced to partake in the game’s plot and world. It tries to have commentary of some kind on how the world’s biggest issues are misandry and the class system, but it never feels like it’s hitting on all cylinders. The animation is cheap-looking, which doesn’t help its case and the characters, whether intentional or not, all pretty much are either nothing or are unlikable as heck. It even pulls some absurd twists, which is saying something about this season of anime. Overall, it’s just a fairly misogynistic and busted show that I wish spent less time watching than other shows this season. I wish I was on the same wavelength as people who liked it, but alas, I am not. 








A Couple of Cuckoos (Crunchyroll)

This rom-com is based on the popular manga by Miki Yoshikawa. The adaptation is directed by Hiroaki Akagi and Yoshiyuki Shirahata, written by Yasuhiro Nakanishi, and produced by Shin-Ei Animation and SynergySP. It’s a good reminder that just because a film, show, game, or manga is popular, it doesn’t mean it will hit everyone the same way. This is how I feel about this anime. It’s a show that’s trying to be funny but doesn’t have the comedic animation to do so. The characters, while trying to add depth to the situation of being separated at birth by their respective parents and the psychology that comes with such a situation, don’t do enough to make me root for them. The animation has this uncanny valley aspect to how the characters move and the eyes on the main female characters. Still, the story takes some huge stretches with having you believe that all of this can or could happen without any real-world implications or lawsuits about how two babies at a hospital went to the wrong parents. It has its moments where they let the characters breathe and discuss stuff with one another, but when I want to see the parents who run the restaurant in the show more than the leads, that’s a problem. It also dips into some cringe harem comedy tropes with the not-blood-related sister to our male lead in love with him, which is still creepy and incest, y’all. You can’t spin this trope into something tolerable or relatable. Also, for a show that’s trying to be bubbly, the colors are drab. It doesn’t look good on a visual level despite the animation and visuals wanting to be on the level of a Shinkai or I Want To Eat Your Pancreas. Overall, it’s a show I’m not enjoying, and I have no use for actually going back to it. 








Love After World Domination (Crunchyroll)

This is the second Power Rangers parody anime this year. I bet they unofficially share the same universe. Anyway, this is based on the manga by Hiroshi Noda. It’s directed by Kazuya Iwata, written by Satoru Sugizawa, and produced by Project No. 9. This is a very interesting companion piece to Miss Kuroitsu of the Monster Development Department. On one hand, Kuroitsu focuses more on the commentary about the workplace system that just happens to be about working on monsters to fight the heroes. Love After World Domination on the other hand is more intent on being all about the gags and comedy around the premise of there being a romance between what is essentially the red power ranger and the female antagonist of the show. It might dip into the fanservice bits a bit to the eye-rolling side of the scale, but those moments aren’t often and the humor is more about putting these characters into different scenarios about trying to build up their relationship, what kind of dates could they go on, and how to avoid their allies from finding out. It’s still a lot of fun and the laughs are consistent enough to come highly recommended. 






Shikamori’s Not Just a Cutie (Crunchyroll)

This delightful show is based on the manga by Keigo Maki. The animated adaptation is directed by Ryota Itoh, written by Yoshimi Narita, and produced by Doga Kobo. Listen, it is about a super adorable duo of a young man who has the worst luck in the world but has an impossibly adorable cute girlfriend, but the best romantic comedies have something under the sweetness. You can only go so far before the sweetness and cute stuff starts to feel more artificial and made by a marketing team. We already have a few of those this season and this is one of the shows that handle it the best. The show does focus more on the antics for the first two episodes, but by that point, they start to throw in some small details that start to bubble up by the third episode about how the two leads want to come off to one another. One’s clumsiness and bad luck is just part of the deal with getting an honest-to-goodness kind individual. Shikamori wants to be cute for her boyfriend, but is also a rather tough individual and they start to explore those parts of the characters that, on top of the cute shenanigans, show some depth and make for some of the best couples in anime this year. It’s a wholesome show with some lovely animation and adorable characters. 




Sports

Love All Play (Crunchyroll)

Do not confuse this with the Korean sports drama of the same name. This is based on the novels by Asami Koseki. The anime adaptation is directed by Hiroshi Takeuchi, written by Tomoko Tonparu, and produced by Nippon Animation and Oriental Light and Magic. It’s a bummer this show came out a season after Salaryman’s Club because it’s going to get compared to that hidden gem from Winter 2022 a lot. What makes this one different from the previous badminton anime is how grounded it is. Granted, that grounded take on the sports genre does still come with its sports anime archetypes in terms of characters, but it is nice to see them want to focus on the characters and not just some kind of merchandise tie-in. The animation looks solid, the drama feels realistic, and it does show how challenging even the most harmless-looking sport can be. I do wish it had some kind of flair to it like Salaryman’s Club had, but for a sports anime, it’s solid! It might not have too much flash or anything truly unique about it outside of some underlying boy love undertones, but at least it’s better than most of the sports anime we got last year. 

Aoashi (Crunchyroll)

This will be the second of four soccer anime we are getting this year. It’s funny that we have at least one for every season. So, this show is based on the manga by Yugo Kobayashi. It’s directed by Akira Sato, written by Masahiro Yokotani, and produced by Production I.G. We have our second sports anime that definitely takes a grounded approach. It’s not super flashy or intensely action-packed as other sports anime, but it definitely falls more into the camp of building the drama around the characters than making flashy and thrilling sports. I mean, that doesn’t sound so out of place, but when you start to watch so much anime, you tend to pick up on what the show is more interested in checking out or focusing on than what you, as a viewer, were expecting. It does maybe focus a bit much on the technical angle of things, but there is something interesting seeing all of these very talented players know how talented they are, and now have to work as a team and essentially relearn everything to make for a perfect fighting force. 



Birdie Wing: Golf Girl’s Story (Crunchyroll)

Yet another gem in a lineup already full of gems. This is an original anime directed by Takayuki Inagaki, written by Yosuke Kuroda, and produced unsubtly by Namco Bandai Pictures. It definitely feels distinct that we have a golf anime this season when, in general, we really don’t get much anime about golf. It definitely talks about the ins and outs of the mentality and tactics of golf, but let’s not kid ourselves here. When you see the designs of the characters and the first episode, the golfing is about on par with Mario Golf. It’s absurd how good some of the shots are taken care of, and the characters are all filled to the brim with flair. It’s also not shy about having some very upfront gay subtext with some of the characters, and while there are some that exude more of that subtext as context, the characters themselves are very likable. It’s nice to see a rival character who isn’t constantly looking down on the lead, and while the lead herself is maybe your familiar shonen action lead, she’s great as well. It might not be a super realistic take on golf, but when so many anime fall flat or don’t have much to offer outside of some cheap fixes, until you find better stuff, Birdie Wing: Golf Girl’s Story stands out from among the rest like a very loud peacock. 



