Quick Reviews: Kaina, Onimai, Sugar Apple, Ice Guy & Tomo-Chan

As we reach the end of the winter 2023 season it’s time to start talking about the shows that aired during this season. I watched way too many shows this past season, to the point that I was regularly behind on schedule and had to binge for a few hours to try and catch up again. It was also a season that was filled with delays, with several shows going on hiatus and some still being on hiatus. As I’m typing this I just learned that the second season of Bofuri will be on break again next week. It’ll at least finish in April, so it’s getting a better treatment than Uncle from another world did. But we’re not here to talk about either of these shows. If you didn’t watch thirty different shows like I did, but still want to know what is worth watching, I’ve got you covered. Over the next few weeks I’ll be telling you about all the shows I watched this season and what I thought of them. Well, most of them, some aren’t worth talking about or have been covered by many others already. Now then, let’s get started.

Kaina of the Great Snow Sea

One thing this show does really well is portray just how vast and empty the world around them is. Most of humanity has long died by this point, and there is a lot of unused – and unusable – space.

If I were to tell you that my favorite part of this show was the opening theme then that probably isn’t giving you a ton of hope. To be fair to Kaina, the opening is an absolute banger. Sang by one of my favorite Japanese artists: Yorushika. As far as I’m aware, they’re not normally featured in anime, so I was very surprised when I instantly recognized them. My favorite song by them is Hitchcock which you should definitely give a listen. Moving on from the music, the story falls a little bit flat for me. I like where they’re going with the worldbuilding, that part is interesting to me. Kaina lives in a treetop above the clouds but needs to help Ririha, a princess from the great snow sea, down below. They have to fix the war between two nations and find a legendary tree that should have water. The characters in this show are great. I don’t dislike any of the protagonists. I do think the bad guys are extremely one-note and the way the story ends is pretty disappointing. Overall I wouldn’t really recommend this show, but it has some interesting ideas so if that’s all you need then who am I to stop you.

Onimai: Oniichan was Oshimai

Mahiro is already enjoying the change in body and clothes. Mihari is probably enjoying it even more.

When I first read the plot description for this series I didn’t think I’d end up liking this show half as much as I did. I expected it to be aimless smut. A high school girl who’s also a mad scientist has turned her NEET older brother into a young girl in an attempt to fix him. Yeah, I thought it was a stretch too. Although the early episodes explore genderbending quite a bit, once the show really hits its stride is when it starts becoming more wholesome. Mahiro goes to school, makes friends and really comes out of her shell. It is kind of weird that this is a teenage boy in the body of a little girl, which is why I initially worried about this show. But it ended up being really nice. The supporting cast is great and watching this young girl slowly come out of her shell and become a more happy person is a kind of sweet journey. Not the best show this season but also not nearly as trashy as I expected it to be. If you were on the fence about this one, I recommend you give it a shot after all.

Sugar Apple Fairy Tale

Probably the best thing about this show is the way it looks. It’s gorgeous from start to finish which does a good job of hiding some of the other issues that a lesser quality production would stumble over.

So hear me out. What if we made a romance story, but the guy is a slave.
I swear I’m getting so sick of this slavery being a big plot point in anime lately. Have Japanese authors just accepted that the only way to reach any form of romance is by literally enslaving one of the parties and forcing them to be involved? It’s so crazy. This show would have still worked if Challe was just a mercenary. The only thing that would have changed was that the writer actually had to think about any roadblocks for our characters as opposed to just default to literal slavery every single time. Seriously, this show has a lot of good for it. The art is gorgeous, the characters are fun and the idea of an artisan running into blatant sexism isn’t the most original in the world but it’s also not so overdone that I’m bored of it. Anne Halford is trying to become a Sugar Artisan so she can send off her mother who unfortunately passed away before the story starts. On her way she buys Challe, who’s a fairy and a slave. They slowly befriend each other and get rather close after a while. They run into a lot of trouble on their way, mostly with jealous men trying to undermine Anne. It’s a gorgeously animated show that really misses the point when it comes to the story. It is getting a second season though, so if you do get into it, there’ll be more than enough content for you to watch.

The Ice Guy and His Cool Female Colleague

The character designs in this show are really well done. Not just for Fuyutsuki and Himuro, but also for many of the other characters.

Sometimes when I write a story I spend hours thinking of a clever title for the story. I’m starting to think that these authors – or at the very least the people translating – just stopped caring at a certain point. He has ice powers so let’s call him ice guy and then make a pun on that and voila. Fuyutsuki isn’t even cool, so it makes no sense. She’s not cool in the sense of being a skater girl and also not in her interaction, she’s really kind to the people around her. Just a little bit introverted at times.
The story follows a bunch of coworkers at a company in a world where people are descended from mythical creatures. There’s a lady with fox ears, a guy who’s descended from a phoenix and our main character, Himuro, is descended from a Yuki-Onna, or snow woman. Whenever he’s excited snow starts to appear around him, thus he has to temper his emotions quite often.
He quickly falls in love with his coworker, Fuyutsuki, who is kind and lives alone with her cat. From there on out the story is a fun romance story with a great cast. Unfortunately, like many romance stories, the plot progresses at a pace slower than a turtle with a broken leg, but if you go into this show already having that expectation then it does quite a lot of things right. And it’s also refreshing to have adults in a romance show as opposed to high school students. I stopped being able to relate to high schoolers well over a decade ago, so give me a show like this any day of the week.

Tomo-Chan is a girl?!

Tomo explains how the show works for those who are still confused.

It is tomboy season and Tomo is at the peak of the movement. This four panel manga that came out on a daily basis for several years was a staple in my life while it was going on. I remember how it would go on a hiatus regularly – which is fair enough – and we’d all just be waiting for its return. The fact that Tomo-chan got an anime was a total surprise to me as I had mostly forgotten about it. I will quickly admit that I was a little bit hesitant when this started its run. When I enjoyed this manga I was a lot younger than I am now. There are shows I liked ten years ago that I couldn’t sit through now and vice versa. Besides that, it was a four panel manga and a lot of those – in my experience – don’t translate amazingly to anime. But after a mediocre first one or two episodes this show really hit its stride and it quickly reminded me why I liked it so much. It’s a classic romance story where the childhood friends are both in love with each other but neither are willing to take the first step. It takes forever for any progress to happen but Tomo-chan shines when it’s being over the top. Aizawa Tomo was just one of the guys growing up. She’s strong, works out, does martial arts, has relatively short hair and for a part of their friendship Jun thought she was a boy. When she showed up in a skirt to school he was definitely surprised. They stay friends and we meet several of their other friends which include the scheming Misuzu, the bubbly Carol and the awkward Misaki. We follow their journey as Jun and Tomo grow closer and this anime covers the entire manga so we get to the ending that left us manga readers satisfied. It’s a little bit rushed at times, it could have probably done with an extra half a dozen episodes to make it even better, but we get what we get. The animation and art style aren’t good or bad, it just does its job. If you even think you like tomboys or romcoms then this is definitely one you should take a look at. I am very happy it got an anime.

And there we go, five anime done, another bunch to go in the next few weeks. This week’s pick was a bit of a mixed bag, but I don’t feel bad about the time I spent on any of these shows. There’s something good in every show. If you’re going to only watch one out of these five, I’d go with Tomo-Chan, but it also depends on what genres you like. But that’s just my opinion, let me know what you think in the comments down below. Thanks for reading.

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