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A yellow-haired anime man (Vash the Stampede) in a red coat with orange circular glasses smiling and staring off into the distance. Image: Orange/Crunchyroll

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The must-watch anime to look out for in 2023

From Trigun Stampede and Vinland Saga to Tokyo Revengers and beyond

Happy new year! 2023 is finally upon us, and there’s an embarrassment of riches when it comes to new anime to be excited for — from the highly anticipated premieres of series like Attack on Titan Final Season Part 3, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba Swordsmith Village Arc, and Jujutsu Kaisen season 2 to exciting debuts including Witch Hat Atelier, Science Saru’s Scott Pilgrim adaptation, Heavenly Delusion, Kaiju No. 8, and more!

For now, though, let’s focus our attention on what’s coming out this season. Winter 2023 is starting the year off strong with a robust selection of new titles, like Trigun Stampede, Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1a, and Junji Nishimura (Ranma ½) and Mamoru Oshii’s (Ghost in the Shell) Hikari no Ō (“The Fire Hunter”), as well as the long-awaited return of beloved series like Tsurune, Vinland Saga, Tokyo Revengers, and Bungo Stray Dogs!

We’ll continue to update this list as we get a clearer picture of everything the upcoming season has to offer, but in the meantime, here are some of the most exciting anime airing this winter that you should look forward to.


Tsurune: The Linking Shot

Tsurune, the beloved 2018 anime from Kyoto Animation (K-On!, Violet Evergarden) based on writer Kotoko Ayano and illustrator Chinatsu Morimoto’s light novel series, finally returns to television with a new season. Titled Tsurune: The Linking Shot, this season will pick up after the events of the previous season and follow Minato Narumiya and co.’s attempts to navigate the challenges of adolescence while honing their mastery of the art of archery. Takuya Yamamura, who directed the first season, is confirmed as the director of Tsurune: The Linking Shot.

Tsurune: The Linking Shot premieres Jan. 4 and will stream on HIDIVE.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 4

Studio Bones’ (Eureka Seven, My Hero Academia) popular anime adaptation of Bungo Stray Dogs returns this winter with a new season. The Armed Detective Agency, including protagonist Atsushi Nakajima, are implicated in a plot orchestrated by a terrorist organization called Decay of the Angel. In order to clear their names, Nakajima and co. must thwart the terrorists’ plan to plunge the world into peril, all while staying one step ahead of the Hunting Dogs, an elite task force hellbent on bringing the Armed Detective Agency into custody… by any means necessary.

Bungo Stray Dogs season 4 premieres Jan. 4 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Onimai: I’m Now Your Sister!

This slice-of-life comedy anime follows the story of Mahiro Oyama, a NEET (“Not in Education, Employment, or Training”) otaku living with his scientist younger sister who, after taking part in one of her experiments, awakens the next morning to discover he’s transformed into a girl. Holy Ranma ½!

Adapted from Nekotofu’s manga series of the same name, Onimai: I’m Now Your Sister! is being directed by Shingo Fujii and produced by Studio Bind (Mushoku Tensei: Jobless Reincarnation). The series will also feature scripts written by Michiko Yokote (Shirobako, Tsurune).

Onimai: I’m Now Your Sister! premieres Jan. 5 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Revenger

Japanese film distributor Shochiku, video game company Nitroplus, and animation studio Ajiado (Ascendance of a Bookworm)’s new original anime centers on Kurima Raizo, a member of the once-powerful Satsuma samurai clan. After he is betrayed and left for dead by someone he once trusted, Raizo is recruited by Revenger — an organization of vigilante assassins who work on behalf of those unable to seek justice themselves.

Revenger premieres Jan. 5 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Buddy Daddies

Miss Spy x Family already? Not to worry: Buddy Daddies, the new original anime from studio P.A. Works (Ya Boy Kongming!, Shirobako) might be just the thing to satisfy your newfound hunger for domestic action hijinks. The series follows Kazuki Kurusu and Rei Suwa, two professional assassins and roommates who accidentally end up caring for Miri Unasaka, the 4-year-old daughter of a notorious mob boss.

The preview trailer certainly looks snazzy enough, boasting a motion comic-style presentation reminiscent of Masashi Ishihama’s work on the original opening for Spy x Family, as well as a jazzy big band score. Yoshiyuki Asai (Fate/Apocrypha) will be directing the series, Vio Shimokura (Tokyo 24th Ward) is in charge of writing the story, and Katsumi Enami (Baccano!) is responsible for character designs.

Buddy Daddies premieres Jan. 6 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown (season 2)

Tokyo Revengers, the time-hopping gang thriller series, returns this January with an all-new season. The anime centers on Takemichi Hanagaki, a 26-year-old layabout who, in a twist of fate, is pushed in front of a moving train and transported 12 years into the past.

Jumping back and forth in time to avert catastrophes in the present, Hanagaki is forced to contend with ruthless gang members and seedy killers in order to save not only his own life, but the lives of his friends and loved ones. If that description weren’t enticing enough, the first season just so happened to be one of our favorite anime of 2021.

