2023 Spring animes ranked from my favorite to least favorite

Well folks, it's time for another ranking, this time covering TV shows about a skilled ninja that's been sentenced to death but simply cannot die, a world in which a technologically advanced alien race that plans to conquer Earth cannot handle the cuteness of the common house cat, and another show about a teenage boy who's the son of a cult leader being sent into another world where he has to teach others about the concept of religions and gods.

Yeah, let's dive into this!

There's a lot to talk about and this ranking will have fewer entries than past ones, as I'm making an active effort to go below the ten entries that I had last season, and try to minimize the number of TV shows I follow.

With that said, as always, the few rules that I have are the following:

With that said, let's get into the meat of it!

1. My Home Hero

Tetsuo among trashbags

This one was a very pleasant surprise.

Honestly, I had little expectations walking into this show but, after the first episode, I was hooked.

I'm a bit biased towards this show, mainly because I am a big fan of detective stories and especially of true crime as well, so it's obvious that a show that focuses on covering up a murder would be right up my alley.

Granted, I don't believe that this show is based on a true story in any way, but it is set in a very realistic world, with very grounded characters and a very believable scenario.

So, what's it about, you may ask?

The story focuses on Tosu Tetsuo, an everyday middle-aged salaryman, who, one day, meets up with his daughter, a young woman named Reika, at a restaurant for lunch.

Reika is cold towards her father, going through a rebellious phase in her life in which she tries to distance herself from him and trying to build a life on her own, separate from her family, now that she was living in an apartment with her boyfriend.

Tetsuo tries to be understanding and supportive but, once he sees bruises on Reika's face, he begins to suspect that her new boyfriend might be physically abusing her.

However, when he asks Reika about this, she is immediately put off by him trying to butt into her life and abruptly leaves.

Suspicious, Tetsuo walks to Reika's apartment by himself, wondering what he should do when, just by pure luck, while outside the entrance to the building, he passes by a group of thugs and overhears one of them saying that he had beaten his girlfriend for disobeying him. When another one of them asks him about the woman's name, he answers “Reika”, which immediately alerts Tetsuo.

Tetsuo doesn't intervene but now he is very suspicious of everything that's going on in his daughter's life.

The next day, he sneaks into his daughter's and her boyfriend's apartment, trying to gather clues about this new boyfriend of hers but, while doing so, he realizes that someone was about to enter the apartment as well and he ends up hiding in the closet.

The one that enters is Nobuto, Reika's boyfriend. He makes his way into the apartment, talking with someone on his phone, unaware that Tetsuo is in the closet, overhearing everything that he is saying.

As Tetsuo listens on Nobuto's conversation over the phone, he learns that Nobuto has connections with the yakuza and that he had already murdered previous girlfriends in the past.

Nobuto casually mentions that he plans on squeezing some more money from Reika's parents, after which he plans on killing her as well and moving on afterwards.

Terrified for his and his daughter's life, Tetsuo accidentally gives away his hiding spot by making noise, alerting Nobuto that someone might be in the closet.

After Nobuto discovers Tetsuo, the latter uses the element of surprise to throw Nobuto onto the floor and, before he can recover, he uses a rice cooker from the kitchen to bludgeon the young man to death.

After confirming that Nobuto is clearly dead, Tetsuo now has to face an extremely grim prospect: if he will get caught by the police with this murder, not only will he face life in prison, but the yakuza themselves will also find out about his murder, and most likely will take revenge against his wife and daughter as well.

Realizing this horrifying reality, Tetsuo is now forced into a position where he will have to cover everything up, and also try to be one step ahead of the yakuza, as they launch an investigation into Nobuto's disappearance.

That's the synopsis for this show.

I'm not going to lie, this show loves cliff hangers and leaving you suspenseful, but that's the hallmark of a good thriller.

And a good thriller this absolutely is.

I'm not going to go into too many spoilers but I will say, the yakuza will bring a very talented and intelligent man to investigate Nobuto's disappearance, and this guy will make Tetsuo's life a nightmare.

Tetsuo will constantly have to make a lot of plans to outsmart this individual and you will see a lot of interesting interactions between the two, especially as Tetsuo will have to constantly feign innocence.

Tetsuo will have to go to great lengths to fool the yakuza, including breaking into apartments, planting evidence, using novel means of removing bodies and other stuff that usually get covered in true crime stories.

Keeping track of everything and following Tetsuo's plans kept me entertained every single second. It's impressive the amount of foresight and intelligence that the protagonist shows during the most intense and dangerous moments of his life.

If I had one complaint about this show, it's that the protagonist's daughter, Reika, shows an impressive amount of ignorance and gullibility, both exploited by bad actors in this story, which further endangers Tetsuo's life.

While I get the argument that she's young and not very bright, given the foresight and overly capable skills that her parents are proven to have, it's amazing how ridiculously narrow-minded Reika is.

Obviously this has to happen for the plot to progress the way that it does, but it feels to me like this story was mostly written by a middle-aged person that clearly has a lot of distaste for younger people, and genuinely believes that they are very brain-dead and impressionable. While it didn't sour my mood for this story, it felt almost unrealistic and it ruined some of the immersion for me, seeing how one-dimensional and gullible Reika was throughout this.

But I digress.

This show doesn't have magic, sci fi tech, or a dystopian outlook of the future. It's very grounded in reality. The fights aren't epic or awe-inspiring, they are realistic and, in some instances, even look pathetic from an outsider's perspective. However, given that the participants are middle aged men that don't have a lot of combat experience, I will admit that they are refreshingly realistic, which I like.

What I'm trying to say here is that this isn't a Hollywood action thriller with car chases, gun fights, and a martial arts sequence on top of a helicopter.

This show is grounded into reality, almost to a fault, and that's going to turn off a lot of people.

However, for those that like realism and, to some extent, even demand it from their crime thrillers, this is a genuine treat.

I highly encourage you give this show a try if you're part of that audience and I'll say, if this has a season two, I will, without a doubt, watch it.

