The Best 2023 Anime Shows So Far

Updated May 30, 2024 • Staff

The anime scene is experiencing an all-time high. There have never been more shows with mind-bending visuals, epic battles, and lovable characters than in 2023, and the year isn't even over yet! It's also never been more bizarre, as you can tell by the premises below. Talking cats, zombie colleagues, human hybrids...there's no shortage of the absurd here, but that's what makes this genre so delightfully unique. So, whether you're a seasoned otaku or just dipping your toes into the anime pool, join us as we turn our screens into interdimensional portals with this year's best anime shows. 

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Reign of the Seven Spellblades

It's a new term at Kimberly Magic School, an academy with an 80% survival rate. Immediately we are introduced to the school's magical compound and our two main leads, Oliver Horn and Nanao Hibiya. Nanao, in particular, sticks out in her samurai garb and nonchalance toward danger (and most social cues), which is saying something since this is already an odd world filled with talking plants, magical creatures, and a busty, threatening headmistress. Because it chooses worldbuilding over backstories, the fantasy series doesn't seem as formulaic as it could be. But it does expertly set up the dangers the students will experience in the next seven years. It's also interesting that the magical students rely on swords instead of the usual wands; the possibility of even deadlier fights later in the series makes it an easy draw.

Our staff rating: 7/10
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Atsushi Tamaru, Hitomi Ohwada, Misuzu Yamada, Riho Sugiyama, Yuka Nukui
Rating: TV-14

Zom 100

Making a bucket list at the height of a zombie outbreak seems ridiculous, yet totally reasonable when you've spent the last three years overworked and undervalued. In real life, our workforce already feels zombified as higher-ups enslave the working class to high production and insufficient pay, so it's nice to see Zom 100 exemplify that notion. Zom 100 also immediately captures that essential reminder to "live now," which has become especially relevant as the Covid-19 pandemic found most people rekindling old hobbies and discovering new ones as death and sickness felt ever near.

Though there isn't a lot of character-building in episode one, the titular 100-item bucket list promises an eye-opening, personal journey with our protagonist Akira. Thankfully, the opening didn't shy away from the gore and electrifying tension of the zombie attacks, making this an interesting horror/slice-of-life/coming-of-age/drama to keep an eye on. 

Our staff rating: 7.2/10
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Makoto Furukawa, Minami Takahashi, Shuichiro Umeda, Tomori Kusunoki

Free Watching Options:

Watch Zom 100 on Hulu for free

The Masterful Cat Is Depressed Again Today

The summer 2023 anime line-up easily has the most interesting titles and premises, and The Masterful Cat is Depressed Again Today is one of them. After Saku rescues him on a snowy night, Yukichi the cat decides to take care of her and her home. Sentient and intelligent, Yukichi, who is as big as a human (and walks and behaves like one too), does all of Saku's housekeeping: cleaning, cooking, taking out the garbage, the works! Naturally, this lends itself well to the inherent comedy of the situation. The absurdity mounts when you realize there are quite a few people aware—and unbothered—by the fact. If you're up for hijinks this summer, it's best to start here. 

Our staff rating: 7.3/10
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Ai Kakuma, Ayana Taketatsu, Hiroki Yasumoto, Katsuyuki Konishi, Mao Ichimichi, Miyu Irino, Yui Ishikawa
Director: Susumu Kudou
Rating: TV-14

The Gene of AI

In a world acclimated to the technological advancements and integration of AI, Sudo Hikaru offers illegal medical procedures in the hopes of finding the people behind his mother's stolen data. The Gene of AI takes an interestingly neutral tone towards the integration of humanoids among the population (akin to our current normal with social media and smartphones). Even as the question of ethics and legality weaves through everyday conversations, the idea of AI being inherently bad is never the conclusion. So far, the narrative follows a procedural format that feeds each new case/scenario back into Hikaru's search. 

With a small primary cast and a heavy hand on CGI (which feels deliberate given how the show discusses the human-technology relationship), the show has the potential to deliver a memorable narrative in the transhumanism genre.

Our staff rating: 7.7/10
Genre: Animation, Drama, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Mutsuki Iwanaka, Natsumi Takamori, Takeo Otsuka, Yume Miyamoto
Rating: TV-14

Ōoku: The Inner Chambers

Set in a fictionalized version of Japan's Edo period, where a deadly disease affecting only men has led to women taking traditionally-male roles, Ōoku is steeped in social commentary on gender and sexuality. The concept is well-established in its 70+ minute first episode, allowing the story to set a foundation for a fascinating progression in this world. By centering the powerful warlord figure, the Shogun, it illuminates the shadows women occupy to support a country with little to no recognition. With a political throughline and an inherently feminist lens, Ooku: The Inner Chambers offers a beautifully-animated series with few gimmicks and lots of depth.

