Spring 2023 Preview
Whether it’s the return of a favourite title (Dr Stone, The Ancient Magus’ Bride, Birdie Wing, Edens Zero) or the debut of a brand-new series (Mashle: Magic and Muscles, Skip and Loafer, Oshi no Ko) there seems – at first glance – to be a bewildering number of shows to capture the attention of the anime fan. But – wait a moment! – are they all as attractive and satisfying to watch as the studios would like you to believe? It’s a little like walking past the stalls at a local Japanese festival as the stall-holders bellow out their wares, trying to attract your attention. In case you’re feeling as overwhelmed as the writers at Anime UK News were (at first) we’re here to share our first impressions and recommend the series that we think show the most promise… so far! Do you agree with our choices? Let us know!
Back in 2019 I reviewed the first two volumes of Yuri Is My Job! I didn’t continue to review the series, but I did keep reading it. I’m not fully up-to-date on it (up to Volume 10 can be purchased, but I’m currently on Volume 7) but I’m really enjoying the manga. Of course, I was excited for the anime adaptation, and so far, I’m enjoying it. The series is about Hime; a perfectly cute-looking high school girl who has one goal in life – to perfect her façade (the cute girl persona she puts on) and bag herself a rich husband. One day, she accidently bumps into a girl named Mai and breaks Mai’s arm. Mai happens to be a manager at a local café, where the theme is a made-up all-girls school and yuri relationships are its bread and butter. So, to help Mai with her recovery, Hime must work in the café, and ends up meeting Mitsuki Ayanokouji, a graceful, beautiful girl who happens to actively dislike Hime…but why?
The art style and water colours of the manga carry over beautifully to the anime, and the story is following the manga very closely (the first three episodes cover the first manga volume). The appeal of this series is that the café environment allows the series to play the typical yuri tropes completely straight, but the ‘real’ world (outside the café) is a lot more complex and complicated. The theme of ‘masking’ and ‘hiding who you are’ play heavily into this series, which works well with the same-sex couples as well as all the characters having to hide a part of themselves from each other. From Episode 3 the inner emotional drama starts to flourish, where Hime starts to struggle with her façade in the world of the café, because her façade is all about her selfish desire to be loved and she expects everyone to fall for it. Whereas in the café ALL the staff members put on a ‘character’ to appease the customers with a good performance and keep the café ticking over, and Hime struggles to keep up or read others, so it’s a mirror back at her and she’s struggles with it. It’s a series that, I feel, gets better with each volume as the characters’ relationships become more compelling and I can’t wait to see what the anime adaptation does. If you have time in your packed schedule, and the series’ info catches your eye, I recommend giving it a chance and watching it grow.
Yuri is My Job! series is streaming on Crunchyroll now.
It may be weird to have a highly anticipated series like Oshi No Ko in the ‘unexpected diamond’ section, but for myself, I only read the first volume of the manga when it came out in the UK a few weeks back, so I didn’t have a long time to have my expectations raised for this. The series stars Gorou Amemiya, a doctor who practices in the countryside, far away from the high life of Tokyo, which is a shame for him as he’s a massive fan of one particular Idol – Ai Hoshino. His life is changed forever when his new patient is no other than Ai herself, and she’s months into her secret pregnancy with twins!
As many have said, including me in my manga review, the series is best experienced completely blind. The series starts one way, then the FIRST twist comes that completely changes audiences’ expectations, and just as you think it’s all started to slow down into a cosy rhythm, the SECOND twist gut punches you and shows you what the series is REALLY about. The series‘ pilot premiered back in March in Japanese theatres, due to the opening episode being a feature-length episode at 90 minutes, the whole runtime covering the entire first volume of the manga, and it uses every second of its runtime to the fullest. The story swerves from slice of life of an idol, to body horror, to criticism of the entertainment industry, to tragedy, and it all works expertly. The unprecedented opening length-time works here because it’s the roller-coaster ride that lays down the foundation that Oshi No Ko is all about, and cutting it off at any point would have made all the gut punches fall flat. The second episode moves past into chapters not currently available in the UK, and slows down the story considerably, with the children of Ai now in their teens and ready to take on the entertainment industry themselves for their own reasons. Slowing down right away after the explosive opening episode is a good call, because it allows us to recover from the emotions of the opening episode and see how it affected the kids, Aqua and Ruby, before showing them setting forth on their own journeys.
