Spring 2023 Mid-Season Rankings

DAMN, this is good anime season. Unlike Winter, where I made a picked up a few dodgy, middling series, so far everything I’m watching this Spring is at least ‘good’. Here’s my full lineup, and what I think about them, starting with an unexpected title in last place:

13: Ousama Ranking: Yuuki no Takarabako

A spin-off rather than a sequel, made up of short side stories set part way through Bojji and Kage’s adventures in the main series. The first episode started with Kage trying to track down a rare mushroom for Despa, while in second half Bojji and Kage took on jobs to raise money, again for the demanding Despa.

The animation + music remain top notch, and it’s great to see more of the world of Ousama Ranking and its lovable characters… but most of these shorts so far have had very basic plotlines (with the exception of Ouken’s backstory which was superb). Enjoyable, easy viewing, but the format doesn’t excite me, and it has not been the potential AOTS I was expecting.

12: Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story S2

Time for more of my favourite hyper realistic golf anime~ S2 continued straight on from where S1 left off, which was literally in the middle of a tournament – no closure then, no recap now! A bit disorienting, especially since this sequel aired way later than planned. Glad they kept the original opening theme, though!

So far this season, we’ve had new abilities unlocked, old memories unlocked, tons of family drama, and a brief return to the shady underground golf world of Nafrece that got me hooked to begin with. Aoi and Eve have separated again to focus on going pro, no doubt to reunite later in the season for a dramatic finale. Highly enjoyable trash.

11: Dead Mount Death Play

In a fantasy land, a powerful necromancer casts a spell, moments before being killed by the Hero. Shortly afterwards, he awakes in a modern Japan, in a new body with a wound that ordinarily would be fatal. Memories return in flashes: he knows this body belongs to a boy named Shinoyama Polka, but most other things are a disorienting mystery. With no obvious way of returning home, will he be able to carve out his dream of a peaceful life in this new world instead?

Reincarnation, reverse isekai, and an overpowered main character. Ordinarily, I wouldn’t touch this with a barge pole, but since original creator Ryogo Narita also wrote Baccano! and Durarara!! (whose anime adaptations are two of my all-time favourite series), I had to give it a chance. Mixed thoughts so far – it has the usual big cast of wacky and powerful characters that I expect from the author, but there’s not much of a central story yet.

10: Mashle

In a world where the ability to wield magic determines a person’s social status, Mash Burnedead has no magic at all. He lives in hiding with his father, training his body for self-defence purposes… until one day, when the allure of the city’s shu cream stalls becomes too much. The magic police track Mash back to his home – and he quickly defeats them, using muscle power to deflect their spells! They eventually strike a deal: To protect his father, Mash must enrol in a magical school, and rise to be its #1 pupil.

Another overpowered protagonist, though this time it’s blatantly for comedy purposes – this is the magic school equivalent of One-Punch Man. I say ‘magic school’, but I didn’t realize going into it how much it would derive specifically from Harry Potter, from the character designs and uniforms, to the houses and broom sports, and even the format of the episode titles. Awkward, but as long as it isn’t actually supporting JKR, I can live with it. Characters are a lot of fun, and the central gag hasn’t gotten old *yet*.

9: Edomae Elf

400 years ago, an elf named Elda was summoned from another world, and enshrined as a goddess in the Takamimi shrine. And she’s still there in the present day, unaging – though she’s now a complete recluse after someone mocked her ears, and spends her time drinking Red Bull, playing console games and assembling plastic models! As a shrine maiden, schoolgirl Koganei Koito’s duty is to cater to the elf’s whims, while also ensuring that she doesn’t shirk her ceremonial duties.

As usual, my lineup is full of action, so I needed at least one fluffy slice of life series to provide some variation. I was drawn to Edomae Elf because of the series’ logo, and Elda’s awkward smile. Highly enjoyable so far, with interesting facts (and humour) about the Edo period. And the incredible detail in the art and animation really makes it stand out.

8: Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury – Part 2

After the way the first part ended, I was surprised to see this jump straight back (well, after a few quick duel montages, anyway) into happy school fun time, with the Plant Quetta attack completely covered up. But the two new transfer students didn’t play nice for long… as expected, Part 2 is already a lot darker.