Tokyo Revengers: Christmas Showdown premieres Jan. 7 and will stream on Hulu.

Trigun Stampede

The Humanoid Typhoon returns in an all-new anime produced by the studio Orange (Beastars, Land of the Lustrous). Trigun Stampede follows the story of Vash the Stampede, a pacifist gunslinger scouring the far reaches of a desert planet on a personal mission to find his twin brother, Knives Millions.

While set in a separate continuity from Yasuhiro Nightow’s original manga and the 1998 anime, which was produced by studio Madhouse and directed by Satoshi Nishimura, those familiar with either one should be able to surmise what the probable conclusion of this season (and the possible whereabouts of one particular fan-favorite character) might be, given the name of the city mentioned briefly in the above trailer.

Trigun Stampede premieres Jan. 7 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1a

Nier: Automata is finally getting an anime! Directed by Ryouji Masuyama (Gurren Lagann Parallel Works, Panty & Stocking With Garterbelt), Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1a will be a retelling of the story of 2B and 9S, two android soldiers in war to protect humanity from an army of alien robots in a postapocalyptic future, albeit with some notable divergences from the game.

What kind of divergences, you might ask? Well, you’ll have to watch the series in order to find out! Yoko Taro, the director of Nier: Automata, will be consulting on the anime, with studio A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online) producing the adaptation in partnership with Aniplex.

Nier: Automata Ver. 1.1a premieres in Jan. 7 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Vinland Saga season 2

After nearly four years, Vinland Saga makes its triumphant return to television. Set a year after the conclusion of the first season, Thorfinn now works as a slave on a farm in Denmark after King Canute the Great spared his life. Befriending a fellow slave named Einar, Thorfinn faces the uncertainty of finding a new reason to live following the death of his nemesis turned surrogate father figure, Askeladd, and all the while Canute continues his mission to realize a paradise on Earth. Shuhei Yabuta, who directed the first season of Vinland Saga, will return to direct the second season alongside the same staff of animators.

Vinland Saga season 2 premieres Jan. 9 and will stream on Crunchyroll and Netflix.

Kaina of the Great Snow Sea

Polygon Pictures, the anime studio behind Blame! and Knights of Sidonia, reunites once again with manga author Tsutomu Nihei for a new original anime, Kaina of the Great Snow Sea. Described as “boy-meets-girl high fantasy,” the series is set in a postapocalyptic world where the Earth is slowly being consumed by a sea of snow and humanity ekes out a life in the canopies of giant “Orbital Trees” that reach up high into the sky. Kaina, a boy living in the Orbital Trees, meets Liliha, the princess of a small country located in the snow sea, and together the two embark on a journey to uncover the mysteries of the past in search of humanity’s future.

Hiroaki Ando (Ajin, Listeners) is directing Kaina of the Great Snow Sea, while Sadayuki Murai (Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters) and Tetsuya Yamada (Knights of Sidonia) are co-writing the series’ scripts.

Kaina of the Great Snow Sea premieres Jan. 11 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

The Fire Hunter

Based on a series of fantasy novels by author Rieko Hinata and illustrator Akihiro Yamada, The Fire Hunter takes place in a postapocalyptic world covered in a massive forest teeming with otherworldly creatures called flamelings. The premise of the series itself, which concerns two children named Tōko and Kōshi whose lives are brought together by a twist of fate, sounds incredibly promising, but it’s the talent attached to the production that’s the real cause for excitement.

Junji Nishimura (Ranma ½) and Mamoru Oshii (Ghost in the Shell, Blood: The Last Vampire) have teamed up again to work on the project, with the former directing and the latter writing and overseeing the scripts. Several other past Oshii collaborators will be working on the production as well, including Kazuchika Kise (Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence) as one of the series’ chief animation directors and Kenji Kawai (Ghost in the Shell, Avalon), who will be composing the music. The character designs by Takuya Saito (Outlaw Star, Macross Zero) alone look fantastic and almost reminiscent of Ayumi Kurashima’s work on Devilman Crybaby or Naoya Wada’s work on Japan Sinks: 2020.

The Fire Hunter will premiere Jan. 14 and will stream on Crunchyroll.

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre

This new animated horror anthology adapts 20 stories by acclaimed horror manga author Junji Ito, many for the first time. Adaptations include include Tomie, Souichi’s Convenient Curse, and The Hanging Balloons. Both Tomie and Souichi were previously adapted in the 2018 anthology anime series Junji Ito Collection, but look — I will not be accused of looking a gift horse in the mouth and complain that it needs braces.

Shinobu Tagashira, who directed the aforementioned Junji Ito Collection anthology, is directing this new anthology series with Studio Deen, which also produced Junji Ito Collection.

Junji Ito Maniac: Japanese Tales of the Macabre premieres Jan. 19 and will stream on Netflix.

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