The animation is really good; I didn’t know how the ‘starry-eyed’ look was going to work in animation, but it does and gives both a unique and eerie look to the protagonists of the show. The music is also super catchy with layers that separate it from just ‘pop idol’ music; the opening theme has unnerving church chanting in the chorus that really punches the song through and fits the story’s tone perfectly. The voice acting is also excellent; Ai’s monologue towards the end made the second twist in the first episode really hit the mark.
Overall, this series is a really great watch and I can’t wait to see how it grows and gets darker and deeper into its own world as the series progresses.
Oshi No Ko is now streaming on HIDIVE.
Coming into the season, most of the newcomers were relatively unknown to me, excepting the KonoSuba spin-off prequel KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World!. This series follows the exploits of the explosive-obsessed Magician Megumin (Rie Takahashi) and her fellow Crimson Magic Clan members as they go through the motions of magical education, with Megumin deciding to follow her own path to becoming a great Wizard through a more explosive approach.
On paper, the idea of focusing on Megumin and other supporting characters like the ill-fated Yunyun (Aki Toyosaki) seems like a good premise, and so far these initial episodes have delivered, providing insights into the origins of certain characters and their traits, like how Chomusuke (Hitomi Nabatame) was introduced to Megumin through her foodie sister Komekko (Maria Naganawa), plus some potential set-up for the origin of Megumin’s eyepatch with Arue (Kaori Nazua), who appeared in the KonoSuba movie. The scenarios we’ve seen are also great fun, maintaining the ridiculous concepts and mean-spirited humour that KonoSuba excels at. I’m hoping that the rest of the series delivers some good laughs – the highlight so far has honestly been a dude using a baguette in place of a wand, an easily missable little gag that merits a re-watch.
Of the numerous returning series coming out this season, the two I was most looking forward to were Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story Season 2, and Dr. Stone: New World. Birdie Wing was an unexpected diamond when its first season dropped back in Spring 2022, combining a fairly stoic sport with some absolutely nutty ideas and underhanded techniques, like distracting perfumes and match-fixing antics, all held together by a very likeable duo in Evangeline (Akari Kitou) and Aoi (Asami Seto), who despite coming from different worlds and social classes become practically inseparable. This continues into the second season which has, thus far, remained very entertaining as the duo progress through their tournament despite some setbacks. This is a series that’s difficult to predict from a story perspective, so I’m happy just to enjoy the ride.
Dr. Stone: New World takes the story back to basics as Senkuu (Yuusuke Kobayashi) and his collective of friends and allies explore a new world, reinventing and reinvigorating their society in the process. After the conflict-focused Stone Wars, which pitted ideologies and wits against one another, which saw brain and brawn unite, and the introduction of cocky commander Ryusui (Ryouta Suzuki) in the preceding special, we saw the team sail off to new lands. What I really enjoy about this story is that the world is the core focus, with the characters more or less vibing as they rediscover aspects of civilization that they can utilise, like methods of communication, enhancing agriculture, air travel and even cameras. It’s a lot of fun seeing it all unfold with a colourful cast of characters to boot, and I’m looking forward to seeing where the story goes from here, and the inventions Senkuu and company will rediscover and utilise.
All of the above anime are streaming on Crunchyroll.
There are quite a few adaptations of series I’m fond of happening this season, from Skip and Loafer to Oshi no Ko, but the one I’ve been looking forward to the most is A Galaxy Next Door. Based on a manga by author Gido Amagakure (Sweetness and Lightning), the series follows mangaka Ichiro who is forever struggling with deadlines while fulfilling his obligations as a parental figure to his two younger siblings. His prayers for help are answered when his editor calls, having found a new assistant called Shiori Goshiki, who’s talented and willing to work on paper rather than digitally as Ichiro prefers.
