AniBitez Spring 2022: Anime First Impressions Part 2

Here is Part 2 of our Spring 2022 Anibitez, with the rest of the exciting anime slate featured! Check out Spring 2022 Part 1 here!

A Couple of Cuckoos: The two main leads aren’t cuckoo for each other… yet. 

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Of course, it always starts with a fateful encounter under pink sakura trees. You can’t have your anime romcom without this picture-perfect setup that’s oozing with cheese. In a spring anime season packed with sappy romantic comedies, A Couple of Cuckoos has high expectations to distinguish itself from the crowd. The anime adaptation is based on a manga by Miki Yoshikawa, who worked on Yamada and the Seven Witches

The debut episode premiered much later than other shows, but the payoff was well worth it. It balanced the right amounts of romance and humor in the first half, where we’re introduced to our two main characters: Nagi Umeno and Erika Amano. One is a studious, responsible student while the other is a pretty social media star. And they both happened to have been switched at birth, raised in different lives, and are apparently going to be betrothed to each other. 

If you’ve watched similar anime romcoms, then what happens in this episode may feel familiar or cliche, with nothing really standing out. However, the thing that carries this episode is the rapport between Nagi and Erika, whose personalities are so different that it makes their chemistry more funny and engaging. The groundwork to root for their eventual shipping together has been perfectly constructed, building up expectations for the eventual twists and turns. 

The opening and ending sequences of the anime are also standout highlights. The opening is bright and cheerful while the ending is dark, bleak, and in-your-face. Right now, they’re one of my favorites and shouldn’t be skipped. 

By: William 

AMAIM Warrior at the Borderline Part 2: The hero and his mecha return!

Image source: Funimation

The second cour of AMAIM picks up eight months after the end of the thirteenth episode. To quickly summarize, Gashin and Shion are still reeling from the supposed death of their comrade in arms, Amou Shiiba. They’re fighting in a rebel force that seeks to liberate Japan from the influence and control of outside forces such as the North American coalition and Confederation of Oceania. The North American forces have given Gashin and Shion trouble with their mechs, as they have utilized an army of automated droids to increase their attacks. As the rebels are forced into a corner, an old friend arrives to help save the day. 

It’s easy to guess that the old friend is the protagonist Amou Shiiba. However, even before his expected return, the episode effectively drives up the stakes and features plenty of explosions and mech battles to keep you entertained. The story never really appealed to me in some of the past episodes, but I’ve noticed a slight change in tone that makes me optimistic that things will get more tense. 

This episode also shows a different Amou after his return. I’m not sure why his demeanor has changed, but it probably has to do with his trauma of the war or a sudden realization. He’s a different person than when he first joined the rebels and I’m interested in seeing how the anime will break him down or build him back up. 

AMAIM is a solid mecha anime that delivers the right amount of drama and action. Catch up on the first cour before the second cour ends. 

By: William 

Aoashi: Loud country boy follows his soccer dreams to the city

Image source: Crunchyroll

There are a lot of sports anime this season, and I’m not sure if we need another featuring a loud, energetic pre-teen boy. This isn’t me being cynical — the first episode does a good job of showing protagonist Ashito Aoi’s origins. A great amount of emphasis is placed on how he’s viewed as a selfish player that gets in his own way sometimes. It’s very much a typical shounen sports anime wherein he has to learn to humble himself, hone his current skills, expose himself to new techniques, and value real competition with other better players. 

This quality is nurtured by soccer coach Tatsuya Fukuda, who happens to encounter Ashito after practice. Tatsuya puts Ashito through a grueling soccer task that breaks him down as much as it motivates him further. Aoashi plays into the whole hot-blooded, underdog sports story well from that point and future episodes will most definitely present Ashito with more obstacles to clear. 

Meanwhile, the second episode introduces us to some of the players Ashito will compete against, including a chippy girl who he can’t get along with at first. Naturally, he does get his brief time to shine after getting outplayed in a practice match, showing us the potential game changer he can be. So far, Aoashi is laying the groundwork of an engaging sports anime for those that enjoy soccer and shounen titles. If you can tolerate some incoherent boy-yelling here and there, this anime can be a lot of fun to watch weekly.  

