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Fall 2023 Check-in

Fall 2023 is a whopper.  At least in terms of sheer volume.  There are a ton of series in the hopper here, but to my tastes it’s not remotely in the same ballpark as Spring was.  I’ve got a fair number os shows still fighting for places, but most of them them fall broadly in the middle of the pack this time.  I’m not sure there’s a Fall premiere  (edit: Pluto looks like a lock) that’s going to make the year-end Top 10 list (though that’s going to be a tougher-than-usual one to crack).  Only Pluto made the “Elite” category, and Sousou no Frieren was right on the trailing edge of “Outstanding” (but with nothing else in there, I gave the tie to the runner).

That’s more or less what I would have predicted going into the season.  And frankly at this point I know the game well enough that my assessment going in on how I’ll rank a season is rarely off by too much. I would say that the “high value” mid-tier shows – the sleepers and the ones with a lot of apparent potential – have mostly held their own.  That’s a positive.  So is the fact that the season’s clear #2, Frieren, hasn’t disappointed even if I’m not certain whether it has real greatness in it.  It’s also not eligible for the 2023 list, of course.

It should also be pointed out that as I began writing this, two of the season’s top dogs, Pluto and Kusuriya no Hitorigoto, had not yet premiered.  Kusuriya had a triple premiere and Pluto a Netflix dump, but for me it’s still early days with both.  How those two shows pan out is going to have a lot to say about how Fall 2023 fares as a whole.

The Patron Pick ballot was relatively strong at least, a by-product of the sheer number of bubble series this season brings to the table.

Onward, then, to Fall 2023:


The Elite

Episodes Watched: 2
Grade: A+
Comments: I don’t need to say much here, do I?  Pluto is great – potentially historically great.  We knew the source material was, the only question was whether the adaptation was going to be up to the standard required to make it a masterpiece.  After two episodes (I don’t like binge watching, want to make this last, and don’t have time to binge anyway) I feel pretty confident we’re in serious AotY contender territory at the very least.  Pluto has at least four of five things going for it that by themselves would make it a great show – pool them all together and you’re talking about something truly special.



Sousou no Frieren
Episodes Watched: 7
Grade: B+
Comments: I want to love Frieren at the Funeral, but I’m just not quite there yet.  It’s a show of subtle charms, without many characters who immediately grab me, but it does grow on you.  I think there are some really interesting ideas being bandied about here, and the tone of the series is often very interesting.  The standout element so far is actually Evan Call’s soundtrack, which adds tremendously to the atmosphere that’s so crucial to Sousou no Frieren’s success.  It’s a very good show, and I still see it as a series with upside potential.


Very Good

Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B+
Comments: I see a very similar dynamic with this season’s auto racing anime to the Ao Aoshi-Blue Lock one.  To wit, one show for people who love sports and one for people who don’t.  MF Ghost will wind up being the more popular series I suspect, but as someone who loves both sports and sports anime Overtake! is the one for me.  It’s damn good – Troyca is pulling out all the stops production-wise, and a terrific staff led by Aoki Ei is delivering a polished and distinctive production.

Migi to Dari  
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: Migi to Dari is a fascinating oddity, as you’d expect from the author of Sakamoto Desu ga?.  I like this series better, actually – it’s a study in contrasts.  A middle-America setting in Kobe, darkness and slapstick, innocence and sinister intent.  It’s deeper than meets the eye, and expertly straddles the dividing lines between its different personalities.  The arrow is pointing upwards here for sure.

Kusuriya no Hitorigoto
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: A late entry to the mix, but at least we got three episodes at once so we’re basically caught up.  I quite liked The Apothecary Diaries’ extended premiere, though there were certain elements that didn’t click for me.  Jinshi wasn’t an especially winning male lead, the art style struck me as a bit mismatched for the setting, and the barrage of chili-distorted character shots (yes, I know they’re in the manga too) seemed very out of place.  But Maomao was great (and Aoi Yuuki too), and the mysteries themselves were interesting enough.  A high floor here I think, if not the highest ceiling.

Yuzuki-san Chi no Yonkyoudai.
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: This series is a reminder of why anime needs more shoujo (which usually seems to wind up as live-action when it gets adapted these days).   The hit rate with shoujo is no better than shounen, but the tolerance for honest emotion is a lot higher.  With a family drama like this that means a lot, and this story of four brothers coping after their parents’ death has a lot of authenticity to it.  Refreshingly unconventional for anime in a totally different way than Migi to Dari.



Atarashii Joushi wa Do Tennen
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B
Comments: I do enjoy a good workplace comedy, and Atarashii Joushi wa Do Tennen has a lot of charm.  It reminds me of Cool Douji Danshi in some ways, though if anything it plays up the shounen-ai elements even harder.  The series is indisputably driven by comedy and warmth, but in its subtle way it quite expertly captures the trauma of working in a black company for a terrible boss – not a problem unique to Japan, but one it all often turns a blind eye to.