Fanfare of Adolescence (Crunchyroll)

It’s nice to see that there are still some fantastic surprises out this season among the original anime. This show is directed by Makoto Kato, written by Team Fanfare, and produced by Lay-duce. This is, like Ya Boy Kongming, one of those premises for a show that sounds goofy. An ex-idol quits his band and decides to become a horse jockey? How on earth do you make that work? Well, like Dance Dance Dansuer, the show, while it does focus on the training that goes into being a horse jockey, also dives into our lead’s drama of quitting the idol industry and how all of that baggage has weighed him down until it starts to break off him metaphorically after he encounters the other jockeys. It’s also another anime this season with some serious LGBTQ+ subtext with certain characters, and many may try to deny that, but you see that one scene in the first episode, and it’s hard to deny it. It does a good job of building the characters up with their own distinct personalities and drives to become a horse jockey. It’s also one of the more visually stunning shows of the season that takes a lot of advantage of the medium to give some of the most stand-out moments and images of the season. It’s a fantastic show and y’all should be supporting original anime instead of more boring isekais. 

Spring Has Sprung: The Spring 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keep the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)


The spring 2022 season of anime has definitely been a wild ride. It was a fairly vast improvement to the more slow-paced and uneven Winter 2022 season, and that’s because the scale of quality has gone up. Sure, there are still too many anime out there, but this might be one of the strongest seasons of anime ever. Well, strongest in terms of the good anime anyway. Even the ones some can consider bad still have something worth talking about, even if what is being talked about isn’t in the show’s favor. As usual, I am just listing my impression of these shows off of the first 3-5 episodes of the new releases. No sequel seasons or spin-offs. I’m also not covering short-form anime either. Let’s dive in!


Action/Adventure

The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody (Crunchyroll)

This anime is based on the novels and manga by Miyojin Kato.  The adaptation was directed by Mirai Minato, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Silver Link and Blade. It’s another isekai power fantasy with some sign of a hook that could be interesting, but I’m at a point now where if they don’t start honing in on the hook more, then I lose interest fast. This is just another power fantasy story that has our over-powered lead being reborn as a simple villager who ends up keeping all of these super amazing magic spells and power, while also gaining a harem of anime girls who don’t do much or add much to the story. There are some moments where the show does seem to want to play up the “nobody” angle of the show, and yet it seems to really want to fall back on the power fantasy harem nonsense. It has some potentially good story hooks as well, with how the lead encounters individuals who he knew from his past life and his connections with certain characters. Too bad it’s mostly meh-looking as a show, and the fights have no stakes to them due to how our lead is just better than everyone. It has some other world-building angles it might dive into, but since I have seen anime that do these topics and elements better, this show offers very little to stand out or to really recommend. 



Skeleton Knight in Another World (Crunchyroll)

CW: Sexual Violence 

This baffling show is based on the novels and manga by Ennki Haraki. The show is directed by Katsumi Ono, written by Takeshi Kikuchi, and produced by Studio Kai and Hornets. This might be the most or, at the very least, one of the most confusing projects I have seen. On one hand, you have a show that markets itself as a goofy and absolutely silly time. It has a lot of really good hooks in terms of its comedy because our lead is a large skeleton and it has some really solid laughs. On the other hand, the show has a lot of moments that don’t balance well with the show’s goofy tone. This includes the infamous first episode that opens with sexual assault and violence that’s meant to be horrifying, but is also animated in a titillating way. Yeah, if you are going to have stuff like this, then you can’t be this goofy show when around every corner of the show, there is more of what the first episode includes. It also doesn’t make our lead likable for a chunk of the first episode, which is a shame, because he’s more entertaining as a lead than most isekai leads. It can’t seem to balance out what kind of show it wants to be, and it’s a shame, because it’s otherwise an above-average isekai that has a more comedy-driven angle, and it’s more entertaining than most isekai released. If you want to get into this show, I would recommend skipping the first episode since they make you watch the sexual assault scene twice in the episode. 

I’m Quitting Heroing! (HiDive)

This category can’t catch a break huh? This show is adapted from the light novels/manga by Quantum. It’s directed by Yuu Nobuta and Hisashi Ishii, written by Shigeru Murakoshi, and produced by EMT Square. While there was definitely some worry, due to the studio making it and the types of shows they like to work on or get assigned with, it’s definitely one of their better efforts. Granted, it doesn’t make a great first impression with comedy that doesn’t quite hit the mark when it should, and how the show leans more into the drama and story when it seems like it was partly billed as a comedy, but it has decent character development. The lead does try to help out the evil demon lord’s generals and army, and when it’s just the lead and one of the generals, it’s good enough. Sadly, the cheap look of the visuals, a real lack of jokes that work, and a twist that is decently set up results in it falling with a thud. It feels like it should have either focused more on the comedy angle or not pull a wonky twist with the setting of the anime. It’s definitely the weakest of the shows that HiDive is distributing this season, but at least it doesn’t open with sexual violence as a core element of the series like Skeleton Knight does. 

The Dawn of the Witch

This show didn’t do an excellent job at marketing itself as a sequel, so I accidentally decided to give my impressions of the show. This is a follow-up to the Grimoire of Zero series. It’s based on the light novels and manga by Kakeru Kobashiri. The anime adaptation is directed and written by Satoshi Kuwabara, and produced by Tezuka Pictures. What’s really fascinating about this anime is how it really works on its own as a stand-alone series. It’s also a show with a really well-thought-out world with a lot of meat to its bones lore building about how witches function in society and the discrimination factors they deal with alongside other species in this world. This show really wanted to commit to its story and world-building and that’s really neat. They didn’t just leave it at “oh, this is just another fantasy setting, so who cares.” They made sure you felt invested with the world, the story, and the leads that we follow. , also has some of this season’s most vibrant colors and visuals. It’s a real shame though that the female characters get the short end of the design stick because they are all way too sexualized. They even try play it off with one character being 1000s of years old but looks 12. It’s frustrating. Otherwise, it’s a real rock solid anime and apparently, it does have some real connections to the previous show, but if you are looking for an interesting fantasy series, then do check this show out if you haven’t already. 

The Executioner and Her Way of Life (HiDive)

This fantastic take on the isekai genre is based on the novels and manga by Mato Sato. The anime adaptation is directed by Yoshiki Kawasaki, written by Shogo Yasukawa, and produced by J.C. Staff. With how flooded the anime scene is with these mostly mediocre isekai shows, you really need to work hard to either stand out or execute your power fantasy experience, or else you will be forgotten. Thankfully, the team adapting this novel knew they had something special, due to how it basically flips the isekai genre on its head with the twist that happens in the first episode. Seeing who you think would be the lead character in yet another dull power fantasy show get suddenly switched to the co-lead is some of the best subversion of expectations I have seen in anime in a long time. It also has an extremely fleshed-out magic system, a fascinating world with equally interesting lore, exciting action, and some really good story hooks to keep you invested in the story. It’s a show that goes above and beyond what most mediocre power fantasy isekai isn’t willing to do. Now we all just hope it sticks the landing. 







