The Good, The Bad, And The Weird: 2023 Winter Anime Season

The Good, The Bad, And The Weird: 2023 Winter Anime Season
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I’m the kind of person who’s easily impressed, especially when it comes to anime. But the 2023 winter anime season really had me in shambles. There was some fantastic shows, some absolutely awful ones, and some of the weirdest anime I’ve seen in a while.

While it wasn’t the strongest season this year, it was a wild ride, and it’s ended on a bittersweet note.

From the shows we loved to those that disappointed us, here’s what we watched during the 2023 winter anime season.

Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2

Let’s start with the best, most anticipated, and most loved anime of the 2023 winter season. The first part of Jujutsu Kaisen Season 2 covers the Hidden Inventory / Premature Death arc, which goes into Satoru Gojo’s backstory. It’s eye-opening for sure, and doesn’t overstay its welcome as it only spans the first five episodes of the season. From there, we get the Shibuya Incident arc, which brings us back to the present.

It’s unlikely that this season will cover the entire Shibuya Incident arc because of how long it is in the manga. But the season is still airing, and we’re at episode nine of 23, so if you haven’t started, you have time to catch up.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

Here’s where you can buy the first season of Jujutsu Kaisen on Blu-ray:

Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation Season 2

Season 2 of this high fantasy isekai sees our main character, Rudeus, enrol in magic school to learn about both the mass teleportation event and his erectile dysfunction. Of course, his priorities are never in order, and he focuses on trying to improve his sex life.

The juxtaposition of deep characters and emotional trauma with the comedy and ecchi aspects of this series is jarring and makes it difficult to fully enjoy the series. But the animation style is fantastic, and when the series doesn’t lean on comedy to resolve serious internal conflict, it feels like a masterpiece.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

Here’s where you can get the first season of Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation on Blu-ray and DVD:

Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead

Zom 100 shakes up the anime zombie genre by using the zombie apocalypse as an allegory for working life under capitalism. It’s not very subtle, but it feels like a breath of fresh air compared to other anime that deal with themes of corporate negativity.

Most fictional media about full-time work focuses on the positives of working or how to deal with work stress in a healthy way. While there’s nothing inherently wrong with this (we love Aggretsuko), we’re in a period of economic and social turmoil, so a series that completely shafts the idea of working under capitalism and directly compares our world to the zombie apocalypse is doing us all a service.

In addition, the art and animation are visually striking and it’s well-directed. If you’re a fan of zombie comedies, Zom 100 is one of the best anime this season.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

Here’s where you can pick up the Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead manga:

Reborn as a Vending Machine, I Now Wander the Dungeon

Reborn as a Vending Machine is another low-budget isekai anime that follows the same formula as other shows we’ve seen previously. It was obvious from the beginning that it would do nothing new or exciting, even if the protagonist is a vending machine. It doesn’t make the series good, or inherently bad, but it’s tiring if you’ve seen other isekai anime with the same premise — Reborn as (household item, animal, or fantasy weapon).

If you haven’t seen a low-quality isekai anime before this season, watch this one for the premise — and to learn about Japanese vending machines.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

You can buy the Reborn as a Vending Machine light novel here:

If you prefer to read manga, it’s available here:

My Happy Marriage

In this Meiji-restoration era romance, the quiet, docile Miyo is arranged to be married to a cruel military captain. When she finally meets him though, she finds that not only is he not a cruel man, but she can also help him with her supernatural powers.

This slow-burning romance series is based off the award-winning novel of the same name and is also being adapted into a manga. Written by women, for women, it’s charming and full of drama. Not only that, but it’s hard to ignore the beautiful animation and art style. It has the potential to be one of Netflix’s best anime this year.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

You can check out the manga here:

Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War – The Separation

I tend to approach Bleach the same way I do for other big shonen hits like Naruto or One Piece. They’re all loved around the world for many reasons, even if I personally don’t resonate with the media. Part 2 of Bleach: Thousand-Year Blood War covers the final arc of the manga, which is why it fails to live up to the hype of Part 1. In saying that, it’s still a great watch, and if you’re a shonen fan, Bleach is a classic.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

If you want to read the Bleach manga from the beginning, you can buy the box sets here:

Dark Gathering

In one of the spookier horror-comedy anime this season, our main character is a university student who both attracts ghosts and is terrified of them. He takes up a job tutoring a small child named Yayoi, but finds out that she likes to hunt — and capture — ghosts, spirits, and anything supernatural.

While it has a good basis for a horror series, it struggles to balance the spooky moments with the funny ones. The series can also get really dark, which feels jarring when a dark scene is interrupted by someone doing something silly for a laugh. If it only went for one cour (12 episodes), it would definitely work better, because 25 episodes is too many for a story this simple.

The series is still airing, and while it is dragging on, it’s a good watch in the lead-up to halloween.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

The manga is still being published, but you can start your collection now:

The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today

This was my guilty pleasure anime this 2023 winter season. It has a boring plot, terrible pacing, and the animation is questionable (thanks GoHands), but something about a giant, sentient, house-maid cat made me extremely happy. I thoroughly enjoyed this show for its premise alone, and I think that says more about me as a person than anything else.

From a critical standpoint, I can’t recommend this series, but if you’re looking for an anime with a human-sized cat that walks on its hind legs, cooks, cleans and does the grocery shopping, you should definitely watch it.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

If you want to read the manga instead, you can get it here:

The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses

The devil works hard, but GoHands works harder. Besides The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today, GoHands also worked on The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses. This anime is one of the worst this season. It looks like it’s supposed to be a take on the romance/slice-of-life genre that features a small, cute female lead, and a tall, masculine love interest (think Aharen-san wa Hakarenai or My Senpai Is Annoying).

The thing that The Girl I Like Forgot Her Glasses gets wrong though, is the dynamic between our two main characters. Mie-san always forgets her glasses, but she’s never given an opportunity to remember them. She’s stuck in a perpetually infantile state and after six episodes, it gets old. I just want this poor girl to be able to see.

The art style is also strangely dark for an anime that’s supposed to be cute and about romance. Other anime in the genre rely on bright colours and simple character designs to add to the aesthetic and themes, but GoHands took it upon themselves to make it too detailed. The manga uses a simple art style though, so I recommend that over the anime.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

If you’re interested in the manga, you can buy it here:

Horimiya: The Missing Pieces

To wrap up the 2023 winter anime season is Horimiya: The Missing Pieces. One of the most famous, loved and relatable couples in the world of anime and manga shine once again. When it was announced that the manga would be adapted into an anime, we knew it would be good. In 2021, Hori and Miyamura graced our screens, and it was beautiful.

This second season has kept up that energy, even though it’s not ‘technically’ a second season. This secondary series adapts scenes and chapters from the manga that weren’t included in the original anime. This means it can get confusing at times due to the order of events being a little disrupted, but it’s not too big of a deal if you’ve watched the first season or read the manga.

Recommended | Mixed feelings | Not recommended

If you haven’t seen the first season of the anime, you can pick up the Blu-rays and DVDs here:

Have you watched any of the anime on this list yet? What did you like, and what did you find cringe? Let us know in the comments below.

If you want to read more anime content, you can check out my list of anime for the upcoming season here.

This article has been updated since its original publication.

Lead Image Credit: Crunchyroll/Netflix


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