Well, we said that Autumn 2022 was going to be packed – and we weren’t wrong! In fact, there’s so much going on that it’s almost too much (should we have been careful what we wished for?). And there’s always a danger (see The Devil Is a Part-Timer!!) that when a much-loved series returns, it’s lost that extra something that made it so special first (or second, or even third) time around. So what’s just as good as before – or even better? And what’s lost its sparkle in the intervening months and years? The Anime UK News writers are here to share their thoughts, so let us know what you think too!
Probably the most notable of the returning anime series for me this season is the second half of Spy x Family.
Things start excitingly for the Forger family as you might expect, with father/spy Loid and mother/assassin Yor letting their (telepath) daughter Anya adopt a pet dog. However, this becomes somewhat complicated when Anya runs off and discovers a terrorist plot to kill a visiting politician. The plot involves using dogs with bombs planted on them, but Anya comes across one special dog; using her telepathy, she discovers it can see the future. Thus Anya and the dog have to work together to save the day, a mission which becomes all the more important when Anya sees a future in which Loid is killed.
The first half of the series has been entertaining, and the second pretty much continues in the same vein. There is already plenty to enjoy with this bomb dog story if you know your British comedy, because this idea also appeared in a sketch on the 1990s satirical comedy The Day Today, in which the IRA launch bomb dog attacks.
Spy x Family is available on Crunchyroll.
With the manga having recently finished its run, the anime adaptation of Golden Kamuy now continues into its fourth season, picking up from Volume 21 of the manga. After the climactic events of the third season, Sugimoto and Asirpa have been reunited at last, but fate rests heavily on their shoulders. Being the key to unlocking the stolen Ainu gold, thanks to the will of her father, Asirpa is now the prize that everyone wants and is for the moment in the hands of Tsurumi’s men as they, Sugimoto and Shiraishi leave Russia and head back to Hokkaido. Meanwhile Hijikata Toshizou’s group is still trying to gather the last of the tattooed skins, while the traitorous Ogata has done a runner but surely lies in wait further down the line.
This fourth season sees production duties transition from Geno Studio to Brain’s Base (Durarara!!, In/Spectre) and from what I can see so far, it’s a seamless transition between the two despite the staff changes, with the same art style and execution. Brain’s Base is an accomplished studio anyway, so I didn’t really have any worries about how the change would be handled.
There’s not too much to glean from these first couple of opening episodes anyway as it is very much picking up from where it left off and getting back into the swing of things before transitioning into the next part of the story. It does kick off with an action-packed episode as our main trio fall under attack from a sniper, which not only allows Sugimoto to go in hard but also allows it to revel in its particular brand of comedy, seeing the return of several in-jokes that have permeated their way through the entire series. Episode 2 gives us a more substantial threat, as one of the Abashiri prisoners seemingly manages to take down both Hijikata and Ushiyama by using poisonous silkworm cocoons. As much as the result of this is a foregone conclusion knowing the characters at this point, it’s still highly entertaining seeing the poisoner’s plot unfold.
For returning fans then, it’s business as usual, and I hope that this season will just be as exciting as the last as it begins to pull things together to the finish line. And if you haven’t experienced the bizarre wonder of this excellent seinen series yet, it’s honestly a great time to jump in and catch up!
Golden Kamuy is available for streaming on Crunchyroll.
After a short break, Spy x Family returns for Part 2 of its initial run. The manga for this series took the world by storm and now its anime has as well, thanks to a mix of Wit Studio and CloverWorks working together on the project. I’ve been eager to see this one return to our screens since the opening arc is all about introducing Bond – a canine companion for Anya and her family. We got a glimpse of Bond at the end of Part 1 and readers familiar with the manga will no doubt be very fond of the new addition to the cast.
