Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion
Streaming on: (Crunchyroll)
Premise: Living inside a fairy tale may sound like a dream, but for this heroine, it’s more of a nightmare. After her mysterious death, Rinko is reborn as Raeliana—a loved and wealthy character in a novel. But she knows the ending: her murder at the hands of her fiancé. So, she hatches a plan to stay alive, one that involves a devilish duke and a phony engagement. Can she rewrite her story?
Fun fact: This is the adaptation of a Korean web-comic that was adapted from a light novel series, not Japanese manga! The English web-comic version has received over six million views on the app it is hosted on!
Watch it you love: Series that lean towards thrillers, web-comic adaptions, another Isekai draft pick anime
Mini Review (Five episodes in): As spotlighted here in this piece I previously wrote explaining the then-upcoming series, Why Raeliana Ended Up at the Duke’s Mansion has been an hotly anticipated series! Genre-wise, the Isekai sub-genre of villainess/side female characters that change up the story keeps the genre fresh in my most humble opinion. First off, the animation is gorgeous! I am happy with the visual look of the series, yet if I am allowed a little nitpicking, there are a few small moments that I am sad the animation team missed the mark on. I am so happy to see Noah and Raeliana’s interactions animated. It is a faithful adaptation of the web-comic that I love this so much.
These two are so fun to watch and see try to outdo each other time and time again. I feel if you’re not a faithful fan of the original, you may have a hard time with the pacing of the series in the beginning or may not care for Noah’s personality and behavior towards Raeliana, at first. If that’s you, stay on for episode six or come back and watch this season in chunks of episodes to see the expanding story that Raeliana has created for herself and the cast of characters that end up involved in her life that wasn’t supposed to be!
Skip and Loafer
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
Premise: This country girl is ready for the big city! Well, at least she thought she was. Mitsumi’s dream is to attend a prestigious school and make the world a better place by way of first improving places like her small hometown. But when she finally gets to Tokyo, it turns out she isn’t exactly prepared for city life. Luckily, she runs into Shima, a sweet and handsome classmate who becomes her first friend! Can she make it in Tokyo with Shima by her side?
Fun fact: It is not Shojo, apparently much to the discourse of manga fans online! (Seriously, quite tweeting the Shojo girlies gross comments just because you’ve been gently corrected!) Skip and Loafer is of the Seinen genre variety–published in a Seinen manga magazine.
Watch it you love: Coming-of-age and slice of life series, anime set around school life and lots of humorous and fluffy moments
Mini Review (Five episodes in): I bought the first volume of the Skip and Loafer manga at a Book-Off location here in Southern California a year ago and loved it. I was really blown away by the infectious, fun energy of the manga that so far, translates on screen in its anime adaptation. To call Skip and Loafer simply a romance anime is wrong as it focuses on connections with a special emphasis on friendships new and old. Each episode brings about a beautiful but small lesson that you can miss if you’re watching on auto-pilot, like the fifth episode that I just watched.
Skip and Loafer brings the heat with so many different characters at school that have desires and have hurts that they are still healing from. Whether that be being a popular person but feeling lonely, not having a lot of people you can depend on, to struggling to keep up with beauty standards, and wanting to be loved, there’s someone to feel kin to and watch. With just a handful of episodes in, this entry on this list is super charming and funny with some surprising LGBTIQA+ representation that is a positive plus! If you like your wholesome slice of life anime, you’ll probably love this series of the odd-ball yet lovable Mitsumi, the beat of her own drum that she marches to, and her school life that flowers and blooms with each episode that airs.
My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999
Streaming on: Crunchyroll
Premise: Akane, a female college student, faces the absolute worst situation when she ends up breaking up with her boyfriend after he has an affair with another girl he met playing an online game. While relieving her stress by rampaging through the open hunting grounds of the online game they started playing together, Akane spills everything about her heartbreak to “Yamada.” He’s a player she met by chance who happens to be in the same guild. But when Akane gets a makeover and joins an offline event to get back at her ex-boyfriend, she hears those dreadful words again when she meets Yamada face to face.
Watch it you love: Romantic comedies, the slice of life genre via anime, and series gamer girls™️ will probably approve of
Mini Review (Five episodes in): My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 is hilarious, truly. Over the pandemic, I think those of us who love games (tabletop, video games, mobile games and more) appreciate and cherish the gaming communities we’ve become apart of. Here in this anime, the online game, Forest of Savior better known as FOS is how Akane becomes acquainted in online communities and meets friends of all ages. She initially joined in with her then boyfriend and even after being dumped by him (he left her for another girl he met online playing the same game, brutal) and continues playing and finds a place to belong without him. Yamada is the first player she meets online in real life from the guild she belongs to and others follow. You’ll know if this series is worth watching if you get past the twist at the end of the first episode.
The ridiculousness that flows every episode is paired very well with worthy character development even if some of the tensions of the more serious parts of certain episodes, like the fifth episode, don’t feel resolved or executed well. I do love how this series does include relevant struggles like meeting online friends, cyber-stalking, and having poor communication. It does help that My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 has so many of the comedic bits down, because there are several moments of frustration with the main characters, especially Yamada and Akane. Overall, Akane has a genuine desire for friendship and that carries her far. I will say that this series does a great job in giving us young adult characters having new experiences, meeting new people, and just developing into more self-aware, mature persons enjoying life.
Insomniacs After School
Streaming on: HIDVE
Premise: Ganta Nakami is a high school student who suffers from insomnia. He’s not quite popular with his gloomy disposition with few friends or ambitions. He meets Isaki Magari, a girl with the same condition. She, on the other hand is a bubbly, popular classmate who is his exact opposite. A relationship forms between the two as they share a secret and catch up on their sleep in their school’s abandoned observatory.
Watch it you love: That wonderful school life genre, an interest in astronomy or astrophotography and more Iyashikei flavored anime series
Mini Review (Four episodes in) Oh, no! Insomniacs After School has no business being this good! Its simple premise has really bloomed into an anime that continues to stun me. A shared sleep disorder becomes the glue that binds two unlikely young people together resulting in a passionate exploration of nighttime adventures for these two kids. Ganta and Isaki find each other’s company comfortable as they strive to save their holy napping place and end up as new members of a formerly defunct school club.
They end up doing everything from seeing what the city looks like at night to befriending an alumni and being mentored and confusing the hell out of their own friend circles. This anime moves at its own pace and hints at a heartbreaking reveal that I feel is coming but I know that I still won’t be prepared for. Watch this hidden gem of a anime series for a slow budding romance and the exciting times that are to be had via discovery and motivation via being a high school student. Insomniacs After School has some calm and relaxing vibes for sure. HIDIVE has a catalog when it comes to anime, this should be in your must-watch list for the Spring 2023 season!
Streaming on: HIDIVE
Premise: Chosen as humanity’s representative in a duel against invading aliens, the womanizing Ataru faces off against the alien princess Lum — and the conflict follows him home when Lum invades both planet Earth AND the reluctant Ataru’s love life!
Watch it you love: anything created or connected to the legendary Rumiko Takahashi, the sci-fi and romance comedy genres
Min Preview: As spotlighted here in a piece explaining the series before it premiered, this is a reboot of a popular series from the 80’s that exploded in popularity. This second season airs May 17 on HIDIVE, and I’m adding it here at the tail end of this piece as it feels criminal to exclude it. This second season, part cour looks to have more of Lum’s family running interference, more hi-jinks at school, and more strange creatures, including an octopus being apart of the drama that is Urusei Yatsura. I know that I won’t be disappointed with all the screwball antics and flair that is to come!