By: William 

Ascendance of a Bookworm Part 3: Bookworm girl returns!

Image source: Crunchyroll

Our bookworm from another world Main is back for a third season of Ascendance of a Bookworm. The first episode in this season focuses on the upcoming winter, Main’s extended stay at the church, and a potential threat against her. To expand on the threat,  a corrupt boss in charge of ink distribution is targeting Main, and she’s advised to stay near the church grounds to keep herself safe. 

As Main’s business and status grows, it could also endanger her current family and friends. The episode shows how this decision makes Main feel conflicted because she may have to sacrifice the love of her family in order to continue her ascent towards nobility. Despite this, the focus always comes back towards her love of books, and I appreciate the anime not forgetting that. 

Regardless of Main’s ambition, I really like how the series displays the full disparity between the noble upper classes, the middle classes, and the lower classes. The nobility see everyone else as beneath them and not even worth interacting with. It’s something Main has experienced herself in previous episodes and the portrayal in the anime is so cutthroat sometimes. I can’t say for sure whether it’s an accurate representation of how society functioned in the feudal era, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it is. 

I anticipate more of this class conflict to present itself in future episodes because the anime excels at using it for plot progression. I don’t know what other problems await Main, but I hope she gets what she wants sooner or later. 

By: William 

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story: Golf is easy — simply hit the ball into the hole 

Image source: Crunchyroll

In a recent episode of the Anime Trending Podcast, Gracie described Birdie Wing as a 90s-style sports anime, and I completely agree. The characters are essentially playing the sport with superpowers. It shares a lot of traits with that style, which contrasts with a show like Haikyu!!! that elegantly weaves in the nuances of volleyball. 

It’s a cheap cop-out to the story whenever our heroine Eve will just hit the ball magnificently with her signature bullet move — shouting its signature name during the swing — and the rest of the animation sequence will show the hilarious chaos that plays out. In the first episode, she powers up with her Kamehameha, then shoots the ball between a moving train which bounces on the bunker rake into the perfect position. It lands in the green, and also plants the stake into the ground as her opponent’s metaphorical headstone. I’m not making this up — it’s real and ridiculous, and the characters also bet 6 thousand euros on the outcome of a single hole match play challenge. 

Suffice to say, Birdie Wing is locked into a mediocre style which leaves me a little annoyed. There are plenty of absolutely amazing golf stories popping up over the past few years, including Tiger Woods’s incredible return to competition at The Masters 14 months after a near fatal career-ending car crash. This story doesn’t have much going for it. Our main heroine, Eve, is poor and raises money by betting against challengers, while the aristocratic and experienced other main character Aoi is immediately projected to be the top-ranked player. You can fill in the blanks. Eve will simply hit the ball hard and dominate the competition as she takes the golf world by storm. 

By: Nico

Dance Dance Danseur: A tale of ballet and masculinity

Image Source: Crunchyroll

I was interested in Dance Dance Danseur when the anime was first announced. It follows the story of Junpei, a teenage boy who commits himself to the idea of coolness as a manly man after the death of his masculine father. Deep down, however, he holds a passion for ballet, a strenuous activity that is associated more with femininity than masculinity.

With a synopsis that promises to explore the complex relationship of masculinity with feminine activities, the anime already delivers in just two episodes. Junpei holds passive sexist views, but those views hurt himself more than anyone else. He’s a complicated protagonist dealing with hormones, insecurities, passion, and a legacy that his loving but manly father left behind. It’s amazing how the anime has already fleshed out his flaws and inner conflicts without feeling rushed, all while leaving plenty of room for growth.

The anime isn’t filled to the brim with ballet, but every scene that showcases it is artistically and spiritually portrayed. Every turn of the head, every twist of the hand, and every lifting of the leg feels purposeful, performed, and emotional. With such a strong start in character and theme, I can only hope the anime performs an encore to the very end.

