First Look at Crunchyroll’s Spring Anime Series Slate


Shaking up their usual rollup to a new season of Anime, for Spring 2024 Crunchyroll held a press-only event at their office and on-site theater in Los Angeles. MC’d by Crunchyroll News’ Global Editor in Chief, Kyle Cardine, this event offered an early showing of some of the series mainlining Crunchyroll‘s upcoming season; namely Kaiju No. 8, Black Butler: Public School Arc, Astro Note, A Condition Called Love, and Bartender Glass of God. From action-packed, to ambient, to comedic and even romantic; this slate makes it clear that there are more kinds of new anime for more kinds of people releasing now than ever before, and that there’s something for everyone to check out this season.

Kaiju No. 8 Episode 1 Review

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For the past couple of seasons, Crunchyroll‘s most promoted anime ended up being one of the most broadly popular and discussed in a given season. For winter 2024 that anime was Solo Leveling and the second season of Jujutsu Kaisen was an absolute behemoth in both the summer and fall of 2023. I’m here today to let you know that they’ve done it again! The first episode of Kaiju No. 8 from Production I.G is a spectacular adaptation of the much-hyped manga that delivers the high-quality sakuga folks expect to see in an action-shonen anime, and has a surprisingly solid score.

Set in a world where kaiju attacks are common enough that Japan has created para-military task forces specifically to deal with them, the first episode of Kaiju No. 8 quickly distinguishes its shonen contemporaries with the introduction of its protagonist, Kafka Habino. Rather than being a passionate teen following through on his dreams of fighting back against the giant monsters that upended his childhood (the Attack on Titan allusions end here), he’s 32 years old and a member of the kaiju corpse clean-up crew. He tried and failed to pass the entry exam for the Japan Anti-Kaiju Defense Force, and laments his ineptitude even as he acknowledges that he’s comfortable in his life and likes that he’s providing public service in his work. As a bubbly 30-year-old whose professional life also hasn’t been going the way I want it to lately, Kafka immediately struck a chord with me.

Bolstering my affection for Kafka is his relationship with Mina Ashiro and the show’s stellar animation. Mina is five years younger than Kafka, and wildly more successful than him as a famous Captain in the Defense Force. Adding salt to this wound is the fact that he was an older brother figure to her when they were kids, and motivated her to join the Defense Force. His jealousy of Mina and frustration with his own life while simultaneously feeling happy and even prideful of her is deeply human and relatable.

Kaiju No. 8 expertly expresses these complex emotions and many others through its top-notch animation. Kafka has so many good faces in this episode alone, with the show being unafraid to play around with the art and animation styles if it helps drive home a smug remark from Kafka or comically depict the most disgusting part of his job. However, action scenes bring the animation from a 9 to a 10, and it’s gripping to see Kafka scramble for his life as he sprints through a destroyed downtown city block.

It’s during this segment that I realized that Kaiju No. 8 is an early front runner being the best-scored anime of the season. The series garnered some attention when the news dropped that its opening and ending would be set to YUNGBLUD‘s “Abyss” and OneRepublic‘s “Nobody,” but this noteworthiness carries into the rest of the show as well. While not particularly musical, this anime dials up the synth at just the right moments to make the action sequences hit even harder and make it feel like you’re taking in an incredible spectacle.

To stop shoveling coal into this hype train for just a moment, I did find it disappointing that we didn’t get much insight into Mina as a character, despite her being central to Kafka’s motivation. Kafka’s tsundere new hire at his day job has more lines than Mina, who only functions as a kaiju killing machine outside of a single scene where the audience sees her getting out of a bath. We do get some heartwarming glimpses of her and Kafka’s dynamic as children that allow us to intuit how they’ve made each other the people they are today, and I hope we see more of those humanizing moments as the series goes on.

Here’s hoping you like this relatively novel approach to humans vs. giant monsters anime, because you’re going to be seeing a lot of it over the next three months.

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Kaiju No. 8 is set to premiere on Crunchyroll on April 13.

