AlRawabi School for Girls, season two

After a strong first season, I had high expectations for the second season—always a bit of a trap. I thought this season was very inconsistent: I suspect the central problem is it simply tried to cover too many topics and as a result felt patchy, uneven and that it didn’t do any one of the plotlines the justice they deserve. As a cultural study, I still think it is worth watching: both for the exploration of what it is to be a young woman in Jordan society, but also to be a young women in today’s social-media hellfire landscape.

Skip and Loafer, season one

I am a sucker for this sort of gentle, warm slice-of-life/light-romance type anime. I found this one, though, especially charming and loveable. It allows its characters to be imperfect, it shows growth, and it has trans-representation. The art work is just wonderful, too: warm soft pastels. It hits familiar beats (trip to the beach! culture festival! choosing a school club!) but has enough new to say to make it a real delight.

Monarch: Legacy of Monsters, season one

I was initially quite excited about this—I thought it was going to explore what life would be like in a world where monsters have not only arrived, but made themselves comfortable—yet I was quickly let down by ChatGPT levels of plotting and exposition and some younger actors who struggled to convey anything other than pure petulance. I sincerely hope they get a second season and can improve upon a rocky foundation.

Pluto, season one

A real triumph of story telling, art, and philosophy. It also feels incredibly timely given the modern explosive growth of AI tools: no matter how advanced we may become technically, we remain, in many regards, angry, confused, scared primates. Pour one out for North No. 2, a real one.

The Brothers Sun, season one

A lot to like about this show—yes, aside from the transcendent Michelle Yeoh—but sadly really let down by crummy writing, peak performances from others in the cast. Still, more Asian-American representation please!

Your Head is a Houseboat, Campbell Walker

A refreshing and novel way of exploring mental health. Some of the suggestions and parts of the approach feel a little dogmatic, or at least contrived to fit into the houseboat metaphor, but nonetheless I imagine for a lot of people this would be a useful way to  begin exploring their mental health. 

Mr and Mrs Smith, season one

This started off really fun—an intriguing blend of spy hijinks with slice of life goodness—but the back half was uneven, a little rushed, and unconvincing. Glover and Erskine are perfectly cast, and their house will feature in my dreams. I’m torn between wanting more and feeling reasonably content with how things ended.

Pokémon Concierge

Pokémon Concierge, season one

The single best thing to come from the world’s most valuable franchise since the first iconic games. Incredibly charming, thoughtful, warm and just delightful. When was the last time a piece of corporate IP branded media left you wanting more? Perfect.

Midsomer Murders, season eight

A confident season, let down only really by one episode I did not particularly enjoy (an episode which seemed really quite dark in a way that Midsomer, despite its premise, often is not). As they take away, they also give: this season had one of my all time favourite protagonists: a retired Russian spy. I’ll say no more.

The Curse, season one

more from the very special mind of Nathan Fielder who is one of the most interesting voices in TV. I found this show really unusual; it was certainly confident in its decisions, only I was not always sure those decisions landed for me. The ending blew my mind. It’s a slow, lingering affair that sticks with one and I find it hard to rate as a result. But as I’m still thinking about it days after finishing it I have to then recommend it.

Demon Slayer, Mugen Train arc

On paper, Demon Slayer is not the sort of anime I’d naturally gravitate towards, but this kinetic show just works for me. The character art and animation are both strong, although the show uses this sort of early CGI (think Alex Mack-tier) type effect for the demon sometimes and it just throws me off. I’ve already moved on to the Entertainment District arc and am enjoying it. 

Demon Slayer, Entertainment District Arc

A lot of fun. It is testament to the animation and art direction that I’ll happily watch a four episode fight when usually my eyes instantly glaze over in quick fight scenes. It’s violence for adults but story telling for kids.

Mrs Davis, season one

This is definitely a “give it a few episodes” to get going type of show. Once it does get going, it delivers a mesmerising and thoroughly modern exploration of faith. I will always try to support art that takes risks and big swings, and this show does and they mostly pay off.

Mr Bates vs The Post Office, season one

Watch this and be prepared to develop very strong feelings about how evil the Post Office is. The series tackles a real crisis that is so symptomatic of the weaknesses of modern society: a reliance on the private sector to deliver essential public services; a reliance on the infallibility of computers over humans; and the failure of justice.

Trigun Stampede, season one

This lost me. It was a little more action heavy that I have the stomach for and although I found the world spectacularly interesting, the worldbuilding wasn’t enough for me. I kept watching out of hope and because the art was rather mostly good.

Spy x Family, season two

This series continues to be so incredibly charming you almost forget the show has seemingly abandoned its overarching narrative. Sometimes more of a good thing can be okay but not forever. I’m giving it a recommendation but they better not try to get away with this again.