2023 Winter animes ranked from my favorite to least favorite

Well folks, it's time for another ranking.

It's time I talk about action, romance and comedy, this time with new TV series that will be quite fun to watch.

OK so, this time around, I decided to mention the websites where you can find each TV show, separately, to make this easier for everyone.

Please keep in mind, though, that content, as usual, is geo-blocked, so even though I say that a show is available on Crunchyroll or on HiDive, I just mean that they were available to me on those services, from my country. It won't necessarily be available in your country as well. So your mileage may vary.

Specifically, when I say that a show is available on Crunchyroll, I mean to say that it's available on Crunchyroll from Romania, and when I say that a show is available on HiDive, I mean to say that it was available on HiDive from Finland (because I use a VPN to access HiDive).

Also, before I get to the ranking, I will say that I started off watching 10 TV series this season but this ranking will include only 9 entries.

The reason for this is that one of the shows, called Kubo won't let me be invisible! only aired 6 episodes, before being postponed to April due to COVID.

Since it would be unfair for me to judge a TV series just from watching half of it, I will reserve my thoughts on it and will write about it in next season's ranking, instead.

Now, on with the rankings!

1. Buddy Daddies

Santa is having a rough Christmas

Starting off this ranking, we have a very unconventional TV show.

The plot is fairly simple: professional hitmen Rei and Kazuki live together in a large apartment, pretending to be everyday men without anything special going on in their lives.

Rei is an apathetic and stoic shut-in that likes to laze off all day long and play video games while Kazuki is an optimistic extrovert that always tries to be responsible and take charge of the chores and the cooking in that apartment, effectively acting as Rei's caregiver, despite them being the same age.

However, they are both hitmen working under the orders from their handler, a young man named Kyutaro.

Kazuki and Rei don't get along very well but they tolerate each other's presence for the sake of their jobs. Despite them looking like amateurs, they are very good at assassinating their targets, with Kazuki usually going in under a disguise to lure the target into a trap, while Rei usually takes the more brute-force approach of engaging with targets with his guns when things go awry.

This duo always end up fulfilling their missions, earning significant amounts of money.

Whenever they are payed for their jobs, Kazuki splits his own pay with an unspecified woman, asking Kyutaro to send some of his money to her.

One day, these two receive orders to take down a human trafficker who's planning on hosting a large Christmas party on the last floor of a fancy hotel.

On Christmas eve, Kazuki, disguised in a Santa costume, bakes a large cake for this occasion and then tries to slip past the security of the hotel by pretending to be the delivery boy for the cake (with Rei hiding in the trolley).

After they get past the security guys and enter the hotel elevator that will take them to the last floor, a four year old girl named Miri runs into the elevator as well, out of nowhere, just before the security guards can catch her and the doors to the elevator close.

This surprises the two of them, but before they can say anything, Miri begins to sheepishly eat the cake.

She then reveals that she has traveled by train from another city, having been sent by her mother, to look and find her father, who supposedly would also attend the same party. She wants to meet her father, whom she had never seen before.

Kazuki tries to encourage Miri, saying that she will find him but, after the elevator reaches the top floor, Miri runs out in a rush to look for her father, spooking the security guards there and forcing the two to defend themselves and start shooting, giving themselves away.

They start shooting their way to their target, who takes Miri and holds her as a hostage and as a shield for himself.

Stuck at an impasse, Kazuki invents a lie on the spot, yelling at Miri that he is, in fact, her father, causing her to suddenly jump towards him, away from the target, which allows Rei to shoot him, killing him.

Now, stuck with Miri on their hands, they bring her to safety at their apartment to sort things out, only to discover, from the files they were given, that the target that they had shot and killed was actually Miri's father, the one she had been looking for.

Now, with her father dead because of them, the two have to figure out what to do with the now fatherless child on their hands.

And so begins the journey of two hitmen who adopt a four year old girl.

Yeah, that's the basic gist of it.

On the surface, Buddy Daddies appears to be an action comedy about two bachelors that end up having to take care of a child that isn't even theirs. Obviously they want to keep Miri out of danger but they also don't want her in their lives, as she will undoubtedly mess up their plans of finishing contracts.

They also want to keep their jobs a secret from her, both for her safety and their own, yet she keeps trying to nose in.

However, underneath all of that, this show is actually a family drama.

I said, last season during my ranking of a little show called Reincarnated as a Sword, that I didn't particularly care for father-daughter relationships in TV shows, unless they were focused on family drama and were emotional and well done.

Well, this is an excellent example of what I meant.

Reicarnated as a Sword had very little parental chemistry between Fran and the teacher. Yes, they did talk to each other almost like they were father and daughter, but their dynamic was very boring and stale. Teacher would tell Fran “do this, then that!”, Fran would listen to his orders, they would end their quest successfully, and then Teacher would cook a delicious meal for Fran as a reward.

That's the entire dynamic of their relationship, summed up in just one phrase.

Granted, it is a good dynamic, but it's so straightforward it was used as a comedic gag more than anything else in the show.

Here, the family drama does matter, and there is actual believable interactions between Miri and her two dads, Rei and Kazuki.

It's not just a one-note relationship. Miri does love her two dads, she wants to be part of their lives, but she also sometimes goes against their wishes, not because she's a bad child but because, sometimes, the situation calls for her to make her own judgements.

Sometimes she gets angry at Kazuki for being an unreasonable father, sometimes she gets needy and wants things that are very normal for her to want, but, most importantly, she acts like an actual child that has needs.

And Rei and Kazuki, understandably, have difficulties trying to meet her needs.

Kazuki, especially, has to act as the responsible father figure, as Rei is usually deadbeat and doesn't do any chores or cooking for Miri. If anything, Rei ends up acting as an older brother figure for Miri, rather than a father, as they end up playing games together and having a fun time while Kazuki does all the chores in the house.

But, at the end of the day, both Kazuki and Rei end up growing in their relationship with Miri.

The apathetic Rei eventually gets to grow a sentimental side, while Kazuki ends up healing from a dark past that has been causing him to live in self-guilt.

The show eventually shows how both Rei and Kazuki had troubled pasts and backgrounds and how Miri ends up saving them and giving them comfort even more than they do for her.

