AniBitez Winter 2022: Anime First Impressions

Welcome to our first AniBitez article of 2022! For the Winter 2022 season, we’re delivering first impressions on shows ranging from the serene and gorgeously-animated Akebi’s Sailor Uniform to the dark, Shakespearean Requiem of the Rose King. If you’re wondering what’s worth watching this chilly season, reading the Anime Trending staff’s following takes might help with that.

Akebi’s Sailor Uniform: Wholesome, sakuga

Image Source: Bilibili

Akebi’s Sailor Uniform follows a countryside girl who likes sailor uniforms and wants to make friends at her new middle school. It’s a simple premise, and not one that particularly appeals to me either. And yet, this is currently the anime I look forward to the most every week.

One of the main reasons is the show’s wholesomeness. A lot of this comes from Akebi’s sweet relationship with her family, with Akebi and her mother happily shopping for materials and taking her measurements to sew Akebi’s uniform. Then there’s Akebi’s younger sister Kao, who’s adorable even when she’s having minor arguments with Akebi, and Akebi’s often absent yet clearly loving father. The school-set scenes are also pleasant, especially with how Akebi’s first friend Erika Kizaki looks out for her, although my heart winces from the occasional bits of second-hand embarrassment. 

The other main reason, and also the one that inspired me to give Akebi a chance in the first place, is the impressive animation seen in the trailers. And so far, the show really lives up to expectations with its current two episodes (at the time of writing). The character and fabric movements had me smiling internally, and the shots where the hair animation takes the spotlight never failed to wow me. In terms of the overall visual package, the only real complaint so far is one shot in the premiere that feels over-processed to the point of uncanniness. This show’s definitely staying on my watchlist.

By: Melvyn

Attack on Titan: The Final Season Part 2: Exploding the servers every week

Image Source: Funimation

Attack on Titan is one of my gateway anime, so I have mixed feelings knowing the ending is coming within a few short months. Currently, the morality in the plot lines have been completely blurred and I’m left with a sense of confusion and despair knowing that heroes and villains have all been forced to do unspeakable acts just to survive in this brutal world. Going into this last arc, most of the cards have been dealt, and now, the audience is left to see what will be standing by the end. Each fight feels painful and plants the seeds for new conflict. This and I think that is a true testament to the writing where the tone shifts has shifted so far away from the initial fervor for battle. I’m looking forward to seeing the discourse for the ending because I have been unspoiled so far. If you have also been unspoiled up to this point, I salute you for navigating through the internet for so many years.

The animation and technical aspects are on par with Final Season Part One, perhaps even living up to the reputation of previous seasons under Wit Studio. Though there was the criticism of the CG usage in the Titan in Part One and it carried over to Part Two, it’s not wholly detrimental to the show due to the Titan’s sheer size and “mecha-like” movements. This animation will possibly make or break Part Two, so expect scrutiny for each episode.

By: Nico

In the Land of LeadalePOV: You took a hiatus from your favorite MMO for a few years and just entered the newest expansion

Image Source: Crunchyroll

In the Land of Leadale is one of those typical MMO isekai stories where the protagonist dies IRL and is transported to their favorite game as their last saving grace. In this case, our protagonist  reawakens as her in-game character Cayna and discovers, to her great horror, that the game’s world has now progressed to 200 years in the future. She’s left to grapple with the changes in the lore, new questlines, and fraught NPC relationships while there are no other PCs in sight.

It’s not a unique plot, and so I never thought much of the series when I first read it, brushing it off as another boring isekai with an overpowered protagonist. That changed when I earnestly started playing Final Fantasy 14’s latest expansion and found myself relating so much to Cayna’s struggles of waking up in a mystical world where things were more alien than we last remembered. I chuckled when Cayna had to sprint through enemy territory because she forgot to attune to the starting village’s teleportation point and balked at the fact that the series’ “adopted foster system” was similar to the retainer system in Final Fantasy 14. So far, the show hasn’t shone in any aspects of sakuga or plot progression, but at least it’s enjoyable and relatable to all MMO fans alike. 

