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Spring Anime Preview: The 14 must watch new and returning series

By April 1, 2023April 7th, 2023No Comments12 min read

The winter anime season was stacked. From updates on familiar faces, video game adaptions, to a long-running shonens best season taking place six deep, we’ve been buried in must-watch shows since the very start of the year. With the final episodes of the winter 2023 season commencing this week, we’re now looking ahead to spring. The good and bad news? There’s just as much in store for spring, with highly anticipated returns to brand new originals to a slice-of-life romance that some call the best of its genre.

While not all of the below are guaranteed winners and there are sure to be more announced along the way, here are the 14 anime we’re most eager to check out this spring season

Hell’s Paradise (MAPPA) – April 1 on Crunchyroll

Synopsis: Gabimaru reigns as the strongest and most ruthless assassin in his village. But now finds himself on death row – with only one way out: retrieve the Elixir of Life from a sinister island. Longing for freedom, he accepts the challenge. But with fellow convicts vying for the same prize and demonic beasts lurking, how will Gabimaru and his handler, the executioner Yamada Asaemon Sagiri, survive this harrowing quest?

Why we’re interested: First and foremost, the animation looks gorgeous, which comes with little surprise considering it’s a MAPPA (Chainsaw Man) property. Based on the manga by Yuji Kaku, the series stands out based on the high fantasy elements as well as the Edo period of Japan it’s set in, striking a contrast against some of the more modern stages of other properties being released. But again, call us shallow, but this just looks so visually pleasing.

Heavenly Delusion (Production I.G.) – April 1 on Disney+ Worldwide

Synopsis: Within the safety of the walls, youths are raised in a nursery-style setting by robots. While life there may appear stale on the surface, the children are full of potential and curiosity. In many ways it is like a slice of heaven. The outside world is a hell-scape. It is almost entirely void of anything mechanical and is now inhabited by bizarre, yet powerful super-natural beings. Maru, with the aid of Kiruko, is out there crisscrossing what was once Tokyo for heaven. But after searching for so long, maybe heaven is more of an untenable dream than a potential reality.

Why we’re interested: We have a feeling that between all of the major series releasing this spring, it’s going to be Hell’s Paradise and Heavenly Delusion that stir up the greatest amount of fanfare. On top of just looking visually phenomenal, the story is set in world with considerable life or death stakes, with a narrative that begs the question of who in this world is trustworthy. Adapted by Makoto Fukami with a score from master composer Kensuke Ushio and produced by Production I.G. (Haikyu!!, Ghost in the Shell,) there’s some top tier talent involved.

My Home Hero (Tezuka Productions) – April 2 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: After killing his daughter’s abusive yakuza boyfriend to save her, ordinary salaryman Tetsuo Tosu becomes embroiled in the dark criminal underworld. The wish for a simple life he and his wife Kasen had for their daughter has been reduced to a wish for survival. Though middle-aged and weak, he’ll put his life on the line using only his wits in order to protect his family.

Why we’re interested: The plot on this one is fascinating and grim, with a declarative tone of voice that eschews the standard series that becomes the most popular of the masses. My Home Hero looks dark and dreary and fully committed to the criminal angle the series takes. Based on the manga series by Naoki Yamakawa and illustrated by Masashi Asaki, the series, directed by Takashi Kamei with character designs by Masatsune Noguchi offer a thrilling look into the insidious descent of one man who, while seeking justice, ends up with blood on his hands.

Skip and Loafer (P.A.Works) – April 4 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: Iwakura Mitsumi graduated from a small middle school in the countryside and entered a top-tier high school in Tokyo at the head of the class. This child prodigy, who moved to Tokyo alone with a perfect life plan, is smart and gets good grades… but her social understanding isn’t quite on the same wavelength as others. This means that she sometimes makes mistakes, but her easygoing nature sways her classmates little by little, and all their different personalities are coming together before they know it.

Why we’re interested: P.A. Works is already off to a banger start with Buddy Daddies being something of a surprise hit in the winter season and they look to follow it up with the delightful looking slice-of-life anime Skip and Loafer. There’s a rough around the edges charm to the animation, lacking the overtly sleek and reflective aesthetic so many anime seem to prefer these days, and a story that looks to be driven by a wonderful cast of characters, all of whom make up an integral part of the story, not just the two protagonists. The series is being written and directed by Kotomi Deai.

