2023 summer animes, ranked from my favorite to least favorite

Summer 2023 was a pretty big season for anime enthusiasts, however, I picked only 5 shows to watch for that season. Let's see what they are!

Yeah, the reason I only picked 5 was because none of the offerings impressed me that much, and so I decided to just dedicate time to those that I, personally, found to be at the very least thought provoking.

And, while watching anime trailers is a subjective experience and not everyone will decide on the same shows to watch, even if they search for using the same criteria, this is the lineup I came up with.

For the record, though, I want to mention that this, sadly, will be the last blog post entry where I will discuss anime from the HiDive platform.

The reason for that is that, really, I decided not to give the platform any more money, seeing how they decided to cut Romania off from their list of territories where they offer their services to.

So yeah, after this blog is over, the upcoming seasons will only cover from anime from Crunchyroll sadly, anime that is accessible to Romania, specifically.

The only show from HiDive which I will be covering in this blog post, which is The Dreaming Boy Is a Realist, is available through HiDive, at least if you live in Finland (that's where my VPN endpoint was, so that I could still watch HiDive from Romania).

With that said, let's get started!

1. Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation (Season 2, part 1)

Rudeus being depressed and wearing a hoodie

I'm not gonna lie, I know that for all my rants about how “isekai anime are the cancer of the anime industry nowadays” it feels very contradictory for me to name an isekai as my top pick for my favorite anime of the summer 2023 season.

And for anyone calling me a hypocrite for this very reason, I get it. I will admit that I am guilty of this.

And, to make matters worse, I also regularly complain when an isekai doesn't bring anything new to the table.

I've complained about this for a long time and I've been talking about it both in this blog (i.e. with the Reincarnated as a Sword TV show) and from before this blog was even a thing (i.e. In the Land of Leadale).

This show doesn't have anything new on top of the regular isekai anime TV series. It doesn't have the interesting character development of Re:Zero − Starting Life in Another World, nor the comedy and charm of KonoSuba: God's Blessing on This Wonderful World!, two other isekai anime which I hold dearly to my heart.

However, what it does have that makes it stand apart from most other isekai TV shows that fall short by comparison is its world building.

And I'm not going to lie: I genuinely wholeheartedly believe that this show is among the best anime I've seen in handling world building for such a complex and interesting world.

World building in anime is usually a hit or miss experience. Certain shows do it better than others.

Exposition dumping is usually my least favorite ways of doing that.

I feel like, more so than anything else, world building needs to be experienced by the audience through the eyes of the show's characters more than being described through words.

And it's ironic because, generally, this tactic of describing a world through words is especially prevalent for isekai animes that adapt light novels, the same medium that also spawned this show, as well as KonoSuba and Re:Zero.

I guess, to put it lightly, I'll say that some authors are better at doing this stuff than others.

But enough about that! You may be wishing for an introduction of this show.

Well, the sad part is that this is season 2 of this anime (specifically part 1 of season 2, but I'll leave that aside).

Season 1 aired a couple of years ago, before I began this blog, so I never had the chance to write about it. (A similar thing had happened with another show, last season, called Tonikawa: Over the Moon for You).

I'll try to summarize what this show is about as best as I can but, keep in mind, season 1 was very long and it had a lot of stuff going on in it, so it's probably best to just watch it. I won't be able to do it justice with this summary at all.

To make a long story short, an unnamed 34 year old NEET from Japan is evicted from his home following his parents' death. After contemplating towards how little impact he has had on others over his 34 years and how meaningless his life had turned out to be, he ends up sacrificing himself to save the life of a young girl who is about to be run over by a speeding truck.

Some time afterwards, the same man awakens again as a baby to a young couple, in a rural village in a new world that has swords and sorcery in it.

This baby is named Rudeus Greyrat.

And so, with the memories of his past life still ingrained in his brain, the newly born Rudeus sets out to make something out of his life, this time, so that he will have a more meaningful life in this world.

And in trying to decide how to shape his new life, he soon discovers that he has a strong affinity, even from a very young age, towards magecraft and casting spells, particularly without chanting as well, something which is very difficult to do in this world.

Happy to see Rudeus be very talented at this, his parents hire a very talented mage named Roxy to train Rudeus in the art of spell casting.

And so begins Rudeus' life as a magician in this new world.

From time to time, though, Rudeus will have dreams in which his older self, from his old body, is visited by a strange faceless white man that calls himself the man-god, who claims to be the reason for why he had reincarnated.

The man-god claims that he has big plans for Rudeus but does not wish to reveal many details. Instead, he gently guides the protagonist and steers him in the directions he wishes for Rudy to go in.

That's the general gist of the beginning of season 1.

If this sounds up your alley, I highly encourage you to seek it out and watch it.

Suffice it to say, this is among the best isekai anime I've ever seen. Actually, scratch that! This is among the best anime I've ever seen, period!

It has very rich world building, slow pacing to get to grow alongside the protagonist, likeable characters, believable progression, interesting plot twists, and balanced character development as well.