Honestly, when I picked this show up, I was very worried that Miri would end up pissing me off.

Anime TV shows usually have this uncanny tendency of portraying children either as very unrealistic and mature for their own ages, or as complete selfish needy brats that keep demanding things for themselves and ruining the lives of the adults around them.

This show, thankfully, manages to find a good balance between these two sides, when portraying Miri.

She is needy, she wants affection and attention all the time and, sometimes, she does end up ruining things for Kazuki and Rei. Yes, she is selfish.

However, it's done in a believable and realistic way. Nothing that she does is out of the ordinary from what you'd expect for a child her age to do and, at the end of the day, she does love her two fathers, she's respectful and, sometimes, even goes out of her way to make them happy because she wants to see them smile.

There are so many heartfelt moments in this show where I can just point to how innocent and sheepish she is but how that also ends up healing Rei and Kazuki.

This doesn't come close to being as great of a family drama as other anime classics like Clannad, but, at the same time, I'd argue that it doesn't need to.

It stands on its own as a great family show, with impactful events, heart wrenching scenes and truly unforgettable moments that reminded me of why I love family dramas so much.

Despite it being a comedy, there are some heavy scenes in latter episodes that involve the deaths of certain characters, sometimes even good characters. The show isn't as lighthearted as you'd think from a first glance.

My last point is that, from what I've seen online, many people choose to either watch this show or avoid watching it because they believe that the two main characters, Rei and Kazuki, are in a gay relationship.

While the show does touch on the subject of two grown men raising a child on their own, it's not really that kind of show honestly, and pretending that it's making a stance on homosexuality is really misleading, I feel.

It's shown even from episode 1 that Rei and Kazuki dislike each other, and also that Kazuki is interested in women. Yes, they do end up building a family towards the end of the show, but in no way is it even implied that they enter any sexual relationship with each other, so I really don't see why people keep trying to make that connection.

I will say that while watching a season 2 of this would be amazing, it's heavily implied, at least, that there will be no such sequel. I don't wanna spoil anything, but I will say that they wrap things up in the last episode so well that I really doubt this will ever see a season 2.

Granted, I will never complain if a season 2 is announced, and I will definitely be watching it, but I sincerely doubt there will be one.

Oh well, onto the next one!

2. Spy Classroom

The new team is listening to Klaus

Not to be confused with Assassination Classroom, which is an entirely different and unrelated TV show.

The plot of this show is about a 20 year old genius spy prodigy from the Din Republic named Klaus, who, one day, gets assigned a mission to help his country, a mission so difficult that, if he succeeds, he will be then known as the “Greatest Spy in the World”.

The mission is classified as an “Impossible Mission”, which means that the chances of failure are of 90%.

Due to his impeccable success record, Klaus is confident enough to take this mission and then requests to assemble a team for himself to join him in this endeavor.

Shortly after, we are introduced to a team of seven young girls who have all been summoned from their respective spy training academies for the purposes of undertaking actual missions for their country.

One of the spies is a 17 year old woman named Lily, who, as soon as she arrives in the same room as the other girls, is asked by one of them about her performance at her school.

Lily reveals to everyone that she was a washout at her school. They then all reveal that all of them were pretty mediocre at their own spy schools, which is confusing since they are all aware that they have been selected for what is most likely a difficult mission.

Then, Klaus makes his entrance, revealing to all of them that they had been personally selected by him for participating in the Impossible Mission he was tasked with. Their new team will be known as Lamplight.

The girls ask him why he had chosen them, since they had all been poorly performing spies at school, but Klaus replies that he is the world's greatest spy and that he will teach them all of his skills for the next month, so that when they will embark on the Impossible Mission, they will be fully ready to finish it successfully.

Come next day and it's soon revealed that Klaus, despite being an excellent spy that can do pretty much anything, is actually very bad at teaching, as everything that he sets out to do, such as teach them how to pick locks or how to untie himself, he does very quickly and without any explanation and then just says “That's how it's done” afterwards. The girls cannot pick up anything from him.

This is a problem, and soon it becomes apparent that Klaus really won't be of much help as a teacher, and the girls slowly begin to despair, realizing that, at this rate, they will most likely end up getting killed in the upcoming Impossible Mission.

At some point, when Klaus isn't around, they even suspect that they had been set up as sacrificial pawns by their country, which might be the reason why only disposable washout students had been selected in the first place, as well as a teacher that simply cannot teach.

Because of this, Lily decides to take initiative and invite Klaus out the next day on her own.

As they are walking through the city, Lily ambushes Klaus in a boat on a lake using her specially crafted paralysis poison, in an attempt to force him to disband Lamplight and let all of the go free, since none of them want to go on such a dangerous mission anymore.

Klaus, however, turns the tables on her, soon revealing that he had been suspecting from the very beginning that the girls would attempt a rebellion, and, being the talented spy that he is, frees himself from her ambush.

Later, he reveals to her that he was impressed at the fact that she decided to take initiative on her own and, because of her trap for him, he figured out a plan on how to move forward with his plans on teaching the girls.

The next day, Klaus formally installs Lily as the leader of Lamplight and then, informs all the girls of his brilliant idea: the best way to train them is by practice and, as such, he proposes that all the girls set out to attack him for the remainder of the month.

As he is an absolute genius, it will be very difficult for them to force him to surrender, even if they work together against him. Because of this, he feels like this will force them to learn how to better themselves and also how to cooperate with each other.

And so begins the training month for the entire Lamplight team. Will they manage to force Klaus to surrender and learn how to work together, or will they fail in the process? And, even if they will succeed, will they survive the Impossible Mission at the end of the month?

Yeah, this anime is pretty intense and, I will admit, I did find the premise to be a bit far fetched and difficult to suspend my disbelief towards.

But, as the episodes went on and on, I soon realized that the show isn't meant to be taken too seriously. There are sober and dark moments from time to time, yes, but for the most part, this show just tries to have fun with the idea of spies struggling to hone their skills.

There will be disguising, manipulation, seduction, tinkering, backstabbing and good old fashioned firearm shooting, all across the board.

Every episode contains a series of twists that you didn't see coming and, personally, I found those to be very fun to be on the lookout for.

