Winter Anime Lineup’s Top 3, and other shows to watch, 2023.

Christmas and the new year may have come and gone and we’re all cracking into this Year of the Rabbit, 2023.  But by the naming conventions of the Japanese as well as the bitter cold that we still contend with as we go outdoors, Winter is still here.  So by that note, here’s a few choice features that among this season’s releases of the Anime industry, are sure to keep us amused, able to escape, be drawn into contemplation, but always entertained so long as your tastes are right.

1.  Vinland Saga Season 2.

2019 may have been the best year in modern anime for several reasons, each of the different titles for their time of the year weaving together stories so vastly different from each other, but each of them an important expression of storytelling.  And it remains true, that not all of these stories are for the faint of heart or for children.  Last but not least among them was the tale of Vinland Saga, where one thousand years ago from our own day in the Seinen genre, the boy Thorfinn goes out into the world dreaming of adventure and being like his father.  From there all boyhood dreams end, however, and the harsh realities of life in the Viking Age robs him of innocence, swallows him in brutality and a will for only revenge.  It must be imparted, watch the first season if you have not already.  Then you can watch in full appreciation, the story of the boy Thorfinn now grown, seeking something that no simple Shonen story can give you; peace from the suffering of life, and peace from the personal demon of his own capacity to violence.

2.  Tomo-Chan is a Girl!

The developments within the idea of a Romance/Relationship Anime has been wildly creative over the past few years, and has shown us despite the hallmarks that there are indeed many different kinds of young men and women out there, and that the games of courtship they engage in are not only humorous for others watching, but a lot of the time an exercise in the couple figuring out each other’s intentions, and themselves.  Tomo Aizawa knows who she is; a fighting righteous Tomboy.  And yet even after confessing to her childhood friend Junichiro Kubota of her feelings for him, he’s more dense than two planks and doesn’t register that she’s a young woman!  Such is the premise of this hopeful heartwarmer and new contender of the relationship anime scene.

3.  Ningen Fushin: Adventurers who don’t Believe in Humanity Will Save The World

Fantasy has been illustriously done to death as a setting, unfortunately.  Over the course of several generations of human life, we have seen every derivation of a concept from it being played straight, to being played for comedy, to it being played as a subversion.  We are inundated as Anime viewers with an oversaturated market of the Fantasy Genre, and it is a far cry from the definitive Magnificence of Tolkien.  We have lost that essential magic in so many narratives that the meaning can get lost.  So, why would there be merit in suggesting that you watch another one for this season?  Ningen Fushin tries a simple premise that is often overlooked by modern storytelling.  Learning to take on life again, after you’ve been let down by those around you.  Four Adventurers of different abilities and backgrounds, despite being burned by people they used to trust, pick themselves up despite the difficulty, and come to terms with trusting each other to try and find some common ground.  Its just the story you’d want to watch, to see some positivity in the world.

Honourable Mentions
Junji Ito’s Maniac.  A grand little work of abject horror from the famously gifted Horror Manga author himself, up on Netflix.

In/Spectre Season 2.  A young woman who can literally see folkloric spirits of Japanese Culture, continues on investigating a large case of paranormally based murders disturbing even the denizens of that hidden world.  She’s also chasing after this invincible and immortal love interest of hers, but even as he’s with her he’s got the issues of an ex partner still plaguing him!  Some more investigative prowess and a psychological battle of wills in that crime show style!

My Hero Academia, Season 6 Part 2.  If you’ve been keeping watch, the beat by beats of this popular Shonen Anime has hit that point of seriousness in its narrative where the heroes are beginning to struggle, and the battle between Good and Evil has revealed the sense of totalitarianism that the key Villain All for One expresses.  The stakes have never been higher.

Don’t Toy with me, Miss Nagatoro!  Season 2.  She’s back, and she’s tormenting our boy once again.  The budding relationship between a teasing girl and the geek she’s set her sights on continues.

by Karl English

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