Together the two make it through Ichiro’s looming deadline, but while half asleep afterwards, Ichiro sees what he thinks is a pen sticking out of Shiori’s back. He rushes over to help, but ends up cutting himself on the sharp object – which turns out to be a stinger attached to Shiori! Because of this, the two are now connected by some otherworldly force, meaning Shiori can’t go too far from Ichiro or he’ll end up coming down with flu-like symptoms. Now the two are bound to one another in a way that surpasses that of creator and assistant and as they get to know one another as friends, perhaps there will be more to their budding relationship.
Just like Sweetness and Lightning before it, A Galaxy Next Door is a wholesome slice-of-life story that not only focuses on Ichiro’s relationship with Shiori but also his work as a creator and his role as a fatherly figure to his young siblings. There’s a lot to enjoy here, narratively speaking, and the series has made the transition to anime really well, thanks to studio Asahi Production (Heaven’s Design Team). Thanks to a bright but soft colour selection, the series is easy on the eyes while capturing the style of Amagakure’s artwork from the manga. Most of all it feels inviting and makes the viewer eager to keep watching.
While I could be here talking about Tonikawa, Demon Slayer or The Ancient Magus’ Bride I’m sure it will come as no surprise to readers familiar with my tastes that I have instead picked In Another World With My Smartphone Season 2 as Returning Champion. The first season aired all the way back in 2017, so although the light novels have continued to dominate the market (they’re now at 28 volumes and counting!), it has been a while since we’ve seen these characters on-screen.
Season 2 picks up immediately after the end of Season 2, with Touya on a quest with members of his party and searching for teleportation points that will take him to missing parts of Babylon (an airship of sorts). He’s also concerned about the Phrase, enemies of unknown origin that are threatening the existence of the world. Since we’re still so early on in the series (this content is only from Volume 4) we’re still well within the realm of ‘generic isekai’ narratively speaking. But if you’ve stuck with the source material, you’ll likely enjoy a chance to revisit this early content.
While the first season of the anime was handled by Ashi Productions, Season 2 has had a significant overhaul in staff and is now being produced by J.C Staff. Honestly compared to the initial outing, it could be an entirely new show, it looks a lot better and the writing has also improved to the point where Touya feels less like a self-insert of a protagonist and one with a personality of his own. I’m not going to sit here and say In Another World With My Smartphone is any kind of amazing series, but if you like it already then you’ll be very happy to see Season 2 improve on basically everything the first season offered.
With so many series returning or adaptations of manga/light novels, I’m already familiar with, I didn’t expect to find a hidden gem within the rest of what this season has to offer. But I was immediately proven wrong when I started My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999, a romance series by Madhouse based on a manga by Mashiro. Our story follows college student Akane Kinoshita who has been dumped by her boyfriend who has been having an affair with another woman he met playing a game, the same game he and Akane used to play together. Frustrated by this, Akane goes on a rampage in-game and spills everything to another member of her guild – Yamada. However, Yamada has no interest in her woes and simply wants to know if she’ll be moving out of the area so he can farm for a rare monster drop.
Later Akane decides to attend an off-line event for the game after having a makeover and hoping to get back at her boyfriend, who’s bound to be attending with his new lover. One thing leads to another and Akane ends up running into Yamada and declaring him her boyfriend in front of her ex! Yamada is confused but goes along with it as long as he gets the special event item given to all attendees in exchange. Afterwards, they go for drinks, but Yamada once again tells Akane he doesn’t care about her problems and just wants to go home. Nevertheless, the two have struck up a relationship of sorts and as much as Yamada might want to be rid of Akane, she just keeps popping up in his life.