My only gripe with this show is that Rudy does end up becoming slightly overpowered over time, which is something I am known to dislike in anime, in general, however, seeing him face emotional challenges and difficult life decisions still makes it feel like a fresh and inviting adventure.

Season 2 is more of the same as season 1, as Rudy has to learn how to exit the depression that he now suffers from after the ending that we were left with in season 1 (I won't go into more details as that would be too much of a spoiler).

I guess what I like the most from this show that so many other isekais fail at, is the amount of fleshing out the world in a consistent manner.

A lot of isekai anime try to make the world feel like a video game, with RPG like mechanics (i.e. potions that grant buff effects, tasks of completing dungeons and fighting dungeons bosses, some semblance of immortality or respawning in case you die), and that makes them feel very shallow and forgettable.

Granted, I appreciate that even this amount of work goes into their world building, but the problem with this approach is that, for stories that try to take themselves seriously, at least, having this shallow introduction into the mechanics and this sense of “This is like an RPG video game! Have fun!” is really doing the show a disservice when the plot is supposed to be taken seriously.

Pretty much everything else about the story is meant to be taken seriously by the audience, except for the video game mechanics which just so happen to make it look fun.

Yeah, that makes it look inviting, especially for kids and younger adults that may enjoy playing video games, but it also confers the world a sense of transient shallowness that never detaches from its identity. Couple that with very brief and almost brushed off world building that's done in a couple of paragraphs of exposition every once in a while and it's very easy to see why I never get invested in these types of shows.

The one exception where this approach did work for me is KonoSuba, where yes, everything felt meaningless and superficial on all levels, but that was the entire point of the show to begin with. KonoSuba never tried to pretend to be a grand epic, it knew it was meant to be a meaningless fantasy adventure fun and it just ran with it. That and also the (thankfully) constant humor and charm of its characters saved it and made up for the lack of world building.

Other isekai, like Re:Zero, did take the time to properly present the world and went into a lot of detail showing us about the mechanics of that world, the workings of the political systems, the history of the people and, for what it's worth, even though it had a respawn mechanic baked into the plot, it felt very realistic and unlike a video game. That show knew how to distance itself from the superficiality of video game mechanics and dived into a very dark and grim story that gave it a very fine but unique edge.

This show, as well, takes itself seriously, and I really appreciate it for that.

There is no video game mechanic in this show. There is no immortality or respawn mechanic (well, there actually IS something like that which is used at one point but it's actually used by an outside entity and outside of the protagonist's control). Magic has limitations in that world and can only help Rudeus so much before it becomes meaningless.

All the actions that Rudeus takes feel like they have an impact on that world and will have a ripple effect in what will happen into the future.

And, most importantly, Rudeus feels like a relatable and human character. Even though he is slightly overpowered, he has emotions, vulnerabilities and weaknesses. He can become depressed if bad things happen to him, he can make rash and unwise decisions when his emotions get the better of him and, sometimes, that has consequences on his life.

He struggles to maintain control even though sometimes he fails at it. He sometimes is very good at communicating with others and, other times, he's very bad at it when he's down and depressed.

For this reason, Rudeus really feels like an actual human being that I can relate with, which is so much better than the overly confident and always-perfect isekai protagonists that always get things right and never have to worry about anything in their lives for any reason. For this reason I really appreciate this show as much as I do.

But anyways, I've rambled enough for one day.

Suffice it to say, if you like what I just wrote, please give this show a watch. It is absolutely worth your time if you are a fan of isekai shows, and especially if you like TV series that take their time to build up both their fictional worlds, and the characters that inhabit them.

2. TenPuru: No One Can Live on Loneliness

Aoba carrying large barrels of rice

We now reach the romantic comedy of this season's lineup. (Well, there's this and My Tiny Senpai and The Dreaming Boy is a Realist as well but we'll get to those in due time)

I'll admit: I have a soft spot for romantic comedies that have a lot of softcore sexual scenes packed in them.

This show is a prime example of that, as it is an adaptation of a harem manga.

So, “what's the story?”, you may ask?

The story focuses on a young man named Akemitsu Akagami.

He has a troubled family history, as his father had abandoned him ever since he had been of a very young age, in a pursuit of finding women to fool around with.

As a result, Akagami had grown disillusioned and resentful of his now missing father figure.

He tries his best to avoid becoming anything like his father, who had been an incurable pervert and a wild womanizer all his life, and, because of this, Akagami goes out of his way to avoid having contact with women in general and constantly tries purging his own head of dirty thoughts that keep bubbling up incessantly.

One eventful night, he ends up meeting a lovely young girl of seemingly the same age as him, named Yuzuki Aoba. After seeing him getting himself injured by accident, she tries to be helpful and tries to assist him, making him fall in love with her.