By: Gracie

Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer!: Savage healer girl goes on misadventures with her knight

Image source: Crunchyroll

I’m a sucker for cheap comedies about incompetent people, and Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer is exactly that. After watching the first episode, I can safely say that this show is great for fans of KonoSuba. The anime follows the misadventures between a knight named Alvin and his new healer Karla. The latter has a deadpan personality that constantly clashes with Alvin’s adventurer ideals. 

The comedy of Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer is somewhat hit-or-miss because of the chemistry between Alvin and Karla. Sometimes, her inexpressive delivery and responses take the air out of scenes that were genuinely supposed to be funny. Despite this, I think her passive-aggressive, backhanded rebuttals towards Alvin are just savage and hilarious in their own way. 

I think the funniest scene involves Alvin and Karla’s therapy session with a hostile horned bear. Despite the bear’s appearance, she turns out to be a very cordial and welcoming host, trying to smooth things out between Alvin and Karla. It gets even more ridiculous when we find out that the bear fought against adventurers for a living before going into semi-retirement within her woodland home. All I can say is never judge a character by their appearance because they just turn out to be a kind and reasonable buddy. That’s really the only highlight of Don’t Hurt Me, My Healer’s comedy so far, so I’m hoping to see more outlandish scenarios. For now, you can probably continue on with the series if you’re inclined to see more ribbing between Karla and Alvin. 

By: William

Heroines Run the Show!: Babysitting two famous idols

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Honeyworks’ LIP x LIP, an idol group featuring Yuujiro and Aizo, receives their own anime this season and focuses on Hiyori, a precocious girl from the countryside, who becomes their manager-in-training as her family’s income runs low. However, it isn’t easy looking after two idol boys who seem to hate each other’s guts and are completely different from their princely stage personas!

There have only been two episodes, but I’m already invested in the conflict between the boys. We still don’t know exactly what issues are interfering with their relationship and work, but the anime has done a good job of hinting at them without showing all the cards. It’s also easy to invest in the enthusiastic yet exasperated Hiyori as many people can relate to the experience of looking after friends or siblings who constantly fight. Unfortunately, I do not like Hiyori’s voice. She sounds like a child next to others who sound like teenagers, and it continues to bite into my enjoyment. 

I’m not usually interested in idol shows because I don’t care for idol practices or performances and often find the cast too large for my liking. Heroines Run the Show! fits snugly into my slim criteria of idol anime I’m willing to watch — a smaller cast, less idol activities, and character-driven drama. I don’t expect this anime to blow my mind, but I still think I’ll find myself entertained till the end.

By: Gracie 

In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki: In which ninja girls trash-talk guys

Image source: Crunchyroll

Tsubaki is a shinobi living in a deeply isolated ninja village inhabited only by women. On one of her missions, she hears the voice of an elusive “man” that her village has warned not to interact with. Despite their warnings, the young Tsubaki can’t help but fall deep into the curiosities of what men are. 

In the Heart of Kunoichi Tsubaki is by mangaka Souichirou Yamamoto, who is best known for Teasing Master Takagi-san and the upcoming When Will Ayumu Make His Move? anime adaptation. Fans of his work will notice the similar art styles for the characters in those two works, but I’m not sure if Kunoichi Tsubaki is as good as them. One thing that’s different is the lack of men in the show and its strong emphasis on young women. 

We’re also introduced to Tsubaki’s troublesome teammates, Sazanka and Asagao. Sazanka is a pretty annoying brat with an infatuation of Tsubaki that is grating at times. Asagao is a dumb glutton who gets into trouble as well, but I already like her more than Sazanka. 

The first episode frames the show as a comedic slice-of-life series. Not much else goes on aside from Tsubaki’s team doing missions and her embarrassing thoughts about men. The village girls have limited knowledge of them, limited to qualities such as their stupidity, funny smell, and that their weakness is their crotch. It’s a tough assessment, but it’s also fair. 

