Spring 2022 Anime First Impressions

I know it’s been ages since I’ve posted, and I still need to do a top 10 anime of 2021 post, but the new anime season has arrived, and I’ve greatly enjoyed a number of premieres, so I thought I would give my first impressions of these anime.

I don’t normally do something like this because I prefer to wait for dubs. But there is no way to determine for sure which anime will get dubs or not, and because of the pandemic and remote recording, there is no way to tell when they will come out. I’m fine with waiting for sequels if their original season got dubbed, because I can be assured it will get a dub. But for new shows, I’m not sure. I will probably put some of these on hold until a dub comes out, but I at least wanted to check out the premiere because multiple shows this season caught my interest.

I will only be talking about new shows. No sequels. Since I’m waiting for dubs for those, I haven’t watched them yet. And my thoughts on those sequels would likely be the same for my thoughts on their previous seasons. I will be going over each of the eight premieres I watched in the order of how much I liked them. So my least favorite premieres will be first, and my favorite premiere will be at the end. I’ve seen one or two episodes of each, depending on how many are out.

With that out of the way, let’s get to my thoughts.

Aharen-san wa Hakarenai

I wasn’t planning on watching this show, but my brother recommended me to watch it while I was writing this blog. It stars a kind boy named Raidou who wants to be friends with the girl who sits next to him, Aharen. But Aharen speaks so quietly, that it’s hard to understand her. It makes for many awkward scenes as the two try to be friends with each other.

I watched the first two episodes, which were very mixed. Parts of it made for extremely well-timed comedy. Other parts were unbearably cringe and not funny at all. The main gimmick does lead itself to some funny moments, but I don’t have much faith the show can keep it up, because honestly the gimmick itself is kinda stupid. Aharen doesn’t want to be too loud because one time in her past it annoyed some people. This isn’t a compelling reason as to why she is the way she is.

Episode 2 made me lose even more faith when it introduced Aharen’s childhood friend, Mitsuki. Said childhood friend is afraid of Raidou, so she stalks the two of them to make sure Raidou doesn’t do anything funny. She’s simply unbearable to watch, and makes the show significantly worse. I’m concerned she might just ruin this show.

This was definitely a mixed bag, and it’s the hardest premiere from this season for me to recommend. I will continue a little while longer, but it’s the most concerning so far, and the most likely one for me to drop.

The Executioner and Her Way of Life

One thing I’ve heard quite a bit about this premiere is that you should go into it blind, but I don’t think the surprise of it all is meaningful, so I will be going over the premise of the show. People describe it as anti-isekai, which I can understand. Japanese people have been summoned to this world in the past, and have had an influence on the culture and language of the world. When teens are isekai’d, they gain powers, which could potentially go out of control and cause massive damage. Menou, the protagonist, is an executioner, killing anyone who gets summoned to this world to protect it from potential harm. But one day, one of the summoned has an ability that makes her immortal, so she takes this Japanese girl, named Akari, on a journey to find a way to kill her.

Honestly, I feel this anime could go harder with its premise. The idea that much of the damage caused to Menou’s world is caused by powers going out of control makes any attempts at criticizing the isekai formula, and the problematic issues many isekai stories contain, feel less biting. I know it sounds like I’m asking for the summoned to be less morally gray, because that’s exactly what I’m doing. But considering the direction of this isekai seems to be the relationship between Menou and Akari, which I’m assuming will head in a yuri direction, I don’t expect the show’s isekai criticism to land much. That being said, I do think there is potential for an interesting relationship between Menou and Akari. Unfortunately, Momo, the pink hair girl who obviously likes Menou, is extremely obnoxious, and makes this show less fun.

Another issue I have is with the worldbuilding. It feels strange how much influence the summoned Japanese had on this world, despite the damage they caused and the fact that they are killed on arrival. If there were Japanese people without powers that were still alive, or those with powers who were unable to be killed, it would make more sense. Hopefully, the worldbuilding will eventually reveal a more sensible explanation to why the world is the way it is.

I had my issues with the first two episodes, which is why I’m ranking this low, but in a subgenre full of so much garbage, the potential for this show to meaningfully do something interesting is what will keep me watching this, at least a little while longer.

Healer Girl

Healer Girl was another premiere I was a bit mixed on. It seems like the type of show I would like, but I wasn’t hooked like I was the rest of the shows on this list. The main girls are apprentices at a clinic that heals people using song. Yes, this show as a new branch of medicine that involves healing people through singing.

The obvious point of praise here is the animation, which is very detailed and expressive. Good character animation is a must in non action focused anime such as this. Hopefully the show can keep up this level of quality throughout.

I’m not exactly sure where this show plans to go. It can really do anything, but I hope they find a way to keep it interesting. Parts of the first episode bored me. The girls aren’t allowed to heal patients as they are still in training. Much of the first episode involves the characters giving the audience an idea of what they are like and explaining their role. It also showed them participating in training. I can’t say I’m too attached to any of these character. Red head is a simple nice girl. Blondie has an obnoxious obsession with her teacher. White hair was just kinda there.