Trying to resist his lecherous and impure worldly desires, though, the next day, Akagami realizes that his overtly explicit imagination and dirty thoughts are most likely genetic, coming from his father's side and, wishing to purge his life of any such unclean tendencies, he decides to dedicate his own life into becoming a monk at a Shinto temple.

After receiving a tip from a relative about such a male only temple nearby, Akagami decides to leave behind his physical possessions and restart his life anew as a monk at Mikazuki Temple.

However, as soon as he arrives there, he coincidentally gets to meet up with a half dressed Yuzuki, which completely surprises him and, after instinctively proposing to her when seeing her like that, he backs away from her only to fall down a nearby well on the temple grounds.

After climbing back out of the well, a very confused and now wandering Akagami (who is walking around dazed because he had hit his head after falling down the well) is causing everyone there to run away from him because they mistake him for a ghost.

A little while later, after all the misunderstandings get cleared and Akagami gets to explain why he had come to that temple in the first place, it is revealed that Yuzuki is actually living at that temple with her two younger sisters, Tsukuyo Aoba and Kurage Aoba, aiming to become the head priest at said temple, trying to follow in her own mother's footsteps (their mother had abandoned the temple some time ago and left them to live there on their own). They live there with two foreign women named Mia Christoph and Kagura Baldwin (who had come to that temple due to Mia's insistence of adopting a celibate life despite her family's tradition of promiscuous lifestyles) and the temporary current caretaker for that temple: another woman simply named Kiki.

Mikazuki Temple, where they're currently living at, is an old Shinto Temple that is in disarray and in heavy need of repair but they are all incapable of paying for these maintenance fees because the temple is severely lacking in funds.

Apparently, the temple has been in such a dire need for money ever since a man who had visited that temple a couple of years back, had stolen twenty million yen from it and ran away with said money.

Akagami is confused by the fact that this temple is currently inhabited only by these women, him having heard that Mikazuki Temple was supposed to be a male only temple. However, he soon learned that, actually, the temple had since become a nunnery for priestesses and was actually female only.

Saddened by this state of affairs and realizing that he has no place at such a location anymore, Akagami sets out to leave the temple and return to the city, to find a different plan for his life.

He leaves in the middle of the night, even though the earliest bus to take him back to the city would arrive in the morning and, not wishing to force the boy to wait all night for that bus to arrive out in the open, Yuzuki chases after him to invite him back to their temple, where he could at least stay the night before departing in the next morning.

Akagami seems open to the idea and is willing to accept her invitation. Yuzuki then finally asks Akagami for his name (something which none of them had done up until that point) and he kindly answers her with his full name.

It is at that moment when Yuzuki, when hearing his full name, including the family name of Akagami, realizes that this boy is the son of the man that had run away with the temple's money many years back.

And, to Akagami's own horrific surprise, he is now the target of all the women living there, as they all now want to seek compensation from him for his father's past actions.

And so, now, Akagami ends up as the only male living in that women-only temple, as he now has to do menial work and chores all day, to pay for his own father's actions (since he doesn't have the money to pay them back).

Yeah, that's the synopsis of episode 1.

Yeah, there's a lot of plot in this show and also a lot of setup.

However, the general gist that you need to remember is that now, a young horny adult that inherited his father's lecherous tendencies and overly active sexual imagination ends up working at a girls-only Shinto Temple. That's pretty much it.

The plot, from that point onwards, focuses on that group's struggles in trying to keep the temple open, even though they have very little money, the temple is in dire need of repairs and, of course, there is currently no head priest.

Akagami and the girls will have to find ways of dealing with all these problems and, every once in a while, Akagami ends up in very sexually explicit situations with all of the girls there.

That's pretty much all you have to know about this show.

Put simply, I loved this show.

If you've been following my blog for some time, you probably know the TV shows that I've been following for the past 2 years and, because of that, you should know that I didn't get to follow that many ecchi TV shows.

Honestly, the ecchi genre is one that's very divisive for many, because not everyone enjoys fanservice and seeing all the innuendos and explicit sexual stuff on their TV.

I get that.

And if you do have such reservations about sexual content, then I would strongly advice you to avoid this show at all costs.

Granted, there's nothing particularly outrageous about this show. It does feature nudity, explicit scenes that obviously are meant to mislead the audience and make them think that something sexual is going on when it clearly isn't, but all of this can barely even be classified as softcore porn.

Yes, you need a certain level of tolerance to be able to digest the episodes of this show but, provided you have experience with even milder ecchi anime before this, then you'll follow along just fine with this one.

And, frankly, after two years of not enjoying any ecchi at all, I can safely say that I really needed this release for myself.

The show doesn't shy away from various scenes and it uses the lechery going on as comedy fuel as well.

One example of this is how Akagami is so determined to keep himself in check and is trying so hard to purge his own mind of dirty thoughts, even though they naturally come to him as specific scenes play out in front of his eyes.

