The Best and Worst Anime of Winter 2023 – Latest trending news

Winter was a far quieter season compared to its loud, bombastic brother (aka Fall 2022). While media can live and die by its ability to hype up an audience, our editorial team still managed to uncover some worthwhile entertainment this season. Here are the Winter 2023 anime recommended by our editorial staff (and the ones you should probably avoid). Note, the commentary below may include spoilers.

Richard Eisenbeis

©Daisuke Aizawa・KADOKAWA/Shadow Garden

Best: The Eminence in Shadow

Was The Eminence in Shadow my pick for the best anime of Fall 2022? Yes. Did it take the number 2 spot in my Best Anime of 2022 picks? Yes. Am I going to rant again about how good it is? Yes, because, if anything, The Eminence in Shadow‘s second half is even better than its first.

While the same central joke remains in this isekai dark comedy—i.e., that Cid thinks he’s LARPing as an overpowered mastermind operating from the shadows and doesn’t realize that he is one—Cids takes a back seat for much of the runtime, allowing show-stealing characters like Aurora and Rose to get their time in the spotlight. Through their tragic and heartbreaking stories, we learn much more about the World and what threats our dark heroes are truly facing.

What makes this anime great is that it feels like the definitive version of the story. It’s not afraid to add or change things from the source material when needed, allowing the anime to end with not only an amazing fight scene but one that lets us see that Cid is just a boy who found escape, comfort, and meaning on the other side of a TV screen. I bet that’s something all too many of us can empathize with.

Runner-Up: NieR:Automata Ver1.1a

Going into this season, I was more excited about seeing how NieR:Automata Ver1.1a would tackle the game’s fantastic ending than I was for the anime itself. Well, thanks to COVID delays, the ending remains yet to be seen, but the anime has been excellent in its own right.

While the anime does follow the events in the game, it does so in a series of short stories rather than a single, focused narrative. Because of this, the anime spends almost as much time without 2B and 9S as it does with them—from android allies to random enemy robots unrelated to the story at large. There is even an entire episode dedicated to telling the story of the YoRHa stage play—the prequel and prototype to NieR:Automata.

There are a ton of Easter eggs for fans of the series, especially those who have played both the NieR games and the Drakengard series. The anime manages to retain the utter sense of despair permeating 2B and 9S’ world. It is beautiful and tragic, worth a watch regardless of whether you know anything about the games.

Honorable Mentions: Vinland Saga (season 2), The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady

© Nana Mikoshiba,KODANSHA/”The Iceblade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World”

Worst: The Iceblade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World

When I wrote about The Iceblade Sorcerer Shall Rule the World for the Preview Guide, I ended with the phrase, “I am the trash panda, and this is my dumpster.” Frankly, my thoughts on the series have changed little since. This anime is an endless stream of clichés piled on top of one another. We have the overpowered protagonist with a mysterious past and a magic school setting complete with bullies and evil teachers. Oh, and don’t forget the typical harem where each female character is a textbook tsundere, dandere, kuudere, onee-san, or ojou-sama.

What kept me watching was the main character himself. He’s not an oblivious fool or a lucky pervert. He’s just a good, honest guy who’s not afraid to compliment others. It makes sense for so many girls to be interested in a guy like him, especially in a school full of scheming, snobby youths. While it’s undoubtedly the worst anime I watched this season, I’d still say it’s more “basic” than “bad”—which is far from a ringing endorsement.

Rebecca Silverman

©Fujino Omori/SB Creative Corp./Danmachi4 Project

Best: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? IV

This show is consistently the best series with the worst name. It’s just one of the best series, full stop, and this latest season shows us why: DanMachi can blend stereotypical overpowered and harem fantasy elements with intelligent character design and snippets of World mythology.