Spy X Family (Crunchyroll)

I mean, we all knew this was going to be one of the best shows of the season, right? This is based on the manga by Tatsuya Endo. It’s directed and written by Kazuhiro Furuhashi and is a co-collaboration between CloverWorks and Wit Studios. This is just a fantastic show. Its premise is a spy having to put together a fake family that slowly turns into a real one. It includes an adorable girl with psychic powers and a woman who’s secretly an assassin, both rife with action and comedy potential. With no surprise, the premise is executed well, with an immensely satisfying comedy between the fact the spy needs to keep everything in order with two different individuals with completely different mindsets, and their awkwardness and human aspects popping out and causing chaos and wrinkles in the situation. It truly shows how well written these characters are. Even by the third episode, they already feel like a real family. On top of the fantastic writing and comedy, Wit Studios and CloverWorks making an action-oriented show means you will be getting some of the best action animation out there. The entire show looks amazing as well, with great visuals, designs, and some truly amazing comedic expressions from the characters. On top of a very entertaining and thrilling story, Spy X Family is the obvious fan favorite show of the season, and for once, it actually earns its hype with everything listed above. 

Comedy

Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost (Crunchyroll) 

This troubling show is based on the manga by Imari Arita. It’s directed by Ku Nabara, written by Hitomi Mieno aka Deko Akao, and produced by Project No. 9. This is trying to be one of those anime series about not overworking yourself, and taking care of yourself like The Helpful Fox Senko-San, but you know what that show has that’s not in this show? Substance. I mean, that’s not the only problem. The original translated title had a ton of red flags attached to it, but the overall execution of the premise is more artificial and creepy. There is nothing wrong with the moral of a show being “Hey, don’t commit your entire life to work” or “don’t work yourself to death” which is a very common bit of social commentary you see in many anime that are criticizing the work industry in Japan. The problem is that the cuteness comes off as manipulative, and the fact they are called baby ghosts is really creepy. It rarely comes off as endearing or actually cute. It’s also boring to watch. It’s not funny enough to keep your attention, the characters aren’t interesting, and it seems like it really wants to make you think these ghosts are the cutest things of all time. At best, it’s boring and forgettable with maybe a wholesome scene here and there that lands. At worst, it’s creepy, boring, drawn-out, and it’s a show that has been done before and better. 









In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki (Crunchyroll)

CW: the show sexualizes underaged characters. 

This anime is based on the manga by Teasing Master Tagaki-San creator Soichiro Yamamoto. It’s directed by Takudai Kakuchi, written by Konomi Shugo, and produced by CloverWorks. You would think by the first episode, this is going to be a coming-of-age comedy about that pre-teen period of time when girls start discovering their attraction to boys or what have you, and how there is this case of “you should never encounter men” vibe from the leader of this all-female ninja village. Sadly, that’s never actually the case, it’s just a boring and vastly unfunny slice-of-life anime with an emphasis on comedy that just happens to have ninjas in it. On top of the jokes not landing and the characters not being all that memorable, the designs do not work here. They look like loosely dressed pre-teens, and it’s rather uncomfortable how revealingly dressed they are. You would think they would have some kind of mystery as to why they are an all-female ninja village or why men are so “forbidden”, but by episode 4, I just have had it with this series. Maybe if the designs weren’t so creepy and the jokes were better, I and most people would care enough to stick around, but it’s not good enough to last through the rougher aspects of the show. It’s well animated, but it’s not on the level of CloverWorks’ other shows from this year like My Dress Up Darling, Akebi’s Sailor Uniform, or their Wit Studios collaboration work on Spy X Family. This will definitely be another example of why people can’t get into anime despite the barrier not being all that bad. It’s a shame. Maybe CloverWorks next show will be better. 

RPG Real Estate (Crunchyroll)

CW: the show sexualizes underaged characters. 

What is with Spring anime seasons and having fantastical house hunting shows? Anyway, this show is based on the four-panel manga by Chiyo Kenmotsu. It’s directed by Tomoaki Koshida, written by Yoshiko Nakamura, and produced by Doga Kobo. On one hand, there are some very sweet and solid moments of character building with our leads learning to think of the customers when helping them find a home that’s right for them and not what the leads think will be good for them. What doesn’t quite work is this show’s consistent focus on wanting the audience to think the leads are the cutest characters in the world, and the fact one of the characters who is more childlike than the others doesn’t want to wear clothes. It’s a recurring gag throughout the entire show, and it’s creepy, and never funny. The designs themselves are also a problem with how child-like they look, but three of the four leads are written and act like adults. It feels like it’s at times more interested in fanservice and cuteness over what the show does right with its commentary about housing. It’s well animated enough, and at some points too well animated for fanservicey reasons, but it’s cute and it’s at the very least an interesting topic. It’s just not good enough to be on par or better than Dragon Goes House Hunting

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer (Crunchyroll)

This quirky offbeat comedy is based on the manga by Tannen ni Hakko. It’s directed by Nobuaki Nakanishi, written by Fumihiko Shimo, and produced by Jumondou. The entire gimmick of an up-and-coming heroic adventure teaming up with a healer sounds like a basic fantasy show motif, but when you realize how awful the healer is, that’s when the comedy starts to come out. The comedic focus on the healer being extremely blunt and not able to read the room is consistently funny, and the heroic character not being able to catch a break and deal with her sass is hilarious. Even the monsters they encounter aren’t evil or threatening. They are just sort of nice and relatable. It’s a cute show, but when you have the writer of anime including Dai Guard, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, Bofuri, Hamataro, and many others, you are bound to have a fun and cute time with our fantasy heroes. As I go through the rest of the show, I do hope there is more to the overall experience than the two leads not connecting and being an effective party, because if you don’t click with this show’s comedy, then you will probably not want to go past the first or second episode. Still, if you want a real rock solid comedy this season that isn’t Ya Boy Kongming or Aharen is Indecipherable, then you should definitely give Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer a shot! 

Ya Boy Kongming! (HiDive)

Consider this one of the biggest surprises of the season as well as one of the best shows of the season and possibly of the year. This unique anime is based on the manga by Yuto Yotsuba. The adaptation is directed by Shu Honma, written by Yoko Yonayama, and produced by P.A. Works. This show explains why I love anime. The absurd premise of a Chinese Three Kingdoms tactician dying and being sent to modern-day Japan sounds like the dumbest thing to make a show about. Then you watch it, and what unfolds is a delightful buddy comedy about how this tactician of history helps out a struggling singer come back with his tactics. It leads to some immensely deep and complex journeys of self-discovery, life, regret, and growth for our two leads, with some incredible jokes, some groovy tunes, and one of the most delightful opening sequences of any anime this season. The premise might sound goofy, but it’s one of the best shows of the season and is an early front-runner for the best new show of 2022. 

