Remind me to, at some point, backfill my impressions of the Spring 2022 anime season, because it had a lot going on, most of it genuinely good.

Anyway, since I am actually watching more than merely one or two new “first episodes” this season I figured I should jot down some thoughts. Here goes, listed by the order (mostly) in which I viewed them:

I’m The Villainess, So I’m Taming The Final Boss – Every season brings us a slew of isekai (stories about reincarnating in another world of some sort) and every season brings us at least one ultra-low-budget rom-com, and this show lives at the intersection of those two facts. The rom-com part is actually rather endearing, but the “I woke up and realized I’m in the otome game I played in my former life” angle is ground that the Internet’s beloved “Bakarina” tilled, fertilized, and produced prize-winning vegetables in years beforehand and did it far better. I’m basically watching it for the two leads so far, though some of the Demon Lord’s attendants have some amusement value. We’ll see how this show holds up for the season.

Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch From Mercury – This is, unquestionably, the show everyone will be talking about for at least the next few weeks and probably for many months to come. (It’s this and the continuation of Spy x Family, honestly. Which, of course, started out strong as ever.) There’s an “episode 0” prologue which covers the primary protagonist’s (tragic) backstory, and I recommend watching it for the context, but the meat of the first actual episode is… well, have you ever heard of a slightly older anime called Revolutionary Girl Utena? Yeah. Witch From Mercury hits a remarkable number of story beats from the start of Utena, except it’s giant robots mobile suits on a space station rather than swords on a magical floating duel stage. It’s a helluva concept, daringly executed. I just hope that Suretta, our lead, develops modes of functioning outside of Crippling Anxiety and Headstrong Bravery.

Shinobi no Ittoki – I joked on one of the anime Discord servers that minutes after the credits rolled on the end of the first episode, our protagonist found himself wishing that “Truck-kun” had yeeted him into an isekai show instead of leaving him in his current situation. A lot of the reactions I’ve seen to this show call it fairly dull (outside of a couple short action sequences) and also point out the questionable fanservice-y sequence (which is a fair complaint, to be clear) but I feel like the setup is fine, the execution was at least mildly interesting, and while Ittoki seems mostly like a generic “potato-kun” male lead, several moments in the episode show that he might have an actual personality under that standard mop of messy dark hair. I’m curious, if not fully hooked.

Reincarnated As A Sword – I read the first volume of the light novel they based this anime on and let me tell you, if you’re into long descriptions of RPG-game-style player stats & skill ranks, you’re in for a treat. On the upside, the anime makes much shorter work of the sentient sword’s progress through the first chunk of the story than the novel did. On the downside, that’s still more than half of this first entire episode. On the otherside, a catgirl stands up to nasty slavers and (“spoilers,” as if it wasn’t going to be obvious from the get-go) with the sword’s help absolutely wrecks them to achieve freedom. See, anime? You can make the point that Slavery Is Actually Terrible in an otherwise-generic isekai show with an RPG-game-style setting. If this show can do it, other shows can as well. Glad we had this talk, anime producers in general. Anyway, if you want a violent isekai starring a catgirl and a talking sword, your prayers are answered. Why you’d want that is a question probably best left unanswered, though.

Akiba Maid War – The brief, violent opening sequence gives you an idea of what you might expect from the show, so when the main part of the episode kicks in you’re already primed for the other shoe to drop for poor clueless Nagomi, who is so very happy to have landed a job in a themed maid cafe. She has absolutely no idea what she’s in for. Luckily, the other new hire is 35-year-old Ranko. I say that but I don’t really want to give away why it’s lucky. You kinda gotta see for yourself. This is Grade AAA top-shelf “what the [bleep] did I just watch?” material, almost Pythonesque in its commitment to making as little actual sense as possible but also steadfastly devoted to its established concept. It’s absolutely Not For Me but I won’t soon forget having watched it.

Management of a Novice Alchemist – I’m glad I followed up Akiba Maid War with this soft, comfy, adorable piece of fluff. Sure, it’s set in your bog-standard Pseudo-Medieval European-Style World but it’s not an isekai, it seems not to be infested with RPG-game-stats nonsense, and it’s (mildly) funny without being mean. Our plucky protagonist has a tragic backstory but she doesn’t let that slow her down, nor is she a clueless genki-girl type. Comfort-food anime, no doubt about it. Also, Ophelia is the best meddler-slash-entrepreneur. I guarantee I’ll be watching more of this, just to soothe my frazzled psyche if nothing else.

I won’t be sticking with all of these (obviously not the maid war thing and probably not the “sword isekai“) but definitely a few. That puts this season well ahead of the Summer 2022 run during which only the wild tonal whiplash of Lycoris Recoil kept my attention all the way through. And the new season’s “first episodes” aren’t all done yet so maybe I’ll tack something onto this entry later. Who knows? It could happen.