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Lost on what to watch? Binge this year's best showings in anime

In a season full of great anime releases, "Spy x Family" comes out on top. – Photo by @spyfamily_en / Twitter

After a rather underwhelming season of anime in the summer of 2022, the fall's anime selection has been a delight for many fans. With several big names, this season has no shortage of excellent shows to indulge in!

From "Chainsaw Man" to "Bocchi the Rock!," use this article as a guide to help you pick which of these amazing titles to binge-watch (or avoid!) over the break.

"Mob Psycho 100" (season three)

I have been a longtime fan of "Mob Psycho 100" — Bones Inc., the studio behind the show, managed to take a somewhat poorly drawn manga and turn it into a masterpiece of TV.

Season three comes highly anticipated after a very successful second season. The show's third season focuses more on Shigeo's (Mob) personal journey, and the increased the prominence of several side characters. Reigen Arataka, Mob’s mentor, hires a new assistant, Serizawa Katsuya, as Mob continues to assist Reigen in his schemes.

The season has not finished airing yet, but the animation and character development continue to remain some of the best in anime so far. Every single scene is treated with care, and while the first two episodes are a bit slow, the plot begins to pick up after the third episode.

"Mob Psycho 100" manages to strike a wonderful balance between the absurd and the serious. It perfectly integrates the naivety of Mob with the display of his raw power.

Unfortunately, I can’t reveal too much about the plot without spoiling the story, but if you are not caught up with the show yet, I’d highly recommend checking out the season as soon as possible.

"Chainsaw Man"

Based on the acclaimed manga by Tatsuki Fujimoto, "Chainsaw Man" is likely one of the most (if not the most) anticipated anime of the season. The release was originally delayed by a few months, but the first episode was released on October 11.

The story follows Denji, a down-on-his-luck human with a pet devil, Pochita. In a turn of events, Pochita sacrifices his life to save Denji, transforming Denji into a devil-hybrid that allows him to turn parts of his body into chainsaws.

Denji is then approached by Makima, the leader of the Public Safety Division, to fight devils as devil hunters. He agrees and is paired with Power, a Blood Fiend, and a fellow devil hunter, Aki.

"Chainsaw Man" is packed to the brim with action, suspense and beautiful animation. Boasting an opening song from acclaimed singer Kenshi Yonezu and a different ending for each episode, there is no surprise that "Chainsaw Man" is ridiculously successful.

MAPPA Co., the studio behind "Chainsaw Man," heavily involved Fujimoto in every step of the production process, and the company brought on anime veterans to assist in the creation of this anime. The use of gore and violence in "Chainsaw Man" is something that catches the eye of many viewers from the get-go.

But despite the story being dark, the antics of Denji, Power and other characters featured on the show provide glimpses of humanity with bursts of humor in an otherwise gritty plot. If you like the show "Attack on Titan," then "Chainsaw Man" is a perfect accompaniment.

"Bocchi the Rock!"

"Bocchi the Rock!" is a seemingly unassuming, lighthearted and fun anime about a girl named Hitori Gotou (Bocchi). She has social anxiety and a longing to make friends. In an effort to reach outside her comfort zone, Hitori takes up the guitar, and she soon meets four other girls to form a band. Although their first performance isn’t as good as they’d like, they discover their love for playing together and making music.

"Bocchi the Rock!" was a surprisingly wholesome and well-animated show. I especially loved the facial expressions made by Hitori and her bandmates. I also loved the attention to detail the animators paid to the scenes where they played music. Instead of half-hearted fingerpicking, each frame illustrated the complexity of mastering each instrument.

While conditions like social anxiety are often portrayed in a less than ideal light in media, often misrepresenting them entirely, "Bocchi the Rock!" approaches Hitori's anxieties with care. Her narrative is sprinkled with bits of humor and extremely relatable situations. Hitori's friends provide interesting insight and help her grows as a person, instead of providing pity.

Some anime fans are even calling this the next "K-ON!," another successful franchise with a similar plot.

