Since the winter season’s been in full swing for several weeks, everyone’s likely chosen what anime they want to watch from the seasonal pool of shows. We’ve got all of these Great Winter Anime this season, and honestly it’s probably one of the best Winter seasons we’ve had in recent years. It may be so good, though, that narrowing down what shows to watch can be a huge issue, as it has been for us at The Backloggers.
Well, that’s where the Seasonal Showcase comes in! Perhaps you’re looking for some hidden gems or overlooked shows from this season, or maybe you’re just trying to find a new interesting show to try? In either case, you’ve come to the right section of Anime Town™, where I discuss some of the dark horse picks of the season that are interesting in their own way and may be worth a second (or perhaps first) shot. Anyway, let’s jump right into it!
BOFURI: I Don’t Want to Get Hurt, so I’ll Max Out My Defense.
Not to be confused with the other anime that recently aired about a particular shield-wielding protagonist.
If you’ve been in the loop of seasonal anime, you’ve likely seen this wacky show about a high school girl that’s playing a VRMMORPG for the first time and made the age-old mistake of putting all of her points into one stat. While that is something that our main character Maple thinks is a good idea, the creators of this show have taken a different approach to balance out the show’s stats, ultimately creating an anime series that was surprisingly enjoyable in all categories since episode 1. The concept might be dreadfully overused by this point, but the execution and unique angle of this show is what’s causing this show to make a mark into the oversaturated market of this genre of anime.
Some worries about this show at first glance might be that in this age of isekai and MMO anime, the “absolutely OP protagonist” may make the story rather predictable or create situations where the show has to rely on unnecessary drama to create an interesting show. However, BOFURI has managed to blend the VRMMORPG aspects into the writing so well that it not only seems like this is a living and breathing game universe, but also allows the anime to focus on its more striking qualities such as it’s fluid and well-choreographed battle scenes or the prominent comradery between Maple and Sally. It becomes a cute slice-of-life story about a girl and her friends being complete idiots together, and just enjoying the game for what it has to offer. It’s arguably one of the better game-based anime to come out in a while, and it’s not fair to compare BOFURI to ones of the past, as the general feeling of the show is very light-hearted and never takes itself seriously.
The series captures the essence of enjoying games with your friends, and I think this anime showcases that very well. The show is filled with these moments of friends just being friends and goofing off with each other, and I don’t think there’s another show in recent memory that’s displayed this in the same way that BOFURI has. It’s a show that’s increasingly easy to love with each passing episode and every episode displays the absolute delight that this anime is to exist among others this season.
AKA “Thank God it’s not Babylon S2”
After the recent seasons of anime putting out a variety of mediocre crime and investigation shows, it’s no surprise that ID:Invaded isn’t getting a lot of attention. Plenty of crime shows have similar overarching flaws when trying to say something deep and meaningful about justice systems and society, as they tend to either go too far into theoreticals or end up saying nothing meaningful at all. ID:Invaded is a bit different, as it frames itself as more of an introspective crime/mystery-solver than it does anything else.
The execution of ID:Invaded is probably one of the more up-front crime shows that I’ve seen, knowing that a lot of its methods of obtaining data and logistics of how their investigation team are insanely unrealistic. It uses these aspects to its advantage though and allows the show to showcase its story-telling in a creative way that won’t undermine the show’s overall thematic elements. Detaching the show from reality in this way allows the investigation portion where an investigator delves into the criminal’s mind to gather information to become more exploratory and creatively engaging, from both a visual perspective and a psychological one.
Just like how the detectives go into the criminal’s mind open-minded and with none of their previous memories,, this show wants the viewer to take the same approach to how they watch ID:Invaded. It gives autonomy to the viewer and allows them to solve or discover something for themselves and lets them use their own information gathering skills to understand why criminals are committing each of these crimes. As most crime shows tend to focus on the justice and judgement of the criminal, ID:Invaded is more concerned with _why_ these killers are committing the crimes in the first place. To me, this is one of the most interesting framings of a crime/police show that I have seen and leaves more room for interpretation, similar to how Death Parade tells its character stories.
