The Spring 2023 anime season is well underway and it feels like a perfect time to do a short analysis of what is currently trending in the community. We eagerly awaited many of the sequels, but also some new titles that already built a reputation with their source material. Oshi no Ko and the new season of Demon Slayer dominated the most anticipated lists, and unsurprisingly, they are still ranking highly on our polls and the general anime tracking websites. But, what else is “hype” this season? For the purpose of this analysis, I will be using data from some of the biggest anime-tracking websites, as well as Anime Corner’s poll rankings and r/Anime’s weekly charts.
The Most Watched Anime of Spring 2023
Comparing the data from the three biggest anime-tracking websites – MyAnimeList, Anime-Planet, and Anilist, we reached a simple conclusion: Demon Slayer is still going strong as one of the classics of our time. Although the titles are the same, it’s interesting to note that Hell’s Paradise has more people who are currently watching it than Oshi no Ko on both Anilist and Anime-Planet (it is leading on MAL by a little over 50 thousand). The third season of Dr. Stone, titled New World is following closely and so is MASHLE: Magic and Muscles. KonoSuba: An Explosion on this Wonderful World! seems to be attracting fans of the franchise, in spite of mediocre ratings.
My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 is also up there (fulfilling everyone’s rom-com needs), but so is Tengoku Daimakyo, with its dark and mysterious premise. I Got a Cheat Skill in Another World and Became Unrivaled in The Real World, Too also needs to be mentioned among the anime trends of Spring 2023 – although it does not have the best ratings, it still managed to attract fans of the power fantasy genre. We also can’t forget Vinland Saga Season 2, which is continuing from the previous season and already has a decent viewership.
On r/Anime, Demon Slayer was the most talked about show of the first week of the season, but for the past three, Oshi no Ko established true dominance (keep in mind that it didn’t premiere until the second week so it was not included in the first round). Vinland Saga is a common name in the top five most discussed titles and so is Hell’s Paradise. KonoSuba is also pretty popular on Reddit, and so is Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2, as it attracts both old and new Gundam fans. Tengoku Daimakyo, Skip and Loafer and MASHLE seem to be generating enough chatter to often appear in the top ten as well.
What About the Ratings?
Without dragging it out: Oshi no Ko is currently the top-rated anime of the Spring 2023 season – on all three tracking websites and so far on the Anime Corner polls. Reddit’s voting system is a bit different as it is more complex, but we’ll get into that a bit later. Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba – Swordsmith Village Arc is in strong second place, followed by Hell’s Paradise: Jigokuraku and Dr. Stone’s third season. Skip and Loafer ranks pretty highly, proving that popularity and quality don’t always match.
It’s worth adding a note about Anime Corner’s polls here: even though users can vote for their favorites of the week, the lack of scaling makes it pretty difficult to determine what is best-rated versus what is the most popular and talked about – which is what our results generally come down to. For example, The Ancient Magus’ Bride Season 2 pops up on all three websites we used as one of the better-rated shows of the season, yet it barely made a dent in the polls (sequel bias). The same goes for the abovementioned Skip and Loafer – the anime gets a lot of praise but it is not popular in the sense that everyone is watching it and talking about it. This works both ways: for example, The Legendary Hero Is Dead! has some pretty average ratings yet whenever an episode adds something “scandalous” it pops up in the rankings.
Now, the r/Anime rankings. Looking at these was quite interesting, simply because they offer an interesting insight into what the community (the part of it on Reddit) thinks about the seasonals. Keep in mind that these charts and ratings are affiliated with discussions on the subreddits and seeing the lively (generally civilized) discussion is always refreshing. In the first week, My Love Story with Yamada-kun at Lv999 was the best rated. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury Season 2 was top-ranked in the second week, Skip and Loafer in the third, and then Vinland Saga Season 2 in the fourth. The way this voting system works is a bit isolating, as it relies on separate threads and votes. Nonetheless, it’s fun to see how each fandom feels about that week’s specific episode. In terms of popularity (karma rating), Oshi no Ko is leading, but that popularity probably leads to more “bad” scores.