2. Hell's Paradise: Jigokuraku

Gabimaru looking at a bunch of human skeletons

While My Home Hero had a very sober and down-to-Earth vibe that was very welcome, this show is in stark contrast to that.

During the Edo Period in Japan, a young criminal named Gabimaru the Hollow, who had been sentenced to death after a very successful short life as an assassin, is causing a lot of trouble for everyone because his body is seemingly impossible to be executed.

Whenever an executioner is tasked to behead Gabimaru in a public execution, the sword breaks against his neck and he survives without so much as a single scratch.

They even go so far as trying to burn him alive and yet, despite all of this, his body still survives unscathed, much to the chagrin of his executioners.

Gabimaru, himself, claims that he wishes to die as well, and is very disappointed at everyone's incapability of killing him.

One day, he is brought in front of a young woman named Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, an exceptionally talented sword tester as well as a well trained executioner. The Asaemon clan, where she is from, is a reputable and well respected clan of formidable swordsmen in Japan, indicating to Gabimaru that she actually might be able to finish the job.

When Gabimaru is asked why he wishes to die, he tells everyone that he had underwent shinobi training in the village of Iwagakure, where he had been molded and formed as a highly efficient and almost indestructible killing machine, for the purposes of serving the village chief's desire for assassinations, in order to acquire political influence.

As a reward for his efforts, the chief of the clan had given Gabimaru his own daughter's hand in marriage, to which he accepted.

Gabimaru recalls how his married life to his wife, Yui, had been unpleasant to him, as he had never had a sentimental or emotional side, which is the reason he had managed to become the clan's most proficient killer in the first place. He could never come to terms with his wife's feminine side and love for life, and this caused an irreparable distance between the two of them.

Disillusioned by his unsuccessful married life, Gabimaru had asked the chief if he could leave the village and start a new life from scratch. Because of this, he is betrayed by the village and sent as a criminal for execution.

Now, after all of this, Gabimaru claims that he has no more purpose in life and wishes to simply die already. He had come to terms with the idea that he will be executed.

Sagiri, touched by his story, proceeds in attempting to behead him.

When Gabimaru senses her cool demeanor and her very calculated preparations, though, he instinctively dodges her sword at the last second, skillfully breaking his bonds and jumping away in defense.

He, himself, is very surprised by this, as he was convinced that he had accepted his own death, so he cannot explain his own actions.

Sagiri then explains that she believes the reason he was defending himself was that, to put it simply, he had been lying to himself that whole time, trying to rationalize his death to himself in a way that he can come to terms with it.

In reality, Gabimaru did not hate nor even dislike Yui. Instead, Sagiri explains that she is convinced that Gabimaru had loved her all along, and cared for her, and it is this love for her that is subconsciously making him always react, at the last second, to preserve his own life whenever her or anyone else tries to execute him.

When Gabimaru thinks about her explanation, he comes to the conclusion that she must be right and that, deep down, he does actually love his wife, and it was for this very reason that he wanted to leave the village in the first place, so that he could secure a peaceful life with her.

After a quick battle in trying to prevent his own execution, now that he is convinced that Sagiri is skilled enough to pose a realistic threat to his life, the Asaemon executioner offers Gabimaru an unexpected proposal: she can enroll Gabimaru in a mission set up by the Shogunate on a remote island and, if he is successful at it, he will receive an official pardon for his crimes. This will allow him to return to his village as a free man and continue living his life with Yui.

This mission had already been set up by the Shogunate for any criminal to volunteer for it, in which they want to send criminals that had been sentenced to death, on a recently discovered island, a place called Shinsenkyo. Each criminal that gets sent to this remote island will be supervised by a skilled Asaemon clansmember, and they will be tasked to retrieve what's known as the Elixir of Immortality, a liquid with mystical properties that is said to confer a never-ending life to whoever drinks it.

However, the Shogunate promised only one pardon, so all the criminals that would participate in it would be competing against each other to return this elixir to them. Moreover, they must return with the elixir in hand, as well as their assigned Asaemon clansmember supervisor still alive with them.

When hearing about the possibility of being pardoned and the prospect of becoming a free man again, Gabimaru accepts to participate in this mission, for the sake of returning back to his village to his loving wife.

Yeah, that's the story.

It goes without saying that this mission doesn't go very well for everyone involved.

There will be many criminal-and-Asaemon supervisor pairs sent on this mission and, as you would expect, not everyone is going to survive.

In fact, as the story progresses, most characters will end up dying along the way.

Sagiri gets assigned to be Gabimaru's supervisor and, while it's obvious that they are the main characters of this story, there will be episodes that get dedicated to other criminals and Asaemon clansmembers as well.

We'll get to see many characters, each with their own motivations and drives, as they interact with each other.

There will be criminals turning on each other, giant monsters that appear out of nowhere and manipulation going on on many different levels.

What I like about this story is that there's an air of mystery about the island that they travel to. In the story none of the expeditions that had previously been sent to this island had been successful, with most men that had been sent disappearing altogether. The only one that managed to return to tell the tale of it was already half dead and his body had sprouted vibrant and beautiful flowers that emerged from his skin.

The constant hints of various religious rituals that had taken place on that island, the strange sentient creatures that inhabit it and the various monsters that keep attacking them will only cause the characters to constantly question what even is the true nature of that place.

Needless to say, there is a lot of plot in this show, and I love it.

To some extent, I was a bit put off by Gabimaru's extreme inhuman abilities and well trained ninja reflexes, to the point in which I even believed that he was the super-human all-invincible protagonist that I see in so many animes but, thankfully, the story doesn't go that route.

Gabimaru is extremely powerful and skilled, on all fronts, as a shinobi, and he is very good at surviving by himself. However, the story makes it clear that he isn't invincible.

There are many battles in which I expected for him to die and I didn't have much hope for his survival. Obviously he ends up surviving, but only barely, and sometimes he might have even died had he not been helped by others.

I was very happy to see that, despite his incredible skill, he is still shown to be a human that can be hurt and can even die.

His analytical skills will come in handy during battles, when he will have to survive.