The show doesn't show anything explicit, per se, but whenever, for example, Akagami and Yuzuki and Tsukuyo are meditating in their training in trying to become priests, and Yuzuki and Tsukuyo are failing at it, it's somewhat funny seeing how they get hit by Kiki with a small light wooden stick, only for them to moan from being hit, causing Akagami's uncontrollable imagination to bubble up and have him lose focus in his meditation as well.

Or how Akagami has this instinctive tendency to punch himself in the face very hard whenever he senses that his mind is wandering in troubling sexual territory, to the point where he even causes his own nosebleeds.

At some point, the scenes happening in front of him become so explicit that his imagination ends up running completely wild and, as a result, he has to punch himself so hard that it starts to concern the women around him.

Granted, I know that this type of comedy isn't for everyone and that there will be some people who simply won't get it, and that's completely fine. If you read what I just described and you're still asking yourself what about this stuff is even supposed to be funny, then, chances are, this show isn't for you.

And that's fine.

The people who would like this show will know why the stuff I just described is funny. And to me, it was hilarious.

Granted, not all the jokes hit but, the ones that did, were very enjoyable and I did have a blast watching this series.

If this show will ever have a season two, I will definitely indulge myself in it.

And as for the ending, it wasn't anything spectacular and it's clear that they're trying to leave off on a sweet upbeat note, just in case they will never get greenlit for a season 2, but I will say, even if a season 2 will never happen, season 1 was enjoyable enough as it is. The story never got finished and a lot of the stuff is still unsolved, as of the ending of season 1, but, at the end of the day, it still left a good taste in my mouth.

And in the end, what more can I ask for?

3. My Tiny Senpai

Shiori gives Takuma a shoulder massage

Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you Moe-blob, the romcom.

If the above screenshot of a massage scene from episode 1 doesn't immediately convince you to watch this show, I don't think you'll enjoy seeing it at all.

Simply put, this TV series is about a newly hired young man, named Takuma Shinozaki, who works as a white collar office worker for a large company that has a small and adorable cat caricature (colloquially known as Mewtaro) as its mascot, as he has to slowly learn the ins and outs of his new job.

Supervising him is a young woman, around the same age as him, named Shiori Katase, who has a very gentle and motherly demeanor and who tries to be supportive and kind to him.

Katase is of a small stature, and has cat-like physical characteristics, which makes her seem very cute to Takuma.

They will work in the same department as another young woman, named Chinatsu Hayakawa, who has a very down-to-Earth demeanor and logical personality and who also just so happens to be Takuma's childhood friend. (although they have no romantic interest in each other, whatsoever), and they will all work under a young man named Chihiro Akina, their department manager.

Chihiro is a very calm and calculated man, who enjoys to see the people who he manages interact with each other and also has a strange obsession of encouraging them to become romantically involved with each other, constantly fantasizing about their possible relationships getting sexual.

This show, in a nutshell, is about Takuma and Shiori, as they slowly and naturally build a deep relationship with each other, initially a purely platonic and professional one, although slowly having it also grow into something a bit more as time goes on.

OK, so that's the synopsis.

This show is basically My Senpai is Annoying, if the genders of the main characters were swapped.

Now, Shiori is the experienced employee that has to look out after her newly hired colleague, the male Takuma.

And much like that show, this is basically an office romantic comedy series, in the same vein as it.

Also, much like My Senpai is Annoying, there are multiple romances that the show follows: the main one which is between Takuma and Shiori and also a secondary one, which is between Chinatsu and Chihiro, as well.

The latter one is taken way less seriously by the plot compared to the former, as Chihiro seems completely ambivalent towards romantic connections concerning himself and is way more likely to just ship Chihiro with Takuma, instead (or ship her with Shiori even, sometimes).

In fact, Chihiro feels very much like the wingman of the show, constantly trying to push Takuma and Shiori together whenever he gets the chance to, also bringing a video camera with him as well to record their moments together.

In a sense, he feels more like a plot device than an actual character, although his very calm and obsessive demeanor to force his subordinates into unrequited romances does make him arguably the funniest and most likeable character in this show.

Chinatsu is more like the thin thread that still tries to hang onto him by his clothes and pull him down to reality when he seems to become too disconnected into his own fantasies about his employees getting together.

Needless to say, this show was a ton of fun to watch.

However, unlike other shows like the aforementioned Tenpuru, which also has a lot of innuendos and sexual stuff in it, this one feels like the less believable one of the two, as the amount of suspension of disbelief you'll have to undergo in order to watch some of these episodes becomes mind boggling, to an extent.

Basically, this show takes the common romcom cliches that most office animes use and pushes them to unbelievable extremes, so much so that they become comically absurd.

And keep in mind, this show acts like it's supposed to be a slice of life, even though it becomes so wacky in its plot that it starts bordering insanity.

Examples of this include Shiori being so weak at tolerating alcohol, that a single piece of candy that contains it is enough to completely turn her into a wobbly affectionate kitten that wants to cuddle with Takuma (not sexually, thankfully).

