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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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.