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Our Most Anticipated Anime Of Winter 2023

by The Anime News Network Editorial Team,

Welcome to our Most Anticipated Anime feature for the Winter 2023 season. Below you'll find our editorial team's (tentative) top picks from the shows slated to premiere in January. The pickings this season are comparatively slimmer than in fall, but there's at least one show most of the staff are chomping at the bit to watch: Vinland Saga. If you're still having a hard time choosing what to add to your queue, or you're just down for a good time, do check out Anime News Network's Winter 2023 Trailer Watch Party!

James Beckett

© Makoto Yukimura・Kodansha/Vinland Saga Season 2 Production Committee

Most Anticipated: Vinland Saga Season 2

I enjoyed Vinland Saga a hell of a lot when I was lucky enough to review it back in the far-off year of 2019, and I've only grown fonder of the series in its absence. The series already has many things going for it, namely that Vikings are dope as hell, and the concept of a more-or-less historically grounded anime about Vikings is also dope as hell. Luckily, Vinland Saga lived up to its name and proved itself a stellar coming-of-age epic that didn't need to rely on bloody Nordic skirmishes to hold its viewers' attention. However, the action was excellent when we got it (thanks, Wit Studio!).

I have made a point to avoid catching up on the source material. However, I've heard good things about the story to come, with Thorfinn set to go through more nuanced and emotionally resonant trials as he scrapes and bleeds his way into adulthood. Plus, like seemingly every other big franchise anymore, this second season is being handled by MAPPA. Given how incredible their output has been recently, I am confident that Thorfinn's ongoing journeys are in good hands (insert obligatory concerns about the alleged working conditions at MAPPA here).

Runner-up: Trigun Stampede

I'm a simple man: You tell me that Studio Orange is producing another anime, and my ass will be in a seat the moment it premieres. I'm one of those Anime Millennials with no nostalgic connection to the original Trigun, so I'm going into this reimagining with no expectations or fanboy hang-ups. That's the way I like it, too; I prefer to be surprised by a new show as much as possible, which goes double for a series with such a pedigree. I'll be happy to see fans debate whatever changes this new Trigun brings to the table or whether Orange's trademarked mixed-media approach to CG animation suits the materials as much as the original's 90s-chique aesthetic. All the while, I'll be eagerly awaiting what kind of wild action and cool world-building Trigun Stampede will have in store for a newbie like me.

Rebecca Silverman

© Fujino Omori-SB Creative Corp./Danmachi4 Project

Most Anticipated: Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon IV Part 2

I was wondering if I would name this my most anticipated title for Winter '23—after all, it feels like a given. But after sitting down and watching trailers, I realized that nothing comes close to how much I'm looking forward to this. The plot of the source light novels that this upcoming season will adapt is among the harshest and most heartbreaking of the series thus far. Based on how the show has handled previous dark storylines, such as the Xenos, I have some faith that this will do the source material justice. It's not going to be pretty, and it's largely not going to be happy. But if they do it even the slightest bit of justice, it will be a series that grabs hold of you and doesn't let go.

Runner-up: Tomo-chan is a Girl

This is the series that I initially thought would be my most anticipated. The source manga is a delightful combination of funny and sweet. Although there is at least one genuinely obnoxious character, we can at least usually see why she's doing the things she does. Tomo-chan is a Girl simply has a lot of fun with what is arguably a tired old premise. The characters are easy to root for and behave in ways that tend to make sense when you stop and think about them—it turns out that it's true that no one can be quite as stupid as rom-com conventions would have them be. It's one of those stories that will be very well served by the addition of movement and voices, and I'm looking forward to experiencing it again in a new format.

It would be remiss of me not to mention two other titles: Bungo Stray Dogs' new season and Sugar Apple Fairy Tale. The former, which adapts the Hunting Dogs arc of the manga, is another case where we've got some seriously intense material for the show to play with.