The Biggest Anime Trends of Spring 2023 – Overview
Oshi no Ko will probably soon cement its place as the top anime of the season. The provocative story and appealing visuals are more than enough to attract viewers who are probably already infected with manga readers’ hype for the adaptation. It’s definitely interesting to see an idol/mystery story rank so well as this is not a combination of genres that is very common or too popular outside of its niche. The anime was also HIDIVE’s biggest premiere yet.
Shonen supremacy is continuing – Demon Slayer, Hell’s Paradise, Dr. Stone, Edens Zero 2 are going strong. MASHLE, although a parody, is also up there in popularity. We also can’t neglect One Piece, which is getting ready for some amazing battles that fans of the manga are eagerly awaiting. Even power fantasies and parodies that target the same audience (Cheat Skill, The Legendary Hero Is Dead, KamiKatsu: Working for God in a Godless World, etc.) are still doing pretty well, if not in terms of ratings then at least in popularity. This is nothing new, although it’s worth noting that it feels like this season has way less (noticeably decent) isekai than a normal one would. Titles like My One-Hit Kill Sister are around, but perhaps we are entering a new era?
What this season doesn’t lack are romance stories. Some have dark undertones, like My Clueless First Friend and The Dangers in My Heart, while others deliver feel-good stories with likable characters and wholesome moments (TONIKAWA Season 2, Insomniacs After School, A Galaxy Next Door).
The trend of webtoon adaptations continues with The Reason Why Raeliana Ended up at the Duke’s Mansion, which is also doing fairly well among fans. Wholesome is back with Ranking of Kings: The Treasure Chest of Courage, although it looks like the side-story approach might have been a mistake: fans have been grumbling about the plot which doesn’t really go anywhere.
Fans of darker stories are also doing well this season, mainly because of Tengoku Daimakyo. It’s been a while since a story like this gripped the community (probably the last ones were Promised Neverland or Shadows House) and watching the chatter on social media unfold has been rewarding. My Home Hero is also attempting to attract fans of the thriller genre, but time will tell how successful it will end up being. Mobile Suit Gundam: The Witch from Mercury is also back, ushering in a new era (and a new batch of fans) for the Gundam franchise. It’s interesting to see how popular this is on Reddit and Twitter but somehow doesn’t generate much hype outside of those communities.
Music and general idol stories are a part of Spring 2023. Ao no Orchestra was among the more anticipated titles and although Disney+ and Aniplus are streaming it in some regions, there is almost zero marketing behind it. Why this is happening in 2023, when we should be celebrating the lifting of the prison bars for simulcasts, is beyond me. Speaking of music and idols, a shoutout to Kizuna no Allele is needed here – the first “real” VTuber anime seems to be tanking while failing to find its true audience.
And last, but not least, we have wild cards like Magical Destroyers and the second season of BIRDIE WING. The premises of these shows are nothing alike but they are both wild and it seems like they managed to gather a following that enjoys the shenanigans that the writers throw each week.
All in all, the anime trends for Spring 2023 are not wildly different from the usual. Although originally aimed at younger audiences, adaptations based on shonen manga are still wildly popular as everyone has embraced them by now. The evergrowing interest in fluffy stories is showing just how many use anime as a means to relax and escape from everyday routine. Still, the popularity of darker themes this season is also showing us that anime fans are ready to embrace more adult topics even if they don’t truly spark joy.
Once again, for the purposes of this short analysis, we used Anime Corner polls data, MAL, Anilist, and Anime-Planet stats, as well as the very detailed r/Anime’s Anime Karma List data in addition to general observations.
Featured image: Oshi no Ko, © Aka Akasaka x Mengo Yokoyari / Shueisha, “OSHI NO KO” Partners