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Couch Soup Favorites: Fall Anime 2023

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Thomas Richards
| February 3, 2024
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2023 ended for anime the same way it began with a season filled with banger series after banger series. New shows such as The Apothecary Diaries and Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End had amazing stories and beautiful animation (and are still ongoing). We also had returning shows like The Rising of the Shield Hero, Spy x Family, and Dr. Stone that didn’t fail to disappoint fans. There was a lot to stay up to date with week to week, and maybe you’re only now getting the chance to binge through some of these series. But which ones should you spend your valuable time watching? Don’t worry; I got your back with some of my favourite anime of the Fall 2023 season.

The Apothecary Diaries

Maoamo is standing with an inquisitive look on her face. Jinshi is looking back at her. The Apothecary Diaries is in the top left of the image

If you told me that one of my favourite anime from this fall lineup would include kidnapping, harem politics, and a person who loves to poison themselves, I’d raise an eyebrow. But The Apothecary Diaries has proven that even if a show has some outlandish plot points, it can still be amazing. The story follows Maomao, an apothecary working in the red-light district. One day, while gathering ingredients, she is abducted by some unsavoury gents and sold to the royal palace to work as a maidservant. After using her knowledge of poison and herbs to save a concubine, Maomao is thrust into a world of politics, deception, and all the poison she could ever want.

This series is such a fun watch. It can bounce between slice-of-life moments and attempted assassinations without feeling out of place. This is largely due to the cast, who have put in stellar performances so far. Emi Lo does a great job as Maomao, perfectly portraying her serious, sarcastic, and excited personality. Kaiji Tang (ma boi) voices the other lead character, Jinshi. Jinshi is a unique character who has yet to reveal their true intentions. Kaiji does an excellent job portraying this mystery while also being a total idiot (making for some of my favourite moments). If you’re looking for a show that can be both chill and intense at a moment’s notice, The Apothecary Diaries is for you.

The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 3

Naofumi and various other characters are on the left. A dragon is behind all of them. The Rising of the Shield Hero Season 3 is on the right side of the image.

The Rising of the Shield Hero is one of my favourite series. It’s got a special place in my heart through its ups and downs, and Season 3 was a banger of a season. Coming off a widely criticised Season 2, this new season already had a tough challenge ahead of it. But I think they were able to correct the course of the series and set everything right. This time around, Naofumi and his crew are trying to build up their forces in preparation for the upcoming attacks. To do this, Naofumi is searching for the residents of his village who were sold into slavery before he took over. Naofumi also has to get the other three cardinal heroes to work together, but that’s more of a pipe dream (the other three are dumbasses). This leads to Colosseum fights, a mysterious puppet master, and one angry dragon—everything you need for a great season of anime.

After people panned Season 2 for its less-than-stellar animation, Season 3 makes you know from the get-go that they mean business this time. Kinema Citrus is back in full control of the series, and it looks just as good as Season 1. From the get-go, any doubts about this season were erased with an opening fight scene that was one of the best I have seen this season. And that’s not even getting into how stellar the voice cast continues to be, alongside some new additions that are also excellent. You can read my extended thoughts on the series as a whole here, but I’ll reiterate: watch The Rising of the Shield Hero now!

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End

Frieren is looking behind her while holding her suitcase. Fern and Stark are standing together behind her. The wind is blowing flower petals and there is a tree. Frieren: Beyond Journey's End is on the right side of the image.

Madhouse is one of the most respected anime studios today. Known for creating bangers like Death Note and Overlord, any new project from them is surrounded by hype. So when it was announced that they would be animating the Frieren anime, I got excited. This unique take on a fantasy story is a breath of fresh air amongst most fantasy series out there because it takes place after the hero has defeated the demon king. Now, 100 years late, we follow the elven mage Frieren, a former companion to the hero who is trying to figure out what to do with her extended life. What follows is a journey of discovery, adventure, and spell collecting that will keep you hooked the entire time.