Every moment, whenever a character says a line, I immediately learned to be suspicious and ask myself “Is this honestly what this girl thinks or is she just trying to deceive him?” at every corner. Or maybe that wasn't the girl being portrayed but someone else in disguise as her?

And, it was so much fun.

And, if you're afraid that the show will be entirely about their training arc and nothing more, rest assured! While a good portion of the show is about them training and trying to make Klaus surrender, they do get to the Impossible Mission and they show how they tackle it and survive it.

Not even that, but they will be assigned another mission after that Impossible Mission is done, which the show also covers before its end, so there's a lot of content to be seen, it's not just about their training.

One thing to note is that some of the episodes are told out of order, in such a way that the Impossible Mission arc already starts from episode 3, while certain episodes covering their training arc, which was obviously supposed to take part before the mission, air after episode 3.

This might seem like an odd directorial decision, but it's actually for a very good purpose to deceive the audience in a clever way. You'll know what I mean if you watch the show.

Honestly, I was expecting for this show to eventually devolve into a harem between Klaus and all the girls and this worried me, as I genuinely grew to respect the characters so much that I didn't wish for them to be used in such a cheap way.

Thankfully the show doesn't go that route. Klaus does end up in a romantic relationship with one of the girls, though, but this is properly set-up across multiple episodes and they do take the relationship seriously, talking about their feelings with each other and dedicating a gorgeous scene for it.

The show's focus isn't on romance, per se, and this is treated as a detour from the main story, but it was a nice touch and I liked its implementation.

Honestly, there's not much else I can say about this show. It was simply a fun and well written spy series that I feel more people should get acquainted with.

The fact that this show isn't on Crunchyroll is such a huge shame. HiDive just seems to be gobbling up some very impressive gems as of recently, although it's nice since it's giving Crunchyroll competition.

Don't miss on this one! Give it a shot if it sounds like your cup of tea!

3. Urusei Yatsura (season 1, part 2)

Ram and Ten smiling

This is the second part of season one of Urusei Yatsura. You can read my thoughts on the first part here.

Much like in part 1, the show continues its insane absurd plotlines with even more wacky antics involving our beloved characters, this time introducing a fire-spewing alien cousin, octopuses that become giant when exposed to high ambient temperatures, a potion of love, an electronic device that predicts who you should marry to have a happy life and a magical lipstick that forces other people to kiss you on the lips.

The show is just as fun as it was in part 1 and I simply cannot get enough of it.

Episode after episode, I would wait for it in anticipation and, whenever it would air, I would laugh my ass off.

The characters always end up in strange situations involving aliens or sci-fi technology, Ataru keeps on being a pervert that just wants to have his way with every attractive woman on the planet despite still being married to Lum, Shinobu suddenly becomes the target of a mob boss that became enamored with her and wants to stalk her and much much more.

I really want to talk more about all this stuff, but suffice it to say, it's an absolute treat. I cannot overstate how happy I am with this show.

Between this, Revenger and Spy Classroom, my Thursdays were filled with so much joy that I can confidently say, I had a blast.

The fact that a season 2 was also announced for this show for 2024 also makes me very happy. I am so looking forward towards that.

4. Revenger

Usui and Kurima talking under a bridge

Not to be confused with Tokyo Revengers.

This show's story takes place during an alternate history in the Japanese city of Nagasaki.

One day, a samurai named Hirata, while sneaking during the night with his men, is confronted by another samurai named Kurima.

Kurima slays Hirata and his men in a quick battle and then leaves. A dying Hirata bites into a gold coin, only for an unknown man to retrieve it later on.

A couple of days later, a young man named Usui Yuen walks up to a dejected and depressed Kurima who had taken up shelter under a bridge.

When offered to listen to his problems, Kurima reveals that the man that he had killed, Hirata, was actually Kurima's fiancee's father. The reason he had killed him was because his master, a man named Matsumine, had told him that Hirata was dealing opium, a highly addictive and illegal drug being sold by the British to gain influence in Japan.

Ashamed of having killed his future father-in-law, Kurima sought to run away from his village and hide under that bridge, too afraid to confront his fiancee, Yui.

After Usui talks Kurima out of hiding and encourages him to return to his village to make amends with his fiancee, Kurima sets out to go back, only to be intercepted by other men hired by Matsumine. Surprisingly, they immediately attack Kurima and try to murder him but Kurima manages to jump off a cliff at the last second, making them believe that he had died.

In reality, Kurima had been saved by a young child named Nio and awakens, later, in Usui's shop.

Usui then tells Kurima that he had suspected that Matsumine would betray him and that's why he had sent Nio to save him.

He then reveals that Matsumine was, actually, the one dealing opium and Hirata had simply become aware of this and was planning on exposing him. Fearing this, Matsumine had lied to Kurima and used him to kill Hirata before he could do that, only to then also kill Kurima to cover his tracks, after the job was done.

When asked how he knew all of this, Usui reveals that he had ties to the underground world, connections that helped him find the truth.

Usui then shows Kurima the gold coin that Hirata had bitten into while he was dying and then tells him that he and Nio, along with two others, work as Revengers, one of many groups of assassins ruled and financed by the Christian church in Japan, who undertake contracts of killing targets on behalf of those who are incapable of doing the jobs themselves. As Revengers, they are obligated to accept any contract by those who wish to use their services, the only requirement to acquire their assistance is biting into a gold coin. The depth of the tooth marks in the coin reflect the hatred and despair of the person requesting the assassination.

Usui then tells Kurima that Hirata had bitten into such a coin to request the revenge of his group against Matsumine and that they are planning on going after him.

He asks for Kurima's help, since he had been one of Matsumine's samurai, so he has valuable information of his whereabouts.

Although reluctant at first, finally knowing about Matsumine's dishonorable crimes and his manipulation of him, Kurima begrudgingly accepts to assist Usui and his group in killing Matsumine.

As they break into Matsumine's mansion and take down all of his guards, Matsumine attempts to use a secret exit to escape, only to then be confronted by an angry Kurima who murders his master.

