The time has come. I've spend the last couple of weeks watching Crunchyroll's Winter lineup for 2024 and these are my first impressions for each series. Will I drop them? Which one will I rank as the best of the season? Guess you'll have to be around for that.
So, here we go. One by one.
7th Time Loop:
The Villainess Enjoys a Carefree Life Married to Her Worst Enemy!
Studio: Studio KAI, HORNETSWATCH NOW
Rishe, the duke’s daughter, is no stranger to reincarnation—it’s her seventh life, after all. Each life restarts at her broken engagement. Having been a merchant, a maid, and a knight, she now desires leisure. But her world changes when a prince, who killed her in a past life, proposes! To prevent war and live to a ripe old age, she begins her seventh life as the bride of an enemy nation’s prince.
In case it's not clear, this anime was a somewhat new twist to the isekai / reincarnation formula and, surprisingly, was an easier watch than I thought. The premise is that the main heroine has somehow lived 6 times before, with all of them developing differently – she can remember what she did in her past life – but also all of them ending with a war caused by her killer. And, obviously, the 7th time she ends up grabbing his attention and it goes a completely different route.
Even when it's giving a romance vibe for the whole series, it had time to give us insights into the main heroine character and straight up tell us that she's not the classic useless heroine. It will be interesting to see how his presence changes the dynamic.
The animation was above average but nothing to write home about. Voice acting was good, with the exception of her fiance, who is annoying as hell – which might be the point. The soundtrack or background music was okay but not exciting.
Overall, after seeing the first episode, my impression is that it is a standard shojo anime release. Good but not great. I think it all comes down to how the dynamic for this couple evolves in the following episodes. I'm really hoping they don't turn her into a dull character.
Yuki Itose is just a typical student dealing with the pressures of college. She is struggling one day on the train when an upperclassman named Itsuomi Nagi helps her out. As he gradually opens a new world to her, Yuki develops feelings for Itsuomi. A pure love story begins to grow.
Now, this one was a surprise but totally my fault. From the looks of it, I thought this was going to be an anime similar to Wotakoi, a romance anime with a more grown up setup. I honestly didn't read the synopsis well because I didn't notice the "deaf" part. Yeah, our main character is deaf. That's new! And exciting! As someone who tried learning sign language, this was a really cool surprise.
When I noticed that little detail that escaped me, hope started to grow inside me. "Maybe this will force them to think differently about how to manage a main character with a special condition", I thought to myself. And sure it did. This is a romance anime but it has a different vibe, completely. Sounds, character voices, mannerism and even the interactions are not what you'd expect. Everything seems to slow down when watching this series. Silence prevails in a way that's noticeable. Dialogues are turned down to a minimum. They animated sign language and the mouth of the characters move slowly so our main heroine can read their lips. Hell, I'm even trying to learn japanese sign language from this anime.
The animation is good. The voice acting was good. The background music and ambiance was really good. All in all, good if not great.
This, I hope, could become a really good anime. Obviously, after reading all I wrote again, I'm biased, but hey, inclusion – and distinction – is always good.
Making up for her sins in a past life as the evil princess Elise, Aoi Takamoto dedicates her life to saving people as a doctor. But a fatal accident cuts her atonement short and suddenly she’s back to her previous life, 10 years before her death! Will her foresight and medical brilliance help her change her past ways and heal an ailing empire, or is fate doomed to repeat itself?
This one was a little more bothersome to watch. Maybe I wasn't in the mood, maybe it was too much to digest, I'm not sure. They introduced us to our main character as she's the devil in the first minutes of the episode, only to change her into a doctor the rest of the episode. Yeah, she has regrets. Yeah, she's trying to make up for them. But that was all... so dramatic. They close the episode on a strong note, showing the silver lining to all her struggles. That part I liked, but it was, maybe, a couple minutes long.
The animation is good and I liked it. The voice acting was really good, enough to irritate me with the drama. The background music and ambiance was okay.
