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.

The Other Side of Animation 287: That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime The Movie: Scarlet Bond Review

(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 review!)

While the isekai genre is flooding the anime scene like how tentpole genre films have taken up theater screenings, it doesn’t mean that there can’t be great titles in the genre. There are reasons why so many light novel authors, manga creators, and anime studios/production committees chase trends and want their next big isekai hit. The problem then comes with how most aren’t willing to try hard to differentiate themselves from others. It results in productions that result in bland characters, bland world-building, mediocre animation, and just end up wasting time and space, when there could be other more interesting stories that could have been told instead. Thankfully, for shows like That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime, they do show you why isekais can be great by doing everything right. They can have compelling characters, fantastic animation, stories that are not just about a power fantasy for a male audience, and no harem so the female characters are able to shine as characters. While some of the anime tropes can be a bit much at points, the franchise has stayed near the top of the best isekai shows for a reason. Sadly, isekai franchises don’t really lend themselves to films like other action franchises in the anime world. Still, that won’t stop production committees from doing so, and now we have That Time I was Reincarnated as a Slime: Scarlett Bond

This film is directed by Yasuhito Kikuchi, written by Kazuyuki Fudeyasu, and produced by 8bit. We follow our main lead Rinmaru Tempest, dubbed again by Brittney Karbowski. On a rather normal day while crafting the ever-so-major road that connects his kingdom to another that has been talked about for two seasons now, the orcs get attacked by a raging ogre named Hiiro, dubbed by Jonah Scott. Thankfully, the other ogres come to help and realize that they know him as a pseudo-brother/leader of the village in which they used to live. As things calm down, Hiiro learns that his fellow ogres were okay and learns more about what happened. After hearing what was going on since he last saw everyone, Hiiro asks for help with the kingdom he was from, due to the queen being cursed and the land around them dying. Can Rimiru figure out what’s going on with the kingdom, the queen, and find out who is behind these dastardly deeds?

The biggest problem with isekais is the fact that most shows in that genre of anime can have well-told stories, but due to the lead being an overly powerful ball of destruction and invincibility, the stakes tend to be low, unless the power level, while strong, isn’t stronger than most other opponents the hero could face. When every fight is one-sided, then no one will be happy or invested with the story since we know the lead can’t get hurt. It’s why it’s aggravating that some shows still keep this up, even after franchises like One Punch Man and Konosuba have pretty much ruined those fantasies of either being able to stop any foe with no sweat or have a harem of lovely ladies who all want you because they show the flaws in those types of stories. So, making a film based on an isekai power fantasy should have some easy solutions that include not making Rimuru the lead, letting other characters shine, and or make a threat strong enough to even outshine Rimuru. It would be basic plot stuff, sure, but if you don’t take those elements into consideration, then you end up with a story that’s hard to invest in, not because of it’s confusing or hard to follow, but because our lead can just do anything and everything and that doesn’t result in a compelling arc or story to sit through that’s almost two hours long. A lot of the charm and appeal of the franchise is that while it has its power fantasy moments, it’s more about building an optimistically-fueled utopia where everyone, no matter the origin or life, can live peacefully among one another in a prosperous world. While there is a ton of action, it’s also about world-building, conversations, negotiations, and political power structures. It just so happens that all of those details are sandwiched between appealing-looking anime characters and bombastic and vibrant action set pieces. Sadly, the fact that Rimuru does take up the mantle as the lead instead of the other characters like Hiiro is a real downside to this overall product. Hiiro’s angle of seeing the actions caused by Tempest are way more interesting. The first 10 or so minutes before the misunderstanding is essentially squashed to make way for everything else are probably the best part of the film. 

Heck, any scene where it’s Hiiro being alongside his other ogre friends is genuinely fun, but there are so few of them due to the political conspiracy of what exactly is going on with this kingdom. The problems also come in with how forgettable a lot of the new characters are. The old geezers and the two guards that follow Hiiro don’t leave much of an impression. It’s a real problem when the queen is just as bland. Even adding some small personality quirks or details in their movements would have left much more of an impression. Oh, and it doesn’t stop there either. The villain? This villain might be one of the most forgettable villains in anime franchise film history. He doesn’t even appear in the film until the halfway point, and you will quickly forget his name and his antics that could have led to more interesting layers to Hiiro’s journey, but when he starts to be all one-note evil, there isn’t much else. The story isn’t entirely helpful to newcomers either, due to at this point in two seasons of the show, a ton of characters have been introduced and they don’t get a lot of screen time. Their roles within the story vary depending on who is who in the ranking of power in the world this franchise has crafted. Not that some don’t leave a fun quirk or moment for themselves, but be ready to just wing it and just assume they were shown or introduced at some point during the show’s run. The film is at one point so disinterested in the clash with Hiiro and the villain that it cuts away to another character who knows how to take down the curse, and once again, I found that plot more compelling. Maybe that’s harsh to say, but it sure feels like it wanted to focus on the other characters more, and give us exposition and backstory as to why the kingdom is as it is and or why the tiara/crown is cursed and who cursed it. Even when we do focus back on the fight with the main villain, the film has to have flimsy excuses for the lead not to end his life with the snap of his fingers. It’s aggravating to sit here and not feel immersed in the story or drama because you know in the back of your head that this could have been 20 minutes shorter.

Sorry if this review sounds very negative so far, but there are aspects to adore. The animation looks great and the dynamic fight sequences are thrilling to watch unfold. The voice cast is as good as usual with Ricco Fajardo doing some stellar work as Benimaru, alongside Jonah Scott. Not to say the others don’t have their moments, because the dub cast for this franchise tends to hit it out of the park with names like Mallorie Rodak, Tyson Rinehart, Michelle Rojas, Tia Ballard, Chris Rager, Ken Williams, Ryan Reynolds (the voice actor, not the Hollywood actor), Charles Campbell, Daman Mills, Kristen McGuire, Cherami Leigh, Cris George, and Caitlin Glass to name a few. The composer is Hitoshi Fujima, who has composed for anime before including 2021’s Visual Prison. 

It’s a shame because what this film ends up ultimately being is just another action franchise film, but an isekai franchise film. I’m sure this will maybe be connected in some way to the rest of the franchise, since having films that actually take place within the continuity of the show are more popular than ever, but the fact is that Scarlet Bond is a sadly forgettable romp. It’s not a terrible film, and if you love the franchise, you will love the film, but if you are looking for more substantial stories in Japanese animated features, you are better off going somewhere else for them. Still, if you want to see more Japanese animated features, you should see as many of them as you can in theaters. Who knows, maybe you will love this one more than me. Now then, next time, we will be tackling the CGI feature based on the beloved work of Terry Pratchett. Next time, we will be getting a visit from The Amazing Maurice

Rating: Rent it

My Favorite Animated Films from 2021

Now then, the original plan was to do a list for My Most Disappointed Animated Films of 2021, My Runner-Ups for Best Animated Films of 2021, and My Favorite Animated Films of 2021, but we will just cut it down to My Favorites, due to how it’s a new year, I am so far behind, and I want to get this list done. I’ll try to do more of these varied lists for 2022. I hope you understand, and if you want to see the entire list of films, here is a hyperlink to my Letterboxd list. Let’s get some honorable mentions out of the way! 

Honorable Mentions: Luca, New Gods: Nezha Reborn, Seal Team, Josep, Raya and The Last Dragon, and Flee.



Now then, let’s get started so we can talk about 2022’s films next! 



10. Fortune Favors Lady Nikkuko

I know some people weren’t happy with this film due to how it wasn’t a big ambitious follow-up to Watanabe’s previous film with Children of the Sea, but this coming-of-age dramedy about a mother and her daughter in a small sea-side town, finding connection with not just life and the people around them, but each other is a charming experience. It might not feel as grand on the big screen, but it sure looked nice up with Studio 4C’s amazing animation and Watanabe’s detailed directing of a fairly offbeat kind of story. It has its moments where the jokes fall flat, but the heart is in the right place.

9. Poupelle of Chimney Town

CGI animation in Japan, whether its use is in anime series or films, has evolved. That they can now craft a vibrant and distinct dieselpunk world in this film shows that the medium of CGI animation is still evolving. The medium is used to tell a rather sweet coming-of-age tale about a boy and his friendship with a mysterious robot in a capitalist and smoke-covered world. It might be a little clunky at some points, but it’s a fun little story that is visually distinct and a thrill to see from beginning to end for film lovers of all ages. 

8. Calamity

It’s a real shame this got such a small US release and one that was so barebones. It’s a crime it only has a digital-only release with no extras or an English dub for people who prefer a dub over subtitles. The director of Long Way North’s follow-up is a rip-roaring western adventure with some beautiful visuals that really show the western landscape throughout every scene with some of the best character development of any animated film from 2021. 

7. The Bears Famous Invasion of Sicily 

Do you know what else is a crime? This gorgeous and incredible animated film still doesn’t have a proper US release for some unknown reason, when it’s one of the most visually stunning features in animation. You could literally frame every frame as a painting and get something out of it due to this film’s striking use of CGI and 2D animation. It definitely uses emotional and fairytale logic to tell its story and presents its themes of colonialism, greed, and discrimination to the audience, but not every film needs to be logical to be enjoyable, and it’s more of a crime that a company like GKIDS has yet to pick this film up. 

6. Words That Bubble Up Like Soda Pop

People worry too much about creativity and originality in storytelling, and are willing to overlook films that are just straight-up rock solid and charming as all get out. It’s a bit of a bummer this film is stuck on Netflix, but the fact they brought over this adorable rom-com between two teens who feel like outcasts due to one thing or another is also a runner-up in 2021’s most visually stunning animation seen on screen. Sometimes, all you need is a well-executed experience in storytelling that will carry you through to the end credits. 