Now, with the deceitful Matsumine dead and the contract fulfilled, Kurima decides to leave Usui and his team of Revengers behind, as he rushes back to Yui's house to make amends and kill himself in front of her as atonement.

But just as he arrives, he soon discovers that he was too late, as Yui is already dead, after having pierced her own neck with a knife, from grieving her dead father.

Now, with his fiancee, father in law, and his master all dead, Kurima is uncertain where to go from here.

Yeah, so that's the synopsis.

Well, to be honest, I didn't like this show at first.

While the idea and execution were well done, I was put off by how dull it was in the beginning.

Without going too much into spoilers, I will say that Kurima does eventually decide to join Usui's group of Revengers, although he is very skeptical of their ideals and function. Each episode, they undertake a bitten coin from some random character and then they set out to kill the target.

It was pretty much a recurrent formula of “now kill this character!”, repeating each week.

However, the show soon began to pick up steam towards the second half, where the plot switches to a giant supply of leftover opium hidden somewhere in Nagasaki, having been stashed away by Matsumine before he had been killed by Kurima, and Usui's group trying to locate it before it can be misused by bad actors to plunge the entire population of Nagasaki into opium addiction.

The show does get very dark at times, talking about addiction, prostitution, slavery, corruption and much much more.

In fact, the main theme of the show, I would say, is betrayal. Matsumine betraying Kurima is not the last time betrayal happens in this show, and you will soon see how much deception is at heart throughout the entire series.

Not only this, but another core motif is Kurima's constant regret and grievance over his dead fiancee, his constant guilt eating at his own sanity and him constantly trying to find a way to deal with it. The show asks whether one who commits a horrible mistake like this can still move on and live with the burden.

And, while it's rare for me to praise a show for its ending, this is one of those cases where, I feel, it is absolutely deserving of the praise. The ending is very emotional and will leave you with a heavy heart.

Yeah, the show has a slow start, but it gets good very fast, especially towards the end. If you're in the mood for a dark but action packed show about a group of people committing assassinations, I will definitely encourage you to give this one a shot.

You will not regret it!

5. Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte

Siegwald hearing voices

From this point on, the shows I'll be talking about weren't really that great.

Buddy Daddies, Spy Classroom, Urusei Yatsura and Revenger were all excellent shows that I would encourage anyone that likes anime to give them a shot.

This show, while it isn't really bad, and it had some pretty satisfying moments, isn't in the same league as them.

So, what's the plot?

Well, it's about two high school students, a former baseball player named Endo and an otome games-obsessed friend of his named Kobayashi, who talk about the latter's sudden interest in one such otome dating game named A Magical Romance.

After Kobayashi convinces Endo to play the game himself, they both become passionate about it.

The game's story is about a female protagonist named Fiene who, despite not having an aristocratic background, has magical powers and, as such, becomes enrolled in an academy for magic where normally only the higher class get to attend.

There, there would be various routes for the player to take with Fiene, getting her to end up dating various male characters in the game, while going against the game's antagonist, the Prince's fiancee named Lieselotte.

As the story of the game progresses, Lieselotte would gradually lose the support of all the characters in the game and, towards the end, will become engulfed by hatred and controlled by a malevolent witch and turned into a monster before getting killed.

Almost all the routes in the game end up with Lieselotte suffering a tragic ending.

After hearing the game's supplementary materials, both Endo and Kobayashi become convinced that Lieselotte is not actually evil, but simply a tsundere who has a hard time expressing her feelings to other characters and just comes across as evil.

One day, while playing the game together, Endo and Kobayashi decide to do play-by-play commentary on the game, as practice since they are part of the broadcasting club, only for a miracle to happen and the Prince of the game, Siegwald, to suddenly become capable of hearing their voices from within the game itself.

Believing the voices to be from the gods, Siegwald decides to obey the voices and listen to their commands.

Surprised at such a thing, Endo and Kobayashi debate over what they should do, before concluding that this is their chance of saving a misunderstood Lieselotte and deciding to use this miracle to help the other characters of the game actually understand Lieselotte's true nature and try to help prevent the latter's tragic demise.

Using Siegwald as their hand, as he's the only character that can hear them, they set out to help Lieselotte find happiness and achieve the ultimate good ending for all the characters in the game.

However, as the game is glitchy and they cannot seem to be able to save their progress, they only get to have one shot at this.

Yeah, so that's the premise of this show.

Yes, the story seems corny, it being about a misunderstood villainess that just wants others to understand her feelings, but the execution of this idea is downright exceptional on all levels.

While I don't care much for otome games, I managed to get surprisingly invested in this game and the characters that inhabit it.

There's a surprisingly impressive level of detail given to the story of the game, with deep backgrounds to the characters, especially to Fiene, and to the politics and monarchy in the story.

It's also very funny seeing Endo and Kobayashi slowly deconstruct Lieselotte's character piece by piece and revealing to Siegwald, her fiance, about the true intentions behind Liese's actions.

As Sieg learns from them what Liese actually means by her words and actions, he falls deeper and deeper in love with her and becomes more supportive of her.

The protagonist of the game, Fiene, also becomes closer and friendlier to Liese, thanks to Endo and Kobayashi's contributions.

At the end, I was surprisingly invested in all of the events in the game, and I was genuinely wishing for all the characters to have a happy ending together.

In all of this, multiple romances will slowly sprout. Siegwald and Lieselotte's relationship will slowly grow more and more as Sieg becomes more aware of his fiancee's true feelings, Fiene will also get to fall in love with another character and, in the background, even Endo and Kobayashi will soon develop feelings for each other, in the real world, as the plot thickens.

Yes, there are multiple romances happening in this show and all of them are really well done.

And if you're worried that the show will never explain why Endo and Kobayashi's voices are heard by characters in the game, don't worry! This will eventually become the focus of the latter episodes, where magic and gods will become involved. No, I'm not kidding!

This show is wild. It's inherently a comedy because the commentators get to dissect a stereotypical tsundere character and reveal to others what she actually means, but it's also got action sequences where you become invested and wish to see everyone get out of harm's way, including Lieselotte.

All in all, this was a decent piece. Yes, it's cheesy and I will say that it went a bit overboard with the happy ending that it had, but it was nonetheless satisfying.