Our staff rating: 7.8/10
Genre: Animation, Drama
Actor: Eriko Matsui, Jun Fukuyama, Kikuko Inoue, Mamoru Miyano, Miyuki Satou, Sanae Kobayashi, Tomokazu Seki, Yuki Kaji
Rating: TV-MA

Insomniacs After School

With teenage insomnia rates increasing worldwide, it’s a wonder how a story like this hasn’t been made until now. Insomniacs After School takes a charming approach to this issue– viewing it not as a reason to shame the youth over but just as an unfortunate circumstance that requires support. In this case, it's heartwarming to see how support comes from the school community. While restarting the astronomy club may not be sound medical advice, it's clear how valuable the school observatory is as a safe space for Nakami and Magari. It's uplifting to see the school nurse, alumni, student council, and fellow classmates root for the club and their events. Most of all, it's comforting to see Nakami and Magari help each other with their insomnia. Their shared comfort and support, along with the backdrop of Japan's most photographable night skies, make this slow-burn romance anime incredible.

Our staff rating: 7.9/10
Genre: Animation, Comedy, Drama
Actor: Gen Sato, Haruka Tomatsu, Konomi Tamura, Lynn, Mamiko Noto, Natsumi Fujiwara, Seiichiro Yamashita, Sho Karino, Sumire Morohoshi
Rating: TV-14

Tengoku Daimakyo

Mind-bending, intense, and mysterious, it's hard to put Tengoku Daimakyo into words. The anime might be a post-apocalyptic adventure series where two teenagers fight against man-eating monsters, but it also happens to be a sci-fi-based contemplation of genetic experimentation, AI, and interventionism. The structure of the series is strange too, with its two seemingly unconnected parallel storylines. At the start, it's unclear why the show alternates between a futuristic utopian boarding school and the monster-filled ruins of Japan. However, there's something very compelling about the way this show unveils itself. When a question about the premise is answered, even more questions pop up. When the kids' wishes and predictions get fulfilled, it's never in the way they expect it would be. When the show drops an unexpected revelation, sometimes a rewatch of previous episodes is required to understand the weight of that scene. But once things click, the brilliance of the show is undeniable. Tengoku Daimakyo is strange but downright fascinating.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Action & Adventure, Animation, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Atsumi Tanezaki, Gen Sato, Hibiku Yamamura, Kazuya Nakai, Misato Fukuen, Misato Matsuoka, Sayaka Senbongi, Shunsuke Takeuchi, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Toshiyuki Toyonaga, Yuuki Shin
Rating: TV-MA

Free Watching Options:

Watch Tengoku Daimakyo on Hulu for free

Oshi No Ko

Mesmerizing as its idol, Oshi No Ko is a spellbinding adaptation of the original manga hit. Centered around an idol’s secret twin children, this binge-worthy anime brilliantly takes the reincarnation trope to tackle the Japanese entertainment industry. The premise alone is brilliant, but stunning animation and catchy tracks elevate the source material. The show isn’t afraid to go in-depth– as the twins progress through their careers, certain scenes effectively explain quirks in the industry that regular viewers wouldn’t know. However, the show remains mindful of its young characters, ensuring a careful discussion without going too far. Oshi No Ko uncovers what makes stars so captivating, without sacrificing the glitz and glamor in its explanation.

Our staff rating: 8/10
Genre: Animation, Drama
Actor: Kent Ito, Manaka Iwami, Megumi Han, Rie Takahashi, Rumi Okubo, Takeo Otsuka, Yumi Uchiyama, Yurie Igoma

Skip and Loafer

Simple yet captivating, Skip and Loafer is a slice-of-life anime with a refreshing approach to the high school experience. While the anime genre is mostly known for its bright, high-saturated colors and action-filled, fantastical plots, this show celebrates the ordinary, with its pastel toned design, sweet humor, and clean animation. The series is centered around the main duo Mitsumi and Sosuke, but it never skimps on their friendships with their group. In fact, despite the classmates’ different backgrounds, the show’s thoughtful introductions make it easy to see why they would all care for each other, even as we get to know their insecurities. Skip and Loafer feels like a hug from the childhood best friend you had (or the one that you wished you had) – the one who you hung out with after school, the one who inspired you, and the one that changed your life for the better. Every episode is just full of pure, simple joy.

Our staff rating: 8.3/10
Genre: Animation, Comedy
Actor: Akinori Egoshi, Ayumu Murase, Hikaru Tanaka, Maaya Uchida, Megumi Han, Minami Tsuda, Mitsuki Saiga, Ryohei Kimura, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Yuka Terasaki

Undead Murder Farce

An oni/human hybrid, a severed head in a birdcage, and a bayonet-wielding maid step into a vampire's house to solve a murder.

And that is truly the essence of Undead Murder Face. Blending gothic with supernatural, creatures of global and Japanese lore converge in a turn-of-the-century historical anime. In only two episodes, the show establishes the Westernization of Japan and how it leads to erasing foundational parts of their culture while mixing in a unique fantasy element to the story. Most interestingly, the impressive animation (especially the transitions), eerie close-ups and ominous nightscapes are punctuated by curious moments of comedy. And it all accumulates into a sensational concept that's worth the watch.

Our staff rating: 8.5/10
Genre: Animation, Mystery, Sci-Fi & Fantasy
Actor: Hiro Shimono, Itaru Yamamoto, Maaya Uchida, Makoto Koichi, Mamoru Miyano, Masaki Aizawa, Reina Kondo, Saima Nakano, Sayumi Suzushiro, Shin-ichiro Miki, Soma Saito, Taku Yashiro, Tomokazu Sugita, Tomoyo Kurosawa, Wataru Yokojima, Yumiri Hanamori
Rating: TV-14

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