Welcome to the first part of our Spring 2022 Anibitez! With an exciting spring storm of an anime lineup, our eclectic staff of writers share their thoughts on nearly all the Spring Anime of 2022. Check them out if you’re still undecided, or if you just want to see their takes on them!
Aharen-san wa Hakarenai: Two awkward introverts try socializing with each other
Quirky slice-of-life romantic comedies about socially awkward people are getting their share of attention, thanks to series like Komi-san Can’t Communicate. Aharen-san wa Hakarenai continues that trend in its debut episode by showcasing two of its most reserved leads: the quiet Reina Aharen and her equally stoic classmate Raidou Matsuboshi.
The animation is fairly simple and bright while the music keeps everything light-hearted to match the anime’s comedic mood. However, the real charm of the anime is demonstrated in its first episode, where these two introverts try talking with each other to fit in with their class. They’re doing their best to come out of their shells, even if their attempts are more comical if anything else.
Raidou’s emotionless expressions in comparison to Aharen’s near silent voice and inability to distinguish boundaries make for peak silly comedy. Aharen often gets too close to Raidou, shown when she accidentally headbutts him or pushes a bento box in his face. Aharen even tries to warn Raidou that his fly is undone, but fails and gives him strange hints instead.
If you like slice-of-life comedies, then this anime is going to live and die by your interest in Raidou and Aharen’s daily interactions. From what we’ve seen so far, the awkward interactions between these two introverts and classmates will definitely drive the rest of the series. As a fellow introvert myself, I can’t wait to see how Aharen and Raidou navigate the unknowns of school life.
Date A Live IV: Best Girl Tohka and friends are back
It has surprised me how many iterations of Date A Live we’ve gotten since the first season aired in 2013. Geek Toys is the series’ fourth animation production company to handle the project after working on the spin-off Date A Bullet film series. The story picks up from season three, where Shidou comes across a mysterious woman on the street. Her name is Nia Honjou, who is a manga artist interested in only 2D men. Despite her preferences, she has heard about Shidou’s exploits of sealing Spirits with a kiss, before revealing to be one herself. Nia then tasks Shidou and the Ratatoskr team to seal her before her powers go awry.
It’s interesting to see this season begin with a heroine who is more forthcoming than Shidou would’ve predicted. Nia is also an older sister type who takes the lead, which makes her a different type of person than Shidou’s previous Spirit dates. Her personality so far intrigues me and I anticipate the story getting meatier once we get to know her.
For the most part, the episode works as an introduction to a new arc. It strongly hints that Nia is connected to the antagonist organization of the series, DEM. We first see her being experimented on by them before being helped out by Kurumi. How she ends up meeting Shidou and why there are gaps in her memory remains to be seen, but this intrigue will no doubt hook fans of the series into future episodes.
Deaimon: A sweet story in a sweets shop
Irino Nagomu, a struggling wagashi-loving musician, decides to take over his family’s wagashi store after hearing about his father’s health. But upon his return, he discovers that a young girl named Itsuka Yukihira, who had been abandoned at the store by her father, is now its potential successor. With that premise, I was expecting Deaimon’s premiere to have plenty of thorny interactions, but that surprisingly was not quite the case.
A lot of that is due to Irino being a cheery, easy-going chap who has no issues belting out a cheesy promotional song about mugwort yam buns while wearing a massive chestnut-shaped headwear. Aware that he had left of his own volition a decade ago, even if the catalyst was a (likely out-of-context) line he overheard from his late grandfather, Irino has no qualms rejoining the shop as an apprentice and doesn’t harbor negative feelings toward Itsuka. Meanwhile, Itsuka has some understandable annoyance at Irino’s sudden return but doesn’t go out of her way to antagonize him.
I quite like how Irino is such a nice and even goofy guy, but I did feel that the low-key friction between the two leads slightly weakens the satisfaction of the premiere’s bonding moments. Still, we’re only one episode in so far, and I’m interested in seeing what Deaimon does with story ingredients like Irino becoming Itsuka’s father figure and Itsuka being haunted by her abandonment, as well as the supporting characters. And with the delectable artwork-like backgrounds and tasty wagashi depictions, I’ll be doubly sure to return in the coming weeks.