All in all, this was a great experience.

I heard that fans of the manga don't necessarily like this anime adaptation, with some even calling it a poor attempt at adapting it, but, personally, as someone that never read the original manga, this feels like a pretty amazing TV series.

My only gripe with it is that I finished the entirety of season 1 and the story is left unfinished, which is very sad, and it kind of left on a cliff hanger too.

However, with that said, season 2 has already been announced so I'm definitely looking forward to that.

I can't wait to see how the surviving characters continue to live through this nightmare.

3. KamiKatsu: Working for God in a Godless World

Mitama followers carrying Yukito in a giant barrel

Time for some delicious controversy.

This one will be very divisive, and I can very easily see many people either loving this show (as I do) or absolutely loathing it.

The show is about a young teen named Yukito Urabe who, due to being the son of a religious cult of strong muscular men, is being used as a sacrifice by his father, in order to be reborn as the next leader of their group.

The cult his father controls worship a powerful god named Mitama.

They bring Yukito tied in a barrel to a cliff and then they throw him into the sea, where he eventually drowns. However, in his last moments of consciousness, Yukito, despite being an atheist, mentally prays to Mitama to resurrect him in a different world, one where religion doesn't exist, so that he will never have to deal with fanatical nutjobs anymore.

You can probably guess what happens next.

Yukito is teleported into another world, where he finds himself being awoken on a river bed by a pink haired teenage girl named Alural, who tries to awaken him by giving him a handjob.

He is taken back by her to the village where she lives in, and there he meets her sister, Siluril, another teenage boy named Ron and another vilager named Clen.

They all immediately befriend the estranged Yukito.

At their place, Yukito learns that his last dying wish had actually been granted, and he had been teleported to a world where religion and the concept of a god don't exist.

This inspires a certain level of happiness in Yukito and, also due to the fact that the people there are very welcoming to him, he decides to go forward and live with them in their village for a time, seeing himself as a reincarnated protagonist that needs to go on quests to defeat a demon king, like the typical isekai cliches.

However, he soon discovers that, despite having been literally teleported into a new world, there is no magic or mages in that world, no liquid potions or other RPG mechanics like he was hoping for and, also, that the villagers there live very peaceful and quiet lives where they only farm and defend themselves from giant beasts that occasionally attack their village.

Moreover, there is no demon king to defeat, as the empire is mostly controlled by a central singular government, all under the command of an Emperor.

Everyone just naturally follows the will of the Empire, without any questions whatsoever.

A couple of weeks after he had been discovered for the first time, Yukito travels with his new friends to the Imperial capital to buy various items (among of which are porn magazines) and there, for the first time, he witnesses the first public execution of the unlucky few that have been sentenced to death by the government.

He questions why the Imperial capital hosts such executions, only to then be informed by his friends that, in their world where nobody believes in religion, everyone in the capital has been mentally groomed by the government to not fear death, but merely embrace it.

In the Empire, it's seen as completely normal to follow the words of the rulers to the letter, even the simple order of accepting your own execution as completely natural.

People are sometimes randomly chosen by the government to have their lives ended in such an execution, and they're expected to simply accept it with no second thoughts and no struggles.

To fear your own execution or death is seen as abnormal, and those that do such a thing are seen as deviants. Such deviants are exiled from the capital and sent to live in the randomly scattered villages around the Imperial city, where they would live the rest of their natural lives as outcasts to the Empire.

It is then when Yukito learns that the village he has been living in for the past couple of weeks is exactly one such village of outcasts, where all the people there are seen as deviants, for one reason or another. It is for this reason that they have been particularly welcoming to him, an outsider, as they are more open minded to anyone who might join them.

Fast-forward into the near future and, one day, Yukito learns that Alural and Syluril have been taken by the Empire from their village and ordered to take part in another public execution, as they had been deemed deviants due to their lustful nature.

In that world, sex and lust are also seen as abnormal, as people reproduce only via artificial means.

Yukito, feeling depressed over his new friends' incoming deaths, decides to rush to the capital to stop their executions, actively deciding to rebel against the whole empire.

There, he confronts the guards, trying to stop them, only to be murdered by one of them, named Sir Enlilta Reesehyde Bertrand.

The two girls are also murdered, as per the Empire's orders.

With his last dying breath, Yukito mentally prays to Mitama once again for her to save everyone and, once again, the young goddess descends from the heavens, heeding his cries for help, in the form of a little girl, and uses her powers to defeat the guards there, killing Sir Bertrand in the process, along with other knights.

She then uses her powers to resurrect Yukito and the villagers that had been executed, allowing everyone to flee for their lives, back to the village.

Happy that they had escaped nearly guaranteed death and that he had saved his new friends, Yukito now must deal with the new god Mitama that is now his companion, as well as with the prospect that the Empire will most likely surely retaliate against this act of rebellion and attack their village in the near future.

He would like to use Mitama's god powers to defend their village, but he then learns that, because there is no religion in this world and she has no followers in it, her powers are very limited and of little use.

Apparently, a god's powers are directly proportional to the number of followers following and worshiping that god, which means that Mitama now has almost no powers, since she has no followers.

Seeing no other means of defending the village, Yukito sets out to follow in his father's footsteps and become the new cult leader, resolving to introduce the concept of religion in that new world and of convincing as many people there, as possible, to become Mitama's followers to increase her powers, to the point in which they will be able to fight against the Empire.

Yes, so that's the plot.

Already out of the bat, you can tell that there is going to be a lot of talks about religion and faith in this show. That's simply unavoidable with a plot like this.

Yukito will slowly have to introduce these concepts to his fellow villagers, using whichever tactics he had learned over the years from his father to win over as many followers as he can.

Mitama, being a god, is very pleased to gain followers for herself, although her ultimate wish seems to be for Yukito to become her follower as well, despite him refusing to do so.

Yes, despite seeing Mitama with his own eyes and despite having been saved at least twice already by her powers, Yukito still remains an atheist and refuses to worship her.

