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The Spring 2022 AniTAY Sequel Guide (Part 1)

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After this past winter season was remarkably light, Spring busts in with so many sequels that this became easily the largest collaboration piece I have ever coordinated. With that being said, I had to make the call to actually split this piece into two, just to stop it from being an absolute monolith, and call in some extra help from our regular writers just to cover as much ground as possible! Let’s get right into it.

Ascendance of a Bookworm 3rd Season

Presented by: TheMamaLuigi

Studio: Ajia-Do

Genre: Isekai, Fantasy, Slice of Life

Why You Should Catch Up:

In a time when isekai series lack the novelty and spark that propelled them into popularity, Ascendance of a Bookworm arrived to remind us of what makes these stories great — and did so by abandoning what made it popular.

Bookworm follows Myne, a bookwish woman reincarnated into the body of a young, sickly girl living in a fantasy world. Upon reincarnation and realizing her circumstances — namely that books do not exist in this world — she resolves to create and manufacture her own books. It is this simple premise that both propels the narrative forward and endears the viewer to Myne. Amongst an ilk in which the stakes start high and only get higher, it’s the remarkable intimacy with which Bookworm treats Myne’s simple quest that sets it apart.

As Myne climbs the sociopolitical ladder throughout the first two seasons, the circumstances around her never stretch beyond believability. Action scenes are rare; tension builds instead from the ever-present knowledge that Myne, in more than one sense, is living on borrowed time. She isn’t all-powerful, and this isn’t a chosen-one narrative. She’s realistically vulnerable and refreshingly imperfect. Myne makes mistakes, she acts selfishly and, occasionally, foolishly, and she suffers as many setbacks as she does blessings. In a world of male protagonists both bland and uninterestingly overpowered, Bookworm’s choice to scale back its storytelling and character-building ultimately benefits the show at large.

Bookworm’s story is one best experienced as unspoiled as possible, but this third season picks up on the major status quo changes left unresolved by the second season’s end. We can expect character relationships to get tested and Myne’s status within the world to continue to change in meaningful and often unexpected ways. A sense of slow forward momentum defines Bookworm’s storytelling, led by Myne’s stubborn, passionate attitude, and that we get to experience more of that story is a wonderful thing.

Ascendance of a Bookworm is my favourite isekai series (besides Re:Zero), so I implore you with the passion of a thousand Mynes: please watch this series. Our little bookworm deserves the love.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

Ascendance of a Bookworm 1st Season (14 episodes, 5.6 hours)

Ascendance of a Bookworm OVAs (2 episodes, 25 minutes)

Ascendance of a Bookworm 2nd Season (12 episodes, 4.8 hours)

Date A Live: Season 4

Presented by: Thatsmapizza

Studio: Geek Toys

Genres: Supernatural, Comedy, Action, Romance

Why You Should Catch Up:

For some reason, Date A Live keeps getting new anime seasons greenlit. I for one welcome its return. Date A Live may feel a bit dated in the tropes it uses, but the absolutely insane scenarios and solid writing make it a fun series to follow.

For the uninitiated — and those who’ve forgotten everything since 2019’s third season– Date A Live follows high school student Shindo Itsuka as he tries to keep the world safe by making girls fall in love with him. To be fair, these girls have reality-bending superpowers that range from being able to destroy a city in a matter of seconds to warping the fabric of spacetime. However, if Shindo can make the girl fall in love with him and kiss them, then he can seal their power, effectively neutralizing the girl’s threat level.

Date A Live sounds like 10–20 different harem light novels out in the anime ether, but it sets itself apart from its peers by how seriously it takes its premise and how layered its writing is.

The world of Date A Live is batshit insane. The fate of Japan is dictated by Shindo’s ability to make a girl fall in love with him, and the series takes this incredibly seriously. Shindo has a team of special operatives supporting him by giving him dating advice through an earpiece. These special forces even have the ability to change the layout of the town to better facilitate Shindo’s dates.

The seriousness with which Date A Live treats its premise allows it to craft some incredibly nutty scenes while blending action, romance and comedy into a uniquely entertaining concoction you won’t see in any other series.

Despite how chaotic Date A Live is, its surprisingly layered writing manages to enhance that chaos. Its characters hew closely to some common character tropes, but each one has a little bit of depth that makes the show even more unpredictable. For example, fan-favorite Kurumi, at first appears to be a stereotypical yandere character. However, she has enough self-awareness to know when Shindo’s romantic overtures are working on her. So, she uses her time manipulation powers to kill the version of herself that is falling for Shindo to continue antagonizing him. These small quirks to each character makes each interaction feel fresh and unpredictable, especially when new characters are added to the mix.

