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Top 10 Anime Episodes of Winter 2023 (February Update)

It’s been a while since I posted, huh?

Last week’s ranking was pretty weak since I only watched 10 episodes of currently airing anime back in January. Luckily, I had more free time this month, so there will be a BIT more variety this time.

Now that I have a bigger pool of episodes to choose from, I should mention that this list will have a bias for visual appeal. There will be exceptions where an episode can rank from story content alone, but this list will be more style over substance. In other words, most of the entries on this list are here because they look pretty and not necessarily because the content is good.

I’ll admit that this list doesn’t have much in the way of variety (two shows, in particular, dominated this list), so here are some honorable mentions before we start:

  • Vinland Saga Season 2: It sucks that I can’t include the most popular show this season, but I haven’t even finished Season 1 yet.
  • NieR: Automata ver1.1a: I watched the first 3 episodes before the COVID delay, but I haven’t been watching since. Some episodes were pretty good, but not Top 10 good.
  • Tomo-chan: I watched the first two episodes, and they were alright. I feel like the side characters are more entertaining than Tomo-chan herself, and the presentation was lacking.
  • Buddy Daddies: Watched the first two episodes, and they were also alright. This is more than just a Spy x Family clone, but I’m not fully invested yet.
  • My Hero Academia S6: This season has been plagued with heavy-handed politics and over-dramatic dialogue, but I gotta admit that some episodes went hard this season.
  • Soaring Sky! PreCure: This magical girl anime made for 7-year-olds is better than half the shows airing this season. Life is pain.

#10. ONIMAI #4

ONIMAI is the best-looking anime this season. Although, I can’t give the writing the same praise: many of its comedic moments are either derivative or poorly executed. It also has a lot of ecchi moments that range from unnecessary to highly questionable. Episode 4 is my first example of an episode making this list for style over substance. The episode has a ton of great character acting and an admittedly great PreCure parody in the intro. The rest of the episode is just your standard slice-of-life, but the shopping scene, in particular, lacked comedic timing. Again, I wouldn’t have ranked this episode if the animation wasn’t as good as it was.

#9. One Piece #1046

The front and back ends of this episode have great fights, but the pacing gets pretty slow after the first commercial break. There are good story moments, for sure; Zoro and Sanji’s interactions are always fun to watch, and Marco’s flashback with Whitebeard was nice too. Still, it’s another style over substance situation with this one.

#8. One Piece #1049

This episode is okay on its own, but it’s much better when watched immediately after Episode 1048. It goes further into Yamato’s childhood, adding a legitimately shocking scene that further displays Kaido’s abusive behavior. The episode also offers some humor with Momonosuke as he flies through Onigashima with his eyes closed, crashing through every wall and ceiling. The animation is mostly unimpressive for the majority of this episode (especially with Momosuke’s moment), but the last two minutes are some of the best animation I’ve ever seen. Storyboarded by Katsumi Ishizuka with key animation by Akihiro Ota, the final sequence was a showcase of raw power and spectacle in animated form.

#7. ONIMAI #2

I’m putting this relatively higher than other ONIMAI episodes because it featured a few jokes I actually laughed at. This episode is especially beautiful too, with the sequences animated by Q Kawa being a personal favorite of mine for this episode. Also, I want to give a shoutout to ArcSys for officially sanctioning those Guilty Gear cameos.

#6. ONIMAI #1

On one hand, this is one of the best-looking episodes of the season. On the other hand, this is the episode where the ecchi content is at its highest. It’s still uncomfortable seeing how hard the animators went to make Mahiro’s design “anatomically accurate” in some shots. Still, I actually laughed at the jokes this time around, and with an episode that looks this good, I’ll take what I can get.

#5. Hikari no Ou #4

This show had always caught my eye when the first few episodes aired since the art style looked so different from anything else airing this season. Hikari no Ou feels more like a film than a TV series, and it would have been much better with a film budget. I thought the show looked its best in the first four episodes, which feature the animation talent of Yasunori Miyazawa.