It becomes a recurrent gag how Mitama constantly persuades him to become her follower, and he constantly avoids doing just that.

Instead, Yukito chooses to become the leader of Mitama's new cult (of which he is the only member so far), and tries to use whatever power Mitama has left in her to perform miracles in order to win over other people.

He uses her powers to bring modern technology for farming and defense to the villagers, who seem to be living with prehistoric tools, he intentionally manipulates and takes advantage of people when they are emotionally vulnerable and depressed to bring them over to become Mitama's followers, and he will use whatever means necessary to gain influence, not just in that village, but everywhere he can in that world.

Yukito will not even hesitate to outright lie and make false promises to others, just for them to help him, only to then go back on his word and pretend that he had never said those things in the first place.

Yes, this is an unscrupulous protagonist with a very shady moral compass, and the show doesn't even try to hide it.

To some extent, it feels like it's trying to teach its audience moral lessons of what tactics cults usually use in order to manipulate outsiders and how to avoid them.

Yukito will become a morally bankrupt cult leader but, at the very least, the only line he doesn't cross (at least not yet, as of season 1) is that he never betrays his allies, nor does he leave people behind even when they have become useless.

Despite the heavy subject matters that the show tackles, and how it tries to talk about religion and manipulation, it's not too shy to take a couple of jabs at itself.

Technically the show is an action TV series, with a lot of underlying plot, but, in my opinion, it's best to treat this as a comedy because this is pretty much a satire of common anime tropes.

There will be an arc in which they will encounter a semi-religious cult that tries to rebel against the Empire, and which hinges on sexuality and promoting debauchery. There, there will be a lot of talk about kinks and sexual deviances, fetishes and letting oneself loose.

Suffice it to say that, even if the constant talks about religion and manipulation wasn't enough to convince you yet, this isn't a very family friendly show that you can watch with children around.

Oh and speaking of which, among the jokes that the show throws around from time to time, there will be humor that some might find a bit uncomfortable, as it references and even implies pedophilia and doing unsavory stuff to Mitama, who is in the body of a very young girl.

Granted, to be fair to this show, the people who start this topic and indulge in such ideas are portrayed as being unsavory and horrible, the show even making fun of them along the way for being pedophiles, but it's still important to mention that the jokes exist and they happen every so often, in case that's a deal breaker to you. They almost immediately get their comeupins though, and it never evolves past the point of humor. Mitama is never portrayed in shady fanservice scenes or anything of the like, and she still is dignified as a god in the story at all times (except when she's shown in cute idol clothes while singing).

As the show progresses, there will come various fights among the guardians of that Empire and our group, they will soon learn of the true nature of that Empire as well and various very powerful false gods known as Archons will also make their appearance and they will even have to fight them to protect their own interests.

Oh and there's instances where some of our allies will receive power ups by engaging in sexual conduct.

Yeah, it's that kind of show.

See what I mean when I say you shouldn't take the show too seriously?

And also, let's talk about the CGI.

The CGI in this show is bad, very very bad. And not just the CG, but also certain episodes have very lackluster and underdone animation sequences that are very obvious.

Some might say that this is because of the low budget, but I genuinely feel that it's absolutely intentional.

The budget might have played a big role in this decision but, when I saw the last episode and how fluid the animation was in it, it was very clear to me that they had a lot of money at their disposal. They just simply chose to redirect a lot of it to the last episode, rather than spend it on the CG, and they then used the very poor CG as a recurring gag in the show.

My favorite scene is a farming scene in episode 4, where they show real life footage of a farmer on a combine harvester tending to the fields (with a filter on top but still) and with Roy's 2D head sloppily superimposed over that farmer's own head, in the most hilariously badly improvised animated scene I've seen in my entire life. This is the level of animation you'd expect from a high schooler's power point project, rather than a full featured anime episode that aired on TV.

So yeah, this is intentional and I'm sure the crew that worked on this show had a blast coming up with these ideas.

And I had a blast watching it.

Some anime connoisseurs that wish to enjoy the best that the anime industry has to offer might find such a display offensive and a genuine insult, but I personally had a lot of fun taking it in for what it is: a harmless joyride that doesn't even try to hide the fact that it's not supposed to be taken too seriously.

If you plan on going into this show, I highly encourage you to lower your expectations, turn your brain off and just treat it like junk food: it's not healthy, nor is it even supposed to be healthy, nor does it even pretend to be so. No, it's there just to taste good and be cheap, but that's actually a good thing. Sometimes, not every meal has to be of high quality and offer incredible sustenance. Sometimes, even junk food is fine.

4. Tokyo Mew Mew New (season 2)

The evil aliens conversing

You can read my thoughts of season 1 here but, to make a long story short, I thought this remake of the original Tokyo Mew Mew was a fairly decent adaptation and an entertaining first season. I thought the remake was inferior to the original simply because it didn't finish adapting as much of the manga as the original had but, after watching season 2 of the remake, I think I can finally say, I'm personally sold on this.

Please read my thoughts on the first season if you want a synopsis of the story for episode 1 of season 1.

This new season covers even more drama and action, involving even more nefarious plans from the evil aliens, their background and why they are as motivated as they are to take over Earth, a mini-story about an ancient civilization on an island that was wiped out by the growing sea, and the tragic and continued evolution of a newly-introduced mysterious swordsman that wants to protect Ichigo at all costs, called the Blue Knight.

Needless to say, it gets quite interesting.

For me, personally, a lot of the fun was already ruined since, as I already stated in my blog post of season 1 of this remake, I had already watched the original Tokyo Mew Mew anime and, as such, I already knew all of the plot twists and story elements that this new season had up its sleeve, so it had less of an impact on me than it might have had, had I been a completely new viewer to it.

However, from the perspective of an old fan returning for more content, I can say, I still loved this new season.

Even when knowing what to expect and what all the mysteries and twists will be about, you will still have a lot of fun watching.

And, even I didn't see some stuff coming, since, either because I haven't watched the original in so many years or they just improvised on the story in this remake, but there were moments in the show, like plot elements or character decisions that I don't remember having seen in the original, at all.