I also really don’t like musicals, but there was portions where the characters would burst into song, and it was kinda grating.

The latter portion of this episode is where the anime shows what it can do, with the girls having to help an old woman who’s feeling sick while the clinic is closed, and the singing doctors are away on a business trip. Each character does what they can to make sure they can care for the old woman. It created a sense of urgency that allows us to care for the girl’s success. Hopefully this anime can continue to create more interesting ideas to keep me engaged.

Shikimori’s Not Just a Cutie

Yuu Izumi is a boy with terrible luck. Good thing for him, his girlfriend is extremely cool sometimes, and can protect him when he’s in trouble. Shikimori is a cute and popular girl. But when her boyfriend is in trouble, or just when the situation calls for it, she becomes very cool instead.

This was an uneven premiere for me, but one with lots of potential. My main concern is that Shikimori being both cute and cool is going to be played off mostly as a gimmick to increase her waifu status. What I mean is, the fact that she can appeal to more people as someone who’s both cute and cool, or just the concept of her having both these modes makes her more attractive to people with varied tastes in waifus. I don’t expect this show to go in the direction of meaningfully examining gender roles by contrasting the pathetic male lead with the cool female lead, as much as I want it to.

But there is potential. I’m just guessing, but the opening makes it seem like Shikimori might have had a past as a delinquent (which could explain her absurd athleticism), and Izumi may have been bullied before. It’s possible she saved him at some point. Evidenced further by the final scene where Izumi was reminded of something when Shikimori saved him from a falling sign. It makes me wonder if her cuteness is more of a farce created in order to appeal to conventional gender roles, in spite of Izumi (and probably everyone) also liking it when she’s cool. The bowling scene kind of leaned into this with her wanting to appear cute, and being convinced to play terribly, only for her to get a perfect game and get the praise of everyone, including her boyfriend. And she does seem willing to embrace her cool side, as long as it lets her protect her boyfriend from his terrible luck. My hope is she embraces this cool side more broadly, because her boyfriend likes her that way, so there really is no incentive to appeal to societal expectations of gender. Also, I just like tomboys.

I also greatly enjoy Izumi’s gimmick. It’s stupid, and is likely there just to make Shikimori stand out, but I like how it plays out contextually. He’s not your typical bland protagonist we should self-insert into. He’s ordained by the gods to have terrible luck. He actually stands out because of this gimmick. But in order to make the gimmick work, he can’t just be a loser. He doesn’t play into the “no friends loser” stereotype. While others look down on him and are jealous of his hot girlfriend, he actually has some friends and leads a relatively normal life in spite of this gimmick. It makes him feel fresh, without being too absurd. We can pity him without the show going too overboard to make him pitiable.

I do have to point out that this premiere wasn’t perfect. Comedic timing is a mixed bag, and some of the jokes fell flat. There were some great parts, like the whole bowling scene. There was some cute parts, like Shikimori not being able to see the board with class assignments. But there were also some poorly executed parts, like the eraser defying physics to land on Shikimori’s head. The uneven start makes this premiere less good than some of the standouts from this season. But there is so much potential to be had, hopefully something that will make this feel like more than the “waifu of the season” romcom show.

One final thing I want to mention is how cute the ED theme visuals are. It’s like a rhythm game, with each obstacle Shikimori needs to defend her BF from being like notes. It’s so silly and cute.

Deaimon: Recipe for Happiness

The protagonist, Nagomu, returns to his parents’ house after being a failed musician. When he arrives, he finds they adopted a 10 year old girl named Itsuka to be the successor to sweets shop. Nagomu basically has to play the role of a parent for the girl.

There are a few things that stand out about this premiere. Just like with Shikimori, the main male character is a gigantic wimp. He stands out from the typical bland self-insert by basically being a crybaby, which is very funny. Itsuka, the adopted girl, tries to act more like an adult so she can feel needed and like she belongs. Having a girl act like an adult and having an adult act like a child makes for a fun contrast. His goofiness also makes him a great person to take care of Itsuka.

Itsuka always seems on edge as she desperately tries to make herself useful. A goofball like Nagomu is exactly what she needs to allow her to unwind and just learn to be a kid. A moment that made this quite evident is when Itsuka tried to sell the extra manju they made because of a prank call. Nagomu comes in with a guitar and sings a silly song to help her sell the extra manju. This first episode was full of funny jokes, but it also had some heartwarming moments that I love in slice of life. Hopefully the show can keep up the momentum and keep being wholesome throughout.

It’s not the best in terms of production, but the writing is strong, which made this a very strong premiere.

Spy X Family

I’m usually distrustful of the “hype of the season” type of show, but with this one, I can definitely understand the hype. It was a fantastic premiere. We haven’t even been introduced to the mother, but I’m already on board with the premise. Loid Forger is an important spy. He’s one day assigned a mission that would require him to have a child. So he adopts a child named Anya, who has psychic abilities that lets her read minds. Although Anya never discloses this.