Or how about a different scene, where Shiori and Takuma just so happen to finish an assignment where they had to do a presentation to a client, only for them to encounter a film crew as they were heading back to their office in the city, the woman in the crew says that she works for a local TV station and is doing a documentary piece in which she's trying to interview couples across the city and, since she has no luck finding anyone to talk to, ends up begging the two to pretend like they're a couple, for the sake of her show.

And so Shiori and Takuma now have to try pretending like they are a couple that loves each other on TV.

Or how about another scene in which Shiori and Takuma hide in a locker down in the building's basement as they are forced to watch two other characters that work in the same company as them, that have snuck there, make out in front of them while, unbeknownst to them, being watched by the two.

Needless to say, a lot of this stuff becomes really hard to take seriously.

Then again, despite this being a slice of life, supposedly, I genuinely believe it wasn't meant to be taken seriously at all.

This is, for all intents and purposes, a very wild and funny romcom that tries, at every opportunity to force Takuma and Shiori into embarrassing positions, as a couple, and testing to see how long they can go before they confess to each other or lose their minds, in the process.

The fact that everyone else in their department wants to see these two together, is also quite endearing.

This, My Senpai is Annoying and, of course, The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague are just the most recent office romance animes that I've personally watched in recent years.

And out of all of them, I can say that I find this show to be the most entertaining. Why? Because, as outrageous as this show sometimes gets, it's still the one that took its core premise and ran all the way out with it, dialing it up to eleven and making things as insane as a slice of life can be.

Every episode had shenanigans that at no point have I ever felt were in any way plausible or even remotely believable, and yet I still couldn't help but laugh at how stupid but fun it became at times. The wacky unhinged side characters were only a very nice bonus to the comedy.

And the ending, while by no means a masterpiece or even memorable at all, still left me wanting to see more.

Granted, you have to remember that, like most romantic manga adaptations that primarily take place in the office, it's going to be slow. The pacing is going to be horribly slow and the plot will get side tracked by various side stories concerning their office life and other stuff that will only serve to prolong it more.

That's to be expected.

And, as sad as it is to admit this, no serious plot advancements happened as of yet. And that saddens me to no end.

Still, if you're in it just for the comedy, this is a worthwhile watch, and I wholeheartedly recommend this show. You do need to switch your brain off to be able to enjoy this, just because how ridiculous certain scenes become, but the comedy is well worth the suspencion of disbelief, in my opinion.

And if a season two of this will ever come out, I'll be sure to check it out.

4. Reign of the Seven Spellblades

Katie and Guy interacting

If you like magic, then this show might be just what you're looking for.

As someone who has never been much of a fan of sorcery and magecraft TV series, I can't say that I was looking forward to watching this show much.

However, like all the shows that I do partake in, I try to give it a fair shot and compare it on even ground with all the other stuff that I watch during the season.

And I did go out of my way in trying to really like this show. I tried to make it work and watch this as if it was high quality entertainment.

And, honestly, towards the end it did finally manage to pull me in just enough to admit that it was a very entertaining experience and that it was a worthwhile watch. However, throughout most of its airtime, I was constantly losing interest in it, to the point where I would become bored and constantly checking the video bar to see how many minutes I still had left to watch from the episode.

That's usually a very bad sign.

But let's talk about what this show is about.

At a school of magic known as Kimberly Magic Academy, the new school year is about to begin and a new batch of freshmen is arriving there for the first time.

Among the newly arriving students is a young man named Oliver Horn, who's looking forward towards his studies there but, also, towards accomplishing a personal goal of his at that particular school.

As the first day approaches and all the new freshmen approach the school to begin their new lives, Oliver encounters and immediately befriends two other freshmen named Guy Greenwood and Katie Aalto.

They immediately become friendly with each other and begin walking towards the school together.

Afterwards, during the opening ceremony, where all the students gather outside the school building to watch a big line of magical creatures that the school owns and forces to walk in a parade, a mysterious person casts a spell from afar that causes Katie to run towards a big troll that was walking in the parade.

The troll was already quite enraged and, when it saw Katie running up to it, it seemed to wish to attack Katie, only for Oliver and Guy to intervene, trying to save Katie.

In the process, another young freshmen named Nanao Hibiya, who is a very skilled swordsman, manages to help them incapacitate the troll and save Katie.

Fast forward to the headmistress' entrance speech and, when all the freshmen are gathered in a hall, the headmistress herself, Esmeralda, also known as the Witch of Kimberly, introduces herself to all the people there. She makes a long-winded speech about their school and then she reveals how the safety of the students there is not the school's priority and that, on average, 20% of the students that join Kimberly will eventually die while attending the school, becoming “consumed by the spell”. This is to warn the students not do engage in dangerous and reckless behavior, for there will be consequences that the school staff will not save them from.

Later, during a mixer, Oliver, Guy, Katie, Nanao and two other freshmen named Michela McFarlane and Pete Reston are all at the same table, introducing themselves to each other, as they will all be part of the same class during the new year.