As mentioned, Madhouse animated this series, and they’ve brought their A-game. Every movement is precise, every piece of hair flows effortlessly, and every action scene is a wonder to behold. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is a spectacle for your eyes that you won’t want to look away from. You’ll also be captivated by the characters, who are multi-layered and just all-around fun to watch. There’s the main mage herself, Frieren (Mallorie Rodak), her talented apprentice Fern (Jill Harris), and the dumb but strong Stark (Jordan Dash Cruz). Of course, there are many more characters, with more to come in the second half of the season. Do yourself a favour and check out Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End if you haven’t already.

Spy x Family Season 2

Anya is looking excited in the top half of the image with Loid, Yor, and other characters behind her. Anya is looking mischievous in the bottom half of the image with Becky, Damian and other characters behind her. Spy x Family is on the right side of the image.

Spy x Family quickly became one of my favourite series when it first aired back in 2022. So much, though, that I put it on the first Couch Soup Favourites list, which you can check out here. The family dynamic, comedy, and countless misunderstandings made this series a must-watch for me week after week. Season 2 is no different as it continues the absurd daily lives of the spy, assassin, and telepath. Having made decent progress with Operation Strix, Loid Forger continues to play the perfect family man to ensure he gets close to his target, Donovan Desmond. To do so, he must continue to help his adopted daughter, Anya, rise through the ranks of Eden Academy despite Anya’s telepathic powers. He must also ensure that his “wife,” Yor Forger, never discovers his true identity, even though she also hides her secret life as an assassin. Throw in a dog that can see the future and a free cruise, and you have a season filled with laughter.

Once again, being co-animated by Wit Studio and Cloverworks, each episode is filled with charm and heart. This same charm can also be seen in the voice cast, who once again have given fantastic performances. Alex Organ captures the serious and peaceful sides of Loid Forger excellently, being able to swap between them effortlessly. Natalie Van Sistine as Yor is one of my favourites in the series, and this season gave her a lot more screen time, especially with the cruise ship arc. Megan Shipman is as adorable as ever as Anya, with some of the funniest moments in the series (scamming the scam artist to win a free trip). And while there wasn’t enough of Dallas Reid as Yuri Briar, I still enjoyed every episode, and you will, too.

Undead Unluck

Andy is carrying Fuuko over his shoulder. Andy has a massive smile on his face and Fuuko looks terrified. Blood is splattering across the screen with buildings in the background. Undead Unluck is on the top right of the image.

This series caught me by surprise when it first aired. I remember seeing people rave about how good the manga was, and when David Production was later announced to be adapting the manga, I was intrigued. After the first episode, I could see why everyone was keen on Undead Unluck. The series follows Fuuko Izumo, a young girl with the worst luck imaginable. You might think your luck is shit, but Fuuko can’t even be near someone without the other person biting the dust. Her life of solitude is brought to an end when Andy shows up and lets her know that no matter what, he can’t die. Andy is on a quest for the perfect death and thinks Fuuko can help him find it. But two people with abilities as extraordinary as being unlucky and being immortal are quickly recruited by a secret organisation to help take out other people like them who are less than good.

As I said, I was intrigued when this series was first announced, but I wasn’t sold. While I know David Productions can animate a banger of a show (Fire Force and JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure), the concept still left me cautiously optimistic. How could they keep gimmick abilities like super shit luck and immortality fresh for a full season? I’m happy to say that Undead Unluck achieves this with its combination of gorgeous animation and comedy that’ll leave you in stitches. It also helps that Jackie Lastra and Ben Balmaceda kill it as Fuuko and Andy. Their relationship kept me coming back week after week. If you’re looking for an oddball comedy with fun characters, great animation, and a story that will keep you guessing, try Undead Unluck.

These are our picks for the best series from the Fall 2023 anime season. This season was stacked, and it was hard to narrow down. And with the Winter 2024 season being another stacked collection of anime, I think my backlog will grow even larger. But don’t worry; Couch Soup will be here to let you know the best of the best from every anime season. So keep it locked right here for more anime content to feed your hungry nerd soul.

What anime did you watch this season? Which was your favourite? Are there any hidden gems? Let us know in the comments where we can talk about all things anime.

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Brian Gundersen
5 months ago

You should state this is a more or less dub review. I have nothing against dubs but I watch all these in sub so I can’t relate to the feedback on performances.

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