5. Encanto

It sure does feel like it has been a hot minute since Disney had a huge worldwide hit animated feature since 2016, right? While the film might be entering its backlash phase due to how it was always in the public eye since its November release on Disney+, there is a reason why this film became beloved due to its soundtrack and its focus on familial drama instead of your typical Disney good vs evil formula. Sure, the music might have some of the typical aspects of Lin Manuel Miranda’s music-writing quirks, and I get why people felt divided by its ending, but I give Disney kudos that they want to make animated films that deal with topics that were not seen in a lot of US animated fare. Granted, by now, we have had a few, and we could use some shaking up, but the fact is that Encanto is still a fun charming musical adventure that was a refreshing take after a couple of years of making non-stop sequels. 

4. The Summit of the Gods

This film that Netflix sadly buried on their service was a beautiful journey of human ambition and what you are willing to sacrifice to reach your goals. When people want more “adult” animation, it’s not more stuff like Paradise PD, but stuff that tells a story that you don’t normally see in animation, which shows what you can do with the incredible medium of animation. With stunning landscapes, interesting characters, and some of the best animation from 2021, The Summit of the Gods is a film that sadly should have had more people watching it. 

3. Josee, The Tiger, and The Fish

With the current trend of every film needing to be big and bombastic in the tentpole area of the film-going experience, it’s always good to remember that story, writing, and character are more important than big flash visual effect shots. This is a coming-of-age story about dealing with the trials and tribulations of life and overcoming hardship and challenge, all wrapped up in a very nice romcom setting with some of Studio Bones’ most visually lush animation that has ever come from one of the top-tier animation houses in Japan. It might have a few story beats that are predictable, but the overall journey is important, and if I enjoyed it from start to finish on a consistent basis, then it did its job. 

2. The Mitchells vs. The Machines

Honestly, these next two could basically tie for first place, as Sony Pictures Animation somehow raised the bar in stylized animation with a quirky family dramedy about the disconnect between a father dealing with his daughter moving out for college that just happens to line up with a robot apocalypse. With some of 2021’s most stylized visuals, there was a reason why this film took the world, Netflix, and animation fans by storm with its complex and intensely hilarious themes and comedy. Just a delight from start to finish, but if we had to pick a film that could beat it by the slimmest of margins, it would be…

1. Belle

I know some people find this film too overly ambitious and unfocused, with its combination of a coming-of-age story, a musical, a drama, a romance, and commentary about the social media age which is what we are dealing with in this day and age, but you know what, the emotional throughline of a girl dealing with the loss of her mom and becoming a stronger individual really pulls it all together. With jaw-dropping visuals, bombastic and powerful musical numbers, and some of the best storytelling from the director himself, there is a reason why this film beat out The Mitchells vs. The Machines by the slimmest of margins.

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

The Other Side of Animation 281: One Piece Film Red Review

(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 review!)

Just like how we have finally started to talk about Dragonball, we are now finally jumping into one of Japan’s longest-running, and most successful franchises, One Piece. Unlike Dragonball, One Piece has had a fraught story of coming over to the US. On one hand, you had the infamous butchering and hatchet work 4KIDS did to the series despite giving us a fantastic US-made rap song, and then the franchise has struggled to find more footing to get in the spotlight of the busy US anime market. Not that it isn’t successful, but it makes you wonder what would have happened if One Piece had come out around the same time as Dragonball, and not gotten royally butchered, how much stronger One Piece’s US fandom would be? It’s big, since with a franchise that is considered one of if not the top-selling franchise in the manga and anime industry, it’s gonna have a footprint. What’s been a huge bummer though is that while Dragonball and Pokemon have had their films and specials brought over, One Piece hasn’t been given that treatment. Whether it’s because of the botched first US rollout or the typical rights issues, a mass majority of One Piece’s film catalog has been closed off from US fans. Sure, you could go the way of the pirate and search the high seas for fansubbed versions, but you would think by how big the franchise is, Crunchyroll or even Discotek would have brought the films over here. They have been pushing out the more recent films, but accessibility to everything the franchise has to offer would be nice. It has some films that were even directed by famous anime directors like Mamoru Hosoda. Well, at least we are getting the newer films and they are making bank with the newest film in the series, One Piece Film: Red

The newest adventure is directed by Goro Taniguchi, written by Tsutomu Kuroiwa, and animated by Toei. We are once again following our favorite pirate crew, The Straw Hat Pirates, as we see them stopping by Elegia, an island where a massive concert is happening that has the famous idol/performer named Uta, voiced by Amanda Lee. What happens after a real banger of a first musical number, is that some pirates happen to show up to capture Uta that include some members of the Big Mom Pirates. After revealing that Uta has the power of the sing sing fruit that lets her pull off some amazing powers, Luffy, the leader of the Straw Hat Pirates, dubbed by Colleen Clinkenbeard also reveals that he knows Uta. It’s revealed that Uta and Luffy used to be childhood friends due to Uta being the daughter of Shanks, the infamous leader of the Red Hair Pirates. However, the reunion doesn’t last long as Uta starts to use her powers to bend the entire world’s people to her whim and essentially take all of their souls with her to be in a world that’s nothing but peace and joy. Can Luffy and the gang stop her? 

The major appeal of this film is Uta, who is one of the best villains that the franchise has had. Most of the time, villains can come off as unimpressive, depending on when the film’s timeline takes place, as to who’s on Luffy’s crew. Some leave more of an impression than others. On top of a fantastic design, Uta is lively, being an idol in a world of pirates results in some extremely creative world-building of how she becomes an idol/influencer, and the sing sing fruit leads to really cool visuals and powers. While she definitely lands in the realm of “wants to cause the loss of millions of lives because her viewpoint makes her think the plan is in the right”, the additional details of her backstory make her compelling. Giving her a connection to Luffy and being the daughter of Shanks makes her way more complex than just being just another pirate or another disgraced Navy general. The universe of this anime is chock full of memorable villains, and the tragedy of her backstory makes her one of the best villains in the franchise’s history, and that’s saying something due to when this film’s plot may or may not take place in the main storyline. The emotional core that drives the story is between the friendship and clash of ideals between Luffy and Uta, the themes of strained friendships, and how Uta dealt with abandonment and her hatred for pirates. Granted, if you are expecting the Red Hair Pirates to be a major part of the story, well, yes they are, as they show up a couple of times during the first half of the film, but they mostly play important screen roles in the second half of the film. It’s weird how they marketed their appearance when they don’t come into the story properly until much later.

A lot of the runtime is spent on building up Uta and the island’s backstory. There is only one other major player in Uta’s past, but he and a lot of the characters get the bare minimum, which is a shame due to how likable and interesting the characters are. The main Straw Hat crew members get sidelined and are pretty much there to make sure Luffy and Uta are okay. They go around exploring the exact thing up with the world, and find out how and why Uta has all of this immense power. When the navy and the government of the world are put at a standstill, then you know the story has some major stakes. Even if the navy and the government are still portrayed as the major villains as the plot rolls on through. The characters that are from previous story arcs do show up to deliver a splendid addition to the formula, even if some of them only have at best two scenes. Still, this definitely feels like a more cohesive and thrilling story than most franchise films that feel like padded-out filler arcs. 

The animation is definitely stellar. While it might look like a fancier version of the show, the franchise’s iconic visual style looks great no matter if you are watching it on the big or small screen. You will never mistake One Piece for any other anime on the market, and as usual, every new film gives the Straw Hat pirates some snazzy new duds and the action set pieces are bombastic even if it gets chaotic on screen. Luckily, the mix of 2D and CGI is handled well and the CGI when used is expressive as it helps that the franchise art style is just bursting at the seams with personality. Even with the addition of influencers and idols into the world of pirates, they still find a way for them to fit and make sense. The voice cast is, as usual, stellar with the returning cast of Colleen Clinkenbeard, Brandon Potter, Christopher Sabat, Luci Christian, Sonny Strait, Eric Vale, Brina Palencia, Stephanie Young, Patrick Seitz, Ian Sinclair, and Daniel Baugh always a delight as the Straw Hats, and Amanda Lee gets all of the points to balance out the happiness, the unhinged, sadness, anger, and every emotion under the rainbow. Doesn’t hurt either that the singing voice for Uta is Ado, and holy cow the musical sequences become the best parts of the overall movie. Each song is different from the last, and they all have individually unique arrangements. They truly are, as the film describes Uta’s music as, “otherworldly”. Something about each song pulls you in and it will not let you go. You have your more pop numbers, but there’s also rock and a sort of metal tune as well. Not to say the rest of the soundtrack suffers compared to the amazing tunes, because Yasutaka Nakata’s ambient tunes aren’t overshadowed, but when the main villain is a pop idol, ya give them the attention. 




As usual with these films, there are some flaws. Since the films from this franchise don’t follow the show’s continuity, it’s hard to feel invested at points with some major lore and story beats dropped into this fantastical world that should be super important. They even make some of the elements pseudo-canon in the manga, but trying to find out where this film exactly takes place in the show’s timeline is confusing due to how certain characters show up who really shouldn’t be there. What’s worse is that due to how long this franchise has been going, the crew is going to get bigger and bigger as time goes on, so having these adventures still not in canon with the main timeline is maddening at this point. You can easily find time to fit everything in and it’s not like One Piece’s lore is flimsy, because it’s a complex world filled with political backgrounds of a variety of types and upbringings. It also pads out its time a bit too much as it feels unfocused at times with everyone either finding out what exactly Uta is going to use to make her plans come true or twiddling their thumbs because Uta has control of the situation. It moves at a decent enough pace, but with how many characters there are, some get way more attention than others. There is a reason why most shonen franchise films give the antagonist a big enough team so everyone on the protagonists all have someone to fight. 