Loid starts out cold and only sees Anya as a means to an end, but over time, he seems to start to care for the girl. This show has potential to be a great show about found family, through the use of spies. Anya is absolutely adorable, but her need to feel wanted by a parental figure also makes her a character worth caring for. She also makes really funny faces, which is great meme material.

This premiere was also full of extremely well written comedy. Great comedic timing, script writing, and situational awareness made what could have been dull and forced feel organic and genuinely funny.

I can’t wait to see where this goes once the plot thickens and the mother is introduced. This has potential to be a very fun ride if it can keep up the momentum.

Birdie Wing: Golf Girls’ Story

Birdie Wing is one of the shows this season I was most excited for. I’m always up for a new girls sports anime. Most of the ones I’ve watched veered into slice of life and cutesy territory. I do like those types of shows, but I do want something a little more serious. So while I was excited for this premiere, nothing could have prepared me for what I got.

Birdie Wing combines the serious with the absurd almost perfectly. Eve is a girl who plays golf for bets. She wants to make money so she can help pay off corrupt cops to let her undocumented immigrant friends continue to live in whatever country this story takes place in. Eve, and her friend Lily are both entertaining characters you can’t help but root for because of their noble cause.

This episode simultaneously endears us to its cast and gets us invested in their goals, while also being fun and ridiculous at times. Eve has an unconventional style of golfing, using only three clubs, and making some absurdly difficult, almost comical shots, like hitting a ball between a moving train. Golf is a sport many would consider boring, especially to watch. Adding a bit of flair will make this boring sport fun to watch for basically anyone. This show also adds some spice using references to Gundam and Pac Man, properties own by Bandai Namco, who’s anime studio worked on this anime.

The episode ends with Eve meeting Aoi, a Japanese golfer who plays professionally. I expect this show to go in a direction of Eve taking golf seriously as a profession so she can use the money she wins to support the undocumented immigrants she cares about. I also expect she will move to Japan, as most of the cast seems to be Japanese. I don’t know if this show can keep up the nonstop fun of it’s premiere, but it’s got me completely hooked, and I want to see more. I can’t recommend this anime enough.

Ya Boy Kongming!

Lots of times, it can feel like isekai shows just want to copy other isekai shows, but with minor twists. There is a level of self-awareness in isekai that feels disgusting at times. That’s why, I feel a sense of relief when an isekai I’m watching makes me forget it’s an isekai. Ya Boy Kongming is a sort of pseudo reverse isekai. Kongming, a general of the three kingdoms, reincarnates into the future, of modern day Tokyo. There, he becomes enamored with Eiko, an amateur club singer.

He wants Eiko to succeed, and decides he will become her tactician, using strategies from his time as a general to help her succeed in the music business. This doesn’t seem like something that should work, but it works so damn easily in this show. Amazing animation and direction from PA Works makes this anime pop. It’s some of the most bouncy and bubbly of their shows, which is saying something, considering how much personality PA Works anime tends to have.

This show can be amazingly funny, but it also has a great emotional core backing it up. We don’t know much about Eiko, but we can still root for her drive to become a successful singer. She’s worked hard and it’s clear from brief flashbacks that she’s dealt with some mental health issues. I’m completely on board with giving her the happiness she deserves.

So how does the war strategies play into this? In the second episode, we get to see this gimmick play out in full force. I gotta tell ya, I fucking loved it. Eiko was invited to a multi-room club. Mia, a successful singer, was hoping to use her lack of followers to make one of the rooms in the club not worth visiting, which would encourage them to visit her instead. Kongming uses some ridiculous war strategy to keep any guests in Eiko’s room just long enough for them to want to stick around and hear her great singing. It was stupid, but it was oh-so glorious. If this is what Kongming is capable of, I want to see more. This is how you make the most out of a gimmick, something many anime fail to do properly.

I also have to mention the singing is pretty good. Lots of the songs are sung in Engrish, but surprisingly it sounds pretty good. The performances also have amazing animation and choreography. It’s an amazing feat for 2D animation. The OP and ED are also quite amazing. Both are covers. The OP has some hilarious dancing. It’s so catchy and well animated, that I can see it being my favorite OP of the year. The ED theme  is cute, and covers a famous song, Kibun Jojo, which also appeared in D4DJ.

Everything about these first two episodes wowed me. I can’t wait to watch more of this show. So far, it’s my top pick of the season. Eiko deserves the world, and I can’t wait to see her grab it.

Conclusion

So these were all the brand new anime premieres I watched. I don’t intend on watching any more. If we include sequels, this could amount to being one of the best anime seasons of all time. I’m excited to continue most of these shows.

So what anime are you excited to watch this season? What are your favorites? What are your least favorites? Let me know.

Thanks for reading, and maybe I will post at least one more time this year.

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