This second half of the fourth season adapts one of the most harrowing storylines from the source novels. Bell and Ryu, injured and alone, find themselves shunted into the Deep Levels of the dungeon alongside the Juggernaut—the monster responsible for the deaths of all of Ryu’s Familia members. In almost any similar show, Ryu would play the damsel to Bell’s hero, standing silently by with stars in her eyes while he proves that he alone is the hero in this story. That might still have been an okay show, but it certainly wouldn’t have reached the high notes this one does by giving Ryu an equal share in the action.

Ryu’s active role is the most critical piece of the arc. Her survivor’s guilt is deep and firmly entrenched in her soul, and the series does a remarkable job of showing her relationships through flashbacks. Lili, Welf, and the others also come into their own in this arc. Their stories reinforce the takeaway from this season: heroes are less scarce than people may think. Sometimes, understanding how to get out of your own way is the most heroic move that you can make.

Runner-Up: The Vampire Dies in No Time season 2

It was a tough call between this and Bungo Stray Dogs, but while neither has ended as of this writing, I decided to go with the adventures of John and those people who hang around with him because nothing has delighted me in quite the same way. There are so many silly little half-episodes that have had me laughing, from Draluc’s attempt to play a notoriously terrible game while desperately talking it up, to the vampiric burdock root falling in love, to the guys all using a weird energy barrier as an opportunity to see their own butts. This is goofball humor at its finest. I could say more, but I need something to write about in the full review. Just watch this. It’s insane in the best way.

©2023 Miri Mikawa, Aki/KADOKAWA/’Sugar Apple Fairy Tale’ Partners

Worst: The Human Men of Sugar Apple Fairy Tale

Let me be clear: I like Sugar Apple Fairy Tale as a story. It has its problems, but it also has enough to make up for them, so this entry is in no way a condemnation of the series as a whole. No, this is a condemnation of the majority of the male human characters in the show. To put it mildly, they suck. Let’s look at them individually, shall we?

Jonas: tries to kill Anne at least once, probably twice, ruins her name in the silver sugar artisan community, and blames her for his shortcomings.

Hugh: knows what Jonas is doing and does precisely nothing to stop it, even when it gets to the point where she’s blackballed from the silver sugar artisan community.

Sammy: tries to maim Anne while just generally being an asshole.

Head of the Radcliffe Workshop: blames Anne for trying to defend herself and tell the truth and does nothing to stop the bullying she’s experiencing in his workshop.

I’ll give the duke a bit of a pass because he clearly needs help he’s not getting, and Kat’s okay. I have yet to make up my mind about Kieth, but he may be another exception because, where Kat doesn’t care about anything, he exhibits some concern for and faith in Anne. But the ratio of godawful men to decent ones is very skewed, and it is, without a doubt, what has made me the most frustrated and angry this season. Fewer human men and more Mithril Lid Pod, please.

Christopher Farris

©2023 Piero Karasu,Yuri Kisaragi/KADOKAWA/Magical Revolution of the Princess and Lady Genius Project

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

This series isn’t just a standout in the aggressively “okay” field that was this season; it’s also a flex on isekai as an institution and even light novel adaptations in general. Yes, the series looks good as hell, with polish on its animation and effortful direction. But those looks manifest in ways outside the attention-grabbing magical battles, in smaller touches like Anisphia’s litany of goofball gremlin faces. Anis has more personality in just the first episode of Magical Revolution than many light novel isekai protags manage to manifest in their whole show, and it carries through the whole show and her relationship with her cool wife, Euphyllia.

The arc of Magical Revolution’s narrative has a serious sense of weight. It hits a denouement in its ninth episode, only to roll out a very confident, deliberate three-episode epilogue that earns a pretty powerful Happily Ever After for its main couple. Yes, the door is left open for more adventures, and I’ve come to love these gals so much I wouldn’t argue with that, but that feeling of completeness is so often missing from these sorts of blatant promotional projects. Decisions like that result in this one feeling so revolutionary in its field.