Date A Live is a unique mixture of chaos that is a blast to watch. The absurd scenarios that the show throws at you are so fun to see play out, as you never know what will happen, especially when shit hits the fan. It’s so engaging to see the characters deal with bad situations because they have enough layers to engage with your emotions while also having great action. If you haven’t tried Date A Live at least once, I would recommend that you at least watch season 1 since there are no other shows like it.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

Essential:

TV Series: ~ 14.5 hours

Date A Live: 12 episodes

Date A Live II:10 episodes

Date A Live III:12 Episodes

Optional:

OVAs: ~ 1 hour

Season 1 OVA

Season 2 OVA

Movies: ~2 hours

Date a Live: Mayuri Judgment

Date a Bullet

Where to Catch Up:

Seasons 1–3: Crunchyroll, Funimation, and VRV streaming; Blu-Ray/DVD

OVAs: Blu-Ray/DVD

Movies: Funimation streaming and Blu-Ray/DVD

The Demon Girl Next Door 2

Presented by: TheMamaLuigi

Studio: J.C. Staff

Genre: Comedy, Slice of Life, Magical Girl

Why You Should Catch Up:

The Time Hath Come… for more of one of the funniest comedy anime in years! Demon Girl Next Door follows Yuko Yoshida, an incredibly poor high school student who wakes up sporting a tail and demon horns and learns that her family descends from an ancient evil clan. To make matters worse, she meets Momo Chiyoda, a classmate and magical girl, and is tasked with defeating her to bring honour to her scorned ancestors. Donning the moniker Shamiko, our clumsy hero resolves to defeat her classmate, redeem her clan, and make some money along the way!

Demon Girl Next Door focuses almost entirely on the relationship between Shamiko and Momo, their initial rivalry that transforms into something more resembling friendship. Like any good comedy duo, Momo’s straight-”man” personality plays off Shamiko’s manic idiocy to hilarious degrees, resulting in a show both endearing in its characterization and uproarious in its comedy. Most importantly, it’s an AniTAY favourite, with memes and images still shared around our Discord server to this day!

Like last year’s The Great Jahy Will Not Be Defeated, Demon Girl treats its hapless protagonist as both punching bag and the vehicle with which the show conveys its empathy. Things rarely go her way, but things are rarely ruined for her, too (much as she might bemoan otherwise). She grows throughout the first season parallel to her bond with Momo — their closeness precludes a feeling of worth and belonging for a girl who, for so long, felt invisible.

Don’t let her fool you, though: Shamiko is defined by her endless optimism as much as she is by her endless bad luck. Mistakes aren’t markers of failure, but avenues for future success. She makes up for her extreme lack of power with an even more extreme abundance of kindness, empathy, and resolve. There’s a reason the narrator constantly repeats the phrase “Don’t give up, Shamiko!” — we want her to succeed. It’s what she deserves.

Amidst the next seasons of mega-popular shows like Kaguya-sama: Love is War!, The Rising of the Shield Hero, and Komi Cannot Communicate, it’s the little comedy that could that has me most excited. It’s a show that knows what it is and asks its viewers to come along for the ride. Sure, we might stumble along the way, but it’s the getting back up and persisting that makes us who we are.

Ganbare, Shamiko. Ganbare.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

Demon Girl Next Door Season One (12 episodes, 4.8 hours)

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Season 2

Presented by: Doctorkev

Studio: Production I.G. and Sola Digital Arts

Genres: Drama, Sci-fi, Action, Procedural, Off-puttingly Plastic CG

Why You Should Catch Up:

It’s hard to believe it’s already been two years since Netflix unleashed the first half of this unexpected, belated follow-up to 2002’s genre-defining TV anime Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex. Stand Alone Complex is one of my all-time favourite anime, and I vastly prefer its more humorous (though no less philosophical) take on Masamune Shirow’s original 1989 cyberpunk manga. Set eleven years after the conclusion of 2006’s TV movie Solid State Society, this is a disconcertingly shiny CGI-inflicted sequel with huge changes to the original character designs. Although SAC_2045’s first season was again written and directed by Stand Alone Complex’s Kenji Kamiyama, the upcoming second season will be directed by (another Shirow adaptation) Appleseed’s Shinji Aramaki.

Ghost in the Shell has always tread a fine line between nail-biting action, pretentious beard-twiddling philosophy, cheesecake fan-service and goofy comedy, with some adaptations focusing on one aspect perhaps to the detriment of others. The first two Stand Alone Complex seasons are the franchise’s pinnacle when it comes to balancing each of these opposing forces. SAC_2045 makes a decent stab at emulating this, the first season begins with some truly explosive action, before eventually settling down to examine timely ideas about trans/post-humanism, global financial collapse and “sustainable war”.

Strong characters have always been Ghost in the Shell’s secret weapon, and all of the usual cast are present and correct, from poster girl/terrifying cyborg warrior Motoko Kusanagi, gruff and exasperated Batou, elder statesman boss Aramaki, token un-cyborgified human Togusa, and not at all forgetting the giggling and excitable (not to mention lethal) mobile Tachikoma tanks. Whether you can accept these characters’ shiny new plasticky sheen is a matter of personal taste, but underneath the superficial battling barbie-doll aesthetic, there’s a truly intriguing story that the first season left on a cruel cliffhanger.