But away from Bond, this arc also begins to make Twilight question his place in the world. Now firmly a part of the family unit he’s put together for his mission, he struggles between playing the part of a loving husband/father and knowing he’s expected to put it all to rest when the job is done. Vaguely aware of his struggles, Anya does her best to perform well at school and get close to Damian (the son of Twilight’s target), but having gotten off on the wrong foot there is a lot of ground to make up there… Meanwhile, Yor continues to be completely oblivious to everything and spends her days worrying about being a good wife/stepmother, not wanting to be responsible for any harm befalling Anya or not supporting Twilight properly.
The series remains a spy thriller, with all the action and secret missions that accompany the premise, but it’s also still the heartfelt family drama fans have come to love it for. Knowing what’s to come, I’m looking forward to the rest of its run and I hope the anime-only viewers enjoy it too! There are certainly a lot of good Anya antics in our future at least.
The other returning champion for me this season is My Hero Academia, which comes back for Season 6. Picking up right where we left off, Deku and company are preparing for a full-scale assault on the Paranormal Liberation Front being led by Tomura Shigaraki’s crew. This is an all-or-nothing mission as they must stamp out the group before the experiments on Shigaraki end, giving him even more formidable powers.
Season 5 of this popular Shonen Jump series adapted the “villain arc”, an arc that manga readers didn’t enjoy and was rearranged for the anime adaptation to try and alleviate some of the problems. This did sort-of help and although it’s still an arc I personally dislike, I think it was better received by the anime fans than it might have been otherwise. And now that it’s over, the future looks bright as we’re firmly setting up for the final portion of the entire series. This section of the story also returns to what most people like about My Hero Academia (flashy battle sequences!) and takes advantage of the fact there is a large cast of characters. Everyone’s favourites should get their moment in the spotlight, not just Deku, Bakugo and Todoroki. And the fact everyone getting a turn in the spotlight is going to be what brings viewers back after a somewhat lacklustre fifth season last year!
Spy x Family and My Hero Academia are both available on Crunchyroll.
This season sees some major anime titles returning to the forefront, some of which haven’t been seen in a decade. One of the notable standouts for me from the line-up is Yowamushi Pedal: Limit Break, which continues the story of Sohoku High School’s cycling team and their efforts to overcome hurdles, both personal and from the competitions they take part in.
This is a series that hasn’t aired since 2018 so I’m very happy to see it return.
I was also interested in the continuation for Encouragement of Climb, however so far, the episodes have been recapping the preceding seasons – it is apparently expected that half the episodes will do so, and I’m hoping the latter half delivers some nice new content.
Yowamushi Pedal: Limit Break is streaming on Crunchyroll, whilst Encouragement of Climb: Next Summit is streaming on HIDIVE.
After a decade off our screens and many years after the manga itself ended, Bleach has returned to adapt the final story arc, dubbed “The Thousand Year Blood War” and it’s certainly come back with a vengeance because the first thing that strikes you straight away is the visuals. Great use of colour and visual flair with that little bit of CG-assisted effects have raised this series far above the original look of the show, and added touches straight from the page like using the manga opening pages and volume poems for the next episode previews and blending the title of the episode into the episode’s visuals rather than use a title screen really make it an extremely close adaptation, that’s for sure. Frankly, it’s already raised the actual source material as well because if you look back on my views of the final story arc when I reviewed the manga volumes on this very site a fair few years ago you’ll see I found it wasn’t the most coherently written story arc in author Tite Kubo’s history, so seeing it come to life in such a way adds a lot. That being said, apparently Tite Kubo will be adding new scenes and extended fights to sort out some of those issues as well, so that’s something to look forward to alongside the stunning visuals. Also, it has to be mentioned that all-time great composer Shiro Sagisu returns to score the show and he once again nails it, using a mix of classic tracks from the original show remixed and some new ones too.