By: Agnes 

Love of Kill – Psychopathic killers fall in love

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Love of Kill is a show for a specific anime watcher, and it’s going to come down to whether or not you find Ryang-ha Song incredibly alluring or the stuff of complete nightmares. Our story follows the hilariously-named Chateau Dankworth, a bounty hunter who one day crosses paths with the assassin Song. Immediately, it’s clear that Chateau is outclassed by Song, but she finds herself perplexed at his behavior to not kill her outright. Rather, he is after her heart. Chateau, who clearly has some baggage from her muddled past, struggles to process Song’s behavior while knowing that she must use any tool at her disposal to achieve her mission. Thus begins the complicated “will they” and “won’t they” relationship that simultaneously ignores multiple red flags and becomes a sexually charged spy vs. spy drama.

While Song’s controlling nature can be really off putting, the male yandere is a common trope in the josei genre. Right now, Chateau is kind of a blank slate and assumed to be the audience insert, but there is more development left to go. The first episode heavily alludes to some deep backstory for both of our leads, which makes sense given the insanity of the situation itself. The animation is average, but the violence in the story is what drives the tension in the slower parts of the show. Again, if you are cool with the trope, power to you, but overall, Love of Kill can be hard to stomach because of it’s incredibly creepy premise by anime standards.

By: Nico

My Dress Up Darling: Is this about hobbies, meta jokes, or horny moments?

Image Source: Bilibili

My Dress Up Darling follows Gojo Wakana, the grandson of a hina doll artisan who spends his free time sewing clothes for the dolls. Gojo keeps his hobby a secret as he was perceived as “creepy”, and he doesn’t have many friends in school. His life changes when popular girl Marin Kitagawa stumbles upon his secret. She then reveals her own secret: she’s an otaku for a famous eroge game and wants to cosplay. 

Truth be told, my unfamiliarity with the source material meant that I wasn’t expecting the “generous” amount of fanservice so far, especially when Marin strips down to have her measurements taken. Fortunately, I found myself amused by Gojo’s flustered reactions. Having said that, I’m a bigger fan of the hobby side of the story, because it’s so utterly relatable how many times did I have to hide my love for anime, manga, or even games? It’s definitely a familiar feeling for many anime fans. I also loved the meta comedy gold, such as the ridiculously long title of Marin’s favorite eroge (which includes words like “Humiliation Club” and “Debauched Miracle Life”).

I want to commend Shouya Ishige for voicing Gojo. From the full range of panic to the attempt at calming down, before resuming Gojo’s deadpan voice really brought out the tension and emotion within the various situations. Props to him for having such a good range!

Would I recommend this anime? If you don’t mind ecchi, sure. But just to answer my own question: Hobbies, meta jokes, or horny? It’s all of it.

By: Crystal

Orient: If I left this out of the article would anyone have even noticed?

Image Source: Crunchyroll

My biggest regret in writing this is that I had to watch two episodes to get here. I naively believed that the first episode was generic and thought that I needed another one to give a quality first impression. I was mistaken to think that I needed more information, with how much of a disappointment Orient turned out to be. 

The initial setting is a world where the Oni have taken over and are now the rulers. Humanity is now enslaved to their new masters and they now must hate the Bushi, the last remnants of humanity that oppose the Oni. Musashi is a miner that is secretly training to become a Bushi but is too afraid to speak his mind until he “graduates” and is faced with the prospect of becoming Oni food. Kojirou is the son of a Bushi and Musashi’s friend. They break out and now are set to slay the Oni somehow. 

Generic setting, generic action, generic dramatic moments; Orient is either the weakest shonen in the market or a self-aware parody of the genre. However, the series finds itself all over the place with the Bushi riding motorcycles (which is already strange for its fantastical premise), and some of the scenes presenting static backgrounds or having these same backgrounds disappear all together.  The show is a mess on almost every level. If the show’s description on streaming platforms makes it  seem appealing in any way, be warned that Orient won’t be what you’re looking for.