Aharen is Indechipherable (Crunchyroll)


This charming-as-all-get-out anime series is based on the manga by Asato Mizu. The adaptation is directed by Yasutaka Yamamoto and Tomoe Makino, written by Takao Yoshioka, and produced by Felix FIlm. So, with these types of stories about two characters who may seem polar opposite to one another becoming friends or more, but with the female lead being the more outgoing of the two, this time, the roles are pretty much reversed. What really makes this show and experience work is that it’s adorable. The two are pretty much on the same level of wanting to be social and make friends but have something going against them. The way the two bond and find ways to communicate with one another is full of extremely consistent laughs and super heartfelt moments. There hasn’t been an episode so far where I didn’t laugh, and that’s so hard to do for anime comedies. The side characters are also a nice addition on the same level of quality as Komi Can’t Communicate. It also has some of the most laid-back music from composer Satoru Kosaki and MONACA that gives off some heavy Animal Crossing vibes. On top of some great comedic animation and an overall wholesome atmosphere, this is easily the best comedy of the season, and probably the best comedy of the year so far.

Winter 2022 Anime Season Impressions Finale

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Well, with this second part now completed, I can safely say that overall, the Winter 2021 season was a real hit-and-miss experience. You would find some fantastic shows, but then you would run into shows that feel like they came out from the hugely mediocre Summer 2021 season. Still, when the good anime show their heads, they do elevate a rather ho-hum season. Still, if half of these anime came out later, and actually had time to be good, then maybe I would be singing a different tune. The anime industry needs to slow down and make sure they are paying and taking care of their animators instead of burning them out and losing more, due to said burnout and overwork. As usual, there needs to be a new deal for animation, not just in Japan and the US, but all over the world. Now then, let’s get started. 


Sports 

Futsal Boys (Funimation)

This anime is part of yet another dreaded mixed media project. It’s directed by Yukina Hiiro, written by Shoji Yonemura, and produced by Diomedea. Am I really going to have to go through another year where most of the sports anime series that were released were awful, with very few of them being good and even fewer being great? Seriously, even with all of the anime industry nonsense going on, we shouldn’t have to wait for another Bakuten level success. While it looks leagues better than Farewell My Dear Kramer, Futsal Boys still suffers from an incredibly bland and boring story that you have seen in so many male-focused sports anime. You have seen these characters before, you know what their arcs are going to be, and the fact that it doesn’t look good on a whole, is resulting in a rather flawed package. It feels like any time I have seen a soccer-related anime, it turns out to not be all that good, and we are getting a total of three or so for now soccer-related anime. Maybe this show will get better, but due to how unimpressed most people are with it, I doubt it will have more time to shine. Plus, too much anime is coming out already, and I personally can’t commit to watching every show I find to be mediocre. 

Tribe Nine (Funimation)

Another original anime by the Danganronpa people? This should have been a real knockout! It’s directed by Yu Aoki, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Liden Films. This is pretty much a sports show if it was conceptualized by a child, and that’s both its greatest strength and weakness. It’s a baseball anime where baseball was taken to the extreme via the 90s, and with how unhinged and absurd it can be, when it all hits, the show is a lot of fun to watch, as we see our group of distinctly designed heroes play baseball. Seeing how it’s by the same individuals who make the Danganronpa series, the characters all have very unique looks to them and they have their own personalities as well. The villain, who is voiced by famed content creator Corpse Husband, also does a fantastic job alongside the rest of the English dub cast to bring this world to life. However, during my time watching the show, it felt like it was missing that edge that was in the team’s previous efforts with Akudama Drive from 2020, and the animation quality is underselling the over-the-top nature of this show’s sport. Maybe they should have been given more time to flesh out how to keep the sports parts more exhilarating, or maybe a Studio Trigger simply could have done better, or maybe they should have gotten the team behind SK8 The Infinity to make this show’s action punch a bit harder. Still, it’s a solid sports show with a decent cast and a great dub. Hopefully, it gets better as time goes on. 

Salaryman’s Club (Crunchyroll/VRV)

It really feels like we are back in the Spring 2021 anime season with these sports anime, because this one is the only really good one out of the batch. This is an original anime directed by Aimi Yamauchi, written by Yamauchi and Teruko Usumi, and produced by Liden Films. Well, if you had to look at the two sports anime this season that were made by Liden Films and where the resources went, it’s quite obvious this is where they went. This combination of a group of young men who work at a soda company while also representing the company’s badminton team sounds so odd, but it turns out to be the most compelling sports anime story of the season and one of the most compelling anime of the season. The main character, while acting a touch standoffish at first, quickly becomes a likable individual who has a troubled past with the sport, but opens up more once he joins the company, resulting in a super likable cast of characters. You may have seen characters like these in sports anime before, but it’s always going to come down to the execution, and when the story hits, it hits hard. It’s also one of the loveliest-looking anime of the season if the sports sequences and the lush opening aren’t already a sign of the overall quality of animation. It’s got charm for days. If you like shows like last year’s Bakuten!! (aka Backflip!!) or Free! Dive, then you will love this anime, and in a season that’s mostly sequels and some fairly mediocre titles, it’s a good idea to support the original anime that come out and hit it out of the park like Salaryman’s Club does. 








Action/adventure

Rusted Armors (Crunchyroll/VRV)

CW: transphobic and homophobic moments. 

So, we have yet another multi-media project that includes 2.5D stage plays, and manga by both Hagi and Kairi Shimotsuki doing the two different manga art individually. The anime is directed by Shinmei Kawahara, written by Ohine Ezaki, and produced by Kigumi. Listen, while its CGI is overall extremely lackluster with models that looked like they were ripped from a PlayStation 2 era cel-shaded anime placed on 2D backdrops, it is still only slightly better than Ex-Arm. The fact that the new trend of shows getting made is hiring studios that never worked in anime before and or never worked in CGI animation before is not a good sign for things to come. The characters look like they came out of the more recent Fire Emblem games, but with none of the charm or any actual character development. The first two episodes even have some major transphobic and homophobic aspects. The overall show feels like it was an 80s cartoon made to advertise some toy line that never happened with how macho and “super cool” it’s trying to be. It’s kind of sad how hard the show is trying by the 4th episode to be this serious action drama, but its tone clashes with how bad the CGI is and how lackluster the action is. It might not be as badly inept as Ex-Arm, but this show didn’t need to exist if the team wasn’t given the right time and budget to make it work. This might be the worst anime of the year so far. 