While a bit bloated in the runtime and suffering from the usual shonen franchise films, One Piece Film Red shows why people love the world of One Piece, and its box office success shows how much people want to see more anime in theaters. I don’t know how many more times the execs need to hear that, but it’s good to see the trend continue of animated films from Japan mostly doing well in theaters. I wish the same people making these franchise films hits in the states would go and see other non-franchise films from Japan or around the world, but that’s an argument for another time. Also, here’s hoping in the future that all the money that these franchise films are making goes to the translators, animators in Japan, scriptwriters, and voice actors that actually deserve more of the praise for bringing these films to life and to other areas of the world and not just the execs. If you love One Piece, you will probably enjoy this film, and it’s always good to support foreign cinema no matter where it pops up. The world of film and animation is diverse, and we could all use something different every once in a while. Next time, we will be talking about Nora Twomey’s newest Cartoon Saloon feature with My Father’s Dragon. 

Rating: Go see it! 

The Other Side of Animation 270: Dragon Ball Super – Super Hero Review

(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 review!)

It’s finally time to do a review on a Dragon Ball film. It’s shocking that I have yet to talk about one of the biggest franchises in the anime industry, one of the most important shonen action shows for Japan, the US, and well, the entire world. Even if you aren’t into anime, you have at least heard of Dragon Ball or one of the individual series that is connected to the franchise. It was hard to escape during the mid-late 90s and the early-mid 2000s. It’s only recently that we have been getting a resurgence of the franchise with two films Battle of the Gods and Ressurection F, alongside Dragon Ball Super, Dragon Ball Super: Broly…happened, and now we have what is right now, as of this writing, the biggest film in the US right now. Let’s just dive right into the biggest movie in the franchise, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero

The film is directed by Tetsuro Kodama, written by Akira Toriyama, and produced by Toei Animation. Instead of following Goku and Vegeta, we instead follow Piccolo, dubbed by Christopher Sabat. He’s training Gohan’s daughter Pan, dubbed by Jeannie Tirado. As the time passes, Piccolo has an issue with feeling like he is being the actual father figure to Pan than her actual dad Gohan, dubbed by Kyle Hebert. While this is going on, the iconic villain organization the Red Ribbon Army, now being led under the radar by Magenta, dubbed by Charles Martinet, obtains a young super scientist named Dr. Hedo, dubbed by Zach Aguilar. They make a deal that Hedo will help Magenta with taking over the world if they can make super androids that are superheroes. That’s how we end up with Piccolo and the Z fighters having to deal with Gamma 1 and Gamma 2, dubbed by Aleks Li and Zeno Robinson. Since they can’t get the help of Goku and Vegeta, can the rest of the gang save the day and stop the Red Ribbon Army from coming back from the pits of the earth to rule the world? 

Let’s talk about the animation. Outside of the goofy title of the film, the big uproar about this film was that it was in CGI. It has some 2D moments and bits, but it was for the first time, all CGI. To be honest, this is basically how Studio Orange, the famed studio behind Beastars, would probably make the film. It might use slower frame rates, and sure, sometimes the backgrounds look like typical CGI anime quality backgrounds or very low poly, but unless you are paying attention to that, you really won’t notice. They also had a ton of nice little animation details from how Piccolo holds his phone or flies a plane to how the doctor Hedo and Magenta eat the Oreos when they have a discussion at the beginning of the film. Some of the vast background shoots look a touch clunky, and you can tell when some buildings look too CGI against the much better-looking humans, but the CGI animation is handled well and you never feel like the action is never hampered by the CGI. The designs look on point, and while they do have some moments where they use 2D animation that are noticeable, we have seen what bad CGI looks like from the anime industry, and this ain’t it. 

The script itself is very self-aware and comedically driven, which isn’t all that shocking to many people that are aware of Toriyama’s style of writing. It’s filled with dialogue gags, puns, goofy gimmick names, a few raunchy jokes here and there, and as many lines as possible to avoid getting dragged through the ground by smarmy internet personalities that make their living off of pointing out “plot holes”. It can be a bit on the nose with how they try to cover up as many loose ends as possible, but at the end of the day, it works because the story isn’t about Goku and Vegeta taking center stage to defeat the new Red Ribbon Army androids. Yes, they may be overexplained, but with how bad media literacy is these days, overexplaining is better than ignoring the fact there will be knuckleheads on the net that will look for anything to complain about for views. 

The overarching story is pretty much focused on Gohan and Piccolo’s relationship and characters as of this point in the franchise’s history. Everyone in the Dragon Ball fandom tends to agree that after the Cell and Buu Saga, Gohan and Piccolo tended to get shafted in terms of how they were represented. Once more powerful and imposing characters were introduced, they got shoved to the sideline. Poor Gohan got turned into a neglectful dad by accident, due to having his dad’s hyper fixation that wrecks everything. It’s to reevaluate the multi-decade-long bond and dynamic that Gohan and Piccolo had, since one of the most memorable story arcs was when Piccolo trained Gohan before the Saiyans arrived in the original show. It’s mostly a reboot/restart to make Piccolo and Gohan bigger players for the next film or TV series, which is nice, since how many times can you stagnate the story by having Goku and Vegeta solve the problem? It’s also a story about how some extremely evil people will take advantage of the ignorance of others, and stoke their anger and rage with misinformation that can lead you down the wrong path to deal with a situation. It’s a very topical story due to what we have been dealing with for the past couple of years. It’s very simple, but the execution of it all works well enough for the story of a Dragon Ball film. You aren’t here to see some big cinematic methodical think-piece film. You aren’t here to see a Makoto Shinkai or a Mamoru Oshii film. You are here to see a strong enough script for a franchise mostly known for action. Luckily, the story is good enough to carry you through the different action set pieces, and the action itself is bombastic, thrilling, and grand in scale. They have definitely learned to move away from how the TV show set up fights, to realizing “hey, we are a movie and can do so much more”! The camera does a good job following along or being right beside the characters so you can feel the most intense impacts of every punch, kick, beat down, and energy blast. The voice cast is also on par with the absurdity, the goofiness, and the serious moments. When you have a stacked cast with talent including Kyle Hebert, Christopher Sabat, Sean Schemmel, Jeannie Tirado, Aleks Le, Zeno Robinson, Zach Aguilar, Charles Martinet, Justin Cook, Jason Marnocha, the always amazing Monica Rial, Sonny Strait, Johnny Yong Bosch is perfect as Broly, Eric Vale, Robert McCollum, Meredith McCoy, Jason Douglas, Ian Sinclair, Erica Lindbeck, Kara Edwards, and Bruce Carney. Naoki Sato is the composer behind the film’s score, and it’s rambunctious, imposing, and thrilling to sit through, and matches the tone of the franchise. 

The criticisms of this film are minor and don’t truly hinder the film’s experience. While the film does enough to catch you up on everything going on, it may be more approachable to fans of the long-running franchise, due to the main focus being on the long-running dynamic between Piccolo and Gohan. Sure, you probably won’t see this film unless you are a fan, but you will get more out of it if you know about the connection our two leads have with one another, and how Piccolo was a surrogate father to Gohan early on in Dragon Ball Z. Some other minor critiques include the humor being hit-and-miss, and how some villains’ characters were fairly weak compared to the great android duo of Gamma 1 and 2. 

Even with those minor complaints, Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero is, well, for a lack of a better word, super! It’s another action-packed heroic explosion of thrills and laughs that make for a very satisfying theatrical experience, and yet another fantastic film based on a TV show in 2022. If you can go see this film, even if you already have seen it, you should go see it again. When you see that a Japanese-animated film is playing in theaters, you should absolutely go watch it, because we need to make sure more of these films hit theaters. Now then, next time, we take a look at a limited series for Netflix called Lost Ollie

Rating: Go See It!

The Other Side of Animation 257: Jujutsu Kaisen 0 The Movie Review

(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 review!)

Heads up: I was able to watch this film via a screener sent to me from Crunchyroll/Funimation. I received no other form of monetization other than the screener. Thank youCrunchyroll/Funimation for this opportunity.

Well, here we are, we are talking about a shonen battle anime franchise film. For those that know this critic’s personal bias towards them, you know that these franchise films aren’t really all that good. Most of the time, these films are shallow non-cannon experiences that introduce elements that could have been useful in the main story and are never brought up again. You wonder why the showrunners never think about adding the film elements and making them canon, but no matter how good they are, they tend to be just shinier versions of the show with exclusive villains and storylines. There is a debate on which type of shonen franchise film is worse, the recap of an arc in film form, or the filler story that may introduce some new characters, villains, and story beats, but will absolutely not matter in the long run. Luckily, we are seeing a new trend where some franchises are adapting certain story beats into films. Like, why not pace out an arc for a film when it might not work in the form of a show? This happened with Demon Slayer: Mugen Train, even if they did then reanimate a chunk of it as a couple of episodes. Luckily, today’s review will not have that issue, since it’s a prequel to the overall anime! This is a review of Jujutsu Kaisen 0

The film is directed by Sunghoo Park, the director of the show, The God of Highschool, and Garo: The Vanishing Line. It’s written by Hiroshi Seko, and based on the manga by Gege Akutami. Our story follows Yuta Okkotsu, dubbed by Kayleigh McKee. He’s a high schooler who happens to have something looming over his shoulders in the form of a deadly and immensely powerful cursed spirit named Rika Orimoto, dubbed by Anairis Quinones. This spirit happens to be his childhood friend before she died and was cursed to stick to Yuta. After an incident where Yuta put some classmates into the infirmary ward, he is sought after by our favorite Jujutsu sorcerer/mentor Satoru Gojo, dubbed by Kaiji Tang. He decides to enroll him into the school where individuals who want to become sorcerers can train and save people from these curses. Unfortunately for Yuta and Gojo, the main villain of the series, Suguru Geto, dubbed by Lex Lang, wants to get Rika for his own desires to rule the world and kill anyone who isn’t a Jujutsu sorcerer. Can Yuta get a handle on his grief and save the day? I mean, obviously, something happens since this is a prequel story, but still. 