By: Nico

Police in a Pod: This season’s social service workplace comedy

Image Source: Funimation

Police officer Mai Kawai is on the verge of defeat. She feels like the police life isn’t for her, and she doesn’t feel passionate about her work. In fact, the only reason she’s an officer in the first place is because this was the only social service profession that accepted her application. Before submitting her resignation, Mai unexpectedly gains a new senpai, Seiko Fuji, who dramatically shows her prowess as an investigator and is an incredible source of knowledge in navigating her work as a woman in the police force.   

Police in a Pod should be viewed through the lens of police work in Japan, and the material isn’t meant to serve as commentary on this issue, which may be sensitive in some other countries. However, as a comedy, the jokes fell flat for me with some exceptions,  such as Mai’s childhood recollection of her father being issued a speeding ticket that scarred her for life, as well as the intense guilt her father felt that compelled her to consider a career in social service. . Outside of that bit, the first episode didn’t quite deliver on the humour, and some jokes come off as tone-deaf, such as how Seiko would silently mutter curses like she is on the edge of a mental break while on traffic duty. Police in a Pod is largely written from the manga creator’s personal perspective as an officer, so there’s still plenty of potential humanity still to be presented. For now, we’re left with a mildly funny public safety sermon.

By: Nico

Requiem for the Rose King: Bishounen Shakespeare

Image Source: Funimation

A theatrical drama inspired by Shakespeare’s Richard III, Requiem for the Rose King follows the young Richard III from the house of York. Richard III is thought of as a demon among his peers because of his intersex body, and he has embraced the scorn and leans into this reputation. Just like in the play, Richard III is shown a vision that he will inflict suffering on the people and eventually be cursed throughout the land. That becomes foreshadowed as his whisper convinces his father, the Duke of York Richard, to re-ignite the conflict for the claim to the throne, leading to the War of Roses between houses Lancaster and York. 

Requiem for the Rose King’s lacking animation utilizes limited environments and staging perspectives that remind me of real plays, but I’m not sure if this was an intentional decision by the animators. Despite this creativity, the first episode shows some clear warning signs. Episode one’s pacing speeds through the manga’s first volume, and it’s like watching a bullet point list of every major event leading up to the civil war. There isn’t enough time to really soak in the details. Last season’s The Heike Story did a lot of setup for its own historical conflict, but the difference in their presentation of both the visuals and historical elements is like night and day, with Requiem for the Rose King presenting everything like a PowerPoint presentation. I’m interested in seeing the story develop because there are some interesting ideas, but the limitations of the production and the rapid-fire pacing might overwhelm that.

By: Nico

Saiyuki Reload -ZEROIN-Why are we going back???

Image Source: FRONTIERWORKS’ Official Youtube Channel

And we’re back with another installment of the Saiyuki franchise, where the Sanzo Group are on a road trip to India to confront the Demon King! It’s so good to see them again after the events of SAIYUKI RELOAD BLAST (2017), and I wonder what new adventures await them… eh? This isn’t the sequel to RELOAD BLAST? Unfortunately, Saiyuki Reload -ZEROIN- (2022) does not follow chronologically with the current series, but is actually a retelling of Saiyuki’s most popular arcs that did not follow the conclusion of the manga’s route: Saiyuki Reload Gunlock (2004).

At this point in time, -ZEROIN- introduces two new characters from the West: Hazel Growth, a kooky priest with a mysterious emblem that resurrects people, and his gun-wielding servant Gat. They have a similar mission to Sanzo’s group, but are clearly not to be trusted when they go around resurrecting people willy-nilly and they realize that Sanzo is the holder of the Manten Sutra. It’s suspicious to say the least, and -ZEROIN- adds in the flavor of mystery to an otherwise fun action show.

LIDENFILMS is in charge of the production this time, but -ZEROIN- maintains the bold outlines, colorful depictions of the characters, and cute transitions to the comedic parts that were found in previous Saiyuki anime. As a result, I don’t feel much with -ZEROIN- as Anime of the Year or being a dark horse for Anime of Winter 2022, but I have such nostalgia for this series that I will watch it for my good ole’ boys.

By: Agnes

Sasaki and Miyano: The softest, warmest, and fluffiest couple I’ve seen

Image Source: Ani-One

Now, I am not exactly an avid consumer of boys’ love or yaoi media, so when I decided to peek into Sasaki and Miyano, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Luckily, I found myself pleasantly surprised by the show. Let me tell you why.

