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LiteralGrill's Top 10 Anime of 2023 ✦
Over 300 anime shows and films were released in 2023, no seriously, I went and counted by hand and a bit after 300 is where I gave up! The amount of shows we get each season, let alone in an entire year, has been massively increasing as of late. While I obviously couldn't watch literally everything, it still made it incredibly difficult to narrow things down to a top 10. But you didn't come here to read an intro, let's get into the meat of things! I'll be covering everything from the Winter 2023 season through Fall 2023. Reader beware, minor spoilers ahead! Let's get to it ✦
Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2
It felt weird to include just the second part of the show when you need the first season to get the most out of it. While the first also technically ended in 2023 and I could joke about being the best kind of correct, I left this one off the list so other incredible choices could be included. But seriously, go watch one of the best Gundam series of all time!
Kaguya-sama: Love is War: -The First Kiss That Never Ends-
This one also technically could have made it as the episodic version was released during the Spring 2023 season. However, I was fortunate enough to watch it with my partner in a theater, so my experience with it was slightly different. And that movie officially came out in 2022. I would have included this one because of how my partner openly bawled right alongside me as we watched it despite having essentially no previous knowledge of the series. The movie dives deep into traumas surrounding loving oneself and the fears of opening up in intimate relationships in a way that is so powerful and relatable that I had to at least mention it here.
10. I'm in Love with the Villainess
It's easy to pack lists like this with nothing but "high art." It takes more guts to just openly say this slapstick lesbian romance is one of the best shows I saw this year! The show is all about Rae's adventures in her favorite otome game where she wants nothing to do with the princes and everything to do with Claire François. I'm not usually huge on isekai shows these days but common tropes of the genre aren't as in your face here. While her knowledge of the game comes in handy, it is rarely used as a deus ex machina to escape every difficult situation. This series produced so many reaction image worthy stills while still managing to pull quite hard on the heartstrings, especially at the end. I can only hope its second season is announced soon.
9. Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts
These days, shojo series are sadly adapted far less often than their shonen counterparts and are rarely even given full adaptations of their material at all. Hearing Sacrificial Princess and the King of Beasts would not only be fully adapted but also have its entire story aired without a break between cours made it instantly stand out as something to keep an eye on. Add hunky and cute furries to the mix and how could I say no?
All kidding aside, the show has over-the-top cheesy romance moments distilled down to such a science that they seriously brought me to tears. It's unfair that shojo anime are stereotyped as being only about romances but it's hard to deny that no stories do romance quite like shojo stories. The machinations of the nobility add political intrigue that kept me hooked throughout as well. Hell, there were even some pretty good fight scenes!
I can't deny the iffy age issues between Sariphi and King Leonhart are a bit ehhhhh and why it's a bit lower on my list, even if these elements are not even remotely focused on in the series at all unlike some more problematic releases in 2023 (I'm looking at you A Girl & Her Guard Dog). But if that's not a dealbreaker for you, I'd recommend giving this underseen gem of 2023 a shot.
8. Ōoku: The Inner Chambers
I admit, I almost missed this one purely by being busy. Its first episode being over an hour long alone was a lot to plan around, so I didn't catch it when it came out in spring. However, Colleen's Manga Recs made an entire video about why people should watch it, so I kept it in the back of my mind until I was free to check it out recently.
I'm so glad that I did! There are far too many half-baked stories released as of late exploring how society might change if a majority or all of the male population were to suddenly die from disease. This one is all the way baked and paints the picture of a fascinating world where gender roles are turned upside down and royalty struggles to maintain succession in a world where men have been traditionally expected to rule. I don't want to spoil much here, it's worth seeing the story yourself. If the first episode gets a tight grip on your mind, you'll enjoy the rest of the series for sure.
Just be warned: The series does discuss and depict sexual assault. Be sure if you're going to check this one out that you're prepared for this and a lot of other heavy subject matter.
7. Yuri Is My Job
Especially for those who have avidly enjoyed lesbian romance stories from Japan, Yuri Is My Job is among the best yuri anime released in years. This is because it not only features a yuri romance, but breaks down historic tropes of the genre itself from the days of early Class S literature. This meta commentary alongside sweet complex romantic relationships came together to become more than just a show where a girl is wrangled into working for an oddly themed private school cafe!