Runner Up: Soaring Sky! Pretty Cure

Full disclosure: I didn’t get a chance to get around to everything I wanted to watch for myself (I will catch you eventually, “Ippon” Again! and season 2 of In/Spectre!). But you know what I did have time for? Soaring Sky! Pretty Cure.

Even with only seven episodes out at the time of this writing, Soaring Sky has kicked off with a lot of heart. Protagonist Sora is a wonderful lead, a pure-of-heart and dumb-of-ass dork who enjoys excellent chemistry with her counterpart Mashiro. The latter, for her part, is supposedly the “normal” one, but the show manages to turn that oft-mocked trait into an affecting arc about confidence in oneself.

Mix that all up with some great fights, and you’ve got a series I’m counting down the minutes to watch every Saturday night. And this is all before they introduce the really wild elements like the first-ever male Cure and adult Cure, so suffice it to say, I’m excited to see what heights these heroes can soar to.


Most Disappointing: Revenger

You all know me; I was rooting for Revenger there for a minute. A new series by Gen Urobuchi which felt like something he wrote for himself rather than having his name slapped on it purely for publicity purposes? And between some of its fun murder-y moments, the series seemed to be reaching for a real purpose.

Unfortunately, Revenger squandered its good concepts. It meandered its way through a labyrinthine opium conspiracy plot, only to conclude with, “And then the heroes stormed the castle and killed all the bad guys.” For all its gesturing at growth and the breaking of cycles, by the end, Revenger is still going through the same motions it started with, as dudes get killed in silly, stupid, and occasionally amusing ways.

I can’t lay all of this at Urobuchi’s feet, as co-writer Renji Ōki has taken over the bulk of scripting duties for the back half of Revenger. I can’t be entirely sure of whether that accounts for all the wheel-spinning or the underwhelming ending. But it also can’t distract from this feeling like a comeback tour where the lead singer absent-mindedly stumbled off the side of the stage 12 weeks in.

Nicholas Dupree

©2023 Piero Karasu,Yuri Kisaragi/KADOKAWA/Magical Revolution of the Princess and Lady Genius Project

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

My one hang-up with Magical Revolution is its title. It makes the show sound like the millions of other long-winded, creatively inert isekai that get spat out every season. Yet Magical Revolution is about as far away from those shows as possible. Rather than a thinly built fantasy about being overpowered in an RPG world, Anis’ story is a character-driven journey heavily informed by the complicated political history of the World she’s reborn into. Her quest to create her own kind of magic is not merely a means of giving her unique powers but of challenging the stagnant and restrictive traditions of the nobility she was born into. Unlike so many isekai Melvin protagonists, she’s a smart, charismatic, and lovable personality with plenty of underlying complexity that the show digs into across its run.

Most of all, Anis’ relationship with Euphie is one of the most emotionally investing romances I’ve seen from anime in quite a while. The two have great chemistry immediately, and the way their story arcs intertwine and develop across the show is a delight to watch. Yet the best comes in the final arc, which absolutely rips your heart out before building to a wonderfully schmaltzy conclusion. It’s so heart-on-sleeve earnest and romantic that I teared up during the finale’s closing monologue. It’s a pitch-perfect ending that still leaves room for more adventures with its heroines and genuinely delivers on the “revolution” of its title.

Runner-up: My Hero Academia Season 6

The first half of MHA’s latest season was a fun roller coaster: big fights, twists, and escalating tension. By comparison, the second half is far slower and quieter, taking multiple episodes to process the fallout of all those big moments before transitioning into some of the show’s bleakest, moodiest drama. Yet that second half proved to be some of the most riveting television of the season for me, even as somebody current with the source material. With its status quo utterly destroyed, MHA takes the opportunity to fully dig into some of the biggest questions and themes it’s spent the last seven years stacking up and delivers some of its most potent character moments yet in the process. It’s heartening to know that even this far into its run, this series can still hit hard and fast, even when I know what’s coming.