Dr.Stone New World (TMS Entertainment) – April 6 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: With the Stone Wars over, the former members of Tsukasa’s Empire of Might join forces with the Kingdom of Science to build a ship capable of sailing across open ocean to seek answers on the mystery of the global petrification. However, before they can begin their voyage Senku and his friends need to find some key resources and push some new scientific advancements to build the type of vessel they need.

Why we’re interested: Two seasons and a special TV episode to introduce the character Ryusui Nanami deep with the manga having come to an end in 2022, the third season of Dr. Stone has been highly anticipated since we first got the teaser trailer following the last arc. As we learn more about this new world Senku and co. awoke into and molded to their making we become increasingly attached to these engaging, ludicrous, but lovable characters. The series has an innate ability to make science chatter interesting, and the brash character designs against the softer scenery will always draw focus.

Mashle: Magic and Muscles (A-1 Pictures) – April 7 on Crunchyroll

Synopsis: This is a world in which magic is casually used by everyone. In a deep, dark forest in this world of magic, there is a boy who is single-mindedly working out. His name is Mash Burnedead, and he has a secret. He can’t use magic. All he wanted was to live a quiet life with his family, but people suddenly start trying to kill him one day and he somehow finds himself enrolled in Magic  School. There, he sets his sights on becoming a “Divine Visionary,” the elite of the elite. Will his ripped muscles work against the best and brightest of the wizarding world? The curtain rises on this off-kilter magical fantasy in which the power of being jacked crushes any spell!

Why we’re interested: Harry Potter but without a loudmouth TERF backing it? Sign us up. Mashle: Magic and Muscles sets up a fun premise of a young man living in the world of magic who isn’t actually able to use it. So I guess this falls somewhere in line with Potter as well as My Hero Academia, with one of our writers who has read the manga comparing the tone and energy to that of One Punch Man.

Birdie Wing – Golf Girls Story Season 2 (Bandai Namco Pictures) – April 7 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: Fore! After Eve’s first meet-up with Aoi on the grass left her in defeat, she’s had her eyes set on a rematch to return the favor. Both these up-and-coming golfers are highly skilled, highly unique, and most of all, highly competitive. With dreams of making it pro, a rivalry is getting in full swing as they both battle it out in the biggest tournaments.

Why we’re interested: We love a good sports anime and Birdie Wing – Golf Girls Story holds nothing back in committing the over the top nature of the genre. In a medium dominated by sports series focused on boys and young men, it’s refreshing to see a series dedicated to telling the story of two young women.

Magical Destroyers (Bibury Animation Studio) – April 7 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: Freedom of expression is threatened when a mysterious group, the SSC, destroy Japan’s otaku culture. However, a young revolutionary, Otaku Hero—who loves the culture more than anything—rises up. With the help of three rambunctious magical girls—Anarchy, Blue, and Pink—they’ll team up to create a world free of this oppressive rule. Be part of the rebellion to bring back fandom!

Why we’re interested: Mileage will vary on how keen the viewer is on another magical girls story but Magical Destroyers at least has a malleable premise suited for comedy. Add to that fun character designs that pop, the original series directed by Hiroshi Ikehata and written by Daishiro Tanimua looks to be a promising debut for a still relatively new production company.

A Galaxy Next Door (Ashi Production) – April 8 on Crunchyroll

Synopsis: Ichiro Kuga debuted as a manga artist after he graduated high school. But soon after, he lost his father, so he ended up working extra hard to take care of his younger siblings. One day, a skilled, beautiful godsend of an assistant named Shiori Goshiki came into his life. Since Kuga was drowning in deadlines, Goshiki seemed like a savior to him. But one day she suddenly said, “I am the princess of the people of a shooting star, and I am to be your betrothed.”

Why we’re interested: Based on the manga from author Gido Amagakure, A Galaxy Next Door slots into that slice-of-life genre that so many of us love while also allowing elements of fantasy for viewers who need something a little extra in their stories. Even more compelling is allowing a story not often detailed in anime and no, not the fantasy bits. Instead, we’re curious to see how they manage the simplicity of the story in how our protagonist is forced to take care of his younger siblings.

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Swordsmith Village Arc (Ufotable, Inc.) – April 9 on Crunchyroll

Synopsis: Tanjiro’s journey leads him to the Swordsmith Village, where he reunites with two Hashira, members of the Demon Slayer Corps’ highest-ranking swordsmen – Mist Hashira Muichiro Tokito and Love Hashira Mitsuri Kanroji. With the shadows of demons lurking near, a new battle begins for Tanjiro and his comrades.