ESTAB LIFE: GREAT ESCAPE: Ragtag group helps people run away from their problems
The first three episodes of ESTAB LIFE: GREAT ESCAPE have a lot going for it in terms of plot, characters, and general worldbuilding. It follows a diverse group of people living in isolated societies called Clusters, where an AI system dictates everything in one’s life. A team of Extractors consisting of Equa (a superhuman), Maruteese (a slime), Feles (a delinquent sharp-shooter), Ulla (a wolf man), and Alfa (a robot) are hired by individuals who want to escape a cluster and start anew somewhere else.
I enjoyed the first few episodes, as it balances some cheesy, goofy misadventures with subtle commentaries on society and the different roles people play in them. The CG animation is handled by Polygon Pictures, who have a good track record of work in that category. The animation is serviceable, if not stiff and stilted at times, but isn’t too distracting that you’ll find any apparent flaws.
The anime’s out-of-the-box approach is best demonstrated by the people that hire the Extractors. Their clients so far have ranged from a disgruntled teacher to an ex-gang boss who wants to be a magical girl. However, what really sells the randomness of ESTAB LIFE is episode 3, where a free-spirited talking penguin hires Equa’s team to help them escape from a communist penguin regime.
ESTAB LIFE: GREAT ESCAPE is a fun, random, and weird experience. Despite that, it seems to know itself pretty well and embraces these qualities as part of its identity. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be bored in future episodes.
Fanfare of Adolescence: Potentially gay horse jockeying
Original sports anime are nothing new to the industry, and this season is no exception. Fanfare of Adolescence is the story of Yu Ariuma, a former idol who unexpectedly quit his rise to stardom to instead train to become a horse jockey. He bonds with quirky Shun Kazanami, a boy with a special connection to horses who comes from a far off island.
The anime includes many typical sports anime elements just from the first two episodes: an athlete that doesn’t quite belong with the sport, “quirky” teammates, some bromance, and training. In other words, Fanfare is predictable. However, the direction of the episodes snatched me from the jaws of boredom. The framing of the anime shifts to Yu’s POV, which includes a shaky camera to depict the closeness of the wind and his breaths. It’s a wonderful sensation when the scene changes through his senses while he rides a horse. This creative directional choice will need to continue throughout the rest of the series if it wants to stand out among other entries.
There’s also a big question regarding the relationship of the two protagonists. The first episode ends with Shun bridal catching Yu with sakura petals whirling around them as the two stare into each other’s eyes. Does the story plan to bait, code, or explicitly show a queer relationship? I can only wait to find out, but I hope it’s not another bait.
Healer Girl: Singing as medicine
With my recent interest in idol anime, perhaps it was inevitable that this show would catch my eye. Healer Girl has no idols, but it does have singing and personable main characters, which are sufficient connective threads, I suppose. The concept involves people called “healers” who use songs to heal people, and the main cast consists of three teenage apprentice healers.
Kana is the kindest, Reimi is a little obsessed with their master, and Hibiki is, er, the most ordinary. I hope that future episodes flesh them out, as none of them leaves a strong imprint yet (I actually prefer the rival healer introduced in Episode 2 to Reimi and Hibiki). Despite that, they’re sufficiently enjoyable to watch, especially with their expressive faces during the light-hearted or comedic moments. It also helps that the main girls have eye-catchingly bright and colorful hair, contrasting strongly with the plainer hair colors of the supporting cast, and that everyone’s nicely drawn.
I’m not too enthusiastic about the healing aspect feeling more pseudoscience-like instead of being magic or an esper-like power, especially when the first episode mentions terms like “hybrid harmony,” “harmonic amplitude variation,” and “image” without really explaining or delving into its healing aspect. But for now, I can overlook these elements if the show delivers a good number of songs, which I really want more of after hearing the nice tunes so far.
All in all, Healer Girl hasn’t completely won me over, but the current episodes are solid enough to let the show remain comfortably on my watchlist.
Love After World Domination: When a hero and villain fall in love…
Love can be a tricky thing, especially when you’re a super sentai-like hero and a villain who, for some reason, looks like a grim reaper-themed dominatrix with a vaguely bunny-like hood. Luckily for Fudou Aikawa/Red Gelato and Desumi Magahara/Reaper Princess, Love After World Domination is a light-hearted romantic comedy. While they do need to keep their hero x villain relationship under wraps, their entanglement involves less moral-flavored conundrums and more innocent elements like hand-holding and enjoying pictures of Desumi’s cat. It’s still not easy though, especially when, amusingly, they have to have their dates in secret while their respective allies fight.