Moreover, I didn't expect some of the plot twists that the show threw our way, especially towards the end.

Essentially, the show is about Lieselotte managing to fight off the negative influence of the witch thanks to the help of those around her, who support her.

As cheesy as that sounds, I liked the execution of this and, I'll even go so far as saying that this was an excellent rendition of a fantasy setting with strong romantic overtones, as well as an endearing tsundere driving the plot.

While I will admit that the cheesy over-the-top style may not be for everybody, I will say that the ending is going to give you a lot of feel-good vibes.

I doubt that this will ever get a season 2, as it's already a very self-contained story by itself but, if it were, I wouldn't mind seeing it!

6. Ningen Fushin: Adventurers Who Don't Believe in Humanity Will Save the World

Agate singing on stage

Time for another fantasy anime (although it's not an isekai, this time). In Labyrinth City, we're introduced to a male orphan teen named Nick, who is leading a happy life as an adventurer. He's part of a team of famous adventurers that are well known for their competency.

Making decent money for himself and also being happy with his girlfriend, Claudine, Nick is living the good life until, one day, he gets kicked out of his team by his mentor, Argus, for seemingly no good reason whatsoever.

Disheartened by this, he then gets dumped by Claudine as well, because, in her eyes, he's now just a regular run-of-the-mill adventurer, without the fame of his team to back him up.

Completely disillusioned by what has happened, Nick is overwhelmed and completely depressed, now that he has been abandoned by all the people that he trusted.

One day, seeing his depressed look, a young teen idol named Agate, sees a sulking Nick passing by and decides to give him a pamphlet to one of her concerts, trying to cheer him up and give him a new direction in life.

Nick, although skeptically, picks her up on her invitation and, soon enough, becomes a regular dedicated fan and starts going to all her idol concerts and buying merchandise from her.

Yes, this is a fantasy anime about dragon people and swords and magic, and yet they also have teen idols there, just like in our world. If you find this off-putting, you're not the only one. But assuming you're willing to suspend your disbelief to still accept this, then you might enjoy the show.

Anyways, because of his newly found otaku hobby, Nick still needs money to afford going to Agate's concerts and maintain his life as a loyal fan of hers.

Seeing how he's going to need a job to keep sustaining this lifestyle, he decides to go back into adventuring. Problem is, he needs a team.

As he's searching for people that will accept him into their party, one day, at an inn, he just so happened to share a table with other people who also have their own share of troubled pasts. After a bit of banter, they each decide to confide in the others about their pasts and how they've all been betrayed one way or another.

One of them is the sorceress Tiana, who had been raised in a rich family and had a natural talent towards magic. However, on a particularly unfortunate day, Tiana had been dumped publicly by her fiance who was envious of her talent and good scores at their academy and this led to her abandoning school and moving out of her parents' house, starting to live on her own and adopting a gambling lifestyle.

Another, the ex-priest Zem, who had lived a peaceful life in a quiet village until, one day, after a very young girl said she loved him and him rejecting her, he was thrown out of the village and his status as a priest had been revoked following false allegations of rape from the said young girl as revenge. Saddened at the fact that he now lost his right to being a priest, he ended up becoming a womanizer who likes to play around and have sex all the time.

Finally, there's the Dragon-girl named Curran, a member of the proud dragon warrior race, who simply tells everyone at their table that someone she had trusted had stolen something from her.

All of them have trust issues, due to having been betrayed by someone from their past, which are causing them problems when trying to find fellow adventurers to make a team with. As they drink together to drown their sorrows, Nick comes up with the idea that, since they all have trouble finding teammates because of their trust issues, they should all form their own team together, instead, one that isn't founded in trust or camaraderie, but merely on convenience for the purposes of making money.

This team will later be named Survivors.

And so, they set out to start going on adventure quests together, to start earning money, each to support their own hobbies: Nick to support his otaku hobby as Agate's fan, Tiana to support her gambling lifestyle, Zen to support meeting with women and Curran to support her gourmand activities.

This is the premise of this show.

By and large, this formula is very simple.

Initially, they will be very distrustful of one another, that's to be expected. They will accuse each other of having ulterior motives but, soon enough, as the story progresses, they will eventually begin to realize that they are all honest with their intentions.

I'll be honest, when this show came out, I was genuinely impressed by it.

It went ahead and portrayed realistic trust issues between people who were rightly disillusioned, and showed how they can learn to trust others again, with time.

It also had some creative ideas, like at some point a sentient magical sword gets introduced that allows any two people to combine their bodies to form an over-powered amalgamation with supercharged powers to defeat enemies, but this is only possible if the two people that combine fully trust one another.

I liked that. As an idea, it might sound a bit cheesy but the execution was well done.

The show also has some good mature life lessons, which I didn't expect to find.

Stuff like, how honest people will never ask for you to trust them but, instead, will devise trust-less systems where you don't need to trust anyone at all, they will work by design, or how one should let go of the past and move forward with their lives, particularly when it comes to people who leech off of you.

These are surprisingly good lessons taught in a surprisingly original and refreshing way.

Overall, I feel like this show had good morals to teach and had nice potential.

Still, it does have some flaws.

Even from the first episode, all the flashbacks where each member revealed how they had been betrayed to each other, I felt like the villains in those flashbacks were a bit too cynical and suspiciously evil.

Like how Argus and Claudine were so cynically unfair to Nick, or how Tiana's fiance decided to not only dump her, but lash out at her and attack her character in front of other people just because of his envy towards her success.

None of these people felt realistic. They felt like selfish assholes with no redeeming quality that simply served as plot devices to get our main characters to have trust issues. In fact, their actions felt so unnaturally evil that I even suspected, for a second, that all those flashbacks were actually fabrications and complete lies, and that Nick, Tiana, Zen and Curran were actually hiding details to make themselves look like they were the ones that had been betrayed, when in fact, they were actually guilty in some way.

Like, maybe Nick did steal gold from his team behind their backs and, when he was discovered, he was thrown out of the party, or maybe Tiana did use money from her family to get unfairly good grades at her academy, or how Zen did actually rape a little girl.

I was half-expecting for this show to actually go that route and slowly reveal that all of these people actually weren't as innocent as they initially played out. And, had this show done that, I would have genuinely liked it way more than I do now.