Unlike Death Parade though, because of the setting that ID:Invaded takes place within, it also becomes a way to reflect on how criminals come into existence in the first place and allows us to somewhat humanize them by the reasons they are committing these actions. This happens in a way that prevents them from being framed as “the bad guys”, and puts focus on them being victims of their past or of mental trauma they are unable to move on from. This makes it an intriguing entry into this genre of anime, as I feel that it actively attempts to eliminate the stigma of “criminals need to be punished” and promotes a general message of while what they are doing is obviously wrong, it’s something that they can bring themselves out of if they wish to do so.
This was definitely a surprise show of the season for me, as I did not expect it to tackle these topics with the sincerity and tact that it has. If you’re interested in cyber-punk settings, psychological shows that aren’t brain-breakingly “deep”, or if you just want a show that doesn’t solely focus on bringing criminals to justice, then this show might be what you’re looking for.
If My Favorite Pop Idol Made It to the Budokan, I Would Die
No, there’s not a sentient wall in this one; just occasional depression and self-loathing
It’s probably easy to mistake Budokan as one among many “idol shows”, especially if you were like me and just looked at the art over reading the synopsis. While calling it an “idol show” wouldn’t technically be incorrect, it’s fair to say that it would be misrepresenting what the show actually is about. This show surprisingly has a lot to offer and comment on regarding idol culture, idol fans, and fandom in general, as our hardcore idol fan Eripiyo is the primary focus of the show.
This fan perspective of Eripiyo and her other hardcore idol friends is what the entire show revolves around, as they are attempting to all appreciate their small-time, local idol group ChamJam. There are plenty of discussions between Eripiyo and her friends regarding topics such as idol popularity, being a “stan” of one particular idol over another, or just general wanting to support something you’re a fan of in every way you possibly can. This unique perspective is that other idol shows tend to overlook or fail to dwell on beyond brief, passing moments.
Budokan uses its grounded-in-reality approach and appearance to tell a story that revolves around the idea of fandom, but mostly between our two female leads Eripiyo and Maina, the least popular idol within ChamJam. While there are plenty of comedy-like skits between these two characters, the show always tends to lean into the more sentimental aspects of these two characters, usually with introspectives regarding their feelings towards each other. As the fan-idol barrier can create an assortment of issues, they both tend to try and be respectful to each other in a way that’s supportive of their actions, but cannot fully express how they feel about one another as people, as their time spent together is limited to fan events and other meet-and-greets.
It’s not too surprising that this complexity of the situation between Eripiyo and Maina tends to create a lot of misunderstandings and drama between one another, despite them trying their best to convey their feelings in… rather unique ways at times. However, something about this show that’s always refreshing is that the show never stigmatizes any of the feelings that Eripiyo and Maina have for each other, whether it’s on a professional level, as friends, or even something beyond that.
Budokan seems to serve as a counterpoint to plenty of shows out there that never go beyond labeling idol fans as crazed, obsessive, or plain creepy, or that idols are unapproachable and are solely props used by the entertainment industry for financial gain. The show approaches Eripiyo and Maina’s relationship as just two individuals trying to appreciate each other for what the other one does, and also wants to support each other in appreciating what the other one loves, despite the social categories that they’ve been placed into, which just adds to the shows complex nature and tone of this show. It’s by far one of the biggest emotional investments for me of the season, and it’s something I would have not expected out of a show that simply seemed to be “yet another idol show” on the cover.
I hope that this Seasonal Showcase post has shed some light onto y’all discovering some other shows from the season that you may have skipped out on or just straight-up didn’t know existed! There are a ton of great anime this season though, and because of that, I wanted to showcase the ones that I not only enjoyed the most, but also showed the most promise as the shows move forward with the rest of the season. Hopefully this has provided some more information about these shows to you in order to make more educated choices about your anime watching this season! Enjoy!
Seriously though, if you’re not watching Budokan and you’ve read this post…