What’s so fascinating about this film is how it fits into the overall franchise. Unlike most films in battle franchises, this one is actually important to the story. You can literally start the franchise with this film and then watch the show. The film rewards you with watching it first by making a lot of the stuff that happens in the show have more substance to them. However, watching the show and then the film afterwards can also give you some rewards in a different sense by filling in those parts of the story that this film explains. It’s such a smart decision to adapt the prequel story into a movie due to how it really couldn’t work as its own small story arc due to how little substance there was in the original manga. The film itself has a rock-solid story of Yuta getting over the loss of his friend, and him metaphorically and literally holding onto his grief with Rika. There is also a part of the story dealing with the different ideals, and the ravine that separates two of the characters due to their backstory and philosophy. It’s a film with a lot more substance than “the heroes fight a movie-exclusive villain that doesn’t do anything for the main storyline”. 

Animation-wise, it does look fantastic. Despite the fact that MAPPA is overworking their animators like the rest of the anime industry when they shouldn’t, their animation is top-notch. The film might not look any different from the show, but considering how good it looked in the first place, that isn’t the biggest deal. The characters look great, the animation is fluid, and the action beats are incredible. There is a reason why most studios try to book MAPPA for action shows due to their incredible work. I am sure this is what the director is now going to be known for. The English dub cast is fantastic as usual, with a really good set of actors that are obviously in the show as well.  As I previously mentioned, we have Kayleigh McKee, Anairis Quinones, Kaiji Tang, Lex Lang, Allegra Clark, Xander Mobus, Matthew David Rudd, Bill Butts, Ryan Bartley, Sarah Williams, and Laura Post. The music hits all of those fun bombastic and action-packed notes, and they bring back the overall team of the show for the film. I mean, why wouldn’t they? They brought back composers Hiroaki Tsutsumi, Yoshimasa Terui, and Alisa Okehazama. Hiroaki is a well-known composer who also worked on shows like Tokyo Revengers, Dr. Stone, Orange, Children of the Whales, Monster Musume, and the infamously awful Koikimo

Now, criticizing this film is a touch complicated. Not that it doesn’t have any flaws, there are a few that could be leveled against this film, but some of those complaints are probably build-up for the second season coming out next year. For example, the side villains? They don’t get to do much. While a few of them have a lot more story importance with the upcoming season, it’s a shame some are simply introduced. Luckily, this show is tremendously popular and will have some story relevance in the future, but for the sake of this film, they aren’t really substantial to the story. There also should have been a lot more time for moments to expand upon the friendship and love between Yuta and Rika. The film does enough to tell you their backstories, but they really are the highlights. They were both kids with illnesses, they loved each other, and then Rika dies and gets cursed by Yuta and turns into this powerful cursed spirit. There isn’t much time for Rika to breathe as a character, and while a majority of this film’s story is about Yuta letting go of loss and the grief of cursing his childhood friend, Rika is used more like a prop rather than having her own actual character. Or at the very least, she isn’t as fleshed out as Yuta is, and that’s a shame. It’s essentially the big problem with shonen battle shows and Jujutsu Kaisen as a whole, where sometimes the story and writing aren’t taking time to give the characters time to breathe. 

Overall though, Jujutsu Kaisen 0 is fantastic, and once again, it’s one of the rare franchise films where you can literally start with the film and then jump into the show, or watch the film after the show, and get rewarded in many different ways. It’s a fascinating film that mostly works as a perfect introduction to a franchise, and it has substance within the franchise. It’s actually mandatory that you watch the film, unlike so many franchise films that you can pretty much skip. The franchise is pretty good, and is a much better battle show than most that get released. Well, next time we will be looking at another Netflix feature from a prominent director. You will just have to wait for the review in the near future. 

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!

Rating: Go See It! 

Summer 2021 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 keeps the website up. Thanks for checking out my work, and I hope you like this editorial!)

Here we have the second part of my impressions of the Summer 2021 anime season! As usual, these are just my subjective impressions of anime from a three or more episode viewing. The summer season has been mediocre, full of misfires that really didn’t connect to me or other viewers. It’s a sign of how there is too much anime coming out, and not enough time or people to properly flesh out the ideas. Who knows how good some of these could have been if they had proper time and talent attached to these projects. They also run into that problem of just because you can adapt something, doesn’t mean you can or should. Hopefully, the overly stuffed Fall 2021 Season will be better, but we will have to see. Let’s talk about these last few shows. 



Comedy/Romance 


Cheat Pharmacist’s Slow Life: Making a Drug Store in Another World (Crunchyroll)

Based on the novels, light novels, and manga by Kennoji, this anime adaptation is directed by Masafumi Sato, written by Hiroko Kanasugi, and produced by EMT Squared. This is the most middling mediocre isekai of the season. It’s not the worst one, but boy you had better be okay with watching a show that gets wildly repetitive. First off, we don’t know how the lead character got into this fantasy world or what he did beforehand. 

It’s a weird take, and while it is usually groan-inducing to see the lead character either die of being overworked or getting hit by a bus or a truck, the show, as of the episodes I watched, didn’t seem interested at all with telling us our lead’s backstory. 

Due to this being an EMT Squared anime, it’s more interested in having a male lead with a bunch of very young-looking women around him or falling for him than telling us a proper story. Listen, I’m not saying EMT Squared is a little sister or young girl harem anime studio, but after a while, you see a particular pattern in the shows they make. It’s luckily not directed by the guy who has made some of the studio’s more notorious shows like Assassin’s Pride or Master of Ragnarok, but it still has a few of those show’s worst elements. The little werewolf girl is meant to be this cute mascot for the character for the show, but her design is rough to look at, due to how it looks like she’s wearing just cotton panties/shorts and a vest that doesn’t cover her torso. Come on, anime industry, can we stop with these types of design tropes? I know you have to work hard and make your show look distinct from the other shows coming out, but let’s not cater to the creep crowd. It’s a shame this show is so mediocre, because an isekai all about potion making and health items sounds cool, and the visuals are decent enough to make for a different take on the isekai genre. 

It even has a few decent side characters that were enjoyable to see every time they are on screen. It’s a bummer they aren’t the actual focus of the show, since I don’t care for our main characters. It’s also too bad we already had a much better show all about this last season with The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent. Oh, and Cheat Pharmacist doesn’t handle a character who has anxiety attacks very well, so, yeah. It’s one of the more notable misfires of the summer season, but I can at least understand why someone would turn on this show due to how lightweight and junk foody it is. Due to some elements that rubbed me the wrong way, I can’t say it’s harmless, but if we want to talk about shows that I find morally repugnant, well, I know a few that I would call the worst of the season.  





The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated (Crunchyroll)

This quirky little comedy is based on the manga by Wakame Konbu, is directed by Mirai Minato, written by Michiko Yokote, and produced by Silver Link. I think outside of an obnoxious first episode, the show mellows out by the second and third episodes. I even watched the latest episode and found the show to have a lot of charm. I don’t care for Jahy’s child form wearing a large shirt though and the fact they keep focusing on her legs. 

The show also has a lot of humor relying on Jahy being poor, and those jokes get tiring fast. The show was at its best when it focused on different types of jokes and introducing characters that play well off of Jahy, like her loyal servant, her unknown rival/assassin, the owner of the apartment, or her friend she works with at the pub. When it focuses on those elements, the show is decent. Granted, I kept thinking about The Devil is a Part-Timer while watching this anime, but that’s a huge problem with many shows this season, where I was constantly thinking of other shows with similar premises that I would rather be watching than the one I am watching now. However, I can’t say that this was one of the worst of the season. It’s straight down the middle. It has its moments, but it’s a show I can see myself skipping for other ones. 












Remake Our Life (Crunchyroll)

Based on the manga and light novels by Nachi Kio, this adaptation is directed by Tomoki Kobayashi, written by Nachi Kio, and produced by Feel. I will be honest about two specific things. One, I forgot to put this within the slice of life category for the first half, so I’m sorry about that. The second thing is that this show doesn’t get off on the best foot forward. It’s an hour-long premiere, and I felt like it focused too much on the front half of our lead getting sent back in time 10 years to go to a different art school to restart his life. It also dips too much into art school drama and cheap fanservice moments. 

With that said, when it starts to dive into the main character interacting with his classmates for projects and their drives for what they want to do, the series seriously picks up. It might not be the best-executed drama, but considering how mediocre a lot of the stories were in all of the anime this season, I am all for a show that does eventually by the second episode get the ball rolling, and tell a compelling enough tale for the audience to enjoy. 



The Duke of Death and his Maid (Funimation) 

Consider this the problematic favorite of the entire summer season. It’s based on the manga by Koharou Inoue, and the anime adaptation is directed by Yoshinobu Yamakawa, written by Hideki Shirane, and is produced by JC Staff. Seeing the team behind this series makes a lot of sense when you consider that the director was behind High Score Girl. The CGI visuals and cutesy gothic aesthetic will look familiar to the director’s previous work. 

It’s called the problematic fave, because on the outside and as a whole, there is a genuinely sweet story about a young man who is fated to be alone due to a curse put on him. Anyone or any living thing he touches will die, and the only people in his life are his loyal butler and his very anime-looking maid. The chemistry between the two leads from the title is extremely sweet and wholesome. They have some of the best chemistry out of any duo this season. The romantic feelings for one another are believable and cute. Some of the show’s best moments are when the two are together and speaking sincerely to one another. 

So, what makes it a problematic fave? It’s because the show’s tone and how it portrays the duke and his maid’s dynamic seems to be at odds with one another. It’s supposed to be sweet and cute, but the dialogue, how the characters act, and the tone play it up as harassment that’s played for comedy. Harassment is not okay, and it’s weird how the show uses dialogue and sequences that reinforce that, when the show is also saying it’s not that harassy. It’s a very odd tone to a quirky show, and to some degree, you can understand why they took this angle. Still, I don’t care much for the Duke’s sister’s quirk of falling for the butler. That felt tacked on and weird. 


Even then, with one or two rewrites and a fix to the tone of how these scenes are shot, everything would feel more cohesive with the rather expressive CGI animation. It’s an incredibly charming show that could have used one more run-through with the tone or maybe a female director or perspective on how to make it feel more cohesive. It’s still one of the better anime of the season though, and if you want to see a cute romantic comedy with a gothic twist, then this show will be right up your alley. 











