Mid-Autumn 2019 Anime Ranking

There are so many good shows this season, it’s been impossible to stick with a short list! Unfortunately, that means we’re quite behind on several of them, but I’ve slotted them in for the ranking anyway as long as we’ve seen at least 5 episodes.

Other than the usual sequels and sports anime, the notable trends for Autumn are isekai stories and police dramas, with at least 4 or 5 offerings apiece. We picked up just one isekai, but decided to follow all of the cop dramas!


01. VINLAND SAGA (ep. 13-20) – VINLAND SAGA is an epic tale with really great storytelling and exceptionally strong characters. As long as you can stomach the violence, I can’t recommend this enough. Askeladd in particular, and now Canute, seem to have taken the lead away from Thorfinn. Both of them have complex personalities and are fascinating to watch.

This is one show (of several this season) that seems to come down hard on God/religion, despite also presenting a pretty positive and informed view of Christianity. But seriously, some of the things that happen in VINLAND SAGA are hellishly brutal. How could anyone possibly keep their faith in the face of all that?

The new opener is a big step down from the first one, but I’m gradually warming up to it. The closer too, is nicely evocative in a melancholic way, even though it’s not a song I actually like per se.
(streaming: Amazon)


02. The Legend of the Galactic Heroes: Die Neue These (Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu: Die Neue These – Seiran) (ep. 13-23) – This second season picks up directly from where the first ended, with the episodes mostly alternating between the Alliance side and the Empire side. The story is interconnected and touches on contrasting concepts of leadership and politics, all while remaining highly engaging and entertaining.

You know, I can’t recall ever seeing so much foreshadowing, so many episodes in advance, of a character’s death as in this show for this one person. It isn’t as if I can’t understand the reasoning, though. As one who cried out in protest at the very first hint of a tragedy, it was probably a good thing I had that much time to prepare myself!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


03. Chihayafuru 3 (ep. 1-9) – Season 3 finds Chihaya thinking about her future, while Taichi is taking karuta more seriously than ever. Chihayafuru is simply a great show and I’m so happy to catch up with these characters after 6 long years!
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


04. PSYCHO-PASS 3 (ep. 1-6) – There’s a mostly new cast of characters in this sequel, but the show does an impressively good job of fleshing them out very quickly and getting the audience invested.
(streaming: Amazon)


05. Stars Align (Hoshiai no Sora) (ep. 1-9) – This is the soft tennis anime. Or is it the child abuse anime? It seems like every one of the members on the team has at least one problematic parent, ranging from dysfunctional relationships to outright physical or mental abuse. You don’t usually have to worry about your sports anime turning into a blood bath, but I feel some dread that a tragedy could happen here.

The animation is high-budget; the tennis scenes are great; the opening sequence is gorgeous. Some of the verbal exchanges seem slightly above the maturity level of middle-schoolers though.
(streaming at FUNimation)


06. Cautious Hero: The Hero Is Overpowered but Overly Cautious (Shinchou Yuusha: Kono Yuusha ga Ore TUEEE Kuse ni Shinchou Sugiru) (ep. 1-9) – Out of this fall’s bumper crop of isekai titles, this is the one I cherry-picked. Why, you ask? First and foremost, it is funny, and that is reason enough.

Secondly: Ristarte. It is unusual for the goddess character to be the point of-view role in this type of show, and it turns out to be really effective, partly because it is a decidedly female point-of-view. Even though her outfit is revealing for obvious fan-service purposes, she doesn’t actually get objectified for her looks as much as the male hero, Seiya, does. Also, I have to mention that Ristarte has the very best reaction faces!

Finally, the titular hero is hot and intelligent and is voiced by Umehara Yuuichirou, so you know I’m so there. Well, it turns out the guy is also an asshole with some major personality problems, but you can’t win them all, right?
(streaming at FUNimation)


07. Blade of the Immortal (Mugen no Juunin: IMMORTAL) (ep. 1-6) – Like Dororo earlier this year, Blade of the Immortal is an updated reboot of a classic story. I watched the live-action film not long ago, but that’s my only prior familiarity with the material.