©Ken Wakui, Kodansha/Animation “Tokyo Revengers” Production Committee

Worst: Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown

Part of this is probably my fault. I saw how bad Tokyo Revengers could get when it tried to drag out a simple story arc over an entire season. Yet I still let the cliffhanger ending of season 1 draw me back in. For a while, I thought we were back on track and the series would find a way to be compelling and likable again. But eventually, that hope withered across a month-long fight full of underwhelming twists and terrible fight animation. Before I knew it, we were right back to the most agonizing segments of the Bloody Halloween arc, limping toward a conclusion with all the athleticism of our chronically concussed protagonist.

Really, that repetition is what cements it as my Worst pick: this is the third time the show has used this exact story setup to virtually identical conclusions. There are no new ideas or twists to the formula, just the same tale of Takemichi stumbling his way through an ass-kicking until he saves his target through the kind of stubbornness borne of multiple TBIs. Despite promises to the contrary, we still need to learn about the series’ main villain, who only feels more tired and one-note the longer he stands around licking knives in the background. It made for an ultimately aggravating, exhausting watch. If the anime continues, I can only hope it will find something, anything, else to do.


©Muneyuki Kaneshiro・Yūsuke Nomura・Kodansha/Bluelock Production Committee


I love sports anime, even if most hit many of the same beats in almost the same way. It’s rare to come across a sports anime that can harness some of the best of the genre while recontextualizing them with a new outlook. The first episode of BLUELOCK made me think that this would be different, and while it did take a while to get to that point, I was one hundred percent on board once it hit its stride. BLUELOCK is a story about teenagers being psychologically pushed to evolve into the best soccer players possible in one of the most overly competitive environments I’ve ever seen. The show is less about working together as a team and more about how every individual needs to be playing at their best for a team to win. The soccer court is a battlefield where you’re not just competing with the opposing team; you’re competing with everybody and have to use every tool in your arsenal. If you don’t have a tool to address the current situation, then you adapt or fail; sometimes, it just comes down to that.

The show’s visual motif of puzzle pieces is excellent with our main character Isagi as he literally breaks himself down every other episode and puts himself back together into a new, better version of himself. It’s a motif that I’ve personally adopted as it adds great tangibility to the idea of working with what you have or assimilating new pieces for the sake of self-improvement. As the matches get more intense, so does the tension. Despite the stakes, the show has placed the cast in situations where they could fail and be humbled just as easily as they can win, which makes later matches feel unpredictable. I’m optimistic there will be more BLUELOCK in the future, but for now, I have to track down the manga volumes and read what happens next because I genuinely cannot wait to see how the stakes keep getting raised.

Runner-Up: My Hero Academia Season 6

Despite its popularity never really waning, critical opinion on My Hero Academia has fluctuated greatly in the past few years. Some of that could be contrarians arguing against the popular consensus, but others understandably might struggle to figure out what exactly the show is doing. While it doesn’t make up for the shortcomings of earlier seasons, season six is hands-down one of the show’s most intense and emotionally driven seasons so far. Whereas previous seasons have had one or two moments or climaxes that would hit a solid emotional beat, those moments comprised most of this season. I know it sounds cliché, but this season is the Empire Strikes Back of the franchise where the heroes lose, and society’s at its lowest point as it starts reaping the repercussions of a flawed system. The comparisons to modern-day society are apt and handled with care, the emotional struggles that most of the characters go through are tragic and understandable, and the climax left me with a sense of hope that I look for in superhero media. It’s less about protecting the way things are and more about inspiring a better future. My Hero Academia shows us that sometimes the only way for people to learn that lesson is by literally hitting rock bottom.