The Dungeon of Black Company (Funimation)

This anime is based on the manga by Yohei Yasumura, and the adaptation is directed by Mirai Minato, written by our recurring writer this season Deko Akao, and produced by Silver Link. At first, the series shows its cynical dark comedy fangs with an isekai that’s all about tearing down and commentating on the infamous Black Company-style working conditions seen throughout Japan. Considering the definition of Black Company, I assume you can find this kind of problematic work ethics in any work culture from around the world. It has shades of Konosuba, where our main character is a real pain in the neck who, due to working around legal loopholes, was originally a human who raked in the cash by making a few questionable business decisions. The anime then sends him straight into the deep end by forcing him to work in inhumane working conditions. It then expands on the overall commentary about the flaws of workforces driven by capitalism.  

Sometimes, anime that wants to dabble in serious topics, using humor with commentary falls flat due to not being able to balance out the two, but Dungeon of Black Company tends to hit it out of the park with being creative with the fantasy setting, having a cast that are likably dumb and mean, and the commentary is spot on with how twisted some major corporations can be for the pursuit of the bottom dollar. Personally, I had to briefly stop myself from watching the show due to how much I was laughing and enjoying my time with the show. 

Of course, there is a reason why some people find the setting so disgusting, due to the real-life Black Company policies being used on actual people. Sometimes comedy has lines they shouldn’t cross, and that will be dependent on what that individual’s taste in comedy is. With that being said, with how many mediocre comedies and fantasy shows are out this season, anime fans should be happy there are a few isekai/fantasy shows that have more meat to their discussions. 




Action/Adventure



 Itaden Deities Only know Peace (Crunchyroll)

Content Warning: Rape is shown at the end of the first episode and is a constant thing in the overall show. I won’t blame you for wanting to bail after this warning. 

This anime is based on the manga by Amahara. It’s directed by Seimei Kidokoro, written by Hiroshi Seko, and produced by MAPPA. Honestly, while Gods of Highschool still might be MAPPA’s worst anime, Itaden Deities is right up there. This hot mess of a show feels like it was meant to be a dark comedy of fantasy action shows like YuYu Hakusho, mixed with the visual style of Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid, which is not a subtle comparison due to how the illustrator, Coolkyousinnjya designed the look of both Itaden and Dragon Maid series. It also has a ton of that edgelord tripe from the late 80s/early 90s anime era, where rape and assault are played up as huge elements of the story and even as jokes, which, you know, aren’t great. It has a decent hook at the beginning about the morality tale of Deities. They were meant to protect the human race, but due to how the newest batch never had to fight demons until a few episodes into the show, they don’t know how to react. 

I can see that hook being a really solid bit of commentary. With that said, it doesn’t work because I do not like these characters. You can make flawed and obnoxious characters interesting, but the lead characters in this show are some of the most unlikable I have seen this season. Even when the villains are also complete garbage, I would rather invest time with the villains than the heroes who are insufferable. 

By the time I caught up with the rest of the episodes, the show got worse when the stakes became nonexistent. Why should anyone care about what happens when the humans suck, the villains suck, and the heroes are intolerable jerks? There is no balance with it being stupidly violent and edgy. Anytime it gets better, it takes five steps back. This is one of MAPPA’s worst shows, and easily one of the worst shows of the season and the year. I’m so mad this wasn’t better. If you like it, that’s perfectly okay, but for me, I just can not recommend this to anyone. 




Spirit Chronicles (Crunchyroll)

This wildly mediocre isekai anime adaptation is directed by Osamu Yamasaki, co-written by Yamasaki, Megumu Sasano, and Yoshiko Namakura, produced by TMS Entertainment, and is based on the novels and manga by Yuri Kitayama. Outside of an incredibly dark way of making our characters teleport, and a slight twist to the formula with some of the characters having to share a mind and body of a pre-existing individual in the fantasy world, everything else is awful. 

It has cartoonishly mean characters who are bordering on a parody of rich classist individuals. There are no real surprises in terms of what the roles of our main characters are, and the biggest problem is that it does want to be something distinct. It has moments where it either builds up the lore of the world and has proper character moments that expand on our otherwise bland leads. It then drops those beats and turns into another mediocre isekai fantasy series that wants to be another Sword Art Online in more ways than one. Seriously, it took me three episodes to realize that the lead in the opening looks exactly like the lead in SAO. It also has some of the EMT Squared blood in its DNA as the lead has a harem of really young-looking girls and it’s never not uncomfortable. I know the isekai genre is super popular, but maybe we should take a break from adapting them if they are going to be this bad. It’s easily one of the worst anime of the season. 



How a Realist Hero Rebuilds a Kingdom (Funimation) 

The title should be How to Not Have Fun in an Isekai or How To Take A Comedic Idea and Ruin It! This anime adaptation is based on the novels and manga by Dojyomaru, directed by Takashi Watanabe, co-written by Go Zappa and Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by JC Staff. I was looking forward to this anime, due to the premise of an isekai where the story and action take a seat on the throne of running a kingdom from a “realistic” perspective. It’s not so much about the action as it is more about running a healthy and fair kingdom.

That sounds great. Too bad someone decided to lean into the more “work” side of things, leaving me unimpressed with how seriously they are taking the “realist” part of the show’s title. This whole anime and story feels like an anime made for those smarmy individuals that made articles that kickstarted Disney’s live-action remake train, because no one ever accepts that a fantasy story should be full of, well, fantasy/fantastical elements. This show is a boring sit, but it’s not like I don’t get how this can gel with someone. 

It has a few decent jokes, and to be fair, I have heard the anime doesn’t do a great job at portraying the source material’s charm and appeal. Well, that’s too bad, but even if I at all cared about whether the manga was good or not, the anime has to stand on its own legs. Being bored in a pretty generic fantasy world with a few elements that bug me is what I got from watching the first few episodes of this show. 

It’s not the worst show of the season since it is technically doing what the title set out to do, but I think if this series leaned more on the comedy aspect of this show’s premise, I would have enjoyed it more. How much fun would it be if it took the One Punch Man approach to subversive comedy, taking full advantage of how goofy this plot is and then have fun with it trying to be as realistic as possible? I think I’m also a bit burned by this anime, because I was looking forward to it, only to find out the actual anime I was curious about was coming out two seasons from now in Winter 2022. If they didn’t fully commit to being so realistic with how a realist would run a kingdom, maybe I would have enjoyed it more. Check it out if you want, there is a dub available, but this show was not my cup of tea. 







Battle Game in 5 Seconds After Meeting (Crunchyroll)

Another battle royale? Must be a day that ends in Y. This one is based on the manga by Saizo Harawata, and the anime adaptation is directed by Meigo Naito and Nobouyoshi Arai and produced by SynergySP, Vega Entertainment, and Studio A-Cat. Well, it’s another battle royale. It doesn’t do a whole lot to differentiate itself from other anime in the genre, and that’s becoming a huge problem. Why adapt something when there is no real meaty hook to make you stand out from the rest? It has one interesting hook with the lead character’s ability, where he has to convince his opponents what his abilities are, but that’s it. 

I guess it’s nice that the lead character is not a pushover, and whimpering about not wanting to be there, but they did make him a sociopathic monster, so, I guess you pick your poison on which one is worse. The other characters don’t stand out much, and the only thing that is fun to look up about this show are the voice actors with the sadistic cat girl being voiced by Haruko’s voice actor from FLCL and the dude with the sword ability voiced by the Japanese voice of Zoro from One Piece. It is a show that wants to be super grimdark and edgy, and it keeps doing so in the most cartoonish of ways. By trying to come off edgy, it comes off as edgeless. It can be a pseudo-fun time during certain battles, but I can already watch much better battle royales and much better action shows from this and previous seasons. It’s a vapid show that is another low point for this season full of low points. 






D_Cide Traumerei the Animation (Crunchyroll) 

Based on the mobile game by Sumzap and Drecom, this anime adaptation is directed by Yoshikazu Kon, written by Hiroshi Onogi, and produced by Zanzigen. Do you know what we have here? It is yet another anime with something really good about it, but undermined by mediocre storytelling and writing. First off, this is probably some of the best CGI animation of the season. It looks incredible and the fight scenes are well executed. It has some of the season’s best action sequences! 

But then it comes to the story and how it tries to do the whole “we have social commentary” approach, and this is where it falls flat. I don’t hate it when shows try to cover tough topics, but if you are going to touch topics like abuse, drugs, and toxic fans, maybe you should handle them with care and not like some uneducated teenager who thinks they know everything. I’m so sick of shows this season with half-baked plots and half-hearted executions of themes and commentary. 





Tsukimichi: Moonlit Fantasy (Crunchyroll) 

Who would have thought that one of the best shows this season would be an isekai? It’s based on the manga and novels by Kei Azumi, and the anime is directed by Shinji Ishihara, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by C2C. It finally happened. We have an isekai this season that wasn’t complete garbage! 

While the comparisons to That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime are understandable, the novels came out a year before Slime got started, so technically, Slime should be thankful for Moonlit Fantasy. They even have some fairly similar elements of the main character getting warped to a fantasy world and befriending/making contracts with powerful individuals. Moonlit takes it in a more comedic direction where the lead gets two hot women who are loyal to him, but not in a horny fanservicey way. Even the lead getting sent to the fantasy world gets the raw end of the deal from that world’s goddess, and has to get bailed out by another deity to actually survive in the world. 


It has some real top-notch comedy, action, and character dynamics. It’s able to mix its comedic edge with sincere character moments and solid action. It’s one of the anime this season that feels the most cohesive, outside of Uramichi Oniisan and The Aquatope on White Sand. It stands as one of the best anime of the season and of the year so far.

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!

Spring 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 2

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(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 review!)


Here we are with part 2! Let’s do this! 