While My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 is clearly a romance, it’s also a comedy and Madhouse have a lot of fun bringing that side of the series to life. From the over-exaggeration of the character’s facial expressions to the wonderful voice acting from Inori Minase (Megumin in Konosuba) who plays Akane, it’s clear the staff are having a great time working on it. Each episode is certain to leave you with a smile on your face as you watch over Akane as she stumbles her way through life and her budding feelings for Yamada. If you’ve been looking for a new romantic comedy featuring a more mature cast than your usual high-school fare then you should definitely give this a look.
All three of the above series are available on Crunchyroll.
I fell in love with Misaki Takamatsu’s manga Skip and Loafer as soon as Seven Seas began to publish it in English translation (I might even have enthused about it here). It felt like a breath of fresh air in seinen romcom manga with its determined heroine Mitsumi (from a remote island community) setting out on her high school life in Tokyo, determined to become a successful career woman/politician. There’s something about the lightness and verve of the manga (and those dance-based covers that make a nod to LaLa Land) that are an irresistible invitation to meet the characters and spend time with them. Could the anime series capture that freshness and bring Mitsumi and her friends to life convincingly? Happily, the answer is yes and more so as the animation, music and seiyuu have truly captured the atmosphere of the mangaka’s creation and then some. The pacing is spot-on and Takamatsu’s distinctive, delightful art style has been very successfully reproduced. Above all, it’s a pleasure to meet Mitsumi in 2D animation as well as the friends that she makes, especially the young man whom she encounters on her disastrous first train journey when she has to give a speech to the school and everything goes wrong. Sousuke Shima comes to her rescue (he’s late too for the opening ceremony but for other reasons) and this chance meeting leads to the start of a very special friendship.
Add in one of the most charming OPs of the season (making good use of the dance-influenced manga covers) and the wise advice of Nao, Mitsumi’s female-identifying fashionable aunt, and you have just the right balance of irresistible characters and relatable slice-of-life drama and comedy. Sit back and enjoy!
Even though it’s been over five years since the first season of the TV anime based on Kore Yamazaki’s atmospheric, well-researched and compelling urban fantasy manga The Ancient Magus’ Bride, there have been OADs set in the same world, notably the magical and touching The Boy from the West and the Knight of the Blue Storm (Crunchyroll) which I recommend wholeheartedly as one of the best fantasy anime I’ve seen in a long while. This also briefly sets up the starting point of Series 2: sleigh beggie Chise’s decision to leave the comforts of the cottage where she lives with her Black Dog companion Ruth, loving housekeeper banshee Silver Lady/Silky and the Ancient Magus himself, Elias Ashmole. So, the opening episode shows us Chise putting on a new school uniform to attend the secret magical school hidden deep beneath the British Library in London (who knew?). And because Elias doesn’t want to be parted from her, he accompanies her in the guise of a visiting professor (although the disguise doesn’t stay in place for long, especially after he gives a lecture in which things get a little…out of hand). Chise finds herself in a closed community with students of similar age (the Hogwarts echoes are inevitable) in which the only other student she knows is Alice, alchemist Renfred’s feisty apprentice.
The good news for Chise fans (like myself) is that the high production values and faithfulness to the original manga are still in place, even with a new director in Kazuaki Terasawa (who directed The Boy from the West). It’s been an engaging start, although the high number of new characters (mostly fellow students for Chise) is as bewildering as it is in the manga (especially in Episodes 2 and 3) – and I feel it’s one of the problems with the later manga volumes. Juggling such a large cast – nearly all introduced at once – is a tricky task, even for the most experienced of writers and I’m still not convinced the TV version will manage to triumph where the manga struggles to hold the reader’s attention. But I’m hoping some wise adaptation choices (what to leave out, what to leave in) will pass swiftly over (or leave out) some of the less successful moments of the manga and deliver us what we love best about this fantasy series: Chise and Elias learning to work together (with Ruth) to combat some unseen and often sinister elements of our very own folklore.