I largely enjoyed Love After World Domination’s premiere, although a lot of the heavy-lifting is done by Desumi and her cuteness. Without Desumi, I’d have spent more time dwelling on how Fudou’s “love at first sight” situation is simply self-proclaimed rather than convincingly shown, the fact that Fudou somehow knows Desumi’s private social media account like it’s not a big deal, or how some of the special attacks during the action sequences are not a sight for sore eyes.
Still, even if Desumi is currently the major selling point of the show for me (the workout-crazy Fudou is a bit bland), I’ll admit that I’m also looking forward to seeing what sort of material the show can provide with the leads’ respective teammates in future episodes. I’m not sold on the romance itself yet, but I’m certainly on board with the tokusatsu-flavored premise.
Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 2: More Nijigasaki, with new faces
Following the Nijigasaki idols’ successful School Idol Festival, the second season of this Love Live! series sees them preparing for the festival’s second iteration and Yu beginning her new life in the music course. There are also several, welcome new faces: confident Zhong Lanzhu, musical prodigy Mia Taylor, and Lanzhu’s serious childhood friend, Shioriko Mifune.
Of the newcomers, Lanzhu has gotten the most focus so far. She admires the Nijigasaki idols, but also refuses to join their club due to differing idol philosophies. However, the original cast suspects that there’s something troubling the talented idol, and in true Nijigasaki fashion, they won’t turn a blind eye to a fellow idol’s troubles. While the first season had to largely tackle one idol per episode, the second season can afford to spend much more time on Lanzhu’s situation, and I’m looking forward to seeing her character arc play out across multiple episodes.
Visually, Nijigasaki Season 2 feels somewhat less polished than Season 1, which wasn’t perfectly polished itself. I didn’t find it distracting though, and I enjoyed the three-dimensional-feeling shots and cute Kasumi moments when they appeared. The premiere also provides my two favorite sequences in the series so far: an in-universe promotional trailer and Lanzhu’s episode-stealing performance, with the latter continuing the first season’s trend of music video-inspired performances. Strong animation aside, they rank high in the cool and stylish department, and I’m eager for more similar highlights.
Love All Play: Let’s see some great rallies!
Episodes 1 and 2 of Love All Play left me waiting for more, both as a fan of the sport and due to the new cast of characters. This set of episodes served as the viewers’ introduction to our main character, Ryou Mizushima, and the supporting cast of students from the Yokohama Minato High School badminton team. While the full team has yet to be introduced, there’s already enough content through potential character dynamics to keep things interesting.
The refreshing character dynamic — albeit reminiscent of other sports anime tropes — allows for great potential character development as seen with how closely Ryou and his fellow first years have grown together while still leaving some mysteries for viewers. Currently, it’s unknown why Ryou was given a sport recommendation despite only demonstrating average performance — perhaps showing Ryou’s potential but lack of experience. There’s also Matsuda whose recommendation came from his father being acquainted with the coach, but his background of growing up in Shanghai might become a big part of his character development.
Overall, there’s a lot left on the court for viewers to decide for themselves if this badminton anime is for them. Personally, I’m excited to see how rallies will be animated and how the dynamics behind the rules of singles and doubles may lead to fun character interaction. I hope others share my enthusiasm, or at least, give this show a try.
Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost: Little ghost girl goes “Hnnnnnnggg”
The titular ghost girl in Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost is so cute that I think I have diabetes from all the sweetness in the premiere. That being said, that’s all the anime has going for it. Episode 1 is a pretty uneven first impression that leaves a lot to be desired.
The story follows an overworked office worker named Fushihara-san who is haunted by a little ghost girl while working late. The ghost wants Fushihara to leave the office rather than slave away with overtime. Rather than leave, Fushihara can’t help but be drawn to the ghost as she continues her work.
As I mentioned before, this particular episode is largely uninteresting and doesn’t really stand out much. The show would have worked better as a short 3-11 minute short rather than a full-length duration. It’s frustratingly slow in the worst moments and boring in the rest. The episode utilizes two perspectives in framing its story: one from Fushihara’s perspective and the other from the ghost girl. While it was interesting to see the latter’s side of the story that gave more context, it doesn’t really become more entertaining afterwards.
Despite my misgivings, I still want to see more from this series because I want to believe in it. I’m always down for healing anime like The Helpful Fox Senko-san, and Miss Shachiku and the Little Baby Ghost has similar vibes. We’re definitely going to see more chibi ghost girls in coming episodes, so I’d expect the anime to double the cuteness and send me into an adorable “Awwwww” coma.