Storywise, the world of Hikari no Ou is fascinating. Humanity has been “rewritten” by some godlike force so they cannot get near a natural fire without bursting into flames. The only way they can produce fire is through the blood of a “fire fiend” hence the show’s English title “The Fire Hunter.” The first three episodes can be a bit of a slog at times since most of the worldbuilding’s told through exposition dumps. Episode 4 is where its story and animation are perfectly balanced, and my intrigue has only grown from there.

Long story short, please check this series out if you’re interested. It’s criminally underrated.

#4. ONIMAI #8

This was the first episode of ONIMAI that I thought was good from front to back. With animation direction from Toshiyuki Sato, this episode has the most fun use of character animation in the series. Although it still had its ecchi moments, watching these characters have a sleepover together was wholesome fun. Shoutout to Asahi’s dinosaur hoodie that blinks sometimes.

#3. Bungo Stray Dogs S4 #9

I always love it when BSD goes into darker subject matter, but this was… not what I expected.

This flashback episode was admittedly unnecessary, but it works well as a standalone episode. I wasn’t expecting such a disturbing, hellish depiction of war when I heard this episode was covering Yosano’s backstory, but hey, here we are. In all seriousness, this episode kind of messed me up. It’s filled me with existential dread, and I’m not sure why.

#2. One Piece #1048

I already covered this episode last month, so here’s a copy-and-paste of what I already said:

I loved this episode. The whole flashback segment was great. Kid Yamato is adorable, and it makes Kaido’s cruel treatment of him even more painful to watch. Kaido threw his own son into a dark cave, along with the samurai that held a grudge against Kaido, just to show his disapproval of Yamato’s idolization of Kozuki Oden. This interaction in particular stood out to me:

“I’m Kaido’s child! I know [the samurai] have an ill-feeling towards me! If you give them swords, they’ll kill me right away!”


“What are you talking about? I thought you were Oden. Think about the meaning of that name.”


To Kaido, Oden’s name was a sign of shame, a reminder of the first person to ever injure him. His pride has been shattered by Oden’s efforts, so he sees Yamato’s idolization of Oden as another mark of shame. To Yamato, Oden’s name was a sign of hope, to be free from the shackles that held him down, and to take back the freedom that his father took away from him at a young age.

This episode is beautiful, too, with the most consistent art quality out of all the One Piece episodes on this list (Edit: This statement didn’t age well). The small amounts of sakuga in this episode are brilliant, especially in the last minute of the episode, animated by Vincent Chansard. The fluidity of movement in that scene was insane, with so many unique flourishes, like the string of impact frames that turn into another flashback scene (see above example).

I love this episode, and it reminds me why I loved this series to begin with.

#1. One Piece #1051

The most entertaining episode this season.

There are a lot of great moments throughout this episode. Luffy’s “what do you have to be scared of?” speech is inspiring, and watching Momonosuke still cower behind a rock is pretty funny. Zoro and Sanji get their time in the limelight, as well as Dogstorm and Cat Viper. However, due to the constant perspective shifts, I can’t say I enjoyed the story of this episode as much as I did Episode 1048.

The true star of this episode is the animation, displaying the animation talents of industry veterans and newcomers. Yong-Ce Tu’s cut was incredible; I loved that quick flashback to Whitebeard and Roger’s clash, and how it looks like a series of ink drawings. I also loved Naotoshi Shida’s cut with Dogstorm and Cat Viper; the blue color palette works well with Shida’s art. My favorite scene was Momonosuke’s freefall, where I got introduced to the work of Yooto. His cut has a Kanada-style snappiness that works well with the goofy facial expressions, giving the scene a chaotic energy that makes it even more hilarious.

This episode is a joy to watch, with a good balance of plot elements and even better animation. I will be surprised if anything beats this episode once the Winter season ends.

Only one more month until this list is complete. I will probably make a separate post talking about episodes that intrigued me outside of their animation, but I don’t know for sure. I’m going to update my Top 10 OPs and EDs list as well, and that will probably be the final version of that list. Anyway, I’m off to watch that Attack on Titan special, and I’ll see you all soon.


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