This season has led me to two major realizations within the space of seasonal anime and how we perceive it, as viewers and fans of anime.
1) With a lot of shows delayed until this crisis is over, I was initially disappointed by the lack of my “main” shows such as Re:Zero and OreGairu S3 and wasn’t sure how I was going to fill the “anime void” left in my heart. However, I think this also has been ground-breaking and intriguing in its own way. Having an anime season happen that has negated a lot of the “hype” surrounding series such as these has left a lot of space for lesser-known series to make their own name based on their own merits, and likely more people have given them a chance because of this.
2) It’s not necessarily the name or popularity of shows that make them desirable as shows; it’s because of the animation quality and emotion delivered with each released episode. It’s so powerful that these shows can stand on their own, without needing any of the advertising frills or gimmicks to really sell the shows for them; they don’t need any of that. This may seem rather basic, but it can be hard to realize when giant anime companies constantly try to force their own interests into your social media, inbox, or in-person merchandise.
While I don’t think my picks of the season necessarily have all the relations to either category, I think these are things we should be considering when watching seasonal anime. Thinking about “why” we watch anime to begin can be interesting at times, and I think that these shows below capture what I think is “interesting” within anime. I hope that you can find the same sort of shows for yourself within this season as well!
I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I started this show, but right out of the gate this show floored me in terms of quality. As a show that started out with a premise that seemed almost nostalgic in a sense of mystery, that mystery soon turned into joy, as I got to watch a wholesome father and daughter relationship where Goto just wants the best for his daughter Hime, while also hiding the secret of his manga artist job from her. This always results in plenty of comedic moments for Goto, as he’s pretty much a certified overly worried dad that always just wants the best thing for his elementary-school-aged daughter.
The show goes much beyond that though, much to my own surprise. Kakushigoto manages to dive into some more introspective, darker stuff as well, as expected from the source material writer of Sayonaru Zetsubou Sensei, but in a much different portrayal than it. With some ambiguous flash-forwards of Hime when she’s older and no sign of Goto around, it seems she’s having to come to terms with a reality that she’s been shielded from for this long. Perhaps I understand what Goto feels in this story, of wanting Hime to be protected from the evils and horrible things of this world, hence making the seeming flash-forwards to be that much more painful, as she doesn’t deserve such hard realities being put upon her in this way. At the same time, perhaps that’s part of his plan as well to foster her growth; it’s hard to tell at this time. Regardless of how the show will progress itself, the balance between these two concepts works unsettlingly well, and I’m highly curious to see how the show will manage to bring these two sides of the show thematically together.
My Next Life as a Villainess: All Routes Lead to Doom!
While not an initial first-pick from me, all of the talk around our main character Catarina, aptly nicknamed “Bakarina” by the fans of the show, made me want to watch the show. Something magical was obviously taking place in this show, and boy, was everyone right about having this show being a front-runner of the season. Nothing is overbearing or dramatic about this show, it’s all just in good fun and continues to escalate into a crazy nightmare that’s entertaining to watch from all angles. It may seem like a general “isekai” plotline at first, but the interesting part is the angle that this series approaches it from, which is from a villainess in an otome game.
Using this as its main gimmick, the show manages to defy plenty of expectations, both from a visual novel game perspective, but also from an isekai perspective. The plot manages to somewhat parody and subvert both mediums, while also not losing the elements of what makes either type of media enjoyable for what it is. This allows the anime a lot of freedom to progress in plenty of different ways, with none of them having any serious stakes involved. A non-serious show is exactly what a lot of people need right now, and I think this show has plenty of ways to explore critiques on these mediums in non-serious ways.
Sing “Yesterday” To Me
I’m so scared of what this show is going to do to me in the future since the first few episodes have already broken me into pieces. It’s one of those anime that’s going to be highly relatable, not for any comparison to the events that have occurred, but the moods that this anime evokes inside of yourself. With unfulfilled adulthood dreams and pessimistic outlooks of the future, this anime pretty much came straight out of all of the feelings most young adults have these days and manifested itself into this somewhat grayscale artistic medium.
That’s not to say that this anime doesn’t have any color or that the characters within the show won’t move on from this dejected phase, but when we’re talking about being romantic rejection, fleeting feelings, and damaged dreams, it’s hard to necessarily view these characters as icons of optimism at this time. This is one thing that makes this anime beautiful though, as when it does decide to express small uplifting moments, the animation becomes very vibrant and colorful, in stark contrast from previous scenes expressing the exact opposite emotion. The ever-evolving story and variety of animation, along with these scenarios that our characters find themselves in, makes me continue to want to submerse myself into everything this show has to offer me. That might result in my heart absolutely being torn to pieces by the time it’s finished, but perhaps that will be cathartic in its own way.
Kaguya-sama: Love is War! S2
Remember this show? It’s good, and it’s back with another round that’s likely going to be even better than the initial season, which is saying a lot considering the amount of praise the show got previously. You can’t go wrong with a rom-com that manages to balance the two perfectly with one another, with new surprises around every corner. The first few episodes of this season have had some top-notch comedy moments, along with some heartfelt ones right out the gate. Paired with our band of idiot characters in our cast, the voice actors and actresses manage to nail every part of this production perfectly. There’s absolutely no way to be disappointed with this and I’m sure the story has more in store for us as well in the meantime.
I think it really captures the essence of that young love feeling in a sort of magical, dream-like sense that, while not necessarily the most realistic, really just manages to bring joy in its every moment and is highly relatable to plenty of romantic scenarios that have likely occurred between people in their pasts. The comedic aspect of this show continues to never get old as well and always brings its top-tier animation game to express it, which is something that can be enjoyed by plenty of folks as well if romance anime isn’t really your thing. Together, all of this is just pretty much the perfect package of a show that’s just enjoyable to watch, and it’s honestly a joy to be able to watch this every week as a part of this currently great season of anime.