However, it didn't. It's revealed, at least as of season 1, that they are all good people who just have trust issues, and that's it.

Good people that simply had been betrayed by bad people.

That and, the second half of the first season was boring!

I liked the first half, where it was all about trust issues and how they begin to trust each other slowly.

The second half turned into a detective story about a weird apparition that kidnaps children during the night and moves around by jumping from house rooftop to rooftop, named Stepping Man, and how the Survivors want to catch this man and bring him to justice. And they need to figure out who it really is, as the man is using magic to conceal his face.

Yeah, the second half is a Scooby Doo mystery.

Basically, the show lost steam as it went along, and I dislike that.

I feel like it could have gone better had it kept with the trust issues theme, or maybe even go so far as introducing a romance between the Survivors team members, but I digress.

Ultimately, this isn't a bad show. It's got good life lessons to teach, an interesting take on interpersonal relationships and how people can get over them and, while the second half of it was disappointing to me, the ending felt fulfilling enough as it is.

Will I watch a season 2 of this? Maybe. I feel like I could get something out of a season 2, but whether I would watch one or not will depend on the preview for such a season 2 and whether it convinces me or not.

7. The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague

Fuyutsuki stares at Himuro whose feet are frozen in place

At the beginning of the season, when I was making my list of shows to watch, I had a hard limit for myself. That is, I said to myself that I will only watch at most 10 shows concurrently.

This ended up going down to 9, later on, because, as I said earlier, one of the shows got postponed midway through to April due to unforeseen circumstances but that's besides the point.

When making my list of 10 shows, I wanted to include another romance TV series, just for diversity's sake, and I was stuck between this show and another show on Crunchyroll called Sugar Apple Fairy Tale. Both looked enticing from their previews but I couldn't watch both because, then, I would be watching 11 shows, which was over my limit, so I had to pick only one of these. And, this is the one I picked.

I picked this show rather than Sugar Apple Fairy Tale because, from the preview at least, Sugar looked like it would be the stereotypical young romance story about a pampered woman who is always protected by a boy that's very attractive and reliable but has an abrasive personality, only for them to slowly fall in love with each other.

Honestly I wasn't in the mood for any of that and, because I want for my romance stories to be a bit more mature and, dare I say it, raunchy even, I decided to go for the show that clearly had adult main characters instead, rather than teens. The reason for this was that I hoped for this show to at least go maybe even further than what I expected Sugar Apple Fairy Tale to go.

And, well, I can't say whether that was a good choice for me or not, as I didn't watch Sugar Apple Fairy Tale, so I can't say whether this was a better or worse show than that.

What I can say, though, is that this show was underwhelming.

What's the plot?

Well, in an alternate Japan, a young woman named Fuyutsuki is slowly walking for the first time towards the office of her first job.

She's nervous, naturally, as she has no prior experience as an employee but, while walking through the park towards this office, she sees snowflakes.

This is odd, considering that this is now in spring.

Then, she sees a grown man in a suit, whose feet are literally trapped in a giant block of ice, just standing there.

The man in question is named Himuro and, when questioned by Fuyutsuki how he could end up with his feet frozen like that in broad daylight, during a warm spring, he reveals to her that he is the descendant of a snow woman, a type of Yōkai spirit, and that he has ice powers.

Due to the fact that this is also his first day at his first job, he was so nervous that he lost control over his own ice powers and this is how he became stuck like that.

In an attempt to be helpful, Fuyutsuki offers Himuro a cup of warm tea, which eases his nerves and this allows for the ice around his feet to finally melt so he can walk again.

Himuro is very thankful towards her and even develops a secret crush on her, but they both then decide to go on their merry ways towards their respective jobs.

As luck would have it, and in typical rom-com fashion, it just so happens that they end up working in the exact same office, at the exact same job and in the exact same team as well, along with a human man named Saejima and a woman who's the descendant of a fox spirit (and who has fox ears and a fox tail) named Komori.

Yes, in this alternate Japan, there are some people who are descendants of spirits and who, because of this, inherit powers or physical features which are unusual.

Fuyutsuki learns that Himuro likes flowers and cats but, because of his ice powers going crazy from time to time, he cannot own them because they would just freeze to death, and so she gives him, as a gift, a straw packaging, which can protect flowers from frost, and cat whiskers from Fuyutsuki's own cat, Nyamero, as a good luck charm.

This causes Himuro to fall in love with her.

Yeah so, that's the first episode.

I will admit, I had no idea what to think of this show after watching an episode like that.

On the one hand, the idea of a human woman falling in love with the descendant of a snow woman with literal ice powers, seemed like a cool idea.

The dynamic between Fuyutsuki and Himuro is quite interesting due to the fact that Himuro is the one that has ice powers, and yet he is the very emotional one while Fuyutsuki is always calm and analytical.

On the other hand, though, this is taken to a pretty extreme degree.

Specifically, Himuro acts a bit too giddy whenever Fuyutsuki does anything kind towards him.

Whenever she does anything nice to him, Himuro loses his cool, he has a monologue about how cute or nice she is, blushes profusely and acts like a schoolgirl having a fangirl attack over how amazing her boyfriend is. And keep in mind, this is supposed to be a grown adult man.

I find that to be kind of exaggerated.

That and he also loses control of his powers on the spot and a snow blizzard starts forming around them, even if they're indoors (no, I have no idea how that happens either). Sometimes, even tiny sentient snowmen also instantly pop out of nowhere from his body.

Yeah, it's that kind of show.

Ultimately, this is a workplace romance anime, with Himuro and Fuyutsuki slowly becoming enamored with one another, as well as another relationship also blooming in the background between Saejima and Komori.

I'm going to be upfront and say that I wasn't that particularly invested in these relationships that much. That's because I thought there was very little chemistry between Himuro and Fuyutsuki, at least at first.

That's because everything started with Fuyutsuki just being kind to Himuro, not because she was attracted to him in any way, but just because she tries to be helpful towards others.

So seeing Himuro fall in love with her just because of that felt a bit sheepish and too naive.

But, I kept on watching them go along and, as time went on, their relationship did start to grow on me, thankfully.