Guy is the son of a farming family and knows how to use magical creatures and plants to his advantage. Katie is the daughter of a family that has a big reputation of acting as rights activists for magical creatures and, because of this, she has sympathy and shows affection towards all magical creatures, especially those who are being harmed or kept in captivity by the school (which usually leads to her being bullied by both other students and even some teachers there). Michela is the daughter of Theodore McFarlane, a man who already works for that school and who, incidentally, also had saved, in the past, Nanao's life and had invited her to come study at Kimberly. Nanao, who is a foreigner and also a samurai, and who came to that country to study magic despite having no magical aptitudes whatsoever but being very talented at wielding a sword. Pete, who is also from a non-magical family and who has no magical affinity at all but is very good at learning and is academically gifted. And, finally, there's the protagonist Oliver, who has no special interests or backgrounds that he wishes to discuss yet but who is very friendly and open to making new friends.

Together, they become friends and decide to look after one another, to make sure that things will go smoothly for their first year.

Later on, though, at night, Oliver exits the room that he's sharing with Pete at the school dormitory and walks into the darkness of the night, and meets up with a strange young girl named Teresa Carste, who has been watching over him all day long.

Teresa has been sent by Oliver's siblings to watch over him, her acting as a servant to Oliver and listening to his commands but also putting his safety as her top priority mission.

They talk to each other in secret and Teresa shares with Oliver important information.

The first episode ends with Oliver discovering Nanao shamelessly naked and taking a bath in a nearby fountain, out in the open, claiming that she wants to wash her body anew from all the blood of her foes that she had accumulated over the years from fighting in a war, as a samurai.

That's episode 1.

Yeah, if you couldn't tell already, this world seems to draw heavy inspiration from the Harry Potter universe.

The two universes are not connected, in any way, but the nature of the magic in that world, it's chaotic effects and the limitless power that mages seem to have when casting spells seem drawn from Harry Potter a bit.

Over the course of the series, even more ideas that seem to connect the two will pop up, such as magical brooms that allow mages to ride them and they would allow the mage to fly through the air at high speeds, the said brooms being intelligent and having personalities, playful magical creatures that play with and disrupt alarm clocks and are treated as insects, and, last but not least, a huge magical labyrinth that sits right under the Kimberly school building, that is filled with traps and creatures that can kill you if you venture into it.

Yeah, this feels almost like a fairy tale, and it's pretty farfetched.

There's a lot of backstory and plot in this world, and a lot going on all the time.

Moreover, I want to point out that this feels like one of those anime TV series where you can pretty much tell that a lot of work, money and passion went into it, when making it. The staff seems to have treated this as a very special project, and they went all in with their efforts.

The music and the soundtrack are very well done, the animation and action sequences are very fluid and pretty to look at, the backgrounds have a lot of detail and unique vibrancy to them, the voice acting is exceptional, the opening and endings are memorable and foreboding.

Pretty much everything seems top notch in this series.

However, the reason I'm ranking this show as low as I am is because there is one thing that keeps this show from being a masterpiece and, you guessed it, that is its story.

And, given that this is an adaptation of a light novel series, I can see why this is a problem, since the light novels are already written with the story as is, and the anime staff couldn't do much about its subpar quality. They just had to adapt it and make everything around it seem gorgeous and inviting.

Even down to the fact that season 1 had the unusual number of 15 episodes in it, because the script writers wanted to make sure they have the time to flesh out the events in a well paced manner, so that nothing feels rushed.

The problem with all this is, when everything is done to such a high quality and is perfectly crafted to look like a masterpiece, and then you have a story that really doesn't live up to everything else's standard, the contrast can be jarring.

And such is the case with this show.

My problem with the show is that, despite its exceptional world building and this very interesting world that the events take place in, much of the conflicts and the issues that the main characters have to solve are very much mundane issues that teenagers usually have to deal with: the bullying problem, the proving yourself to your peers problem, the dealing with your insecurities problem, handling people who just hate you for whatever reasons, family discord rearing up its head in the school setting and stuff like that.

I'm not a big fan of this stuff and, especially when all of this is used as plot devices, I really find it lazy storytelling and I just tune out, at that point.

And a lot of this show, despite all the efforts put in, devolve into those issues, one way or another.

There was a small change of pace, when the protagonist's, Oliver's, actual plans for coming to Kimberly are revealed to the audience. Oliver had a secret, a real reason why he decided to attend this specific school and, while I cannot spoil what that reason was, I will say that he goes out of his way to keep it a secret from everyone, including his friends.

The secret is revealed to us, but, while interesting, the show doesn't treat it any more than a simple arc that it dedicates only 1 episode to.

It was an interesting detour, but it only acted as that, a detour, so that the show would return to its mundane teen drama rhetoric, that it enjoys so much.