Black Butler: Public School Arc Review

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Congratulations Black Butler fans, you’re getting more Black Butler! Not to be confused with the Chainsaw Man arc of the same name, the Black Butler: Public School Arc sees Ciel Phantomhive enroll in the prestigious public school Weston College to investigate the disappearance of some students at the behest of Queen Victoria. With his faithful demonic butler Sabastian posing as a new housemaster, the two navigate the school’s many hallowed traditions and strict hierarchy and meet a collection of colorful characters in pursuit of the truth behind this mystery.

Admittedly, Black Butler is a series that’s always been on the periphery of the anime community for me. I know it has a large and passionate fan base that’s endured for more than a decade despite lengthy gaps between new seasons. I’m genuinely happy for these folks that the series is back and, after seeing this first episode, now understand why it’s resonated with so many.

Boy, there sure are a lot of cute boys and hot guys doing quirky stuff in this episode of anime! If you’re a fan of the series already, I think it’s safe to say you’re going to love what this new season has in store. If you’re as new to the series as I am, you probably want to start watching the anime from the beginning, but there’s still plenty to appreciate in this episode otherwise.

For one thing, CloverWorks knows exactly what parts of the animation to prioritize, with several fancam moments going to Ciel, Sebastian, and the myriad of new boys that fill out the cast this season. There are also a host of great gags, including the return of the protag running with toast in their mouth bit, Sebastian’s overzealousness causing issues for Ciel, and plenty of humor derived from the archaic traditions at the core of Weston College’s culture.

This is where my biggest issue with this episode begins, though. Weston College and most of its student body seem to be a deliberate satire of private education and the elitism that such an institution can foster. However, characters call it a public school in what feels like every other line of dialogue! I’m not sure if there’s a cultural divide between my decidedly American background and the Japanese culture that Black Butler came from, or maybe this is a quirk of the Black Butler franchise; but it bugged me every time this incongruity came up. I might be taking this series too seriously or perhaps this seemingly erroneous language is meant to draw further attention to the farcical culture at this school, but it bugged the hell out of me for the entire episode.

That, of course, should not stop anyone from watching this show and, if any Black Butler fans want to reach out to me and explain if I’m missing a joke, I would appreciate it. In the meantime, I can meet this show where it’s at and appreciate the occasional British-ism whenever it pops up in the translation.

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Black Butler is set to premiere on Crunchyroll on April 14.

A Condition Called Love

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A tall pretty boy brashly expresses his affection for a short and unassuming girl, making for what’s sure to be a pretty typical shojo experience, right? Wrong! East Fish Studio‘s A Condition Called Love seems to be setting up what could be a thoughtful and thought-provoking exploration of codependency, unhealthy validation sources, and dating while sexuality and neurodivergent. I’m more eager to watch the rest of this anime than any other I saw at this press event, and hope that it goes on to follow through on the themes it’s seemingly setting up.

For more context, the leads of this rom-com are Hotaru Hinase, a less than expressive girl who doesn’t have much interest in romance, and Saki Hananoi, her pretty boy classmate who she first takes notice of when another girl reacts poorly to getting dumped by him. After Hotaru comforts him in a nearby park after the breakup, he asks her to go out with him the next day. She says no, so then he starts hanging out with her in an attempt to build up a relationship with her more slowly.

And then things start getting a little strange.

Without her pressuring him whatsoever, Hananoi begins changing his appearance because he thinks Hinase might like him more if he styles himself differently. He also starts performing reckless and arguably self-harming acts in an attempt to make Hinase happy. While this is going on, nearly 16-year-old Hinase is reiterating constantly to herself and others that she has no interest in love, while other characters comment on her cool temperament and usually standoffish demeanor.

It’s too early to tell if this anime is in fact about a boy with self-esteem and validation issues and a girl on the ace and autism spectrums trying to make their relationship work, but I’m hopeful enough that I can overlook this show’s economical animation and less than distinct visuals.

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A Condition Called Love is set to premiere on Crunchyroll on April 4.