The show also takes initiative and does try to go a long way in making them grow closer together, having them experiment by going on a date, having them go to the beach together, exchanging gifts and even, at one point, visiting each other's houses.

And, not only that, but it does feel a bit realistic. The date that they go on doesn't even go well, as they are both very quiet and awkward, the show heavily hinting that this is the first date they've ever had in their lives.

Also, there are points of distress, particularly when Himuro's powers backfire on him and cause problems, such as when the heat from going to the beach causes his body to melt (I won't go into details on what that means; suffice it to say, it's probably not what you're thinking it is). At such occasions, Fuyutsuki goes out of her way to support Himuro and help him as best as she can.

However, as charming as all these events are and as cutesy as this anime tries to be, I will say, it is still underwhelming.

The show ends on a low note, with nothing particularly amazing happening and with an ambiguous “will they or won't they?” kind of ending, which I find boring.

They never did commit to a serious relationship, nor did they even confess, and I find that disheartening.

The entire reason why I picked this show over Sugar Apple Fairy Tale was because I hoped it would go further than most other romance TV series and push some boundaries along the way, beyond them just holding hands.

And to my disappointment, it didn't.

Granted, I know that many would argue that sex is a bit too hardcore for these types of shows (even though I heavily disagree with that), but is expecting a kiss too much to ask for? Or at least them deciding to make it formal and confess to one another?

Look, I'm really not asking for much. Just some type of commitment that at least teases towards something more interesting than “maybe they will end together, eventually!”.

I get it that this is an adaptation from a manga, and romance mangas are infamously known to be very slow with the progression of their relationships, to the point that most describe such relationships as “glacial”.

This makes sense to be this way, as manga is the author's entire livelihood and if they make their characters simply end up in a relationship too fast after only a couple of volumes are out, then they will have to inevitably start drawing a brand new story in a brand new manga with brand new characters afterwards, just so they can keep making an income to pay their bills. In such situations, I can see why the authors would prolong the romance story for as much as possible, to squeeze as much money as they can from their own work.

But, I'm sorry, if Call of the Night could do this better, even though that was also an adaptation of a romance manga, then I expect for this show to be able to do that too.

Call of the Night went beyond what my expectations were and it just ran full steam with its romance, without holding anything back (aside from them having sex, which didn't happen yet). And despite doing this, it still had a satisfying ending where the main couple ended up going a significant step forward, leaving the audience with a sweet taste in their mouth and with a definitive “yes, they are now a couple” ending for season 1.

This show didn't do that. This show just left us on a boring “maybe one day” type of ending, that only serves as an ad for the manga it's adapting, as I doubt this will ever get a season 2 as well.

If I knew this was the type of ending I would get, I probably would have went with Sugar Apple Fairy Tale instead.

But, still, do I regret watching this? No. It was a fun experience, with fun characters and some neat ideas. The romance was very slow and it was more about teasing us at what can happen rather than what does end up happening but still, I wouldn't say it was a bad watch. And I can easily see people getting into this.

Will I watch another season of this, if one ever gets produced? I doubt it.

Season 1 left me hanging enough that I decided I probably will drop this story for good. But hey, don't let me stop you from watching if this sounds like the type of story you'd be into. Go ahead and watch it!

8. Giant Beasts of Ars

A super-soldier facing off against a giant beast

Well, I guess I should give my thoughts on this show as well.

Honestly, out of all the series I've watched this season, apart from Lee's Detective Agency, this was the most underwhelming.

The plot is fairly simple.

In the world of Ars, a war has been going on for decades between the various human races across the land and giant, mindless monsters that attack their cities.

To defend themselves from these attacks, warriors with great stamina known as Paladins, who partner with beings with magical powers known as Mages, combine their bodies to form super-powered soldiers with great speed and endurance, as they defeat the beasts by attacking their weak spots.

One day, a young girl named Kumi manages to escape from a secret laboratory where she had been experimented on and, as she flees into a nearby city to evade her captors, encounters a jaded and grumpy fisherman named Jiro.

As the two try to figure out what to do and whether Jiro wants to have anything to do with her, a giant beast attacks their city.

It is then revealed that Jiro was actually a Paladin in his past and Kumi is actually a mage as well.

In order to survive, the two form a pact to combine, and they merge their bodies into one to defeat the beast.

After this is done, Kumi decides to leave the city before her captors catch wind of her presence there. Jiro gets caught up with her against his will and, together, they are forced to flee the city.

Now, along with a strange supporting character named Mya, they embark on a flying ship and start traveling across the country, meeting new characters along the way and talking to the different species of folks in that country, as they try to figure out what to do with Kumi.

Sadly, the head of the lab that was experimenting on Kumi, Mezami, is on their tail, trying to get his prototype back.

In the process, Jiro and his gang will slowly discover about a secret plan by the empire to destroy the other races of that land, as well as a prophecy that will bring about the end of the world.

Well, that's the story of the show.

Honestly, I can easily see people talk about this show like it's a hidden gem and, in the upcoming future, looking back at this as a cult classic that only the very select anime fans know about.

The story is interesting, the characters are colorful and the plot twists are suspenseful.

Not only that, but there's a lot of world building in this show. There are talks about the empire governing that country, about all the different races on that land, their customs, their relationships with each other, their histories and so much more.

In fact, there's so much world building in this show that, I'd argue, this backfires against it. This is a prime example of how too much world building can seriously slow the plot progression to a crawl.

My main issue with this show is how slow it is. This is a story about traveling, how our main characters go from town to town to escape pursuit, only to find new characters there that will help them.

While this is fine in itself, it takes a really long time for the show to become interesting and make me feel like it's going anywhere important.

In fact, halfway through, I was seriously considering dropping it, I was so disinterested in these characters and their journey.

I stuck with it, in the end, and while the show did improve towards the end, it was still a chore to go through it all the way and, I'd even argue, it wasn't worth the payoff.

While it did try to add a bit of interesting drama towards the end, it just was too little too late for me to really care about it.

And a plot point about a certain character dying towards the end and how tragic that will be was suddenly and abruptly abandoned before it could go anywhere.