RPG Real Estate: Rent is high even in a fantasy world
I had pretty low expectations of RPG Real Estate because it’s pretty much an ordinary slice-of-life fantasy anime featuring four cheery moe-blob characters. That’s essentially what you get, and there is otherwise nothing special about this premiere. Even so, I’m a huge sucker for these kinds of shows every season. I’m intrigued by the anime’s schtick involving the stressful, competitive, and expensive nature of real estate in a fantasy world.
RPG Real Estate introduces us to three other lead characters in its first episode: the ambitious Rufria, the ex-warrior Rakira, and the demi-human Fa. We later learn that Kotone will be their new colleague at their real estate agency as they assist magical clients in finding suitable homes to their liking.
Similar to last Spring season’s Dragon Goes House-Hunting, the episode highlights a variety of homes inhabited by fantastical creatures. As someone living in a densely populated metropolitan area, I wasn’t surprised that these characters have difficulty finding a place to live in the big capital. For example, Kotone finds out that having a limited rent budget can land you properties like haunted houses, tight broom closets, and slime-infested rooms. I fully expect the anime to explore more of this world’s unique settings in future episodes and more characters with personality.
Temper your hype for this series because there won’t be any grand finale battles with a demon lord. However, if you like slice-of-life comedies that go at their own pace within a fun fantasy world, then stick around because there’s definitely more to see.
Science Fell in Love, So I Tried to Prove It. r=1-sinθ: Tsunderes try to use science to do the talking
The anime leaps into the second season without any hesitation from where we left off in the first. Two tsunderes by the names of Yukimura and Himuro continue to try to use science to “prove” they are in love when literally anyone with eyes and a single brain can tell they are. I was worried that the series would become stilted because many of the gags from the first season started to bore me near the end. Much to my surprise, the first two episodes of the new season do a great job.
The production team behind Science Fell in Love r=1-sinθ was smart enough to actually move the main couple’s relationship forward rather than hit a reset button as many of these romcom anime tend to do. The objectives have more or less changed — rather than letting science prove they are in love, they’ve moved towards how science can define love. This is thanks to a rival scientist couple who are as opposite of the tsunderes as possible. Unfortunately, I do not like the woman in the rival couple who embodies the “sexy, lusty, and busty character who pushes herself on everyone.”
However, credit must be given where credit is due, and the introduction of a couple who could care less about science proving their love and feelings is exactly what the main couple needs to push them adamantly forward. All without losing the scientific exploration that still tickles my nerdy mind in the right places.
Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie: A cute boy and his cute AND cool girlfriend
Izumi, the protagonist of Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie, is a hilariously unlucky teenager. With the boy facing threats like flying newspapers, falling signboards, and bird poop regularly, it feels like the world is against him, so much that the show’s entertaining ending animation is themed around this. Luckily, Izumi does have a major bright spot in his life: his girlfriend Shikimori. Shikimori is very cute (although Izumi himself gives her a run for her money), but she also possesses a cool side that emerges every now and then, and often protects Izumi from the various perils that fate throws at him.
I became a fan of Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie’s premise and cute leads the moment I watched its first PV, but later felt doubts when I peeked at the manga’s free chapters on Kodansha’s Magapoke. With the manga seeming to consist only of brief, standalone skits, would an anime adaptation work?
As it turns out, I should’ve had more faith in the staff’s ability to adapt the material. Shikimori is very much not just a cutie, and the scenes where she transforms into a cool beauty are certainly highlights, but the first episode also has plenty of regular (but still enjoyable) high school romance and slice-of-life moments in-between, thus preventing it from becoming nothing more than a barrage of consecutive skits. All this comes with solid animation and character acting moments, and the couple’s friends prove to be a rather fun bunch themselves, making the premiere a very pleasant experience overall.
Note: At the time of writing, Shikimori’s Not Just A Cutie’s production committee is deliberating on its future broadcast plans following a covid outbreak at production studio Doga Kobo, although no changes have been announced yet. The second episode will still premiere on April 16.
The Demon Girl Next Door Season 2: Shamiko’s losing streak continues
Unlucky demon girl Yuko “Shamiko” Yoshida and her eternal magical girl rival Momo return in a charming first episode of the second season. In the end, the biggest change to Shamiko’s life is that both Momo and another magical girl, Mikan, move next door to her as neighbors.