Requiem of the Rose King (Funimation)

CW: a lot of attempted rape. 

So, this anime is based on the manga by Aya Kanno. The anime adaptation is directed by Kentaro Suzuki, written by Hiroki Uchida, and produced by JC Staff. Whether you know about the original source material or not, this show does a bad job of helping you feel invested with this show’s drama and story. It goes at a breakneck pace introducing too many characters that are major players within this show’s story. It also has a lot of drama revolving around our main character being intersexual, and it’s not well handled at all. There is also just a lot of attempted rape. On top of all of this, the animation is not great. It almost leans on not being animated at all, or just doing the bare minimum. Funny enough, with it being a JC Staff-produced show, they almost animate this as they did with Way of the Househusband. The dub cast is trying so hard to make this all work and to make it all compelling, but it’s not enough to help elevate this adaptation. I heard the manga is great, but we are here to talk about the anime, and the anime is easily one of the worst this season and is an early contender alongside Rusted Armors as the worst. 

Orient (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This action show is based on the manga by Shinobu Ohtaka. It’s directed by Tetsuya Yanagisawa, written by Mariko Kunisawa, and produced by A.C.G.T. Honestly, this would be a decently pulpy action show that you would have seen on Toonami in the early days of that program’s run. It’s basically teens fighting demons in a world where demons took over and have basically enslaved humans to become edible slaves. It has a real poppy opening as well that might be the show’s best feature. It also has a female lead who is by far the most interesting character out of the main trio. Too bad it takes until episode 4 for her to arrive, and the show looks like utter garbage. Seriously, this might be one of the flimsiest anime I have ever seen with its real lack of polish across the board. It has wonky designs for background characters, the action isn’t all that stellar, and the whole fantasy world that just happens to have magical motorcycles feels half-baked. I like the idea of what the demons have done to this world, and as the show goes on, it shows the cold nature of humans as well, but it’s a very uneven if somewhat decent series. I can’t personally see myself coming back to this odd and clunky series, but it’s not the worst. 

Girl’s Frontline (Funimation)

Well, this anime is based on the popular mobile game by MICA Team. The anime adaptation is directed by Shigeru Ueda, written by Hideyuki Kurata, and produced by Asahi Productions. A show about a bunch of cute anime girls dressed up like figurines and statues with guns is not as serious as it should be. Everyone is wearing cute anime outfits or sexy attire, and yet this is played dead seriously. It’s also not well animated, so the gunfights aren’t all that thrilling to watch, and due to the nature of the expendability of the dolls, unless they are a specific group shown off, they are hard to care about. Even the opening has better animation than anything in the actual show. It’s almost funny how seriously this show wants to be taken, but unless you really love the game, then you won’t find much to really enjoy here when you can go and watch Princess Connect: ReDive! and have a much better time with fun action, comedy, and character dynamics. 

Love of Kill (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This action/thriller/romance anime is based on the manga by Fe. It’s directed by Hideaki Oba, written by Ayumu Hisao, and produced by Platinum Vision, the same studio that animated Dr. Ramune: Mysterious Disease Specialist. While this show’s production values and tone are uneven, and I think that is because the show is trying to shove in little bits of comedy to break up everything else, this show is very interesting. The real hook and pull of this show is the dynamic between the hitman and the detective as the show slowly, maybe a bit too slowly, unravels why this hitman is connected to this detective. It slowly unravels throughout the first few episodes, and it was able to keep my interest in what was going on between the two. At points, the show doesn’t balance out its tone well, and this really needed more time or more people to polish out the visuals, but I was shocked with how invested I was with this show’s story. 

Tokyo 24 Ward (Crunchyroll/VRV/Funimation)

Well, here we are with the third of the three shows CloverWorks made this season. It’s an original anime directed by Naokatsu Tsuda and written by Vio Shimokura. Out of the three shows CloverWorks put out this season, this one has the biggest uphill battle to get through. It was the last to come out, it had some apparent production issues, and it might become the next victim of CloverWorks production woes as it’s an original show, and who knows how it will hit the landing. Hopefully, this sci-fi action show that is basically Minority Report, but with an anime coat of paint makes its landing, because it’s a really cool show. It has a great world, a fantastic hook, and the third episode ends on a real rock-solid note that definitely made me want to keep watching, since there are now six or so episodes out. I love CloverWorks, but this is the show I’m the most worried about this season not ending well. Hopefully our colorful cast of likable leads, intense trolley problem set pieces, solid CloverWorks level animation, and a rather engaging story keep up throughout the show’s run. 

Sabikui Bisco (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Shinji Cobkubo. The anime in question is directed by Atsushi Itagaki, written by Sadayuki Murai, and produced by OZ. When you think of light novels, what comes to mind? Mostly mediocre isekai power fantasies? Well, if your viewpoint on them was as narrow as mine, then Sabikui Bisco is a real fresh change of pace alongside other shows like Faraway Paladin. This anime feels like it came out of the mid-to-late 90s during the time of shows like Cowboy Bebop, Outlaw Star, and Trigun. A futuristic world with a distinct infection known as Rust and a mystery revolving around mushrooms. It feels old- school and part of a time period where so many manga authors wanted to have their take on either Blade Runner, Alien, or Mad Max, but this time, without the more troubling aspects of the late 80s early 90s era of the OVA boom. On top of some stellar action and worldbuilding, our characters are fascinating and instantly hook you with their distinct personalities. It’s a world that feels fully lived and realized, and that’s so rare to find in most anime and just animation in general. You get so much of the history and atmosphere just by looking at all of the characters on screen and the environment in which they live. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season and I can’t wait to watch more.

Thanks for reading the review! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Winter 2022 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

The Winter 2022 season seems like a slower burn than Fall 202, since there aren’t as many fantastic shows this season, and it kind of feels like Summer 2021 due to how so many shows this season feel like they could have used more time in the oven to perfectly bake. Luckily, the good shows this season are not only great, but they stand out from one another and are distinct experiences, which is not always a given with anime as well. Hopefully, this year has serious changes to the anime scene and we can get more quality than quantity, and the commitment to not greenlight second seasons to shows that were abject failures. As usual, this is a 3-episode plus impressions editorial. Now then, let’s get started! 


Fantasy/isekai

The Strongest Sage with the Weakest Crest (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Shinkoshoto. It’s directed by Noriaki Akitaya, written by Hiroki Uchida, and produced by JC Staff.  It’s not even halfway through the year, and we can’t escape mediocre power fantasy isekai shows. Even when the isekai is within its own fantasy world, it can’t escape being boilerplate familiar and predictable. There is nothing wrong with doing something familiar, but it has to be executed well, and this was not executed well. It’s a power fantasy that you have seen a dozen times over with some of the wonkiest lore to its fantasy world that I have ever seen. It’s got bland characters, less than great animation, middling action, and some really incompetently made plot twists within its first three episodes. It has some decent ideas for its world, like the crest ranking and how the demons have told the humans through propaganda how bad magic is, but it’s not good at all. Not the worst anime of the season, but a middling one that will get lost in the pile of other isekai that have come out already or will come out. 