If you're interested in these deeper parts of the show, Anime Feminist released a fantastic retrospective on the anime you'll want to check out. If you haven't seen this one yet and love everything yuri, do yourself a favor and get this on your screen already!
6. Buddy Daddies
It feels like the release of SPY x FAMILY kinda drowned this show out as too many people tried to say it was just a copy trying to ride off the coattails of a major success. This couldn't be less of a case! Just because people in high risk jobs suddenly adopt a daughter doesn't mean their stories will be the same.
Buddy Daddies has some comedic hijinks but is far more focused on what is essentially a queer relationship between two men as they become the best people they can be while taking care of a girl suddenly thrust into their care. How do you get a kid signed up for school, get all her supplies, and help her with the issues a young girl faces all while being top tier assassins? Oh, and did I mention that it's an original anime and not an adaptation to boot? Come for the badass action scenes and stay for the deep emotional core of the show.
5. Zom 100: Bucket List of the Dead
It should be obvious I deeply enjoyed Zom 100, hell I made an entire video essay about it! I have few other praises to speak about the show that weren't included there already. I'll just say that the last three episodes of the show absolutely delivered a compelling finale. Check this out for something outside the tropey zombie norm!
MF Ghost seemed like it had all the power of Initial D behind it as proof it would be the racing anime of the year, let alone Fall 2023. Overtake! simply made that impossible. It may not be as flashy, but the extremly grounded story of a son trying to follow in the footsteps of his F4 racing father and a man trying to recover from his trauma surrounding taking photographs of people is just so raw and real. The show is character driven to perfection and it's impossible to not care about the hopes and dreams feveryone involved by the time it concludes. The racing is also way more focused in reality than most other shows, which may be a turn off for those who want off-the-walls action, but is a marvel for those who intimately know the actual sport. Another anime original that absolutely swept me off my feet.
If Helck doesn't get a second season I swear I'll start a riot. The show starts off so goofy with this overpowered RPG world hero absolutely demolishing the competition to become the new demon king and quickly becomes a series about maintaining hope and fighting for freedom while within extreme emotional turmoil. There are so many themes in this show that are relevant in current times, especially the bit where the human government paints an entire race of people as being evil despite that not being the case... Hint hint...
I looked more forward to seeing this show than anything else in each week in the Summer 2023 season and can't recommend it more!
2. The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady
This show possibly made me cry harder than anything else released in 2023 which is a driving force behind why it's so high up on my list. It is by far the best isekai of 2023 as well, especially because of how subtly the main character Anisphia Wynn Palettia being reincarnated affects the plot to begin with. There are so many ways this show pulls at the heartstrings from Euphyllia trying to figure out what she wants in her life after knowing little but being raised to marry a prince to the complex darkness held in the heart of Anisphia's brother, there's just so much to dig into here.
It's not too often we get to see a full blown lesbian wedding at the end of a series either. There's no plausible deniability here, no leaving things up to interpretation, this show has lesbians in love! Period! I want to make sure all the emotional beats have their chance to hit so I won't risk spoiling anything more. Just please, pretty please, watch The Magical Revolution of the Reincarnated Princess and the Genius Young Lady.
If I could only get people to watch one anime series this year, it would have to be Pluto. The questions it raises on AI and humanity couldn't have come at a better time, and it challenges the viewer to decide what they think instead of simply giving an answer they want you to believe. It directly calls out the kind of garbage America pulled during its "War on Terror" in a time when the country is currently destabilizing the middle east once again. As America actively and publicly funds a genocide despite the wishes of the majority of its citizens. It shows what happens when hate is a driving force behind decisions and how that can and will come back to haunt us all.
All of this is wrapped up in an incredible murder mystery that could have been enough to carry the show all by itself! This brainchild of Naoki Urasawa and Osamu Tezuka himself should be watched by anyone who considers themselves a fan of anime. Hell, show this one to any fan of sci-fi that is prepared for a psychological drama that will knock their socks off.
© 2023. All rights reserved. - Page last modified 2023.12.30 - The GrillOut was created June 21, 2023.