Astro Note

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When down on his luck Takumi follows up on a job posting for a chief, he ends up working at a boarding house, Astro Note, and gets a little more than he bargained for from the eccentric tenants that call it their home. I know this is the opening premise to a surprising number of harem hentai, but Astro Note by Telecom Animation Film is firmly a comedy with each of its characters bringing their big personalities to the table. At the core of this cast is Mira, a young woman who has some surprising gaps in what should be common knowledge, and who more than likely has some connections to the anime’s distinctly Macross-inspired cold open. Rounding out the cast, we have a mysterious elderly novelist, an indie idol who’s a gremlin while offstage, and a father-son pair where the son is much more responsible than his parent. Oh, and a dog that attacks Takumi with a comical rage whenever he gets close to Mira.

Like most comedies, this one will be hit or miss depending on if the jokes and style of humor land for you. While the jokes about Takumi getting comically attacked by a dog fell flat to me, I got a kick out of every joke that took the piss out of idol kayfabe and the zany collective antics of the tenants. Oh, how I long to live in a co-op where my comrades and I would immediately threaten a rent strike if the community breakfast clause in our lease isn’t honored…

Bolstering the humor is some top-notch animation and artwork. Characters usually soft and simple designs will stretch and warp wildly to drive home a joke. While the character designs seem somewhat bland or stereotypical at first, it becomes apparent fairly quickly in the episode that the show is doing that deliberately to play around with expectations for these character tropes; like the salaryman dad being a lush or the idol being a rough around the edges lil freak.

That being said, I found myself struggling to suspend my disbelief at parts of the episode. There are some convenient happenstances around this boarding house even being able to hire a private chef and what feels like one or two forced miscommunications. With that being said, Astro Note is distinct enough that it’s worth checking out on the chance that you vibe with it.

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Astro Note is set to premiere on Crunchyroll on April 5.

Bartender Glass of God

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Have you ever been too close to the realities of a community or niche interest that a piece of media is focusing on to resonate with it? Where, on the one hand, it’s cool that more people will learn about this part of your background through this media, but you also can’t help but nitpick the work’s depiction of that experience and be frustrated with any inaccuracies. For me, the last time this happened was with Full Dive: This Ultimate Next-Gen Full Dive RPG Is Even Shittier than Real Life! where the lead pisses himself during a track and field event and becomes a recluse, even though that happens in high level competitive running all the time and wouldn’t be a big deal to the members of that community.

Well, I’m also too close to the real-life material that Bartender Glass of God from animation studio Liber is drawing from to resonate with the anime. I’ve worked in bars and on and off as a bartender since I was eight (my grandpa owned a bowling alley, it’s cool) and have had such a different experience with that profession and space that I kept being frustrated when the anime depicted something incongruent with my lived experience. For instance, this first episode focuses on two women employed by a hotel who are trying to find a bartender to work at a high-end bar the hotel is trying to open. They struggle to find a candidate that meets their employer’s expectations, and this is already where the show lost me.

If you’re operating any kind of establishment in the hospitality industry, you need at least a couple of people to fill any position to ensure that the entire operation doesn’t come to a halt when one person has to miss a shift. I also ran into a couple of cultural differences that made me bounce off this episode. Grasshoppers, the dessert drink notable for its creme de mint flavor and distinct green color, are made multiple times in the episode. I grew up in the midwest and a grasshopper was maybe one of the first drinks I ever had, and every time they made one in the show I bulked at the screen and thought, “They should be putting ice cream in that!”

My bias is coming out in this review, though I will note that Bartender Glass of God‘s distinctly 2000s slice-of-life visual style did earn it some nostalgic-fueled appreciation. However, I thirst for a series that focuses on the real-life intricacies of running or working at a bar, more than an anime that romanticizes that profession. To each their own, though, and, with there being a healthy amount of intrigue surrounding the titular bartender Ryu’s past, there might be more under the hood here than what I’m giving the show credit for.

At the very least, if one of your pandemic hobbies was making at-home cocktails, give this one a try!

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Bartender Glass of God is set to premiere on Crunchyroll on April 3.



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