The revelations keep on coming – who/what Aerial is, who/what Suletta Mercury is, and Prospera’s end goals. Suletta’s relationship with Miorine is still a mess, and Happy Birthday continues to be a cursed song in this series. I’ll admit, sometimes the politics and business side goes over my head slightly, but that doesn’t limit my enjoyment of the character drama and flashy mech action.

7: Kimi wa Houkago Insomnia

Nakami Ganta suffers from insomnia, spending most nights wide awake in bed, and most days sleepy, impacting his school life. One day, he is sent into the school’s old observatory, now just a storage room, to fetch some boxes… and stumbles across a girl sleeping there. She is his classmate, Magari Isaki, who also suffers from insomnia, and uses the observatory as a hideout for quiet naps. The two quickly bond over their shared issues, and arrange to meet up and spend time together after dark.

As voted for by my blog readers, thank you again to everyone who took part! I love the series’ atmosphere and tone, the chill night time scenes, and the focus on photography and astronomy. Ganta and Isaki are adorable. Also, this series has some great cats! ❤ Still, there’s more than a few hints that things won’t remain so positive – I’m predicting this could be a real tear-jerker.

6: Jigokuraku

Gabimaru is a skilled shinobi, who was betrayed by his village chief. He now faces the death penalty, but is desperate to survive, and to return to his wife. Rather than killing him, executioner Yamada Asaemon Sagiri offers Gabimaru the chance of a full pardon from the shogun – all he has to do is travel to the land of Shinsenkyo, from which nobody has returned alive, and bring back the Elixir of Life. And he’ll be competing with a bunch of other dangerous criminals, looking to take up the same offer!

MAPPA’s latest big budget shounen action series has a simple base plot, albeit with some mystery in the form of Shinsenkyo itself and its terrifying inhabitants. I wasn’t expecting so many characters to be killed off so quickly, though! It also has some of the best action scenes of the season by far, as expected.

5: My Home Hero

Tosu Tetsuo is a regular salaryman, whose adult daughter Reika is in an abusive relationship. Concerned for her, Tetsuo visits her house uninvited – and her boyfriend shows up. While hidden in the closet, Tetsuo overhears the man talking on the phone about how he’s only in the relationship for Reika’s inheritance, and bragging about women he’s killed in the past… so Tetsuo takes him by surprise, and kills him. Trouble is, the (ex)boyfriend has close ties to a dangerous gang, who’re now watching the family closely.

My Home Hero has by far the most original, and most exciting plot of the season; I love the husband-wife duo of Tetsuo and Kasen. It also has low production values, the worst animation quality of anything I’m watching this season, and some of the developments are hard to take seriously. Still, the thrill and suspense each week more than make up for the downsides.

4: Dr. Stone: New World

Senkuu and his companions continue to bring modern technology back to their post-apocalyptic stone age world – their current goal is to travel to the other side of the planet, to learn more about the petrifying beam that destroyed their past civilisation. But on top of building a ship to get there, they need to develop non-perishable food for the journey. Let the agricultural revolution begin, once again!

The first series of Dr. Stone really appealed to me, with its heavy focus on science and resource gathering, taking longer to make small steps along Senkuu’s tech tree. Now that they have a bunch of raw materials and machinery though, he can churn out multiple inventions per episode, taking away some of the charm. Still, I prefer New World’s exploration to Stone Wars’ combat so far. The characters are hilarious, and following the introduction of the mysterious ‘Why-Man’, the plot is escalating quickly!

3: Oshi no Ko

Goro is a doctor, and a huge fan of the idol Ai-chan. He unexpectedly meets his idol, when she shows up at his hospital pregnant with twins! Despite this being kept secret, a crazed stalker somehow tracks Ai down; Goro gets into a conflict with the man, and is killed. But thanks to the magic of anime, he is soon reincarnated – as one of Ai’s babies! And his new sister is the reincarnation of the terminally ill girl who first introduced him to Ai, Sarina.

I wasn’t sold on the feature-length first episode (reincarnation and idols aren’t my thing), and mostly stuck with it out of sunk-cost fallacy. Though, I’m glad they used that to speed though the twins’ early second childhood years, as I definitely couldn’t have stomached multiple weeks of 2-4 year olds walking around talking like adults! Since then however, it has risen rapidly up my rankings, with its intriguing mystery and incredibly dark look at the entertainment industry. I can see what the hype was about!