Ultimately, I’d still recommend Teasing Master Takagi-san over Kunoichi Tsubaki, as the charm of Takagi-san is the growing relationship between different characters. For this anime, not so much. 

By: William

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic-: The gold standard of rom-coms

Image Source: Crunchyroll

There’s not much to say when it comes to this anime anymore because each season continues to shine in its characters, story, and production. The war between Kaguya and Shirogane continues as their feelings towards each other grow. We’re returning to a third season of chaos, laughter, and sneaky emotional moments, and the anime continues to perform well.

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War is one of those rare anime that manages to hit every possible trait on a list of elements found in good anime. Its characters are distinct and unique with relationships that feel real yet also unreal, its comedic moments are laugh-out-loud funny, its emotional moments induce tears and empathy, and it tells a story that never feels too slow or fast. The anime continues to draw on unique framing styles (e.g. freeze frame of an old film) to illustrate the wild happenings in the plot while still remaining grounded enough in narration to where you connect and want the best for the characters.

It’s a wonderful anime with a wonderful future. I loved the second season so much that I chose it as my anime of the year, and I’m happy for every new season I get to witness when it comes to this story.

By: Gracie 

Spy x Family: Mr. and Mrs. Smith the Animation (2022)

Image source: Crunchyroll

They say that opposites attract, but in reality, you often find couples who are more alike than different. That is precisely how Twilight, a top spy who is now known as Loid Forger, gets together with Yor Briar, an assassin. To top it off, Loid adopts telepathic child Anya, all for the top secret mission Loid needs to fulfill before all hell breaks loose in his country. 

All three characters’ portrayals were on-point throughout the episodes, especially for Loid. Takuya Eguchi expressed Loid’s personality perfectly, capturing Loid’s smoothness and cunning intellect all without overdoing it to raise people’s alarm bells. But it was the comedy coupled with action that hooked me into following the anime. 

The comedic relief mainly comes from Anya, who got Yor and Loid together by wringing her hands and playing up the lonely looks. She is also the first person to realize that Yor is an assassin and Loid is a spy, but instead of being terrified, she’s absolutely excited. Her wide-eyed expressions always get me laughing whether she’s excited, confused, or lost. Anya has truly captured my heart and the hearts of many others. But the biggest clincher came from Loid — he proposes to Yor with a grenade ring, with all the explosions behind them fit for a Hollywood action movie.

Talk about one bombastic end to an episode.

By: Crystal

The Dawn of the Witch: The sequel no one expected

Image Source: Crunchyroll

Does anyone remember Grimoire of Zero? Turns out that The Dawn of the Witch is a sequel that takes place a decade after that. Although the original story did not make a huge splash in the anime community, no one was really expecting a sequel. Yet, here it is, this time focusing on Saybil, an amnesiac boy with uncontrollable magic. The story works and makes sense even without Grimoire of Zero, but there’s always the exciting cameos of characters from a prior story you bonded with and watched grow. As someone who’s seen the previous chapter, this story doesn’t compare as well.

I have nothing against most of the main characters. Saybil, though relatively empty because of his lack of memories, is hardworking to the point of cuteness. Loux Krystas, a petite witch with a bombastic personality, entertains and is the highlight so far. Kudo, a lizard beastman, is as likable as tsunderes are. However, unlike Grimoire of Zero, there is a lack of chemistry between the characters. Loux Krystas is the only one who manages to build rapport that feels authentic and unique, but the rest of the characters feel forced together.

I heavily dislike Holt, one of the protagonists. With improbable boobs and a sexy yet childlike face, her design distracts me far too much. Additionally, I feel no gravity in the fights, and the animation has already started to flounder. For a story with witches, there is magic missing in the production, story, and characters.