Granted, I did like some aspects of it, such as talking about rights activism for magical creatures through Katie, or having metaphors for transgenderism, as it'll soon be revealed later on, but sadly these issues are very little talked about and they feel more shoehorned into the story because they are trendy leftwing topics that the author of the novels resonated with, rather than them having an important role in the plot (the transgender thing does come up during the ending of season 1, so it does play a very small role, but only marginally).

As such, they come across as afterthoughts which, while they are refreshing to see them addressed in an anime, they are only superficially glossed over and talked about minimally.

And other than these political undertones that exist and the protagonist's hidden agenda, the show falls short of expectations, becoming your average teen drama tale, which just so happens to take place at a magical school.

I wish there was more focus on the stuff that really matters, but alas, the stuff that we get is mostly school drama, like I said.

The last couple of episodes introduced did present a semi-interesting adventure that did detach the plot from the school setting for a significant amount of time, which I enjoyed.

The new plot was very welcome and I absolutely loved it for at least being a bit different and presenting an actually interesting challenge that the main characters have to deal with.

If the entire season was an adventure like that, rather than the last 4 episodes, then I might have enjoyed it a bit more.

But I digress.

Honestly, while this show does seem to draw heavy inspiration from the Harry Potter novels, it managed to build an identity of its own, and I feel like that's respectable.

Despite being mostly about school life and talking about teen lives, it did manage to summon enough interesting ideas to become at least a passable means of spending your free time.

Would I watch a season 2 of this? Probably I will.

Despite all of its shortcomings and, in my opinion, mediocre writing, it did entertain me enough to make me say that it had a lot of potential.

And despite having an overpowered protagonist that seems to do exceptionally well at everything that he does (which I always hate), I will say that I did become engaged enough into this world that I am curious to see how the plot will evolve, if a season 2 will ever get greenlit again.

And if a season 2 never does get greenlit, I probably won't shed a tear, though.

5. The Dreaming Boy Is a Realist

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Since this will be my last show I'm ever going to review from the HiDive service (because I'm refusing to renew my subscription for their website, since they continue to refuse to offer any shows to Romania), then I hoped that this will, at the very least, be kind of a grandous end to my journey.

Sadly, this show is not that grand, nor that memorable.

The show is about a high school student named Wataru Sajō who is unhealthily infatuated with a classmate of his named Aika Natsukawa.

Sajō wants to keep inviting Natsukawa out on a date but she constantly refuses. From a third person's perspective, it's very clear that their romantic relationship is very much one-sided, and that Sajō acts more like a stalker than a potential mate towards Natsukawa, much to the latter's distaste.

One day, as he keeps following her to their class, a soccer ball just so happens to accidentally hit Sajō on the head. This doesn't cause any health problems or loss of memory, but, somehow, causes Sajō to have a very severe and abrupt shift in personality.

Now, Sajō realizes out of nowhere, the error of his ways, and he stops following Natsukawa around.

He became aware of how his pestering is causing the poor girl discomfort and suddenly decides to distance himself from her, so that it won't cause her any more troubles.

Natsukawa, on her end, becomes concerned to see that the stalker that had always been following her around is becoming disinterested in her and, as the distance between them finally starts to grow, rather than being relieved that she is finally getting breathing space away from the boy, she becomes worried.

And so begins the story of the dreaming boy that suddenly became a realist and who decided to stop aiming for the popular attractive girl.

OK, so that's the synopsis.

Right off the bat, I can say that I really liked the moral lessons that this show started out with.

The idea of a guy realizing how annoying it must be to constantly pester the girl who he's infatuated with is a very nice lesson to teach, in my opinion.

For this reason alone I had decided to pick this show up and follow it.

Usually I'm not a fan of slice of life high school romantic comedies, because I always find them dull and boring, but I decided to give this show a try anyway.

And, despite me giving it a lot of chances, I will say that this was the biggest letdown of this season's lineup.

The ideas that this show presents are somewhat interesting, though, and I feel like, on paper, this story would definitely give you the sense that it has a lot of potential and that it should work on multiple levels.

However, in practice, it kind of falls short of expectations.

What do I mean?

This show acts as a slice of life teen comedy series that tries to convey valuable life lessons, throughout its airing.

And, to give credit where credit is due, I genuinely feel like the life lessons that it tries to convey are worthwhile and they are valuable.

Lessons such as “know when to give someone space for themselves”, “learn to value the people in your life and your relationships with them while you still can”, “work hard to become a productive member of society” and “learn how to respect your younger siblings and allow them to become independent from you as they grow older” are all cleverly baked into the episodes of this series and, for what it's worth, it explores them to a significant degree.

And these are good lessons to teach, especially to teenagers who need these lessons the most.

Natsukawa suddenly realizes that the gap between her and Sajō is growing larger and larger with each passing day and, as time goes on, she starts misinterpreting the distance that he's keeping between himself and her (which he is maintaining out of consideration for her and her social reputation) as him starting to dislike her, which bothers her.

This becomes especially compounded by the fact that Sajō is becoming more and more involved in the lives of other girls as well during this time, making her somewhat jealous even.