To be honest, if I were to drop a series today, this would be it. I think they could have elaborated more, maybe in a couple of episodes, what made her so bad or evil for everybody. They could have made us really hate her or produce some resentment from us to her, but instead I have to believe she was the worst and now she's trying to be good.
Let's see if it improves in the upcoming weeks.
Hokkaido Gals Are Super Adorable!
Snowflakes aren’t the only things dropping in Hokkaido—so are jaws, thanks to the super adorable gals who are turning the icy north into a hotbed of fashion and fun. Brace yourself for a winter storm of laughs, love, and killer outfits as these gals prove that being cute is an all-season affair. Here, frostbite meets fashionista!
Another surprise this season. I just recently started reading this manga on MANGA Plus after learning it has a really, really, good free tier plan. I picked the series on a whim and I haven't been able to put it down since. If it's deserving of an anime adaptation it is because the source material is good.
In the first episode, we're introduced to Shiki, who moved from Tokyo to Hokkaido and in his first minutes there the first person he bumps into is a gal. Not the best luck for someone reserved like him. She turns out to be his classmate, too. Interactions bring My Dress-Up Darling to mind, with how their personalities contrast at the beginning. But hey, Fuyuki is cute as hell, too. Full of fan service, this slice of life series starts strong.
The animation was average but nothing really remarkable, if anything it left me wishing for a better animation. The character design is really good adhering to the manga style. Voice acting is really good, up to par with what I imagined in my head reading the manga. The background music and ambiance was good. Maybe the pacing was a little bit rushed?
They have the cute characters to move forward and, from what I've read so far, they also have good development in this story. If it follows the manga correctly, this could be the start of a long adaptation.
Sasaki is a middle-aged office worker living in Japan. Feeling drained by the vapid corporate world, he heads to the pet shop in search of a new companion. There he finds an adorable bird named Peeps and takes him home. But Sasaki quickly learns that Peeps isn’t your average bird…he’s a powerful mage from another world! Together, they embark on a magical adventure filled with swords and sorcery.
Man, so much happened in one episode. I've never heard of this series at all, but, hell yeah, I like where it took me. The 40+ minute episode was packed with everything. Real worker life, fantasy, politics, comedy, maybe a glimmer of romance... Throw in some occult stuff and I'm all set.
That said, it was all managed splendidly. I didn't get bored at all and it was all congruent and consistent, even when moving through genres. I only noticed the episode lasted over 40 minutes after asking myself "how did they managed to pack all of this in one episode?"
Animation is really good, one of the best for this season, and it also has a characteristic style. Voice acting was great, and how could it not be when they have the master Tomokazu Sugita voicing the main character? The ambiance and background music were good.
Overall, I think this series is one of my highlights for the season. I really liked the episode and the characters. I'm looking forward to watching more of them.
They say whatever doesn’t kill you makes you stronger, but that’s not the case for the world’s weakest hunter Sung Jinwoo. After being brutally slaughtered by monsters in a high-ranking dungeon, Jinwoo came back with the System, a program only he could see, that’s leveling him up in every way. Now, he’s inspired to discover the secrets behind his powers and the dungeon that spawned them.
The anime everyone was looking forward to this season. I've not read the manwha, but I'll believe you if you tell me it's really good. Having A-1 Pictures backing a new anime is a big deal and a sign of greatness to come – more often than not. However, I was also hoping this doesn't get the SAO treatment. I know the stories are different but having the studio working on both at the same time made me worry a little bit.
Shouldn't have worried. To be honest, from an animation standpoint the direction made Solo Leveling feels completely different from SAO, even a lot more mature, with the story revolving around issues that also feel more adult-like. Damn! I haven't even mentioned the level of gore. It's so good. It's just there where it adds to the drama of what's on the screen and not overly gory just for the laughs.
The animation is good, one of my favorites this season. Ambient and background music were good, with a particular focus on adding to the angst. Voice acting was on point.
One thing I noticed and didn't like is that episodes seem to be dragging a lot. I'm not sure if that's going to change moving forward but they felt really slow.