While this is basically a revenge tale, there is some thoughtfulness exhibited and it is not all blind vengeance. Rin, a young swordswoman, seeks to kill the men who brutally murdered her parents, including the torture and rape of her mother. What happened to them, right in front of Rin’s eyes (but off-screen for the viewer, thankfully) was very disturbing, and honestly made me feel a bit sick. It’s easy to understand why she would feel compelled to exact revenge, but she also knows her limits; so she enlists the help of Manji, a bloodworm-infested immortal samurai. He takes on the job because Rin reminds him of his lost sister.

Despite her youthful appearance, Rin sounds like a woman, not a girl, and I appreciate that. She comes across as smarter and more capable than her counterpart in the live-action film. As a whole, Blade of the Immortal, the anime, is still a very violent and dark affair, but I’m finding it to be more thematically interesting than the movie was.
(streaming: Amazon)


08. BABYLON (ep. 1-7) – I hope I’m not giving this anime too much credit, but the feeling I get from Zen’s struggle against Magase Ai is akin to Dr. Tenma’s struggle to take down Johan in MONSTER, or Ichirou vs Hiro in INUYASHIKI. In all 3 stories, the good hero, who plays by the rules, suffers horror and despair at the hands of a formidable opponent who definitely does not.
(streaming: Amazon)


09. Special Crime Investigation Unit – Special 7 (Keishichou Tokumubu Tokushu Kyouakuhan Taisakushitsu Dainanaka: Tokunana) (ep. 1-8)
(streaming at FUNimation)


10. Fairy Gone (ep. 13-20)
(streaming at FUNimation)


11. Ahiru no Sora (ep. 1-8)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


12. Food Wars! The Fourth Plate (Shokugeki no Souma: Shin no Sara) (ep. 1-7)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


13. Africa no Salaryman (ep. 1-5) – An absurdist workplace satire starring a lion, a lizard, and a toucan. It’s exceedingly hard to rank this show since it is so very different from everything else that we’re watching. It’s sort of like Aggretsuko, except even more crude, offensive, and out-there.

Toucan, an unapologetic road-rager and repulsive skirt-chaser who doesn’t think twice about taking advantage of his co-workers in order to benefit himself, is truly an awful person. Not a terrible character, mind you; his shamelessness is morbidly fascinating. But as a person, he is the absolute worst.
(streaming at FUNimation)


14. Ace of Diamond (Diamond no Ace): Act II (season 3) (ep. 27-33)
(streaming at Crunchyroll)


15. Stand My Heroes: Piece of Truth (ep. 1-5)
(streaming at FUNimation)


16. Kabukichou Sherlock (Case File nº221: Kabukicho) (ep. 1-6) – This show is kind of a disaster. The detective of the title is a weirdo who explains his deductions using rakugo and does bizarre things like sniffing people’s armpits.

Mrs. Hudson could be a good character, but she’s in the wrong show. Obviously, she sees herself as female, despite the misfortune of having a very masculine build. Why would she sport a full beard except to be a joke for the audience? Same goes for Lucy, who isn’t threatening until people discover he is actually a she; then all of a sudden: scary! What the heck.

Kabukichou Sherlock isn’t a complete write-off, though. There are some random things that do work for humour, such as that client who was named Pu (Bear).
(streaming at FUNimation)

Also still watching: DR.STONE (streaming at Crunchyroll), but as I don’t have 5 episodes from this cour under my belt at this time, it has not been included in the above list.

BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL

3 stars (out of 4)

Released 2017

An immortal warrior named Manji joins forces with a girl who is out to avenge her murdered family in director Miike Takashi’s 100th film.

I enjoyed the humour that was in the movie, although I personally thought there could have been more of it. Some of the quieter scenes dragged on a bit too, which needlessly slowed the pace in several parts.

But, as far as grand sword fighting spectacles go, BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL delivered what it promised. The body count was astoundingly high. So lots of good fun, in other words.

Rin, the lead girl, was pretty useless though! If she was supposed to be nothing more than a damsel in distress, they should have just made her that. Instead, I got the impression she was one of the better students at her father’s dojo. And she trained for her revenge every day with Manji, only to end up utterly incapable of defending herself! I have to conclude that probably the villain was right when he dismissed her father’s abilities; maybe he (and his sword style) really did suck.