Worst: High Card

High Card isn’t the worst anime I’ve watched in the past couple of months, but it is the most disappointing, which is weird considering that I don’t think I had particularly…high expectations. Despite not being particularly unique, I love the show’s style, energetic soundtrack, and card gimmick. I was ready for a fast-paced action-fueled adrenaline rush, which I thought I was getting based on the first episode, but since then, High Card has done a mixed job of making a case for itself. It did well to show that this premise is pretty malleable for a Sahu Newsof different types of genres and tones. This could’ve been an episodic series where our crew hunts down different players with unique abilities, maybe hearing about their stories or the stories of our main cast along the way. This could’ve been that action romp I mentioned earlier or maybe even a suspenseful heist show with an air of mystery. It could’ve been a good character piece about how the cards reflect some of the inner turmoil of the people who wield them, or it could be a supernatural mafia series.

If I were to judge most of the show’s episodes in a bubble, then there is enjoyment to be had, but High Card can’t commit to ANY of these tones or ideas to save its life. As a whole, the story is so inconsistent that I wonder what the point of everything is supposed to be. What am I supposed to focus on? What am I supposed to care about? This feels like a show written by a competent writer who struggled with understanding the episodic structure, which the creator himself alluded to regarding the difficulties of writing for a television anime. I don’t know if there’s more High Card for us in the future, but even if there were, it would not wash away the disappointment that I felt sitting through this season and noticing all the potential being squandered.

James Beckett

©Hajime Isayama, Kodansha/’Attack on Titan The Final Season’ Production Committee

Best: Attack on Titan Final Season THE FINAL CHAPTERS Special 1

Is it cheating to pick a “season” of anime with only one hour-long episode as the best of Winter 2023? Probably. If you’re seeing this, it means my editors have allowed me to be back on my bullshit once more. Since this is one of the last times I’ll ever be able to give the series its seasonal dues, let it be said for anyone in the back that has somehow missed out on the news over the last decade: Attack on Titan is one of the all-time greats, and these “Final Chapters” have given us some of the series’ best material yet.

MAPPA‘s extra time to produce this first part of the series finale has paid off in spades when it comes to delivering on the end-of-the-World stakes that Attack on Titan specializes in. The Rumbling is one of the most harrowing sequences of apocalyptic destruction we’ve seen since Hideaki Anno showed the World how it was done with The End of Evangelion. The final stand that one particular Scout makes against the unstoppable wall of Colossal Titans is one of my favorite action sequences that the series has ever done. With Eren dead set on completing his genocidal campaign, his former allies have the fight of a lifetime ahead of them. All that’s left is to see how it all ends.

Runners up: Vinland Saga Season 2

The long-awaited second season of Vinland Saga provides a perfect piece of counterprogramming to Attack on Titan, and it’s just as masterful at executing its lofty ambitions. Where AoT continues to paint an unflinching portrait of a young man so consumed by hatred and fear that it might literally kill everyone on the planet, the hero of Vinland Saga has spent this entire season on a harrowing (but healing) path towards redemption. After spending the entirety of his young life as a dealer of death and destruction, Thorfinn is finally discovering a better way to devote his life to pursuing justice and peace without ever having to resort to violence again.

Vinland Saga‘s greatest strength is that, no matter how much misery may be borne from the violence and chaos of its historical setting, it never loses sight of its empathy for its characters. Whether they’re wayward warlords, cruel kings, or a pair of slaves simply trying to earn their own little scraps of freedom, every figure we follow in Vinland Saga is agonizingly human. The series has turned their trials and tribulations into positively enthralling television. It might technically be taking second place in this seasonal ranking of mine, but it’s still one of the best anime currently airing, bar none.

©Takemachi Tomari/KADOKAWA/Spy Classroom Production Committee

Worst: Spy Classroom

I’ll give this to Spy Classroom: Here, at the very end of the season, I’m finally starting to kind of, sort of give a damn about its story and characters. I am very much damning the series with faint praise here because there is no way I would have kept up with this series if I wasn’t being paid to do it, given how badly it has bungled its pacing and presentation. I have seen people say that Spy Classroom‘s detractors are simply not appreciating it for the low-key, slice-of-life sitcom that it’s meant to be. Here are my counterpoints: For one, if the series was truly meant to be nothing more than a slice-of-life show, then it shouldn’t have spent the first quarter of its season pretending to be a twist-heavy tactical espionage romp only to then waste months on a bunch of non-linear flashbacks to a bunch of random one-off stories that do not matter at all.