2: Tengoku Daimakyou

This series focuses on two different groups of characters; first, a young boy named Maru and his bodyguard Kiruko, who travel a crumbling post-apocalyptic Japan, in search of a place called ‘Heaven’. Second, a girl named Tokio (almost identical in appearance to Maru), who lives in a sterile, enclosed facility with several other children, and who is curious about the rumoured outside world.

The first Spring 2023 series to air, and the first one I watched – instantly hooked. While other series in my lineup have their strengths and weaknesses, Tengoku Daimakyou just feels like such an all-round brilliant show, with great story and character development, exploration, mystery, action and adventure. Production I.G have knocked it out of the park. I guess its only drawback is that it airs on Disney+, which may explain why it’s fallen under a lot of people’s radars.

1: Vinland Saga S2

But, not even Tengoku Daimakyou can compete with Vinland Saga! The action is back, and it has been brutal. Starting from Gardar’s sudden appearance, and now moving on to a full on battle against King Canute’s forces, Ketil’s farm is certainly not the peaceful place it was a few weeks ago. As before, I’ll keep my thoughts on the sole continuing series short – I honestly don’t have much to say about this series other than praise, anyway.

One Response to Spring 2023 Mid-Season Rankings

  1. Dawnstorm says:

    I agree with everything about Ranking of Kings. It’s a bit pointless, but Ouken’s backstory was worth it. It’s also still fun to watch, but it can be a bit sappy at times. Feels like fanfic, sometimes, too.

    Birdie Wing’s as fun as the first season, with the caveat that the novelty’s worn off. Glad to have it back, though.

    I quite like Dead Mount Death Play. I wasn’t sold on its first episode, but it drew me in, and now it’s near the top of the mid tier for me. I actually like it better than both Tengoku and Jigoku (I just had to type it like this), something I didn’t expect. It’s probably because I’m a sucker for meandering multi-character stories.

    Mashle has also grown on me, but not quite as much. Some of it is quite funny, nothing really annoys me, and it never quite becomes boring.

    I’m quite fond of Edomae Elf, another show I didn’t expect to like much after the trailer. Ami Koshimizu as Elda may be my favourite voice acting performance this season.

    I also quite like the Insomniacs, but I’m a bit wary of the pending drama. I’m not sure I want to see it in this show; the characterisation doesn’t convince me enough. It works much better as slice-of-life with scenery porn, for me. (For what it’s worth, the best show won the poll, I think. Kawaisugui Crisis, the one I picked, ends up the weakest for me, though the cats are cute and make the show worth it. The humour is hit and miss. And Yusha ga Shinda is a rather rote trash-character comedy. I think I prefer the One-hit Kill Nee-san anime, though it’s not obvious, and I’d miss neither show should they be cancelled.)

    I, too, didn’t expect Jigokuraku to kill off so many people so fast. Very interesting setting, and pretty good characters. I suppose I agree the action’s good, but that’s never been a priority for me. Still, it entertains me every week.

    Oshi no Ko… I can never quite decide how much I enjoy this. It’s definitely its own thing, and I’d agree it got better after the premier. Beyond that, I’m a little confused by the show, and I don’t quite know why.

    Tengoku Daimakyou I should like more than I do. I do like it, and it sort of fits nicely into the Kaina/Hikari no Ou slot. I do want to know what’s going on, but I don’t really click with the characters.

    Vinland Saga is Vinland Saga. Only thing that put a damper on my enjoyment was that Gardar took too bloody long to die. That was way to drawn out; you’d think the show’s been about him all along… Other than that, great showing as usual. And if there’s a third season, they might actually get to Vinland.

    Also, Golden Kamui has returned. The break didn’t do me any favours; I had some trouble re-adjusting – though once I remembered what’s been going on it was great as always.

    Beyond that, I’m glad to have Mahoutsukai no Yome back, and my undisputed favourite show this season is Skip to Loafer: likable Dorks directed by Kotomi Deai at PA Works. This couldn’t possibly have gone wrong. Love the show to bits. In fact, this is probably my second favourite PA Works show (after the Eccentric Family).

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