ACN Team Picks Top Anime of the Winter 2024 Season

Another anime season has come and gone, but looking back, the Winter 2024 season was undoubtedly an exciting and interesting one. We witnessed a rom-com’s sweeping win in our weekly polls! To continue the tradition, the Anime Corner News team (and dev) got together to pick and discuss each of their favorite titles from the Winter 2024 anime season.

Please keep in mind that this list is not a ranking (of the anime or the writers) and it in no way represents hard facts – it is simply our own opinions written down for fun. So without any further ado, let’s see which shows the ACN team enjoyed!

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Brett

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is that rare masterpiece that continues to delight and surprise with every episode. Studio Madhouse has expertly crafted an anime that truly deserves the top place on MyAnimeList—an achievement that few ever thought possible, given the fierce dedication of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood fans. Yet, the adrenaline-packed second cour of Frieren has undoubtedly secured its place as a ‘must-watch’ anime.

With the Spring anime season, Frieren has continued to punch well above its weight, delivering some of the best battle animations of the season as Frieren and Fern enter a dangerous magical examination. The opportunity to dive deeper into the in-universe rules of magic has been balanced against the action itself, while also offering flashbacks to Frieren’s past with Flamme. Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End is undoubtedly a masterclass of animation and the new yardstick by which all adaptations should be measured.

© Yamada Kanehito, Abe Tsukasa /Shogakukan / “Sousou no Frieren” Production Committee

A Sign of Affection – Ken

A Sign of Affection is a dazzling gem this season and stands out among its genre. Its captivating storytelling pulls you right in, and the animation is beautiful and mixed with the right amount of shojo touch. The anime also took a lot of effort to make Yuki shine as the lovable protagonist. Despite being deaf, her character radiates innocence and purity, wrapped in a charmingly shy demeanor.

What sets this anime apart is its special direction that invites us into Yuki’s world as a deaf person. It delivers a touching and genuine portrayal of her own thoughts and her experiences in love and communication. It’s like a cozy blanket for your heart, covering it with fluff and just the right amount of romance to lift your spirits, making it one of the top picks in the shojo anime scene.

© Suu Morishita, Kodansha/A Sign of Affection Production Committee

The Apothecary Diaries – Carla

Looking back, the second cour of The Apothecary Diaries has been an incredible ride — from the disconnected mysteries, playful plot points, and the impactful and emotional stories that build up toward its momentous finale. I stayed for Maomao and Jinshi, but it’s the details in the anime’s delivery that make me wholeheartedly love the series even more. For example, hearing the music always gives me joy while the the landscapes and flowers make for such a rich watching experience. It’s the craft of how each episode delicately focuses on simple scenes, thoughtfully but powerfully translating their stories to evoke profound emotions — that is my favorite characteristic of The Apothecary Diaries anime.

The first cour had its fun but the second cour just hit differently. Maybe it is the nostalgia of the opening and ending themes, but as a light novel reader, this story arc has a special place in my heart. The anime’s adaptation is everything and more, and it makes me really happy. My top anime pick for Winter 2024 is unquestionably The Apothecary Diaries. That said, I cannot wait for 2025 to come soon.

Top Anime Winter 2024 Apothecary Diaries
© Natsu Hyuga/Imagika Foss/”The Apothecary Diaries” Production Committee

Gushing Over Magical Girls – JP

What is “acceptable” entertainment relies solely on the timeframe during which it’s enjoyed. We’re currently living in a time where sexual content lives under a magnifying glass. Most erotic shows don’t do themselves much of a favor either. Instead of crafting a decent story and portraying vibrant characters, we get cheap laughs and thinly veiled smut. But, Gushing Over Magical Girls went above and beyond what’s expected from a “mere ecchi” show.

Showing how easy it is to spiral into sexual addiction and construct excuses for deviant behavior all while living a perfectly normal life in the eyes of others was a masterclass in character building. The show perfectly showed that a person can be an absolute monster to some people and a loving friend to others and in this day and age, that’s something people seem to forget. There’s no nuance anymore, everyone is either bad or good and that couldn’t be further from the truth. There were enough mood swings in the show to go from boisterous laughter to uncomfortable tears, to heartwarming moments and that’s a hard thing to come by in its specific genre. 