The story picks up a few months after the end of the previous story arc at a point where luckily things have returned to something of a status quo. Our main character Ichigo Kurosaki has got his Shinigami (or Soul Reaper) powers back, his friends are all getting on with their lives as well and over in the side dimension known as the Soul Society, the other Shinigami have similarly refilled all their vacant Captain and Vice-Captain positions. This allows Episode 1 to feature a fight sequence to reintroduce our main cast as they take out some generic Hollow beasts (complete with flashy name cards that pop up) while also getting on with the adaptation, rocketing through roughly four chapters in one episode yet not feeling either rushed or full of any kind of filler. The Soul Society is invaded by a masked group calling themselves the Wandenreich who immediately make an impact before leaving with an ultimatum, ending Episode 1 with a good long shot of the lead antagonist and always hard to pronounce character Yhwach blowing someone’s arm off, demonstrating that this series will not have the same censorship issues that plagued the original show, that’s for sure.
Episode 2 has continued the rapid but satisfactory pace of roughly four chapters and shows us that the Wandenreich have also invaded the Hollow dimension of Hueco Mundo and features several Arrancar from the frankly far more popular arc of the same name which is fun (I know, a lot of Spanish and German words, each enemy faction tends to get a language associated with them in this series…) It’s been said that the show will be split into three cours with breaks in-between, so frankly if they keep up this quality and this pacing while managing to flesh out the story a bit more, then this could be something very special indeed. Looking forward to finding out in the coming weeks.
Mob Psycho 100 is an odd show, it started off as being pushed as “that other story written by the guy who did One Punch Man” and then ended up cementing itself as a great show in its own right, surpassing OPM in both character development and then oddly visual flair for fight scenes. The series focuses on Mob, a regular insecure school kid who happens to have powerful psychic powers that he uses frequently to help his boss Reigen (who is ironically a fraudulent spiritualist and psychic). Season 2 ended up focusing on Mob and allies battling some other psychics or powerful spirits with the odd slice-of-life episode thrown in and so far Season 3 (or “Mob Psycho 100 III”) has leaned far more heavily on the slice-of-life aspect, with Episode 1 focusing on Mob freaking out about a careers test and his future and Episode 2 with him worrying about the school “cultural fair”, though admittedly in the latter he did deal with some demons at the same time.
Whatever the show does though, it more often than not succeeds as the cast of weird characters and the surreal comedy bits never fail to make me smile or even laugh while the animation is still a fluid blend of colourful art that can be over-the-top in both a comedic or an action-heavy way depending on what’s needed from scene to scene. That being said, the reliance on comedy and slice-of-life early on isn’t odd for the show, and a teaser at the end of Episode 2 shows us a big threat that will undoubtably give us this season’s big visual treat of a showdown.
Bleach: The Thousand Year Blood War is currently streaming on Disney+, while Mob Psycho 100 III can be found on Crunchyroll.
Anime’s favourite blue-haired demon-adopted grandson, Iruma, is back for another semester in the Misfits’ Class at Babyls Demon Academy. In the third season (currently airing on Crunchyroll) the students’ sadistic homeroom teacher Callego gleefully informs them that they must all achieve the rank of Dalet or they’ll lose the Royal One, the luxurious classroom they won by their hard efforts. Currently they’ve been farmed out to visiting tutors and Iruma and Shax Lied have lucked out, ending up with the diminutive gothloli demon Barbatos Bachiko (Robin’s sister). She may wear frilly pink but she’s a hard taskmistress, forcing the boys to cross-dress as maids and wait on her hand and foot. Strangely, Iruma doesn’t object and just… does as he’s told. When Lied asks him why, he admits he’s used to “things being unfair.”
Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun (NHK) is as entertaining as ever, although Iruma’s voice should surely be deepening a little by now? And I’m not so thrilled with the new OP and ED, especially as instead of DA PUMP who did the first two (brilliantly retro-styled) OPs, we now have FANTASTICS from EXILE TRIBE (me neither) and the ED features some very irritating electronic vocal vibration/distortion. It’s still a riotously fun watch, though, and has kept its curiously innocent and endearing vibe (due, no doubt, to its good-hearted hero).