Stuff like the ancient civilization whose island gets submerged into the sea, for example, I don't remember seeing in the original at all (maybe it was mentioned in passing and I just don't remember it, but it definitely did not get an entire episode dedicated to it like it did here); or certain betrayals happening in this remake that didn't in the original.

Moreover, certain story arcs in the original were cut and didn't appear in this remake at all, although that's to be expected, given that the original ran for like 52 episodes, while this remake only got 24, so obviously a lot of stuff had to be trimmed or removed entirely.

On the one hand I'm disappointed, since this remake was so well made and entertaining that I really would have wanted to see them cover more ground but, on the other hand, I think that getting 24 episodes across 2 seasons is still fully acceptable and serviceable.

Despite being cut short compared to the original anime, this story did not feel rushed in the slightest, and it still had incredible charm and charisma, maybe even more so than its predecessor.

And what I liked way more in this remake than I did in the 2002 anime was the focus that the remake gave to the individual characters.

I don't know why, but I simply don't remember the original having fleshed the girls out as well as this did.

The interactions between the characters, their backstories, their motivations and their personalities felt like they shined in this show way more than they did back when I watched the original in high school and I really loved that.

Even more so, I came to respect characters such as Quiche a bit more, after they are explored, especially in the final episodes of the anime.

Ichigo's relationship with Aoyama is something I was very ambivalent about back when I watched the first show, but here, with the remake, I'm far more in support of it and I was actually rooting for them to end up together. This was pretty much because Aoyama felt like a blank slate character back then, whereas here he has a very vibrant and palpable personality.

Shirogane's character was a bit butchered, as I personally felt that his rude and cheeky deliquent-esque personality had been severely neutered for whatever reason in this remake, but that only served to respect him more.

Mint and Zakuro felt way more friendly and approachable than their counterparts in the old version, and even Lettuce felt like she had grown throughout this installment more than she had in the first one (and her relationship with Shirogane in this remake is actually set up across multiple episodes, rather than just being slammed in our faces in the last episode out of nowhere, like it had been prior).

Honestly, I see this show as a definitive improvement.

This didn't make the cut into the top 3 spots of this ranking but please take this as a golden recommendation from me: watch this show!

Even if you're not a fan of the original, I'd still recommend you give this one a try, since it did improve on certain aspects so it might be more palatable.

And if you are a fan of the original, I'd say you'd have even more of a reason to watch it, as you'll revisit scenes and moments that you probably cherished during your childhood.

The manga was very popular in Japan back when it came out, as well as the anime that adapted it, and this remake seems to be aware of that, it being very respectful and doing its best to live up to their standards. And frankly, I think it not only met them, but surpassed them even.

If I had kids, I would encourage them to watch this show. Even for people that dislike the magical girl genre, this show still has stuff in it that might be enjoyable for them, like talks about environmentalism, important life lessons and, of course, a budding romance between Ichigo and Aoyama.

If you have the time, please, give this show a try! It's worth your time!

5. Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You (Season 2)

Nasa and Tsukasa talking in the park, at night

OK so, this is the first time I cover a season 2 of an anime in my blog where I haven't talked about season 1 yet.

The reason for this is that season 1 of this show aired back in the fall of 2020 originally, long before I started this blog, so, even though I've watched it, I never covered it in writing.

Since I never wrote about season 1, I'll try to merge this one post into a quick short review of both season 1 and season 2.

The basic gist of the story of episode 1 of season 1 is that, a highly intelligent genius boy named Nasa Yuzaki, who has been ridiculed all his life for having the same name as the famous NASA space agency from the US and who, consequently, tried to compensate for it by learning a lot and becoming popular because of his grades, is hit by a truck one day while walking towards a mysterious pink-haired girl across the street without paying attention to the traffic.

Nasa survives, mainly due to the girl he was walking towards saving his life in the nick of time, even though she herself got slightly injured in the process.

Very thankful for her intervention, Nasa immediately asks her to go out with him, to which she replies that she will only accept this only if he agrees to marry her, naturally expecting him to immediately turn her down.

After a moment of hesitation and, even though they are complete strangers to each other, Nasa agrees to marrying her, surprising her.

Afterwards, Nasa is taken to a hospital.

After being discharged rather quickly by the hospital, being told that he had only sustained minor injuries, Nasa realized that he had never taken that girl's contact information, so now he has no way to get back in touch with her.

Fast-forward a couple of years later and now, an 18 year old Nasa is working as a software programmer for a well payed full time job, living by himself.

It's revealed that after that incident with the strange girl, Nasa had decided to drop his plans of entering high school entirely and sought to, instead, get himself hired at a full time job, where he is now successful in.

While doing so, he had searched all those years for the girl but he had no luck finding her.

Now, soon after becoming 18, he hears knocks at the door of his apartment, one day.

When opening the door, the girl in question from many years ago appears right in front of him, with a legal form in her hand, asking him for his signature on it. The form is a marriage form and, when he is shown to be completely shocked by this encounter, she disappointingly asks whether he had changed his mind about his proposal to her after all these years.

Realizing that this is real and she actually intends on making him follow through with his spontaneous proposal from their past, Nasa agrees to go through with it almost immediately and signs the form after all.

Soon afterwards, Nasa and the girl (now revealed to be named Tsukasa Tsukuyomi) take the form to a bureau where they are officially designated as a married couple by the state.

And so begins their rather impromptu and extravagant married life.

OK so that's the basic gist of the story.

The show handles various topics that are relevant to married couples, such as them moving in together, deciding to partition chores among each other, deciding on sleeping conventions with each other, talking about kissing and intimacy, wondering about making a full marriage ceremony in the future and so, so much more.

Honestly, in the medium of anime where all romance stories are very prudish and, for lack of a better word, innocent in all regards, seeing a story that delves into the nitty gritty details of marriage was kind of a refreshing change of pace.