© Akihiro Ononaka/ Takeshobo/ Gushing Over Magical Girls Production Committee

The Witch and the Beast – Eric

Simply put—this is dark fantasy done right. While The Witch and the Beast didn’t necessarily have the best animation production compared to the likes of Frieren, it more than made up for it with a stellar cast, gorgeous artwork, and a wonderful storyline with some of the best world-building I’ve seen in recent years. It didn’t need fan service and it didn’t need blood-gushing action every episode either. 

While it may have flown under a lot of people’s radars, it doesn’t make it any less incredible. The Witch and the Beast didn’t have a single bad episode throughout its entire season and it’s more than deserving of an Anime of the Season shout-out.

© Kousuke Satake, Kodansha / “The Witch and the Beast” Production Committee

Delicious in Dungeon – Tamara

I started watching Delicious in Dungeon because I was curious about where it would go – not because I expected it to be amazing. But, it surprised me and I found myself enjoying every single episode and even counting days to every new Thursday. I love the world-building and how easily everything clicked together even though the plot seemingly revolved around food. The characters were interesting because they were so imperfect; I’m looking forward to learning more about each and every one of them.

Top Anime Winter 2024 Delicious in Dungeon
©Ryoko Kui, KADOKAWA/Delicious in Dungeon PARTNERS

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End Jay

Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End quite simply defies genre and expectations. The basic premise of the show, a journey following someone who already has beaten the big evil, is something that caught me off guard at first. It’s the anime equivalent of the post-game in a video game, something you expect to pale in comparison to the main story and ultimately delay the end of things. Frieren makes it very clear that it really is the time after a journey that best defines it. Despite only witnessing the stories of the hero’s party through flashbacks the audience is treated to deep, careful characterization – more in moments than some series get across an entire season.

Within its present, we get to meet Frieren’s new party and witness their tripartite development and adventures. We learn about the different meanings and urgencies that exist for different people from different experiences (and with vastly different lifespans). All of this is garnished with beautiful art, well-composed music, and animation of high enough quality to satisfy viewers who only watch flashy shonen. This anime is so good it makes you think about how anime is supposed to be in the first place and really establishes the highest bar in terms of storytelling. Not only do I think it’s the best anime of the season, I think it may be the best new anime in many, many years.

© Yamada Kanehito, Abe Tsukasa /Shogakukan / “Sousou no Frieren” Production Committee

The Dangers In My Heart – Zee

The sequel to The Dangers In My Heart has definitely left an impression on me, capturing my heart with its fresh approach to romance. From dismissing it to becoming an avid fan, the series’ slow growth in popularity mirrored my own increasing fondness for its story. What distinguishes this series is its true representation of love, which transcends normal anime clichés via honesty and maturity.

Unlike the usual cliches, The Dangers In My Heart effectively navigates the complexities of love, telling a story in which mutual understanding and genuine connection take center stage. With each episode, the series’ storytelling ability shows through, leaving an indelible effect on me. Despite my efforts to find comparable experiences in other anime, none have yet matched the tremendous impact and subtle brilliance of this exceptional series, solidifying its status as a timeless masterpiece in the genre.

©Norio Sakurai (Akita Shoten) / Boku Yaba Production Committee

Mashle: Magic and Muscles – Karla

Mashle: Magic and Muscles – The Divine Visionary Candidate Exam Arc stands out as an absolute gem for me. It exudes an incredibly enjoyable vibe despite the protagonist facing different adversaries. Mashle’s absurd yet entertaining approach to these situations seems to echo a profound message: embrace life’s quirks and make the most of what you’ve got.

Moreover, the series has imparted invaluable lessons to me. It emphasizes the importance of valuing one’s roots, acknowledging and honing individual strengths, and nurturing meaningful connections with others. These insights not only shape our present but also lay the foundation for a fulfilling future.

© Hajime Komoto / Shueisha/Mashle Production Committee

And that’s it for ACN’s top picks from the Winter 2024 anime season! What was your favorite? The new Spring 2024 anime season has started so make sure to check our team’s seasonal reviews. Don’t forget to also vote for your favorites on our weekly polls!

Featured Image: The Apothecary Diaries © Hyuganatsu / Imagika Inofs / The Apothecary Diaries Project
Frieren: Beyond Journey’s End © Yamada Kanehito, Abe Tsukasa / Shogakukan / Sousou no Frieren Production Committee
MASHLE: Magic and Muscles
 © Hajime Komoto / Shueisha / Mashle Production Committee