The latter I have a few reservations about, not the least of which is the fact that female-oriented light novels have not fared well in the Fall '22 season. The source novel is one that I enjoyed despite its use of slavery; regardless of what the official trailer says, the heroine Anne doesn't hire the male lead; she buys him. While I have seen this work in a different series (The Alchemist Who Survived Now Dreams of a Quiet City Life), the fact that the trailer is already trying to cover this up doesn't give me a great feeling. But there's still an interesting story that I'm curious to see play out on the screen, even if this might be the one I regret naming as something I'm tentatively anticipating.

Nicholas Dupree

© Makoto Yukimura・Kodansha/Vinland Saga Season 2 Production Committee

Most Anticipated: Vinland Saga Season 2

There really was no competition for what I want to watch the most next season. From there, it was just a matter of when it would air and if Netflix would keep it locked up in jail. Thankfully, that's not happening, so everyone can easily watch this adaptation of possibly my favorite narrative stretch in any manga ever written. I don't say that lightly, either. I already loved the “Prologue” portion of Vinland Saga, but this upcoming story is on another level, featuring the fascinating, emotionally gripping writing that similar historical dramas only dream they could have. It represents this series's heart and soul in poetic, touching, and truly profound ways, and I cannot wait for more people to witness it. Not even a move to the criminally overburdened Studio MAPPA can make my excitement for that waver.

Runner-up: Trigun Stampede

While my top spot was easy, the silver medal of expectations was a toss-up. Several things seem interesting or potentially fun, but nothing grabbed my attention immediately. So I figure I might as well gamble on something risky, yeah? I cannot guarantee that Stampede will be a good or proper addition to Trigun's legacy. Still, based on pure artistic confidence, I have to respect it for trying something besides just being another reboot/remake of a nostalgic property. Whether it turns out amazing, terrible, or anywhere in between, I am confident it'll be interesting to watch it play out.

Other than that, there are some sequels I'm looking forward to, like Don't Toy with Me, Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack and Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown (pending its release from Disney Juvenile Penitentiary). Plus, the return of everyone's favorite chaos engine, Maple, in BOFURI. The Fire Hunter looks like a curious anomaly from 15 years ago and continues Mamoru Oshii's baffling return to the industry. Kubo Won't Let Me Be Invisible is pure fluff, but the anime looks like it'll be suitably cozy fluff. And despite its horrendous title, I liked what I read of The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady, so here's hoping that goes well and gets a better abbreviated name!

Richard Eisenbeis

©2023 Piero Karasu・Yuri Kisaragi/KADOKAWA/Magical Revolution Committee

Most Anticipated: The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady

If you have been reading my reviews or my entries in the seasonal preview guide, you likely already know that I have an extreme and undying love for “villainess” stories. What's great about this subgenre is that each has several twists that take the story in a new direction.

The twist in this anime is that it's not the villainess from our world but rather Anis, the kingdom's princess. Anis is a fantastic character. She might not be able to use magic herself, but she's just the right kind of unhinged not to let that stop her. She sweeps in on a magical broom prototype just as her brother publicly announces his breakup with Euphie, the prime minister's daughter, in a stereotypical “villainess condemnation” scene. What follows is a story about trying to find your place in the world. Add on top of that more than a bit of yuri romance, and you have a story I am dying to see animated.

Runner Up: NieR:Automata Ver1.1a

NieR:Automata Ver1.1a is on my most anticipated list, not because I'm dying to see the story animated but because I am unsure of how an adaptation will work—or if it even can. With its memorable characters and deep thematic explorations, the story of NieR: Automata is enjoyable, to say the least.

However, what ties it all together and raises it to the next level is one of the best endings created: a refusal to accept authorial intent and a demand for something better for the characters we have grown to know and love. But more than that, the ending is about doing something nice for someone you will never meet and never know. When it comes down to it, it only works because video games are an interactive medium. I don't see how the most surface-level interpretation of the ending could be conveyed through animation. However, nothing would make me happier than being proven wrong. And if I need to once again experience the adventures of 2B, 9S, and A2 to get my answer... well, that's not exactly a punishment.