The second season of The Demon Girl Next Door continues the anime’s style of quick-witted humor, slapstick, and schadenfreude for our unlucky protagonist. Both Shamiko and Momo have great chemistry together because of their differences in personality. Shamiko is loud, passionate, and earnest in her quest to take down her rival. Meanwhile, Momo is stoic, quiet, and blunt whenever she needs to be. As this episode also shows, she can get jealous and depressed. I really like how the series expands on characters like Momo, where we see her value Shamiko as a close frenemy to lean on whenever she’s in a bad place.
Aside from that, the episode is fairly straightforward, and fans of the first season can ease back into the daily struggles of Shamiko’s life. The series is known for its banter, cuteness, and recurring gags, with plenty of them included in the episode. My particular favorite is when Shamiko and her family receive some premium quality beef that makes a weird sound effect whenever it’s in view.
In a season full of lighthearted comedies, The Demon Girl Next Door Season 2 doesn’t change the genre, but works on what it does best and keeps the plot relatively simple. Here’s hoping Shamiko finally gets a win and an easier life going forward.
The Greatest Demon Lord is Reborn as a Typical Nobody: AKA another demon lord rebirth iteration that nobody asked for
The first episode was forgettable for various reasons. First off, this series is just another power fantasy anime that revolves around a singular character whose problem is that he is unable to make any friends. The main protagonist, Ard Meteor, finds himself reborn in a world where his previous achievements have been forgotten. With newfound freedom and seemingly uncontested strength, he sets out to find at least one friend.
So far, Ard’s main problem is his lack of social skills. Any real conflict seems to be directed at the supporting character, Ireena, while Ard is set to be a “knight in shining armor” figure to ultimately become friends with Ireena. This conflict set-up could be a recurring theme in future episodes where viewers will see characters disregard Ard’s help, embroil themselves in trouble, and Ard comes in to save the day.
The show is predictable, which is not bad for those who prefer this type of structure in shows. The character designs are generic (forgettable, even) in context of the genre, but had great combat animation. I can only recommend this show for those with low expectations for this genre and/or for those who just want to passively watch something without paying attention to it.
Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs: I blame my sister for making me into a mob character
It’s time for yet another dive into the maw of the isekai genre. Trapped in a Dating Sim: The World of Otome Games is Tough for Mobs focuses on Leon Fou Bartfort, the titular “mob,” who is actually the reincarnation of a recently deceased salaryman who was forced to play the aforementioned dating sim video game by his domineering sister. Once reincarnated, he has to escape from his character’s poor life situation and navigate life as just another NPC in a world of heroines and love interests.
The idea of being a mob character is a somewhat refreshing concept (and hasn’t been as worn out as villainess and heroine reincarnation), and my experience with the manga adaptation of the light novel gave me hope for, at the very least, some visually appealing character designs. However, it appears my expectations were too high. The first episode presents subpar designs, a misanthropic MC who comes off as more grating than amusing, and a setting that tests my patience.
The story wants to do too much all at once, and in its half-assed attempts to add all these “twists” to the basic isekai formula, it fills itself with more internal contradictions than even the most generous suspension of disbelief can accommodate. If I had to say anything positive about the show, I’d say the anime quality is faithful to that of the in-universe dating sim.
Ya Boy Kongming!: Famous Chinese war general is isekai’d to the music industry of Japan
Ya Boy Kongming! has one of the strangest premises of the anime lineup this season, but it certainly stands out among the isekais and romcoms. Famed Chinese war tactician of the Three Kingdoms Era, Zhuge Liang, dies and finds himself reincarnated in modern Japan on Halloween night. He becomes an instant fan of a young woman singing in a bar and pledges his brilliant mind to help her become a successful artist in Japan.
It’s strange, and the anime doesn’t try to hide from that fact as evidenced by an incredibly creative, fun, and crazy opening theme sequence that throws you right into the atmosphere. There’s a personal angle of me that loves the preposterous story surrounding a revered historical figure reincarnated to this day, but the real thing that works for me is the kindness I feel in the story and the characters.
Zhuge Liang thinks Eiko’s voice is beautiful, her songs soothing, and her person admirable. He tells her that talent isn’t something born without change, and he would help her nurture her talent to full potential. This only happens because Eiko showed kindness by singing a song of lost love when she saw Zhuge Liang mourning for the death of his people. As such, kindness breeds kindness and, while some people will think it’s a theme overdone, I will never get enough of it. And what better way to experience that theme through an anime about an isekai’d historical war general and modern music?
Stay tuned for the next part of the Spring 2022 Anibitez!