By: Gracie

The Executioner and Her Way of Life: Yas girl, slay

Image Source: HiDive

As if to rescue me from the depths of bad otome game worlds, The Executioner and Her Way of Life bursts onto the scene with a fresh spin on the isekai genre. Menou is a priestess for the church, and her job is to kill Japanese teens who are isekai’d into her world. However, when she meets Akari, a girl whose temporal ability makes her unkillable, Menou aims to find a way to kill the unkillable. Plus, Menou realizes there’s also something mysteriously familiar about Akari…

For once, I was not familiar with the source material before starting the show. But when I heard that Mili, one of my favorite bands, did the opening theme song, I was immediately sold. I’m glad I decided to tune in because I love the premise of the show. Focusing on a character from the fantasy world and exploring the impacts of otherworlder summoning on society at large — like bringing trains into a world of magic — tickles my fancy. The character designs are easy to recognize, and I love the spaghetti western style horn flourishes that occasionally show up in the soundtrack. 

I will admit that the fight sequence between Menou and the royal guards in episode one left a little to be desired, as the sequence felt choppy with overly frequent cuts interrupting the flow of the fight. For now though, I’m inclined to forgive the show for its transgressions.

By: James

The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 2: Naofumi and the gang fight a turtle

Image source: Crunchyroll

The Shield Hero returns with another exciting adventure involving the ominous Spirit Turtle, which is wreaking havoc on the land. Queen Melromarc enlists Naofumi, Raphtalia, and Filo to find the source of the conflict and stop the Spirit Turtle from advancing further into the land.   

The first two episodes of the second season basically feel like an extended reintroduction of the characters in this new arc. I don’t think the plot feels rushed, but I can tell that the overall pacing is a little faster than in previous episodes. It’s been a while since I last saw the first season of Shield Hero, but the second season’s debut episodes didn’t have me confused for the most part. 

The new season introduces us to Rishia and Ost Hourai. I’m not much of a fan of Rishia so far because she’s kind of a bumbling airhead who simps hard for the Bow Hero, Itsuki Kawakami. It doesn’t help that she willingly becomes Naofumi’s “slave” to gain more power and someday be more useful to Itsuki. Ost Hourai is more entertaining because, while she presents herself as an evil seductress, she’s a helpful person that wants to help Naofumi and his friends stop the Spirit Turtle. She also has a dry sense of humor that I really appreciate. 

The Rising of the Shield Hero is at its best when it focuses on the action-packed adventures of Naofumi and his friends, rather than his victim complex. If it can continue to do that this season, then I’m all in for what’s to come next. 

By: William

Tomodachi Game: Believe in your friends until 40 thousand dollars is on the line

Image source: Crunchyroll

I believe that I am pretty tight-knit with my friends, but if I suddenly had to take on 40 thousand dollars worth of debt and be kidnapped by a shadow organization, I would have to reconsider my friendships. Yuichi finds himself in this exact situation, but unlike me, he chooses to believe in the power of his friendship with Shiho, Tenji, Yutori, and Makoto, all lifelong friends who have been kidnapped and are given the choice to play the Tomodachi Game. Somehow, one of these friends secretly is in debt for 20 million yen, and this is the primary catalyst for the kidnapping and the mystery theft of the 2 million yen class trip fund, presumably used to enter this high-stakes gambling game headed by a creepy Bob the Builder-looking mascot.

Okay, if you’ve gotten this far past the incredibly silly premise, the actual game itself is well thought out. The story presents all five lead characters as suspects, including our own main character Yuichi who may or may not also be a psychopath deceiving the audience. The game itself is not a death game like Danganronpa, but it includes high-stakes gambling over the initial debt (I’m not sure how they’re going to enforce it but whatever… plot reasons…), and these games are deeply rooted in betrayals and game theory that rewards the viewer for pausing and rethinking the game rules. 

Overall, it’s a fun show with well-designed games, but the initial premise and shallow characterization may make it hard to immediately get into the show. I had fun, but I can easily see Tomodachi Game become the delightful trainwreck of the season.

By: Nico

And that’s it for the second part! Click here for the first part of the Anibitez Spring 2022, in case you missed it.

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