Drama



Higehiro: I Shaved and then Brought Home a High School Girl (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the novels and manga by Shimesaba, the anime was directed by Manabu Kamikita, written by Deko Akao, and produced by Project No. 9. I am so frustrated with this show. Not because it’s one of the worst shows this season, but because it has a decent idea. While the base idea is already a bit uncomfortable, you see how the show unfolds and it turns out to be this drama about young adults and the baggage that they carry with them. They do talk about it and interact with one another like real individuals. It’s uncomfortable, but at times, it’s uncomfortable for the right reasons with these characters coming to terms with what they carry with them and how they interact with friends and people they are close to. On the flip side, it’s also filled with fanservice and the show keeps using shots to leer at the young girl and the women in this show, and it can’t seem to balance out what it wants to be. Does it want to be this adult drama that tackles uncomfortable elements and the emotional baggage you carry? Or does it want to be a fanservice show? Granted, so far from what I have seen, it doesn’t want to entirely be about the fanservice, but it’s distracting enough to make the experience of watching the show a tough sit. I think I’m more disappointed with how it handles its themes and story than downright mad. Still, I wish it focused on just the drama. 




86 (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the light novels and manga by Asato Asato, this A1 Pictures-produced series is directed by Toshimasa Ishii and written by Toshiya Ono. What this anti-war drama gets right is what might be the biggest criticism aimed at it right now with how it handles its commentary and themes about discrimination and war with the carefulness of a sledgehammer. It’s very blunt about its beliefs and its story about a society of people who use “AI”-control mechs to fight, while in reality, the “AI” are humans that are of different races than the ones who sit back and do something. Normally, this would be a major issue since everyone loves to scream and rave about subtly while missing films and shows with subtle elements. I’m fine with them being blunt about the show’s themes and commentary. Sometimes, you need to tell them upfront what you are about. Luckily, the comradery between the 86 team members is constantly entertaining and feels like they are real friends. The action does use a lot of CGI, and while it comes with some of the typical clunkiness that is seen in none MAPPA and Studio Orange-produced CGI series, it’s a lot better here than in other anime from this season or previous seasons. However, the action is handled well and is intense. They also find a great balance in the drama, the action, and the moments of lightweight wholesomeness. It’s not subtle, but it’s a good anti-war drama that I think is one of the highlights of the season. 





Tokyo Revengers (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Ken Wakui, this delinquent school drama with a time travel twist was directed by Koichi Hatsumi, written by Yasuyuki Muto, and produced by Liden Films. What seems like a first in such a long time, we have an honest-to-god school delinquent story. It takes a few creative twists about its setting and how the lead can go back in time to try and prevent the death of a girl he dated in the past. I think what works about the show are the character dynamics. I found the lead way more interesting than he came off at first, and when he meets one of the future gang leaders, it sets off this chain reaction of relationships that I admired. Maybe it’s because it’s been a while or what feels like a long time since we have seen a school delinquent anime, but it feels new and fresh. Now, granted, I was not fond of the first episode. I found it a bit too try-hard in showing how pathetic our main character is, his friends from middle school were obnoxious (even if they were middle school boys, they were a bit much), and it was a bummer that the girl that our lead is trying to save gets relegated at first to being an object of a goal. However, as I went through the episodes, the friends got better, the lead got better, and it has turned into one of my favorite shows of the season. I hope it can keep the momentum up. 






Those Snow White Notes (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Marimo Ragawa, this show is directed by Hiroaki Akagi, written by Kan’ichi Kato, and produced by Shin-Ei Animation. This is hands down the best drama of the anime season with its focus on finding your sound aka your way in life through the power and mastery of the shamisen. Outside of gorgeous production values, solid comedy, and a more introspective take on the character’s arc, you have music that was supervised by the famous Yoshida Brothers, and it does make up for how much their talent was wasted back in the Summer 2020 season on 2020’s worst anime, Gibiate. The shamisen music heard throughout the show brings so much emotional depth that I was instantly hypnotized by the stand-out moments of each episode when a character would play the stringed instrument. It’s a show that truly stands out and so far, I have no real complaints about it. Now, if I continue watching the show and I find faults with it, maybe I’ll do quick little anime reviews going over the overall season of the show. 

Action/adventure

Combatants Will Be Dispatched (Funimation) 

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Based on the light novels by Natsume Akatsuki, this adaptation is directed by Hiraki Akagi, written by Yukie Sugawara, and produced by J.C. Staff. Well, it might be from the same author as Konosuba, but it is not by the same anime team that made Konosuba the smash hit that it was. This show is very confused about what it wants to be. Is it set in a sci-fi world with fantasy? or is it a fantasy world with sci-fi elements, because by episode three, they pretty much dispatched the sci-fi elements in favor of fantasy offerings. What also doesn’t have that thing that made Konosuba work are the characters. Instead of having Konosuba‘s chaotically likable idiots, Combatants has characters who have none of that energy or drive that made the other property so fun to watch. What you get here are an annoying lead, a robot girl who looks like a young child, and a harem of quirky characters that don’t have much going for them outside of their one personality trait. The jokes are also not funny. Some got a mild chuckle, but the exact kind of jokes you would find in such a show are all here and accounted for. The one thing missing is any of the major jokes being funny. It’s a shame that I didn’t like this show because it makes me wonder if the Konosuba anime just got lucky it got a director and team that understood the goal or if the author of both this anime and Konosuba were not good. Maybe the source material is better than the adaptation, but as of right now, I do not want to watch these combatants be dispatched! 



Seven Knights Revolution: The Hero’s Successor (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on a mobile game we can’t even play in the states, this anime adaptation is directed by Kazuya Ichikawa, written by Ukyo Kodachi, and produced by Liden Films and DOMERICA. It’s a real bog-standard action fantasy RPG with characters and a story you have seen before. Even the monsters look painfully generic. It’s always amusing how we get these anime for games we don’t get access to, because if you don’t know about the game, then why would you watch this show? It’s fine if you don’t play the game, but since I’ve seen this whole premise and cast of characters before, it doesn’t add anything to my experience that I couldn’t get with other action shows this season. When the action does kick in, it’s fine, but you can do a lot better this season than this anime. 


Cestvs: Roman Fighter (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Shizuya Wazarai, this anime is directed by Toshifumi Kawase and Kazuya Monma, written by Toshifumi Kawase, and produced by Bandai Namco Pictures and Logic & Magic. While we might not have an Ex-Arm this season in terms of bad CGI animation, Cestvs almost hits that mark. While it has better CGI animation with weight behind the movements and actual lip movements, the show suffers everywhere else. The main character is way too whiny, the aristocrats are pushed to an unlikability that’s not tolerable, and the side characters are boring. However, it then also pulls the stunt of being a mix of 2D and CGI, and while it’s better implemented than Ex-Arm, the show suffers by not fully going the route of CGI. Also, this whole gladiatorial combat stuff has been debunked by historical findings, so seeing some of the inaccuracies pop up that are only there to drive the story is humorous to me. It has a few interesting characters, and it doesn’t 100% fail at brushing the horrors of slavery under the rug, but even after going 4 episodes deep into this show, I can’t find myself going back to it. The only real reason to watch this show is the combat, but when there are so many anime this season with great action set pieces, then why would you go for the weaker shows in the action category when you can get something better? I would personally skip it unless you are curious about seeing a boxing anime that takes place in ancient Rome. 





The World Ends With You: The Animation (Funimation) 

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Based on the cult-favorite video game from Square Enix, this adaptation is directed by Kazuya Ichikawa, written by Midori Goto, and produced by DOMERICA and Shin-Ei Animation. Well, it’s an anime adaptation of a video game. You get all of the cutscenes, but none of the fun of actually playing the game. It’s an extremely dense three episodes as we go from story beat to story beat with no time for stopping to take it all in. It got better by the third episode, and I would consider this to be one of the better action shows of the season. It’s not better than some of the other anime out this season, but I can see myself wanting to see how this show ends. 




Mars RED (Funimation) 

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Based on a manga by Bun-O Fujisawa, this action drama is directed by Kohei Hatano and Shinya Sadamitsu, written by Jun’ichi Fujisaku, and produced by Signal.MD. This show set in 1923 and dealing with an elite unit to take care of a blossoming vampire problem was one of the first shows of the season and one of the first to get a dub. I’m not entirely sure why, but I found myself enthralled with this vampire drama. It’s not doing anything unique, but I think having the characters be adults let the scenes that have them contemplating about their vampire nature be handled better here than most stories that deal with the blood-sucking monsters. There are some truly heartbreaking moments in the show and I was compelled and pulled into their stories. The action is more grounded, but it has some small fantastical elements sprinkled in that make for some truly great visual moments. Speaking of the visuals, Mars RED is one of the most gorgeous shows I have seen this season with perfect linework, expressive animation, and the designs and world overall feel cohesive. I can understand why some people aren’t as into this show as others, but I see myself getting back into this show once I’m done writing this article. 


Joran: The Princess of Snow and Blood (Crunchyroll) 

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Joran is an original anime this season directed by Susumu Kudo and produced by Bakken Records. It’s an anime version of the Lady Snowblood films mixed with Blood+, and turn-of-the-century technology (the late 1800s maybe early 1900s). I compare it to these elements because it has a stellar female lead who slays shapeshifting demons while wondering what is going on with the shady underbelly of the organization she works for and the targets they go after. It has pretty great animation, and when the power sets are turned on, the animation takes on an entirely different visual style that is so much fun to watch. It has great characters, intriguing plot twists, and lots of creative action that has impressed me within the five episodes I had watched.