Second, even if we were to judge the series solely as an episodic sitcom, it would still be the most disappointing and frustrating show I watched all season because it only manages to be genuinely funny or cute, like, one or two times every couple of episodes. The characters are flat, the jokes are stale, and the spy dramedy has taken nearly an entire season to become even perfunctorily interesting. The show may finally have proven its worth after another 12 weeks, but as far as I’m concerned, this first season was one giant missed opportunity.


©2023 Piero Karasu,Yuri Kisaragi/KADOKAWA/Magical Revolution of the Princess and Lady Genius Project

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

The word “reincarnated” in the title can be replaced with many other words. Funny enough, the reincarnation aspect can also be removed entirely, and it wouldn’t affect the story in any capacity. Perhaps that is why I enjoyed The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess, as I usually avoid isekai as a genre. In the beginning, what hooked me the most was the antics of the protagonist, Anisphia. The hook was strong enough to lead me through the latter part of this series, where it flipped itself entirely from “funny princess go brrrr…” into “let’s roleplay a PG-13 Game of Thrones.”

Seeing Anisphia going through life-changing events and their impact on her has been a rewarding experience because usually, when a title has the word “isekai” in it, consequences come in later seasons. Power fantasies still exist, like in an average isekai title. However, the decision to push Anisphia into a political turmoil where she became helpless works very well to keep the series unique. This isn’t a title that will win any award, but many will find it enjoyable, and I am looking forward to more seasons.

Runner-Up: Trigun Stampede

I was tempted to put this title in the worst category, but I must appreciate Studio Orange‘s efforts to breathe life into this anime. Splendid CG as usual, an excellent face game compared to CG anime by other studios, with cool visuals and weapons. A visually appealing anime, but there is a catch: you need to be unfamiliar with or have forgotten most aspects of the original Trigun. An awkward feeling loomed around the first few episodes where it wanted to tell a serious story but refused to commit to the needed tone. I planned to drop it halfway into the series, but it gets a lot better during the latter half, where it takes itself more seriously. I hope it gets a second season because it has potential.

Monique Thomas

©田中靖規/集英社・サマータイムレンダ製作委員会 ©MAGES.

Best: Summer Time Rendering

Is this cheating? This series technically came out last year but wasn’t available to the US of A until this season. However, I’d rather be declared a cheater than a liar, and I wouldn’t be truthful if I didn’t say that this was the best anime I watched. Summer Time Rendering is an immaculate two-cours rollercoaster ride full of suspense, character-driven catharsis, and plenty of action to boot. It’s clean and beautifully animated. Everything about this show sparkles like light over water. I knew practically nothing going in, but it quickly shook up my expectations and then some. It doesn’t miss a beat, a feat for its complex time-traveling mystery set-up. Despite being hindered by Hulu‘s poorly timed ad breaks, the entire experience is riveting to watch unfold. I highly recommend that viewers approach this show with as little prior knowledge as possible, as it offers a great premise and a lot of action and heart.

While starting as a cold and intellectual observation of serial murders on Shinpei’s home island, it also has a strong backing as a hot-blooded action series with big emotional climaxes that will win over many anime fans. I was surprised at how well the show could humanize and sympathize with each character. While I came for the drama and suspense, I was ultimately won over by the underlying tenderness and warmth between what’s supposed to be a small and tight-knit community. It takes a lot of care to equally craft a story and flesh out the characters the way in a way it works on both technical and emotional levels. You can bet I was an emotional sobbing mess throughout several critical moments of this, oof! Many of you might let this show drift away with the anime seasonal tides. But I’m here to tell you that it’s worth fishing out. If any show deserves a do-over, it’s Summer Time Rendering.

