Another season has come and gone, and with it, a lot of excellent anime. If you thought the fall anime season was stacked, you haven’t seen anything yet. With shows like Bofuri and Vinland Saga getting second seasons alongside the comeback of Trigun, you couldn’t go wrong. That’s not even getting into new shows such as Tomo-Chan is a Girl! and the second half of My Hero Academia Season 6. You may have felt overwhelmed, but never fear. We here at Couch Soup have watched all these shows and more to bring you the best of the best from the 2023 winter anime season!
Thomas: Are you a fan of romance shows but are a little tired of the same old plot points? If so, I’ve got the anime for you, Tomo-Chan is a Girl! This series takes a unique approach to the romance anime formula by having the main girl Tomo confess her love in the very first episode (how scandalous). The target of her affection, Jun, takes it the completely wrong way and treats her as his best friend (not the result she wanted).
What follows is one of the most engaging and funniest romance anime I’ve seen. The dynamic between Tomo and Jun stands out, but the supporting cast all do their best to steal the spotlight. My personal favorites were the duo of Misuzu (voiced by Jad Saxton) and Carol (voiced by Sally Amaki in both sub and dub). Their banter with each other and the rest of the characters make each episode endlessly entertaining. If you’ve been feeling burnt out or bored with romance anime, check out Tomo-Chan is a Girl!
Dan: As a long-time Trigun fan, I absolutely love this new take on the series. Yes, it’s different, and yes, there is no Millie, but oh my god, is it wonderfully beautiful, violent, and downright sadistic at times.
Let’s start with the beauty. This is one of the most jaw-droppingly stunning-looking animes I’ve ever seen. The movement of character and dynamic camera shifts give it such life and intensity as well. Studio Orange has really pulled all the stops and has outdone itself.
Now for the violence. I think fans of the old show think things are happening too fast, but I disagree. I think things are leading up to what we know from the original show. The fact that we are experiencing Knives and how brutal and unforgiving he can be adds to the tension of Vash’s quest. We’ve also never seen this level of blood and gore in the original series, which made it feel safe in comparison. I also feel like we are getting to know a much deeper and fleshed-out version of Meryl and why she is so damned determined. Let’s not forget that killer opening theme song. Warning! It will get stuck in your head.
Vash is such an amazing character with so much depth and soul. There is a reason I have used Vash as a moniker for roughly 20 years. This new series also explains a lot more of what is happening and why. The original show left a lot more to interpret.
The icing on the cake, Johnny Yong Bosch returns to reprise his role of Vash in the English dubbed version if you prefer that over the subtitled Japanese.
Check out this amazing trailer that gives me goosebumps.
Thomas: I’ve already explained why you should check out Bofuri at the start of the season, but after season 2, there are even more reasons to check it out. Season 2 is even more of what made Season 1 so enjoyable. Maple and the gang are all here as they continue to get into absurd situations. Their adventures with friends, new and old, kept me coming back week after week. They even introduced more cute monster companions this season, and they’re all adorable!
Similar to Season 1, there isn’t much of an overarching plot. The most you’ll get is Maple and her friends wanting to explore the current level or do well in events. Some might get bored with this, but I think it’s the series’ charm. There are no 100+ episodes of content you have to get through, nor are there world-ending catastrophes every 30 seconds. You just sit down each week and have a fun time with Maple and the gang, and we could all use the laughs every once and a while.
Stef: Denki Kaminari’s English dub actor in My Hero Academia, Kyle Phillips, says that his new favorite Denki line from MHA is when he tells Izuku Midoriya (Deku), “Wouldn’t you rather relax instead? You could really use a bath!” And I feel like that quote sums up how I felt at the end of Season 6… in a good way!
S6 continued to deliver with the same stellar animation, artistry, and performances we enjoyed in the first half of the season. Endeavor’s vulnerability is moving as he connects with his family again as they finally discuss how everything went wrong with Toya before he became the villain Dabi. There’s anticipation as Deku learns to use all the powers within One For All, then some tense action sequences as he uses his new skills. And we can feel All Might’s pain as we dive into the deep emotional struggle he faces realizing that Deku no longer depends on him.
My personal favorite moment of this second half of S6 came in seeing the side-by-side backstories of Hawks and Toya, contrasting how they grew up and the kinds of people they turned out to be. But the most emotional and long-awaited moments of S6 came in the last three episodes of the seasons. First, it was inspiring seeing Class A rally around their classmate while he was physically and mentally exhausted, topped off by Katsuki Bakugo opening his heart to Midoriya and sending me lunging for the tissue box. Then, when the class brought Midoriya back to face a resistant crowd of sheltered citizens at U.A., there were so many moving words from the kids that I ran out of tissues and started just using my shirt because I didn’t want to leave my couch.
Season 6 ends with hints of even darker times ahead for our young heroes. And, as a manga reader, I know I need to stock up on that tissue again before Season 7!
Thomas: After an almost 4-year wait, Vinland Saga is finally back, and it’s still amazing! Having switched studios from Wit to MAPPA, a big concern I had was that too much would be changed. Season 1 was one of the best seasons of anime I’ve seen, and I was worried this new season wouldn’t live up to it. I’m glad to report that isn’t the case. This season is every bit as amazing as the first, just with a little less mindless killing.
The first half of the season has finished airing, and while it didn’t have any massive battles, the amount of character development we get for Thorfinn, Canute, and newcomer Einar is outstanding. Aleks Le absolutely kills it as a Thorfinn who is haunted by his past, and Alejandro Saab as Einar adds a different perspective to the whole Viking killing from last season. If you enjoyed season 1 of Vinland Saga but, like me, were worried the studio change might ruin it, don’t be. Season 2 of Vinland Saga is amazing, and I couldn’t recommend it enough. And with 12 more episodes to go, it’s only getting started.
There you have it, the best of the best from the winter anime season. The 2023 winter anime season had a lot to choose from. Hopefully, we’ve helped you pick your next anime binge session.
What anime did you check out this season? Did we miss your favorite? What are you excited about in the spring? Let us know in the comments where we can gush about that Trigun Stampede finale.