Houkago Shounen Hanako-kun
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: B-
Comments: Obviously in a perfect world I’d much rather have the parent series than this spinoff manga.  And hopefully we will soon enough, but After School Hanako-kun certainly makes a pleasant diversion to tide us over.  It’s not completely carefree – Jibaku Shounen’s dark side shows through even here – but this is mostly for the laughs.

Mahoutsukai no Yome Season 2   
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: This season is fine for what it is, but the experience is just not the same for me.  There are just enough flashes of the magic and class that Mahoutsukai at its best can bring to keep you hooked in, hoping for more of them.  The school arc is pretty good in the big picture, but against this series’ own standards it’s pretty mediocre.

Spy x Family Season 2 
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: These episodes perfectly illustrate the Spy x Family anime experience.  One (one and a half, really) mildly pleasant and totally forgettable, another (“Damian’s Field Research Trip”) a glimpse of what SxF is capable of when it’s fully engaged, and an almost unwatchable Yuri episode that tries to humanize the Stasi.  Expect more of the same from the rest of the season, though we do have its first extended arc beginning with Episode 5.

Good Night World
Episodes Watched: 5
Grade: B-
Comments: Good Night World has been thoroughly lost in the Netflix dump landfill, completely ignored my most Western anime fans.  I’ve managed to watch five episodes and I must say I quite like this story of a dysfunctional family interacting in a MMORPG without realizing who the others are (the cast is especially great).


Still Watching

Bokura no Ameiro Protocol
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: B-
Comments: It would be hard to find a a TV anime with an English stream that gets less attention than Bokura no Ameiro Protocol.  But I gotta say, I quite like it.  There are a few cliche moments to be sure, but this story of a bunch of gamers trying to save a bankrupt net cafe by winning an esports tournament has a real sense of fun to it.  “Cheeky” would be a good word to describe it, and that’s a quality I often rather like.

Tokyo Revengers: Tenjiku-hen
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: I’m right on the edge with TMR, at least as far as coverage is concerned.  I really liked episode 2 and 4 but I find myself prioritizing other shows over it, and the whole “Groundhog Day” aspect of the experience has worn me down.  I don’t think the show has gotten any worse – it’s just that it stays the same, and that’s part of the problem.

MF Ghost
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: It’s rare that character designs throw me enough to really derail my engagement with a series, and I know this all goes back to Initial D, but I can’t stand them with MF Ghost.  The old-school casual sexism is pretty heavy too.  But the racing stuff is decent, and there is a modest charm to the goofiness of the character interactions.

Shangri-La Frontier
Episodes Watched: 4
Grade: C+
Comments: I’m not enough of a gamer to be in the target audience for Shangri-La Frontier, but I find it sort of fun.  The visuals are surprisingly good and the depiction of the in-game experience is nicely done.  I’m not crazy about the protagonist and none of the other characters has made much of an impression (though Ohtsuka Akio as the yaakuza bunny has possibilities) but characters aren’t really the point here.

Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C
Comments: 100 Girlfriends is probably the most vexing show of the season.  So many people seem to like it but it just doesn’t click with me.  The humor seems mostly crass and stupid and while I’m aware it’s intentionally recalling old school harem romcom anime, by gosh is the sexism overpowering.  Humor is funny that way, it either works for you or it doesn’t.

16bit Sensation: Another Layer
Episodes Watched: 3
Grade: C
Comments: 16bit sensation is a time travel anime that feels like a time travel experience.  Full credit to it for conveying that vibe effectively but on balance, while I find the nostalgia interesting, the heroine is annoying as hell and the overall appeal is pretty limited.



Megumi Daigo, Undead Unluck, Ragna Crimson, Kamierabi, Kawagoe Boys Sing


Here, then, is this season’s blogging prospectus:

Definitely Blogging: Migi to Dari 

Definitely Bloogging: Helck

On the Bubble: Tokyo Revengers Tenjiku-hen

Definitely Blogging: Ruroini Kenshin 2023, Houkago Shounen Hanako-kun  
Probably Blogging: Yuzuki-san Chi no Yonkyoudai.

Definitely Blogging: Sousou no Frieren, Mahoutsukai no Yome Season 2

Definitely Blogging: Spy x Family Season 2, Atarashii Joushi wa Do Tennen  
Probably Blogging: Kusuriya no Hitorigoto

Definitely Blogging: Overtake!
On the Respirator: Kimi no Koto ga Daidaidaidaidaisuki na 100-nin no Kanojo

Covering as viewed: Pluto

Manga: Otoyomegatari, Hunter X Hunter (hiatus)

Watching For Now: Bokura no Ameiro Protocol, Good Night World, 16bit Sensation: Another Layer, Shangri-La Frontier, MF Ghost



One more thing before I wrap. Sincere thanks to everyone who’s stepped up to support LiA during our fall pledge drive!  I had to stretch the dates a bit, but we just about hit the goal – thank you!  The need for support is as dire as ever – links are in the sidebar as always if you want to help out.  The “LiA Bespoke” commissions program is officially open and has proved to be a great addition to LiA, so please check it out.

Please check out the LiA YouTube channel for manga recommendations, from the vault anime, Japan journeys and more!

The post Fall 2023 Check-in appeared first on Lost in Anime.

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