Runner-Up: Aggretsuko Season 5

Hey, you all knew this was coming. Aggretsuko has always been my favorite, and it wouldn’t suit me if I didn’t give a big shout-out to Aggretsuko‘s fifth and final season now, would it? Who knew five whole seasons could fly by so fast? It seems like only yesterday when our regular number-crunching red panda was screaming her heart out in the solitude of the office breakroom, and now she’s standing in front of the crowd screaming her heart out FOR office. While it’s difficult to accept that this is her last performance, there’s been an incredible and believable sense of growth for Retsuko, her companions, and the one-person band putting the whole concert together. There’s never a dull moment, thanks to Rarecho‘s writing, directing, and singing,

Whenever our characters feel buckled by the weight of the Sisyphean daily grind, a perfectly-timed joke or heartwarming word is there to lighten the gravity. It’s welcoming, too, as this season doesn’t shirk away from the otherwise real-World heaviness. Tackling topics on poverty, relationships, and politics—It feels just as courageous as the first season, maybe even more so! It’s poignant, but the realness makes it relatable. Even Retsuko’s relationship with Haida cools off from its dramatic angles, settling into an exemplary depiction of a relationship between two young adults finding their way in the world. They’re not perfect, but they become comfortable and honest with each other. Most of all, they’re a team. The other characters also have some ground to them, and it’s the ground they all have in common. It’s that kind of relatability that’s rare in anime. It reminds me that no matter if the rock is heavy, none of us are pushing it alone. So long, and thanks for rockin’ Aggretsuko!

Lynzee Loveridge

©KRM’s HOME / Buddy Daddies Committee

Best: Buddy Daddies

I watched far less anime this season than average, but Buddy Daddies was far and away the most emotionally resonant series of the bunch. I was initially intrigued by its promising blend of action and comedy starring two (hot) hitmen saddled with a four-year-old. The action portion took the back seat to the family shenanigans, but the series mix of beautiful backgrounds, fun Miri faces, and strong emotional writing kept me along for the ride. The series didn’t win me over to the same extent as P.A. Works‘ previous outing last season. Not even Rei’s ponytail could beat out Ranko’s charm, but Buddy Daddies managed to carve out its own space despite the obvious comparisons to SpyxFamily. The final episode hasn’t aired yet, but I’m crossing all my fingers and toes that we get a happy ending for Miri and her two dads.

Runner-Up: Trigun Stampede

It’s been a long, long time since I watched the original Trigun, but my nostalgia for the original isn’t as strong as some anime fans. I appreciated what it was at the time and there are a couple of AMVs that I still like to rewatch when I want to pretend I’m not approaching my 36th birthday. Studio Orange‘s reimagining of the series is more successful than not. The character animation pushed the limits of CG television anime, the action was dynamic and engaging, and the team successfully built on the story in a new way. I do have some reservations about the pacing and tone compared to the original. I didn’t find the cast nearly as charming in this retelling, likely due to the time constraints of a shorter episode run. On the other hand, the villains got a leg up in the narrative and with more episodes on the horizon, I’m curious to see what becomes of Nomansland.

©Rieko Hinata, Holp Shuppan/WOWOW

Worst: The Fire Hunter

This series is a trainwreck from both production and narrative standpoints. I have rarely encountered a better case of “just read the book” than Mamoru Oshii and Junji Nishimura‘s attempt to adapt Rieko Hinata‘s novel series. What began as an interesting aesthetic throwback to digipaint shows of the early 00s quickly devolved into a shambling, barely animated mess. I could overlook unfortunate production constraints, given the current state of the anime industry as a whole, but the writing wasn’t there to keep The Fire Hunter afloat. Characters react impulsively when necessary to move the plot in a certain direction and there’s never an opportunity for the audience to attach themselves to the characters’ various struggles because the story is too busy dumping lore on us. Oshii’s script treatment lacked the confidence needed to cut away at the novels’ indulgences in favor of a streamlined story for the screen. The result is a messy presentation with a messier plot.

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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