Honorable Mentions:

Vinland Saga (Season 2), The Misfit of Demon King Academy II, Endo and Kobayashi Live! The Latest on Tsundere Villainess Lieselotte, Reborn to Master the Blade: From Hero-King to Extraordinary Squire, Apparently, Disillusioned Adventurers Will Save the World

Steve Jones

© Makoto Yukimura・Kodansha/Vinland Saga Season 2 Production Committee

Most Anticipated: Vinland Saga Season 2

The first season of Vinland Saga began as a slow burn, but by its conclusion, it had completely enveloped me in its fire, and the only reason I still stand before you today is that my tears managed to protect me. Naturally, then, I'm stoked to get emotionally destroyed by the next part of this tragic tale of blond dudes and war! From what I've heard, this is where Thorfinn's “real” story begins, so considering how much I liked his prologue, I'm eager to see how he's grown up and what kind of life, and which obstacles he'll be facing. While I'm a little apprehensive about the studio switch to MAPPA, considering everything else they've got going on, I'm thrilled the series is at least retaining the core creative staff of the first season. As long as they continue to tap into the beautifully desolate spirit of the narrative, we'll be in for a good, violent, and heartstring-yanking time.

Runner-Up: ONIMAI: I'm Now Your Sister!

Look, I am not expecting this show to be good, tasteful, or funny. Or good. But the trailers are so charming! The characters are expressive and bouncy, the layouts look ridiculously detailed and deliberate, and there are worse concepts than “boy discovers that being a girl owns actually.” 2022 has also been a landmark year for me being surprised by anime comedies, so maybe ONIMAI will manage to carry that energy into the new year. The Japanese title is a deliciously terrible pun, so that's a good start! Or maybe the anime studio that came together specifically to adapt Mushoku Tensei can only achieve evil, and I am a fool for hoping for anything better. I guess the point I'm trying to make here is this: every other show I'm looking forward to in the winter is either a sequel or a reboot, and the only other two that stood out to me were this one and the trashy ecchi show about a guy who gets turned into a dog. I've made my bed, and I'm going to lie in it.


©2023 Yasuhiro Nightow・Shonengahosha/「TRIGUN STAMPEDE」Production Committee

Most Anticipated: Trigun Stampede

Trigun is a classic anime that doesn't get talked about nearly as much compared to other influential anime that made their way over to America during the 90s and early 2000s. A sci-fi western about a pacifist trying to save as many people as possible in a cruel, depressing world is a type of story we don't see that much of these days, which is why Trigun still sticks out so many years later. When it was announced that Studio Orange would be working on a new adaptation, I was surprised but also excited about seeing a new iteration of this classic. Then I watched every trailer that came out and became more confused as time passed. Redesigns are one thing, but I need clarification about how this new series ties into the franchise. It doesn't seem to be a prequel or a sequel. It doesn't seem like it's taking place at a different time from the original series, like the Badlands Rumble movie. It is an entirely different reimagining that takes key elements from the source material. I usually am incredibly cautious when stuff like that happens as history dictates that the results usually aren't the most favorable (cough, The Promised Neverland, cough). However, that caution also draws me to the show because I want to see how it will be treated and what kind of impact it will have on modern-day anime fans compared to how Trigun impacted me and so many others back in the day.

Most Anticipated Winter 2023 Runner-Up: High Card

I enjoyed checking out the first episode of High Card at Anime NYC this year. Its slick style, globetrotting action sequences, and energetic music left me wanting to see what would happen next. The premise could have been clearer, and the world's rules are not necessarily well elaborated. Still, that was part of the draw because I wanted to see how these exchanges between such unique powers would unfold. This original story is bursting with polish, and based on what the creator said, it is filled with a lot of passion. I usually don't go for shows like this but what I saw so far spoke to me enough to give it a shot this time.