In all of its forms, Ghost in the Shell remains anime’s premier hard SF/cyberpunk property, and SAC_2045 is a (mostly) worthy successor. I only hope that in the upcoming season, terminally irritating new pink-haired character Purin comes to some kind of pointlessly painful, swift and sticky end. She is so annoying.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

Essential:

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 26 episodes: 10.5 hours

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd GIG: 26 episodes: 10.5 hours

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: Solid State Society TV Movie: 108 minutes

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Season 1: 12 episodes: 5 hours

Optional:

Ghost in the Shell (original 1995 theatrical movie or 2008 ver. 2.0): 83 minutes

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence: 98 minutes

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: The Laughing Man OVA (compilation movie): 160 minutes

Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex: 2nd GIG: Individual Eleven OVA (compilation movie): 160 minutes

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Borders 1–4: 4 hours

Ghost in the Shell Arise: Alternative Architecture: Episodes 9–10 only: 50 minutes

Ghost in the Shell: The New Movie: 99 minutes

Avoid at all costs/burn your eyeballs:

Ghost in the Shell 2017 live-action abomination: 107 minutes

Where to Catch Up:

Stand Alone Complex, 2nd Gig, Laughing Man, Individual Eleven, Solid State Society, Ghost in the Shell (1995), Innocence, Arise Borders 1–4, Alternative Architecture, The New Movie: All streaming on Funimation

Ghost in the Shell: SAC_2045 Season 1: Streams on Netflix

Ghost in the Shell 2017 live-action abomination: Who cares?

Kaguya-sama: Love Is War -Ultra Romantic-

Presented by: Protonstorm

Studio: A-1 Pictures

Genres: Romance, Comedy

Why You Should Catch Up: Kaguya-sama’s premise is risky in its simplicity. The two protagonists, student council leaders Shinomiya Kaguya and Shirogane Miyuki, believe that love is war, and that in war, there can only be one winner. This zero-sum game approach is in constant tension with the unavoidable truth that both are deeply infatuated with each other. Put simply, the early episodes of the anime tended to consist of two or three vignettes that pitted Kaguya and Shirogane against each other in a battle of wits as each tried to secure romantic victory by forcing the other to confess their feelings. The concept hinges heavily on the tropes of the romantic comedy genre: Kaguya and Shirogane are both intellectual heavyweights emotionally repressed to the extent that they can’t even be honest with themselves about their own feelings. They are surrounded by classmates blissfully unaware of their conflict who accidentally ratchet up the stakes of seemingly innocuous interactions. Misunderstandings compound to create bizarre scenes dripping with dramatic irony. However, thanks to brilliant comedic timing and its penchant for meaningfully developing the cast over time, Kaguya-sama managed even in its first season to be one of the must-watch anime comedies of the past decade.

It could have rested on its laurels as one of my go-to recommendations for anime comedy, but now Kaguya-sama stands on the precipice of offering so much more by taking seriously the “romance” part of the romantic comedy genre title. Already in the second season, the series transitioned from one-off stories to larger character arcs, such as student council treasurer Ishigami Yu’s decision to reimagine his relationship with his classmates by directly confronting the social trauma he experienced in middle school. The anime has moved far beyond the initial premise of daily intellectual battles between Kaguya and Shirogane, and the characters and their relationships with each other have likewise grown in emotional complexity. Now, it is time to begin harvesting the seeds sown by the first two seasons. The manga arc the anime will adapt this spring is not just a culmination of Kaguya and Shirogane’s romantic trials and tribulations; it is a narrative triumph that stands at the pinnacle of romantic storytelling. Even if love is war, must there only be a single victor?

Time to Catch Up + What You Need to Watch:

Kaguya-sama: Love is War (2019) 12 episodes, 5 hours

Kaguya-sama: Love is War? (S2) (2020) 12 episodes, 5 hours

Where to Watch: Crunchyroll

Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club Season 2

Presented by Arcane

Studio: Sunrise

Genres: Idol, Music, Comedy

Why You Should Catch Up: Love Live! as a franchise has quickly gone from the long wait for new content after Sunshine! to a cup running over, as we got two brand-new seasons in consecutive years and now two second seasons back-to-back in 2022. While Superstar is being produced by the usual team and functions as the third “main” series in the franchise, Nijigasaki is created by what is effectively Sunrise’s backup team, and yet, no part of the first season made me believe that.

Being an adaptation of the Love Live! All-Stars! mobile game, Nijigasaki High School Idol Club has a different flavor to it than the other series that makes it very distinct from even Superstar coming back next season. Where the other franchises place a lot of focus on a team of girls forming a unit and having to cooperate, this spin-off focuses more on the individual performers as they develop as solo artists.

Luckily, the things that do carry over from the other series are high production values and killer tunes. The simplified structure of generally being performed by one person allows each of the much more frequent music sequences to be a lot more fluid. After only a few of them, I no longer actively missed having the rest of the group dancing around the singer, and was able to appreciate how they made each number different from the rest. (It doesn’t hurt that the show’s first impression is “Chase!”, one of my favorite Love Live! tracks of all time.)

While the flagship Superstar series may be coming back for round two next season, I had so much fun with Nijigasaki that I want to spread the word not to forget about this entertaining and unique spin-off.

Time to Catch Up + What You Need To Watch:

Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club season 1 (14 episodes, ~5.5 hours)

Where to Catch Up: Crunchyroll, available subbed or English dubbed.

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Arcane

He/Him. Anime critic, electronics guru, gay trash.

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