Season 2 is more of the same, in which more minor characters are introduced, both from Nasa's and Tsukasa's lives, they talk more about plans for a future marriage ceremony where they might invite their families, as well as address the topic of nudity in their married relationship at the hot spring, the various spots where a man can kiss a woman and a very interesting dive into Tsukasa's family and subtle hints about her backstory.

Despite what I just said, this show is very family friendly, almost to a fault.

Keep in mind that, while Tsukasa herself is only 16 during these events, Nasa is 18 and they both have the approval of their respective families for the marriage, which makes their relationship very straightforward.

Not only this but, while there are very minor hints at sex and adult intimacy in this show, they are very well hidden, to the point where if a child that has no idea about sex watches any episode from this show, they wouldn't be able to pick up on the hints at all.

And the very few scenes of nudity in this show (while there are a couple) are very restrained and tasteful and don't show any more than you absolutely need to see.

In fact, this show almost makes it a point to laugh at itself in how family friendly it is. In one episode of season 2, for example, a yakuza-like boss character suddenly makes an appearance into Nasa and Tsukasa's lives, and immediately Tsukasa suspects that he's there to bring about bad business and ruin their peaceful lives.

However, Nasa quickly clarifies that the character in question actually lives a very standup life and he only talks in a way that usually is very misunderstood by others to indicate illegal stuff. So, for example, when he says stuff that seems to indicate that he had done something terribly gruesome, what he actually means was that he had found a stray cat that he decided to take in (Nasa seems to be the only one that actually understands what he really means).

Overall, this show is a very cute and sheepish romance story, about a couple that simply tries to live out their married lives.

I really like this show and, for this reason, I decided to watch season 2 of it.

As far as romance series goes, I like that it doesn't stay stagnant and deliberately freezes in place the romance between the two main characters for eternity, as some adaptations of romantic manga stories do, but it also doesn't force the relationship to go at an unnatural pace either, opting to take things slowly but also progressing the romance with each episode.

While I do like other romance stories a bit more (like Call of the Night, for example), this one is also a very good example of how to take an interesting romance story and keep it feel fresh for multiple seasons.

Moreover, while this show tries to appear like a regular slice of life show (and, for the most part, it does a good job at maintaining that status 99% of the time), it is worth pointing out that, if you do decide to watch season 2 as well, you'll find out that there's more than meets the eye for this story. I won't go into spoilers but I will say that, at some point, there are some plot elements, particularly with regards to Tsukasa's backstory, that reveal the fact that there's a bit of fantasy elements to this plot as well.

Make of that as you will.

Overall, season 2 was just more of the same stuff that you got in season 1.

This is a nice show to spend your time on, if you're ever in the mood for a romance TV series that doesn't shy away from intimacy, but doesn't delve on it unnecessarily either.

6. Too Cute Crisis

Liza looks at a cat

Well, Tonikawa wasn't the only family friendly show I've watched this season.

I'll be honest, this entry is going to be rather divisive on many fronts, and I can definitely see why.

This show has a very particular kind of comedy style that not everyone will be into. As such, there will be some that will love it and others who will not.

I, personally, was on the side of those that love it, although, even to me, the comedy did kind of become grating after a while.

So, what's the story?

An alien empire known as the Azatos are preparing to invade Earth. Their spaceships are already in Earth's orbit and they are fairly certain they won't have any trouble conquering the planet.

However, as is procedure, they send a member of their survey team, a young woman named Liza Luna, to the surface of the planet first, disguised as a regular human, to investigate their civilization and technology before they make any moves.

Liza is unimpressed with humanity's level of technology or scientific knowledge but, when she just so happens to enter a cat cafe and meets a cat for the very first time, she almost faints due to how cute the creature is.

Apparently, where she comes from, cats don't exist and so, this is the first time seeing a creature as cute as it.

But that's not all! Liza will also have the (dis)pleasure of encountering not just cats, but dogs, hamsters, bunnies and many other pets from various pet owners in the city and so she will learn about all the cute animals that exist on Earth, as she will have to learn to deal with all the cute crises that she will have when meeting each of them.

Oh, and she eventually finds an abandoned cat on the street in a box that she ends up adopting and calling him Yozora.

That's the synopsis.

The type of comedy that this show has is very simple: Liza (and, everyone else from the Azatos empire, for that matter) have a psychological condition in which, the moment they see a cute Earth pet, they have a mental breakdown of some kind, when they see it for the first time. The exact kind of breakdown depends on the character but it usually ranges from freezing in place, trembling in fear or crying, to extreme stuff like fainting.

In fact, Liza is actually the stronger of the members of her empire as, over the course of the show, other aliens will slowly teleport themselves to Earth as well to investigate, only for them to fall victim to the 'crisis cute attacks' of seeing cute pets as well.

The comedy comes from showing these highly intelligent and advanced alien species succumb and turn into mindless zombies when exposed to the cuteness of a hamster of a panda bear.

If this doesn't sound funny to you, you're probably better off not watching this show, because this type of comedy gets repeated every single episode.

And while I do find such extreme comedy-by-contrast examples as cringe-worthy, I actually liked this show's execution of its ideas.

Had it just been Liza who was constantly being exposed to cute animals and seeing her constant reactions over and over again, I would have eventually become bored by it too after only a couple of episodes.

But the show mixes things up and, it constantly introduces more and more aliens to encounter these cute pets, each with their distinct ways of reacting to it, which I found to be quite funny.

Also, the show does go a long way in trying to portray the pets as cute but also as realistic animals. It uses this to teach the audience basic rules of being a pet owner like giving the pet space to breath, letting them live their lives naturally, having patience with them and not scaring them away by your overreacting.

Stuff that kids should also know about if they want to become pet owners as well.

Also, whenever Liza has to send her reports back to the mothership via her advanced intercom technology but is usually interrupted by Yozora who cuts her off by trying to play with her, is very funny to me, because it leaves everyone on the other end of the line, on the mothership, very worried and horrified that she is fighting a demonic monstrous creature. Her reports always come across very skewed to them, who misunderstand them and make them fear the cats as being dominant mind controlling beasts that enslaved humanity for their pleasure.