Christopher Farris

© Yuumikan・ Koin/KADOKAWA/BOFURI 2 Production Committee

Most Anticipated: BOFURI: I Don't Want to Get Hurt, so I'll Max Out My Defense. Season 2

It's not like there's a shortage of anime debuting next season, but I don't know how much of it will appeal to me, specifically. There's like a dozen new isekai series coming out, and you all know I only watch those if I'm paid to. And while I love Studio Orange in general and how Trigun Stampede looks. I might feel disingenuous loading that one up on my hype train, given that the original, despite being a classic, is one I've actually never seen myself! Hell, what would have been the easiest call here is Birdie Wing's second stretch of episodes, but it's delayed to the following season. That's totally fair; take all the time you need on that masterpiece, guys! Thankfully, I'm not entirely in a plight here, as my wish for a series I can wholeheartedly look forward to has been granted by God, or at least the closest thing to God in the world of a VRMMO: Maple.

Yes, the world's most adorable implacable engine of destruction and breakout star of the Winter 2020 season is finally returning, bringing along all her friends and foibles. I can't stress what an unexpectedly delightful hit the original BOFURI turned out to be, taking the hoary old VRMMO setting and what could have been an utter snooze-fest of a power fantasy premise and transforming it into cutesy comedy gold. At times, BOFURI seems akin to a cozy, fulfilling iyashikei series. There is some narrative thrust, though it's generally less in the vein of "What's going to happen to our heroes?" and more like "How are Maple and pals going to absolutely break this hopelessly overburdened game next?". So far, what we've seen of the second season looks like a continued commitment to those invigorating vibes, showing off standby elements like Maple's preference for vore-ing her enemies to death and all her party members being rendered utterly dumbfounded by her antics. Though there are new wrinkles, like some additional characters, or Maple manifesting…tentacles now? We need not question it, we need only prepare for any number of unstoppable forces to meet the immovable object that is Maple in this coming season.

Runners Up: Don't Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro 2nd Attack and Tomo-chan is a Girl

I'll split the difference between something old and something new for other stuff I'm looking forward to. Don't Toy With Me Miss Nagatoro was the quintessential pleasant surprise: An assignment I started kinda dreading (if also morbidly curious about) due to its reputation and fanbase, which turned out to be not only to be an earnestly entertaining romantic comedy but a surprisingly layered treatise on audience appeal and the definition of 'art' itself by the end. All this springing from a collection of extremely specific fetish-art CG packs! Only in anime, am I right? Tomo-chan is a Girl, meanwhile, is also a romantic comedy, this one starring Rie Takahashi as a tough-talkin', hard-brawlin', bike-shorts-wearin' tomboy trying to catch the attention of her childhood-friend best bro. I do not think I need to explain myself any further on that one.

Monique Thomas

© Fumita Yanagida・Seikaisha/Tomo-chan is a Girl! Production Committee

Most Anticipated: Tomo-chan is a girl!

Okay, I'll be upfront and say this is a bit of a nostalgia pick. One day, one of my dear friends recommended a very simple four-panel manga about a jock girl trying to confess to her childhood best bro who's too dumb to notice her feelings. While I picked it up simply because it seemed like a nice way to pass the time, I quickly fell in love with the characters more than I expected. I followed the whole story until the last volume. Now. I wouldn't call Tomo-chan super-unconventional or novel. As a romcom, it follows many well-worn tropes of its predecessors, but it's a series that knows how to use its strengths and charms to make you laugh or squeeze your heart in the right places to dole out a few good surprises.

But another quality of Tomo-chan caught me as I was reading it, a phrase I couldn't stop repeating in the back of my head. I'm not sure if I would call it a mark of quality, but it's an important feeling to look at something and say to yourself, “This would be perfect for an anime.” I love plenty of manga or stories that work best in their original format, and any change to it would take away some of its magic. There are even series I dread getting adapted for the possibility of falling into the wrong hands. Tomo-chan is so strong in its simplicity that an adaption never has to be anything other than itself to be good. As it is, it has good pacing, characters, and design sense that there's not a lot even a modest production could screw up, and nothing I've seen from the promo has betrayed any of my optimistic expectations. Part of me even believes that Tomo-chan could somehow garner enough appeal to be a hit! I know there are going to be plenty of people like myself who'll fall in love with the energetic and adorable Tomo, the scheming Misuzu, or the unknowable entity that is Carol (voiced by 22/7's own Sally Amaki in both Japanese and English). I want to see people be floored by some of the most knock-out gags the series has to offer! Most of all, I can't wait for people to feel the tension of trying to get the two biggest, dumbest, sweetest jocks together. All this and more are why I've waited years for an anime to be announced. To put any other series here would be dishonest about all the time I've spent wishing to see Tomo punch her way into everyone's heart just like she did to mine.