Sacrificial Princess & the King of Beasts was a very late arrival to the Spring Season. Based on the fantasy manga by Yu Tomofuji (Yen Press) it’s another variation on Beauty and the Beast with young heroine Sariphi delivered as a human sacrifice to appease the fearsome King of the Beasts in a barren kingdom inhabited by beastmen. Only one episode in so far but I’m definitely returning for more as ‘Sari’ (in spite of her frail appearance) is quite a redoubtable character and more than a match for the dire circumstances she finds herself in. She makes an impression on her royal master who, in true fairy tale/legend tradition, turns out to be not what he seems to be. But, surrounded by enemies at the court, her position is truly precarious – will she survive and bring change to the kingdom? Where last season’s fantasy anime The Tale of the Outcasts (also with a white-haired, blue-eyed frail heroine indebted to a lion demon protector) failed to convince, this is much more promising, with engaging story-telling, animation and character designs. One to watch if you enjoy fantasy and want a break from the unending slew of cookie cutter isekai offerings!
Skip and Loafer, The Ancient Magus’ Bride and Sacrificial Princess & the King of Beasts are all currently streaming on Crunchyroll.
While it could also classify as a returning champion, the show that I’ve been looking forward to most this season is the second half of Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story, and oh my goodness it does not disappoint.
Continuing straight from where it left off, we join Eve and Aoi knee-deep in the All-Japan Girls High School Double Championships, where, not surprisingly, the pair are smashing the competition. However, it’s not going to be completely plain sailing as the girls’ pasts start to catch up with them – when Aoi falls ill at the end of a round, it’s up to Eve to finish things off, yet her rainbow bullets bring forth long-forgotten memories that threaten to shake the foundations of the girls’ friendship.
Indeed, Birdie Wing’s second half is starting to tackle a lot of the mysteries and drama around its characters that it had previously set up, and it’s fascinating what they’re trying to do here as it pulls its characters in wildly different directions and, in a way, begins to role-reverse them, while their problems are obviously going to have major implications on how the series ends. I have my hopes that it will end on a happy note, but it sounds like there’s a whole load of twists and turns to get through before that, so, as HWR said, let’s just enjoy the ride!
Outside of the drama though, it’s still that same bonkers show that takes golf to the point of silliness. There’s still a huge sense of fun here with the game as it continues to be as ridiculous as it can be with the super powerful shots, while the way each of the characters verbally and mentally play off each other is good at showing us what each of the different characters are aiming for – some simply want to be the best, while others want to tough it out through very hot rivalries – and it’s these that most often light up the screen.
With all this in mind, I don’t think I need to vouch for this too much for those who saw the first season other than saying that yes, this is still going to be worth your time; but if you passed on it then I’d say definitely pick the whole thing up – the first season is exceedingly silly and good fun, yet if you think it lacks depth, then its follow-up has some interesting mysteries and revelations that I can’t wait to see how they affect Eve and Aoi as they race to the top.
While I find it easy to criticise the isekai genre as there’s so much repetitive rubbish out there, I do have a soft spot for those that are more about just having fun rather than being a power fantasy about a generic guy that gets all the girls and saves the world. While we’ve just had one of these kinds of shows last season with BOFURI, this season we have the second season of its younger sibling: Kuma Kuma Kuma Bear.
Appropriately subtitled Punch!, we continue following Yuna, a teenage girl who was sent into the world of her favourite online game with an all-powerful bear suit, as she gets into a whole load of fun adventures packed with more monsters for her to punch, kick and destroy in her adorable bear outfit.
So far, these early episodes have been about reintroducing us to the main plot and cast, while giving Yuna some time to show her stuff as she gives a helping hand to some of the students at the royal academy on a training mission. Being a comfy action comedy, I think it serves as a decent re-introduction as it puts forward the best of all these parts – it’s a bright, colourful, and relaxed show, but can get the claws out when needed and knows just the time to crack a gag for it not to get boring in any way. My only real criticism right now is that it is hyper-focused on Yuna, and I’m struggling to really remember her main core circle of friends as they’ve only had little snippets. It’s tough to balance out all the different characters when only one is really involved in the action, but I’m hoping they get their fair share of the limelight later down the line.