"Urusei Yatsura" (2022)

Based on the manga by the acclaimed creator of "Inuyasha" Rumiko Takahashi, this season of "Urusei Yatsura" is a remake of the original anime from 1981. Unlike many other remakes, 2022's "Urusei Yatsura" is fresh, beautifully animated and gives a new life to such a wonderful and creative series.

I watched "Urusei Yatsura" on a whim, and I was very surprised to see how much I enjoyed it. The story begins with an Oni, a type of demon or spirit in Japanese folklore, threatening to invade the Earth.

In order to prevent the Oni from invading Earth, a human selected by a computer must touch the horns of the Oni in a game of tag. The human, Ataru Moroboshi, is an unsuccessful and unlucky high school student forced to touch the horns of Lum, the daughter of the alien invaders. Ataru is promised a hand in marriage from the girl he likes, Shinobu, if he is successful.

Propelled by this motive, Ataru is determined to touch Lum’s horns, excitedly speaking about marriage throughout the game of tag. While he is successful in completing the mission, Lum misinterprets his whims about marriage as a proposal to her and immediately marries Ataru following the game’s end.

The anime thus follows the journey of a married couple (and friends), with a dedicated Lum and lecherous Ataru navigating the ups and downs of being invaded by a foreign race of aliens. Lum has been called the prototype of the "dream otaku girl" or "magical girlfriend" by many who have read and watched "Urusei Yatsura." She is steadfast in her devotion, attractive to young males and has magical powers.

I was thoroughly impressed by the ingenuity of puns, references and meta-commentary this anime provided. Comedy animes like this one is a genre I tend to gravitate toward due to the guarantee of a good time. "Urusei Yatsura" is fun, fresh and fast-paced, making for an interesting story with plenty of laughs and funny commentary on typical anime tropes.

"Spy x Family" (season two)

Hot off the heels of an insanely successful first run, "Spy x Family" is back for a second season. This season focuses on the continued antics of the fake Forger family and their quest to maintain peace between nations.

Anya is now enrolled at the prestigious Eden Academy and Operation Strix, the mission established in the first season, is now in its second stage. Anya must quickly work to collect eight Stella Stars and befriend the prickly and pompous Damian Desmond, son of politician Donovan Desmond.

A new fluffy friend, a dog named Bond, joins the Forger family in their ever-difficult quest to live their individual lives in secret but work together towards a larger goal. I was worried "Spy x Family" would lose its momentum after what was a wonderful introduction to this adaptation of Tatsuya Endo’s manga, but this season quelled my worries.

"Spy x Family" is nothing revolutionary or groundbreaking, but it is a show that is guaranteed to lift your spirits and make you laugh, cry and everything in between.

"Blue Lock"

Soccer fans may recognize that the jerseys designs from the recent World Cup Japan vs. Germany game belong to the illustrator of "Blue Lock," Yusuke Nomura. "Blue Lock" is a "Squid Game"-esque plot, where the main character, Yoichi Isagi, is put in a prison-like facility with 299 other people for a chance to be the striker for Japan’s National Team — and if they get cut from the facility, they lose the chance to ever play for the Japanese National Team.

While the anime boasts a beautiful animation style and carefully designed characters, the plot falls in several places. I'm not a huge fan of soccer, but this anime is a poor representation of the sport, only placing emphasis on the striker position. Despite not being a soccer fan, I am a fan of power development, and this anime fails in that right as well.

I enjoy being able to witness a character’s rise to becoming extremely powerful, like Naruto Uzumaki or Armin Arlert. But in "Blue Lock," little to no information is given about the character's rise to success, and if all these characters are overpowered, why watch the show if the outcome is predictable? Sports anime can be a hit or miss, and while "Blue Lock" still has a few more episodes until the season is finished, I would personally not recommend this anime despite all the hype surrounding it.

The catalog for this season alone is so vast and wide that there are several titles here that have not been mentioned, but deserve recognition — including the sixth season of "My Hero Academia," the fourth season of "Golden Kamuy" and "Bleach: Sennen Kessen Hen."

Give any of these animes a try after the grueling Rutgers finals season — you might just be surprised by a few of them!

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