It's jokes like these that make me love this show as much as I do.

Honestly, this was a fun experience, and especially with the last episode, I was actually laughing out loud at some of the scenes that they decided to leave in.

This is, for all intents and purposes, an educational show, meant to be watched by both children and adults alike, who plan on becoming pet owners themselves. It's good inspirational material, with good morals at the end and a nice balanced sense of humor that, while it's definitely not to everyone's liking, will sure please at least some people.

I, for one, appreciated this show.

7. Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible

Kubo sitting on Shiraishi's lap

Last time, in my 2023 Winter animes blog post, I talked about how I originally picked ten TV shows to watch that season, but the final ranking I made of them only had nine entries in it.

Well, if you wondered why, it was because of this show. This show originally began airing in January but, midway through the season, they postponed all episodes to April, where the show began airing again back from episode one.

The official reason they provided was that the production team had encountered unforeseen trouble due to COVID-19. And, well, that's how we got here, and that was the reason I left it out from the winter ranking, since I thought it would be unfair for me to rank a TV show, after having watched only half of its episodes.

Back then, while I was watching the winter shows, I thought it was a tie between this show and another show called The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague, since they were both romance TV series and I thought they were both on the same level with each other, but, after looking at both of them now, once I finished Kubo, I'm pretty sure Kubo would have come out as the better show when ranking the two. They would still be ranked next to each other, but Kubo would be my personal pick as the superior show, although not by much.

So, with that out of the way, what's the story, you may ask?

The story is about a lonely high school student named Shiraishi, who has a very troubled life due to his constant and innate invisibility.

When I say invisibility, I mean it in an as close of a literal sense as I can, without actually being literal. By this I mean that he's not actually invisible, but he's very hard to notice for other people.

His presence is so subdued and so serene that people simply unintentionally fail to notice him, even when he's standing right next to them. He has to call out to them, bump into them, or stand right in their face for them to actually notice him.

As far as the first season of the show goes, there aren't any supernatural elements in the story to explain this seemingly science-defying curse, he just seems to have been born with this property.

The only few people that seem to be immune to this are Shiraishi's own family, like his very young brother, and a classmate of his named Kubo.

Kubo is intrigued by Shiraishi's “power”, so much so that she usually wants to test its limits, usually by using methods that Shiraishi isn't very fond of.

During the first episode, for example, Kubo tries to test whether people will see Shiraishi if she sits on his lap. Seeing how others have no issues noticing her own presence, she wants to see if this will impact their perception of Shiraishi as well, if she's in physical contact with him (spoilers: they still don't notice him).

Shiraishi, for his part, can't decide if Kubo is just being curious, teasing or bullying towards him with these experiments, as he's never had any sort of interactions with people outside his family before because of his invisibility, so he's not very good at reading people.

Still, he doesn't dislike Kubo's playful tests with him, and, seeing how he has no other friends, he does hang out with her.

The first episode is Kubo trying to see if she can get Shiraishi's phone number, so that they can be in contact with each other even outside of school.

The show is primarily a sorta slice of life high school romantic comedy, although I mean “slice of life” in the loosest sense, as Shiraishi's power is so pronounced and out of place that it feels like a supernatural curse.

But, for better or for worse, that's the source of most of the comedy in this show. I thought this joke would run dry after only a couple of episodes but, surprisingly, the writers managed to keep it fresh, with jokes that made me smirk every so often, like Shiraishi's invisibility working even on electronics, such as when the camera app on Kubo's smartphone can't even detect his face, even though he's in full view of it, or how even the automatic sliding doors at the local supermarket rarely work with Shiraishi, even though they are supposed to work by detecting the body.

Or there was a joke that Shiraishi was so invisible at a class photo they took at school, that they didn't even see him in it and they manually edited him into the photo afterwards, thinking that he had been absent that day. This led to Kubo seeing two Shiraishis in that photo, the real one and an edited one, which confused her.

Granted all these jokes are mentioned in passing and they're never really focused on in the episode, but it's tidbits like these that make me chuckle to myself.

This show reminded me most of Teasing Master Takagi-san, simply because the heroines of both shows resemble each other a lot in their playful and teasing personalities.

However, Teasing Master Takagi-san had its characters be in middle school, whereas this show has its own characters and events take place in high school and, while the heroines resemble each other a lot in their personalities, the males do not. Shiraishi is a very quiet and docile character, much more subdued and less vindictive than Nishikata, and he's also very friendly and open to interactions, even though he has very few of them.

And, while Kubo does resemble Takagi a lot, in my opinion, she does have moments of weakness and insecurity, in which she unintentionally acts in like a somewhat unfocused or even vulnerable way.

Their relationship is steady and it progresses very slowly, so I was a bit unsatisfied with this, but, at the very least, I felt more chemistry between Shiraishi and Kubo than I did for the couples in The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague, so there's at least that to brag about.

Their slow and steady growth together felt cute and warranted, even though I would have liked for them to cross more boundaries in this first (and, so far, only) season. Oh well, guess we can't have it all.

This might annoy its fans but, honestly, I really can't recommend this show for the romance aspect alone. Yes, the main couple is cute, and they do take it slowly and it's a very pure show in more ways than one, but there's nothing this show offers that you wouldn't find in literally any other slice of life high school romance anime TV series.

With that said, if you found the jokes that I already mentioned funny, and you'd like to see this premise explored, then this show is absolutely for you. It intentionally caters to those that like this kind of humor, so I would absolutely encourage you to seek it out and watch for yourself.

The romance alone is not enough to carry this show, in my opinion, but if the comedy is right up your alley and you wouldn't mind a little bit of high school puppy love story alongside it, then you might just enjoy this.

8. KonoSuba: An Explosion on This Wonderful World!

A very young Megumin talks to a powerful mage

This is probably going to be my most unpopular entry in this ranking. Not because this show is bad, far from it, but because many KonoSuba fans will probably yell at me for ranking this show in, literally, last place for this season.