Fantasia Sango (Funimation)

This anime is based off of the video game by UserJoy Technology, and no, the US does not have access to this game. Anyway, this anime adaptation is directed by Shunsuke Matchitani, written by Masashi Suzuki, and produced at Geek Toys. The weird thing about these video game tie-in anime is that much of the time, the US does not have any real or legal way of playing these games, so the anime itself has to try even harder to get you interested in what is essentially Romancing of the Three Kingdoms, but with demon slaying. It’s not a terrible show, but it does dump a lot of in-universe lingo and exposition, and when it gets to the stuff you want to see, which is our heroes fighting demons, it doesn’t look all that stellar. I like the half-demon girl, but that’s because she’s the most interesting character while everyone else is just fine. Outside of some extremely gratuitous fanservice from one character, the designs are the only thing that’s kind of interesting with its more Chinese fashion sense and weaponry. However, if you are watching this and not Jujutsu Kaisen or Sabikui Bisco, then you are watching the wrong show. I don’t even really get why we get these anime brought over when no one is going to care about an anime based on a game a huge chunk of the world hasn’t played. 

World of Leadale (Crunchyroll/VRV)

Yet another isekai huh? Buckle up, because we have a few this season. This anime is based on the light novels and manga by Ceez. The anime is directed by Takeyuki Yanase, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, and produced by Maho Film. Outside of its fairly dark and depressing starting point of how our lead gets transported to a VR game world, there isn’t a whole lot going on with this anime. Granted, there are two things that make this anime stand out, including the mystery about how she got transported into a game world and how the game world has moved on in the future when the servers were shut down. The second element is how our lead’s in-game character had a family at one point and they remember her. The problem is that it’s just not very funny. Just because you’ve got the writer who helped adapt Reincarnated as a Slime and By the Grace of the Gods, doesn’t mean it’s going to be as good as this one. It’s becoming very abundant that the source material is going to be key with this genre of anime, and when this is trying to be a super cute fantasy show, it doesn’t work. It’s not all that funny, and the animation isn’t as good as it could have been in order to execute the jokes and action. Again, there are some decent story beats, and that ending song is a real bop, but when there are so many isekai released every year, you really have to stand out, and when you don’t, well, that’s a problem. It’s pretty harmless overall though, and it has a few decent gags, but I can’t personally find myself continuing to watch this. 

She Professed Herself the Pupil of The Wise Man (Funimation)

Content Warning: Child Nudity

This is one of the first of the new Funimation co-productions. It’s based on the novels and manga by Hirotsugu Ryusen. The anime adaptation is directed by Keitaro Motonaga, written by Takamitsu Kono and produced by Studio A-Cat. So, we have another isekai that takes place in a fantasy world within a VRMMO, and it’s not the last one of this season. It has a decent idea of how our lead gets sent to another world with how they were just using a new character template, but outside of that? It’s just another isekai power fantasy that does nothing to offset the unbalanced story and action, since there are no stakes due to how powerful our lead is, and the story isn’t interesting enough to keep you going. The English dub is pretty solid, and was one of the first to have one right out of the gate.   It might be the saving grace of this show, because otherwise, it does a lot of the more unsavory anime stuff like use an obviously underaged character for comedy and fanservice, and make one character hyper-obsessed to uncomfortable degrees for, again, comedy. It’s not the worst anime due to how the first episode has an out-of-place sequence where it relies on nothing but visual storytelling for the last third of the episode, but you could literally watch Ascendance of a Bookworm if you wanted a better isekai starring a young girl that focuses more on story and world building. 







Life with an Ordinary Guy Who Reincarnated into a Total Fantasy Knockout (CrunchyrollVRV)

Content Warning: Gender dysphoria is a major part of the story

This comedy fantasy is based on the manga by Yu Tsurusaki. The animated adaptation is directed by Sayaka Yamai, written by Toshimitsu Takeuchi, and produced by OLM. Now, with the premise that one guy gets turned into a hot anime girl, and the goddess of this fantasy world being vindictive enough to put a love curse on the two leads sounds like it could lead to some problematic elements. I’ll be honest, the first episode didn’t catch me, because it felt like there was some slight gay panic being brought into the equation. The jokes didn’t hit at first, and I was worried about how many shows this season have gender dysphoria as a main element to certain characters. Well, it’s hard to feel like they are going to handle these elements and “comedy” well. Once you get past the first episode, they build up the world around the leads, make the leads more endearing and likable, and the jokes land really hard. It has turned into a rough journey to a rather delightful comedy take on the isekai genre and this is why doing the three-episode rule is important. I hope the rest of the show is able to balance good character dynamics and jokes to make for a splendid experience. 

Miss Kuroitsu from the Monster Development Department (CrunchyrollVRV)

Content Warning: Gender dysphoria and some nudity

This delightful gem of an anime is based on the manga by Hiroaki Mizuno. It’s directed by Hisashi Saito, written by Katsuhiko Takayama, and produced by Quad. Combining tokusatsu monster-creating with the trials and tribulation of the workplace is so creative, that I’m shocked there haven’t been anime like this before. It takes full advantage of being both a parody and a loving tribute to Tokusatsu shows, while also being wildly funny, creative, and clever with how tough it must be to keep making a brand new monster of the week, every single week on time, on budget, and is able to beat the hero of the day. It has a few jokes that were hit-and-miss, but the overall enjoyment of the show doesn’t outweigh how fun it is to watch this show. 

The Genius Princes’ Guide to Raising a Nation Out of Debt (Funimation) 

This fantastic anime is based on the light novels and manga by Toru Tuba. The anime is directed by Makoto Tamagawa, written by Deko Akao aka Hitomi Mieno, and produced by Yokohama Animation Laboratory. If you were bored by Realist Hero and its condescending lead, then you will absolutely love the more comedy-and-story-focused fantasy series about a prince who is a genius, but isn’t technically using his intelligence for the better of the kingdom, but rather to raise the profitability of the kingdom to sell it off. Every time he tries to fail, he ends up succeeding and some victories aren’t all that profitable for the lead. Many of the jokes are at the expense of our lead, and while not every single joke works, the show is a laugh riot and is easily one of the funniest anime of the season so far. It also cleverly balances out world-building and our relationship with the characters in a very organic way, which seems like a thing that’s becoming rare within the anime scene. It’s a show that knows its one gimmick can’t be the end-all-be-all for the show to be a hit, and I can’t wait to dive into the rest of the show. 