These are all good ideas and they are explored well but, at the end of the day, there is one glaring issue that becomes apparent even from episode one of this TV show: that the show is excruciatingly boring.

This is what I mean when I say that this lacks in execution: while, in theory, these are very good ideas to build a proper slice of life story out of, in practice, the show is taking these ideas and applying them in the least interesting ways possible.

My main problem with this show is that the romance aspect of it is being sidelined by slice of life subplots that really really should not be explored without spicing them up at least mildly.

What I mean is that Sajō's interactions with girls other than Natsukawa in this show can be very briefly summarized by one sentence: that he got friend-zoned by every girl he comes across.

That's literally it.

At one point, he becomes approached by a girl named Rena, who wants to flirt with him because she had recently broke up with her boyfriend and wants to use Sajō as a means of getting revenge against him.

However, rather than taking this chance to become romantically involved with her, Sajō instead goes the route of trying to explain to her his life story and his past relationship with Natsukawa, which convinces Rena to reconcile with her boyfriend and resume her relationship with him.

Simply put, he got friend zoned by Rena.

Or how about another instance where, Sajō meets up with another girl, at a part time job, who's visibly socially awkward and very timid and, when he has the chance to grow closer to her and even goes out of his way to pull her out of her own shell so that she can become better at her job, it immediately becomes obvious that their relationship is doomed to remain platonic, as the girl in question is too shy to initiate any romantic moves and Sajō himself seems to have little interest in her.

Granted, the show's obvious end goal with showing these various relationships between Sajō and all these girls is clearly to make Natsukawa become jealous and force her hand to become more aggressive in reciprocating Sajō's affection towards her. I get that, I really do.

However, using jealousy as the main way to establish a romantic connection between two characters that never had any chemistry beforehand feels a bit unorthodox and, dare I say it, cheap even.

The harem that this show tries to boast is pretty much non-existent as the nature of Sajō's relationships with other girls is purely platonic, as becomes obvious over the episodes, the only exception to this rule being Natsukawa herself.

And, while her coming out of her shell and building up the courage to try to become closer to Sajō in response to her jealousy is supposedly the main goal of all of this, this plot point really isn't advanced until the very last couple of episodes of season 1.

Up until then, the show focuses on Sajō's mundane and, I'd even go so far as saying, numbingly boring life: how he tries to help out his friends, how he becomes the interest of the Public Morals Committee of their school and how he is getting approached by them to be enrolled in it, how he has to do various chores for his bigger sister who's part of the student council, how he gets a part time job, how he helps his new coworker girl to become social enough to interact with customers, how he tries to make a self-crafted birthday gift.

And none of this stuff involves Natsukawa or her jealousy, nor is it interesting in the least.

The show simply constantly switches between showing Sajō doing various mundane things in his life that usually involves some girl that he's friends with, and then showing Natsukawa how she's very worried that Sajō now hates her because he stopped approaching her. Rinse and repeat, ad nauseam.

After awhile, around the midpoint of this show, I became aware of this formula and, by the time season 1 was approaching its end, I was already sick of it.

I couldn't care less about Sajō's life, nor his relationship with any of these girls.

Sajō has a boring personality as it is, being the reliable and laid back teen that has a down-to-earth view on life and who knows exactly what to say at the right time and at the right place to solve someone else's problems for them.

Natsukawa, for her part, is even more cliched, with the stereotypical boring tsundere personality with no twists or anything interesting added on top of it. She just thinks she hates Sajō for constantly stalking her but, the moment he becomes independent and starts minding his own business and leaves her alone, she develops Stockholm syndrome and now she starts growing affection towards him.

That's her personality in a nutshell.

And while, say, TenPuru: No One Can Live on Lonelines, is a million times less believable and is completely unrealistic compared to the stuff that happens in this show, it is also a million times more entertaining than it.

Why? Because, TenPuru is fun. That's all there is to it.

Yeah, it's got a harem, yeah the romantic comedy is way more on the nose than this show and the sexual antics are over the roof but, I will say, that's what makes it such a charming experience (not to mention the delicious fanservice that Tenpuru has and which this show sorely lacks). And frankly I would rather watch Tenpuru 3 times in a row again before I'd decide to watch even a single episode from this show.

I get it that this is kind of expected, given that this is a slice of life high school comedy, and I should expect a show that displays such mundane things that pertain to a teenager's life, but, in my opinion, slices of life can be done right and even entertaining. Tenpuru showed how that can be done and it did it well. This show does it wrong, and I really am disinterested in it, as a result.

Oh well, maybe we'll get something better in the future. But until then, this show will be a prime example of how not to do slice of life.

Oh yeah, and the ending was boring. Without spoiling too much, I will say that at least it did conclude on a semi-sweet romantic note between the protagonist and Natsukawa but, honestly, the way they did it is also very held back and uninteresting. Very much not worth the 12 episodes that you needed to watch to get to it.