Let's make one thing perfectly clear about my stance on this matter: I don't think this show is bad, or even average, for that matter. I think it's a perfectly serviceable and decent comedy TV series, and I'll stand by that decision.

This isn't a case of “This show was so terrible that it ended up in last place in my ranking”, but rather a case of “Every single show in this ranking was good, but there still had to be one that ended up at the bottom”. Even when everyone is a genius, if there's a ranking, there still needs to be someone that ends up at the bottom. That's just the way rankings work.

The reason I watched this show wasn't because I like Megumin, it's because I like KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! as a whole.

Granted, I genuinely think that Megumin is a more interesting character than Kazuma, but I didn't think too much about this spin-off series when I watched its trailer.

Still, as a KonoSuba fan, I decided I wanted to get a more in-depth view of this world, and so I went ahead and watched it.

So, what's the story?

One day, a very young girl from a famous clan of mages known as the Crimson Demons, named Megumin, gets saved from an attacking monster by a red-haired female mage who uses a very powerful explosion magic spell to obliterate the threat.

Impressed by the intense spectacle of flames and heat, a very impressionable Megumin asks the mage if she can teach her the spell, but the mage refuses, telling her that explosion magic is not something that she'll ever want to learn.

Years later, Megumin gets enrolled in the Red Prison magic academy, where pretty much all the students and teachers are members of her clan already, as she moves forward in life and tries to make her parents proud by becoming a very powerful and successful mage.

The teacher advises everyone in the class about which schools of magic they should pursue in their future careers but, when he leaves out explosion magic and Megumin inquires about why he had done so, the teacher replies that, due to the extremely impractical nature and high costs of explosion magic, everyone from their clan avoids specializing in it.

This, however, does not deter Megumin, and only serves in solidifying her resolve to pursue that type, much to everyone else's surprise.

Oh and Yunyun, a classmate of Megumin's, also gets introduced here, who declares herself to be Megumin's rival, despite them being complete strangers to each other.

Hijinks ensue.

Yeah so that's the first episode of this series.

Personally, I didn't find the first episode that funny.

It had some jokes, and I did laugh sometimes but, for the most part, this felt like a surprising down to Earth introductory episode, with significant chunks of plot and character development.

Granted, some might say that this was expected, given that the entire purpose of this spin-off was to elaborate on Megumin's past, but, after watching the KonoSuba main series and contrasting this spin-off to it, seeing so much plot and so few jokes in one episode felt a bit disappointing to me.

And that's where my main gripe with this show is: it's funny and it still has the sense of humor that the main series had, but it's not as funny.

There were people who badmouthed this show a lot, saying that Megumin was not going to be able to carry this show on her own, that this will crash and burn and be nowhere near as good as the main series was.

And, on the other end of the spectrum, there were fans who claimed that this series will be even better than the main one, and that this spin-off will become even more popular than it.

I'm not in either camp, personally.

Honestly, I don't think this series was bad in any way. I think that Megumin actually can hold a show, on her own, and this specific series is proof of it.

There were moments that had me chuckle, particularly when the characters act selfish and go against the norm for what a protagonist should be like.

However, just because Megumin can hold a show on her own doesn't mean that she should.

And while the main series, KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!, had a good track record of making me laugh at 7 out of every 10 jokes they made, this show only managed to make me laugh 4 or 5 times for every 10 jokes. While that's still the hallmark of a good comedy, it's not the sign of a great comedy, like the main series was for me.

And the reason I suspect that this was, is the fact that Kazuma, Aqua and Darkness make no appearance in this spin-off series (outside of the occasional rumors around town in which their presence is mentioned, but they never get shown on-screen except for the very last scene in the very last episode of the series). That's a problem, since their characters were the main source of comedy in the main series.

Without them, Megumin does provide some of the comedy, as her eccentric personality and over-the-top persona, as well as the many times she proves powerless or useless in combat, do end up making for humerous situations.

But, as the episodes go by, I ended up thinking to myself “I miss Kazuma's lecherous personality” or “I really wish Aqua was here, interacting with these followers of hers”.

While I understand they needed to leave them out for plot reasons, I did end up longing for the main series while I was watching this spin-off.

And while the show never became boring in any way, and I was still deeply entertained by it, it did make me think to myself that maybe this just wasn't as good as the original was.

And this is the reason why this ended up in the bottom of this ranking: if you're not a KonoSuba fan, and you just pick this show up by pure chance, you're probably not going to be overly impressed with it.

Frankly, the only people who I assume will like this show are the KonoSuba fans, like me, who ended up watching it because they want to discover as much about this universe as we can. This series is not rich in plot twists, insane character moments or thought provoking life lessons, as some might hope. Even the comedy isn't as stellar as it was in the main series.

No, this series is a bonus for fans of the main series; a dose of supplementary material that exists to give further insight into Megumin's character and her background (as well as Yunyun's). That's it.

Then again, the show never advertised itself as anything more than that, so, for all intents and purposes, it delivered on everything I had expected from it, and then some.

But, with that said, seeing how this is technically a prequel to the main series, there might be some people who will choose to start watching the KonoSuba animes from this spin-off series first, before deciding if they move on into the main series as well, afterwards.

And if that's the case, I fear this will put some people off, as there's not as much humor or good comedy in this spin-off as there are in the main series. As such, I worry that some might even drop this thinking “Yeah, it was funny and all but it wasn't that funny” and never even give the main series a shot. Which is a shame because the comedy here is not representative of the series as whole.

But I digress.

If you're a KonoSuba fan and you love everything KonoSuba, I will encourage you to watch this. It's got some interesting scenes, it explains a couple of stuff that the main series never addressed (like Chomusuke's origin), or the reasons why Megumin and Yunyun are so close to each other.

Other than this, if you've never watched anything KonoSuba but you do want to give it a shot, please don't start with this series! It's good and all but I highly suggest you start with KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World! proper, as it's got way more stuff for you to like than this spin-off does. Only after you've watched enough of that, should you then consider moving onto this show as well, if you'll be thirsty for more plot.