John’s Picks for the Best TV Anime of 2023 – AnimeNation Anime News Blog

The number of new anime series created for Japanese television broadcasts has steadily increased year after year since the inception of modern television anime sixty years ago. However, with 2023 being one of the most prolific years of anime airing ever, it wasn’t one of the best years of new anime in history. By my rough count, 2017 and 2018 both produced 249 new television and web anime. In 2023, I estimate that 232 new series and specials will be released. Excluding ongoing seasons with ongoing episode numbers, and excluding re-releases, including the episodic television broadcasts of the Kaguya-sama wa Kokurasetai And Kidou Senshi Gundam: Senkou no Hathaway feature films, I was lucky enough to watch at least one episode of 230 of this year’s new titles. The two I skipped were Shingeki no Kyojin: The Final Season Kanketsu-hen And Bleach: Sennen Kessen-hen -Ketsubetsu-tan-.

For a little technical reference I have the Tokyo Revengers: Tenjiku Chicken special to be part of the second season of “Seiya Kessen-duivin”. And according to the official Japanese homepage, Arknights: Reimei Zensou And Arknights: Fuyukomori Kaerimichi are one collective series.

Furthermore, any year that has more than five shows technically has a “top five,” but excluding shows just because they default to the rankings isn’t a very useful measure of quality. In my admittedly subjective opinion, only three “new” anime series that premiered in 2023 rise to the level of notable excellence. Then a number of titles deserve recognition as strong contenders.

In today’s era, many of the light novels and manga that get anime adaptations feel like they were created as a crutch: opportunities for new writers to break into the profession or to keep professional creators relevant. Stories that feel like they exist are rare because the author was forced to share a unique vision. Manga by writer Kanehito Yamada Sousou after freezing could be called just another sword and sorcery story, but this neglect ignores the story’s charming uniqueness. The currently ongoing TV adaptation of Madhouse looks beautiful and is well animated, but so do many other anime series. ‘World-building’ has come into fashion as a primary criterion for literary criticism, but this criterion is often incorrectly applied. Aside from biographies and documentaries, all fictional stories build a world because all stories require some setting. The Sousou after freezing anime depicts a world that not only hints at its history, but also feels like it has history. Crumbling ancient ruins are merely scenery, not world-building. The Sousou after freezing The story contains countless small details and references that evoke the feeling of a world that has lived, grown, developed and changed over a millennium. The world doesn’t feel like a convenient fantasy setting; it feels like a living world. More importantly, the characters in the world feel dynamic. While episodes 8 through 10 in particular are filled with breathtaking, thrilling action, the show is at its heart a character study that focuses on the subtle ways in which experiences and camaraderie influence and change the characters’ personalities. Unlike so many contemporary anime series that feel random and spontaneous, Sousou after freezing is thoughtfully and purposefully planned. Every moment, every event serves a purpose. The anime feels like a refreshing breath of fresh air as it feels like a story that wants to be told rather than one that exists to popularize itself and sell merchandise.

Kusuriya no Hitorigoto is comparable with Sousou after freezing in many different ways. Also an ongoing series from late 2023, the first half of the show alone promises enough integrity to make it worthwhile. Set in a fictional ancient China, this royal palace drama is set in a society of manners, dignity and formality. The main character survives through her humor and intelligence. Likewise, the show itself relies on the audience’s intelligence. The show’s exposition often lies in what isn’t said out loud. The characters, and by extension the viewing audience, interpret the show’s plot developments by examining the characters’ actions and expressions, by interpreting what they say and what they remain silent. The series has a playful cynicism not often seen in anime, so paying attention to the show, its characterizations, and its relationships makes the viewing experience worthwhile. The show’s editing is a bit choppy at times, sometimes forcing viewers to fill in narrative gaps on their own, but the minor errors seem almost intentional, reminding viewers to be as perceptive as the main character.

Recognizing the Kimetsu no Yaiba: Katanakaji no Sato-hen season, excluding the comparable second season of Jujutsu Kaisen may seem strange, but Demon Slayer’s official site recognizes the “Swordsmith Village arc” as a standalone series, while the Jujutsu Kaisen homepage identifies the TV anime as one ongoing series. Moreover, narrative Kimetsu no Yaiba: Katanakaji no Sato-hen is a stronger narrative package than the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen is. Admittedly, both series introduced plot developments in 2023 that felt artificial and manipulated to usher in further drama into the stories. But ‘Swordsmith Village arc’ delivers a more sincere, emotional and less manipulative, action-packed story than Jujutsu Kaisen season two, which feels like it exists solely to increase shock value and lay the groundwork for future storylines. If you want to showcase the heights of today’s shounen fantasy anime, the Demon Slayer: Swordsmith Village miniseries is an ideal example.

I think a handful of additional anime from 2023 deserve some recognition and admiration.

The first season of Hikari no Ouco-adapted by Mamoru Oshii, directed by veteran animator Junji Nishimura, with character design by Blood: the last vampire animation director Kazuchika Kise, and score composed by Kenji Kawai, has a luminous production staff. Furthermore, despite being animated by the relatively mainstream studio Signal.MD, probably no other new anime airing this year looks or feels more esoteric and independent, including even Ikimono-san. Despite a great pedigree and promise, the first season of Hikari no Ou is almost incomprehensible. The story reveals itself slowly. Furthermore, the exposition is so heavily steeped in the show’s own mythology and lore that it’s often difficult to fully understand what the characters are talking about. The show is notable for being so unique, but that esoteric uniqueness is also a weakness as well.

Dead Mount Death game is also almost unbelievably complicated. To its great credit, however, the show mostly manages to keep its juggling plot threads coherent. The show’s bizarre mysteries and large cast of even more bizarre characters keep the show unpredictable and exciting. However, it is inevitable that with a story this complex, some of the smaller storylines are left unexplained.

Oshi no Ko starts as one story. Then it reaches a shocking climax that promises a compelling mystery. Then the next ten episodes struggle to deliver on that initial promise. Episode 6 gained some notoriety for its brutal cynicism, but the episode is merely a variation on the earlier film Perfect blueand despite the episode’s strength, it touches on the primary storyline. Oshi no Ko it looks vibrant everywhere. And it occasionally remembers to develop its central conceit, but unfortunately the show mostly fails to live up to its potential.

In the same way, Watashi no Shiawase na Kekkon looks absolutely beautiful and the show has a very immersive atmosphere. But unfortunately, the characterizations and especially the story development in the second half of the show are so stilted and artificial that the series never feels convincing or satisfying.

The short one Uma Musume: Way to the top web miniseries and the third season of the TV series are both very satisfying, but after the amazing and heartbreaking second season, pretty much anything else would struggle to measure up.

I hope I can be forgiven for lumping a few more titles together. Lv1 Maou to One Room Yuusha is a very fun sly satire that pays tribute to the tone of anime from twenty or more years ago. Jigokuraku is practically the second version of Kimetsu no Yaiba: Katanakaji no Sato-hen. The show is visually inventive. It’s also needlessly violent; however, it feels rather unsatisfying. Continue to Loafer competes with many of the better shoujo anime of the past, but by design doesn’t try to outdo them in emotional resonance or story depth. The ongoing Shangri-la border is energetic and fun, but it also feels like it often just spins in place and doesn’t progress the story when it could and should.

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