ANIME REVIEW | Summer 2022 Returning Series
Some much-anticipated shows made their grand return to the anime realm this past summer, including one that we lost hope of ever coming back! From young adventures to fry cook demons, this summer season gave us both plenty to love and plenty to despise. Let’s look back at these new seasons and see if they did anything to improve on their predecessors.
THE DEVIL IS A PART-TIMER!! (Season Two)
It had been nine years since Maou, Ashiya, Emi, and Chiho first graced our screens with The Devil is a Part-Timer! The reverse-isekai was lauded for it storytelling and humor, mixing fantasy elements with Kevin Smith-like humor and characters. But hope seemed lost for a second season, until Kadokawa pulled a fast one and announced it out of the blue. Was it worth the wait?
Like a sitcom trope, a kid is added to the mix: Alas Ramus (played by the underrated Hina Kino). Calling Maou and Emi her parents, the two rivals try to figure out who exactly she is. Meanwhile, the MgRonald’s closes temporarily due to construction, and Maou and Ashiya’s apartment is also renovated. As such, the one called Satan not only needs to find a temporary roof over his head, but also another job to support said new roof.
I may have an understanding of why it took this long to bring The Devil is a Part-Timer! back. To be frank, the narrative in this season is kind of all over the place, with character development that feels slightly rushed without any sort of explanation. It also jumps around from narrative-to-narrative without a good transition, even when the arcs end with a good fight. Was this how original light novel author Satoshi Wagahara presented his story, or did the animators abridge one too many volumes?
Nevertheless, it’s not like this second season wasn’t entertaining. Alas’s addition brought about some cute moments, and it was funny seeing the gang working in places like a beachside hut and at Chiho’s family farm. But it’s when the action hits when the show hits its stride, with some epic battles with gods, monsters, and even common solar panel thieves. It’s all captured great by animation studio 3Hz (Flip Flappers), who took over when White Fox passed on it.
The Devil is a Part-Timer!’s return was a lovely surprise, but it wasn’t without its faults. With a third season already green-lit, one hopes that they’ll work better with the pacing of the overall narrative. Then again, a part of me is just glad that this series is back, and will absolutely welcome the third season with open arms when it’s unleashed next year. (Now how about getting to work on season two of No Game, No Life next?)
IS IT WRONG TO TRY TO PICK UP GIRLS IN A DUNGEON? IV (Part One)
The story of Bell Cranel and the Hestia Familia has gone through a lot of changes since it first premiered back in 2015. Yes, it has always had its fair share of action, comedy, and possible romance, but it didn’t find its dramatic soul until its third season. That’s when the real dangers of Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? started peering out, with humans and monsters alike delivering one massive battle after another. But even that wasn’t enough to prepare for the brutality of Season Four!
Bell and the other are given a mission to explore the lower levels of the Dungeon, as it’ll give them clues to find peace between Orario and the Xenos. But Cassandra has a dream the night before they leave, which leaves her feeling uneasy. As the search goes on, the dream becomes more violent, with everyone close to Cassandra being murdered by a mysterious monster. Meanwhile, Ryu is being hunted over some murders, which tie into her tragic past.
There’s always a tinge of fun when it comes to the adventures in Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon?. But that fun isn’t there in this mission, as Bell faces monsters both human and inhuman deep below. While he does have a nice encounter with the mermaid Marie, her presence is a temporary comfort from what occurs deep in the Dungeon. Thankfully, Marie’s magic comes in handy when it comes to healing wounds, especially severed body parts!
It’s when Bell runs into Ryu when the brutality is cranked up to the show’s highest levels. Ryu’s treatment of adventurer Jura (who had a hand in the murder of her comrades) is just desserts, but it all goes downhill for her and Bell when Jura calls upon the being known as Juggernaut. What happens then is a fight that left me feeling things I didn’t expect to feel about a show whose main goddess is a running boob joke. Needless to say, how Bell and Ryu fight off this beast will leave you unable to blink for a single moment.
Season IV’s first half ends with a frightening realization, one that makes Bell and Ryu see the kind of danger they’re now in. Will they come out of it unscathed? We’ll have to wait until January to see how the newly-crowned Rabbit’s Foot will get out of this mess. Until then, here’s hoping that Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? will keep on surprising us like it has been, albeit with maybe a little waifu fun for some temporary pauses from the violence.
Is it Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls in a Dungeon? can be viewed on HIDIVE. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
RENT-A-GIRLFRIEND: Season Two
I’ll be blunt: I hate Rent-A-Girlfriend! It’s an awful anime with an awful incel protagonist whose love interests are either too dumb or too greedy to push him away. No matter how hard I try, I can’t seem to find any reason behind why it’s so popular and why its characters are so beloved. Rent-a-Girlfriend is, in laymen’s terms, trash!
So why did I subject myself to its second season? Because I like the voice cast? Yeah, that’s probably it. Is it better than its first season? Hell no!
Season Two of Rent-a-Girlfriend begins with Kazuya seeing Chizuru in a play. After witnessing her performance, he vows to keep supporting her to make her dream come true. Meanwhile, Ruka tries to pull Kazuya away from Chizuru, as she has legit feelings for him. Sumi also finds herself struggling to find progress as a Rent-a-Girlfriend, so she looks to Kazuya for help bettering her skills.
