The Best of Winter Anime 2023

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Winter Anime 2023 — But Why Tho (1)

The winter anime season has been stacked, so much so that it makes keeping up with new series on a week-to-week basis difficult. While there have been some series that haven’t quite kept my interest, such as the action fantasy series Revenger or the slice-of-life Tomo-chan Is a Girl!, most of the new series have been instant additions to the rotation. So how about a Winter Anime 2023 round-up?

Not to mention many returning favorites. My Hero Academia following its excellent first cour continues its sixth season in the back half with some of its best material since season three. Blue Lock continues in its second cour to demonstrate why it built such an immense following – though the jury is still out on if there’s been a moment in the anime that’s captured the sheer kinetic athleticism depicted on the page. Play it Cool Guys remains the type of end-of-the-night balm to help soothe after a particularly devastating episode of another series, and To Your Eternity season two was likely the show that’s causing that devastation. 

Here are the five best new series that have premiered this year and the one returning that need to be added to your watch list immediately if they aren’t already there. 

Tsurune: The Linking Shot

Winter Anime 2023 — But Why Tho

Studio: Kyoto Animation

Based on the Light Novels by Kotoko Ayano, with illustrations by Chinatsu Morimoto, Tsurune: The Linking Shot, the second season of the series, is a far superior adaptation than its first, and the bar was high, to begin with. From Kyoto Animation, the series is imbued with vibrancy in the scenery and critical detail in the art form the students are pursuing, Kyūdō, a traditional form of Japanese archery. 

There’s a needed, and often neglected, patience found in the direction of Takuya Yamamura, possessing a reverence for the sport itself but also the passion of the students studying it. Despite that patience, the series to has an eye for kineticism, the motion of the bow and arrow, and the archer’s taut draw all conceptualized with wonder and fluidity. It’s a sports anime so there are the standard group dynamics, the push, and pull of rivals, the bystanders who help explain the sport to casual onlookers, and so forth, but Tsurune: The Linking Shot is a step beyond others in its genre. Season two is astonishing storytelling and animation, with some of the more dazzling frames of any series this year.

Season two is available on HIDIVE.  

Buddy Daddies

Buddy Daddies Episode 5 — But Why Tho (1)

Studio: P.A. Works

First up in the Winter Anime 2023 Round-Up: Buddy Daddies. Too many people – this writer included – looked at the poster and trailer for Buddy Daddies and brushed it off as a Spy x Family knockoff. The original series is anything but. The comparisons begin and end with two adults taking care of a child. Beyond that, it’s excellent in its own right. The humor is present from the very start of the series and becomes more and more subdued as we progress into the season, not losing moments of levity but making them more character-driven rather than derivative of spectacle. Rei and Kazuki have baggage, they live increasingly dangerous lives, and they’re opposites in terms of personality, but their love and care for Miri tether them together in their little family unit. With this week’s recap episode, it would appear that from here till the end of the season, we’re settled for some greater and possibly more devastating stakes with the three now have targets on their backs due to Rei’s father.

Season one is available on Crunchyroll. 

Trigun: Stampede

Trigun Stampede - But why tho

Studio: Orange

With only two episodes left before the season’s (series?!) finale, Trigun: Stampede has impressed with bold visuals and a striking twist on the design of the lead character. While fans of the original manga and anime adaptation had reason to be hesitant regarding the latest iteration, it brought in plenty of new fans. Studio Orange has delivered mightily in the past on kinetic motion and detailed design that brings these characters further to life with series such as Beastars and Land of the Lustrous and Trigun: Stampede the double-down on that effort with Vash the Stampede being instantly loveable due to the intricacies of his design and the landscape endless and vast. Of course this lands on our Winter Anime 2023 Round-Up.

Season one is available on Crunchyroll.

Summertime Rendering

Summer Time Rendering — But Why Tho

Studio: OLM, Inc.
Initially released in Japan last year, the U.S. didn’t have it available to stream until 2023, so we’re counting it for now. Summertime Rendering is engaging from the start, a twist on the dependable time-loop story, with this aligning more with straightforward time travel than loops. Stylish and relentless in its pacing with a strong balance of action, horror, humor, and romance, Summertime Rendering demands full attention and achieves it early.

Season one is available on Hulu.

Hikari no Ō (The Fire Hunter)

The Fire Hunter Episode 1 — But Why Tho

Studio: Signal.MD
If nothing else, there is no other anime currently airing that comes close to resembling the imagery of The Fire Hunter. Adapted from the series written by Rieko Hinata and illustrated by Akihiro Yamada, the anime is brought to life in part due to the work by director Junji Nishimura and a script from Ghost in the Shell director Mamoru Oshii. The fantastical elements come alive in detailed bits of storytelling as well as the larger-than-life creatures the world is up against. With deliberately rough lines and edges that lack the shine of its contemporaries, The Fire Hunter stands apart with its distinct style and melancholy story.

Season one is available on Crunchyroll.

Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1 A

NieR: Automata Ver. 1.1a Episode 1 — But Why Tho?

Studio: A-1 Pictures

There’s got to be a division of viewers in the case of Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1 A. Between those who played the game and are waiting eagerly for all the absurdity to reach its boiling point, those who maybe sat in the room as their significant other played said game (this writer) and know that a lot is hiding under the surface and the weird puppet codas are probably more indicative of its tone than anything, and those who knew nothing about the game and have no idea what they’ve committed to. It’s that last group whose reactions are the more interesting. Visually this is amazing so far, though the pacing is almost too patient erring on the side of tediousness during certain episodes.

Season one is available on Crunchyroll.

With the Spring anime season fast approaching, with titles such as Demon Slayer and Attack on Titan already premiering their first episodes, be it in theaters or available to stream, now is the time to catch up on all that’s already aired with a Winter Anime 2023 Round-Up. With a number of the above series such as Trigun: Stampede nearing the end of their seasons, there’s no better time than the current lull of new releases to binge as many episodes as possible. From Buddy Daddies to Tsurune: The Linking Shot, these are some of the very best series so far this year, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if they remain as beloved towards the end of the year.

Did you have a favorite anime this season that didn’t make our Winter Anime 2023 Round-Up? Let us know on social media.

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