Runner-up: In/Spectre Season 2

If you're surprised to see this here, I am too. Some may call this choice a mystery, but I'm sure everything will make sense once I explain some details. To begin with our history, I was a bit late to watch Season 1 shortly after it finished airing. I walked in with very few expectations for this supernatural mystery series. Still, it checked many of my boxes for its mysteries, folklore, relationships, and storytelling, and I developed quite a fondness for it. I never saw a ton of fervor over In/Spectre since mysteries can be difficult to praise without spoilers, but watching it, I felt the writing was as solid and crafted as the wood cane that the Goddess of Wisdom uses to walk with. There's a lot of care put into the overall setups and the allusions.

When I saw a second season was greenlit, I was all, “Oh, that's nice,” because I wasn't sure if it would receive one at all. It was a pleasant but underwhelmed kind of surprise that turned out to be a crime. It has been almost three (pandemic) years since the first season aired, so my memory had gotten a little vague. I mostly enjoyed the first season, but I also remember being underwhelmed by something about it and would've left it at that if I hadn't bothered to try and refresh myself on what happened. Mainly, my crime stems from my inability to remember what underwhelmed me. The first season had left many hanging threads that I wanted to see answered. It took me all that to have my brain register that a second season would solve the whole problem I had with the show—having put all the pieces together was a real “ah-ha” moment. Now, I'm totally hyped! Mystery solved!! A show rarely appeals to my specific interests to the point that the biggest flaw was, “Why isn't there more of it?”

Case closed on that. I'd also like to note that I'm greatly looking forward to Maple min-maxing her way into chaos with the second season of BOFURI. As well as the final season of Aggretsuko whenever Netflix wants to unleash that. I'm deeply curious about what the Trigun Stampede and Nier: Automata anime offers. And finally, I'm still waiting for someone to answer, “Where the hell is Summer Time Rendering?” Another mystery for another time.

Lynzee Loveridge

© Rieko Hinata・Holp Shuppan/WOWOW

Most Anticipated: The Fire Hunter

I retain the right to walk back any of these choices in the coming weeks. Frankly, there's nothing premiering this season that feels like appointment viewing for me. I have made the horrible mistake of not catching up on Vinland Saga and as much as I enjoyed the original Trigun as a teen, I don't have a strong nostalgic attachment to it. I will watch it, make no mistake, but I'm not eagerly awaiting its premiere. So instead, I've picked The Fire Hunter, an anime that admittedly looks like a digipaint show from the early aughts with an equally questionable color palette. I'm apprehensive when it comes to its visuals but the premise and Mamoru Oshii's involvement have me questioning my reservation. This show could be dry and ugly as sin, but spontaneous human combustion and interesting monster designs have captured my attention.

For similar reasons, I could swap The Fire Hunter out for The Giant Beasts of Ars, a unique-looking co-pro between DMM and HIDIVE. You can tell I'm really committed to my choice, huh?

Runner-up: Buddy Daddies

After PA Works' original series Akiba Maid War stole my heart last season, I'm excited for the team's next genre piece, Buddy Daddies. The word 'buddy' here is more akin to 'partner,' and the story follows two assassins who end up parenting a lost little girl. Also, one of the aforementioned 'daddies' oozes...daddy and I am a simple woman. If this season can't give me anything meaty to chew on—narratively, I'll take two hot murder dudes learning how to be paternal together. I'm a sucker for side shaves, okay?

Disclosure: Kadokawa World Entertainment (KWE), a wholly owned subsidiary of Kadokawa Corporation, is the majority owner of Anime News Network, LLC. One or more of the companies mentioned in this article are part of the Kadokawa Group of Companies.

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