To Your Eternity (Crunchyroll) 

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Based on the manga by Yoshitoki Oima, this adaptation is directed by Masahiko Murata, written by Shinzo Fujita, and produced by Brain’s Base. Without a doubt, To Your Eternity has made one of the biggest and best first impressions out of any anime this season. The first episode would have been amazing as its own little short film. Then you realize it has more story after that first episode! They threw a lot of talent and resources into this show if they got Utada Hikaru to do the theme song. It’s an ambitious story about life and the human experience as we follow our lead character as it interacts with the characters it meets. It’s a show that has a lot of enticing dialogue, creative world-building, and the individual the story is revolving around actually does become the main focus as the story goes on. Still, if you are against shows that have a sort of passive main character that traverses the story, you might not like this, and some story beats might be a bit much. Still, I have enjoyed the story and admired the ambition that this show has. It’s easily one of my favorite shows of the season so far. Now, will it stay that way, who knows? 






Romance/Comedy



It’s Too Sick to Call this Love aka Koikimo (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Mogusu, this anime adaptation is directed by Naomi Nakayama and produced by Nomad. This is an age gap romance where a man who is obviously in his 30s, is falling for a teenage girl, and the anime only seems half of the time aware of how creepy this premise is. You can spew all of the “well it’s a different culture and age of consent” comments as you want, but when one side of the party is not okay with the guy hitting on her constantly, then any defenses become null and void. The show only calls out the fact the guy is a creep half of the time! The other half is everyone gaslighting the high school girl that “hey maybe he’s not that bad” when all he does is stalk her, send her presents, and then does the bare minimum of a guy being nice and kind. Maybe this anime adaptation would have been better if it was leaning more on the dunking on the male lead and the animation was better, but it’s not. Alongside Burning Kabaddi and that Battle Athletes reboot, this is one of the cheapest-looking productions this season. The designs might be okay, but the animation is downright mediocre. It’s stiff and lifeless, and that’s saying something when you can say “Hey, The Way of the Househusband, a motion comic, is better animated than three of the shows in this anime season”. The opening and ending songs for Koikimo are okay, but that’s about all the kindness I have for this show. If I were ranking these shows, this would be right at the very bottom. I can’t see myself wanting to see how they gaslight the girl into loving the guy twice her age. 


The Romcom Where The Childhood Friend Won’t Lose (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the light novel and manga by Shuichi Nimaru, this adaptation is directed by Takashi Naoya, written by Yoriko Tomita, and produced by Doga Kobo. This might be the one anime this season where I don’t honestly don’t know where I stand on it. I enjoy it way more than Koikimo, but I don’t know if I downright love this show. On one hand, the first episode has a lot of ideas that rub me the wrong way. A high school boy is getting revenge on a girl because she is going out with another guy, and a girl who was crushing on our lead teams up with him to get revenge on the girl. But then you get to episode 3 and so many twists happen that it turns into less of a revenge fantasy with some rom-com elements, and more of a dysfunctional rom-com of teenagers who are in love and have no real idea of how to handle these emotions. The production values are okay, and so far, the cast is only okay, but something about this show grabbed me as I went on through it. Maybe I’ll pick it up again, but I will have to see if I do want to return. 




Don’t Toy with Me, Miss Nagataro (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Nanashi, this series is directed by Hirokazu Hanai, written by Taku Kishimoto, and produced by Telecom Animation Film. Who would have thought about a rom-com with a bullying fetish would be good? It’s not something I’m personally interested in, but the comedy is well-executed. Now if you aren’t into bully fetishes, then you won’t enjoy the titular character’s antics with the male lead. However, Nagataro herself is a sadistically delightful character who has some of the most expressive animations out of any character this season. While some of the teasings can lean a little too hard on being mean, there is this sincere kindness and teenage awkwardness under it all that makes it a delightful show to watch. You can tell she isn’t meaning to be a jerk, and she’s being more of a doofus crushing on the lead character who doesn’t get how to approach him respectably. The male lead isn’t the most interesting character at first but becomes more interesting as the show goes on. It’s a show I was wary about with how it would turn out, but I ended up enjoying it quite a lot and I can see myself wanting to finish it up alongside Dragon Goes House Hunting as my two comedies of the season. 

And there you have it! The Spring 2021 Anime Season watch is complete. I am burnt out on anime, and I need to take a small break before I can fully dive in and enjoy more anime when the summer season heats up. Still, even if most of these shows didn’t pan out, I was happy enough with the ones I loved. 

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!

Spring 2021 Anime Season Impressions Part 1

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(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 review!)

The Spring 2021 anime season decided to come back swinging with even more anime than the infamous Winter 2021 season. It was almost exhausting to watch so many, but there was a lot of anime that was quite fantastic! It will be some of the best anime we will be seeing this year. Even the worst anime of the season aren’t worse than Ex Arm and Redo of Healer. That’s why I’m going to split this one into two parts due to how many shows there were to cover. As usual, this is only covering the new anime of the season. No returning series and I’ll only cover anime reboots if they are important in some way shape or form. No rankings this time either. I’m giving my 3+ ep impressions on these shows in terms of what genre they are in. Animation is a medium of storytelling, and anime is very good at going in different directions with their stories. Let’s start, shall we? 


Sports


Battle Athletes Victory Restart (Funimation)

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Based on the manga by Yuki Nakano, this new iteration/reboot of the fan-favorite series is directed by Tokihiro Sasaki and is produced by Seven. Let me ask you a question. Remember in the Fall 2020 season there was that great Higurashi sequel reboot thing that got people to talk about Higurashi again? Well, this one will get people talking, but for all of the wrong reasons. This reboot is not good. It’s not only bad at setting up what kind of plot we are getting into, but the characters are also flat, cookie-cutter, and the animation is easily some of the worst this season has to offer. For a show that’s going to be about intense athletic challenges, the animation is very basic. No weight is put behind the movements and you think they would make the sports stuff look exciting and thrilling. It comes off like a show that was made because they made a deal to make it to keep the rights of the property more than any real passion behind it. Also, while this show may aim at a female audience, it sure loves to have a ton of male gaze elements like looking at character’s butts, and it is more interested with the yuri baiting than telling a more followable story. Also, since one character has prosthetics, couldn’t they have made it appear like something that wasn’t looking like they pulled some pantyhose over one arm and leg? Oh, and this show doesn’t earn its political space drama either. No one gives a rat’s behind about this world or the main story. Eh, either way, Battle Athletes Victory Restart is easily one of the weakest shows of the season, and the only thing it will get people talking about is the original anime from the 90s. 







Burning Kabaddi (Crunchyroll) 

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Burning Kabaddi is a sports anime based on the manga by Hajime Musashino. It’s directed by Kazuya Ichikawa and produced by TMS Entertainment. I always look for a sports anime with a unique hook. For example, this is a sports anime where the sport in question is Kabaddi, which is full-contact tag. That sounds great! Too bad that this is one of the cheapest-looking anime of the season. It doesn’t have the best animation and for a sport that I said is a more aggressive tag, then that’s a huge problem. It doesn’t help either that this is by a studio and director that are busy with other projects. Unless said otherwise, it sounds like this anime got the short end of resources. The voice acting is decent, and some of the leads are amusing, but it doesn’t stand out. It makes me wonder if this project went to someone like Studio Mappa. The animation would have been better. Even then, it has a severe case of “been there done that” in terms of its story and characters. I was honestly looking forward to this anime, so it makes me sad that it wasn’t better. It’s, at the very least, earnest in its execution that I can’t fully hate it as much as some other anime this season. 





Farewell, My Dear Cramer! (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the manga by Naoshi Arakawa, this anime adaptation was directed by Seiki Takuno, written by Natsuko Takahashi, and produced by Liden Films. Unfortunately, this is yet another sports anime this season that suffers from major production issues. It’s a show where the visuals are at some points decent, but keep leaning into the wholly mediocre territory. For a sports anime about running and kicking a ball, it all feels so stiff and lifeless like Battle Athletes. The character designs look so wonky. A friend of mine described it as if they were given the eyes and lips of a fish, and I can’t unsee it that way now. At first, it looks like they were going for a more retro-inspired design for the characters, but it’s not gone far enough to warrant the “retro” vibe, and then there are some weird inconsistent designs. It doesn’t help that it’s hard to know who is the real main character of the show. Due to it being a team of girls, it keeps shifting between the ones who play a more important role in the story. I get why they keep focusing on so many, but with how slow-paced the progression of the story is going, it doesn’t seem like we are going to know anytime soon who is the main focus, and the story isn’t good enough to care about who wins, and that’s a shame. I love the drama angle of how popularity is dropping for women-driven soccer, but that needed to be the focus, not watching the team of the story fail and deal with intensely smug champion teams. I’m so bummed that this one isn’t better, because I was hoping to find a soccer anime that I could love, but this sure ain’t it. 

Bakuten! Aka Backflip! (Crunchyroll) 

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Oh my goodness! We have an actual good sports anime this season! This original anime is directed by Toshimasa Kuroyanagi, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Zexcs. This is the sports anime of the season that has everything the other sports shows are lacking. You have beautiful animation that masterfully matches fluid and expressive 2D animation with CGI, likable and hugely memorable characters, and a story with stakes that are just big enough to keep the story moving forward, but doesn’t treat the experience like it’s the end of the world. It has incredibly wholesome energy with the story, music, and character chemistry that makes for easily one of the best shows to watch of the Spring 2021 season. 






Fantasy/Isekai

Full Dive (Funimation)

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Based on the light novels and manga by Light Tuchihi, this anime adaptation was directed by Kazuya Miura, written by Kenta Ihara, and produced by Studio ENGI. This was advertised as a dark comedy take on the VRMMO anime series like Sword Art Online, but this one has a devilishly solid gimmick. The VRMMO in this anime is so realistic that there are no traditional game gimmicks and so on. It’s pretty much a game that drops you into a hard mode crafted by From Software and the teams behind those obtuse adventure games. Sadly, for as great as the first episode starts, the rest of the show, so far, has failed to live up to that first episode. It seems more comfortable explaining the more “realistic” elements of the game itself than doing something fun with them, and the characters aren’t that interesting. It also loves to slide into mean-spirited dialogue and interactions, but not balance it out to where we are rooting for anyone. The main character is dull and has every right to be mad at how he got conned into buying this game, the female lead is irredeemably awful, and it doesn’t have that flow or execution that makes anime like Konosuba work. It’s trying very hard to reconcile the game with the real world, but it’s neither fun nor interesting to be in this game world. Maybe it will get better, but when you start with such a strong first episode, only to flop hard in the second and third episodes, it makes me not want to watch the rest to see what happens. Maybe I will give it an episode or two more, but so far, it’s easily one of the biggest disappointments of the anime season. 