Basically, the show cheapened out and didn't deliver on anything.

Suffice it to say, I was unimpressed.

While I'm sure that many would argue that this is a hidden gem, I will personally disagree and call it a bore.

Granted, I can see this becoming an impressive work if they expand upon this world and continue the story into a season 2, but that's a lot to ask for and I sincerely doubt a season 2 of this will ever appear.

If one does appear, sure, I'll consider watching it.

This is one of those shows that can only shine if and when it gets explored across multiple seasons that show off the world and the characters in depth. As it stands, for now, though, it's just not enough for me to give it much credit.

Season 1 just didn't have enough time to give us an in-depth look into their world, and it didn't have enough time to tell an interesting engaging story either. It ended up trying to do both but, in the process, didn't do either well.

I simply cannot in good faith recommend this show but, if what you read sounds interesting, then you'll probably like it.

Also, if you want to see a romance story between Jiro and Kumi, don't bother! There's little to no romance in this show. Their relationship does improve over time, but it remains platonic, at least as of season 1.

9. Lee's Detective Agency

Lee's Agency Cast

I'll be honest, I didn't really want to watch this show after I saw its preview. The only reason I did decide to pick it up was because I had already watched Arknights: PRELUDE TO DAWN last season and, from what I read from the synopsis and on the web, supposedly, this show takes place in the same universe as that. While I wasn't that much of a big fan of Arknights, I did like it enough to consider it a decent show. The production quality for it was very impressive, but the plot was average, at best. Regardless, I chose to go ahead and consider watching a second season. When I read that this takes place in the same universe, I decided to give it a shot as well, because I wanted to discover more about that world and its characters.

And, well, while I did get what I wanted, I can say that it felt extremely underwhelming.

First, to make this very clear, this show's first (and so far, only) season has only 6 episodes, much like Arknights as well.

This isn't a problem, per se, as you can fit enough of a story in just 6 episodes, if need be, and this is just proof of that.

Second, unlike Arknights, this series has short episodes. Each episode is only 10 minutes long, so if you wanted to, you could finish the entire first season in just one hour, if you watched all the episodes back to back.

I'm not 100% sure that Arknight fans would like this series, though.

Arknights was a mobile tactical game that had its story adapted into an anime.

With this, I can only assume that this is a different game from the same development company that also got an anime adaptation.

For whatever reason, the development company decided to merge the two games' stories into the same universe.

But, before I go any further, I need to explain what this show is about.

The show focuses around the lives of Lee, Aak, Hung and Waai Fu, who, together, are employed at what's known as Lee's Detective Agency.

This is an agency in Lungmen, where these characters try to solve various conflicts and altercations, usually involving what's known as the Cat Mafia.

If you're wondering why it's called the Cat Mafia, it's because it's a mafia, in Lungmen, that's comprised of anthropomorphic cats.

Yes, in case you forgot, the Arknights universe features people with animal characteristics on their bodies; the Cat Mafia being one example of this.

The first episode of the show deals with a young man named Jaye, who works as an apprentice at a fish shop in the middle of the city. One day, this boy appears to be abducted by a crowd of people passing by the shop and, the shop owner, who was a witness, concerned for his well being, contacts Lee's Agency to look into his disappearance.

When shown pictures of people from the Cat Mafia, the boss believes that they may be the culprit behind Jaye's disappearance, which leads the agency to suspect that this might be their doing.

The episode then goes on showing Waai Fu, as she tries to take matters into her own hands, and track the culprits down.

Yeah, that's the plot.

The Cat Mafia are the stereotypical bad guys of this show. They end up causing a lot of trouble for Lee's Agency, mainly because the agency is involved in cases where they uncover the mafia's underground dealings and they have a vendetta against them.

It's important to note, though, that the mafia isn't always the bad guy of the episode.

There are episodes where there isn't any bad guy, or the bad guy isn't who you think it is.

The show has very light detective tones, although it's mostly just comedy and characters engaging in wacky antics.

The minimalist art style is a very odd decision, to me. While it does have a touch of an anime aesthetic to it, the overly simplified character designs are a bit too cartoon-ish at times, which makes it difficult to take the show too seriously.

Then again, this might be a fitting decision, as the show itself is tangentially light hearted and comedy-focused. It never becomes too dark and it has the feel of a kids' cartoon more than anything else.

My complaint is that, this is supposed to take place in the same universe as Arknights, a very sober and military-focused TV series with tragic undertones.

And yet, despite sharing the same universe as that, this show has almost no resemblance to it at all. Arknights was dark and broody, whereas Lee is very light hearted and cartoony. This makes for a very jarring disconnection between the two.

Moreover, the connections between the two shows are very sparse.

I don't remember seeing any character from Arknights make a cameo in this show. And Oripathy, which is a serious illness that played a very big role in Arknights, gets only one mention in Lee's Detective Agency.

Ultimately, these two shows may share the same universe, but they are only marginally related to each other, plot-wise.

While this makes the show its own thing and stand on its own legs, the fact of the matter is that, if you want to watch this show because you liked Arknights, just like me, you'll be very disappointed in how little the two shows have to do with each other.

But, if I were to judge it on its own merit, even then, the show is quite mediocre.

It doesn't really have an overarching plot with a beginning, middle and end.

The series is just a bunch of episodes, each containing a case involving the agency, that may or may not be related to the Cat Mafia, and how the agency deals with it.

One episode is about a VIP that asks for the agency to protect his money in case the mafia were to kill him (spoiler alert: he does get killed), another is about an old friend of one of the detectives at the agency making a sudden appearance, and another episode is about the Cat Mafia abducting one of the agency's members.

Again, there's no plot connecting all these episodes. They just depict various cases that involve this agency.

If you're in the mood for a TV show that follows the lives of detectives of a particular agency in Lungmen, then be my guest and give this a try!

Just don't get your hopes too high. The show isn't very deep, nor complex, and the amount of thinking the audience has to do to follow the plot lines of the episodes is quite minimal.

But, this also makes it very accessible for children as well, as nothing in this show feels like it was geared towards adults. Basically, this is a family friendly series.

Personally, I won't be watching a season 2 of this if it ever comes out. But I can easily see how others can end up liking this.

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