Rud doesn’t raid labyrinths as a shield with the Hero’s Party for the riches, but to cure his ill sister. Legend has it there lies a treasure within the labyrinths that grants wishes, but before Rud can find it, the arrogant hero kicks him out. With nowhere to go, he’s forced to return home, but not before saving a young girl who reveals his true power—the highest defense stat in history!
I wasn't really expecting much of this anime and from the first episode it seems that I was right. This seems one of the now-usual anime about a powerful member of the best and most powerful party of adventurers being kicked for ridiculous reasons and leaving to lead a quiet life only to save the world at the end of the day.
Let's just save some time here. Everything was average. Animation was ok, voice acting was ok and ambiance/background music was ok. I say this without hating on it, it's just what it is.
I don't expect much of this one. So let's keep moving.
An ordinary walk home from school turns into an epic journey for Usato. After suddenly being dropped into another world with two fellow students, Usato learns he was summoned there by accident. But things turn around when he discovers a unique aptitude for healing magic! Now, he trains beyond human limitations, using his self-healing abilities to gain absurd strength and unrivaled stamina.
A surprise for sure! I didn't know about this one, never heard of it and didn't have any idea of what it was going to be. But this one kept a smile on my face the whole time. It's actually really funny, so far.
I'll be honest, the first episode doesn't give us much in terms of story, just the classic "we brought you to another world because we need you" story line but there's something else. One of the guys has a magic type affinity that's scary to the inhabitants of the isekai world: healing. This plot twist is the key of the story. With healing being considered one of the most useless magic in the isekai anime, what could be so scary?
In this case, while not of my liking, I have to agree that the animation was very good. Voice acting was super, super on point; easily the highlight of the series. The ambiance and background music was okay.
All in all, this is one I will be seeing. It may evolve into a good anime just because of the plot, but so far I'm enjoying it because it's really funny.
Sato is a high school boy in love with his best friend Hime, an unearthly beauty from another realm. So when she moves back to her home world to get married, Sato doesn’t think twice—he follows her and crashes the wedding. Then, after a kiss from Hime, he suddenly becomes the new groom! But here, Hime is a Ring Princess and her husband is destined to be the Ring King: a hero of immense power.
This is the one, because there's always one, right? Yeah, it has the Mature rating you're looking for. And the thing fans ask more of. You know, a good service. Fan service.
This one you'll see for the plot and only for the plot. Not much to say. It's okay. See it, judge it for yourself. I'll be waiting until the brunette with colored eyes appears. Because there's always one.
The ones I didn't watch
I just couldn't pull myself to watch them all before the deadline. But I'll try, I promise. It's just that Palworld came out and I haven't stopped playing it. The Pals are so fucking cute.
The classic 1,001 Nights story gets a delinquent twist in this latest series from Hiroko Utsumi!
Studio: Nippon Animation
The classic Maruko-chan series comes to Crunchyroll with stories of her family and friends, new and old!
Delusional Monthly Magazine
Studio: OLM Team Yoshioka
Uncover a world of outlandish new stories with the journalists behind the Delusional Monthly Magazine!
Meiji Gekken: 1874
Studio: Tsumugi Akita Anime Lab
In Meiji-era Japan, members from every corner of society find themselves in a plot to overthrow the government.
A young girl named Rouge carries out an operation to take out nine androids who threaten humanity.
Studio: WHITE FOX
In an ancient Japan filled with demons, one brother and sister embark on a journey to defeat all evil!
The Weakest Tamer Began a Journey to Pick Up Trash
Studio: STUDIO MASSKET
A young tamer and slime adventure out to clean up every aspect of their world!
The Witch and the Beast
Studio: Yokohama Animation Lab
To break the curse of an evil witch, one pair travels to a mysterious town with a score to settle.
And that's it. Frankly, I knew I wouldn't be able to watch them all – there's so many of them – and some are not even all that interesting, to me. If I start seeing one on this list because someone recommends it and it turns out to be better than expected, I'll update this post to let you know.
Anyways, thanks for reading my opinion. I tried to keep it as spoiler free as possible and just a general first impression. Let me know if I missed something or if you'd rather I touch other points.
Have a good one!