I’ve Been Killing Slimes for 300 Years and Maxed Out My Level (Crunchyroll)

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Based on the light novels by Kisetsu Morita, this anime adaptation is directed by Nobukage Kimura and was produced by Revoroot. Yes, it’s another isekai, and yes, it is about an individual who died of being overworked. That’s why I was curious to see how they take the “I maxed out my level and now have god-tier powers, but all I want to do is be left alone.” angle the marketing made it out to be. On one hand, I think it is a smarter show than its very obvious all-woman harem elements offer. It does dive into how the lead makes sure none of her now newly adopted family members (who are of course cute monster girls) don’t make the same mistakes as she did back in the real world. It also does its job of being a cute fantasy-comedy as it has some very solid jokes. I’m just not pulled into the overall story yet. I think it’s because it feels like they took the premise and halted it for cute harem shenanigans, and while we now have two spirit girls, a dragon girl, and a clumsy elf girl, I have seen better versions of these characters before. I think it’s not hitting it out of the park fully, and maybe I’m just thinking about how Taoteba Last Dungeon and Konosuba took more advantage of their premises by the first episode. Still, I don’t hate this series, but I wouldn’t be shocked if I decided to drop it after another episode or so. I at least think the characters hold up the plot more than most isekai shows. It’s cute and harmless, and sometimes, that’s all you need. 

The Saint’s Magic Power is Omnipotent (Funimation) 

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Based on the light novel series by Yuka Tachibana, this adaptation is directed by Shota Ihata, written by Wataru Watari, and produced by Diomedia. I was first hooked on the premise of a regular working-class woman who gets swept to another world, only to find out she was swept to this world by accident with the real “chosen one”. It’s something I haven’t seen tackled in a lot of isekai, and I fell for this show even more once she decided to sit back and do her own thing. She didn’t want to save the world or deal with some demon king, but instead, she wanted to make potions. Sei Takanashi, our lead character, ends up making the world she is in a better place by simple actions of healing and helping out the individuals that would otherwise get looked over in other isekai stories. It does have a male harem element with three guys that may or may not be crushing on her all at once, but it doesn’t feel as skeezy as other anime with these types of setups. It’s a slow burn, but it’s a burn that has been worth it. 

Dragon Goes House Hunting (Funimation) 

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Based on the manga by Kawo Tanuki, this adaptation is directed by Haruki Kasugamori and is produced by Signal. MD. You would think with a premise about a dragon wanting to find his own home with the help of a demon lord real-estate agent it would have a limited range in humor and writing, but it’s a show that knows how to expand on its setting and isn’t stuck on the elevator pitch of a premise. It’s got a great dynamic between the dragon and our real estate agent, and it uses every situation with getting the dragon a new home to have some kind of expansion on the world, the characters, or the story. It might not have the best animation since it feels like it wants to stay heavily on model due to how detailed the characters are, the show does do a good job transitioning to more comedic animation, and the jokes are funny! It’s a show that was an early favorite this season, and I’m so glad it feels like a fully realized comedy and fantasy anime. It’s probably my favorite comedy this season since shows like Combatants Must Be Dispatched have underperformed. 




Other 

Blue Reflection Ray (Funimation) 

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Based on the game developed by Gust, this video game adaptation is directed by Risako Yoshida, written by Akiko Waba, and produced by JC Staff. It’s boring. It’s supposed to be this dramatic battle royale anime with powers that revolve around girls teaming up with other girls and being defined by emotions. It does a really bad job at explaining how it all works, the characters are pretty forgettable, and I had a hard time remembering the names of the two leads. The art direction looks nice, but there is a real lack of movement. Characters will stand around to drag out scenes, and I know this is typical for anime shows, but it feels so restrictive and with such a distinct visual style, it only makes the stiffness stand out even more. There could have been a really interesting way to tackle this story and world, but I gave it the three-episode rule, and well, I won’t be watching any more beyond that.








Pretty Boys Detective Club (Funimation) 

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Based on the novel series by Nisio Isin, this anime adaptation is directed by Akiyuki Shinbo, Hajime Ootani, written by Akiyuki Shinbo and Shaft, and produced by Shaft. Well, with a name like Pretty Boys Detective Club, you have to assume it’s going to be a very pretty show, and boy howdy does it have some of the best visual eye candy in terms of this show’s visual presentation. Great designs, fluid animation, and stylish visuals carry this entire show. The impressive visuals also carry into the writing of the show that is fairly dense with the first three episodes’ storyline of helping a girl find a star in the sky. It turns from a solid mystery of a heartbroken girl to the girl having the eyesight to see something she wasn’t supposed to see. It takes a huge leap, and while the dialogue is a bit much and some of this is familiar ground, if you are looking for something like a mix of Ouran Highschool Host Club with some bonkers detective work, then this will easily be the show for you! 




Vivy: Fluorite Eye’s Song (Funimation)

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This is an entirely original anime by creators Tappei Nagatsuki and Eiji Umehara. It’s directed by Shinpei Ezaki, written by the creators, and produced by WIT Studios. Vivy is a wildly ambitious sci-fi story about time travel, the commentary about man and machine, and morality. The story about a futuristic AI being sent back in time to prevent a robot uprising that kills the human race in the future is some truly compelling stuff when you realize who this AI has to team up with to save humanity. The other side of the equation is the first AI android who the future AI goes to find doesn’t believe this super AI from the future is telling the truth. The real drama and driving force are the different ideals of the two AIs as they try and fix the past so the future doesn’t unfold into bloodshed, but then small wrinkles come up from time to time that throw a wrench into the situation, and it makes for an extremely compelling story. I wish it was dubbed because the future AI talks way too fast and it’s hard to keep up with the subtitles at points. Otherwise, it’s one of Spring’s most intriguing anime. 






Odd Taxi (Crunchyroll)

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This is a very cool original anime this season. It’s directed by Baku Kinoshita, written by Kazuya Konomoto, and produced by OLM Inc, and P.I.C.S. It does have a manga, but it was an original series first and foremost. This is a mix of a drama, a thriller, and a slice-of-life anime about the world that revolves around this lone walrus taxi driver and the storylines that spin-off of his encounters with both familiar faces and new individuals. It’s an anime I can’t quite compare to many that are out these days or not right off the top of my head. It’s like someone took the tone of something like The Wire or Fargo and mixed it up with Zootopia and Beastars with the designs from Animal Crossing. It’s an anime that truly stands out among the pack from not only its visuals, but its low-key story and perfect writing. I want to see what happens with all of these characters to see how the mystery around this missing girl unfolds and how these stories interact and finish. It’s an anime that was made with my kind of sensibilities. If I was ranking these anime individually and not by genre category, it would easily be in my top five. I highly recommend people check out this show because it hooks you within the first episode and doesn’t let go. 



Slice of Life

Super Cub (Funimation))

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Based on the light novel series by Tone Koken, this anime adaptation was directed by Toshiro Fujii, written by Toshizo Nemoto, and produced by Studio Kai. So far, from what I have seen, there is a real polarizing reception to this show. You either love how low-key and slow it is, or you find it too much of a slow burn to get through. I’m in the middle. I do like it due to how low key it is, but it is a touch too slow. The writing can also come off as making the lead character, Koguma, a touch dafter than she is. The CGI is also hit and miss as it doesn’t always blend well with the 2D characters or backgrounds. However, something about this show just clicks with me. I love the low-key vibes, I like the 2D visuals, the interaction between the leads, and the calming music. It reminds me of an indie game where all you do is drive around and listen to the music and just have a no-stress time. It won’t be for everyone, and I wouldn’t consider this a top 10 anime of the Spring season, but at least it is what is advertised and it doesn’t fall apart like Full Dive and Combatants Must Be Dispatched




Fairy Ranmaru (Crunchyroll)

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Hey, look, another original anime this season. This one is produced by Studio Comet, written by Jo Aoba, and directed by Kosuke Kobayashi and Masakazu Hishida. At first, I was enjoying the abstract dumbness of this one. A bunch of hot men who come from different fairy clans comes to earth to help clients expel the toxic and negativity in their lives via abstract combat. Within the combat encounters, the men transform in extremely horny ways into their fairy forms. It’s a dumb trashy anime that could have worked. I love the music, the transformations are delightfully horny to give the middle finger to male-focused fanservice. And yes, this isn’t the first anime to do such a thing, but it’s so rare, that it’s delightful to see it when it does happen. I like a lot of the little ideas about the leads and how the rules work. However, it’s a hot mess and it doesn’t always blend. It seems like it’s always at the edge of going down the right direction with its content but then doesn’t go far enough. I wish it went full dumb, but it also wants to be about something. I don’t know if I want to see what happens next after the three episodes I watched. If you like dumb but sincere anime, then, by all means, watch this one, but I can easily list a few other shows that go all the way with their fun dumb premise that do it better than Fairy Ranmaru



Shadows House (Funimation)

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Based on a manga by Su-mat-to, this adaptation is directed by Kazuki Ohashi, written by Toshiya Ono, and produced by CloverWorks. Okay, before we continue, let’s get the joke out of the way first, this is where all the resources that were for The Promised Neverland Season 2 went after the Neverland committee simply gave up on the second season. Anyway, Shadows House is a great show! I love the mystery behind this world of shadowy individuals, living dolls, and the commentary that can be picked from not only the environment but the dialogue and the ideas at play here. The dolls are rather complex characters, and their dynamics with the Shadows are really interesting to watch in motion. It has nice animation, the designs are distinct, and the writing has kept me invested in this show, which is why I’m going to so far, stick with it. 

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!