The current winter anime season has boasted a stellar lineup of new shows for fans of all genres to enjoy. With all those options, you may be wondering: “What should I really be watching this season?”
Polygon’s resident anime fans have pulled together a short list of the anime we’ve been watching and enjoying this winter season. From ongoing new releases to old favorites that just feel seasonally appropriate, we’ve got bunch of recommendations that ought to fit any curious anime fan looking for a new (or new-ish) show to watch.
Here are some of the best anime you should watch this winter season.
Where to stream: Crunchyroll
Solo Leveling was one of the most anticipated shows of this season, and with good reason: The Korean web novel it’s based on is a massive cultural phenomenon and pretty damn entertaining, too. While the show starts off slow, it’s nice to see a shonen dedicate time to showing our protagonist at his lowest, all with the knowledge that he’s going to become a god over the course of the series.
On top of that, the series is doing a great job of carefully building Solo Leveling’s complex world, which should make the whole thing even more exciting when Jin-woo finally figures out his powers and the fact that he’s the only one in the world with the ability to level up. In the meantime, A-1 Pictures’ excellent animation is more than enough to keep the series entertaining as it warms its way up to something truly special. —Austen Goslin
Delicious in Dungeon
Where to stream: Netflix
By now, you’ve no doubt already heard of Delicious in Dungeon. If you somehow haven’t, I couldn’t be more happy to give you the lowdown on why you should make time to watch one of this season’s best new anime. The series follows a party of adventurers who, after being defeated by a terrifying red dragon, embark on a journey to the depths of a massive dungeon to save one of their own. One problem: They have no money to buy provisions, so they’ll have to rummage up whatever food they can by cooking the variety of creatures they find along their quest.
As my colleague Joshua Rivera so aptly put it, it’s essentially Baldur’s Gate 3 by way of Chef’s Table, with every episode boasting a variety of dishes that are more peculiar and mouthwatering looking than the last. It’s a fun, moderately low-stakes fantasy adventure with colorful characters and surprises around every corner. —Toussaint Egan
The Apothecary Diaries
Where to stream: Crunchyroll
Along with keeping up with weekly episodes from this season’s latest releases, I’ve been circling back to watch a couple series that managed to elude my attention in 2023. One of those anime that I’ve been watching — and that I’m metaphorically kicking myself over having initially missed — is The Apothecary Diaries.
Directed by Norihiro Naganuma (The Ancient Magus’ Bride) and based on the light novel series by Natsu Hyūga, the anime could be best described as a period mystery drama with romance elements. The story follows a young apothecary named Maomao who is abducted and sold off to be a servant in a palace built to house the concubines of a powerful emperor. After solving a mystery and saving the life of one of the emperor’s heirs, Maomao is promoted to a poison-tester and unofficial pathologist, resolving other various mishaps and advising on fraught mysteries located in and around the palace.
It’s quickly become one of my favorite watches in recent memory, and with the second cour of the series currently streaming on Crunchyroll this season, I feel confident about it’s chances of landing on our upcoming list of the year’s best so far. —TE
Where to stream: HIDIVE
I know this one isn’t on Netflix or Crunchyroll, but trust me — I promise it’s worth seeking out all the same!
When the weather turns chilly outside, some folks travel out of town to visit warmer climates until the season turns. Whenever I think about traveling, my mind inevitably turns to one of my favorite anime: the 2003 adaptation of Kino’s Journey. Directed by the late, great Ryūtarō Nakamura (Serial Experiments Lain), the anime follows Kino, an itinerant traveler and trained gunslinger who travels across the world exploring exotic locales aboard her talking sentient motorbike, Hermes.
It’s an anime where the journey truly is the destination, with every episode existing as a stand-alone adventure where Kino encounters some new oddity or obstacle that prompts ruminating on individual and cultural influences behind each country’s idiosyncratic custom. It’s a fantastic philosophical adventure series that also boasts its fair share of action and intrigue. —TE
Where to stream: Crunchyroll, Hulu
If you’re looking for an appropriately chilly mystery drama to watch, Erased is the perfect anime for the season. Directed by Tomohiko Itō (Sword Art Online), the series follows the story of a struggling 29-year-old named Satoru who is involuntarily transported back in time after witnessing the death of his mother. In order to prevent her death and clear his own name, Satoru must solve the disappearance of his childhood classmate Kayo. Similar to Tokyo Revengers, Erased is a story about the tiniest of actions adding up to devastating consequences, as Satoru races against and across time itself to prevent a tragedy that — if left unchecked — will circle back to inevitably beget yet even more tragedy. It’s a thrilling sci-fi drama and hell of a mystery with plenty of twists, and an easy recommendation for anyone looking for a shorter anime to watch this season. —TE