Other than that, there’s not much else to it, but that’s kind of why I enjoy it anyway – as long as it keeps being an enjoyably fun and relaxed show then I think this will do well, and I can see this happily fitting back into that “chill after work” or “sleepy Sunday afternoon” slot. If that fits your kind of vibe, then by all means give it a shot, I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.
While I wouldn’t say it’s an absolute must-watch, I have found myself rather intrigued by Stella of the Theatre: World Dai Star.
It’s been a couple of years since we had any theatre-focused shows, with 2021 being a bit of a boom year with the likes of the Revue Starlight movie, Gekidol and Kageki Shoujo, so it seems time to bring us back with this interesting series.
While the initial plot plays out as you would expect, with the young aspiring actress Kokona Otori entering the junior ranks of one of the world’s best theatre troupes (Sirius) in order to become one of the world’s best theatre performers (the titular World Dai Star), it has a bit of a gimmick that I think might work out for it depending on how it works it through its plot.
To actually be a “Dai Star”, you need not just the talent, but also a good Sense, with a capital S. These are a little hard to explain but come across as kind of special powers that heighten a specific element of a performance. Kokona’s roommate and main rival Kathrina, for example, can analyse every aspect of the stage, performers, and audience in order to place herself in exactly the right position and give the exactly correct performance that will ensure its success, even though she doesn’t put any personal emotions into her roles. This is where she gets the leg up on Kokona, as well… she doesn’t have a Sense.
Here’s where it gets interesting though, as Kokona’s best friend, Shizuka, is there to guide and train her so she gives her best performance. There’s just one catch: Shizuka isn’t real! This is where the big mystery comes in, as I’m not sure if Shizuka is just an imaginary friend or related to how the Senses work, but figuring out why Shizuka is even a thing seems to be going to be a big part of this series.
There’s some definite potential here if it can tie this core mystery and the Senses together as we see Kokona hopefully move closer to fulfilling her dream, yet even if this falls flat I still think it could be pretty decent anyway as the voice cast are so far doing a good job of bringing the performances to life. And honestly it shouldn’t be that surprising as they’ve all done similar kinds of roles before, or at least ones that had an idoly/performance vibe to them. Several of the cast members are involved with Umamusume: Pretty Derby, while there’s also representation from The Idolmaster, Kiratto Pri☆Chan, and there’s even Sally Amaki from 22/7.
So, it’s got the potential and the credentials, but will it live up to all that? We’ll just have to wait and see but so far this is an interesting show that I’m definitely going to be keeping an eye on.
All three of the above series are available on Crunchyroll.
It should come as no surprise that the show I was most anticipating going into this season is yet another adaptation of a story from the world of Jump, animated by Studio MAPPA no less. Yes, Hell’s Paradise has been given the big promotional push by the likes of Crunchyroll this season as they know it has all the ingredients to become popular with the action shonen crowd, though it has tough competition given the new season of another shonen show I’ll get to in a bit…
Hell’s Paradise focuses on Gabimaru, a ninja who thought himself hollow inside but actually ended up falling in love with a girl and wanting out of the ninja way, approaching his master to release him… only to end up betrayed. We open the first episode with his execution away from his village but due to his supernatural training, the sword swung at his neck breaks off. He’s a fun character right from the off because he curses not being able to die but within just Episode 1 comes to realise his emotionless heart is anything but. He gets this way due to a female swordsman known as Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, with Yamada Asaemon being the title given to a special set of twelve executioners. After making him realise why he suddenly had the will to live, Sagiri gives him an offer of a pardon, but with a catch. You see, the Shogunate recently discovered a fantasy-like island off the coast of Ryukyu that is said to have the immortality-granting “Elixir of Life” on it but the first five expeditions have ended with all people sent there either disappearing or, mysteriously, their corpses coming back partly transformed into flowers. So for the sixth trip to the land, they’re sending expendable criminals with the one single criminal who comes back with the Elixir being granted a pardon.