Slice of Life 

Police in a Pod (Funimation) 

Content Warning: Cops, the second episode is about sexual abuse, and just typical Copaganda

So, this awkward-to-watch show is based on the manga by ex-police officer turned manga author Miko Yasu. The anime is directed by Yuzo Sato, written by Ryunosuke Kingetsu, and produced by Studio Madhouse. So, yeah, I don’t think there was going to be any real proper reaction to this show that is a workplace slice-of-life about cops other than polarized thoughts. There are definitely some aspects that it touches upon, like sexism and harassment at the workplace, and it wants to paint a sympathetic take on the stress and nonsense police have to deal with every day on the job. Too bad this anime decided to come out during a time period where cops are not looked upon with respect due to the massive amounts of police corruption and how it paints the police as the victims of the nonsense. It’s pretty much copaganda, and yes, a lot of great shows are copaganda in nature, but what separates the good shows/films about cops and the bad ones is the execution of how they tackle their stories and characters. Unfortunately, a lot of this show falls flat due to how it really can’t balance out the more serious subject matters, and it’s not funny enough to be entertaining. Its setting is grounded, and it makes it more of a weird sit. It had maybe one joke that I laughed at and one sincere moment that makes the characters likable, but this show is kind of weird in a time with everything going on right now. We are past the days of You’re Under Arrest and Patlabor that could take cops and have an obvious tongue- and-cheek take on them, but this show has none of that.

Akebi’s Sailor Uniform (Funimation/Crunchyroll/VRV)

Content Warning: Foot fetish and voyeuristic lingering on middle school girls. 

This promising, but underwhelming anime is based on the manga by Hiro. The anime is directed by Miyuki Kuroki, written by Rino Yamazaki, and produced by CloverWorks. Talk about an anime with all of the production values most anime wish they could have. This show has some of the most pristine and gorgeous visuals of any anime this season. Heck, it might be the best looking new anime of the season. It has extremely polished visuals that almost look theatrical in quality. However, it’s mostly another slice-of-life school day story, which wouldn’t be bad. Heck, it may even have some of the charm of the shows that Naoko Yamada has worked on before. The one glaring flaw so far though is how the show is shot. There are way too many shots that linger on these 12-year-old girls’ bodies, how the clothes drop off of them, and the focus on looking at feet and legs. It’s the same problem as a show from Fall 2020, Adachi and Shimamura that had the same issue of an anime that would have been sweet and wholesome, but is otherwise bogged down by a camera that lingers too much on the legs of the female leads. 

Cue! (Crunchyroll/VRV)

This anime is based on the video game by Liber Entertainment. It’s directed by Shin Katagi, written by Tatsuhiko Urahata, and produced by Yumeta Company and Graphinica. Honestly, the one thing that makes this idol anime stand out is the premise that instead of them being pop stars, they are voice actors. That alone makes this way more interesting than the multitude of idol anime that’s all about cute anime girls, pushing a product that no one outside Japan cares about, and not much else. Luckily, they focus enough on the business side of the venture that does help elevate the story, because they made the classic blunder and tried to give you all 15 or so of the cute anime girls that you can manage in the game, within the first episode. 

Slow Loop (Funimation)

This anime is based on the manga by Maiki Uchino. It’s directed by Noriaki Akitaya, written by Yuka Yamada, and produced by Connect. So, at the outset, it looks like cute girls doing hobby shows, and those are usually fairly popular with franchises like Laid Back Camp and Non-Non Biyori. The hobby this time is fly fishing and it’s very much committed to partly explaining every detail of the hobby to hopefully catch the viewer’s interest. It’s a very laid-back show that’s got a lot of the trappings of a “cute girls doing cute things” show, and it does succeed on not being the most cloyingly sweet thing ever. It adds some background to our main characters, due to a huge plot point being that they meet when one of them is fishing and then realize that their respective parents are getting married. It adds a sort of weird wrinkle into the formula that makes it look like the two leads are falling for one another, and I hope the show is smart enough to just make their bond more sister-like and not, well, we really don’t need any bad romance plots for something this harmless and cute. Anyway, if you like laid-back shows about hobbies, then you will probably like this show, but it’s going to be a show you either vibe with or don’t. 

My Dress Up Darling (Funimation/Crunchyroll/VRV)

This is one of three anime CloverWorks is working on this season, and is based on the manga by Shinichi Fukuda. It’s directed by Keisuke Shinohara, written by Yoriko Tomita, and, well, produced by CloverWorks. Now, at first glance, this looks like a very cheap excuse for cosplay fetish and fanservice. I mean, one of the leads is into cosplaying characters from adult-focused video games. It’s no more blatant than that. However, unlike something like this season’s World End Harem, My Dress Up Darling is more about breaking and destroying the stigma of certain hobbies, and who indulges in them. With our lead Wakana Gojo making Hina Dolls, and our other lead Marin Kitagawa into otaku culture and cosplay, the show tangos with the two as they break down the barriers around them and hopefully with society with how they are perceived for being into such things. Sure, it does have a base set up of the awkward quiet guy ending up with the most popular hot high school girl, but again, the show is about de-stigmatizing anyone who has ever been bullied or made fun of for getting into certain hobbies due to who they are. It does dangle a lot of fanservice, but that’s going to be a thing with the cosplay angle, and what saves this from being just another lightweight fanservice show or softcore adult stuff is the dynamic between our leads. They come across as very sincere, and their enjoyment of cosplay and Hina Doll-making is front and center. It might not fly high with its comedy, but it’s a sweet enough show with some stellar production values that can come at an easy recommendation if you aren’t too distracted by the show’s obvious fanservice sequences. 


Sasaki and Miyano (Funimation)

Our first boy-love anime of the season! It’s based on the manga and novels by Sho Harusono. The anime is directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Yoshiko Nakamura and produced by Studio Deen. After last year’s more troubling trashy boy-love anime, it was fairly refreshing to see one, a genre I’m not too familiar with be so wholesome and sweet. Two boys bonding over boy-love manga and watching their feelings bloom for one another is so cute! Luckily, the story has a few themes of breaking down male masculinity, and I think that’s really refreshing to see due to how many mediocre male power fantasies are released every year. I know Studio Deen doesn’t have the most appealing track record, but they must have had proper resources and time to adapt this anime, because the show looks great. It’s a shame this didn’t get Akebi’s Sailor Uniform’s budget, but it looks better than most Studio Deen productions. It might have a slower pace to its storytelling, but I’m glad it’s taking its time to make the story as impactful as possible. I think I tend to personally gravitate towards romance that is more wholesome and sweet, and if you are into romance anime of any kind like that or Horimiya, then you will like this show.

