It is a great time to be alive for an otaku! A handful of years ago I was concerned that I’d be running out of good anime to be watching, but luckily that isn’t the case today. Thankfully, due to anime’s increasing popularity, the market has skyrocketed resulting in a surplus of shows to be watching. To help you out and save some time, I’ve been keeping up with a plethora number of animes this season. Since we’re a few episodes into the winter season, I thought now would be a good time to determine whether a show on my watchlist is something you should be adding to your queue.
I feel like I’m cheating here by recommending ID:INVADED seeing how Josh has already done his own first reaction, so to avoid sounding like a broken record you can read up his first reaction here. as my feelings are just about the same. I’ll at least say this, I highly recommend going into this anime blind. ID:INVADED throws you straight in without floaties telling you to swim, and at first you may struggle to wrap your mind over what’s going on, but that’ll only pay off as the story unravels.
BOFURI: I don’t want to get hurt, so I’ll max out my defense
Continuing the trope of long show titles, BOFURI, follows our protagonist Kaede Honjou who begins playing a VRMMO known as “New World Online”. As the title of the show may suggest, Kaede (a complete newbie to gaming), wants to avoid being hurt; so respectively she allocates all of her stat points to defense during character creation as well as selecting the shield as her primary weapon of choice. Kaede takes on the name “Maple” for her character and is sent into the game of “New World Online”. During Maple’s time playing and leveling, she unknowingly opts into playing a max defense build by dumping all of her skill points gained from leveling into her defense stat, becoming the most overpowered character imaginable, even being mistaken for a “pro player”.
As someone who loves MMORPGs, this “New World Online” game has the worst game design I’ve ever seen. If the defense stat was such an overpowered statistic in-game, the entire player base would become well aware of that and abuse it until the developers nerfed it. Instead, Maple, who has never touched a game in her life, winds up purely by chance unlocking every busted skill known to man making her character essentially unkillable. This game design makes no sense! To avoid spoiling the absurdities the anime displays, I won’t go into detail, but I digress. No matter how heated I may be over how silly the game mechanics are, it only aids in supporting the silly moe antics Maple goes through during her time playing making this show an absolute joy. Yea, Maple being a complete noob to the game, in reality, wouldn’t result in her being an unkillable legend, but it’s that ridiculousness that makes the show so entertaining. Put your disbelief aside and accept the goofiness, if you do that, this anime may just become one of your favorites of the season.
Sudou Kaname receives a strange text from his friend inviting him to play a mobile app game called Darwin’s Game. After downloading and opening the app, he unknowingly has entered a death game where players are pitted against each other in battles to the death. Sudou’s only goal, “Survive”.
This anime is a cross between Mirai Nikki and Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure. Take the plot of Mirai Nikki where everyone is fighting to the death with the phone being the most important lifeline of the game, then add stand powers to the mix and you’ve got yourself Darwin’s Game. I was captivated by the first episode for multiple reasons. First of which is that the pilot episode had a 45-minute run-time! Episodes like these are perfect to grab a viewer’s attention, leaving plenty of room to introduce the show’s plot, the characters, and still having time for entertaining action. If this pilot episode was crunched down into a 23-minute episode the entire series would be ruined since the second episode would be spillage the first episode wasn’t able to cover in-time making the whole thing feel rushed. Secondly, the plot and story of the anime is brutally entertaining. Seeing Sudou Kaname adjusting to figuring out how to win each fight he is put in using primarily only witts is incredibly enjoyable. The icing on the cake is that the world and events taking place are believable. There is a structure in the death game; clans are formed taking control of territory in the real world, these clans ensure safety in matches and events, but come at a price seeing as clan fights are equivalent to gang-fights in reality. There is a lot to take in, but the world-building, character development, and story are all well executed resulting in one of my favorite animes of the season so far.
Somali and the Forest Spirit
In a world where the human race is nearly extinct due to a war fought between man and monster, this story tells a tale of a human child and forest golem’s travels together.
This show is going to result in tears. Somali, a young human child, is found by a forest golem. The two develop a father and daughter pair that is so pure that it makes my heart melt! Somali’s character is written as a believable child, not just some cute moe character, but one that’s filled with curiosity, energy, and even childish emotions that feel relatable to one’s youth. Take Somali’s character and pair it with the Golem who at face value lacks emotion, but deep inside, it’s clear the Golem cares greatly for Somali, wanting to protect and take care of her as any loving father would to their child. This lovable pairing and a beautiful world and OST make for a gorgeous emotional rollercoaster that I’m needing to mentally prepare for. Do not skip out on this one, it may not be action-packed, but it’ll be hitting the feels hard.
At the young age of 11, Kotoko Iwanaga was abducted by youkai for two weeks and asked to become their “God of Wisdom,” a mediator between the spirit and human worlds, to which the girl quickly agreed but at the cost of her right eye and left leg. Now, six years later, whenever youkai wish for their problems to be solved, they make their way to Kotoko for consultation.
Meanwhile, Kurou Sakuragawa, a 22-year-old university student, has just broken up with his girlfriend after he fled alone when the two encountered a kappa. Seeing this as her chance to become closer with him, Kotoko immediately makes her move, hoping to get married to Kurou one day. However, she quickly realizes there is something more to Kurou. With this knowledge, she asks for his help in solving the various issues presented by the supernatural, all the while wishing her newfound partner will eventually reciprocate her feelings.
In/Spectre is my favorite anime of the season so far. It isn’t an anime of the year by any means, but I have a deep love for the youkai and supernatural here. The story premise isn’t anything new, but the characters are quickly loveable. Kotoko Iwanaga is incredibly cute and has quickly become my waifu of the season so that bias alone is enough to make me want to praise this anime. Waifu aside, Kurou Sakuragawa, Kotoko Iwanaga’s love interest, is a fascinating character as well seeing as he is feared by youkai. To avoid any plot spoilers, I won’t say why he’s feared, but the anime is overall a fun entertaining supernatural anime.
With my list coming to a close, I wanna throw out some worth mentions for you to take a look at if none of my picks suit your fancy:
Asteroid in love – https://myanimelist.net/anime/39388/Koisuru_Asteroid
Infinite Dendrogram – https://www.theouterhaven.net/2020/01/scratching-your-isekai-itch-infinite-dendrogram/
Plunderer – https://myanimelist.net/anime/37345/Plunderer
Science fell in love, so I tried to prove it – https://myanimelist.net/anime/38992/Rikei_ga_Koi_ni_Ochita_no_de_Shoumei_shitemita
Toilet-bound Hanako-kun – https://myanimelist.net/anime/39534/Jibaku_Shounen_Hanako-kun