Gabimaru agrees to the deal and finds out that Sagiri will be coming with him as each convict will be accompanied by a Yamada Asaemon, and if they return without their assigned executioner, the deal will be null and void. It’s a lot of set up from what will no doubt become something of an island-based elimination game cliché with well designed shonen characters, but it works. Thanks to MAPPA’s animation skills, the fighting will be a good watch, and the lead duo already have a fun rapport just three episodes in, plus several other characters have obviously appeared, often with, um, “extreme personalities”, both the criminals and the Yamada Asaemon, so I’m looking forward to following the show as it progresses over the Spring.
Now in the above category, I mentioned a popular shonen show coming back with a new season that will no doubt take a lot of attention away from Hell’s Paradise and I of course was talking about Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Third Season, the Swordsmith Village arc.
The show has reached such popularity that I feel like you’re either already watching the show or aren’t interested in action shonen shows so you’re already not reading this paragraph, but just in case: the show follows Tanjiro, a Demon Slayer who is looking to help defeat the leader of the Demons so he can free his little sister Nezuko from its curse. Over the course of the two seasons and one film we’ve seen more and more powerful Demons spring up while at the same time have seen more powerful Demon Slayers as well, and so far the Swordsmith Village arc has been no different. It kicked off with a special double-length episode that featured a good long look at the Demons left in the upper ranks of the hierarchy, with the most powerful and interesting ones left to sit out this adventure and instead, the lowest-ranked two are sent to no doubt eventually encounter our protagonist. As the title suggests. Tanjiro has headed to a hidden village famous for its swordsmiths in order to get his katana repaired, and while there, he’s encountered two high-ranked Demon Slayers (or “Hashira”) and a mysterious man he’s seen in his dreams. So no doubt the two lowest- ranked demons (among the most powerful ones, so not discounting them or anything!) will soon arrive where the two Hashira and Tanjiro are, leading to a similar situation as the past two story arcs of high level combat between Hashira and demon, with Tanjiro in the middle. Still, if nothing else, the series is still meticulously animated by Ufotable so it will no doubt be a treat for the eyes once the action kicks into gear, and who doesn’t like a bit of overly-flashy combat once a week?
The other returning series I want to talk about is Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury. The first season surprised me by mixing in school life hijinks with giant mech (or mobile suit!) battles with little in the way of Gundam’s normal heavy reliance on depicting war. Main character Suletta Mercury is a ditsy country girl (though her “backwater home” is a colony above Mercury…) who ended up in the big posh school and through her awkward charm and powerful mobile suit, the Gundam Aerial, she has become something of a star around campus and seemingly caught the romantic attention of Miorine Rembran, the daughter of a wealthy company owner. The jury is still out on how far they’ll push the same-sex love angle but the new ending animation implies they certainly won’t be dropping it, so it’s great to see.
At the end of the previous season, Suletta freaked Miorine out by killing a terrorist in front of her eyes and then acting silly still covered in the man’s blood so this season sees them on the outs with each other and in separate locations, focusing on Suletta’s school life once again but featuring a duo of rival mobile suit pilots that had previously headed the previously mentioned terrorist attack joining as new members of the school. I’ll admit I kind of rolled my eyes, assuming we’d be in for several episodes of “Suletta doesn’t know she’s fraternising with the enemy” scenes but to my relief the cat came out of the bag almost immediately and by the end of this season’s second episode that plot thread came to an end with a fantastic mobile suit battle and a frankly shocking revelation about the Aerial that kind of came out of nowhere in a really fun way (rather than a unsatisfying “what the hell are you going on about?” way it could’ve easily gone) Needless to say, I’m really looking forward to seeing where the show continues to go, both in terms of the usual Gundam mix of suit battles and politics, but also the lead character’s love life, which is certainly not something I’m normally invested in when it comes to these shows, so hats off to the writers there!
Hell’s Paradise, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’s Third Season and Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury are streaming on Crunchyroll.