Thanks for reading the editorial! I hope you all enjoyed reading it! If you would like to support my work, make sure to share it out, and if you want to become a Patreon supporter, then you can go to patreon.com/camseyeview. I will see you all next time!

Worst to Best Animated Films of 2020 Finale

(If you like what you see, you can go to camseyeview.biz to see more of my work on video game reviews, editorials, lists, Kickstarters, developer interviews, and review/talk about animated films. If you would like, consider contributing to my Patreon at patreon.com/camseyeview. It would help support my work, and keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Good gravy, let’s finally get this one out of the way! Here were my top 10 favorite animated films from 2020! If you haven’t seen part 1, part 2, or part 3, I will make sure to hyperlink them. I apologize that life got in the way of making this one happen so late. 



10. The Wonderland 

While Keiichi Hara’s follow-up to one of my favorite films of 2016 Miss Hokusai doesn’t quite reach that level of quality, his new film, The Wonderland is still a whimsical adventure via a coming-of-age tale. It has some truly beautiful landscapes and a creative fantastical world that may be Hara’s own take on Alice in Wonderland. The villain isn’t the most interesting, and there are some jokes and moments that irked me, but I was so happy to catch this film before everything came crashing down with the pandemic. 

9. The Willoughbys 

This dark family comedy may suffer from a majority of the children in this family being underdeveloped in favor of the oldest son getting the majority of the development, but considering how little came out during the pandemic, I’ll take an overall vibrant and funny experience. What it may lack in some story strength makes up for some of 2020’s most vibrant CGI stop-motion-style animation, some very clever jokes, a fantastic cast, and it was just another step in showing what kind of experiences Netflix, flaws and all, are going to be offering in the feature animation scene. 

8. The Croods: A New Age

While I wouldn’t call 2020 or 2021’s DreamWorks’ best year for animation, out of their four recent films that they have released, The Croods: A New Age is their best one since 2019’s How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World. Who would have thought that a sequel that was in start/stop production hell would actually result in one of the better DreamWorks sequels? They expand on the world, the new characters are likable and bring in some substance to the overall story, the jokes are more creative, and the sequel leaning into the more absurd world that the story takes place in leads to a better overall product. I don’t know what they could do with a follow-up film, but if it’s as much fun to watch as this one, I wouldn’t mind seeing a third film. 

7. On Gaku: Our Sound 

While Lupin III: The First and Wolfwalkers were going to always be the more approachable GKIDS-distributed films of 2020, I still wish On Gaku: Our Sound had received more love. It’s a truly, by the definition, indie animated feature among the bountiful animation scene in Japan. Its offbeat atmosphere, quirky humor, and laid-back approachable story stick out from the flashier big-budget fare. That many of the people working on this were first-time animators is an impressive feat and while the use of rotoscope is obvious, the fact there is no other film quite like it out in 2020 is impressive and rather fun. It’s a film that introduces a real deal shot in the arm that the animation scene always needs. 

6. Lupin III: The First 

I remember how worried I was to see the franchise’s first step into CGI, and boy howdy, they didn’t miss a beat. Not only is it a fantastic foray into CGI animation, but it’s also a Lupin story that’s actually compelling and entertaining! For those that are fans of the franchise, getting both good animation and a good story isn’t always a given or is balanced with each film and special. With the return of the iconic dub cast, thrilling action, stellar writing, and some of the best CGI from Japan, Lupin III: The First shows a promising future for the franchise and the future of theatrical CGI animation from Japan. 

5. Onward

Remember when everyone was dunking on this film, and then everyone ended up liking it? I sure do. While it might not be one of the higher-end Pixar films, this touching story about two brothers and their journey to strengthen their bond and to try to get some closure with their dead father does elevate it as one of the more intimate and personal Pixar stories. The fantasy element even has a fun way of approaching the metaphorical and literal theme of losing and finding magic in life. It’s a film that has gotten better on rewatch, and I feel badly that it became one of the first victims of the pandemic. 

4. Over the Moon 

Netflix had a tough challenge of following up their acclaimed year of animation from 2019 where they had both I Lost My Body and Klaus, so Over the Moon was such a surprise with how much I fell in love with it. It is a touching story about grief, personal change, and dealing with loss, with some fantastic music, vibrant animation, and a fantastic lead. It was directed by Glen Keane, and this was his first time directing a feature film! Over the Moon also has a very witty script from Keane and the late great Audrey Wells. It also gets bonus points for having moments of gorgeous 2D animation. With Pearl Studios now on their own, making films with a promising lineup of future projects in the works, Over the Moon was an out-of-this-world first impression of what they could do after their relationship with DreamWorks ended. 

3. Ride Your Wave 

Masaaki Yuasa is a master director. I mean, I could leave it at that, but that wouldn’t be super satisfying as this is, until we finally see Inu-Oh this year, his best and most approachable movie. It’s a romance that of course has its own Yuasa twist that makes it his take on the “Shape of Water” romance perspective about a college girl finding her way in life. It even has the tamest visuals of Yuasa and Science Saru’s work. You can tell they toned it down from the immense visual overload that was 2004’s Mindgame and his more recent work with Lu Over the Wall and The Night is Short, Walk on Girl. Whether you like his more out-there premises or his more grounded ones, Ride Your Wave should be in your animation collection. 

2. Soul 

Even with a year like 2020, having a Cartoon Saloon, a Peter Doctor/Kemp Powers Pixar film, and a Yuasa film in the top three spots should be a sign of how good the good stuff was. There are definitely some understandable arguments about some of this film’s execution of plot points, and I understand where they are coming from with some of them, and maybe it’s because 2020 was just an entire mood year, Soul hit many people in a way that most animated films, Pixar or otherwise, do. Until Disney and Pixar can break the chains and do more adult-tinted animated features, this is the most adult film Pixar has ever put out, with an extremely philosophical story about life and what drives a person. With earworm tunes, an incredible performance from Jamie Foxx, and a rather ethereal tone, Soul ranks up as one of Pixar’s best. 

1. Wolfwalkers 

I mean, was there any shock here that it would be number 1? While it is technically tied with Soul, there is just something extremely special anytime we get a Cartoon Saloon film. It has some of the studio’s best animation yet, with its mix of gorgeous 2D visuals and rough pencil style reminiscent of the 70s and 80s Disney/Don Bluth that looks like it was filmed on wood grain. It is a touching story about two young girls, the themes of discrimination, anti-colonialism, sexism, freedom, family, and environmentalism, Wolfwalkers stands out from the pack in a year that had very little competition for the major titles everyone was looking forward to. Now, I do wish they would simply sell Wolfwalkers as an individual release instead of holding it hostage with Song of the Sea and The Secret of Kells, though seriously, pay for an AppleTV+ subscription and watch this incredible flick.