How different from the appallingly unprofessional (criminal?) behaviour of Machiavellian rival agent/manager Tsukumo as his machinations to launch his new idol quartet ŹOOĻ and trample into the ground TRIGGER, taking IDOLiSH7 and Re:vale on the way. IDOLiSH7 Third Beat! has returned with the final episodes of its third season and there are new songs and dance routines to be enjoyed by fans both on and off-screen. Although the most affecting moment so far has been ‘the show must go on!’ moment in Episode 15, when after escaping from his kidnappers (thanks to the IDOLiSH 7 boys’ audacious rescue mission), Ryunosuke Tsunashi gives a solo rendition of TRIGGER’s new song to an impatient and confused audience, not knowing if his fellow group members are all right. The skulduggery and shenanigans have made this third season very watchable as, even though there’s a bewilderingly large cast of idols and managers, we’ve had time to get to know them and to root for them. So when Nagi (the one with the annoying US accent) takes centre stage as an unsolved mystery from his past is shown to have major implications for all concerned, it feels as if many of the dangling plotlines are at last beginning to join up! (And even the CGI opening number is much better done than usual, putting the embarrassingly cheap song routines of Phantom of the Idol (Summer 2022) in the shade.)
Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun Season 3 and IDOLisH7 Third Beat! are currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
After the crushing disappointment of last season I’m finding myself spoiled for choice this time around! Everyone else has covered the rest of the excellent returning shows I’m watching – Golden Kamuy, Spy x Family, My Hero Academia and Welcome to Demon School! Iruma-kun – so I’m going to cheat and talk about the return of a series which last had a television outing several decades ago.
Urusei Yatsura is a brand new reboot of the enormously popular anime from the early 80s, based on a comedy manga from the late 70s. Older fans will recall that the first few batches of episodes received a lavish – by UK standards – VHS release way back in the day, complete with extensive liner jokes and the original language track intact (a rare treat!) while younger folks may be more familiar with the infamous Lum The Invader Girl British dub and the inspiration that the wacky sitcom passed down to later shows. As the first big hit for mangaka Rumiko Takahashi, who was enormously influential in expanding the 90s western anime audience with Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku and Inuyasha, it’s quite sad that it’s always been quite difficult for newer viewers to get into Urusei Yatsura. The UK release sputtered out after those first few VHS tapes, the manga has repeatedly struggled to find an audience and a US license rescue has only recently made it possible to hope to own the anime again.
Fortunately, it’s never been easier to find out how Lum’s story began courtesy of this brand new remake. 2022’s take on Urusei Yatsura which goes right back to the very first meeting between hot-blooded alien princess Lum and her lust-driven fiancé Ataru, keeping things extremely close to the source material (at least as I remember it – it’s been a while!) so far. I had initially wondered whether they were going to update the original for modern viewers, as with the popular Osomatsu-san, and the spirited opening sequence showing all of the characters cavorting through a very modern Tokyo made me certain that they were going that way. Once the episode started, however, it was very clear that the world of Urusei Yatsura is forever trapped in the Showa era. The characters’ lives revolve around their old school wired telephones and the saucy fan service is incredibly tame by today’s standards. I think it was a good decision; the culture clash between Lum and Ataru works better when her alien technology is so much more advanced that it may as well be magic.
The style of the humour would have needed updating alongside the aesthetic, too, which would necessitate extensive rewrites for modern sensibilities. This is a classic sitcom from an era where every single character – and there will be a lot of them by the time this reboot finishes its run – has horrendous personality flaws which they firmly resist acknowledging or changing in any way. If you were ever into 80s cartoons (of any variety) you’ll feel right at home with the formulaic, over-the-top nonsense which naturally coalesces around the mismatched couple. If you prefer a slower, more subtle comedic build-up like the complex, escalating gags in Kaguya-sama: Love Is War or the witty, tongue-in-cheek delivery of Monogatari, you will probably wonder how anyone finds this stuff funny. It’s hyper, repetitive and goofy. And I like it.
I am honestly not sure why this remake needed to exist – the previous anime was great and very little has been updated here aside from the animation style – but I’m certainly not going to look a gift oni in the mouth. The studio has gone all-out with the visual sparkle and tried to honour the source material without being slavishly faithful to the original. It’s fun to have an excuse to see the gang again!
Urusei Yatsura is currently streaming on HIDIVE.