The anime follows the interactions between Miyano, a fan of boys’ love (BL) manga, and Sasaki, a senior (or senpai) who Miyano meets when trying to stop a fight. When Sasaki breaks up said fight, Miyano starts to view Sasaki as being utterly dashing, while being oblivious to Sasaki’s own attraction to him.

Sasaki and Miyano takes a very gentle and calm pace, with the episodes exploring their interactions patiently. From Miyano introducing BL manga to Sasaki, to Sasaki attempting to get Miyano to play the pocky game by calling it the “chicken game”, the show focuses more on showing their budding, wholesome romance instead of having a clear plotline. Even if Miyano doesn’t really realize that he is head over heels for his Sasaki-senpai, we all can smell it a mile away. I was cackling way too many times at this point and lost it when I saw Miyano blushing behind his notebook while Sasaki was present. The pastel coloring and soft lighting was really well done too. It expresses the wholesomeness of their dynamic, and even makes way for the relationship to play out.

It is a good entrance point if anyone wants to explore shounen ai or yaoi, because it lands so gently on you that it feels like a Japanese souffle pancake. Soft, warm, and fluffy.

By: Crystal

Tokyo 24th Ward: Powerpuff Boys to the Rescue!

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Shuta, Ran, and Koki, known as the RGB trio, live on an artificial island called the 24th Ward. Although their backgrounds and personalities are totally different, these childhood friends have always stuck together through thick and thin. After losing one of their closest friends named Asumi to a terrible fire, the trio becomes estranged. One year later, a mysterious call that sends them a vision of the future turns their world upside down, compelling them to take action with their new superpowers. 

I was torn between liking and not liking this show due to its pacing, and I wondered why an original anime needed 48 minutes to kickstart the series. The first half is riddled with dialogue and introducing the characters alongside their internal self-conflicts. We follow the hacker on his mission to paint the city with graffiti, a prim and proper realist navigating family and political business, and a drifter pondering his purpose in life. However, the second half involves a thrilling race across the city to save citizens and prevent the vision from turning into reality. Although the setup is a little sluggish, Tokyo 24th Ward has a lot of potential — I’m intrigued by the concept, characters, and most of all, the detailed and colorful artwork. It exhibits elements from Psycho-Pass, but it’s not as intense as Akudama Drive. For now, Tokyo 24th Ward is promising, but it definitely has to decide whether it wants to be a sci-fi drama or suspense action show. 

By: Isabelle

World’s End Harem: Trashy lead in a trashy world with a trashy story

Image Source: Crunchyroll

In a futuristic world, Reito Mizuhara is diagnosed with cellular sclerosis, and the only cure is to be put into cryosleep until a cure is discovered. So, Reito goes to sleep, but not before hearing that the girl of his dreams, Erisa, promises to wait for him until he wakes up. Once Reito awakens, he realizes that the MK (Male Killer) Virus has globally wiped out all the males. As one of the few men left alive, Reito’s newfound duty is to mate and reproduce babies that are immune to the virus. 

The first episode is a little rushed with its worldbuilding and understanding the main character, but who needs to know all that when we’re really just here for spicy, steamy hot content? Unfortunately, there’s nothing but blurred black squares in the censored version, so it’s hard to continue watching even for the ecchi scenes.

As for the story and characters, Reito can pick any girl he wants to mate with to save humanity, but he decides to stay loyal to the promise he made with his crush 5 years ago. However, Erisa’s whereabouts are unknown. Reito trying to keep his promise is nice, but I find it ridiculous along with the other rules implemented in this automated, female-led world. Many of the questions I have about the world’s technical aspects will probably go unanswered since everyone is so focused on getting Reito to mate. After all, it seems like the only thing he has going for him is the fact that he is a male. Maybe the females will prove to have more fascinating personalities and make up for Reito’s dullness, but I highly, highly doubt it.

By: Isabelle

That is all for AniBitez: Winter 2022! Stay tuned for more seasonal updates and content. 

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