Why we’re interested: While the manga has been finished for a bit now fans of Demon Slayer continue to be treated to high-quality animation in the anime adaption, becoming one of the most – if not the most – popular anime currently airing.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2 (Sunrise) – April 9 on Crunchyroll

Synopsis: A.S.122… An era when a multitude of corporations have entered space and built a huge economic system. After transferring to the Asticassia School of Technology from the planet Mercury, Suletta Mercury has experienced a school life filled with encounters and excitement, as both Miorine Rembran’s bridegroom and a member of GUNDAM-ARM, Inc. It has been two weeks since the incident at Plant Quetta. Suletta passes her days at the school, anticipating her reunion with Miorine. Miorine, meanwhile, has stationed herself at the head office of the Benerit Group, monitoring her father’s condition. The two are about to face new hardships and pressing decisions. Each with her own feelings in her heart, the girls will confront the mighty curse the Gundam brings.

Why we’re interested: Undoubtedly the most popular entry point to the Gundam franchise since Wing and MS 0080: War in the Pocket, The Witch From Mercury has looked to bring in a whole new audience, and it’s been so successful at doing so that the LGBTQ+ friendly Mobile Suits from Bandai Namco have been put under the protection of Guntank against bigots across Japan. What would be the set up for a rom-com anime in any other circumstance, the very awkward Suletta Mercury accidentally fights so good that she wins a betrothal to the daughter of the academy’s corporate overlords. The LGBT connotation is applicable to the very nature of the series namesake, as the series opens with the Gun line of Mobile Suits literally banished from use, and the good natured Suletta has to fight keep the historic XVX16 Gundam Ariel from the clutches of their oppressors with the greatest will and fighting strength of her generation.

Insomniacs After School (LIDEN Films) – April 10 on HIDIVE

Synopsis: Grumpy insomniac Ganta Nakami stumbles across the moderately rebellious yet easygoing Isaki Magari in the Astronomy Club’s abandoned observatory. Magari is jolted awake and tries to escape from the scene, only to have a broken door prevent that, forcing the two inside. The two forge an unlikely friendship, leading them to use the observatory as a safe space for them to interact.

Why we’re interested: Who among us haven’t been struck down by cyclical insomnia? For the rest of viewers joining my crew, there might’ve just been something about seeing “Insomniacs” in the title that made us curious. As one of the few HIDIVE releases this season, the animation is striking in it’s contrast to other series, with deeper facial features and heavier strokes compared to series which prefer greater delicacy. And again, there’s something about chronically sleep-deprived characters that appeals to my raccoon/goblin 4 am state.

Oshi no Ko (Doga Kobo) April 12 on HIDIVE

Synopsis: When a pregnant young starlet appears in Gorou Amemiya’s countryside medical clinic, the doctor takes it upon himself to safely (and secretly) deliver Ai Hoshino’s child so she can make a scandal-free return to the stage. But no good deed goes unpunished, and on the eve of her delivery, he finds himself slain at the hands of Ai’s deluded stalker — and subsequently reborn as Ai’s child, Aquamarine Hoshino!

Why we’re interested: The greatest draw of Oshi no Ko is its writer, Aka Akasaka, who wrote the hilarious series Kaguya-sama: Love Is War. The adaption, directed by Daisuke Hiramaki and written by Jin Tanaka, will need to scale a high wall to achieve the same level of success, but it’s high-concept premise promises some natural intrigue at least until we’re able to get a better handle on what it’s all about.

Ranking of Kings: The Treasure Chest of Courage (WIT Studio) April 13 on Crunchyroll 

Synopsis: A new collection of stories for Ranking of Kings is here! In this new series, an unrevealed tale of courage involving Bojji, Kage, and the friends who have gathered around them, is told.

Why we’re interested: As one of the best new series of the 2021/2022 season and one of the best new anime period, the upcoming followup Ranking of Kings: The Treasure Chest of Courage has a lot to live up to. That said, the characters and world they inhabit are so intricately detailed and layered that at the very least this will be a happy check-in with our beloved heroes. The animation and art direction remains agile and whimsical, while never belittling the magnitude of the journey they face. It’s just part of what makes it such a wonderful and timeless fantasy series.

Allyson Johnson

Based in New England, Allyson is co-founder and Editor-in-Chief of InBetweenDrafts. Former Editor-in-Chief at TheYoungFolks, she is a member of the Boston Society of Film Critics and the Boston Online Film Critics Association. Her writing has also appeared at CambridgeDay, ThePlaylist, Pajiba, VagueVisages, RogerEbert, TheBostonGlobe, Inverse, Bustle, her Substack, and every scrap of paper within her reach.

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