One of the biggest problems with this season is the lack of evolution of these characters. Kazuya’s still garbage, Ruka’s still needy, Chizuru’s still petty, and Sumi…well, she’s too sweet to criticize. (Thank the manga gods that she’s got her own spinoff manga far away from these hot messes.) No one here does anything to progress their lives for the better, to the point where they just aim to die on the hills they made for themselves.
That’s not to say that it’s all bad. The moments involving both Chizuru and Kazuya’s grandmothers are still pretty funny, and it does attempt to either break the kids’ fake relationship or mend it stronger. But when it comes to the latter, Kazuya does nothing to deserve a woman like Chizuru. Even worse is that Chizuru does nothing to push him away like she should, as it’s obvious that his personality is toxic to the core!
Honestly, I don’t want to waste anymore time talking about Rent-a-Girlfriend. It’s a terrible anime whose premise is worse than a Hallmark Movie of the Week. Nothing’s done to progress these characters, with nobody doing a thing to better themselves. I know I add links to the end of these segments for people to click and watch this show, but do yourselves a favor: don’t. It’s actions like that that caused Rent-a-Girlfriend to get an undeserved third season green-lit.
The tale of Ainz Ooal Gown has evolved greatly since it first premiered in 2015. Season One was good, but lacked a hood. Then its nearly back-to-back second and third seasons gave us all a reason to start paying attention to the actions of the Sorcerous Kingdom. Not only does Season Four of Overlord continue that progress, but it does so in surprising ways.
Much of Season Four is a buildup to the Sorcerous Kingdom’s battle with Re-Estize Kingdom. Treaties are made and broken, and there’s more backstabbing here than an average Game of Thrones episode. The biggest of backstabbers is Princess Renner, who sells out Re-Estize to Ainz in return to be changed into a demon. Ainz fights with ease, while those who tremble in his presence do their best to find a way out of the Sorcerous Kingdom’s wrath alive.
One of the things a lot of people miss when watching Overlord is that it’s a legit satire of the isekai fantasy genre. Not only did it take three seasons for Ainz to realize that he’s the bad guy, but he still has no real idea on what he’s doing. When the likes of Albedo, Shalltear, and Demiurge do what they want, Ainz just nods his head and claims that that’s exactly what he wanted them to do in the first place. It’s all framed in a way where one can’t help but laugh when Ainz pulls another, “Yes, that!” out when his minions do something he doesn’t expect.
But the real scene-stealer of this season is Princess Renner. Her plan has been known all along since her introduction a couple of seasons back, but her public demeanor made most viewers forget that element. When the mask finally comes off (with a sinister song-and-dance routine to boot), Renner’s real self finally blossoms into something truly wicked. It sends chills up the spine, in a way that will make those watching never forget what kind of (now literal) demon she is.
Overlord IV was the show at its very best. With a film now in development, it’ll be interesting to see what comes next in Ainz’s plan. No doubt there will be evilness afoot with the Sorcerous Kingdom, but we’ll at least laugh alongside them when things go “according to plan”. Whatever is next, I no doubt will believe that Overlord will leave us all as surprised as Ainz will be.
MADE IN ABYSS: THE GOLDEN CITY OF THE SCORCHING SUN (Season Two)
When the 2010s came to an end, I named Made In Abyss the Anime of the Decade. The story of Riko & Reg’s journey to find Riko’s mother deep in the abyss was filled with gorgeous animation, deep storytelling, and some of the most disturbing things I’ve ever seen in the medium. Its movie follow-up, Dawn of the Deep Soul, offered more of the same, but in a way that kept on evolving the narrative and characters. Now after a couple of years of waiting, Reg, Riko, and Nanachi’s journey continues in The Golden City of the Scorching Sun.
The trio of adventurers arrive in the Capital of the Unreturned, the sixth layer of the abyss. There the three find a city filled with Hollows, who are remnants of a pilgrimage to find the mythical Golden City. Faputa, the Princess of the Hollows, has a connection with Reg, who was her friend before he went and found Riko on the top of the abyss. With his help, Faputa aims to put an end to the Capital, its residence, and the curse that has kept them from leaving.
Like Made In Abyss has done in the past, the series finds a way to fill viewers with a false sense of security. The Capital of the Unreturned is filled with beauty and interesting folks, all of whom have their humorous quirks and ways of life. But when we see how currency works, that security goes out the window and straight into the halls of horrors. And that’s not even the half of it!
Nanachi is reunited somehow with Mitty, but her want to be reunited leaves her to trade her freedom with Belaf. It takes her out for most of this season, as Riko seeks to find a way to get her back. As this goes on, Faputa gets reacquainted with Reg, with her mother Irumyuu’s back story showcasing some of the series’s most disturbing moments yet! After you witness what happens to her and her friend Vueko, you fully understand why Faputa must destroy all that’s around her.
One cannot spoil anything else about Made In Abyss: The Golden City of the Scorching Sun. What I can say is that if the first season and movie left you disturbed, then you best not watch. Those who stomached it will no doubt see how Akihito Tsukushi’s story has evolved greatly since then. However, with him just finishing this arc in the manga, it’ll be a long time before we see more Made In Abyss in animation form.
But after we were gifted with two perfect seasons and a movie, I think we can all be patient enough to see how Riko, Reg, and Nanachi’s adventure ends.
Made In Abyss can be viewed on HIDIVE. It has been licensed by Sentai Filmworks.
Any returning shows we missed? Have a different opinion about the ones we talked about? Comment below with your thoughts on the Summer 2022 returning series!
Promotional consideration provided by Crunchyroll.